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Trains in Vain? I’m not this, that and the other

52

November 15, 2010 by Jools Stone

A funny thing happened to me on the way back from Travel Blog Camp.  No, this is not a humerous travel blogging anecdote, nor is it the ubiquitous ‘I learned something today’ touchy feely type of reflection.

It’s maybe a slightly lamentable lapse into self indulgent naval gazing, but hey…

TBC did what it’s supposed to do and gave me some food for thought…and now I’m having a bit of a wobble as a result. Two of the four talks left an impression on me. Both were later written up for posts which are well worth reading.

Keynote blog chats

Andy Jarosz covered blogging purpose and quality standards, while David Whitley talked about a brave new world of travel blogging monetisation, where hardcore research and reviewing replaces mutual backslapping and the cranking out of cumulative content.

For Andy, 501 Places is a shop window where he showcases his writing style to attract paid work, some travel related, some not.  I think of myself in this camp too, but can’t shake this nagging feeling that my blog is less likely to open those doors. I’ve little interest in jumping through the seemingly Kafakaesque hoops required to monetise a travel blog. And that’s just as well, given its traffic and the narrow appeal of my nano-niche.

David Whitley, a full time freelance travel journalist, admitted that his Grumpy Traveller blog – originally set up simply to vent spleen on the travel ground where commissioning editors fear to tread – has brought some nice surprises.  Now several savvy travel companies are snapping up his PR-baiting, airline-worrying  schtick and who can blame them?

I’m not complaining…

Most of my paid work comes from print journalism and the first 3 months of freelance life have gone very well.  The same few editors keep coming back for more, they buy in bulk and I haven’t even needed to venture out of my comfort zone and dust off my pitching mitt yet, even though I know I probably should.

I’m just not sure

So what’s the matter you, hey!  Why you looking so sad? Well, I am a very needy blogger. Sometimes I wonder if I should simply rename this blog ‘Pay Attention to Me’ and have done with.  I want to be recognised, and not just by other bloggers who are doing their bit to be supportive, lovely though that is.

I worry that this blog will do little to advance this and get me noticed. Why? Because rail is a minority interest which I think will deter many people from reading and thus discovering my obvious all conquering genius.

And hmm, yes, well OK, there are some other niggling little doubts too…

I’m not a trainspotter (honest!)

I worry that the narrow gauge track I’ve decided to strap myself into will be my undoing. For starters I’m not really a trainspotter. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! I just don’t get that steamed up about shiny engines with all the bells and whistles.  People keep sending me all sorts of rail buff stuff on twitter which often leaves me a bit cold.  I politely thank them anyway and file it away in a topics folder, which I conveniently forget about.

Poken

Anyone for Poken? OK then, just me..

I’m not that boring, am I?

It was also interesting to see how I’m perceived at the various World Travel Market pow wows. Obviously it was great to meet so many good people I’ve tweeted with over recent months there, but when meeting new ones I swear I could see the eyes glaze over and the business cards retract when answering the inevitable ‘so what’s your blog about then?’

Even the pant-wetting novelty value of my Poken could not distract them from the creeping dread of being locked in a conversational siding with someone ready to whip out a pocketbook of engine numbers.

I’m not a dedicated overlander

Sometimes I fly. So shoot me. The reasons for this are obvious. Like it or not, it’s often more convenient, quicker and most of all cheaper. And that’s a huge barrier for many people, no matter what aspirational stuff you may read to the contrary in the broadsheets, as I’ve posted about before. Of course simply admitting this loses me vital brownie points in the small, but important, pond that is slow and green travel. Not to mention credibility and consistency.

I’m not the Man in Seat Sixty One

Nor will I ever be. One of David Whitley’s top tips was for bloggers to provide exhaustively researched, useful info on their topic. Sound advice no doubt, but it doesn’t work for me. The legendary Mark Smith beat me to the flag years ago. Back when I was canvassing opinion on a  blog name, someone suggested the train brain. I quickly ruled it out for these reasons.

