All about the transformation of my personal travel blog into a travel guide
Welcome to the new Breathedreamgo!
This site was a personal travel blog … and now it’s changing. A new look, a new editorial mandate, a new structure with new functionality, and some new goals mark a big departure for Breathedreamgo. I hope you like what you see, and that you come with me as I continue to evolve this site into something bigger, more helpful, and more diverse than ever before.
This is not merely a cosmetic redesign, there’s some very significant changes. For one thing, I no longer consider this site a personal travel blog – though a blog will always be a big part of Breathedreamgo. For another, I now have some very real financial goals for the site, which I never did before. Here’s a brief rundown of what’s new:
- New editorial mandate that covers transformational / life-changing travel all over the globe (not just an Indian travel blog anymore — though India will remain a special focus)
- New contributors including Hannah Logan, Alison Kent, Sarah Pittard, Victoria Ward, Matt Gibson, and Gaurav Bhatnagar among others
- New colour scheme AND new template (StudioPress Market theme)
- New guides, such as the India Guide and Delhi Guide – and more coming soon!
- New page that showcases the India tours I am offering (Travel & Tours)
- New page that showcases the gear and services I use (Travel Resources)
- Updated some old posts and deleted almost 200 old blog posts – many more to update over the next few months
- No more personal travel blog and no more comments!
- New emphasis on SEO and traffic building
- A business plan that will help guide the growth and revenue opportunities over the next two years
- Cutting-edge behind-the-scenes technology, thanks to tech wizard Chris Richardson of RTW Labs (note the site is now secure), which will speed it up and make it more Google search friendly
From Indian travel blog to transformational travel site
The inspiration for all these changes to my personal travel blog came from both “carrots and sticks,” which I explain below. There was some positive inspiration … and also the desire to overcome some challenges …
Read more about my journey on Breathedreamgo
- A 7 year anniversary and a big announcement
- Celebrating 6 years of Breathdreamgo
- A 5-year blogiversary and a 7th trip to India
- 4 years of dreaming and doing
- 7 year itch: My life as a travel blogger
- 6 years of travel writing and blogging
- 2 years of Breathedreamgo
The carrots: Positive inspiration for change
I started the redesign process of my personal travel blog about a year ago, inspired in part by receiving a Business Innovation Grant from the Canadian Department of Heritage. To get the grant, I had to commit to transforming Breathedreamgo from a personal travel blog (and Indian travel blog) into a “multi-contributor digital periodical” instead of a blog.
I was also inspired by the six weeks I spent last winter exploring the jungles of India. Seeing some of India’s top tiger reserves – and 11 tigers in the wild! – I became more aware than ever of the need to preserve and protect our natural world.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. — Roald Dahl
This new version of Breathedreamgo is therefore dedicated to both inspiring life-changing travel and to helping inform readers about responsible travel and sustainable tourism options. I want to help travellers become as consciously aware as possible about the impact of their travel decisions on both the local cultures and environments.
Another carrot is the potential for Breathedreamgo to earn money through things like affiliate income and other “monetizing strategies” like offering tours, an itinerary planning service, etc. I came to realize that Breathedreamgo has a Domain Authority of 46, which is high for a travel blog. Without going into too much technical detail, what this essentially means is that I have a better chance of getting on the first page of Google search than many travel blogs. Any SEO (search engine optimization) work that I do is likely to pay off in a lot more traffic.
I have no intention of compromising the integrity of this site, but I do need to make a living and hope you will support me by utilizing the affiliate links, coming on tour with me, etc. I’ve been really struggling to work AND run this site for many years, and my dream is to do this full-time. Which leads to the “sticks” that have inspired me.
The sticks: Challenging inspiration for change
I was also inspired to transform Breathedreamgo by my growing discontent as a blogger. I started my career with a degree in magazine journalism, and always wanted to be a features writer and editor, but I found it a difficult career to maintain in a shrinking and highly competitive market. A six-month trip to India in 2005 inspired me to become a travel writer and I started blogging. When the digital revolution seemed certain, I took my career online and became a professional blogger in 2009.
But the truth is, I’ve never been comfortable being a blogger for several reasons. One is that I have very mixed feelings about being the centre of attention. It’s partly due to my lack of self-confidence, quite frankly, and being an “older” woman in a world saturated with youthful images.
And it’s partly due to my discomfort with the narcissism that seems epidemic in our modern age. I like sharing my journey, discoveries, stories, and passions – but especially if they serve a larger purpose, such as by inspiring others to pursue their dreams, to travel solo, to go on a personal quest, or travel more safely.
I grew up reading National Geographic, and have a very a lot of admiration for travellers and explorers, people who are out there, discovering the world, expanding their horizons, and sharing their discoveries. But many of these online “travel stars” of today are more like fashion models than travellers and explorers, to me.
