What’s the best thing about having a blog? I was born a blabbermouth so I can’t just give you a sole answer (no pun intended). However, what I have here is a list of experiences and values that a blog can bring to a blogger–and its readers, if any.
Let me brief you as to why The Cole Walkabouts exists, in case you have just stumbled upon this site. I was based in Vientiane, Laos for two years. As a “young expat”, I was convinced that everyday is a potential memorable experience; equipped with my new photography gear fit to boot, I had to quench my thirst for adventure through bringing it anywhere I go and capture moments. Then one day in November of 2009, while I was browsing my photos to use for our company brochure, I thought “Wow, I have a lot of photos.” During that time, I was also starting out with Tumblr and I was definitely inspired by the photographs I see in my timeline. However, I thought that Tumblr is only for short posts and a couple of photographs. I wanted something along the lines of Blogspot or WordPress but was iffy to go for the idea because after a series of failed attempts, I can’t maintain a decent blog. I needed a reason to blog, a theme, for that matter. Then you know, it hit me.
At first it was just about pondering, or ranting about being away from the comforts of home, but then I thought the Web has enough of those. What I needed to do is to put up a travel blog with information that conventional travel sites don’t always carry–a first-hand experience on events and the life of a traveler/expat. Some travel sites, no matter how vivid their photography is or how comprehensive travel guidelines are, seem impersonal to me, for some reason. I felt that travel sites should be more of sharing experiences and stories that may persuade you to book a ticket. As much as guidelines are important, I believe that there’s that certain level of cultural understanding compulsory to every traveler. This is not only to condition themselves for traveling but also to prepare them in communicating with the locals and understanding the territory. So here I am, writing about experiences, posting photographs, and blurting unsolicited travel advice. From TCW’s inception up until my most recent post, I am constantly soul-searching. You see, blogs motivate you, as a blogger, to ponder about your next move and whatnot. It makes you think, if that makes sense.
Blogstar? Nope. Viral? Not even close to a tad close. However, readers dropping lines on my comment box is enough for me. Even checking out the search terms that lead to my blog makes me smile. A friend from my college organization once told me that when she reads my posts, it’s like she’s traveling already–my heart just swelled. Being an Internet icon would be surreal and just plain outrageous, but what I want is to open readers’ mind into traveling, not just being touristy, but learning about another culture and its ways; meet new people and realize, that the world is just waiting for you.
Whenever I read about my older posts, even from my now-defunct whiny-blogs from when I was 16, I can’t help but to laugh at my grammar and misspellings. I am a (kinda, sorta) writer, but my English is not perfect. But I try. And still try. Now I have to stop writing fragments because grammar nazis out there are off to hate on how youth today don’t give a rat’s ass to formal writing.
Also, I cringe at how ridiculous I sounded ranting about the mundane. That time I thought growing pains seemed to be the greatest challenge ever hit me, but now that I am facing yet another chapter of my professional life, I am glad I got over my teen madness. I will be damned if I am still crying over how I hate wearing jeans when it’s raining. Nowadays, I worry about tripping over my high heels in the bus. I’m kidding. Okay, just a little.
Since a blog is like a document of your thoughts and encounters, you can easily keep track of your personal change. It’s an amazing feeling.
They make you smile when you’re alone, which makes you look like a complete idiot in public. They make you sigh, not of regret but of missing those happy days. They make you want to aim higher so you can make your experience bank richer. They make you look back and move forward. Photographs fade, computers go haywire–but sites are very much alive. Unless your server’s database gets wiped out, which I sure pray will never happen.
It is when you meet people that change you. These new actors in your life, playing a major or minor role, they are never forgotten. Blogsites motivate you to write stories from time to time, so you put yourself out there and see what’s worth writing about. It doesn’t always have to be traveling abroad or shedding out your savings for a trip of a lifetime (although that’s pretty awesome!). Hanging out at random coffee shops, with a latte and a good read, you are bound to meet somebody. And it doesn’t always have to be a romantic meet-up. The people you meet are potential–you got that right–connections.
Mastery is defined as the ability to execute and to accomplish an action on a highly skilled level. It’s like you can say “No one can do this better than I can,” Well, with a blog, you constantly improve points about your writing, message and delivery. You become an expert, as time passes. You become a source.
Maintaining a blog is never an easy task, especially if it has a particular line of thought. Having a blog is like having a pet that you have to nurture. Apart from feeding it with posts, you have to make sure they are factual to avoid misleading readers. Cheesy and cliche, but with great power, comes great responsibility. You already have that voice, make that voice count.
You would do anything for content. But to take the pressure off your system, treat every day as an adventure. There is always something to be written about.
A blog inspires you to write more, read more and experience more. Once you’re done with posting the same content, it would inspire you to explore other possibilities for content. As for me, I’ve been writing about personal accounts on my Vientiane-days, but since I moved out last August, I am making the most of my stay in Singapore. Almost everything became insanely expensive from where I was coming from so I found inspiration in food blogging. That is still traveling–after all, food is part of a country’s culture. I also plan on joining a volunteer program for a new advocacy that will not drop the element of travel and learning.
The Web is embedded in our lives and personalities. We may have different “selves” once we are away from the keyboard, but I can dare say we have this strong need to connect to our family, friends and even people around the world, hence the mobile devices. This “gift” that has been provided by our analog predecessors, I believe, should not only connect us but we should also extend our connections. Pay it forward, so to speak. If we have the perks of ICTs and use them at our disposal, make something out of it. It doesn’t have to be changing the world to help feed the hungry (although that’s pretty awesome!) but a simple message of optimism can change a reader’s life. Challenge yourself at what you can offer with your content. Surprise yourself with you can come up with. Be worthy of this space.
Happy Anniversary, Cole Walks! And thank YOU for being part of it!