Some things just get better with age… wine, compound interest, cast iron skillets, me and my blog!
August has always been a momentous time in the AngieAway universe. I moved to NYC in August 2006 and started this unpredictable journey as a blogger. Years later, I brought my sister on full time in August and officially launched The Jet Sisters’ show into the world. It feels like an eternity has passed between those early days when I wrote about the silly mishaps and relationship disasters I faced as a twenty-something in the Big Apple to now, when I find myself as one of the veterans of this industry. When did that happen? Looking around at a table of my peers at a recent conference, I was a bit overcome with emotion. Only a fraction of those early travel bloggers are still around, so it feels extra special to still be kicking after all this time.
What’s Changed in 16 Years……
What’s changed in the blogosphere in 16 years? Basically everything. In 2006, I had a blog, Facebook, a T-Mobile Sidekick and a Sony digital camera with 6 whopping megapixels. Now I can barely keep up with the technology as fast as it changes. But I sure love to try. Do I have boxes full of charging cords and cables that I no longer use? Yes, of course I do. Do I have a drawer of outdated cameras and Apple products? Guilty as charged. But can I take amazing photos with the supercomputer that now fits in my pocket?! Yes. Can I scuba dive with a GoPro and have the photos automatically transferred to my iPhone before we even get back to shore? YES. Can I listen to music, turn on my robot vacuum and lock the door with a voice command to my eyeglasses? For real, I can’t believe this is a thing. What a world we live in, y’all.
READ MORE: 13 changes in 13 years of Blogging
Blogging used to be for storytellers who needed an outlet for their tales. That was cool in the Aughts but journaling doesn’t pay the bills, and this is a real job now. So I’m always trying to find that balance between writing something entertaining/useful AND making sure readers like you can find it. Sounds boring, and I know it’s a little too much inside baseball, but that’s the reality of life as a professional blogger. Our competition is new travel “blogs” that are created with the sole purpose of driving traffic and ad dollars, and the articles are often written by either bots or people who’ve never visited the destination.
The reason people read blogs has changed, too. What I started as a direct line for friends and family to follow my personal adventures is now a trusted resource for travelers, thousands who might not know my whole convoluted life story but who get help planning their trips by finding AngieAway via search engines. That ongoing evolution of my audience brought a change in tone and purpose for the site, one I’m constantly navigating.
And don’t get me started on social media. From one social network in 2006 to what… 10? And now I’m posting IG reels and TikToking like some kind of Gen Z with a middle part? Who would’ve thought?! FOLLOW ME ON TIKTOK
What’s changed in AngieAway world in 16 years? Well, for one thing, we had a nice little glow-up in 2010, going from Big Apple Angie to AngieAway. My rinky-dink little Blogspot blog that I started to keep my family updated on NYC life went from passion project with a few readers a day (thanks, fam) to a full-time career with tens of thousands of readers per month. From a website I designed myself to a professional one that cost an arm and a leg.
I never imagined that blogging would change my life, but can you imagine if I didn’t take the risk? I was terrified to press publish when I first got started. What would people think? What if I sucked at writing?! What if my stories were dumb? What if people found out I was a hot mess?! If I hadn’t stepped out in faith, I don’t even know where I’d be.
I’m most proud that I’ve kept up with Reflections from the Road, a tradition I started when I left for my RTW trip in 2011. It’s a quarterly look at the Highs and Lows in my world, and it’s one deadline I never, ever miss. Can you believe I’ve done that 51 times?!
Get caught up on Reflections here:
What’s changed in the world in 16 years? Welp, we’re on the 4th president and 2nd recession of my career, not to mention dealing with the fallout from a once-in-a-century pandemic that brought my work to a screeching halt. The fact that I’m still working in travel is nothing short of a miracle.
The world sometimes feels like it’s falling apart, but traveling, and sharing it with you, always reminds me of the good in people and the beauty that’s always there… no matter how much of an apocalyptic hellscape we realistically find ourselves in.
