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Adventurous Kate - and bloggers with backgrounds in online marketing
June 10, 2014
8:26 am
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2mm from a leaping labia
Expert Hamcat
Meows: 231
Snarking Since:
March 18, 2014

Apols if this is in the wrong place: in the seeming absence of a travel blog thread, I figured international was probably the most sensible alternative location!

Does anybody read Adventurous Kate?  My boyfriend stumbled across her (hugely popular) blog when we were researching the viability of making a living as a travel blogger.  At first I thought she was fantastic, and was so excited to read about someone who had "made it" in a very short space of time.  I liked her (indeed I still do) because she doesn't sugar-coat the realities, and makes it very clear that you have to work extremely hard and spend the majority of your time not enjoying the locations, but putting yourself out there and writing up stories you don't necessarily want to write.

HOWEVER.

After spending far more time than is healthy tracking back through previous posts, and putting two and two together, I realised that what really made her blog stand out, what had really given her the edge, was her background in online marketing.   Thanks to that, she implicitly understands how to make the internet / social media / keywords / search engines / google adwords (?!) etc work for her, in a way that the rest of us technical plebs simply have no idea.  Thanks to that, she sent her blog stratospheric in a matter of months.

She makes it very clear that you need to work incredibly hard to maintain and promote a successful travel blog, but she sort of shies away from the fact that she learnt the ins-and-outs of it during her previous life as a full-time internet marketer.  The implication is that hard graft, long hours and a bit of luck will gestate into a bill-paying blog, but in reality it's those three things PLUS a very specific, relevant career which underpins the entire venture and gives her the knowledge, background, and understanding of how to spin it into a money-making venture.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't begrudge her at all – if anything, I'm phenomenally jealous of her managing to pick the "right" background career and then jumping into my dream job at the opportune moment – but I am slightly dubious of the way that she skims over this essential part of her rise to fame when breaking it down for her fans.  I'm sure she capitalises on it when talking to promoters/sponsors (and why shouldn't she?) but I'm not sure I like how she glosses over it when "explaining" how to be a travel blogger.  She's not just talented and industrious; she's also very shrewd, and highly knowledgeable.

It also made me wonder how many other successful bloggers suggest a) "oh this life just happened to me" or b) "This is due entirely to my hard graft and natural talent"; when in both cases, whilst that may be true true, there's another layer of taught/learnt self-promotion which they fail to mention.  Is that dishonest?  Or clever because it keeps them ahead of the game?

Thoughts . . . ?

FKA OMG BFFs (lol)
June 10, 2014
9:47 am
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BreakfastPrincess
Expert Hamcat
Meows: 361
Snarking Since:
December 30, 2012

There's a lot of bloggers like that, who capitalise on past experience and more importantly their contacts. 

There's a few fashion/beauty bloggers in particular who have worked in magazines or media, then started a website, continued to use the magazine's resources for photo shoots etc on their dime and then used their work contacts for finding advertising. I think a few people from Vogue etc are doing this and finding advertisers very easily because they are best buddies with advertisers from there day job as opposed to someone starting from scratch.

June 10, 2014
11:14 am
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Warren Beatty
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 530
Snarking Since:
June 4, 2013

I don't think she's being dishonest. She saved and lived frugally for a long time to save up for her first big backpacking trip, and I don't think she was making any money off her blog at the time. She's made it very clear that travel+blogging =/= full-time travel blogger. Obviously her past experience has helped her out, but my past experience has helped me out at my job too, soo.. idontknow 

Anyway, Adventurous Kate is totally a SOMI for me and I've recommended her blog to many travelling friends.

June 10, 2014
12:14 pm
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FattyMagoo

Why would she blog about how she made her blog famous if she's a travel blogger? idontknowI seriously don't think bloggers need to explain that they're good at marketing shit on the internet to their readers because duh.

June 10, 2014
2:07 pm
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2mm from a leaping labia
Expert Hamcat
Meows: 231
Snarking Since:
March 18, 2014

All good points but I still think there's an element of – if not dishonesty – then being slightly frugal with the truth.  She's written several posts/articles on how to become a travel blogger but at no point does she say "get seriously clued-up on the realities of internet marketing because this, my friends, is how to get your blog noticed".  I found out those tips on entirely separate travel blogging sites.

I'm not saying she SHOULD tell people how to do it (she's not obliged!), but she's so successful that doing so would hardly compromise her.  Considering that she went out of her way to tell people how to "follow in her footsteps", it's interesting that neglected to mention that whopping great part of her past which single-handedly dragged her blog from entirely superficial SE Asian jaunts (which her early posts are) to one of the most-hit travel blogs in the world.  It wasn't her writing (only ok), or her destinations (all well-trodden), or her money-saving (necessary and we all do it) which propelled her blog into its early success: it was her genius placement of it and marketing.

I think she's relatively interesting but I don't find her style of choice of destination to be particularly noteworthy, nor her way of telling stories.

