Hello please introduce yourself and your blog to our reader.
My name is Jim Jones, and I’ve been traveling for business and for pleasure as long as I can remember. We took lots of driving trips when I was a kid and visited nearly every state. I picked up photography as a hobby in high school (back in the 1980s!), but only got serious about it in 2007 or so. Since I love travel and photography, I decided a travel-oriented blog was a great way to share my experiences.
I decided to call my blog Travel Stories and Images because…well, that’s what it’s all about. I try to include a lot of photos in each story. I like giving people tips and ideas on how to capture the most beautiful photos of the places I’ve seen – so if they ever visit any of these places, they’ll be able to capture their own stunning memories.
I’ve been blogging on and off for about 10 years, and Travel Stories and Images is a little over a year old.
What plans do you have in the future for your blog?
The biggest thing is that I want to add lots more content! I’m busy with work, but I have lots of trips from prior years to write about. My wife and I visited Tanzania for 10 days in 2016…I’ve written one article on the trip so far, but I have at least three or four more planned. I also wrote a post on planning a trip to Africa, which I plan to expand and turn into an e-book soon.
I also want to do lots more collaboration with other bloggers – not only to get their points of view, but to share their work with a broader audience (and to get exposed to their audience). I have a new collaboration post on favorite travel-related books that went live recently, and it was a lot of fun to work with the other bloggers to get this done.
Finally, I want to start writing more about local attractions. I’m in Chicago which is one of the most-visited cities in the US. It’s full of interesting history, great restaurants and beautiful sightseeing, and I’d love to share it with people who are thinking about coming here.
What can our readers find on your website? Have you been featured anywhere if so please share the links.
My travel blog is at Travel Images and Stories – I’ve also been fortunate enough to guest write for some amazing bloggers:
- My post on photographing US National Parks on Michael Gerber’s blog
- My photo essay on a trip I did to several National Parks in the western US for the Parks and Points blog
- A post on stress and anxiety for the fabulous Ariel Huffaker over at Different Frame Of Mind.
Do you have any travel tips or advice for our readers that might want to start a travel blog?
My first piece of advice would be: don’t get wrapped up in the details…just start writing. New writers can get bogged down in trying to find a niche, or the perfect theme for their website, or figuring out a business model, or…well, lots and lots of details. Just start writing and find a website format that works. Nothing has to be perfect on day 1…just write to make yourself happy, and to get practice.
The second thing I’d say is don’t worry about how frequently – or infrequently – you travel. Many of my posts are written about trips I took in the last few years, and some of my trips were even farther back than that. Even if you took a memorable trip years ago, your thoughts and impressions of the destination are still valid.
Finally – not all of your posts have to be about some awesome trip you took. Write about travel advice, like how to pack light for an international trip. You can also write to inspire people to travel more, like I did with one of my first posts on why a two-week vacation should be much more important in American culture.
What are some of the highs and lows of travel blogging?
The high for me of travel blogging is publishing an article and getting feedback! I am really serious about photography, and I always try to make sure I have the best possible photos with every article. If someone comments about the photos, that really gives me a nice high and a good ego boost.
The lows come down to two things for me: writers’ block and building traffic. There are times when I have real trouble getting started on a blog post. I still feel like I have to write the “right” content, when there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong. But when I get stuck with writers’ block, I tend to start writing the middle of my post. It’s weird – but I get stuck on getting started but writing the middle of posts is always easy for me. I write that section first, then work outwards towards the intro and finish.
In terms of building up traffic – not only am I new to writing, but I’m also new to social media marketing/engagement. I’m still following a lot of “trial and error” strategies to build up traffic. But to keep from getting too freaked out about low traffic numbers, I just ignore them most of the time. I figure if I write good content and engage in online groups with other writers, my traffic will grow organically.
What sites or other resources do you use to decide where and when you will go to a certain place or destination?
When my wife and I travel, I tend to handle all the logistics – booking hotels or cruise cabins, flights, ground transportation, etc. The tools I use vary based on our destination, but if I had to pick one I’d say TripAdvisor is my “go to” site for doing research. If we end up picking a land-based destination (as opposed to a cruise), I really love the travel guides from Fodor’s and Lonely Planet to find out more about the destinations.
Do you have any favourite travel books you have read or use?
I wrote a collaboration post a couple months ago with recommendations on travel-related books, and I’m making my way through some of those now. My personal favorite is “The Tree Where Man Was Born,” written by Peter Matthiessen. I picked this up prior to a 9-day trip to Tanzania in 2016, and it gave me fascinating insights into the history and political dynamics that shaped east Africa in the 20th century.
What’s been some of your favourite destinations & why?
My favorite destinations so far would have to be:
What equipment do you use to blog or for your blog?
I’m a big fan of Google Docs to write my posts, especially when I’m writing a collaborative post with other writers. Photos are a large part of my blog posts, and I have an extensive catalog – so Lightroom is my program of choice for cataloging, tagging and editing my photos. I also tend to shoot using a Micro 4/3rds camera – it’s small and light and its image quality rivals that of most DSLRs.
Top 5 Bucket-list Destinations?
Top places I still want to visit someday:
- Costa Rica
Please share the link to your fav photos one your Instagram page:
What’s in your travel bag? Name 5 travel essentials always in your bag?
- Camera and lenses
- Panasonic LUMIX GX-8
- 12-45mm lens (landscapes and portraits)
- 100-300mm lens (birds and wildlife)
- 80mm macro lens
- MacBook Pro
- Bose Quiet Comfort noise canceling headphones
- Melatonin (to help me sleep on long flights!)
Where do you see your travel blog in two years?
In two years, I hope writing and taking photos for my blog is something that I still enjoy as much as I do now. I’d love to increase my traffic and DA/PA as well as start monetizing my blog. But if writing becomes a chore and I don’t enjoy it, then none of the other goals matters. I do this primarily for my own enjoyment, and I’d really just love to be able to share it with more people.
Please share one travel quote you love
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain
This really resonates with me – I’ve learned so much, and gotten rid of so many prejudices and stereotypes, just from meeting and talking to people all around the world.