Sometimes people ask me for journey advice. I always try to help them out as best I can, mainly by looking on other websites and reporting back. Which makes me a bit like an unpaid travel agent. The oldest profession n all that…

I’m not of much interest to the rail industry

A few stalwart supporters aside (hello Sophie of Quno and Emily of Raileasy) the rail travel social media machine appears resolutely unfussed by my blog so far. And when I read some of the half arsed ‘what I did on my InterRail holidays’ crap that passes for corporate rail blog content, that does add insult to injury. Plus there are very few other sustained, indy train travel bloggers out there anyway. Shouldn’t they be engaging on some level?  Should I be getting in their faces more often or what?

I’m not even much of a traveller!

Recently I was asked by a well know travel blogger to write 100 words on what travel has taught me. An easy task surely? Except I’m not sure I feel qualified to comment, flattering though the invitation was. This year I’ve left the country twice. Both times to Paris. RTW Soon? Round the Shops more like.

So where’s this heading?

I’m not saying I’m going to abandon ship, but the more I do this social media stuff the more I realise how much I love it and want it to be a major string to my bow, and the less convinced I become that this particular line of inquiry is moving any faster than the DLR on World Travel Market launch day.

Does this matter to anyone else?

Should I worry about my credentials? After all, I often get paid to write about things I’m considerably less qualified to comment on. DIY, adventure sports and modern day seminaries all spring to mind from recent jobs.  This is part and parcel of being a jobbing journo and I rarely give it a second thought. It’s just research.

What makes a blog a blog?

But a blog feels more personal somehow and maybe this is what stops people from pursuing the online guidebook option which David suggests in his post.  A pinch of self indulgence comes with the territory and your personal take on things is what stops it being just another anonymous website.

So now that I’ve outlined my myriad defects,  I’d love to hear your thoughts about where this blog should be going and whether the journey’s worth it.

And any compliments I accidentally hook will be soundly gutted and tossed back, so don’t even think about it.

Timber!

Yours, the lonesome lumberjack of Empty Blog Wood


52 comments »

  1. I think the more you blog, the more you’ll evolve and find your place. When it comes to travel, I’m not a budget traveler and I’m not a backpacker. I’m not focused on a specific destination, travel tips or many of the other main travel subjects. It took about 15 months, but I’m finally finding where I fit in – I just don’t have a name for it yet.

    So keep blogging and your place will find you!

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Ben, ah, who needs niches anyway. Maybe just ‘adventures with Ben’ is a good enough name for yours. So I only have another 10 months of self doubt to go? Wahey!

  2. Michael says:

    Hmmm, seems you need to move aside to make space for me in your boat. Been doing the same “soul searching”.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Climb aboard Michael, there’s room on me horse for two! You’re going great guns yourself though. I’m looking forward to seeing Jack Nicholson in the inevitable film of Easy Hiker.

  3. I am one of those Kevin Costner type philosophers. If you build it they will come. Sorry, compliment coming up. You are head and shoulders above most travel bloggers so keep doing what you are doing (trains schmains. Write about what moves you.)
    From an old hippie.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Anne, yeah it’s easy to get wrapped up in the promotion side too much isn’t it. Maybe I’ll have a stats checking holiday. (Not an actual holiday where I go off to the National office of Statistics for a few days, well you know what I mean) Trains do move me, just not enough (literally) recently, and maybe that’s the problem. Just need to get out more!

  4. Nicole says:

    Did you just list all the reasons you should drop Trains on the Brain? Maybe it’s time to start a new blog? If I didn’t write about what I love, it’d be a chore and I don’t need more of those. You’ve already got a great following, they’ll follow you wherever you go. As far as really getting noticed, I’m all ears!

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Nicole, no, I’m not going to drop it, but I may well start something new too. I’ll be posting about it here no doubt, so look out for it!

