Sunday, November 18, 2018

My liebster Liebster - and some ventilation

I've been nominated. For the Liebster award; an award that is given by bloggers to their peers. I guess there is no moment not convenient for being nominated for an award. My moment was pretty perfect: I was a bit frustrated and fed up with this whole blogging business - which for me doesn't even have to be a business.



But, of course, when you spend every day for many hours on something, you want results. Recognition. Rewards.

However, after one reward and eighteen months of blogging, some ventilation seems appropriate.

In a moment of despair, Anca from the blog Dream, Book, and Travel came around the corner, looked me in the eye and saw that I needed some encouragement. She pinched me jovially in the cheek and awarded me.

Blogging and Community


Sort of. Truth is, I've never seen Anca in person in my life. I know her from pictures on her blog and on Social Media. However, I feel a bond. She seems to be mellow and friendly and educated. I like that. Hey, people fall in love on the internet, why shouldn't I fall in friendship with Anca?!

That's one of the really nice sides of blogging: You get to know all these other maniacs who dedicate the major part of their life to staggering across planet earth and write on the internet what they stumbled upon.

As I started blogging, the last aspect I expected was to get in friendly, regular contact with other bloggers. And yet, that's what often keeps us at it.

But what was I expecting when I started blogging? Why did I start at all?

Blogging and Me


Well, to be honest, for years, I was completely oblivious to blogs. I didn't read any. No, once I did since I was looking for info on Cuba, but I was repulsed by the tons of affiliate links in the text. I'm coming from journalism. One of the crucial rules is that you separate editorial texts from advertisement. I couldn't take any of the blogger's advice serious since I felt like being duped.





My sources of information were guides - real books made of paper - and official portals. And I needed lots of information since I've been travelling - every year at least two trips of three to four weeks and a handful of shorter city breaks. To me, this was normal. It was as natural and necessary as eating and sleeping. The money I made from my day job was almost entirely spent on tickets, hotel rooms, street food.

Another blog that Anca nominated is called Gipsy with a Dayjob. I love that - this could be my blog's title, too.

I've never been a real backpacker. I've never been fond of hostels and didn't enjoy carrying backpacks. Thorough research has brought me to average to great hotel rooms at a good price and my suitcase has four wheels.

Talking 'bout wheels: Those under my suitcase are the only ones I have. I don't have a car. I don't have a big flat. I don't have expensive clothes. This is how I can afford much more travelling than most others.

I'm what Douglas Copeland defines as poverty jet set (no there won't be an affiliate link to his book Generation X).

So this still doesn't explain why I started blogging.

Well, like I said, for me, this lifestyle has never been special, I simply did it my way. And I did it by myself: Not many of my friends do travel as much as I do. Even if they do, they do not want to go to the same places; at the same time. I'm not waiting for them - I go by myself.

I've met people who like the idea but do not know how to do it. Maybe they've always booked one of these pointless all-inclusive hotels, maybe they've always travelled as couples or in groups. So they had many questions. How do I pick a destination? Where do I get information? When do I book tickets and accommodations?
After having answered this sort of questions many times individually, I thought there could be a demand for information on how an average single woman of 55 does a road trip across Cambodia, Cuba, Colombia by herself: I had my niche.

I found a theme, I chose a profile pic; and I gave my site a title: bye:myself. This is not a typo, this is a combination of my style of travelling - hence by myself - and the sensation you get from solo travel - hence saying bye bye to your regular self.

Man, was I surprised as I entered the blogging world and realized that there basically was no niche. As I approached the one I had booked, a couple of single women of 55 were waving at me.

For blogging, I've clearly come too late - not only is the field tilled, a major part of the harvest is gathered.
But by the time I've realized that, I was already hooked - I already had installed a site with a beautiful, congruent theme, I already had written a couple of good, entertaining posts. I wanted to be part of it.

I'm doing a lot wrong. According to blogging standards that is. I'm wrong on purpose. I do not want to submit my topics to SEO. I will not allow keywords to rape my sentences. Like I said, I'm coming from journalism, me and my texts cannot surrender to these rules that have nothing to do with the content but are pure marketing tools. Nope, I'm stubborn; call it the privilege of a 55-year-old woman.

I jumped on the blogger bandwagon far too late to have it easy. I cannot dedicate more time than I already do now - which is never enough. Sometimes, I'm really exhausted by it all.

But then comes Anca or another of these blogging maniacs and says a kind word or makes the right gesture and I open my laptop and start typing away.

Blogging and Ethics


The internet has lead to a democratization of the media. This is in some aspects a good thing, very often a bad one. I will not get started here with the hate speech and rough attitude in the social media, that's not today's topic.

