Each week we feature an interview with a member of the Superstar Blogging community. These interviews highlight the ups and downs faced on the road to success, illuminating helpful tips and tricks along the way. If you want to get inspired and succeed in the world of travel blogging, video, writing, or photography then consider these interviews must-read material! This week we are featuring Esra from the Travel Vlogging course.
Tell us about yourself!
I am Esra, a Saudi PhD student based in London. I have been travel blogging on www.arabianwanderess.com for over two years. I only started vlogging on YouTube in the summer of 2016. I love sharing my travel experiences as a Muslim female traveller breaking the usual stereotypes and enjoying what the world has to offer.
How did you get started traveling?
After I graduated high school in Saudi, I got a scholarship to study in the U.S. I started by studying at Arizona State University for three years and then ended up moving to the UK and spending the last seven years of my life there. Travel has always been a part of my life, since I have been an expat for 12 years now. My major travels have been for educational purposes, but since I live in Europe, I am trying to see as much as possible of what’s around me especially that plane tickets to neighbouring countries are extremely affordable.
How did you get started blogging/vlogging?
When I started blogging, I was writing about my craft hobby then that moved to lifestyle to finally focus on travel. I found a big gap in the blogging world for Muslim travellers and their special needs and I wanted to share my experiences and benefit others. My travel blog has been running for over two years now. It is not huge, but a lot of my friends and other travellers have found it helpful. Vlogging is still new for me. Last year, I didn’t even know I liked editing videos. I never used to take videos while travelling only still photos, but then I decided to get on YouTube because it felt like a better way to be seen. It’s only been few months and I am really enjoying all the new things I have been learning.
Has blogging/vlogging changed how you travel?
Well, I am more aware of other blogs and vlogs. I do better research now than I used to as well to give my readers and viewers value and to give myself unusual things to explore and try.
What video/camera gear do you travel with?
- iPhone + iPad
- Canon G7x mark 1 + Nikon D7100
- Tripod + monopod
- Headphones + external charger (I take two) + three memory cards 16GB + adapter
You can find a full list on my blog.
What are the hardest parts (for you) when it comes to vlogging?
I consider myself an intermediate-level beginner. I know the basics, but I am not advanced. I am in that between area, where it’s sometimes hard to find resources. Creative editing is not easy and it comes with practice, so I am still struggling with that. Finding the right footage, music and sounds could be challenging at times, too. Every new video has its own little challenges it seems, but I am hoping that I will get better with practice.
What is your most recent blogging/vlogging success?
A vlogging success I am proud of is making a travel tips video for Skyscanner. I really loved working to their brief and getting paid for something I really enjoy.
I am also very pleased that my Bucharest video has reached 13 thousand views in a year. It’s very motivating when people watch my videos and it makes me want to go so many more hidden gems in the world to share my experiences there.
What are your blogging goals for 2017?
I think my biggest struggle is consistency, so my biggest goal is to post a video and a blog post once a week, but it’s more like twice a month now.
I would love to release a photo book at some point as well, especially with all the gorgeous photos I had the pleasure of taking in Iran, Spain, Morocco, and Turkey.
It’s work in progress. At this point, I just want to continue what I am doing especially with the Youtube channel because I feel like it’s growing organically.
What are some of your favourite places you’ve been to?
I really loved Iran. The architecture was fascinating. It’s the only country that I don’t think I will tire from visiting. The people are so welcoming and full of love. Every time I go, I get a different experience. I also enjoyed Bosnia much more than I thought. The nature was stunning and the food there was delicious. Sri Lanka is another favourite of mine. I met so many beautiful people and the landscape in every part was fascinating.
What struggles have you had during your blogging/video career? How have you overcome them?
The constant struggle is balance. I am doing my blogging and vlogging alongside my degree and art projects. So, it’s not easy to find the right balance. I am trying to remain positive and to stay organised in juggling everything. I am also not making an income from blogging/vlogging and reaching that stage requires even more work.
Have you faced any additional as a female Muslim traveller? Do you have any tips to share for other solo female travelers or female Muslim travellers?
Thankfully all my travel experiences as a Muslim woman have been positive. I just have to be mindful of the fact that Islam is getting a lot of bad publicity from horrible extremists, which means not everyone understands the religion, so I try to be extra careful in areas that are unknown to me.
Also, being a Muslim traveller means that I have to either find restaurants that serve halal meat or stick to vegetarian dishes, which is totally fine. The fact that I don’t drink sometimes limit the evening activities, but I just sleep early and make the most of my day.
The number of solo Muslim females is limited, so when people meet me they are usually eager to just have a conversation to see what’s the fuss is all about. Saying that, I don’t always travel solo and each type of travel has its own perks.
Other than the usual safety/ common sense tips for females, I would say don’t be held back with fear. Just apply caution and enjoy your travels as much as possible!
What do you enjoy the most about blogging/vlogging?
I love sharing and the ability to refer people to detailed information that could make their trip easier.
Recently, I have been enjoying editing. Although it’s hard, but there’s something about making a little video to share the experience. It makes it really real.
In addition to this course, what other resources do you rely on for help/information?
My biggest resource now is watching well-made travel films such as the ones by Mr.Ben Brown and Tolt Around the World. I am part of the Girls vs Globe, Girls Love Travel, and Blogtacular Facebook groups and they have been very encouraging.
Why do you keep blogging?
I just like sharing. Instead of repeating the same information everytime someone asks me about my travels I can just link them to my blog. I also feel like I can inspire others especially Muslim females who find travelling solo or without men challenging.
What is one thing you can’t travel without? Why?
Well other than the obvious tech that I won’t get on the plane without, I won’t leave without my liquid eyeliner. It just boosts my look for pics and videos!
Do you have any blogging/vlogging regrets? Any major errors or problems you’ve encountered?
The only thing I really don’t like is not being consistent. I think every time I am behind schedule it sets me back and lowers the amount of readers/viewers I get. It’s still work in progress though.
What is one piece of advice you would give to a fellow blogger?
- Be organized
- Follow your to-do list.
- Publish frequently, but focus on the quality.
Tell us about your blog and where we can find you on social media.
You can find me on social media by searching Designer Esra or by checking out my website.