Reflections on 4 years of blogging & the future of Austrian Adaptation.
The roof was down on the cabriolet, the sun was warm, but not beating down upon my forehead yet. As the highway stretched out in front of us, with nothing but 4 hours of driving ahead my mind began to wander back to the same question – what are you going to do with the blog?
Ok, that’s not the most romantic and insightful thing to be thinking as you drive through the rolling hills of Liguria (more on that soon), but finally, blissfully, on our recent holiday my brain had the time and space to reflect on things, to really consider after all the hours that have been poured into this blog baby, what I want to achieve with it.
It’s been four years already….four years of blogging, writing, learning, baring my soul a little, learning photography and trialling allll the brunches. Best of all, four years of building this online community and corner of the web to share travel & expat experiences with you guys.
After everything that’s been poured into this site, that has been the most rewarding part of this whole crazy blogging adventure.
I regularly get emails from people who have found something useful in my words. Or even crazier, when people tell me in real life that this blog helped them through a hard time, or to adjust to life in Austria. That’s crazy awesome! All this site was ever intended to do is help people going through the same struggle I was – adapting to life in a new country, when you had no friends, no job, no language and no clue.
Ok and maybe an excuse to post obnoxious pictures from Paris…
I could cringe when I think of how this blog started – just a simple WordPress blog, with only the basics, I was learning as I went. But even so, it was exhilarating to hit Publish on that first post, way back in October 2013. It was full of ramblings and some very very basic photos taken on an old point and shoot camera.
Four years later, we’ve schmicked things up a bit with design, found (still finding?) my writing groove and am working towards better, longer, more purposeful articles for you. I’m still committed to being that same straightforward, honest and helpful person for people going through the experience of living abroad.
This blog is also a place for storytelling, seeing how life changes over the years, chronicling the crazy travel adventures we have and all my favourite discoveries of Vienna and Austria.
I’ll admit – I love being that person who gives the best recommendations for bars, brunch, where to travel, where to stay.
I’ve been doing that for years for friends and family, it’s literally my day job and to be honest, you probably couldn’t shut me up about it if you tried.
On our recent epic road trip around Europe, I had a lot of time to think on what comes next for this blog – where I want to take it, what would serve you guys best and how to keep it inviting and exciting – something that can bring value to people for years to come, but still adapt to whatever our future holds.
Though the blog was originally built to chronicle my adaptation to Austrian life, what happens in future when I *have* adapted?
The Travel Blogging Thing…
Lord knows there are a hundred thousand travel blogs out there and the industry is now getting diluted with utter crap. For the record, I’m not here to write another ‘Top 10 Reasons to Visit….’ or a ‘Best outfits to wear in….’ article, especially if I’ve only been to that place for a day.
What I am here to do, is tell our stories of life abroad, to share info on places that I know other people will enjoy because I’ve been there myself.
I don’t do articles in exchange for freebies, I don’t get paid for recommending places (actually I don’t currently get paid at all for this site – its running costs are all self funded) and my opinion sure as shit can’t be bought. Everything you get here is 100% honest and more often than not 100% paid by me to experience.
There’s been a lot of time, sweat and yes, tears, poured into this baby. (Stefan will tell you too much time, I would always say never enough.) But that’s because I really do love blogging – the people I’ve met from it, the skills I’ve learned and the wonderful readers who have been so kind to contact me in appreciation of my recommendations, or to ask questions about Austria & living abroad.
The Green Eyed Monster & Living Your Dreams
I’ve seen a lot of bloggers come and go in 4 years too.
Plenty have started as little as 2 years ago and outstripped me in numbers or ‘success’; more fans on Facebook, huge Instagram followings, landing free press trips or just becoming ‘known’ in the industry much faster than I have.
When I get sucked into the comparison black hole of doom, beating myself up that all my time and energy has been ‘wasted’ there’s only one thing that can stop the swirling negative thoughts. I have to remind myself – their success is not mine.
Or – don’t look sideways, that’s not where you’re going!
There is an infinite amount of success for everyone to achieve in the blogging world, so do I actually want to achieve the things those ‘bigger’ bloggers have? Do I want to be that kind of blogger? More importantly, do I want to be that kind of person?
In most cases, when I really thought about it, the answer was no.
Success has to be measured by your own goals. I know the dream life I want to build for myself and Stefan, and this blog is a big part of it, but it’s not the only part.
So, what is the travel blogging dream?
