Sunday, June 2, 2019

If you (aka, my mother and maybe 2 other family members who actually read this) haven't noticed by now, my blog posts have been... well... scarce. I started this page a year and a half ago with the intentions of documenting my journeys and adventures because I was just about to begin hiking the Appalachian Trail.  But I soon discovered that writing while on that type of a trip is VERY difficult. I tell myself that it was a lack of internet signal or battery power or taking forever to upload or blah blah blah.  Yes, those were some fairly legitimate sounding excuses but I don't think they were the whole problem.  To begin with, it was a fairly shit way of beginning a foray into blog writing. I'm pretty certain that there wasn't much more that I could have done to set myself up for failure.  I mean, really. Who in their right mind decides to work on a side project they know nothing about and have zero experience in, at the same time they are concentrating on their own goddamn survival? Our list of basic needs in the wilderness does not read: Food, Water, Shelter, Blog Posts. So, while I was figuring out filtering water, calculating my next food resupply mission, and counting ounces of weight that I could send home instead of carrying gear I don't need... the last thing on my mind was documenting my daily routine or regaling everyone with tales from the trail. Instead, I fell into a routine of posting 1 single, short, sweet and witty paragraph to Facebook each week along with a photo dump to keep the friends and family following along at home happy.  But that's all I was looking to do, let everyone know that "Yes, I'm still alive. No, a bear hasn't eaten me... yet."  And I pretty much kept that routing up since then. I made it half way thru the Appalachian Trail (about a thousand miles) before a foot injury sent me home and only a handful of Facebook posts along the way. I even spent a month and a half in Europe, went on a 17 day cruise across the Atlantic with my mother and then completed the whole 1,100 mile Florida Trail. All that but I really just didn't have much to say. I am in awe of all the bloggers and YouTubers out there on the trail that find new, interesting and informative things to say day in and day out (or even on a weekly basis). That's talent right there! We are just walking. We're not solving world peace or curing cancer, it's literally just walking and staying alive. But I myself read the blogs and watch the YouTube videos with all the other rabid fans and chomp at the bit waiting for the next installment. Why? Because of 2 things: stories and advice.
Stories! Everyone loves a good story. Everyone loves to feel like they are right there experiencing it along with them. Crazy adventures and situations that you could never imagine in a million years, or even feel good stories of generosity that restore people's faith in humanity. Everyone loves that stuff! Heck, I figured out early on in my travels that if you tell someone a story, they don't mind giving you a ride into town. The kind folks who pick up hitch hikers from the Appalachian Trail know this, and they crave it. Every time I stuck out my thumb to get where I was going, I was also thinking in my head about what story I was going to recite this time. (On a side note: hitch hiking on the Appalachian Trail is pretty safe. Hitch hiking anywhere else, not so much and I don't recommend it. Also, I had a knife and road flare on me and I wasn't afraid to stick them in someone's eye sockets if necessary).
So, back to my point, people turn to blogs and YouTube for stories. Living vicariously thru others. But not just for the entertainment, also as research. Every time I'm planning to hike a trail or travel somewhere new, I like to watch or read about what others have done in the same situation. It gives me a bit of piece of mind knowing a little bit beforehand. Even if it is only knowing what doesn't work, I like having that extra bit of knowledge in my brain before venturing into the "unknown". And that segways perfectly into the other part: advice. Good grief did I look at every signal hiking gear video and blog post ever created. I knew the basics of backpacking, but I wanted to know all of it! Gear is a finicky thing, ever changing and evolving to be better,stronger, lighter, more efficient. There is too much out there for even the best outdoors store to now all of it completely. Nowadays, the only decent way to research the latest stuff is to read blogs and watch YouTube gear review videos. Even going on to your friendly, activity specific Facebook group and asking for help, quite often you will get a link to someone else's expert review.
Why am I talking about all this?  All this pretty basic stuff that is probably taught in every college marketing class ever? Because that's where I'm at right now with my blog. The big question... What the f#@k should I write about?  My mom (who is my biggest cheerleader) says she loves reading my Facebook posts and that I'm really good at it. She thinks I should take this writing thing and run with it. But, she's my mom and I think it's an actual law that she has to be super duper supportive and think everything I do is great. I'm not trying to make a big career change and instantly start writing for Travel and Leisure magazine. All I want is to take my travels, adventures and crazy experiences and turn them in to... stories and advice.

But what should I write about?!!!! So far, I'm just writing about writing!!!

I've seen so many successful blogs that are prolific because they found their niche. Usually, I find them because I am looking for very specific advice for a very random topic that pops up in my life. I'm sure most people can relate.  I Google search "vintage canned ham trailer,paint stripping on aluminum" and I find exactly what I'm looking for: blog posts with step by step instructions, recommended products used and things that went wrong. Bingo. Thank you for the info, love you, love your work, I will click on one of your advertisers as a show of appreciation for free knowledge. But, holy cow, that's a niche blog. (I'm currently restoring a vintage trailer, so it's topical for me)
What should my niche be? How do I get my niche? Is there a queue I stand in and they are handed out based on supply and demand? Cause that would be awesome. Actually, no, because I would probably get handed the niche topic "An in depth research study on the problems caused by the North American Tuna Herpes Blight" or some shit I don't know or care about.  People write about stuff they like, stuff they are already good at. Like the woman writing about restoring a vintage trailer.  I know what I'm saying isn't groundbreaking, but all this is helping me figure shit out so bare with me. Ok, now I'm definitely rambling and my writing is getting a bit more random and weird. Oh, ya, probably thanks to rum. Wait! Rum! That's it! I like rum... I like traveling... I should write about drinking rum while traveling. I'm gonna go do that. Actually, that was the goal of this blog to begin with a year and a half ago. Thank you for attending my stream of consciousnesses ramble as I hashed out my thoughts and got back to exactly where I started.  Someone make sure I never do a TedTalk cause that would be dreadful for all involved.

PS. If you actually want to see pics and read blurbs from my adventures this past year, head over to my Facebook page. Because until now, that's all I could muster. I swear, I'm totally going to give this blogging thing a better go this time 'round. Promise...  well, fingers crossed anyways.