Today I’m talking about blogger imposter syndrome why I feel like a big fake when it comes to travel blogging…
This is a bit of a different post for me, but it’s one that has been on my mind for a while – and that’s blogger imposter syndrome. So today I’m leaving the SEO slog and talking about why I feel like a fake travel blogger.
Let me set the scene for you before I dive into this. I’ve never felt less like a travel blogger than when I visited the doorways of City Palace during a trip to Jaipur on a trip to India during a pre-pandemic 2020.
I remember standing in the queue of tourists waiting their turn to get a photo in front of one of the beautiful ornate doorways and just watching the scene unfold in front of me…
Instagram travel bloggers
One female traveller took her place wearing a bright jewel-coloured sari that seemed like the perfect nod to our location in India. She whipped out a number of poses one after the other: looking at the camera then looking away, playful then serious, posed then candid, this whole perfectly choreographed routine. To me, watching her, with no colourful sari and no idea how I was going to pose, this was what a real travel blogger was.
It was someone with a beautifully curated Instagram feed, complete with presets to make everything feel cohesive and ‘on brand’. It was someone with thousands of Instagram followers. It was someone who managed to get a pic of the Taj Mahal with no one else in it. It was someone who looked like they knew exactly what they were doing… basically everything I wasn’t. Just watching that person gave me a serious jolt of blogger imposter syndrome.
And not just because I don’t even have a proper Instagram for my blog, let alone presets. No, I mostly feel like a fake travel blogger because of one big reason: I’ve never been travelling. I’ll say it again for the people at the back: I’ve never been travelling.
Never have I ever…
If I was playing a game of ‘never have I ever’, that classic drinking game where you take a sip if you’ve done the thing, I wouldn’t be drinking when you asked me the following questions:
Have you ever…
- Been backpacking?
- Travelled around South East Asia?
- Worked on a farm in Australia?
- Seen the cherry blossoms in Japan?
- Driven Route 66 in the US?
It’s no to all of those questions I’m afraid. No shots for me.
Holidays versus travelling
That’s not to say I’ve not been to places. I’ve watched the sun come up over the Angkor Wat. I’ve stood face to face with the Taj Mahal. I’ve even lived in China for six months. But I’ve not travelled in that liberating walk-away-from-your-life way. A sketch from the second Inbetweeners movie springs to mind. When Will cheerfully says he’s travelling around Australia he’s asked by dreadlocked faux-crusty character Ben how long he’s there for. When Will says a month Ben quickly scoffs, ‘Oh, so you’re just on holiday then.’ Savage.
But the message is clear: travelling and short trips away are two different things entirely. You only have to type it into Google to see the scores and scores of posts on the subject. And that makes me feel like a fraud when it comes to thinking of myself as a travel blogger. How can I compete with the ‘real’ travel bloggers of the world without having done this?
Pivoting during the pandemic
So that’s the biggie out the way. The next reason why I feel like a fake travel blogger is because is I only started my blog 18 months ago. For the first half of that I was writing as a generalist lifestyle blogger. I was blogging about a bit of everything – home, wellbeing, money, mindset – while ignoring what everyone was saying about finding a niche. We were halfway through lockdown by the time it finally clicked into place and I decided the direction I wanted to go in: niching down into travel blogging with a focus on Scotland.
That’s the direction I want to go in… but if I’m honest there’s still a lot of work to do content-wise. Do I have enough content about Scotland to actually feel like I’m a Scottish travel blogger? Believe me, I’m trying. I went to three restaurants in one week a while back just to enable me to write one post on cafes in Dundee. I’ve written up content on a Scottish fairy tale castle and a trip to the Ivy in Edinburgh even a guide to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival… but there’s so much I just couldn’t write for such a long time. That’s changing now, but it has kind of got me wanting to gnaw my own arm off in frustration over the last 12 months.
Blogging imposter syndrome
So how can I stop the imposter syndrome and stop feeling like a fake travel blogger? Well, one thing I will say is this: joining Twitter and following other travel bloggers on there has been one thing that opened my eyes. It’s helped me see that travel bloggers didn’t just have to mean ‘Instagram travel blogger’. You don’t have to care about posting perfectly curated selfies from everywhere you go. You don’t have to do it as a full-time job – or even as a paid gig. You can actually just be someone who enjoys travelling… and writes about it. Go figure.
What I can offer
I guess what I’ve realised in going through this process is that I do have something to offer. I’m starting to find my groove writing about content in my local area – some of which I’ve been able to continue writing about – at least in part – through lockdown.
Dundee flies under the radar a lot and it irritates me that there aren’t that many bloggers repping for this city. For ages I wanted to read reviews of all the cool bars and cafes that are popping up here all the time, or about where the best spot is to go for brunch. But when I googled them all I could find was restaurant reviews written by the local newspaper. That’s great, it has its part, but I wanted to read content written by people like me.
Repping for my city
Why? Well, one of these reviews critiqued my favourite restaurants once and it royally pissed me off. I didn’t agree with a word of it – to me, they just didn’t get it. They didn’t get why the decor uses industrial materials and why the plates are small – so you can have lots of them! I wanted to read reviews by people my age who weren’t necessarily getting paid for their meal – but were there because they chose to be and they got the vibes.
I also realised that travel blogs don’t always have to be about the big stuff. The life-changing stuff. The Taj Mahal et all. Everything has its purpose. Example; if I review the restaurant around the corner that’s useful to somebody that maybe wants to go to the restaurant around the corner but doesn’t know what it’s like. Because they don’t live around the corner and they don’t know it like I do, right? I’m going to stop saying corner now.
So that’s where I’m at. I still feel like a fake travel blogger to be honest. So many people have been to more places than I have. So many bloggers have ticked more experiences off their bucket list. And they’ve also been travelling – whereas I’ve just been on holiday.
However, I’m still going to keep on plugging away and writing about my travel experiences. Whether that makes me a travel blogger or just someone blogs about travel is still up for debate. But I’m not sweating it anymore.
So here’s to that.