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I am a Blogger, and I am Powerful: On Bloggers, Brands and Fear

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Big days lead to lots of thoughts and long posts that hopefully mesh well! Welcome to my mind…

#brf11Yesterday I was part of a travel bloggers panel at a Blogger Relations Forum here in Sydney. It was my first ever experience speaking on a panel for anything…

…and I was petrified.

I knew I would be petrified when I accepted the invitation. Public speaking has never been on my list of favorite things to do, and with skyrocketing anxiety issues in my adult years, sometimes there are even moments of terror when put on the spot in small groups of people I know. People I know! Obviously this is a real problem.

But still I accepted because I knew, deep down, I could do it.

And I did. I survived yesterday’s small forum, albeit with a few stutter steps and a couple of blank expressions, and I felt triumphant in the end to have done something, yet again, that pushed my bounds and got me out there. Surviving proved to myself that I am powerful and capable of doing most anything even when my insides are quivering and my brain is trying to convince my body to RUN!

It’s OK to feel fear.

Throughout my 28 years on this earth, I’ve struggled with anxiety while trying to pursue dreams. I’ve given speeches, performed solo musical acts, dabbled with a brief public access comedy TV show, wrote and sang songs in a girl rock band and traveled solo. Each and every experience has brought fear to the table.

That’s right. I’m scared to travel solo.

Before every solo trip, I am filled with anxiety and worry. I think about what it could be like when I land, whether or not I’ll have to eat alone, whether I’ll be put in awkward situations and just how I’ll survive. To be honest, I sometimes feel like a fraud because I tell others to travel solo even when it scares the living daylights out of me… at least until I’m there… at least until I survive and feel triumphant much like I did yesterday after the forum.

I know I can do it, regardless of the fear. I just have to remind myself (the very hard part) to look past it and towards the final goal in order to continue living a life of experiences — ones where I travel solo to places like Kyrgyzstan, try my hand at archeology and speak out about travel blogging in public forums. As hard as it may be sometimes, after discovering a post yesterday by The PlanetD touching on a similar subject, I think it could be much easier in the future.

It’s OK to feel fear. In any case, it should be expected when you are doing things outside of your normal, comfortable routine, like living a life of experiences or working towards a dream.

I looked to the other bloggers on my panel yesterday (Lauren of The Life that Broke and Caz of yTravel Blog), and they were openly nervous before getting up on the stage. We were all feeling fear… because fear is normal.

I know it doesn’t sound like much of a revelation — fear is normal — until you tell it to yourself. Go ahead, do it. People feel fear because it is a normal reaction, and knowing that fear will probably always be there is acceptance.

Feeling fear with blogging.

As we were getting closer and closer to the conference, I felt the fear build up, and it wasn’t just the fear of being in a public speaking situation. It was the fear involved with being a blogger.

They kept saying, “You’re an expert in your field. You have so much experience. You’ll do great!”

And this is true. I know a hell of a lot about travel blogging as I’ve worked on countless blogs now, besides my own, since the beginning of the big blogging craze, but… did I really know my stuff? Would I have valuable insight to share with an audience of inquiring minds?

Further on, I thought about my own personal fears when blogging. Even writing this post now has me a little scared. I sometimes share information that is very personal on this blog; you sometimes wonder if it has value or if people even care. Self-doubt can be a bitch.

Or how about the fear of the future of travel blogging. Oh, yes, I have that one… the one where I question if sticking with it in the long-term will bring great rewards… or just allow for me the opportunity to continue putting food on the table without needing to work 12 hour days. Will more brands ever start to consider bloggers as real partners in their marketing campaigns?!

If you’re a serious blogger, you’ve probably had these thoughts, too, right?

Blogs are powerful.

But as I went through some of the potential questions that would be asked for the moderated panel, I started to be reassured that I myself had valuable insight and achievements worth sharing (it’s difficult sometimes to see yourself as others do).

Writing stuff down, like accomplishments and goals, does wonders!

Then, to go and hear other bloggers in the business talking about their successes and hardships just helped me see where I fall in the midst of the new and evolving industry where bloggers and brands work together; where bloggers and brands need each other — the whole point of the forum.

Bloggers are powerful, plain and simple. Our words mean something.

