No comment – switching off the conversation on 501 Places

Engagement. It’s all about engaging your readers (or, if you use the lingo of the day, your fans). That’s what the brands want too; they’re looking for travel blogs that have a strong relationship and level of trust with their audience. The story goes that if a blogger shares their experience of a marvellous new product with their audience, everybody wins.

I know I’m doing it wrong. While others who started their blogs at the same time as me have cracked the formula and create blog posts that regularly attract over a hundred comments, I might get half a dozen genuine contributions in a good week. I’m probably writing about the wrong topics and then compounding my mistake by not making enough effort to promote my posts. Sure, I get 10-20 people every day submitting half-arsed barely intelligible comments with no aim other than the inclusion of a dodgy link. It’s tiresome and I’d like to think it’s been a long time since I let one of those through the net, but it recently got to the point where I decided to remove the comment facility from this site.

I look at other bloggers with admiration when they reveal facts about their audience – I certainly don’t know anything about the people who read this site, and I have to confess that this lack of familiarity doesn’t keep me awake at night. Sure, Google Analytics tells me that around 15,000 people visit this site each month. I’m highly dubious of this and of its stats in general – apart from my wife (whose formidable proof-reading skills have kept the typos down to a respectable level) and my mother (who reads and critiques all my posts), I’d be surprised if more than a handful of people actually read my efforts (thank you if you do). Of course there are some who arrive here by accident having searched for something on Google, but I don’t expect them to become devoted readers.

I’ve heard that around 95% of blogs are eventually abandoned. This should really have been one of those. In the early days of 501 Places I bumbled my way from one model to the next, eventually settling on the least profitable approach; one of saying no to pretty much everything. I discovered that I enjoy travelling far more when I’m in charge of how I travel and where I go, and when I’m paying for it myself (yes, it’s true), than when someone else is footing the bill and making the arrangements; I suspect I’m not alone in this. I don’t have a strong opinion or want to pass any judgement on those whose travels are funded by others in exchange for coverage on their blogs; it’s just not a model that works for me. A quick look through my posts from my recent trip to Micronesia and you can see that few if any sponsors would be interested in attaching their name to the type of topics I enjoy writing about.

No ads, no links, no brand engagement, no comment, no regular schedule, no interest in traffic; surely there’s no point in carrying on with such a disorganised, haphazard blog? And yet, having shaken off all those concerns I’m enjoying writing on here more than ever and for exactly the reason I started with four years ago. It’s a place when I can work on becoming more articulate in penning my thoughts and a place to sharpen my own limited writing skills. If others get pleasure from reading any of my musings that I produce as a result, that to me is a hugely rewarding bonus.

(While there is no comment box below, if you want to comment about any of the topics on my site I’d be very happy to chat on Twitter or Facebook – you can even send me an email)

Author Information

Freelance travel writer

Comments are closed.