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Looking back on the 2010s – Part II: Blogging on The Well-Travelled Postcard

Part I of this series listed my most memorable travel moments of the 2010s, much of which I remember in such detail thanks to this very blog. This blog existed for 7.5 years of the decade so is a key archive of my photos, emotions and delights from lots of my travels. In recent years I’ve been less committed to blogging and I certainly haven’t documented every single trip taken, but my annual recaps do paint a picture of where I went and why, what I loved most and which places and routes I’d recommend to others.

So this blog post, Part II of my ‘Looking back on the 2010s’ series, covers the highlights of this very blog.

The Well-Travelled Postcard Blog in the 2010s

I created this travel blog way back in June 2012 in the early days of blogging, when I only knew one other person who’d done the same. The heyday of blogging continued for another 3-4 years before the focus switched to platforms like Instagram. Blogs definitely do still have a place in the internet and a useful role in sharing more detailed information than Instagram photos can, but  the way people access them has changed. In the blogging boom, it was normal for people to subscribe to and follow the blogs they loved, and the majority of my readership were repeat visitors. As we’ve become frankly overwhelmed with information, notifications from all angles, and bulging email inboxes, fewer people subscribe loyally to specific blogs, instead browsing the internet more ad hoc.

The majority of my readership now comes from Google searches, as people are looking for specific information on a destination they’re already interested in, rather than using blogs as inspiration to help choose that destination in the first place. Instagram and its biggest influencers have taken over the role of inspiring people’s bucket lists, and that has honestly changed the kind of content that bloggers now produce. Most bloggers realise that their bread and butter is useful information, recommendations, itineraries and tips for travel, rather than evocative and inspiring pieces that open people’s eyes to new or secret places they’ve never heard of.

To be honest, I still tend to write whatever I want to write, not only what will be rewarded well on Google – because I have the luxury of not depending on this blog for my income. Despite that, I’m still aware of my how my readership has evolved, which posts will attract lots of readers and which won’t. So here’s a look back over a handful of this blog’s best (and worst) hits!

Most-read blog posts:

These posts all feature well in Google rankings for certain keywords, hence why they’re highest in the rankings.

    1. 6 Reasons Why My British Passport Is My Most Valuable Possession (written pre-EU referendum in 2016, so my feelings have changed somewhat!)
    2. The Art of the Surprise Visit
    3. My 2-week Travel Itinerary for Sri Lanka
    4. What to See, Do and Eat in Bellagio at the Heart of Lake Como
    5. My 2-week Travel Itinerary for Sicily
    6. 9 Things I Adored in Copenhagen and What the City Taught Me About Different Travel Styles
    7. How to Run a Sub-4 Hour Marathon First-Time
    8. Jobs Abroad: a Guide to Working a Ski Season
    9. How to Ask for a Career Break or Sabbatical
    10. 8 Steps to Getting a First Class Degree in Modern Languages

Least-read blog posts:

The three blog posts which clearly didn’t tickle anyone’s fancy! All were written in 2013, when I had a real surge in writing, so they were possibly buried amidst too many other posts.

    1. Postcard of the Week: New York
    2. Cape Town Part 3: The Winelands (a wonderful day out wine-tasting in Stellenbosch, so perhaps the title didn’t do it justice!)
    3. Art: A Tuscan Villa

An instagram map of my posts (before they deleted the feature a few years ago!)

Favourite blog post: 

The blog posts I most enjoy writing and reading back are ones exactly like this: reflections on the previous year’s travels, the adventures had on my sabbatical, the life lessons I’ve learned, and this review of an entire decade. They take me on a journey into my past and remind me of trips that otherwise wouldn’t jump to mind in the course of a normal day, giving me gratitude for the excitement and travels I’ve been fortunate to have, the languages I’ve learned and used abroad, the many people, cultures and nationalities I’ve met, the ways of life I’ve admired and borrowed aspects of. I currently write this post while in lockdown under coronavirus, unable to travel anywhere (exactly like everyone else in the world right now), so this journey down memory lane has been a joyous escape from my day-to-day reality of entrapment in my house while the pandemic runs its course. Unsurprisingly, these reflective blog posts aren’t among my most-read, as they don’t provide any useful information or itineraries to guide a reader’s trip, and these posts are probably only really of interest to me. I pile them full of photos, reminding me of the best memories, the highlights of life, and they’re honestly an absolute joy for me. While I’d like to think that this blog is useful to people in planning their travels, a selfish part of me writes these kinds of posts primarily for my own benefit, so that I can look back in future decades to come and, within a couple of clicks, see my favourite memories encapsulated here forever.