  5. Ant Stone says:

    Consider what you enjoy about the process of blogging, and set some goals for the coming year. If you chuck enough words at the wall (which you do), then enough will stick. You’re very good at engaging people, both on your blog and on Twitter. I like that you’re in a niche. I don’t compare you to Seat 61, because I go to his site to research my own travels, whereas I probably relate to you because you have a unique angle.

    I write about round the world travel. But you wouldn’t compare me to Lonely Planet. OK, so I know Seat 61 isn’t a huge international corporation, but he does have somewhat of a monopoly on the rail research.

    Have you ever read Danny Wallace’s, Join Me? Essentially he accrues a large following (not a cult) and then has to figure out what to do with them. It’s a good problem to have, know what I’m saying?

    If I were you, I’d keep your eye firmly on the paid work (freelancing), and every chance you get pump some good content out on here, and see how things go organically.

    After a while (2 years) you might become an authority in the market, and monetization from product and service reviews could be a good fit.

    At the very least, you’ve got somewhere to vent about rail and travel related news and views.

    There are very, very few travel bloggers who are both well respected and making lots of money. It seems they go one way or the other, and the only thing that sways the scale are the good old fashioned twain: time and effort.

    (And SEO marketing.)

    (And social media.)

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but your blog has only been active for six months… and in that time, I’d guess you must be one of the fastest growing new travel blogs in the niche.

    In conclusion: set goals, and assess what level of “time + effort” ratio you are prepared to put in, in order to achieve those goals. A funky, plump blog is great, wonderful, exciting, affirming.

    And once you have it, what will you worry about then?

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks as ever Ant for the considered comment, always appreciated. Five months old now I think, but well ‘one of the fastest growing travel blogs’? Dunno, but sounds good to me. I’m putting that in my ebook! And yeah Join Me’s a great book. I never thought of building my own cult, maybe that should be one of my goals! Cheers, Jools

  6. I think your blog has really re-sparked an interest in train travel – at least for Kent and I. To be honest, when i first read your blog, I thought “oh, this is about trains. Probably not for me.” I had to eat my thought bubble though. I find your wit, style and passion for train travel to be very catching.

    Kudos to you! Keep blogging. It the freakin’ wild west – there are very few actual experts.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Haha, well I’m all for eating thought bubbles, thanks for the kind words partner, I enjoy hitching my wagon to the NVR tandem too.

  7. Andy Jarosz says:

    Things is Jools, for me I connect with the person first and worry about what their niche is (if they have one) second. I suspect others are the same. So whether your into trains, backpacks or an expert on aircraft sick bags, it’s whether you’re actually a nice person online that determines whether people will follow you and want to talk with you. If you have that goodwill, then it’s up to you what you write about – regardless, people will read it, quality permitting. You seem to be doing a very good job in building your own brand, and I don’t think you need to worry about being ‘the trains guy’.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Andy for both inspiration and the comment. Yes I like to think that, as the corny saying goes, ‘people buy people’ to some extent in the blogging world. As for being the ‘trains guy’ well there are are many worse things to be I guess – the ‘aircraft sick bag guy’ for instance!

  8. Echoing the sentiments of previous posters, I’d just like to say that I have enjoyed following the rise of your blog Jules. Don’t be put off by a wobble, the audience that you have built independently over past months has been admirable. It’s seems strange that you invested time and money into a convention that seems to have left you disheartened. I’m not sure what was said there, but surely the event should have left you brimming with ideas and a sense of renewed vigour?
    Noted that you mentioned two upcoming posts about this, and I will surely look forward to reading them. Chin up buddy 🙂

    • Jools Stone says:

      I’m so up and down with this stuff Andy. It’s funny, but I now feel a bit silly for posting something so whiney! I guess we all have our wobbles. The event was great in lots of ways, all good thought provoking stuff. Well worth popping up for next year.