I had quite a few examples written down in my notes that I wasn’t able to share with the forum, but here is one case that just shows the power of blogs and bloggers:

A few years ago, I traveled to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan — a country many don’t even know exists. I took language lessons at a small school, and I blogged about it right here. I returned to Bishkek last month, and to the same school, where I encountered a number of foreign English teachers (from America, Canada and the UK) who knew about my blog. One person even told me that he read my blog when he was trying to decide to teach in Kyrgyzstan. He said it was helpful when making the decision… that it was something that let him see it was a friendly place.

My blog posts, written years ago on my site, actually helped someone decide to pick up his life and spend 6+ months teaching English in a small Central Asian country of all places.

That seems pretty damn powerful to me.

Now, I ask, what brands would not want to harness that sort of power by working with bloggers in long, meaningful relationships?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say it may be brands succumbing to the fear. It’s understandable. Brands and bloggers are a new sort of combo. It’s a new industry evolving minute by minute on the web, and no one wants to fail.

Just remember, fear will always be there for people doing something awesome. I believe in our ability to look past this fear, I believe in the power of blogging and bloggers in general, and I believe the fostering of worthwhile relationships between bloggers and brands is the way of the future (I’m not the only one: read this manifesto).

It still might take some time to fully convince brands of our worth and value enough to look past the fear, but with forums like those happening yesterday, I’m almost excited for the future.
* * *
In the meantime, bloggers, feel free to share your own stories of how your blog or a blog you know could be considered powerful.

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43 Responses to I am a Blogger, and I am Powerful: On Bloggers, Brands and Fear

  1. JoAnna December 9, 2011 at 2:55 pm #

    Woo hoo! Good for you! It always helps to talk about something you’re passionate about. Me? I’m passionate about public speaking, which helps a lot!

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 9:59 am #

      I can’t believe you are passionate about public speaking! Please share some tips bc I need them πŸ˜‰

  2. Amanda December 9, 2011 at 3:05 pm #

    Good for you, Brooke!

    And I agree with you that blogs are powerful. Your example there is a fantastic example. A blog is not just an advertisement for a service or destination. It’s a personal story with personal insights and recommendations. And it’s been proven that people trust people. Guy A could read 5 articles in travel magazines about Place B. But those articles might only get him interested in Place B, not make him actually go book a ticket. It often isn’t until Girl C personally tells Guy A a story about Place B that he begins to think about going there seriously. And that’s where blogs can have a lot of influence, I think.

    Now, we just need to convince a lot more brands of this! πŸ˜‰

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:05 am #

      Definitely! It’s the personal aspect of blogging that’s so powerful πŸ™‚

  3. Kevin December 9, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

    Hey Brooke,

    Great entry. Love the line in there about, “It’s a new industry evolving minute by minute on the web, and no one wants to fail.”

    I am also going out on a limb by saying (genuine?) bloggers never intended for brands to come in when they start their blog and brands most definitely didn’t have blogs in mind when they started.

    The metrics used by both worlds is ultimately, different, and they were never intended to represent information when taken out of their separate worlds.

    But you’re right, the industry is definitely evolving and we can start to see the bridges of metrics crossing over and now need to translate our observations to ensure a “Win, Win, Win” situation, πŸ™‚

    Thanks again for your time, yesterday, Brooke. If you were “petrified” I couldn’t tell. πŸ™‚

    Cheers,
    Kevin.

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

      Hey Kevin,

      I had to fish your comment out of my spam folder – woops – but thank you for the words, and thanks for having me as a part of the event. When it comes to metrics, there is just so much about a blog’s influence that can’t be tracked. I often don’t know of the impact i have until someone takes the time to email me with feedback. Interested to see where it all finally merges with the Brands πŸ™‚

  4. Ant December 9, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    What a great piece of writing, Brooke. Honest. Intelligent. Provoking. I’d just say, that a thousand cliches could be thrown in the comments (“fortune favours the brave…”, “shd who dares, wins…”) but I’ll just say this: well done!

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:06 am #

      Cheers, Ant! Always a pleasure to get feedback from you. Hope all is well!

  5. Nomadic Samuel December 10, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    This is an inspiring posts. I once heard this acronym for FEAR (Feeling Excited And Reading) – feel the fear and do it any ways πŸ™‚

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:12 am #

      Thanks so much for reading! Did you mean to put “reading” in that acronym by the way?

