A look back at a travel blogger’s rookie season
I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I made the life-changing decision to resign from the corporate life as a communications manager (after 25+ years) to take a travel gap year and try this thing called travel and lifestyle blogging.April 2020 marked the one-year anniversary of when I officially launched my travel and lifestyle blog website, kmfiswriting.com. Here’s how this travel blogger spent her midlife travel gap year.
There’s been a lot of highs and a lot of lows as a rookie travel blogger and some pretty incredible experiences and discoveries. Discoveries I’ve made in the world as well as about myself. And I’ve been blessed with making so many new friends in the travel tribe community (my sanity-saving network of adventurers). Come join us on our Facebook group page: Globetrotters Travel Tribe.
This post contains links to products and services. While you will not accrue any additional costs to support my blog, I may – as a marketing affiliate – receive compensation if you link to or purchase products and services from places such as Amazon, Bluehost, Constant Contact, It’s a Lovely Life, HotelsCombined, etc. All images are taken by kmf and available for digital download.
Full disclosure: That ad right above? I’m a marketing affiliate with them (and it’s a pretty cool search engine from Kayak.com; it searches several different sites to find the best rates for hotels, air and cars). You may hear stories of bloggers making huge incomes from advertising partners. Don’t expect this to happen overnight. I’m still trying to figure out this whole marketing affiliate thing and am just now starting to gain some traction. You definitely have to research and see what resonates with your audience. And, for me personally, I like to only advertise partners that I recommend and use or would try myself.
A look inside a travel blogger’s first year
Don’t let this post fool you into thinking it was a life of leisure and glamour. I spent more time on my phone and laptop in my home than I did traveling around the world. I honestly worked more hours than I did in my previous role as a corporate communications manager (and I worked long hours then).
As a blogger or probably everyone who owns their own business, you really do feel like you’re working 24/7. It’s mentally and emotionally draining at times.
But I have no regrets and excited to see what happens next as I start another new chapter. And that new chapter is likely a return to corporate America. One surprising discovery is that I miss working with a team – collaborating on a common goal. I had already planned to start looking for a more traditional position after my travel gap year was up. So grateful I was able to explore as much as I could especially in light of what’s happening in our world today with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
I will, however, continue to blog part-time about travel and staycation destinations, book reviews, movie reviews, Thai cooking lessons, and my quest for the best mac and cheese. And will also continue researching and documenting the life of my husband’s grandfather, a concentration camp survivor.
Until I discover my what’s next (I’m available for freelance/contract writing projects), here’s a look back on how I spent my travel gap year as a travel blogger.
North Carolina – road trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains
I met my friend Sue in Atlanta, Georgia, and we took a road trip through the Blue Ridge Mountains to eclectic Asheville, N.C. – home of Biltmore Estate and more.
Note: I’m not only a customer of Bluehost, I’m also an affiliate. If you happen to purchase their services, I may receive a small commission at no expense to you. I only recommend products/services I use or would try myself.
Mexico – all you need to know before you go
Mexico is my go-to when I need to reflect and recharge. And with 27 trips south of the border, I can share a few travel tips about Mexico and assure you it is a safe place to visit.
How to get to Isla Mujeres, Mexico from the Cancun airport
Interested in starting your own blog? Constant Contact is a great resource to generate an email subscription list, create email newsletters and more! Try Constant Contact for free for 60 days! (It’s what I use and I love it – super easy!) Note: I am an an affiliate with Constant Contact. If you purchase their services, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use or would try.
Minnesota staycation – discovering my own backyard
I’m going on my 27th year living in Minnesota and was surprised by how little I knew about my home state. Here are just a few of the fun adventures I experienced in Minnesota last year during my staycation.
Top 10 walking tours in the Twin Cities – Minneapolis and St. Paul
20 facts about Lake Minnetonka that may surprise you
The best Minnesota lakes in the Land of 10,000+ lakes
Top things to do in Minnesota: a local’s guide
Top things to do in Minnesota: Mall of America
One of my favorite experiences during my travel gap year was my solo trip to Madrid and Basque Country, Spain.