The writers and creators I admire most are the honest, open storytellers; Legal Nomads, The Everywhereist, Girl vs Globe (latest girl crush), This Battered Suitcase, Fevered Mutterings, Heart My Backpack…I could go on for days.
The difference is, those people don’t blog only for sponsors, or to create clickbait-y listicles or to be ‘just’ influencers cashing in on fame…they tell their stories to their readers. They are like old friends you know and trust to steer you in the right direction. They built businesses off the back of their honesty and connection to their readers. That is what success looks like to me – using your knowledge and fun personality to help people.
The rolling highways of Italy and France gave me time to think through all this big picture stuff and really consider what I want to write and create for you. For us. Because really, this blog is nothing without you guys.
I could oodle around here writing loooong articles, creating wild videos, snapchatting, instagramming and tweeting my life away about anything and everything – but if it’s not useful or any good to you guys, why bother?
What Happens Next
After much staring across the vineyards fields of Provence and the turquoise Mediterranean sea of Italy (yes, I’m insufferable) here’s what I can say this blog will continue to do, no matter what;
- Share insider tips on Vienna & Austrian life
- Lovingly seek out coffee & brunch spots, wherever we travel (just try to stop me!)
- Tell honest stories about life as a cross cultural couple & living abroad
To keep growing though, there’s some things that will become a bigger part of our story. As we travel more, as I get better adjusted to life in Austria, I’ll be sharing more about these topics.
Local travel that supports sustainable tourism
For the past few holidays, we’ve shied away from resort-y, package deals that we know can hollow out a small towns soul, once it becomes overrun and commercialised. Stefan’s own hometown has experienced the impact of this.
So now, when we travel we are looking at ways to support local communities more.
Going to the local cafe instead of the chain brand, booking direct with a family run B&B instead of through a conglomerate. Buying locally from food markets and not chain stores – little changes we can do to have an impact on the sustainability of a destination.
Even if that means booking with a provider that supports sustainable travel practises, like Intrepid travel or Oasis Overland for our Kyrgyzstan trip. More and more, this is the kind of lower environmental impact travel I’d like to do.
Outdoor local adventures
This shift into being an outdoorsy type has happened inch by inch, gradually over my last few years in Austria. I’m as surprised as anyone that a Melbourne hipster can become ‘outdoorsy’ in any way!
First I got a bike and slowly came to love the chance to move with pedal power, cycling around the city with camera in hand. Then came the regular Sunday ‘walks’ (Stefan says walks, I say hikes!) in various parks and woodlands around Vienna. Lo and behold, five years later, we’re going on a full on overland camping trip and I’m buying ugly shoes and loose shapeless pants for functionality, not the look.
Yup – I’m getting more outdoorsy and Austrian by the day.
Now that we are getting our hands on the outdoor gear, expect to see more local adventures in Austria (but don’t worry, I still count finding a brunch spot on top of the mountain a critical part of the adventure!).
Local guides to cities & regions
In researching for our own travels, it became pretty clear that my first instinct is always to go to locally focussed blogs to find the best info on a destination. So I know for bar recommendations in Paris I’ll check in with Expat Edna, for guides to Croatia it’s Chasing the Donkey, for London it’s Lady in London and when we travelled in Provence, Le Long Weekend had all the best advice.
So now (as it always has been), when I write about travel destinations, it will always be places I’ve visited and explored myself, for more than just a day. Normally I don’t write about a destination unless I’ve been there more than once, or spent more than 2 days there to really understand the place properly. That’s always been the case, but I wanted to be upfront with you guys so you can trust that even as the blog grows, I won’t be straying from that belief.
With that in mind, I’m also super keen to create more and more articles and videos around Austrian destinations, as there’s still so many places left to discover! As a travel junkie I will always have something to say about places we travel to in other countries, but discovering my own backyard here is still a priority.
So what this rambling article over 1,500 words is trying to say is – I can feel my life here in Austria, and consequently this blog, growing and changing.
Nothing too crazy – more like a distillation of why I’m here in Austria, what we travel for and figuring out how to make it more meaningful for you guys.
I think I’m getting closer than ever to having ‘adapted’ to Austrian life. Nowhere near having nailed it, but feeling more confident in the life we’re building here, and the blog that has made it possible. So stay with me guys, there’s exciting things ahead, and if you’re up for the ride I’d love to have you join me to see what awaits us down the line….
What are you looking for in an Austrian-based travel blog? Hit me up in the comments with your ideas and questions!
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