Have We Forgotten That “Travel Blogging” Is Also About “Blogging”?

A few years ago, blogging meant writing long, sincere articles on topics close to our heart. The very word “blog” comes from the term “weblog” which literally means “an account (or log) maintained on the web”. Over time, the wave of “microblogging” (think tweeting, Instagramming, etc.) has reduced this art to a shadow of its former self. These days, I come across a lot of people who claim to be bloggers but don’t have a website or even an article to their credit! Does an Instagram account with a bunch of selfies or a daily addiction to posting disappearing stories of one’s private life justify the title of a “blogger”?

Where Has Writing Disappeared?

Attila Jozsef's statue sits by the Hungarian Parliament building, this Hungarian poet's lines from one of his poems raised on the steps below.

Attila József’s statue sits by the Hungarian Parliament building, this Hungarian poet’s lines from one of his poems raised on the steps below.

I am reminded of the days when writers and poets had the courage and the strength to pen their thoughts down to be immortalized even as foreign armies mortified their will to live. They wrote so much in times of war. We write so little now that we have peace. I was strolling by the Pest side of Budapest one day, taking one step at a time on the cobbled embankment by the River Danube. There, beside the architecturally imposing Hungarian Parliament building, I noticed the bronze sculpture of Attila József, the poet who wrote: “By The Danube” (A Dunánál in Hungarian). A couple of verses from that poem stood out on the marble steps below the steps where he was seated. Is it not ironical that precious writing is engraved on stones and preserved in our museums with the same enthusiasm with which we delete e-books from our phones to make more room for apps that promote narcissism?

Are Pictures Really Worth A Thousand Words?

Lake Fatehsagar in Udaipur entices me to linger here a little longer.

Lake Fatehsagar in Udaipur entices me to linger here a little longer.

There was a time when travel blogging was about painting a picture of the place with the brushstrokes of words. Each article would at the max have a couple of pictures. Fast forward to today, and a DSLR, an editing app and a string of carelessly thrown phrases (as caption) are making photographers believe they are travel bloggers. A famous saying goes – “A picture is worth a thousand words.” I beg to differ. A picture does not show you what your eyes cannot see. It does not tell you of the sounds that accompanied the sights or what the touch of a feather felt like. A great photo may attract an audience, but only great writing can keep them there.

How Should One Swim Against The Current?

Few of us have friends who tell us where we're going wrong.

Few of us have friends who tell us where we’re going wrong.

If you too, like others, are guilty of introducing yourself as a blogger without owning a blog (and no, a Facebook page or a Snapchat / Instagram / Twitter account doesn’t count), it is time you rectified your mistake. Either acknowledge that you only do microblogging or (what I recommend) get your own blog! You will thank me later when you discover the joys of long-form blogging. If writing does not come naturally to you, practise different styles until you know what feels more authentic to your personality.

Do You Need To Be Tech-Savvy To Blog?

Just like saplings that need a pot to grow their tiny roots in, our thoughts need space to fledge in.

Just like saplings that need a pot to grow their tiny roots in, our thoughts need space to fledge in.

Many gifted writers I know do not write on digital platforms because they cannot be bothered with the perceived hassle of managing a website. They are intimidated by the thoughts of getting a design for their site and paying through the nose for web hosting. Setting up your own blog is not rocket science! ResellerClub, for instance, provides pre-installed hosting so you can hit the ground running with zero assistance even as someone with no technical knowledge. Use my promo code – OINDRILADE to get 30% off on all of their WordPress Hosting Lite plans. You also get an SSL certificate free for the first year (the secure sockets layer padlock green sign on the browser assures your audience that your website is trustworthy). Did you know that your site will be hosted by ResellerClub on the cloud, so it’ll be quite fast?

Did Anybody Say “Vlogging”?

If only blogging could be done this way... (The Serai Bandipur's welcome note on a leaf.)

If only blogging could be done this way… (The Serai Bandipur’s welcome note on a leaf.)

A popular argument against old-style writing is the diminishing attention-span of the youth. Apparently, nobody has the patience to read a good, long article! But show them a video that takes just as much of their time, and they’ll watch it till the end. Video blogging or “vlogging” has become the latest “cool thing to do” for bloggers. But can that medium really give the viewer the freedom to vividly imagine a place guided only by the words of a writer? Don’t motion pictures put an end to the imagination by declaring what is and what isn’t? Can videos let the audience stay in their makebelieve world for as long as they wish? The second the clip ends, the magic is gone. Stories woven by the written word stay with people a long while, especially if they’ve taken a long time to read.

Will Blogging Ever Be Meaningful Again?

An early morning breakfast can get your creative juices flowing.

An early morning breakfast can get your creative juices flowing.

As a writer, I have daily wars to wage. Wars against naysayers who think I’m wasting my education and youth. Wars against the millions of mini Kim Kardashians out there who hog most of the social media attention, thanks to the ever-changing and degrading notions of what is “cool”. Wars against my dwindling confidence in my ability to make a living out of a career that I consider cathartic. And also those wars against blank pages that refuse to be filled. Then, I remember the writers who wrote all through all the big wars that have made History such a heartbreaking subject. And I know that the best writing happens in the middle of a war.

Do you still believe in long-form blogging?

Let me know through your comments below!

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26 thoughts on “Have We Forgotten That “Travel Blogging” Is Also About “Blogging”?

  1. Such a well written and insightful article… Yes, I believe words are a better way to convey our messages, especially as writers and it is sorely needed in this modern era. The rise of photo essays has made it too easy for some who like to call themselves writers or travel bloggers.

  2. Such a powerful article! It’s funny to see random people claiming themselves to be bloggers with not even a single article/post in their kitty. These days it has become a “cool thing” to be called Blogger and no wonder it’s growing rampant.

