What is this blogging thing all about? What motivates us to blog during our travels? How did we get into blogging in the first place? Simply put: we love writing. But there is a lot more to it than just that.
Both Sven and I have been into blogging for a number of years. Specifically, we have been into cultural and travel blogging. Traveling is the hobby we are both the most passionate about. During college, we used any spare time we had to travel. This usually took the form of a backpacking trip, although it included two six-or-so-week trips in Big Emma as well. Sven started blogging sporadically during a semester he spent in Chile during his undergrad. We had also kept an underdeveloped travel blog – the first incarnation of GoBigEmma – while we were on our second venture in the Bus to the East Coast in the US.
How did travel blogging become a passion?
When Sven and I decided to take a year off of graduate school and spend time in Brazil and Indonesia, respectively, we started blogging on a more serious note and quickly realized that it was something we loved doing (if you are interested, feel free to check out our Brazil and Indonesia blogs). It was a form of writing that we enjoyed producing and that others told us they enjoyed reading. This combination of activities – traveling and blogging about it – was an ideal fit for us.
It was, therefore, very logical for us to continue blogging as GoBigEmma when we started this trip. We had the goals of making it more professional, publishing regularly, and producing content others would enjoy consuming. We have put a lot of thought, time, and effort into creating and maintaining it.
This is often part of the explanation when we get posed the question “Why do you blog?”. History alone, however, doesn’t actually get to the root of the question – we don’t just blog because we always have. Why do we put so much effort into blogging? What motivates us to continue doing so? The genuine response to this question has a few different answers to it.
As simple as a passion for writing, but much more complex than that
First and foremost: we like writing. I am more of the essayist of the two of us, while Sven has dabbled more in creative writing and storytelling. We like creating something we think is good, genuine, and relevant and sharing it with others. We think we are pretty good at writing and want to use this skill to produce something we think is awesome – especially when we have Big Emma and her adventures as an absolutely amazing source for pondering and content. Writing is an art form, and making something we ourselves like to read is both a challenge and gratifying in and of itself.
But that’s not all there is to it. We do not just blog for writing’s sake; we could have done that at home. We also want to blog in order to record our journey for ourselves, create a record of adventures and events, feelings and thoughts and experiences that happen along the way. Simple documentation, however, does not do justice to what I actually mean. No, writing these things down is a way for us to process it ourselves, understand and think through the multitude of things that happen to us. This lifestyle makes every day individual, each one different from the last. That is quite a lot of living for our tiny brains to think about, and writing aspects of it down as various topics helps to create a deeper and more deliberate understanding of our journey.
In fact, this is one reason why many people who travel keep a blog. Another is to keep family and friends informed about one’s travels, a reason why we, too, started blogging back in the old days. Our blog in its current incarnation has taken this to a more advanced level – we do not just want to inform those who we personally know about our whereabouts and general happenings; we want to do our best to take people with us on our journey. Although this offer stands in reality for those interested in traveling with us, we are aware that that is not possible for most people most of the time. The blog allows for a digital version of this, as an open invitation for all who are interested in coming along with us. We try our best to give our audience a real and authentic experience of what it is like to travel in Big Emma.
Of course, there is one aspect of all of this that has not been mentioned yet – the financial one. Do we do all of this to eventually create an income somehow? As of right now, we are making no money off of our blog (in fact, we lose money, as we pay a monthly cost to maintain our server. It is also our main activity, and costs us enough time to be worth a part-time job without paying anything). It is an appealing thought, but so far that has not begun to happen. It would be a nice bonus, if you will. It is, however, not the goal; if that were so, we would not have worked so hard so far without making a single cent. We do not blog for the eventual royalties, but instead for many of the reasons discussed above. And we will continue to do so, whether or not we ever get anything in return.
But what is the role of social media in all of this?
Others have asked if we blog because of the attention. True, it is interesting to know that people I have never even met follow us on Instagram, or that have never even met me like to watch our videos on Youtube. Or even that people I do know are actually interested enough to watch them. We have spent a lot of time discussing the purpose of platforms like Instagram or our Facebook page. Why do we publish pictures and stories regularly here? Is it simply to get followers? What is their purpose? Do we simply want to be famous on Instagram, or is that just a way for us to publicize our blog? Or is it, just like the blog, a way to tell our stories, just in a daily, 5-second version of it all? These platforms are a different way for others to come with us on our journey, they simply use an alternative medium than the blog to do it. And they keep people updated regularly, without having to manually check back in with us.
Social media is a bonus, something we have never added to the blog before. But, as with our new ventures into making videos and learning more about photography, it expands the blog in a way that makes it both more interactive and more multi-level. And, in addition to being alternative channels to reach our audience, these additions also make blogging more challenging and enriching. They make blogging a complex combination of aspects – writing, photography, videos, and social media – that let us train a multitude of skills and run a comprehensive website that appeals to our audience in various ways.
But, despite our efforts, we feel there is still something missing
One thing, at least, is still not yet ideal. As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, one of our real passions – the one that started all of this – is cultural blogging. We can blog (and have blogged) about cultural topics in the US and Canada, within cultures that feel very near our own. But what we really enjoy is blogging from a cultural perspective that is foreign to us, while being in an unfamiliar culture that is hard for us to understand and a challenge for us to live in. In such environments, we thrive, and so does our writing, as it makes for even greater inspiration and the need to process our surroundings increases. We love traveling in North America, but it makes us look forward with ever-increasing intensity to crossing into Central America and the new adventures this will inspire us to share with you.