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So guys…Globe Guide just turned five.
FIVE FREAKING YEARS OLD!
Seriously, where does the time go?! I can still remember the exact moment I hit ‘Publish’ on my site, which had a terrible URL along the lines of tamtravels.wordpress.org for a hot minute because I was just trying to test if I had the skills to make something go live on the internet. Oh, and the design and logo were ugly AF.
Luckily my technical prowess improved, because here I am today literally doing my dream job. Sure there have been bumps along the way, such as theme redesigns, trips not coming through at the last minute, and that terrible time where GlobeGuide.ca totally disappeared from the internet for a couple days and I thought my life’s work was gone forever. However, I can also now say that I’m an award-winning writer, have travelled to almost 60 countries, made new friends all over the world and am checking off my bucket list. I also ate lunch with a monkey on my lap once, so I guess that’s pretty cool.
Anyway, since five years seems like a pretty big milestone I decided to get all deep and reflective or whatever. So without further ado, here are five big life lessons I’ve learned thanks to five years of blogging.
1) There’s a difference between what’s “right”—and what’s right for you
Running a business has taught me there’s not always a “right” way to do things—you just have to do what you think is right for you. Deciding if it’s time to outsource, if you should spend money flying to a conference just for the networking, or accept a lower-paying contract because of the future opps it might lead to are a few examples of the constant decision-making that happens when you’re the #boss. You can debate or justify your choices ‘til you’re blue in the face, but at the end of the day just because it worked for someone else doesn’t mean it will work in your favour. Go with your gut: you know your business best.
As anyone who has ever faced a major life decision knows all too well, the struggle is real when it comes to the battle between head and heart. There are bound to be a few curve balls thrown your way, at which point you can either make the “right” choice, or the choice that’s right for you. In my life when it comes to boring things like finances and career planning, my head wins. Because retirement. But for bigger risks that truly leave an imprint on your life, such as pouring everything into a passion or pursuing a different path than you’d originally envisioned for yourself, I tend to follow my heart. It may not be the “right” decision to other people, but if it feels right to you then you’ve got to go for it. At least that way if it doesn’t pan out you won’t have to spend the rest of your life wondering “what if?”
Amazing things can happen when you get out of your head, and let your heart and dreams be the guide.
“Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.”
2) Bad things can be good lessons—or at least make for a good story
I don’t have any big regrets in life. Sure, there are a few situations I wish I’d handled differently, but I try to take everything as a learning no matter how poorly it turned out. From taking risks that fall flat on their face, to a relationship that ends badly or even something like getting into a car crash, there’s always a lesson to be learned so that you hopefully don’t experience such an epic fail the next time around. Like maybe remembering to drive slower on icy roads. Because Canada.
That optimistic mindset can work out quite well in blogging. Did your Facebook ad campaign flop and seem like a waste of money? Well, at least you have the data now so you can set up better targeting next time. Didn’t land a huge campaign you thought you had in the bag? Ask (professionally!) why you weren’t chosen, so you know what to work towards or do differently in the future. And when it comes to travel flubs like getting stuck in a shower, running out of money or being robbed, I try to keep one thing mind no matter how bad it sucks at the time: at the very least, it will make for a good story someday.
3) Buy experiences, not things
Ah, my life motto, which I think is pretty self-explanatory. When you’re looking back 40 years from now, what would you rather remember spending $1000 on: that romantic weekend in Sonoma complete with wine tastings and a sunrise hot air balloon ride over the vineyards…or a designer purse you can’t even find anymore? I have yet to meet a person who regretted ponying up for concert tickets or a kayaking adventure because they could have bought a pair of jeans instead. (I mean I’m sure those people are out there, but I guess that’s the reason I’m not friends with fashionistas).
This life lesson has become even more obvious to me as a travel writer, since I get to try unique experiences all around the world (hello, canoeing under a castle) which are always more interesting than an afternoon at the mall. Plus once you start a travel blog, you have no more free time to devote to pursuits like aimlessly wandering around Nordstrom, so I guess that sort of works out well.