What’s changed for me personally in 16 years? Well, I was a single city gal with too many roommates working a high pressure job at a PR agency in 2006. Now, I’m a married adoptive/foster mom with two dogs, a couple of mortgages and a career I am blessed to have fallen right into. (Also, I’ve had blonde, brown, pink and red hair, but that’s par for the course for an Elder Millennial.)
I also have never cared less about what people think about my hair, my weight, my job, my choices… I spent too much time worried about all that in my younger years, and we’re just not doing that anymore around here. It’s so freeing!
What’s changed for me professionally in 16 years? Some things never change. My biggest challenge is that there are so many projects I want to do, so many places I want to visit and so many skills I want to perfect… there’s just not enough time. Like, yes I want to start a podcast. Yes, I want to do all the TV gigs. Yes, I want to adopt 25 kids, write my screenplay, win an Oscar. So I’ve had to learn, and learn again, that sometimes I have to say no to things I might like so I have capacity to say yes to things I love. That’ll make more sense with some announcements coming later this month 😉
With that said, I’ve spent the past 16 years actually dealing in words, and that’s all I ever hoped for in a career. Sometimes it’s writing press releases and fact sheets; sometimes it’s blogging; sometimes it’s freelancing for magazines. It’s all been in pursuit of an ultimate goal… and that’ll make more sense later this month, too 😉
UPDATE: The cat is out of the bag!
Writing and getting paid for it was always my dream, but I’ll tell you what: the TV opportunities and video content Rae and I have been able to create together have been such a welcome surprise. Different side of the same communications coin, but I love that there are so many ways to share travel with the world. And the ability to do so much of that with my best friend at my side? It doesn’t get any better.
In 16 years, the only constant in my career has been the need to evolve and change, sometimes before I can even catch up with the last change. It hasn’t been easy. Yes, it would be easier to just “get a real job,” collect a steady paycheck and have employer-sponsored health insurance. But looking back, all I see is God’s guiding hand in my life. Even when, or especially when, I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Which, between us, was pretty much always.
How We’re Celebrating 16 Sweet Years of Blogging
To celebrate this milestone, we’ve got BIG NEWS to share with you throughout the month of August.
- For one, we’ve got a very exciting announcement coming very soon…. and subscribers are finding out first AND getting first dibs on booking. Spicy, right? Now’s a good time to sign up to receive our very non-spam news if you haven’t yet.
- I’ve also been working on the abridged tales of Big Apple Angie, a compilation of some of the best adventures from my formative blog years. Just for fun! Newsletter subscribers will receive a link to download in the next edition.
- And who doesn’t love a birthday party where everyone goes home with presents? Sorry, I didn’t get you all a car, too (I’m not Oprah – yet), but I’ve got a glorious gift basket filled with about $500 in travel goodies like packing cubes, a gift certificate, PopSocket, snacks, passport cover, etc. And one lucky winner will receive a 4-night stay at Jacksonville’s most adorable AirBNB* with the loveliest hosts and dinner at Jacksonville’s own TacoLu. *Air travel not included
To enter, follow @AngieAway on Instagram and leave a comment below, then check off the requirements in the Rafflecopter widget.a Rafflecopter giveaway
- How did you find AngieAway / how long have you been reading?
- Have you ever used AngieAway.com to plan a trip?
- Do you have a favorite AngieAway memory or story?
- How has your life changed since 2006?
As much as things have changed personally, professionally and in the blogosphere in the past 16 years, I can’t even fathom where we’re going in the next 16. Will I still be blogging? Will I be able to snap high resolution pictures with my eyeballs? Will we finally travel via hovercraft or even teleportation? Will I be the first blogger on the moon?
That remains to be seen. All I know is can’t imagine life without my little campfire on the internet, and I hope to keep it going indefinitely.
Thank you for reading all these years! It means the world that so many of you have been here with me all along, so thank you, thank you, thank you for your support!