  9. Jerry says:

    Oh Jools.
    We all go through these periods of self doubt, of ‘is it all worth it?’ We all have tinges of regret about which particular flagpole we have hoisted ourselves upon, what our blog title is perceived as, or our twitter handle.
    Your current blog would be sorely missed, as the comment stream has already stated.
    If you want to expand, what about another blog? One with the random stuff that you feel doesn’t fit with Trains on the Brain.
    My Twitter account is all about my company and it’s focus is the Auto Industry. But there are many times when I feel I should have another account, one where I can truly express how I feel, without having to take into account the watching eyes and listening ears of my clients or prospects.
    I enjoy your approach, I love that you express a touch of self doubt, don’t you dare become a recluse now. I’ll be coming for ya if you do! Have a great week.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Don’t worry Jerry, you ain’t seen the last of me yet! But yeah, am thinking about one or two side projects too. I’ll be looking out for your non-auto tweet account now, but you always tweet about an interesting range of stuff anyway. Cheers!

  10. Norbert says:

    I think this type of questioning is very valid and well put. It’s your desire to be relevant, of great quality, and to be engaging with your niche. And I think it has been very well received by many (at least from my point of view). Just like you, I still sometimes question the “reason” behind my blog and its “true” niche. But that’s something that comes along the road as we develop our blogs, decide what truly works for us, and follow our respective passions.

    Don’t look yourself into being the next Seat 61 guy, focus on being Trains on the Brain, different and unique. Like they say, “take the best from the best, and make it your own.”

    I think you’re doing a great job here, and one of the things that makes your blog appealing is your style. Kudos for all the things you’ve accomplished so far!

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Norbert, you’re right, it is silly to compare yourself to others and I do think that a blog is a completely different beast to an info website like seat61. I guess these things develop as we go along and that’s part of the fun.

  11. I’m right with you here. With all the expert bloggers telling everyone that you must find a niche in order to be popular and to always have something new to say, it is kind of disappointing to put so much effort in this project and watch it stall.

    Most people would say it takes around a year to be truly successful with blogging – you haven’t been around for that long (neither have I) and yet your blog is very popular. More popular than mine, for that matter 😉 So from my humble point of view, you are doing a pretty good job.

    All I can say is keep up the good work and once you try Via Rail Canada, trust me, you’ll have a lot to say. 😉

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Marie Eve, that’s true, I’m still a blogging toddler really. And yeah I think VIA Rail will provide much inspiration, very excited about that!

  12. Hey Jools – Sounds like you’ve a bad case of the blues right now!

    I know what you mean about saying to yourself “ah what’s the point?” as I went through this myself last year when I was barely a year into my blog. My stats were falling after having grown initially and I was wondering whether it was worth the bother. After all, if I’m blogging, then I’m not doing other, potentially more productive, things.

    And then, there was a bit of a swing in Nov 09 and things improved a little as my Twittering started to deliver better results.

    Today I have reasonably good stats although I suspect that they could be better, between you and me. I enjoy writing the blog and I also look forward to my twice-a-week routine as it is quite the change from my usual day. Maybe the blog is fulfilling for me, but that should be enough, right?

    The Unexpected Traveller.

    PS: One key point – you have way more people commenting on your posts than I do. My posts are narrative so they don’t generate as much discussion but yours are thought- (and discussion-) provoking. I see your blog as being a lengthier, and meatier, discussion than Twitter can ever provide. Does this tally with how you see it?

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks UT, nah I’m ok really, just doing my mental laundry in public I spose.
      Absolutely, it’s fun just to write and make connections with others. Stats be damned.
      I try to get a discussion going, even if this time around it’s all about me, me, me! Many of the people you see commenting here I found through twitter, couldn’t live without it. Sad admission I know!

  13. And here I thought that you had it all figured out while I wrestle with all the uncertainty and self-doubt! Really, Jools I’ve been so impressed with your blog and social media banter and insights. I also happen to like the subject of train travel and have thought it was great that you had such an interesting niche. As many of the comments are saying — do what really want to do. But don’t let the seeming lack of interest of others in the rail industry deter you from pursuing that angle — they may quite well be intimidated by you and see you as competition. I’ll continue to be a loyal follower whether you’re writing about trains or whatever. It’s your style, personality, wit and talent I like. Too many compliments?? Sorry.

