Welcome to the Cooperatize Blogger’s Corner! If you are a professional blogger, aspiring content creator, or enthusiastic content consumer then this weekly feature is for you. The Blogger’s Corner highlights individuals who consistently create excellent digital content. Through these interviews, we hope to help the blogger community connect, grow, and share communal success.
For You, By You
Blogger’s Corner is made by you for you. Our goal is to facilitate the sharing of whatever information you deem important. As we progress, don’t hesitate to join the discussion. We have some very exciting individuals that have already agreed to interviews and we can’t wait to share their insights. Maybe we will soon be interviewing you!
This week, we are lucky to have Mike Richard of Vagabondish, a seasoned veteran in the blogosphere who consistently creates great content. Whether writing about the “10 Worst Airports”, conquering your fears through travel, or “5 of the World’s Sexiest Wine Tasting Rooms” Mike has been through it all. Mike couples his excellent writing with a curation of appealing visual stimuli…more to come on this later.
Q: What made you decide to create a blog?
Mike: I started Vagabondish way back in 2006 before blogging had gone mainstream. Before soccer moms knew what “blogging” was. At the time, it was just a way for me to chronicle my travels. I was working a desk job, so it provided a mental escape that allowed me to daydream about all the places I’d been and all the places I still wanted to visit. For the first 18 months or so, I never considered making money from it.
Q: Was there a moment that when you thought, “I could do this professionally”? If so, what triggered that desire/realization?
Mike: About two years after I launched the site, I hired a small staff of freelance writers. I thought evolving the site into more of a group-written travel magazine might be a viable business model. It’s not exactly a revolutionary idea by today’s standards, but there were very few sites doing that in the travel sphere in 2008. It took off almost immediately and I started receiving offers for advertising and paid campaigns. I knew then that it was definitely a successful model. Another two years after that first round of hiring, I quit my (rather lucrative) day job to work on Vagabondish.com full time. I haven’t looked back since!
Q: What fuels your passion for creating content?
Mike: My curiosity to see the world. I love travel, nature, and the outdoors and sharing my personal experiences as they relate to any of those things fuels my desire for writing and photography. I started writing in the beginning because I loved it, even when I knew no one was on the other end reading it. I think that’s the key – don’t write for traffic numbers or with a goal in mind. Write (or take pictures or shoot video) because you genuinely like to. That’s the only sustainable model for a blogger.
Q: Are there any blogs or publications that you follow closely? What makes them successful in your opinion?
Mike: As far as travel bloggers go, they’re doing everything right. Their meteoric rise to success is due in large part to their willingness to properly market themselves. And they’re crushing it because of that! I would tell every blogger to look at what Dave and Deb do and then … do exactly that for their own website. (It also helps that Dave is a stunning landscape photographer …)
Q: What has been the biggest challenge in maintaining a successful blog?
Mike: Finding the time to fit work into my life and vice versa. Unlike my old job, where I could clock out Friday night and not think about the office again until Monday morning, I never truly “stop working” on my site. The balance is challenging for every freelancer, but for travel bloggers/influencers in particular, it’s especially difficult. Being on the road for two weeks or more out of every month adds a whole new dimension to working. The logistics of flights, new hotels, gear not always doing what you want it to do, etc. is … interesting to say the least.
Q: What is your favorite social media channel? Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, other? Why?
Mike: @Vagabondish has a huge following on Twitter. But I’ve seen the level of discourse and discussion steadily decline on the platform over the last two years. These days, I gravitate to Instagram because I love photography, so it just naturally works for me. In some ways, it cuts out a lot of the “fluff” you find on other platforms because the pictures more or less speak for themselves.
Q: Do you have any last piece of advice for aspiring bloggers?
Mike: The biggest piece of advice I have for bloggers – or any freelancer for that matter – is to ask. I see a lot of bloggers struggle with reaching out for help, pitching potential advertisers, swapping guest posts, sending out interview requests, or anything related to the growth of their business because they’re afraid that they’re too small and insignificant. They’re afraid of getting turned down. But they’ll never know for sure – and more importantly never grow – unless they ask first! As an editor, I get pitched a lot for new content, advertising, review samples, etc. If the person reaching out to me is legitimate and I think we might be able to work together in the future, I’ll keep them in mind. Even if what they’re offering at the time won’t work for me/either of us, it still puts them on my radar. As a freelancer, that’s often the best way to grow and get noticed!
Around The Corner
Pride cometh before the fall. The irony is that the person(s) that you may be reluctant to ask for help, is probably more than eager to give it. Nobody was born with mastery over any subject. Don’t be afraid to seek out your mentors and those you admire to ask them as many questions as possible.
As increasing numbers of media are curated for our consumption, we are constantly looking for the quickest hitting and most readily available formats. Has Twitter, with all of its 140 characters, become too cumbersome a form of communication? What will the videos, pictures, and augmented realities look like in our children’s media future?
Persistence in the face of adversity and inevitable rejection. Truly, being refined by the fire is the most excruciating experience, yet it bears the most precious fruit. Mike is the object of all our envy. He took the risk of quitting a lucrative job to pursue a passion project with what turned out to be minimal risk (considering his success came early and often). I might just try and persuade Mike to join us for a podcast one of these days to try and uncover more of the secrets to his success.
Thank you for sharing your insights and experiences, Mike. They are inspiring and we should all strive to emulate them!
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