On Toronto, TBEX and Taking Stock

TBEX chalk art

I returned to Colorado after a weekend in Toronto for TBEX with an overstuffed bag, a daunting stack of business cards and the notion that I’d definitely like to return to Toronto for a longer stay.

Toronto is a great city, from what I experienced (which, granted, was not nearly enough). Easily walk-able with some great restaurants and some interesting natives, I know that there is much more to explore and that I just scratched the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I’ll share more about Toronto and my favorite parts in a subsequent post.

I want to talk about TBEX in this post, but I’m conflicted. I started writing this on Monday with one perspective and angle, then erased it yesterday and started it again. Then erased it yet again today to start afresh.

I’m not going to comment on the number of attendees (1300 people is a large group); I’m not going to dissect each keynote or seminar (there are plenty of people out there who are providing recaps that you might enjoy); I’m not going to talk about the friends, old and new, that I got to see (they’re great and took me two solid days to recuperate from the fun).

But here’s my $.05 worth of opinion (I raised it because Canada eliminated the penny and I pay attention to details): after the internal struggle that I faced about admitting that I was a travel blogger, I think I realized that I’m not really a travel blogger.

Confused? Join the club.

I’m not saying my continued online identity crisis is completely due to TBEX (I have trouble explaining where I’m from, much less who I am, if you really want to get down to it), but being at the conference did bring some things to light.

Travel bloggers are supposed to have a niche; I have too many things that I like to do and ways that I like to travel. Monetizing is a worry/goal/end result for a travel blogger; I like money and it’s necessary for some things, but it’s not the overarching impetus behind my writing. I actually have to work at other things to make a living. Travel bloggers want a free trip and I…well, a free trip would be nice, but that’s not why I’m doing this.

I love writing. I love traveling. I love meeting people and hearing their stories, the ones that make me shake my head out of amusement, amazement or empathy.

But I don’t have a positioning statement. I don’t have a blog strategy. I don’t have a website that is as functional and navigable as I’d like.

So, I’m not sure that I’m a travel blogger. Maybe I’m just an aspiring, struggling, hopeful writer that happens to have a blog.

I’m okay with that.

I’ll just keep on keepin’ on. I’ll keep contributing to other blogs and keep blundering through this one. I’ll keep finding new people to meet, stories to tell and adventures to attempt.

Was TBEX fun? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Yes. Travel is always worth it. Did I learn anything? Yep.

Hi. My name is Katie. And I’m not really a travel blogger.

8 thoughts on “On Toronto, TBEX and Taking Stock

  1. Aww… as *not a food blogger*, I can totally relate. The way I’ve broken it down is this – I write for myself. If I’m writing for myself, I don’t need to define *for myself* who I am, or what I write. I write about what I love, in a way that I love, and even though it can’t be definable with a particular niche or strategy, it makes me happy. And it’s hard to argue with that!

    • Thanks, Jen. As someone who is “making it happen” I’m glad to hear that I’m not the only un-blogger out there. I think being happy is the ultimate goal; I’ll just keep doing it!

  2. OH my gosh, Katie, these are the exact thoughts I’ve had after attending the last 2 TBEXs and although I always have a blast, I return home feeling like a failure and then trying to remind myself I shouldn’t – because like you, I write because it’s fun, I don’t have much of a niche and I certainly don’t have the time or energy to monetize or fight for free trips because I have that whole day job thing going on. You put it very eloquently, and the more people I hear this from the more I realize there are TONS of us who feel the same. I agree – let’s just keep on keepin’ on, and enjoying what we do! Cheers : )

    • Leslie, thanks for the confirmation that I’m not alone in my thoughts! I felt sort of guilty writing those post because I did have a great time at TBEX, and I learned from it, but I have to remember that writing is also fun. And I’m going to make sure it stays that way. Thanks for checking in!

  3. As you already know, I feel ya on this. But not blogging like other people blog doesn’t mean you’re not a blogger! I remember one of my writing professors telling a class full of “woe is me” art students to stop calling ourselves “aspiring” anything because if you love something and you do it, you are it. If you love to write and you put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard from time to time, you’re a writer. Who cares if you’re making money off of it — you’re still doing it. If you love blogging, blog however you want to blog but don’t feel like you can’t call yourself a blogger, just because you don’t have the same goals as other bloggers out there. And that is my $.05.

    And I can’t wait to wait to meet one of my new favorite travel bloggers in Colorado in the near future for some beers! 🙂

  4. You nailed this Katie. So much so that I’m commenting… on a blog…

    I don’t think you could be any more spot on. While I didn’t go to this year’s TBEX last year left me with the same feelings. I look at blogging two ways: 1) A platform to explore creativity and a place to put down thoughts and connect with others and 2) A way to pay the mortgage. The two can be similar, but as you’ve mentioned are drastically different. I remember last year at TBEX asking bloggers about specifics when it came to their site’s analytics and audience. Those who were in the business of making money could answer, while those who hadn’t decided that was their main goal were less likely to. And that’s when I started getting into trouble. “So what’s the point of your blog then?” I’d ask. “To make money? To get a free trip? To write?” and while they’re all perfectly fine answers, most of the time people were caught in the middle of them. Which is why this post gripped me and I read the whole thing. You laid it out, left yourself open to criticism and nailed it. Nicely done Katie. Keep writing stuff like this. You’ve got something here.

  5. I was so conflicted about the type of blogger I am too. Everybody wants to give you a label and sometimes being confined to a label just doesn’t work. It’s not who we are. TBEX was definitely a blast, I learned a ton too. I feel like I’m steering towards an adventure travel blogger, but we’ll see what happens. As long as we love what we do right?

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