  14. Jeremy B says:

    Jools, I am with you on this. I have asked myself these same questions. Over the last few months, I have cranked out as many posts and articles as anybody. And my life was out of balance. I took time off – a vacation. And now that I am back into it, with much more balance, I am still asking the same questions. Burn out has definitely been a factor for me.

    Like you, I am not on a RTW trip or off on an adventure every couple of months. I wonder if people are interested in my stuff as well and whether it’s worth keeping up the work. Granted my topic is probably a bit more mainstream but on the flip side look who I have to compete with. I love the social media aspect of this but sometimes that is just as time consuming if not more than the blogging and writing.

    Good luck with whatever direction you chose to go. There are those of us right there with you.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Your work rate is phenomenal Jeremy, don’t know how you manage it!
      Sometimes it can feel like you’re surrounded by people who are having exciting perpetual travels, while you’re plugging away from home, so it’s nice to hear I’m not alone with that. But keep it up yourself, you write thoughtful stuff.

  15. Jools, you could write about cereal and I’d be on board (ooh! train pun!) Don’t get me wrong, I like reading about train travel (and I don’t think NOT being a dedicated overlander lands you any penalties), but It’s your voice, your writing style that keeps me coming back.
    As for the niche, subject, etc. remember that you’re not working for anyone here- this is YOURS. As such, you’re free to tweak it, kill it, reinvent it- do whatever you want with it…including cutting yourself some slack for not having been at this niche for very long and adding up what you have accomplished, which, for whatever it’s worth, I think is a lot! Definitely understand having a case of the wobbles, and hoping reading all of these comments will help get you sturdy in no time 🙂

    • Jools Stone says:

      The cheque’s in the post Lorna. 🙂 Hooray, I’m free to do whatever I like! Given that, watch out for my new cereal blog, which may even be serialised, seriously. (OK, I’ll stop)

  16. Amanda says:

    You know that I’ve been grappling with my own feelings of insecurity in the travel blogosphere lately. I think we all go through it at some point.

    I can relate to not really knowing where you fit in. I don’t have a “niche” like you do. I write about whatever comes to mind that’s travel-related, but I’m not currently traveling, and, when I do, I don’t really fit in anywhere there, either! I’m not a backpacker, but I’m not a luxury traveler. And my topics are all varied.

    I just try to be consistent in the quality of what I’m posting — staying true to my voice and style, and sticking to what I know and what I have opinions on are my main goals.

    And if that eventually takes me somewhere, great. In the meantime, I’m just trying to enjoy what I’m doing.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Yeah, I think just being yourself is the best way to go ultimately. As a few folk commented one’s ‘personal brand’ should not be overlooked. You can go round and round in circles trying to second guess what people want. I read and enjoyed your post Amanda, and actually toned mine down after I had, so thank you. Let’s all hang tough together!

  17. Jim says:

    I echo all the comments above. You’ve made us all stop and reconsider train travel, and I’ve been reliving our train trips in my mind and begun writing about them. Hopefully one day we’ll read about one of our wee adventures on your site….that’ll be a great day for us both.

    Gosh ,I posted a while back on my site about soul searching over blogging , never thinking the virus would spread … Who is going down with it next? LOL>

    My intuition tells me you’re going to be around for a long time Jools, and it may be that you just go and lay some new track…a single rail isn’t as interesting as tracks that take you lots of directions.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Jim, yes indeed, I’m looking forward to sharing your Indian rail story on these very pages soon.
      Never mind the flu jab, let’s all stock up on that anti-blogging-anxiety medication!
      I foresee multiple tracks too, and then I can officially abandon all pretense of having a life outside of social media!

  18. Lisa Theirl says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the insights you garnered from Travel Blog Camp. I hope you don’t take it as false flattery when I say that you have an interesting and compelling writing style that really draws the reader in. You gave me, and I’m sure a myriad of other travel bloggers, some important food for thought. Good luck in your endeavors!