      • Nomadic Samuel December 14, 2011 at 4:16 pm #

        LOL, no I didn’t although maybe I was excited reading your post πŸ™‚ Actually it was supposed to be ‘ready’ πŸ˜›

        • Brooke December 15, 2011 at 11:14 am #

          Haha, ok makes much better sense now! πŸ˜‰

  6. Caz Makepeace December 10, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    Awesome post Brooke. Great being on the panel and you did a great job. It’s normal to be nervous when speaking to people. As you say you have a lot to offer which is why the panel needed you!

    Bloggers are so powerful Can’t wait until brands start waking up to realize it

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      I think you’re doing a fantastic job at getting that point across, Caz. In time, it’ll happen πŸ˜€

  7. Traveling Ted December 11, 2011 at 2:46 am #

    Great post Brooke. It is difficult to gauge our power because most people who read our blogs never contact us or leave a comment. Every once in awhile though I get a comment thanking me for suggesting a place and said they went on my recommendation and loved it. Those experiences make my day.

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      Agreed – those emails and messages make my day as well πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading and spreading the word!

  8. Bret @ Green Global Travel December 11, 2011 at 5:57 am #

    Great post! It’s like I’m always telling my daughter: Fear is normal and healthy, but it’s how we RESPOND to the fear that defines us as brave. For me personally, if I’m afraid of something, I feel like I have to do it, to challenge myself and expand my comfort zone. Then, once we’ve tackled it, we neutralize the fear to a degree. Of course, it took me nearly 8 years of studying improv comedy to get to the point where I could do that with ease…

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:13 am #

      I definitely agree about the neutralizing part (to a degree). Things like this get easier in time, but I don’t think it ever goes away completely πŸ™‚

  9. Katina December 11, 2011 at 10:28 am #

    Like every other comment, mine’s going to say well done and WOW. I’ve started up my blog again with very frequent posts in the hope that people will take notice, and it’s good to know even the experienced ones have self-doubt. You know you’re doing great things Brooke, and getting through the fear is proof you want to keep that going! As a reader it’s inspiring me to chase my own dreams (albeit slowly, but getting there). Love your work πŸ˜€

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:14 am #

      Aw thanks for the lovely words, Katina! I’m so glad that I can of inspiration to you chasing your own dreams. Makes it all worthwhile!

  10. Christina @ Hair Romance December 12, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    So lovely to meet you there Brooke, and you were great on the panel.

    I agree, bloggers are incredibly powerful! I hope brands realise soon too.

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 10:17 am #

      Aw, yes, you too! And thanks! I had a look through your website, and I think that what you’re doing, you’re doing very well. Keep it up! You’ll be living in Paris off your blog in no time!

  11. dtravelsround December 12, 2011 at 10:31 am #

    I do think our blogs are powerful. But, I also think the power of our blogs does go relatively unnoticed, minus the fortunate group who are able to harness that power and receive trips, sponsorships and becoming travel personalities that extend beyond that of the normal blogger. I agree with Ted, many of the people we influence are nameless, a number and not a person since they don’t leave comments or let us know how we have helped. I have only just begun to realize the influence my writing has. When I began to write my elephant series, people have begun to comment on it. In fact, one elephant advocate told me I have become a great ambassador for the organization I have been writing extensively about. Being able to communicate that to people, whether or not I will ever know the true reach, is an awesome thing.

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 5:59 pm #

      Your example here is so perfect! I’m so glad that your posts are making such a big impact. I wish we had a way to track that reach, but like you say, we may not ever know.

  12. Antoinette B. December 12, 2011 at 3:04 pm #

    Great post Brooke! I am fairly new to blogging, on and off for about a year and I’ve often wondered if it was worth my time since I do still work a full time job while traveling every 3 months or so. This post has definitely inspired me to stick to my blog and give more of my love and dedication for it; keep it up because you may or may not know it but you have readers/followers like me who look to people like you for inspiration, to know that it’s all going to be okay. I’ve talked myself out of the fear plenty of times and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one scared shitless at times.

    • Brooke December 12, 2011 at 6:11 pm #

      Thanks for reading, Antoinette! I think there is a fine line in blogging where it is either an art/hobby or business. Sometimes wanting both can be confusing, but if it makes you happy to blog, I would definitely stick with it whether it makes money or not πŸ™‚

  13. Roy Marvelous December 13, 2011 at 8:08 am #

    Well done Brooke! I agree, It is really flattering when you find out that your blog impacts others.

    • Brooke December 14, 2011 at 7:48 am #

      Thank you! And definitely flattering. Have you had any interesting experiences finding out your blog has impacted someone?