The internet makes it possible that everyone who can connect a computer can become a writer, a publisher, an opinion leader. And a blogger.
So everybody can become a distributor of information - but at the same time, many consumers do not know how the media are functioning; they keep on believing what they read. Everything.
Last weekend, I attended a media conference where two teams of journalists introduced their blogs respectively sites - one is observing and analyzing the tendencies in the social media, the other information and cock-and-bull stories on medical topics.
Both platforms are doing great. Obviously, correction of all these hobby-informants is urgently required.

We travel bloggers do not have the power to harm people; that much. Even if we give away info on hidden places, even if we promote ecologically harmful travel such as amusement parks and cruise trips.
What worries me much more regarding travel blogging is the hunt for affiliate links, the paid cooperation with travel companies, the sell-out.
Affiliate links can be even helpful: If you really like a smart product, it's a good service that you just have to click on a link to buy it.
But when an entire article is built around affiliate links, when under the cloak of Gifts for Travellers I have to click on a link to the 176th scratch map...come on, that's solely marketing, has nothing to do with journalism, even not with PR. That's advertisement like in the 1950s.

I'm not worried that too many people will possess too many scratch maps, I don't mind if people actually book a certain hotel because some travel blogger had to write about it for a handful of dollars. I'm scared by the idea that this sort of publishing might spread. To other, more significant fields.

Will there be a limit? Or will one day Monsanto pay travel bloggers for writing about the benefit of their pills against motion sickness?

Besides blogging, I have a day job and was therefore accused by a peer of hobby-blogging. I don't really care since to me professionalism is not defined by the number of affiliate links, paid cooperations, and desperate advertisement. I define professionalism by thorough research, valid information, and good writing.
Professionalism does not have to do with monetization in the first place.

Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.
(Marlon Brando) 
I believe that everyone who goes out there and publishes on the internet should not only think twice about what to write but also consider what he or she wants to read.

Blogging and Liebster


So I've been nominated by Anca for the Liebster Award - and I truly appreciate this lovely gesture.
Being nominated, though, comes with certain rules and obligations.
One is to nominate other bloggers.
I've asked bloggers I like if they wanted me to nominate them.
Either they'd already been nominated before - or they didn't want to.
I've posted an invitation in two or three travel blogger groups.
No response.

This only proves my point that I've joined the blogging scene far too late.
I wasn't able to find bloggers who wanted to be nominated.

I'm a person who's able to roll with the punches - and to break rules if inevitable.
I had to ask the nominees ten questions.
Since I believe that in this post I came up with many, many questions that every blogger should ask himself, actually this rule is not broken: If you happen to have answers to all the questions that arise in this post, I'd be very curious to read them in the comment section below.

But now let me answer Anca's questions for me:


1. Describe your blog by assigning a color to it. 

Blue. Blue like the sky. Blue like the ocean.
This is what my blog represents.




2. Describe your blog by assigning a sound of music to it.

My blog is the whistling of a funny, light little tune, sometimes loud and clear and totally in tune, at times a bit unmelodious, from time to time improvised.

3. Describe your blog by assigning a smell to it.

Oh, my blog has the smell of sea and salt.

4. Describe your blog by assigning a taste to it. 

Today, homemade pot roast, tomorrow fusion cuisine combining fresh fruits and vegetables with nuts and exotic spices. Next week, maybe texmex or oyster with french fries - I don't know yet, need to check what my supply cabinet has in store.

5. Describe your blog by assigning a texture to it.

Driftwood. A bit weathered, but very charming - and still useful.

6. Describe your blog by assigning a feeling to it.

Friendship.
I want my blog to be your good friends - the one that gives you advise without patronizing. The one that pours you a glass of wine and listens when you need assistance. The one that teaches you - a thing or two - and shows you that learning is great fun.
And most importantly the one that entertains you with hilarious stories and tells you silly jokes.

7. Describe your blog by assigning a season/month of the year/time of day to it. 

My blog is spring - which stands for raise, awakening, departure.

8. Describe your blog by assigning a plant/flower/tree/animal to it. Explain your choice.

I want my blog to grow into a big tree with a strong trunk and fine, playfully intertwined branches, tender blossoms, flowers in bold colors.




Exotic birds are nesting there and calling everyone who's passing by with their joyful chirping.

9. Will you ever retire from traveling? How do you see yourself in your old age?

What?! No way - on the contrary: I will retire to travel more! For years, I've kept my costs of living as low as possible, shared a two-room-flat with my daughter until she moved out. I'm spending all my money on travelling.

10. If the internet did not exist/imagine living 100 years ago – what would you be doing?

Exploring foreign countries using an atlas and compass (which is a joke since I have no sense of orientation).


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