Two years ago today, I launched this blog as TravellingTom.co.uk. I’d just come off the back of a summer where I’d visited six countries, which followed trips to Poland and Ireland earlier in the year. I had all of this information and all of these views that I’d gathered from those trips, but nothing to do with them other than communicate it verbally with others.
After just entering the final year of my undergraduate degree, I was alone in my university house on a Friday night. I was either playing FIFA on the Xbox, or watching television when, suddenly, this idea to start my own travel website popped into my head. It was the proverbial lightbulb moment, but it made perfect sense. My education combined with something that had always been a passion of mine would not only be good as a hobby, but also a great career move; a project for me to work on that would contribute to my CV.
As a student, the focus was always going to be on budget and student travel, but I also found that working people would be another target audience. What I wanted to provide was tips, guides and help for those wanting to travel frequently, whilst also sharing my own travel experiences in the world.
Blogging is a multi-faceted industry. You can’t just be a good writer, photographer or videographer – you have to be able to incorporate elements of everything, and I knew it would provide a great opportunity not just to help others, but to forge something professional for myself.
This past year I have managed to set those wheels in motion. A few days after I wrote the post Travelling Tom: One year on, I was invited, and attended, my first press event at the Chill Factore in Manchester for Crystal Ski. It was a fantastic night where I stepped into skis for the first time and learned some basics. But, most importantly, it was an opportunity to network with brand PRs and other local bloggers. It was really refreshing to speak to people who understood what I was talking about, and to get some pointers off those who knew best.
The last 365 days has also seen TravellingTom.com listed as one of Manchester’s top-10 travel blogs by a local PR company called Custard. While sixth on a list is nothing to write home about, it was a moment of significance as it increased the visibility of the blog and has helped me get invited and involved in a lot of local events.
The end of 2016 and start to 2017 also saw some professional success for me, getting my first press trips and working with tourism boards in Hamburg, Ljubljana and Reykjavik. They were sources of great encouragement, and whilst all three were work commitments, I am so thankful that the people at those authorities gave me the chance to showcase my abilities and give value to my output.
And while I always denounce its importance, it has been nice to see some financial reward from Travelling Tom. Albeit pocket money, seeing some income transpire means that, even if the success isn’t long lasting, this venture will never have been a failure.
Though, perhaps, above all else has been the travel. When I went live with the site, in addition to creating a travel resource for other travellers and an addition to my portfolio, I hoped that the blog would help me to travel more. Most people become enamoured with travel towards the end of their teens, or a bit into adulthood. But it’s something that I have loved doing since a young age. I’ve always wanted to see the world, and I’ve been obsessed with flags, countries and capital cities for as long as I can remember.
It’s always been a dream of mine to visit every country in the world, and I’ve taken a big step towards that this year, visiting my 50th country, Montenegro, back in September. It also encouraged me to set myself a new goal of 100 countries before 30. Of course, that won’t be easy. But if I demonstrate the same determination that I’ve put into my blog and travels over the past two years, I know that I will hit that target.
I’ve seen some amazing places, had unbelievable experiences and done it all with great people from all over the world in my second year of being a travel blogger. It’s been a blast, but for me it’s only the beginning.
Thank you to everyone who consumes my content, follows Travelling Tom, and likes and shares my stuff on social media. It means a lot and every little definitely helps.
Here’s to another great year. Let’s make 2018 a better one.