    • Thank you! This trend of titling oneself as a blogger is unfair to the real bloggers out there. I wish people would just be their real self.

  3. So much agreed. Somewhere in this expanding world of jawdropping pics and videos, people have forgotten the charm words that a travel writer can create.

    And to some extend, readers are not to be blamed when many bloggers have made traveling more of a fashion fiesta.

  4. Well Written and I second every bit you’ve put here. I hear from a few of my friends that they just scroll thru the post for pictures and do not read the actual content, which sometimes makes me think if I should be putting in all my effort to narrate a travel story!

    • Thank you! I have those doubts as well. But then I remind myself that my blog post first and foremost is my creative outlet, and at least I will enjoy reading all the pieces when I’m old. 🙂

  5. Your post echoes my sentiments. In this age of busy schedules, everyone is looking for a short cut. I still believe that long form blogging leads to greater connection and recall value with readers.

  6. This is an amazing post! I love the honesty put into this piece. I think all writers get to a point when they forget how amazing writing actually is, to think that maybe 100 years from now your piece of writing could change someone’s view on the world or even save a life. Writing has done so much for me and I only hope that I would be able to make even the smallest change in someone’s life. Got a bit carried away there… great post and keep doing what you’re doing.

  7. Girl, I was thinking about that same thing earlier before I found your post! It’s like blogging these days has been compacted in a pretty, many times deceitful Instagram feed and posts with two lines and fifteen pictures. Where has the writing gone, right? I’m glad to see other bloggers, bigger bloggers, still think the same. It gives me hope that I can continue to be a part of the blogging world with my writing!

  8. Hey Oindrilla. I am a new kid to travel writing. I dont completely agree with your article, largely because what’s happening today is a reflection of what the market consumes. It is an attention deprived fast world where the focus is on narcissistic behaviour and clicking random selfie photos that have no relation to the place or culture. To this world consumption happens on many platforms (snapchat, twitter, youtube, facebook, insta etc). I think if you are someone who can communicate your ideas well in long form writing (which I assume you can, since you are a famous name in this travel space), doing it as a video or a podcast or a story is just an extension of what you do. As long as technique is there, its easy to adjust, but it does take time. The vice versa can never be true. Someone who is a selfie ulpoader against monuments having an audience on facebook/insta can never get to writing. So that way all you are fighting against is a temporary fad. If you are fighting against a trend, then its a cause for worry.

    I am saying this out of little experience in the last 1 year in travel blogging. I started with writing, but have slowly been able to try out photography and video blogs (though audience building and marketing is a different art by itself). The next generation of travel bloggers will be multi skilled people and not single skill people is what I feel when it comes to majority. Single skilled people will always have their small niche market, but the bulk of the travel blogging market will grow towards multi skilled people (writing, marketing, tech savvy, photographer, videographer, editor, audio mixer, trekking, traveller, researcher) Pretty much like cricket went from Test Cricket to ODI.

    Now that I have commented this, I feel I should may be think through, get opinions of people and maybe write a blog post on that.

    • Hi Kartik,

      We are all entitled to our opinions. 🙂 I just hope we can preserve the art of writing in this ever-changing world.

  9. Today blogging is just for fashion and brands.People are more used to see your pics than the destinations and your words
    lovely post and sharing some insight of this world

    • Thank you, Mayuri! 🙂 I think the power to bring the reading audience back to long articles lies with us writers. We must exercise that power.

  10. Very insightful article, i must say. But adapting to the new is not not bad either.Travel writers or writers for that matter who used to write for magazines or publications have gradually accepted the blogging after internet becomes the way of life. But real thing has not changed , that is writing. Photos and videos is an extension of this art. As long as good writing is there it will be accepted!
    Thank you.

    • Thank you, Bikram! 🙂 Adaptation to new trends has become necessary in today’s times. Let’s hope the writing does not disappear altogether!

  11. I started blogging way back when MSN introduced Spaces..the entire concept of blogging has changed so much since then! There was genuine interaction, and I am still in touch with bloggers I knew since then. I often wonder if we will be able to forge the same sort of friendships on instagram or Twitter today. Readership wasn’t a concern then..What has changed since then is the introduction of social media, something that was in its nascent stage during early blogging. I agree with your views, and yet crave for what used to exist. However, at the same time, my day job in digital media makes me realize that this medium is changing every single day..so I can’t help but feel that genuine blogging as we know it, is a niche and in some ways, a thing of the past (it may still have its space and following, but it’s just not the same as blogging today). Glad that you raised this topic through you blog. – Supriya

    • You’ve brought out a valid point, Supriya! It is very hard to make lasting friends in this world of microblogging.

  12. You do bring some good points. When I started writing only three weeks ago, I wrote two longer articles. My whole idea was to actually make a page for my clients and give them something to read, just to make things more interesting (I’m a tour guide, not exactly a travel blogger, I travel always to the same place, haha). I didn’t really care about what other bloggers would think – of course, it’s nice to be liked and read by strangers, but it simply wasn’t the most important thing for me. And then I got a like or two. When 10 days ago I published only a couple of photos from a recent trip I suddenly got 10 likes, I published a cake = 20 likes. That got me wondering the same thing – why would I even bother having a blog if I can just have an Instagram. But somehow I decided that I should stick to more meaningful (or my definition of meaningful) and from my experience it always has more value in the future. But, my blog is my free time, related to my job, but not needed to make money from it so maybe I can afford not to think about the likes. Unfortunately, people think quick read = quick photo = quick money. I say “people think” because they’re not thinking the long run.

    • Thank you for candidly sharing your perspective on this! I also think it’s unfortunate that people are only after quick
      money.

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