I don't particularly want her to GOMI (I follow her on facebook!). . . I just think that she's an ok writer, and a spectacularly good internet marketer.  Really, this isn't a criticism, I find this creativity/business combination fascinating and wanted to know others' thoughts.

FKA OMG BFFs (lol)
June 10, 2014
3:15 pm
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Warren Beatty
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 530
Snarking Since:
June 4, 2013

I think it's kind of a given that if a blogger wants to reach that level of popularity quickly, they need to understand how to promote themselves. If another blogger has to tell them this, it's probably too late.

Personally, I think part of Kate's appeal is that she does travel to common places. For every blogger that travels to Thailand, there are 1000 non-bloggers looking for advice. Kate doesn't get too into story-telling, but she does give all the details on where she stayed/ate/activities she did, how much they cost, and if it was worth it – all of which get her the serious tourist hits.

June 10, 2014
6:19 pm
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sara.bellum
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 841
Snarking Since:
November 6, 2012

Warren Beatty said
I think it's kind of a given that if a blogger wants to reach that level of popularity quickly, they need to understand how to promote themselves. If another blogger has to tell them this, it's probably too late.

 

Yeah – I don't think it's crazy or remotely dishonest that if you are doing something as a full time job that you know or learn the special skills that job requires. 

June 11, 2014
7:56 am
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2mm from a leaping labia
Expert Hamcat
Meows: 231
Snarking Since:
March 18, 2014

Cool!  Interesting to hear other peoples' thoughts.  Clearly the general consensus is that it's all good; so carry on, as you were.

chair

Nonetheless, I maintain that (in my opinion) Adventurous Kate is an average writer who is extremely good at self-promotion.

That said, most successful blogs appear to have two things in common: mainstream/unremarkable content, and fantastic marketing skills.  I've come across very few with truly incredible writing or breathtaking photos, despite vast numbers of hits . . . so evidently being skilled as a blogger (as opposed to as a standalone writer/photographer/cook/etc) is more to do with relentless self-promotion and a technical knowledge of how the internet works, rather than creative ability per se.

Sorry, I'm quite sure that this has been discussed a million times before but it's only a new and rather disappointing realisation for me (since I've only recently started reading blogs – a decade late to the party!) and I guess Kate, for me, is one of the most obvious examples of this.

Ah well, c'est la vie.  And regardless, I support anyone who encourages solo female travel, so I hope she carries on doing that.

FKA OMG BFFs (lol)
June 11, 2014
1:19 pm
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Warren Beatty
Senior Hamcat
Meows: 530
Snarking Since:
June 4, 2013

If you're looking for something similar to Adventurous Kate, but with better storytelling, check youngadventuress.com or expertvagabond.com. If you're looking for a travel writer, I would suggest legalnomads.com.

 

I agree, Adventurous Kate is blogger, not a writer, and there's definitely a difference when it comes to pageview$!

June 11, 2014
2:42 pm
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On the run from Johnny Law
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Meows: 98
Snarking Since:
March 18, 2014

I don't think you're being overly critical at all. She is a mediocre writer who's very good at blogging as a job, and that's the case with most popular bloggers. As a newish travel/expat writer, it's been super eye-opening that my posts featuring kick-ass writing/stories/photos aren't nearly as popular as the lackluster ones that give practical pointers and tips about living abroad. Top 5 lists with lots of white space get way more views than long form essays, etc. Self-promotion and writing posts specifically geared to get hits both make me queasy but in order to turn my hobby into a viable side income I've had to become more comfortable with it. When my blog was just pretty pictures and sort of poetic travel stories no one read it. Anyway, I also like Kate's blog and have found it helpful while still feeling a lot of the disillusionment you mention, so I totally get where you were coming from with your post.

June 11, 2014
2:52 pm
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On the run from Johnny Law
Hamcat
Meows: 98
Snarking Since:
March 18, 2014

Oh and I just thought of a blog to recommend (swear it's not mine!)- Everywhere All The Time, I think the url is baniamor dot com. She's a queer woman of color who doesn't come from a privileged background, lives in Ecuador and writes really compelling travel essays without the veneer of privilege and good fortune most travel blogs have and gloss over. She's made me look at my own white privilege as an expat in the developing world in a much more critical and thoughtful way. Her writing is also funny- sorry to make it sound pedantic.

June 11, 2014
10:54 pm
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grouchy
Hamcat
Meows: 59
Snarking Since:
January 2, 2013

Tim Coulson is another blogger (now travel blogging at Afield, sorry publishing 'articles') who has a background in marketing which obviously helped him launch his photography business and cross promotion with American Apparel. I agree with OMG BFFs, it does seem to be downplayed.

Also, I would love a travel blogging thread! I listed some of my love to hate reads in the Aussie thread recently.

June 12, 2014
7:02 am
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2mm from a leaping labia
Expert Hamcat
Meows: 231
Snarking Since:
March 18, 2014

Thanks everyone!  HaveMercy and Grouchy, good to see I'm not completely alone on this.  Warren Beatty and HaveMercy, fantastic recommendations, thank you so much – I really appreciate it :)

FKA OMG BFFs (lol)


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