Hi! My name is Jackie Gately. I am an experienced Travel Writer and Photographer from Boston, Mass. and the voice behind Enjoy Travel Life. I am honored to share my blogging story and hope to find kindred spirits here on danswords.com. (A big shout out to Dan for inviting me!)
As a recent empty nester, I am embarking on new adventures—preferably in a summer dress and flip-flops! I’m upbeat and casual, having waited a long time to enjoy a travel lifestyle. Now, you’ll find me walking the shore in the softest beach sand, exploring an unknown city side street, sampling wholesome local flavor, and regional drinks, and chasing the sunset with my camera. I love to experience quality hospitality, and take in cultural attractions, like art, history, and music. Hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path discoveries are my favorite finds.
I travel alone, with my long-time boyfriend, my 80-year-young mom, or sometimes with one or more of our four college-aged children. It’s a blended mix but we love exploring.
I’ve visited the Bahamian Out Islands and traversed much of Italy. In the last four months alone I’ve been to Southern California, Eastern Canada (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI) and road-tripped to picturesque New England towns. In fact, tomorrow I’m heading off on an impromptu day trip to Block Island, Rhode Island. I’ve got the travel bug, and I’ve got it bad.
1. How long have you been blogging?
I launched Enjoy Travel Life (enjoytravellife.com) nine months ago in November 2017. Before that, I’ve written in various capacities from creative writing to corporate, tech and marketing copy to editorial work.
2. Are you a full-time blogger or do you also have another job/career?
I am a full-time travel blogger. I take on freelance jobs on the side; small businesses still call with their writing and design needs. That’s been very helpful in supporting the blog as it strives to become self-sufficient.
3. What got you started into blogging?
As a freelancer, I loved that I was helping small business owners achieve their dreams so they could be financially independent, spend more time with loved ones, and enjoy comfortable lives. Then one day, I realized I was neglecting my own dreams. I wanted to travel. I wanted to share my experiences. I wanted to bring my own visions to life. Creating a blog was the next logical step. That’s when Enjoy Travel Life was born!
4. What is your blog about and how does it help others?
Enjoy Travel Life is a lifestyle blog that provides photojournalism, destination guides, and travel-savvy advice to those seeking to maximize their travel experience.
I review air travel, accommodations, restaurants, activities, and travel products. I also post in-depth photo galleries and personal travel stories. My favorite posts describe hidden gems, off-the-beaten-path destinations, and regional culture.
Since I discuss topics that matter to empty nesting, solo, and retirement lifestyles, Enjoy Travel Life resonates with maturing travelers. Like me, they are ready for new places and experiences, and to embrace this exciting phase of life. I inspire, encourage, and teach them to make their travel dreams come true.
In short, I go to great places then capture my experiences in words and photography. The more I learn, the more I support travel-minded readers in reaching their dreams.
5. What is working for you and your blog? Why?
There are many things that are working for me and my blog, To pick one, I’d say one of the best things I’ve done is to create a compelling and professionally designed Media Kit that reflects the upscale vibe of sponsors I’m querying. It has boosted my success rate at landing comp’d (free for press coverage) accommodations and attractions. This has opened an entire world of experiences I’m not ready to bankroll just yet.
For instance, I stayed overnight and dined at a boutique hotel with my family in two incredible luxury suites. There’s no way I could have covered that experience out-of-pocket right now. But the trip afforded me no less than five potential blog posts (probably more) and plenty of photos for social media promotion. Without the slick Media Kit, I doubt I would have landed that gig. So, I’d say my Media Kit is definitely working.
6. What did not work out so well for your blog? Why?
Major fail: My first try using advertising software. Wanting to monetize the blog, I signed up with AdSense and, to be honest, I didn’t take the time to figure out how to customize it. I had ads popping up everywhere! They were in the middle of my content, taking up real estate on the side, in my header, just being irritating. That was not the customer experience I wanted to deliver. So I disabled AdSense until I can make time to set it up properly. Down the road, I’m leaning more toward offering tasteful and discrete custom ad space to select brands I know and trust. I don’t care to have ads in my face, and I know my readers don’t either. It’s about what’s best for them, foremost.
7. What tools, programs, apps do you use to create your blog/website (tools that you can’t live without)?
Well, the list adds up over time and as you grow! I update a “Blogger Tools” page on my website periodically as I learn more (warning: affiliate links): https://enjoytravellife.com/blogger-resources-best-blogging-tools/
In summary, I use Bluehost and WordPress and my primary platform. I try to minimize WordPress plugins but have accumulated a few: Jetpack, Social Warfare, ClickToTweet, and Smush (image compression).
As far as tools I couldn’t live without, that would be the Adobe Creative Suite, specifically, Photoshop, Lightroom, and InDesign. They are powerful tools. But, if you’re not up for (another) learning curve, there are more straightforward tools that do a great job, like Canva and PicMonkey. I’m a creature of habit and learned the Creative Suite long before blogging, and I am a big fan.
I use the G Suite (Google Docs) for writing. I’ve tried Grammarly and ProWritingAid for editing and am not sure which I will renew. I like them both for different reasons.
I use MailChimp, ConvertKit, and MiloTree for opt-ins. I also use Crowdfire (Twitter growth), IFTTT (for the Twitter auto-responder), and Tailwind (Pinterest automation). I use Zen-Promo occasionally when my Follow/Unfollow on Instagram gets too out of sync.
8. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a blog?
When you’re traveling, Customs often asks the reason for your trip: “Business or pleasure?” Likewise, anyone interested in starting a blog should consider the same question before embarking. Will it be a creative outlet for self-expression (pleasure) or a business endeavor you plan to monetize? The answer will shape the content.
That’s not to say it can’t be both business and pleasure. But if you’re blogging professionally, be sure to know what readers and sponsors you’re targeting, and offer a generous serving of your unique value.
For instance, Enjoy Travel Life reaches a growing but under-served population: the “Empty-Nesters” of Generation X. Many have the disposable income, time, and desire to travel to luxury destinations. Coincidentally (not), this is precisely the segment my sponsors wish to reach. See where I’m going with this? In a phrase, solve a problem.
9. What do you have planned for the future of your website/blog?
I am excited about my plans for Enjoy Travel Life! Besides more travel (yay!) and travel writing aligned with my editorial calendar, I’ll be introducing white-label products (think travel/photo-inspired) and workshops for travelers and travel-bloggers. I can’t wait to launch these projects and share what I’ve learned.
10. Where can everyone find you?
I would love for you to opt-in or follow me on social media. As part of the Enjoy Travel Life community, you’ll be among the first to see my photos from around the world and receive insider travel tips and tricks. Please check out these links.
Blog URL: www.enjoytravellife.com
Facebook (Page): https://www.facebook.com/enjoytravellife777/
Facebook (Account): https://www.facebook.com/jackie.gately.3
Opt-In Page: https://enjoytravellife.com(scroll to bottom)
Thanks again for this opportunity, Dan!
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To your success.