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 Vanda from the Business of Blogging course.
Tell us about yourself!
I’m Vanda, a 37-year-old Portuguese and the author behind The Yogi Wanderer. I’m a journalist turned yoga teacher turned travel blogger.
I studied Communications and worked as a journalist for six years. Although I was following my desired career path, I realized very early that I wasn’t happy as a journalist. It took me some time to have the courage to leave life as I knew it behind and to follow my dreams, but one day I finally did it. I moved from my home island in the Azores to Lisbon, enrolled in a yoga teacher training program, and shortly thereafter became a full-time yoga teacher.
Almost four years ago my life changed again when I decided to move from Portugal to Switzerland to follow love and my desire to explore the world. Being passionate about writing, self-discovery, and traveling, I started my blog to share my outer and inner journeys and, hopefully, help and inspire others to discover the world and themselves through travel.
How did you get started traveling?
Being born on a small island in the middle of the Atlantic, I always felt the urge to discover the world beyond the island. I knew the world out there was a much bigger place, full of wonders and new adventures. And I wanted to see and experience all of them.
At age 10, I boarded a plane for the first time for a family trip to Lisbon. My first visit to the big city confirmed all my expectations. I remember going to sleep and waking up amazed by the sounds of the city.
At age 16, I took my first international trip – a two-week school exchange program to Italy. We visited Rome, Naples, Taranto, Lecce and a couple of other cities in southern Italy. It was both a dream come true and a life-changing experience: I knew by then that traveling would be one of my biggest life goals, if not the biggest.
What are some of your favorite places you’ve been to?
Some years ago, I also spent a month studying in the USA and exploring the east coast – Washington, Boston, New York, Providence, etc. This was a great experience!
But if I had to choose one favorite country so far, that would be Greece. I fell in love with Greece when I took my first ever solo trip to Athens and Aegina Island. I loved everything about Greece: the weather, the people, the history, the food, and the sandy beaches of turquoise waters. I love it so much that I went back last year to visit Athens, Katakolo, and Mykonos. Traveling solo for the first time was also very empowering and taught me invaluable lessons, so my first trip to Greece is definitely my favorite travel memory so far.
How long have you been blogging?
I started blogging in December 2015, to share my experiences as an expat in Switzerland and my travels in and around Heidi’s country. This was something I wanted to do for a long time, but wasn’t sure how. As a journalist, I always felt the urge to write and be creative, but had yet to find my voice and direction.
Unfortunately, after some months in, this whole blogging world started to feel so overwhelming that I neglected my blog for a while.
But, I knew deep inside that I had to do it so my resolution for 2017 was to take The Yogi Wanderer to the next level. The first thing I did was to sign up for this course, so I could learn from the best and to keep myself focused on my own goals. I defined my niche – travel and self-discovery – and rebranded. And I’m now here for the long haul.
Have you ever had any misadventures? Have you ever felt unsafe traveling?
No, fortunately I never had any misadventures. Besides being a little nervous on my first solo trip, I always felt safe everywhere I traveled to. I think we have this tendency to underestimate the real dangers back home and higly overestimate the potential dangers we may face in a foreign place. That’s why it’s so important to travel and to get to know other cultures and people – to understand that we are all basically the same, that most people are good and helpful if you give them a chance.
What advice do you have for new travelers?
My first piece of advice: don’t be afraid. The world is a better and safer place than what we see in the media. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful, you should, but just as you are back home. My second piece of advice: don’t wait. Don’t wait for the perfect moment, for a travel companion, or for the money. If you want to travel, just do it. You will never feel that’s the right moment or that you have enough money. And you may or may not find someone to travel with. So follow your dreams, and just go. If you wait too long, you risk never going anywhere.
What struggles have you had during your blogging career? How have you overcome them?
Time management has been the most challenging part of my, still very short, blogging career. There are just so many things to learn and do when you’re a new blogger. From writing blog posts, to taking and editing photos, managing social media, guest-blogging and networking, to the more technical aspects of running a website, it seems there’s never enough time in a day for all the tasks I want to complete. I also work 80 per cent, have a boyfriend and, I like to think, a social life. So sometimes it can be hard to manage all that, without getting anxious and overwhelmed.
Another challenge for me, which is in fact a consequence of the first one, is to know when to stop and turn off. I love blogging so much that, on weekends and days off, I just want to sit at the computer all day and check off all the items on my to do list. But I know that’s not healthy at all, and that it’s the easiest way to burnout. So now I try to limit my computer time, and to schedule other activities that are not blogging related. I’m happy if I can manage to do one small thing for the blog each day (although most days I try do to more!).
What is your most recent blogging success?