  19. Andrea says:

    Damn, I thought you came back from those blogger gatherings all fired up and full of inspiration. Mental note to self – avoid blogger camps!

    From the comments above, it is obvious that we aren’t alone on this one. I’ve just decided to go back to my roots as it were, and blog. I’ve been a bit caught up recently with creating a ‘website’. I think this is where the difference may lie, at least for me.

    You must be doing something right, look how many of us read your “mental laundry” and interact …

    • Jools Stone says:

      Funnily enough Andrea I’ve had my biggest day for stats on record yesterday! That’s not saying much, but still pleases me a lot. I’m not sure how much this post affected it or not.
      Noooo, don’t avoid them! I learned a lot and, more importantly, met so many great people there.

  20. I think you’ve got a fine niche here. In fact, that was the first thing I thought when I noticed you on Twitter and we started to interact. And I like the intelligent way you write, too. Nice to see that!

    But I know that you’re not looking for that type of feedback. So what I’d like to know, after reading your post, is how much passion are you feeling for this site and trains in general. If that’s missing, then I might take a look at that and move ahead based on what you find.

  21. Wow! Look at all these comments! I think you have a loyal following and your blog will continue to grow. I’ve only been doing this for a little over three months, and I’ve also definitely had my ups and downs about it. It’s tough out there! 🙂 It’s so great that you are able to get paid for print journalism, and you have steady work from it. That says a lot right there! My advice would be to keep going on this path as long as it makes you happy. I always try to think that if my blog is not as successful as I would like it to be, then hopefully it will open doors in the future so that I can keep writing, traveling and taking photos.

  22. I think we all go cross examine ourselves at times, our blog’s direction and purpose and make a mistake of comparing ourselves to blogs that appear more successful. It’s still early days for Trains and it takes more than just a few months to get established. I would focus on the positives, such as quality over quantity, and if you need an affirmation, just look at the calibre of comments you are getting here.

    I like that you’re not trying to be like others out there. It makes you stand out from many blogs that follow a formula. As for the niche, I never saw you as a trainspotter but someone who has a passion for a certain style of travel, just as I run with the culinary travel theme. For me, a successful travel blog is in the content and quality of the writing, as well as the connection I have with the blog writer – and this is where you score high points.

    I hope you don’t abandon Trains for greener pastures. It has a lot more potential than you seem to give it credit at present. I won’t spell compliments as this in not the aim of your post, but I hope you can see them between the lines 🙂

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks once again to all of you, this is now my most commented post and there’s some great, reaffirming advice here. Really appreciate it. I SHALL go to the ball! LOL

  23. A lot of good advice has been posted in your comments before I got to this post. I’ll try not to repeat it here.

    I’ve been blogging for ten years and I still hit the wall now and then. When that happens, I try to remember why I blog. It’s because I love, with my whole heart to write and share stories about travel.

    In the noise of our dispersed travelblogging community, it can be very easy to forget why I blog. Blah blah blah monitization. Blah blah blah SEO. Blah blah blah conversion rates. Blah blah blah. Where’s the part in there about being a passionate, devoted writer? Yeah, not so much, right? It’s easy to think I’m failing because I don’t have bajillion hits or 2500USD in Adsense income every month. Does that mean blogging isn’t “a string in my bow”?

    We also forget, in the noise, that it is a vanity to expect that we should receive any recognition at all for the deep thoughts of our online journals. We think we’re so effing special. But our rise has been due, in no small part, to the long demise of publishing and the prominence of the Google monster in our lives. Our collective presence has more to do a failing past than what we have to offer our readers. (See also: Lists of popular blogs. There’s a lot of mediocrity there, in EVERY subject area.)

    We’re also impatient. I had a writing client who insisted that her stuff was “going to go viral”. Um, respectfully, bullshit. Meet a fickle public, a continually shifting landscape. Now, devote yourself to cultivating their attention, full time. Then, sacrifice a chicken.