4) Diversify, baby
“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” is an important phrase to remember when it comes to both blogging and personal finances. When I launched Globe Guide in 2013, most bloggers were focused on storytelling and building up their social media channels. Today, there’s been a huge shift toward video as well as focusing on SEO to rack up page views (hence advertising dollars) and affiliate sales, both of which can be incredible sources of passive income—my fave kind, obvs.
Besides the financial benefits, content creators are realizing the benefits of being in control of their business and not at the mercy of algorithms or waiting to be approached for campaigns, which is the case for say, Instagrammers who operate solely on that platform. And speaking of Instagrammers—anyone else remember Vine? Its demise is the reason that anyone whose business is supported on a single channel had better have a Plan B, C and D in mind, because the clock is ticking my friends.
This all translates to the real world, when it comes to things like your career and financial situation. Do you plan on working at the same job your whole life, or could you devote some time to a side hustle in the event your main gig goes south? Should you sink all your money into your home, or would it be better to chip away at the mortgage while also saving for retirement in case there’s a housing crash? (Also, please for the love of God tell me you’re saving for retirement and not just praying your big business plan eventually pays off).
I’ve learned you should always take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills, even if it seems like a pain in the @$& at the time. You never know when that knowledge will come in handy, or lead to something like a whole other career. I jumped at the chance to learn how to use WordPress and handle social media channels when I was working as a TV producer, and within a couple years I ended up launching this site and landing a new gig that paid way more thanks to my tech know-how. #Winning.
5) Relationships are everything
Networking is key in the business world; as the saying goes, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While creating great, useful content should be your top focus as a blogger, those who are successful in this industry will tell you that connections are just as important: think coffees with PRs, meeting other bloggers through Facebook groups or press trips, attending conferences and joining organizations. While I do get approached with business opportunities out of the blue from time to time, most offers come from people I personally know, or have previously worked with one of their colleagues.
Once you do establish these relationships, treat them like gold. Nearly all of my clients have been repeat customers; in my experience, people prefer to work with those they like and can trust to get the job done, and will hire you over and over again simply because you make their lives easier. So over-deliver, meet your damn deadlines and for goodness sakes, be nice.
Personal relationships are even more important. Maybe it’s because I hate solo travelling so much (here’s why), but can we all agree that experiencing new things is better when you have someone to share it with? When I started Globe Guide, I knew that it would lead to travel opportunities. What I didn’t know at the time is that the even greater gift would be the new relationships it led to along the way. My all-time favourite moments on the road aren’t about where I was or what I was doing—they’re about who I met or shared them with.
I’ve learned that at the end of the day, what truly matters most isn’t where in the world you are: it’s who is by your side. Because once we’re too tired, sick, poor or old to travel, those people and memories will still be there. And isn’t that really what living a great life is all about?
As a big thanks for following my adventures all these years, I’ve rounded up some amazing prizes that I want to give YOU! Here’s the deal: since I started Globe Guide to share savvy travel advice with you guys, I want to make sure you’re getting what ya need. So, I’ve created a super easy, five question survey (‘cuz it’s my 5th birthday. #SeeWhatIDidThere) that I would love so, so, so much if you could take the time to fill out. If you include your contact info and fill out the survey by June 10, you’ll be entered to win a $250 gift card from my friends at Hotels.com!
I also have amazing prizes up for grabs throughout the week:
- Tuesday May 29: A gourmet overnight getaway at any of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts, including a three-course dinner for two and breakfast. Enter on Instagram!
- Wednesday May 30: 2 x two-night stays at any IHG property in Canada. Enter here!
- Thursday May 31: A $250 Hotels.com gift card. Details here.
- Friday June 1: A gift basket of wine from TIME Winery/Evolve Cellars in the Okanagan. Enter on Instagram!
Thanks again for your support!
Update: Contest closed, congratulations to Ryan J. for winning the $250 Hotels.com gift card for filling out the survey below!
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