Tuesday 11 March 2014

Interview with Dani Blanchette from Going Nomadic | Photographer, Videographer, Travel Ambassador

Dani Interview with Dani Blanchette from Going Nomadic
Dani Blanchette
1. Can you tell us a little about yourself ,your blog(s)/website(s),and your aspirations and your hobbies!!   My name is Dani and I am the creator of the anti-guidebook, locals-loving travel blog GoingNomadic .  I am also a music and travel photographer, and you can see, buy, and download my prints at http://LaGringaPhotos.com.   I love traveling (obviously),  photography (especially of live bands), I have recently started creating my own travel videos (which you can see on Youtube on the GoingNomadicTV channel), and I am a new burlesque performer.

2. How you first got involved in with blogging/writing, are you an imaginative person?   I've written stories since I was a child, and used to make up and 'direct' plays with the neighbourhood children (I was a mean and demanding director too!).  Hahaha...I started the blog when I decided to leave the USA on a one-way ticket and not come back until I had run out of money.  The blog was going to be a way for family and friends to see where I was and make sure I'm not dead.   Then I found out people do this for a living, so I decided to try my hand at that.

3. What do you find most challenging about blogging/writing about your topic?   Writing!  I ac tually find writing consistently, and finding things to write about the hardest part.  I'm not a writer.  I actually failed English three times in college.  I am a photographer and the blog and writing are mostly narrations to go with the photographs.  Although sometimes I have a lot of fun, like coming up with ways old-school hip-hop prepared me to travel.  I'm a pretty silly, sarcastic, and snarky writer.

4. Tell me about some of the people you have met while working on your blog?    Well, I met my husband while in Medellin, Colombia!  I've also met other great bloggers, a ton of bands (I write often about the local music you discover when traveling),  and just really awesome people I know call friends.   That's the best part about traveling without a guidebook; you meet more locals and often become friends with them.

5. How would (someone) describe your blogging/writing style?   Horrible, sarcastic, funny, and wrong.       I write exactly like I talk, so it is full of slang, and new tenses for words, and it rambles (although I can write proper, and depending on the article and mood of the day you may get a verbally visual tale, a slangy, sarcastic, passive-aggressive rant on what not to do, or something actually informative).   My blog is highly visual and full of my photos, and I use the photos to illustrate what I'm writing.   I always try to provide information, but I like to do so in amusing ways – so my readers don't get bored.

6. What do you do when you are not working on your blog?     I dance!  A lot!   I dance multiple nights a week at the Las Vegas Burlesque Studios doing everything from stage presence classes to belly dancing.   I was a ballerina for 15 years growing up, do the more I dance, the more I want to.   I also freelance write about Vegas, run around making videos (ok, for the blog, but it is still fun), go to burlesque shows and Insert Coins, and hang out and have BBQs with friends.   So it's mostly burlesquey stuff and blogging.  But I love both so I'm happy.

7 .Where do you see yourself blogging/writing wise in the next 6 months, and 5 years down the road?     I want to do a cross USA trip for the blog, and get faster and better at making and editing videos.   I (of course) want to host my own travel show on Create or The Travel Channel (what blogger doesn't?).   I also want to get my husband on the same continent as me, and would like to start a family.   But not settle down in a house and stuff.  That will never happen.

8. What networking do you do that you feel helps your blogging/writing business?     I try to talk with other bloggers, and I always carry business cards (for the blog and my photography) that I pass out to people as often as possible.  I also like to contact people and businesses in the places I travel before and after trips, and ask them what about their cities I should show off.   I think making friends while traveling is the best networking.    Companies and bloggers are great, but the point of blogging is to give information to non-industry people.

9. How do you keep coming up with material/content for your blog? Many people struggle with coming up with different articles/posts and they only have one blog.     I'd be a liar if I said I didn't struggle like everyone else (and possibly more than everyone else it feels like sometimes).  When I'm really struggling I will listen to music and look at photos I have taken.   Sometimes those give me inspiration.   I have also been known to Google “Blog Post Topic Generators” and search through some of those until one sparks and idea.   Sometimes I also just need a day trip to spark my creativity again.  Anyone who says they don't struggle with topics to write is a liar.  I have no idea how people consistently run multiple blogs.