Most embarrassing blog post:

I’m almost too embarrassed to actually link to any of my worst posts over the year. My writing from 2012, at the very start of this blog, are generally the posts I’m most ashamed of as my writing back then was just a bit rubbish. It takes practice and experience to find a writing voice and strike a tone you feel comfortable with, and those first few months were very much experimental and finding my feet. Not my proudest posts! If I had to choose just one, it would probably be this post from 2016 announcing that I was moving to Europe to study for my 2-year Master’s, abandoning the UK in outrage at the 2016 EU referendum result. I was actually only abroad for one year in the end, before moving back to London to start the Civil Service Fast Stream. Oops.

Most lucrative blogging trip:

One of my very first freebies as a blogger was actually the most extravagant of all: the 3-week all-expenses-paid coast-to-coast trip across North America for DoubleTree by Hilton in 2013, just a year after starting this blog, for which they also casually gave me a laptop, GoPro, iPhone and $4,000 extra spending money! It was an unbelievable extravagance and I estimated that the entire trip must have cost the company the equivalent of my annual salary at O2.

Number of Postcards of the Week: 

147! ‘Postcard of the Week‘ was a weekly feature I did for the first few years of the blog, and the origin of my blog’s name ‘The Well-Travelled Postcard’. My very first blog post was in fact called ‘The Beauty of a Postcard‘.

My wall of postcards

Number of blog posts: 

By sheer fluke and bizarre coincidence, this is in fact my 500th blog post published since I started this blog in June 2012! I’m stunned that it amounts to so many, and I daren’t think of the total word count. I could probably have published 10 books by now with all the material contained in this blog!

Favourite blog experiments:

I’ve had this current design on my blog for 5 years now (back in 2015, and I’m very overdue an updated design!), but my very first incarnation of the blog looked like this:

The Well-Travelled Postcard’s first design

As well as travel writing, I have moulded this website to fit as a platform for various other purposes and side-interests too. For example, over on The Well-Travelled Journal I host all my academic writing from my Master’s in European Politics.

I’ve also used the skills I’ve learned about website design and WordPress to create a few other fleeting side projects over the years:

Favourite travel videos:

I dabbled for a while in editing and uploading videos of my travels to my Youtube channel, which was so much fun but which I haven’t recently found time for! My favourite videos were these two:

Reflecting on the incredible opportunities and experiences that travel blogging has offered me over the years, I realise that I’m not about to shut this blog down and consign it to history. It has never been my ambition to write or blog full-time, but this window of mine in the great vast internet is enough of an outlet to satisfy those burning cravings I get every so often. Cravings to express myself, to produce work for the benefit and consumption or other people, to create a legacy from all the life experiences I’ve gathered and curated over the years since 2012. This blog overlaps with my entire adult experience post-university and thus serves as a detailed and vivid personal record for me, while serving as a guide to others who seek similar life experiences and adventures. The connections and community of other like-minded bloggers, writers and travellers that I’ve met and encountered through The Well-Travelled Postcard is another highlight that I don’t often discuss, but has been another journey in itself out of my London bubble, exposing me to different ways of life, different cultures, different career paths and options, even entrepreneurship. While blogging is no longer a dominant activity in my life, I still consider it a part of my identity and my place in the grand scheme of things.

If you follow lots of blogs or have a blog yourself, how do you think the world or blogging has evolved over the last 10 years?

Keep an eye out for my final blog post in this series, looking back at the ways the travel industry evolved over the 2010s.

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