    I could do a lot of things better than I do. (I’ve linked my name to my “I suck as a blogger” post.) And you can sit down with ProBlogger once a week and do something he advises. (He really does give the best advice out there, and it’s free.)

    But you can also shut down all that noise and think to yourself: What, exactly, is my goal here? Is it “I want to be that guy who writes beautifully about trains”? Because if that’s it, you are — forgive me — absolutely on the right track.

  24. Ayngelina says:

    I can totally relate, sometimes i feel like I should name my blog – pretty please will you like me.

    • Ayngelina says:

      Oops hit send by accident.

      All of the advice above is so great and I’d say to hang in there. Like you my blog is less than a year old and after 6 months I started to kind of figure out where I wanted to head.

      The best advice is to write about what you love and the rest will unravel. If it’s not trains then maybe you do need another outlet for writing.

      • Jools Stone says:

        I do love train travel Ayngelina, but here in the UK we have the notion of the trainspotter. These are people, usually men, who sit on platforms filming and photographing trains as they pass and noting down serial numbers in their little books. That stuff’s not for me. No idea if it’s similar in Canada/US but think you’d call them rail buffs. Besides a few new projects I have in mind, I may well start to break some of the rules about sticking religiously to a niche.

    • Jools Stone says:

      Good idea. Let’s try it for a month and see what happens!

  25. Erin says:

    Hey Jools, chin up. You are very engaging as a writer – so write about trains, cows, or grandma’s apple muffins. As long as you are passionate about it, people will follow.

  26. hi Jools,
    Was intrigued by your niche comments on problogger so I stopped by to have a look – great blog, and now you have a new reader into the bargain (who will be coming to the UK to do some train travel soon). I love travelling by train here in China and do it as often as possible, I dare say it’s cheaper than in the UK though…….with the bonus of a hot water thermos for tea in every compartment. Last trip was to Xi’an, last week, to finally see the terracotta warriors. http://nanchanglu.blogspot.com/2010/11/to-ancient-xian-by-train.html

    Keep it up!! look forward to reading more!

  27. Gillian says:

    Good on you for being so transparent with your journey. I can see in the comments that it has prompted many a blogger (bigger and smaller) to confess to their own moments of doubt. Helps those of us in the trenches realize that our feelings shared by many. I think it’s posts, and times, like these that will help you focus your energy and realize where your time should be spent. That’s what I’ve heard over and over as I read more successful bloggers…that it didn’t always come easy and that failure is part of the game. I believe in having a good pity party but then, chin up! Cheers!

    • Jools Stone says:

      Thanks Gillian & Erin, have to say I’ve been overwhelmed by all the constructive, encouraging comments this post has garnered, so consider my chin firmly vertically aligned now!
      Fiona, thanks for checking me out. Yes I’ve heard that the Chinese have some pretty impressive plans to spruce up high speed rail, including building a route which will take passengers from London to Singapore in as a little as 3 days, so you’re right part of the world!

  28. Andrea says:

    Hiya Jools, I’m late getting here though I chatted with you about this post a couple of weeks ago. I have to echo what Lorna and some of the others have said about loving your writing style. As I’ve told you, one of the reasons I got into blogging was to get back into writing, which is a passion I share with my husband. One of the things that we’re doing with our blog is trying a few categories since we’re newbies and seeing what works. Do you have some other things you want to write about? Because you could write about anything and pop it under Brand Jools and I think it would be a hit. Maybe try to think of a broader reason you like train travel and expand on that – in our interview you mentioned frustration with airlines and sustainability issues. Maybe expand your content to include alternative forms of transportation (Anything But Planes, perhaps). You can just start a second category on your blog. I’d stick with your clever title and train blog because you’ve built a lot of awareness and equity in that, but maybe just expanding content will help on the traffic front. Just my thoughts, I’m a newbie myself so no expertise here, but I definitely don’t think you should scrap the project!

  29. […] finally made a conscious decision to broaden the focus a bit. I touched on the reasons for this after my Travel Blog Camp experience. I want to cover more ground and reflect more of my […]

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