How is that for an attention-grabbing title? And what about this picture? That’s me on the left shortly before we started travel blogging. That’s a more recent pic of me on the right after losing 35 pounds mainly due to the walking we do on our trips.
Today I want to take a step back and talk more about what I want to bring to you. I truly want to provide interesting and inspiring content. A lot of things need to be done to reach my target audience. I need to make some changes so that I can do that better. I hope you will indulge me. First, some background on where we’ve been and where we are. If you want, you can skip all of the background and get to the section marked, “Changes.”
Some of you know how we started. My husband and I discussed travel blogging in 2013 after an eye-opening visit to Montgomery, Ala. I was a newspaper editor in Alabama in the late 90s but I never visited the state capitol. Our trip turned out to be more than just a state capitol tour. We discovered some Alabama history and met some great people. We were hooked.
I started a blog but I was working a full-time radio news job and freelancing. I didn’t have a clear focus and sometimes I would go months without posting. Fast forward to 2017. God blessed me when I was laid off from my job. After taking a few months to adjust to being a full-time freelancer, I shut down our old blog and started working on this blog. We went through a few names before coming up with Southern Family Adventures. The name has worked so far but on occassion, I still have people who wonder why I am not jumping out of planes or riding the rapids on the Ocoee River. I feel life is an adventure and we are on one every day, even on days like today when I am mostly working at my desk (it’s raining and we are traveling all weekend so I am happy for the downtime). I may raft the Ocoee one day but I won’t jump out of a perfectly good plane.
This has been a learning experience and since I am the queen of bullet points, I will use them to explain.
- I knew when I started this that more than a million travel blogs existed. This was really more of a hobby or “passion project” and I wasn’t really worried about numbers. But then we grew. This has turned into so much more and I am grateful. We have a full calendar for November as of today and we have things booked in 2019 already. Some of our trips are just day trips, thank goodness. I am still overwhelmed at the reception I have received. I am guest blogging and getting requests for stories all while maintaining my other commitments. I am also staying in touch with magazine editors I worked with in the past. I had no idea this would happen so fast.
- Our growth is not just about numbers. I tell everyone–don’t worry about followers or other numbers. A few years ago I was working with a client who wanted 5,000 Twitter followers. I got him there but he still wasn’t making sales or growing. That’s because numbers can be misleading. A lot of those followers were his family and friends, my family and friends, his church friends and some people from networking groups. Those people weren’t his audience. Engagement is not just online but offline as well. I get emails from people who are not even followers but who are interested in what I do. Usually, they heard about me from someone or met me at an event. I tell everyone to do good work and focus on engagement.
- We may visit a big city from time to time but our focus is truly on small-towns and smaller cities. We also have a love for the Smoky Mountains, which to me is just some connected small towns that make up my favorite place! I think small towns and mid-size cities sometimes get overlooked and that’s a shame.
- We are also focused on having a good time without spending a lot of money. We live in Northwest Georgia so we do a lot of features from there as well as Northeast Alabama and Southeast Tennessee. We may not ever get to all of the things that are just 100 miles of us but we are trying.
- I have so much material I haven’t published yet from the past five years and I am not sure how much I will use. I am continuously getting new content from our current travels. And the pictures I took then are not that great. I am getting another camera this week because our chief photographer, also known as the Teenager, is now in college and is not with us as much. We have plans to revisit some places.
Our social media response has been great but the blog readership has been low. That’s because honestly, this site is a mess. I need to do some add-ons, SEO and improve the design. I don’t have time so I have someone who is going to do that for me. I will be making some big investments in this site over the next few months. It’s no longer just a hobby for me. These changes will take some time but hopefully, by spring training it will be done.
I thought about taking the blog down while we made changes and just posting on social media. Then we had a spike in readership. I hope you can bear with us for the next few months as we make changes.
Our upcoming trips will get first priority and we have some good ones! We will be posting on social media from our locations as we travel and then writing our stories shortly after that. I may still be going through our older material this time next year.
We have started a Facebook group for other travel bloggers and writers like me who are struggling along. The group is also called Southern Family Adventures. If you can’t find it and you want to join, let me know.
I can’t say “thank you” enough. I am never too busy to answer a call or email. People are important. And if you read this far, I owe you a coffee!