Another challenge is that I have never known how I fit in as a travel blogger. I started out by chronicling my travels in India. I never had an ambition to travel the entire world, just the places that call to me. I also never really had an ambition to be a “big” travel blogger either, and so I never pursued the strategies and techniques needed to get to those echelons.
As I saw my colleagues become more professional, and often more commercial, I let myself fall behind. I was in the same room, back in 2010 at TBEX New York, with a bunch of bloggers who today are the biggest names in the business, and making incomes well into the six figures. Part of me thinks, that should be me, too.
When you follow your bliss…doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors, and where there wouldn’t be a door for anyone else. Joseph Campbell
But my goals were different. I wanted to finally express myself after a lifetime of feeling stifled by self-doubt. I wanted to share my passion for transformative travel in India, how it saved my life, and gave me a desperately needed new start. I wanted to explore my creativity, and see how far my talent could take me. I wanted to find my voice.
But mostly, I wanted to take some time and just balls-out “follow my bliss.”
I wanted the precious luxury of being one of the very, very few people who really does attempt to live their dreams; who really does leave behind the safety and mundanity of “normal” life to live by their guts, to let their heart and soul guide their decisions and actions.
The sovereignty you have over your work will inspire far more people than the actual content ever will. – Hugh McLeod
So, that is what I’ve been doing – long past the time it seemed practical or rewarding. I’ve come to realize that freedom is worth a lot to me, and I’ve sacrificed a lot to be able to live this way.
The media and internet is filled with people, memes, articles, videos who will exhort you to follow your dreams. But the truth is that it’s not as easy or simple as they make it look. It’s not just the financial struggles, it’s the inner struggles. Creating your own unique life makes you come face-to-face with both your expanses of imagination and your limitations, fears, and insecurities. You walk the razor’s edge when you leave the well-travelled path behind and strike out on your own.
A personal travel blog charts a personal journey
One of the things I have had to face is a lifelong lack of self-confidence and support. Somehow, I think these things go hand in hand. The upshot of this pattern is that I have struggled to keep Breathedreamgo afloat even when it may have seemed to the online world that I was thriving. I have been challenged by financial stress, illness, and personal tragedy over the past few years, and I almost quit blogging entirely.
But in the past few months, I have had a personal renaissance: I put a troubling personal situation behind me, recovered from Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, received the Business Innovation Grant from the Canadian Department of Heritage, and had a reawakening in the jungles of central India. Together, they have inspired me to start again, and remake this site with an eye to finally attempting to achieve financial success.
Looking back, I was not very realistic about the potential for Breathedreamgo without a much-needed shot of capital, a business plan, and a focus on viable strategies for growth and revenue generation. I wistfully hoped that a partner would come along and see the site’s potential, and help me realize it. That never happened. In the same way, I have not yet found a life partner, either, to help me lift the burden of life’s stresses and challenges.
My destiny seems to be that I am supposed to do things myself. And so I am. Without anywhere near enough support or capital, I am now attempting to make Breathedreamgo into the site I have always thought it should be: successful, impactful, and money-making.
Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. — Ralph Waldo Emerson
And perhaps this is how it should be. Perhaps doing things myself is the path to gaining the self-confidence I have always wanted.
Thanks to some very special people
Having said that, I haven’t done everything by myself. I do have to acknowledge that I have had support from several people, and the Canadian government. My siblings Matthew, Victoria, and Andy are always supportive – they are my family. Matthew wrote the business plan that will help propel this site forward. Victoria contributes to Breathedreamgo and supports me as a social media coordinator on paid campaigns. Andy is always there for me.
My friends Shelly, Helen, and Renee all contributed to the new design, helping me choose the colours and make many other design decisions. Renee also designed my beautiful media kit. Talented artist Danielle Winter supplied the beautiful image of the Indian woman, above and on the cover of the Indian Travel Guide. WordPress wizard Chris Richardson of RTW Labs has put in a hero’s amount of work to create a new template design and do the mind-boggling number of technical things needed to update Breathedreamgo and make sure it purrs under the hood.
And there are several guardian angels looking over me too. Some are in India, and you know who you are. I am very grateful. And some are unknown to me … yet I can feel their quiet, unyielding support. Personally, I don’t understand how anyone can question the presence of god, or the divine, or universal consciousness or whatever you want to call it. I feel it, and see it, all the time, in smiles, in kindness, in nature, and in love … and in the many miracles that occur every day right under our noses, there for us to see if only we take the time to notice. I’m very very grateful for this life.
New Breathedreamgo mission statement
Our mission is to inspire transformative travel journeys. We want to help people change their lives, see the world and themselves in a new way, and have a positive impact on the people, cultures, and environments they encounter. We also want to embolden female solo travellers and to encourage anyone who wants to go on a journey of self-discovery. We believe that transforming ourselves is the best way to transform the world. We believe that we must be the change we want to see in the world. We believe that the world is our home, that we all belong, and it’s much better to travel with caution than fear.
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