10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From Blogging

FIVE years ago today, I dragged myself to the blogosphere kicking and screaming. I was a professional journalist who was always paid for her work, I argued to myself, why on earth should I give my words away for free? But then I looked around me, and the media world was rapidly changing. In fact, it had already changed. I had a stark choice. Embrace social media, or do something else. The concept of doing anything but journalism was not an option for me, so I plunged into the deep end. And I’m so glad I did. To celebrate The Global Goddess’ 5th birthday, I’ve put together a list of the 10 best things I’ve learned from blogging.
1. Some people will hate you, some will love you
If you are going to write well, you must be prepared to be vulnerable. Too many writers sit on the fence and just as you think you have a glimpse of their true self, they retreat. Being vulnerable comes at a cost and there are simply some people, no matter what you write, who will never like your work. As in life, for whatever reason, they won’t like you. It doesn’t matter. What matters if that you like you.

2. Write as you try to live, with humility, heart and humour
An extension of point one, but I don’t see the point of writing, or living, if you don’t give it your all. Laugh at yourself, pour your heart out, let the world in. The rewards are rich if you can follow these three principles.

3. You won’t always get it right
You may think you are one fabulously funny bugger, but guess what? No one else does on this particular occasion. Or you’ve completely missed the point, as you’re so caught up in your own headspace. That’s OK. Take the learnings and move on. There really is no point crying over spilt milk.

4. Never give up
An oldie, but a goodie. Writing a blog is like a musician playing to an empty concert hall. You can’t actually see your audience and much of the time, they don’t even tell you they are reading it. This can result in days when you wonder what the whole damn point of it is. And then someone, somewhere will mention something you’ve written. And it may have resonated with them. Someone is always watching you.

5. Always show up
It’s easy to write when you are not busy, you are in the zone, and life is good. Words, well they keep sprinkling down on you like manna from heaven. What distinguishes a professional blogger from an amateur is that you turn up, week after week, even when you are feeling at your worst. It’s those days, when you have to push through, that will determine what you are made of.

6. Take risks
With a proliferation of bloggers on the internet, it is easy to become lost. Don’t. If you feel passionate about something, write about it. Try different ways of writing, look at different ways of tackling this life business. Not all blogs need to be a narrative, they can be a listicle, such as this. They may just be photographs. On days when I have limited internet access and I’m out there travelling somewhere in the world, I simply post a photograph and the words: “Postcard from X”. Treat your followers like your friends. You haven’t forgotten them, and that you’ll be back soon.

7. People like surprises
Just when people think they’ve figured you out, give them something new to think about. While you should find your writing voice, and distinguish a persona, don’t be afraid to mix it up a little bit. While I often write about travel, as that is my main business, my other passion is social issues.

8. Embrace evolution
When I first started The Global Goddess, I was writing for myself, to heal a badly broken heart. Much of what I was writing about was dating and sex. Over the years, as my life has evolved, so has my writing. Sure, I go back to relationship issues from time-to-time, but I have grown and so has my blog.

9. Find your voice
Don’t be afraid to be yourself. And never copy anyone else. Find your niche. Most days I remain convinced everyone else on the planet has been handed a guidebook on how to live this life and somehow, I missed out. Own your fears and flaws, embrace your passions and speak your truth.

10. You never know where it may lead
It’s taken me five long years, but these days, The Global Goddess makes money from sponsored posts. I speak at conferences about social media, travel writing, innovation and creativity. I’m now a columnist with Jetstar magazine. I write Content Campaigns for domestic and international tourism boards. And I swear if I hadn’t started blogging, it wouldn’t have put me back in front of so many editors and PR people in my industry and effectively, kept me in the mainstream travel writing game I adore so much. Having a blog allows me to say to prospective clients that I can immediately deliver on a trip, while my mainstream stories are percolating their way through the editing system many months later. There’s immediate return on investment. But most of all, enjoy it. We now live in a world where we can self publish, and that privilege is priceless.

Some of the blogging accolades I’ve received in recent years:

•In 2016, The Global Goddess was named by influential travel website Skyscanner as one of the Top 20 Australian and New Zealand bloggers to follow. http://www.skyscanner.com.au/news/aussie-nz-travel-bloggers-worth-following-part-2

•The Global Goddess was named by Tourism and Events Queensland as one of the top 19 travel bloggers to follow in 2017: http://blog.queensland.com/2016/12/22/best-travel-blogs-to-follow-in-2017/

•Earlier this year, The Global Goddess was shortlisted by My Deal and The RightFight.com in Australia’s Top 50 Influencers awards.

•The Global Goddess has just been named as a Finalist for Best Travel Blog, to be announced at the Australian Society of Travel Writers Awards in August.

Live, love, learn

SHE’S 92, as fit as a fiddle and as smart as a whip snake. She’s funny, sassy, and on the ball. Except for one thing. She’s blind from macular degeneration and she sports a broken heart. Not much she can do about either. Except carry on.

I met Mrs D this week during the course of my job. Sometimes as journalist, when you wade through the quagmire of crap that’s delivered to your lap, and peer beyond the press releases and pitches, you find a gem. Mrs D was pure gold.

We weren’t meant to meet. Or maybe we were. It was a simple phone interview to talk about her school reunion, draping herself in the old school tie, or ties as they may be, after 75 years. But once it became apparent she could not see, was not internet savvy, and had no way of sending me photos of herself, I was given the privilege of visiting her at her home.

She greeted me with a python-like hug. “I’m so glad to meet you,” she said, not quite looking at me, as she couldn’t see me, just perhaps maybe my form. She looked 62, not 92. And she sported a wicked wit. She spoke with great pride of her grandchildren, one in Paris, another in Antarctica. The one in Antarctica has a girlfriend, Jessica, working as surveyor on a mine in Queensland’s Cloncurry. Mrs D wasn’t quite sure what to make of Jessica at first. “I wondered what kind of girl she would be, but then she turned up and she was tinier than me. I fell in love with her.” So much so, that Mrs D declined to comment on the fact her grandson and Jessica were “living in sin” in case “they didn’t talk to me anymore”. I couldn’t imagine that ever happening with this pocket rocket. Mrs D so loves Jessica, she ensures that each time she’s in Brisbane, even without the grandson who is still in Antarctica, she plans a family dinner. “She’s such a lovely girl, we want to keep her in our family,” Mrs D said.

I told Mrs D that she looked superb for 92. “That’s the good thing about not being able to see,” she said, “you can’t see all your wrinkles,” she smiled, nimble fingers stroking her face.

But among the bunches of lavender on her table and the crocheted doilies, this wasn’t what struck me the most. It was the love she still held for her husband, Nick, who died in 1994. “I never imagined I could live this long without him,” she had told me earlier in the day. It was the first time during the interview I detected a change in her voice. On the other end of the line, salty, pesky tears stung my eyes.

You see, Mrs D once worked in a bank. That’s where she met Nick. They became engaged and married during World War II and went on to live in Townsville where she worked with Qantas, as a clerk, until “peace was declared and the boys came home from the war.”

She still lunches a few times a year, at Brisbane’s Sofitel Hotel, with three of the surviving staff members from her bank days. “There were eight of us, but most of them are gone,” she said.

Her older sister and younger brother have also died. “It’s a terrible thing. You miss that link with your family,” she said.

But most of all, she misses Nick.

“Every night I have a glass of champagne, and I raise that glass to the empty seat beside me to keep his memory alive,” she said.

Love. It’s a many splendoured thing. Mrs D knows it. And I think we all do, too.