Highlight reel of my solo trip to Madrid Spain and the filming location of Dragonstone
Our Lady of Almudena Cemetery: top things to do in Madrid, Spain
Best day trip from Madrid: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – filming location for Game of Thrones’ Dragonstone
Top things to do at Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Missouri
Here’s a perfect one-day itinerary when visiting the Gateway Arch National Park in St. Louis, Missouri (special thanks to the Gateway Arch National Park for hosting me).
Top things to do in Iowa
I was born and raised in Iowa so I have a few favorites – here are just two of my top things to do in Iowa.
Top things to do in Iowa: Buddy Holly crash site memorial and Buddy Holly Museum in Clear Lake
Top things to do in Iowa: The Shrine of the Grotto of the Redemption
And more top travel tips during my travel gap year
These are just a few highlights from my travel gap year. I would love for you to join me as I enter my second year as a travel and lifestyle blogger. Please subscribe to my monthly newsletter where I’ll share travel tips, travel destination inspiration and itineraries, book and movie reviews, updates on my quest to find the best mac and cheese and more.
Thank you for coming along on my journey during my travel gap year.
How you can support a travel blogger during a pandemic travel ban
The easiest way to support a travel blogger that doesn’t cost you anything is to subscribe to my blog newsletter and follow me on social media and share my blog and social posts. Oh, and read my blog posts. Thank you!
Thank you! I appreciate all your support of kmfiswriting.com.
Here’s how to start your own blog
For those who know me, know I am not technical. I’m pretty sure the IT Help Desk at my former company screened all my calls and sent me to voicemail because I called so frequently.
While building a travel and lifestyle blog website was exciting, it was a little scary and definitely out of my comfort zone. However, I was fortunate to sign up with some pretty cool resources to make it super easy.
Seriously, if I can build a website and monetize a blog, anyone can. My recommended go-to resources all offer great opportunities for networking and/or answering technical questions in simple terms that I can answer. And I asked a lot of questions.
And they did not send me to voicemail.
So if you’ve been thinking about starting your own small business and/or blog, here are my recommended resources to get you started.
Learn everything you need to know to start a blog by signing up with It’s a Lovely Life online training courses
I’ve taken several courses with It’s a Lovely Life and am always learning something new. I recommend signing up first with Start a Blogging Business 5-day Crash Course. It’s free!
While there is no obligation, I soon followed-up with It’s a Lovely Life’s Blogging Blastoff 2.0. Founders Pete and Heather Reese will guide you through a 30-day step-by-step plan for building the blog of your dreams.
And this is where you’ll connect with other like-minded and rookie bloggers. I’ve made so many great friends online by networking through their social groups. And believe me, you’ll need their support to maintain your sanity as blogging does come with some lows along with the highs. But it’s worth it!
It’s a Lovely Life is not a one-and-done. They truly want to see you succeed and are always available to answer questions quickly and provide new training content (for example, I just took their SEO boot camp, which was worth the price of admission). Please note that I am an affiliate with It’s a Lovely Life. If you choose to purchase their courses, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use or would try.
The best blog hosting service goes to Bluehost
As I mentioned, I am not technical. I expect everything to work if I push a button. And I’m not a patient person when technical things don’t work (because I don’t understand it).
However, the Bluehost team is amazing. They will help you navigate through all your technical questions and troubleshoot why something that worked just yesterday isn’t working today. Or if you hit the wrong thing, they can fix it without you losing your content. I can’t recommend Bluehost high enough.
You can try Bluehost risk-free for 30 days. So if you’re serious about starting your own small business or website, sign up with Bluehost today! Please note that I am an affiliate with Bluehost. If you choose to purchase their courses, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use or would try.
How to start a blog: Try Constant Contact’s award-winning and easy-to-use email marketing for free
Constant Contact is amazing – they offer everything you need for a successful email marketing campaign, email newsletter templates, sign-up forms and more. Constant Contact is super easy-to-use and offers great technical support. Sign up for a 60-day free trial with Constant Contact! Please note that I am an affiliate with Constant Contact. If you choose to purchase their courses, I may receive compensation at no extra cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use or would try.
Blogging tip: Do not overlook or underestimate the power of email marketing. While it’s important to ensure your site is optimized with SEO and to promote your new posts on social, it’s just as important to create and grow your blog through email marketing. Constant Contact offers everything you need to know to start and improve your email marketing program to reach loyal subscribers.
So these are the steps I recommend to start your blog. If you have any questions, simply contact me.