This is something I ask myself a lot (probably because Guy asks me every other day – he’s not on board with the whole working hard with no clear purpose and no clear return) and I still don’t have a good answer. Recently, I’ve been asking myself even more than usual (and I still don’t have a good answer).
I’m not exactly sure why I decided to start this blog. I think the most honest answer is that I wanted a creative outlet, and one that combined some of the things I love most; cooking, traveling, writing & photography. Around the same time I decided that I wanted to become a freelance writer and I realised that having a blog would be a great portfolio.
Eating churros in San Cristobal de las casas, Mexico
It’s been almost a year since I started The Traveling Anthropologist – although I’ve only been blogging for about eight months. I love this blog (sorry if that sounds super arrogant but I do) and I love blogging. I wrote my dissertation on online communities and I think that’s the best way to describe the blogosphere (it’s an actual word I swear!). Being a blogger is akin to belonging to an online community. You make friends, share stories, support each other and just generally enjoy each others (virtual) company.
But I sometimes wonder, why am I doing this? Why am I spending so much time creating this blog? What is it for? Every now and then I make the mistake of reading a ‘how-to-blog’ post which tells me that first and foremost I need to have a niche. In fact the most important thing – after having an extremely catchy, clever and simultaneously generic but specific blog name – is to have a clear niche. At that I seem to be failing. I don’t think you can categorise this blog into a niche – I share photos, write stories, make food…it’s not exactly a travel blog but it’s not exactly a lifestyle blog or a food blog either.
I do know that I love blogging. I first started blogging when we came to Mexico four years ago – it was just a simple blog for family and friends to keep up to date on our adventures. I enjoyed it so much that when we returned home I started up another blog on Tumblr where I posted mostly photos and happenings from my life. I kept that up for a couple of years but I too shy to share it with anyone and apart from my mum and a couple of close friends no one knew about it. I had the idea for The Traveling Anthropologist when I was at a party with some colleagues last year (a proper house party of the kind that I hadn’t been to in many years – they even had a cheese ball!) and we were talking about writing and blogging and I found myself so inspired that I went home, poured myself some more wine and this blog was born.
[Completely unrelated photo – I just love this kitten. This morning I was doing some yoga and he jumped on my back and fell asleep while I was doing ‘cat-cow’.]
This blog is a lot more work than I previously anticipated. Aside from all the technical stuff like learning how to use WordPress, I’m teaching myself how to write, how to take better photographs, how to use social media – and so much of my time is devoted to the blog. It really is constant. If I’m not typing on the computer I’m scribbling into my notebook. But I don’t mind that because I really do love blogging. I love reading other people’s blogs and I can only hope that some people love reading my blog. But if no one did, that’s okay too because I love reading my blog. Does that sound egocentric? Sorry! Ha 🙂
Anyway recently we decided we were going home – a lot earlier than we expected and it’s kind of thrown me for what to do with this blog. Admittedly I’d been thinking a little bit about what to do with this blog for a while. I’ve been wondering what direction I want to go in. I don’t think I ever wanted to have a travel blog, I just got caught up in all of the (wonderful) blog posts and articles about ‘how to start a travel blog’ and decided that that’s what I should do. But really I just want to take beautiful photos, create new recipes and write the odd story.
[Another unrelated photo – I just really like my hair in this photo, it looks so shiny!]
So does that mean I need to change the name? Some days I think ‘oh it’s just a name don’t worry about it’, but then other days I think ‘it’s more than a name – it’s a brand and it’s not very representative of what you want the blog to be’. When I first created my blog I loved my name, I really did. It just came to me as I was sipping my coffee one morning and staring at my computer and I loved it instantly. I still like my name, and I feel like its representative of me. If I have to describe myself anthropologist and traveler are the fifth and sixth adjectives on my list (after professional sleeper, avid eater, Stephen Fry enthusiast and all round awesome person). So I kind of like that my blog name has those words in it. But at the same time my blog has little to do with anthropology, and will soon have little to do with travel so I feel like a bit of a fraud.
I’m not normally the sort of person to worry about such things, I spend my time worrying about how long I can decently wait until I can have a snack, whether I’ll have time to squeeze in some Netflix watching before bed, if there’s definitely enough coffee for breakfast in the morning and other important matters that deserve my brain’s energy. But I really do love this blog, and I really do want to turn freelance writing into my career for which this blog is a small part of.
So what should I do? Should I change the name? Should I scrap it and start a new blog? Should I just shut up and keep blogging about what I want to?
Any advice would be much appreciated! Have you gone through something similar and can offer some help?