10. Whats your strategy with your blog in general?   Tell my readers about awesome stuff that isn't in any guidebook!   Seriously.   There are enough guidebooks out there that all tout the same, regurgitated, information and I find it frustrating.  I only write about places I have actually been and things I have actually done and I try, even if visiting a tourist place, to find a new or interesting spin on it.  I also try to write consistently, but have learned not to beat myself up if I skip a day.  It happens.  

11. Any specific tips you have for newbie bloggers who want to make it in the blogosphere?     Write.  Photo.  Make videos.   Don't worry if you don't blog everyday or even every week.  Figure out what your blog is.  Do you want to write only while on a trip and that is it?  Do you want to keep writing even after the trip stops?  Both are fine.  Don't worry about numbers either.  It will drive you batty.  Worry about writing first, because in your first year, you will likely see no money at all.  Also talk with people on social media.  Other bloggers are nice.   Reach out to us. 

12. What would you prioritize? Content? SEO? Traffic? Readers?   Readers & content, SEO, then traffic.  Although, when starting out, content is number 1.  Write about what you like.  You will obviously attract readers who have similar likes to you.  At some point you will start to see what types of content does better, (ie: what your readers want to read), and you begin to start every article  thinking “What does my audience want to know?”.  This is when you start writing for your audience, instead of for yourself ('you' not 'me').   Readers and Content should always share #1.  SEO and traffic I mostly ignore (because there is a giant dent in my wall from smashing my face upon it in frustration).  

13. Whats the best thing a blogger can give to his readers?     EXCITING AND HONEST INFORMATION.  By this, I mean you should provide information in ways that your readers are excited to read about.   Anyone can list info, but it's boring to read.  Hook your audience with your story, or wit, and they won't even realize how much they are learning.   Also, always be honest with your audience.  They are smart and will quickly pick up on ulterior motives (like being paid to say good things).   You are not more clever than your audience.  Remember that. 

14. A lot of people are interested in blogging/writing for the money earning potential. What are some tips for people interesting in making money from blogging/writing? What are some realistic expectations in regards to what can be made?     HAHAHAHAHA...oh, I'm sorry.  If you think you are going to become super rich and famous by blogging, you should just throw away your computer right now.  Most bloggers make money by selling advertising, writing books, freelance writing for other travel companies, working other jobs (I also do some roadie-work, freelance as a writer and photographer, and am head of social media at the burlesque school I dance at).   Some of us have web design companies, some are day traders, and yes, a couple just run blogs, but they offer services on their blogs to make them money.    Basically, if you want to make money as a blogger, get creative and sell people stuff.

15. What motivates you most in life?     An insatiable desire to know everything firsthand.  I have never felt right with “good enough”  and I am not content with being content.  I have never been one to take anything I'm told at face value either, always needing to experience stuff for myself (and I have the scars to prove it!)    
Some times I think I'm addicted to the adrenaline rush of jumping headfirst into the unknown.  Other times I think I am afraid that if I stop, I will die.  We have a huge Alzheimer's rate in my family, and the older I get, the more I want to do stuff now,  (in case I can't do it later).

16. What has been your strategy for creating visibility to yourself and your blog?   Just getting  out and talking to people.   Whether on social media or in person, I try to talk with everyone.  It helps that I am super extroverted and that I am known for crashing a party and coming out with 4 invites to do stuff.   But even if you are not super loquacious like me, you can still meet people and just say “Hi.  I write this blog!”

17 What was the most challenging moment in your blog content development process and why?     Again, actually sitting down and writing.   Sitting still is not my strong suit, and neither is writing.  Even when I just did band photography, before my blog, sitting and editing photos was the hardest part of the process.   This, and my total lack of any sort of writing, marketing, or business background, has made figuring aout exactly what my blog is hard.   Attending TBEX (a travel blogger conference) helped me a lot, and I feel like now I know who I am and what my blog is better.

18. Everyone has a favorite/least favorite post. Name yours and why?     My first post.  Oh my god, it is horrible!   I don't think I capitalized, punctuated, or spell-checked anything.  I was not writing a blog post as much as I was free writing. (which is a great trick, but you don't publish it!).   I still keep it on my blog and will never erase or edit it.   It shows me how far I’ve come as a writer.   You can see it here: http://www.goingnomadic.com/danibisgoingnomad/

19. Name some of the bloggers whom you look up to and why?     Erica and Shaun from OverYonderlust.  They are awesome and do crazy stuff, and somehow manage to post all the time and in a timely fashion (I have chronological schizophrenia and write about things 2 years later).  I also love 1 Dad 1 Kid, and the Escape Artistes because when I have kids I want to educate them around the world too.   And of course Kate from Adventurous Kate and Brendan from Vagabundo because both are heavy hitters in the travel blogging world and actually make a living through their blog (but yes, they also both freelance or have published books).   Jeremy from TravelFreaks is awesome too, and runs the Travel Blogging Calendar charity group I work with.  I also love Mike Corey and Ryan Van Duzer because I they make great travel videos (and it is something I am learning to do).  

