State of the Savage: February 2012

by Keith Savage · 12 comments

The Beach at Unst, Shetland, Scotland

Two years ago this month I wrote my first State of the Savage post, and it has been a regular feature ever since. I use these posts to pull back the curtain on Traveling Savage and share my thoughts and proto-plans, to give you a taste of what’s been and what’s yet to come. I definitely don’t show as much appreciation to you for reading as I feel, so let me be blunt: THANK YOU for reading and for your support. It means a lot in this wild and uncertain world of full-time blogging.

Perhaps a little retrospective is in order because a lot has changed since February 2010. Back then Traveling Savage was a mere two months old, and my plan to leave the corporate world to travel the real world was a scant week older. The entire idea was hush-hush as Sarah and I bided our time to see if living on a strict budget – one salary instead of two – would work. The simple truth is that most ideas hatched in pubs sound excellent in theory; in practice they rarely make it out of the nest. Traveling Savage was different though. It had my passion behind it and passion was the element most sorely missing from my work.

The original plan for my travels involved me going to eight different places around the world, which broke down to four one-month trips each year over the course of two years. Two years was the amount of time we gave to Traveling Savage to see if it could become successful or lead to other opportunities. Just 10 days after pulling the trigger and quitting my awesome job I was on the road, a five-week solo jaunt to Argentina in November 2010. This trip turned out to be so far outside my comfort zone I still struggle to believe I actually did it. Argentina made me sweat, smile, bang my head against the wall, and appreciate the good in people. When I returned home, though, I knew my plan needed a revision.

The time in Argentina led to some of my best writing (in my estimation), but it turned out to be different from what I wanted out of travel. I wasn’t as passionate about what I was doing as I needed to be, and I could see the same problems with the upcoming trips I’d roughly sketched out. I put on my business socks, revised the plan, and decided to focus on one country, one I knew would deliver what I sought: Scotland. I made that decision a little over a year ago and all of 2011 was dedicated, as you can see, to Scotland.

It was a controversial decision that lost me some readers. I imagine in their eyes I hit the eject button too soon, that the baby went sailing with the bathwater, [other cliché of your choice]. Perhaps my writing would have soared to new heights had I visited Tasmania, Japan, and Turkey, as I had envisioned. It’s not an infrequent conversation I have with myself, but I’m proud of my work on Scotland.

I’m more than halfway through Traveling Savage’s allotted lifespan and Scotland remains in the crosshairs. The last two years have been amazing from a personal growth standpoint. What does the future hold? Everything will be illuminated soon. Or so I expect. I hope.

Plans & Happenings

All of the logistics and bookings are complete for my upcoming trip to Scotland in just under two months. I’m using the remaining time to catch up on posts from trips last year and to work on top-secret projects. Another TBEX looms in June, and while I have a ticket I’m not planning on going this year. Travel bloggers are an insanely fun and inspiring group, and I loved my trip to Vancouver last summer, but I can’t justify the business expense.

Parting Blow

Focus seems to have become a commodity sometime in the Information Age. How many times per day do you click over to Gmail, Facebook, or Twitter? My answer sickens me. What tips, tactics, and tools do you use to remain focused on the work in front of you? I need your help.

Shanna SchultzNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 2:06 PM

I have really enjoyed reading your blog. I, too, love Scotland and reading your blog posts takes me back to some fond memories there.

My blog is new, and it gives me hope to see how much you have accomplished in such a short amount of time. Right now, my blog is a mish mash of different destinations (kind of like my travel style :-), and I am struggling to find my niche. Others have advised me that I would do better if I focused in on one particular place or region, and that doing so would make marketing my blog easier.

Do you feel that focusing on one place gave a big boost to your success? What benefits did focusing on Scotland give your blog?

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 9:12 PM

Hi Shanna, glad you like the blog. You ask a couple of tough questions. Since I can’t compare my current traffic with what it might have been had I stuck to the original multi-country plan, I can only hazard a guess. I think my traffic might have been higher had I stuck to the original plan simply because it sounded sexier. However, I don’t think my site would have been as good or useful to readers or as a platform to present myself.

It boils down to passion. My passion was to focus on Scotland and because it’s my passion I’ve been able to remain very consistent with frequency and quality of posts. Other bloggers’ passions are southeast Asia, round the world travel, and european train travel, for example, and they’re writing excellent articles about those places as a result. My best advice to new travel bloggers – and I’m sure this will be controversial to content-farm- and micro-site-bloggers – is to find where your passion in travel is and write in that direction. Don’t shoehorn yourself into a niche just because it sounds good. All the world’s artful and worthwhile things are born of passion.

PhilNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 12:52 PM

You’re writing, photos and thoughts here have single handedly convinced me that I need Scotland in my travel plans. Hopefully within the next year I will make it happen. Perhaps you lost some readers with the switch, but your writing is consistently thoughtful and engaging and you’ve likely turned a lot of people onto a destination that they didn’t know or thought they knew but are now rediscovering. Here’s to another successful year of blogging!

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 2:00 PM

That’s awesome, Phil! Let me know if you need any help or advice when/if you plan the trip. Many thanks for the nice comments.

wandering educatorsNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 10:10 AM

i love this site for its focus on scotland. there aren’t many blogs about scotland, and i love coming here to read of that. and social media – have to focus, and give it a certain amt of time each day. i can’t do it all! 🙂

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 1:59 PM

Thanks for the kind words – it’s true that there isn’t much competition in the ‘Scotland travel blog’ niche. Shockingly so.

adamNo Gravatar February 29, 2012 at 11:52 PM

for me focus is greatly facilitated or impaired by my environment. certain places i just can’t work or think. and i’ve also learned that i can’t expect myself to successfully moderate my email checking, etc. i just need to make it impossible to access the distractions.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 1:58 PM

I’m the same way, but it’s hard to lock myself out of the internet when it’s what I use to do work.

Traveling TedNo Gravatar February 29, 2012 at 6:02 PM

I have enjoyed the ride reading and watching the blog grow. Good luck in the future.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar February 29, 2012 at 6:50 PM

Many thanks Ted. It was great meeting you and putting a real human to a screen name.

KenNo Gravatar February 29, 2012 at 11:30 AM

A great year of Scotland post, Keith. I hope you’ve inspired others to visit that beautiful country. I’m sure that you have. My curiosity is aroused by your top secret work but, in the fullness of time… Focus is something we need, without question. But we need to shift focus once in a while, too. As for me? How do I maintain focus? I just look at my iMac wallpaper and everything comes into focus.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar March 1, 2012 at 1:57 PM

Thanks. Mixing up focus is a good reminder.

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