First of all, a huge thank you to Dan for inviting us to appear in this informative series. Dan’s posts are so easy to understand, to the point and full of useful information. Perfect for new bloggers such as us.
We are Michelle and Lars of lifejourney4two.com. Yes, we know, we know it’s best not to have a numbered digit in the name of your blog. But that’s just the kind of rebellious attitude that comes with being halfway to a hundred years old. Behind that brazen rebuke of conformity, are two very law-abiding citizens. At least we hope so – that GDPR thingy tested us for a bit.
Our story? We sold up everything we owned, left our professional jobs and flew out of Australia on one-way tickets. We were on an adventure. Our blog organically came into being about six months after we had begun our trip and morphed into this all-encompassing life-journey theme. We realized we had a lot to share and wanted our posts to inspire and help others on their ‘lifejourney’, both on their physical travels and their journey on this thing we call life.
1. How long have you been blogging?
Our foray into blogging only started at the end of last year, December 2017, after we had been on the road for six months. Prior to that, I (Michelle) kept a written journal of all our destinations, experiences and encounters, as we traveled through Europe in a camper van. Needless to say, we are glad to have that resource now as it will be material for many destinations and story posts yet to come.
2. Are you a full-time blogger or do you also have another job/career?
We both come from professional backgrounds. Lars worked in the offshore Health and Safety arena and I was a teacher. Teaching was my passion. Although excited to leave my full-time job to venture out on our traveling quest, I knew I would miss sharing my enthusiasm for learning and that feeling you get when you see your students grow, both educationally and also as a person. Luckily, through the blog, I have found a way I can still have an impact and hope our posts resonate with and spark something in our readers.
Goodness, I’m responding like a politician here and working around the question! Yes, I am a full- time blogger but Lars is currently working full-time in another job here in Norway. The work is just for the Summer, so he will be back producing more content on the blog soon. He is also working on post-grad qualifications and absorbing everything ever written about photography, his new-found hobby, so even then we might not have his full attention! I have also just started a writing course, which will hopefully mean I don’t bore the pants off our readers! We want to create valuable, high-quality content. In today’s society, where many of us are time poor, if someone takes the time to read our posts we should have put in the effort to make it as worthwhile and interesting to them as possible.
3. What got you started into blogging?
Gas. Yes, I think it was our problem with gas that first got us thinking about blogging. In Croatia we drove to five different petrol stations, each one telling us that we could definitely get gas at the next one. Three hours later and goodness knows how many kilometers we were finally able to top up our motorhome’s German gas bottle. We hadn’t been able to find any information on Google. That was the first time the idea that we had valuable information that others could use came into our minds and we joked about setting up a blog. That initial thought, spark if you like, grew and we started to think seriously about the idea.
4. What is your blog about and how does it help others?
Again, not following the ‘recommended’ rules, our blog isn’t just one ‘niche’. Think of it as a one-stop shop with resources for both travel and for life’s journeys. Readers will find travel inspiration, guides and many photos to satisfy wanderlust. Our life’s journey musings are more personal, and we are getting used to being increasingly vulnerable to make sure we connect authentically to our readers. Brené Brown, a research professor, explains this idea of authenticity beautifully in her book, ‘Daring Greatly’,
Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.
As bloggers sharing our experiences, we have a responsibility to be our true selves so that we can be of the most help to others who may be going through similar situations. There are so many bloggers out there who are just so courageous, exposing their most private experiences in order to help others.
Life itself can be a tough journey; by sharing our experiences and thoughts we hope that we can help others along in their journey. Additionally, we hope to inspire and motivate others to ‘satisfy their soul’. To do whatever it is that makes them content, to make sure they are doing things they love and above all to do it sooner rather than later. Not just ‘one day’.
For a cute, fun aside, on the blog, we also have photos of all our animal encounters, which are a notable part of our enjoyment when traveling. Each one is connected to a tiny part of our journey so far.
5. What is working for you and your blog? Why?
Blogging is such a community-based forum and we are fortunate to be part of it. As we started building relationships through social media, we realized firstly, how many like-minded people are out there and secondly, that other bloggers are some of the most supportive encouraging individuals you could ask for. This gives you a wonderful sense of belonging.
In addition to being part of a community, our blog has been an unexpected creative outlet. Apart from the writing, which is in itself a great way to allow your creativity to flow, Lars has a new-found passion in photography and I have fun using my artistic side with Canva and photo editing software. We already have enough material to write blog posts for years but every day we have a new post idea. We just wish we could write them as quickly as we think of them!
Our blog has given us a forum to share our passion for travel, for living life now, and enabled our aspirations to help others through our own experiences of life’s journey. At the same time, we get to explore our own creativity and most importantly, we continue to learn and develop ourselves.
6. What did not work out so well for your blog? Why?
We initially felt like we were swimming in treacle. ‘Set up a blog in 30 minutes’, the articles said. Well, let’s swap the word minute for days and you have more of a realistic approach! We weren’t expecting it to be such a huge learning curve but hey, great exercise for the brain and it all goes to keeping the brain cells alive and kicking.
As well as the time it took us to get a handle on the blogging world and to learn what those ever-present SEO letters stood for, we also hadn’t factored in the importance of social media. We are still working on getting a good balance between all of the facets involved with running a blog. Social media takes a good chunk of time, particularly maintaining a presence and making sure that you engage meaningfully with both your followers and new potential followers. We are happy with our progress on Twitter and Instagram. Facebook is building slowly, and Pinterest needs attention. We realized that trying to build them all at once was nigh on impossible.
7. What tools are you using that you can introduce my readers to?
We have a self-hosted Hostgator, WordPress account. I use Crowdfire to schedule Twitter posts and Later to schedule Instagram and Facebook Posts. When I am on top of these it makes life a little easier. We also have Tailwind which I occasionally use to schedule pins (this I have to improve on). I find that Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are so different from each other that these different tools work best with these individual forums. I also use Canva regularly to create pins and any other designs I need. It’s a really easy tool and its free. For any photo editing required on my phone, I use Snapseed, another great free App.
8. What piece of advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting a blog?
Follow your passion, be vulnerable and just do it. We would recommend taking the time to set up your blog carefully before you start. Have a few posts ready to go and start building a social media presence.
Starting a blog reminded me of having my first baby. There are so many articles, people, books, blog posts (actually blog posts hadn’t been invented then – or internet come to think of it, but that’s beside the point) out there telling you what you should and shouldn’t do that it can become overwhelming. Leave the baby to cry. No, pick the baby up, don’t leave him to cry. So many well-meaning people, but so many conflicting ideas. It’s the same with blogging. It’s a balance, between doing your research so that you are prepared and also listening to your own heart and making sure you are doing what you feel passionate about. You are a unique individual. Trust your instincts, believe in yourself and go for it.
9. What do you have planned for the future of your website?
First and foremost, we want to increase our content. We also need to consistently pin to gain traction on Pinterest. Additionally, Video is becoming an important part of blogging so that will be something to develop and incorporate into our blog. We are enjoying the process and have plenty to keep us busy. We are going to be following our own advice as we go forward; trust in our instincts, believe in ourselves and just go for it! Happy Blogging.
10. Where can everyone find you?
Blog URL https://lifejourney4two.com
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To your success.