As I said, I’m here for the long haul. So I try to celebrate and stay motivated by all the small successes, like getting comments on my blog posts or social media shares, contributing to a fellow blogger’s collaborative post, or being featured on this Superstar Interview. Everything counts.
Recently, I also published my first guest post on a big yoga site. That made me very happy and proud, and gave me confidence that I’m on the right track. But all the small achievements are important to me.
What do you enjoy the most about blogging?
Being creative and sharing my stories and experiences with others – be it through words, pictures or videos – is the best part of being a blogger for me. I’m also very curious and love trying and learning new things every day. Last but not least, I love being part of the blogging community and connecting with people from all over the world, people that I probably would never meet if it wasn’t for blogging.
What is one thing you wish you knew when you started?
It’s going to take time. It’s going to take a long time. So fast your seat belt and enjoy the ride. That’s probably the one thing I would like to have known from the start. At the beginning (well, sometimes even today), I would compare my new blog with already established travel sites and feel so frustrated. Why wasn’t anyone reading my blog posts? Why wasn’t I making any money or getting free travels? It’s like wanting your new born baby to start applying to college before it can even talk. Pretty crazy, I know!
It was only after I started learning about blogging and reading about other bloggers’ success stories that I realized that what it seems like an instant success at the surface is, in reality, the result of years, sometimes decades, of hard work.
So you have to be passionate about blogging, and enjoy the process, to make it worthwhile.
What are the most important skills, in your opinion, for a blogger to develop?
Resilience and willingness to learn. For me these are the two most important skills to have, in life, and in blogging. When you develop resilience, you can overcome any adversity without giving up, and become always better and stronger in what you do. Resilience is the key to success, not luck. Willingness to learn and try new things is also essential to survive in a world and in a industry that are constantly and rapidly changing. In my opinion, these are the two most important skill, for a blogger, or anyone, to develop.
What are your blogging goals for 2017?
In 2017 I want to take The Yogi Wanderer to the next level. For me that means:
- Creating quality and consistent content – my goal is to publish at least one blog post every week
- Improving my photography skills – I just bought a new camera, the Sony A6000, and want to upgrade my photography game this year
- Starting to monetize my blog – right now I’m starting to explore some affiliate marketing programs
- Networking – I’m very excited to be attending my first travel blogging conference, TBEX Europe, next October, in Ireland
- Growing my audience – hopefully all these things will help me grow my audience and inspire more and more people with my blog.
Why do you keep blogging?
Blogging gives a sense of purpose and meaning to my life. During a long time I struggled to figure out what I wanted to do, to find my call, as they say. I had been a journalist and a yoga teacher, but I wanted something more. I knew I loved to travel, but I didn’t know how I could build a life around that.
It was only after I started blogging that it hit me. I was rewriting my About page and suddenly everything started to make sense. I had found my purpose already. And I didn’t need to choose one call. I could be a journalist, and a yoga teacher, and a travel blogger. Because that’s who I am, that’s my story, and that’s what I have to share with the world.
In addition to this course, what other resources do you rely on for help/information?
I like reading other travel bloggers for inspiration and helpful tips on how to get started as a blogger. Reading good bloggers helps me improve my own writing. And getting to know their stories gives me the confidence that I can make it happen for me as well. At the moment some of my favorites are Alex in Wanderland, Legal Nomads, Wandering Earl, Oneika the Traveller, This Battered Suitcase and, of course, Nomadic Matt.
Besides The Business of Travel Blogging, I also want to do the Travel Photography course with Laurence Norah.
What is one thing you can’t travel without?
That’s two things actually: my phone and my GoPro. My phone for internet connection and pictures and my GoPro for pictures and video. So far I’ve been taking pictures of my travels with my Samsung Galaxy S7 and my GoPro Hero, but I just upgraded for the Sony A6000 (did I mention it already? I’m so happy!), so that’s one more thing I’ll start traveling with.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to a fellow blogger?
Do not give up. That’s the best blogging advice I’ve ever received, so that’s what I’d tell a new blogger. If being a blogger is your dream, what you want above all things, do not give up. Do not give up, even when it seems no one is reading your amazing blog posts that took hours, even days, to craft. Persist even when all your efforts to improve your writing, photography and video skills seem to go unnoticed by the web.
As Matt says, if you don’t give up you’re already ahead of the majority.
That’s what I tell myself and what I’d tell a new blogger: Stick to it, as if your life was on the line. Because it is.
Tell us about your blog and where we can find you on social media.
My blog is The Yogi Wanderer and it’s all about traveling the globe, living abroad, and the soul-searching lessons that arise from both. Through it, I want to inspire and help people to explore the world and their true selves.