Someone recently commented on one of our blogs suggesting we wrote for money and further suggesting the type of content we should actually be writing about. Clearly this person misunderstood the difference between a personal experience blog and the role of an investigative journalist. While we have a policy of never responding to useless negative comments this person can take delight that it did set us thinking about the Why, What, Who, When and Where of our inpursuitofadream.com blog.
The first blog came about in November 2015, exactly one year after we started caravanning. Deb had spent that year following fellow caravanners exploits via Facebook groups and Twitter. Occasionally a blog would appear and after reading a few she felt this was something she would also like to do. 11th November 2015 saw blog No.1.
We realised at an early stage that writing the blogs was a great way to record our trips, almost like written photo albums, whereby we could look back in the future and our family could follow, or not, our adventures without us boring them with a photograph slideshow each time we came home.
While we do not write with others in mind we do like to write a blog that taps into the mood and essence of the caravanning, motorhoming and travel experience. When we receive comments from people who have followed our path into this leisure experience, or in some cases, literally followed our path to places and sites we visited across Europe, it is very rewarding and very much appreciated.
Money? .. slight pause .. while we stop laughing. Some bloggers write with the sole purpose of earning money, unless they have a product or service to sell they will generally achieve this via advertising space or affiliated marketing. After 143 blogs to date we have never received one penny in payment. We actually pay to have premium level blogging software to stop advertising as we feel it spoils the website and we don’t like it on other sites.
So, what do we get? We occasionally have products sent for review by manufacturers, generally the contact is after following a manufacturer on Twitter and they return the follow and see we have a caravan blog. We turn down many requests to review if we feel a product would not be of any benefit to us. We also blog about items we have purchased ourselves if we feel others may be interested. We never do a negative review, if we don’t like something we don’t write. Therefore, if you see a review, we feel the product would have a value and benefit to others.
We do use affiliate marketing via Amazon, as do many bloggers. If you see a product linked within an article it may take you direct to the Amazon website, if you then purchase after following this link we would receive a small fee. So far, after one year, we have not even reached the £25 trigger point for a payment, we could try harder but really can’t be bothered, it would be quicker and easier to do two hours overtime at work.
What do we write about? We have developed our style and content into a handful of catagories:
- Caravan Life; articles that focus on the general appeal of Caravanning and Motorhoming. These articles receive many views as they connect with many of the same feelings as others and sometimes highlight the many varied and wonderful differences.
- Our Trips; a snapshot of a specific trip. We write these in a manner that shows the banter of a couple on holiday, we hope people will recognise themselves or others in similar situations. We hope they are written in an entertaining style like you would share funny moments with friends down the pub. We look to highlight places and things to do in each area, but mostly we selfishly want to look back in the future and remember each trip very clearly.
- Site Reviews; we always pay for our caravan sites so that our reviews remain independent. We write them because we always make use of other reviews when choosing potential sites to visit. There is no such thing as a bad review, you just learn the preferences of the reviewer. If we don’t like a site because it has entertainment and loads of kids it may be the perfect site for you.
- Product Reviews; This is covered in the ‘Why’ section. We are not overly keen on doing product reviews but will do them if we think the product is useful to us or other people. In return we can estimate to the manufacturer how many people may see the review. Once published and shared on social media our bit is done, further promotion of the article is in the hands of the manufacturer.
- The Dream; For anyone interested we provide updates on our overall dream to work less, travel more, meet more. Once again, this is partly in response to others who are treading this path ahead of us and provide inspiration. Hopefully our story will inspire another person to target an improved life/work balance and earlier retirement.
inpursuitofadream.com is two people. Deb, who started the blog in 2015 and husband Steve (The Boss, nicknamed by Deb, the real Boss), who took a passive, spellchecker interest in the early days, before adding the occasional paragraph, before adding the occasional blog. Currently, Deb writes about 70% and Steve 30% of the articles. You will not always be able to guess the author as Steve never writes in the first person.
We met at our first job when we both finished secondary school, McDonalds, Bolton, Lancashire and now have two happy meals of our own, Emily & Alice (our grown up kids, sometimes referred to as the ‘Jellybeans’). Deb spent most of her working career in the Education system before time as a Personal Assistant and has now scaled back to two, long, weekend days caring for severely physical and mentally disabled adults. Steve became a HGV driver before working up to Transport and Warehouse Manager for a ‘big’ company. It made his brain ache so he has also scaled back to three/four day weekends as a HGV driver again.
Sometimes we hear comments that a holiday is no time to be writing blogs or others will write their blogs after returning home. If we did that the process would become a chore and more likely result in blogs that do not capture our mood. You should see us in action, writing blogs … that is, Deb will be seen with a glass of wine or cup of tea in her left hand while she writes all her blogs on her mobile phone only, or she will happily type away on her phone during car journeys, especially on the caravan tow home utilising the 4G still transmitting between caravan and car. Steve on the other hand, will be drinking a bottled beer and using an iPad or his phone.
We have a TV in the caravan but only watch specific programmes before hitting the ‘off’ button. Our preference is Radio 2, Smooth Radio North West or music albums stored on our Google Play account while the chat, drinks and blogs flow. To be honest, each article takes a couple of hours to write with another fifteen minutes adding pictures, so only a few, enjoyable, hours per week.
We write our blogs on the WordPress software, it was the very first platform we used and we have found it relatively simple to use and very stable. WordPress.org seems to be better if you are technically minded with increased functionality but we are a bit thick and use the ‘straight off the shelf, ready to go’ WordPress.com software.
It took us a few months to realise you could build up a good looking website on WordPress.com so paid up for the inpursuitofadream.com domain name to remove the ‘WordPress’ from our web address and increased the platform level to remove all advertising and increase storage space. So, in a nutshell, we pay for the pleasure of blogging … and happily so.
Blogs & Vlogs
Over the last couple of years we have had the pleasure of meeting a number of bloggers (written) and vloggers (video/YouTube) and there are others we still hope to meet. They are a very supportive and non competitive (OK, a bit competitive) bunch who are very willing to share advice and ideas. We even purchased our first caravan after checking out a vlog by Andrew Ditton, that he has since told us was one of his earliest videos. For most people Vlogs will be their preferred viewing pleasure but we have always been drawn to people’s blogs, a bit like preferring the film or the book eh? If we watch a vlog we are watching the people on the screen doing ‘their thing’, when we read a blog we replace the writer and become them experiencing their adventure, their catastrophes. A perfect example would be the Paul Davis – home-is-where-you-drag-it blog, we can’t read his blogs without laughing till our faces hurt, be warned, some phrases can be choice, but funny, funny, funny.
If you have a thought to blog or vlog our advice is do it. Forget any money ideas when you start, if it follows great, but it likely will not make you a living or a single penny. Concentrate on good content, humorous, emotive or informative, we hate “woke up, had jam on my toast, had lunch, had dinner, went to bed”, who cares? A clever social media strategy may fool lots of people once, only good content will make people want to read your blogs or watch your vlogs a second time. You will find yourself slightly addicted to viewing statistics, any views are great in the early days, join Facebook groups and post your links there, then the views start building and building. However, if we had no views we would still be doing it just for ourselves.
A long article just to respond to the sweeping comment “they only write where the money is” – and to think, they could just have asked us.