  14. Travel To Armenia December 15, 2011 at 6:22 am #

    Brooke, that’s why it is so difficult to explain in a few words why people will travel world of wonders.
    Thanks you for interesting post πŸ˜‰

  15. Kelsey December 15, 2011 at 11:38 pm #

    I think you’re right on the money, here. PR and marketing folks have no clue how powerful bloggers are. When I lived on a small, rural island in South Korea as a teacher, my school told me about how they had a very difficult time finding teachers willing to teach on their boondock island. After writing about my life there for a few months, they started getting applicants to teach there who had all read my blog! By the time I left, my blog had quadrupled the number of teachers on the island, and had helped them to almost fully staff their schools.

    Similarly, many reenactors I know have complained recently about low recruitment numbers. Well, through my reenacting blog and tumblr, I get at least 2-3 inquiries a week from people asking me how they can get started, and that they never knew enough about the hobby to join it until they found my site(s).

    Pretty damn powerful, if you ask me.

    • Brooke December 19, 2011 at 6:21 pm #

      Great examples, Kelsey! Thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  16. Janet December 28, 2011 at 6:26 pm #

    I have the same fears and anxieties and I hate public speaking.

    At the same time I think it would be cool to be a speaker at some big event… Or maybe its just those blogstars and conferences rubbing off on me.

    I have this stupid thing where I can’t feel like I can go to many places in a new environment by myself. It took me 6 months living in Manila to finally feel comfortable taking a jeepney by myself down the road, or ride a bus, etc. and I only have a select few routes I feel comfortable with and won’t do anything else… it’s ridiculous. :/

    On a brighter note, it would be awesome to have a future of more bloggers pairing up with marketers, etc. and actually getting paid for it.

    • Brooke January 7, 2012 at 9:55 am #

      Hi Janet, Thanks so much for reading and sharing. I know what you mean about the bus thing — I get that way sometimes, too!

  17. Francois de Vertieres December 31, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    I founded a travel and tourism management service in Northern Haiti (King Henri Estate) where Royal Caribbean has Labadee;the world famous seaside resort advertised/branded as a private island. My entire & all marketing strategy has been & continue to be focused on travel bloggers and writers. Leon Logothetis (Nat Geo) and Paul Clammer (Lonely Planet) are the most notorious to have used my services so far and the new airline of Haiti: Air Ayiti has made me a their VP of marketing in return for a cross-promotion deal. Brooke I reason with you 100%, If you shoot me an email, I’ll be honored to send you a formal invitation to show you my 108,000 sq.ft castle Citadel Henri that’s 3000 feet above sea-level.

    • Brooke January 7, 2012 at 9:52 am #

      Then you have a very great marketing plan! I’ll be shooting you an email soon, and thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  18. Mike January 1, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    Great post Brooke. Thanks for continuing to inspire us. You definitely are an inspiration for our upcoming blogging on our RTW trip!

    • Brooke January 7, 2012 at 9:53 am #

      Thanks, Mike!!! Makes my day to hear that I could be someone’s inspiration. Thank you!

  19. Maddycat January 10, 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Hey Brooke,

    I could really relate to your post. My latest resolution is about overcoming fear, especially when travelling. My friend recently commented on my boldness and bravery, and I almost laughed – she said “you’re not afraid of anything…” funny how people’s perceptions can be so far from the truth. I’m afraid of travelling alone too and it’s really hampering my decision about where to go next…

    You’re right about the power of blogging too. Blogging has actually given me a recent boost in confidence. I feel empowered when I publish something worthwhile; no longer do writers need to sit around waiting for someone to publish our work. We can now say what we want – we can announce it to the world with the click of a button!

    I share in your sentiments about brands. Here’s hoping that soon they sit up and take notice… although at the moment our blogs are raw and honest. I would hate for blogs to take a wrong turn and become ads in disguise… do you think it’s a danger?

  20. Jane March 28, 2012 at 9:44 am #

    Brooke, I always love reading your posts about anxiety and blogging. Makes me feel like I’M NOT GOING INSANE!!!! It’s reasuring to see other bloggers out there feeling the same way as I do, so thank you for this post! πŸ™‚

  21. Aude July 29, 2012 at 5:33 am #

    Great post! So inspiring! I’ve just started my own blog, and self-doubt is my biggest issue β€” I’m glad to see I’m not the only one. So thanks again for the dose of inspiration. You’re doing amazing work!

    • Brooke July 30, 2012 at 10:18 am #

      Good luck on your journey!

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