There is a million more people who I regularly talk with, follow,  and/or stalk.   I feel bad not naming them all. 

20. What is the story behind the name of the blog?     Oh geez.  It was originally DanibIsGoingNomad because I couldn’t get GoingNomad.   But that quickly was too long and obnoxious, and once I actually went to South America (my first trip after starting the blog), I HATED telling people my blog's name.  I was embarrassed at how long it was, how juvenile it sounded, and how it just didn't flow off the tongue.  All my new friends has easy blogs, so I looked and looked and realized GoingNomadic (so different from the first name I couldn't get too) was available.  So I bought it up and changed to this name in the early Spring of 2012.   Moral:  pick a name that rolls of the tongue.  People remember it easier.

21. Your connection with any Blogger Network like Indi blogger or Writeupcafe or any other and the experience?   I am a founding member of the PTBA (Professional Travel Bloggers Network),  I volunteer with the Travel Bloggers Calendar (it's awesome.  This year we are raising money to save Thai elephants, and giving away a trip to Thailand for one lucky donor). 

I've found a lot of these sites to provide no promotion and just email me a bunch of spam.  I have found the best sites are Triberr, StumbleUpon, and just promoting your posts on Facebook and Twitter. 

22. Which genre do you feel gets the raw deal?     I don't think any genre gets a raw deal.   There are always haters, but people who are in your genre will love you.  Want to know about creating costumes for a live action role playing game based on season 3 of the original Land of the Lost tv show?   It may not be a popular blog overall, but it will be in your genre!   Also, there is fight between traditional journalists and bloggers.   We all do the same thing in different ways and there are people in both who excel, and people in both who disgrace us.  (I'm looking at you Geraldo Rivera).   Work your butt off and stay out of the pettiness, and you will learn the “raw deal” only happens to people who use it as an excuse for laziness.

23. Which one plug-in would you suggest all bloggers to have?     Screw the plugin.  There's a million you need based on your blog's platform and what you do with your site.    Hire a tech guy to do it for you.   Not only will you have hours of your life back, you will save your forehead and walls.  I use Michael Tieso with TravelBlogSuccess.   It's 100% worth the money I spend each month (and it's not expensive either) to stop giving myself concussions every time I needed to do something on my blog. They also do preventative maintenance (doing updates, upgrading anti-hacker protocols, etc).  And they will help with any super noob questions too (you should see some of the ridiculous problems I've had).  

Note:  If you have AdBlocker on your computer, it WILL also block you from seeing your own ads and Amazon affiliate boxes in your sidebar.  Took me a year (pre-Michael) to realize (post-Michael) this was my problem.

24. Five adjectives that describe you.    Exciting, energetic, friendly, outgoing, passionate

25. What book would you say has made the biggest impact good or bad on you?    I love reading, and think each book makes an impact in some way.  I am a giant fan of memoirs and have read some absolutely beautifully-written horrific stories.  There is one book series I can't get out of my head, and I just found out a 5th book is coming out soon (I already pre-ordered it), and it si the Night Watch series by Sergie Lukyanenko.  It is fictional, good vs, evil, and highly visual series that I am completely infatuated with.  

26. Do you get easily provoked by positive/negative comments??     Positive – yes!  Even the slightest positive comment I run around like I'm the man.   Negative – nope.  If the negative comment is about me, I wil use it to try to improve myself.  If it comes from s troll trying to put down things on my blog (like the guy who went on a rant about Colombian women), I have way too much fun arguing and 'shutting down' the troll.  I even created my 11 Misconceptions About Colombia People Really Need To Get Over post as retaliation for thing people said to me in person and in a comment.   It is my most popular post to date, and probably the one I am most proud of.

27. Do you plan to write a book, as every bloggers dream it is?   HAHAHAHA...oh that is so not every bloggers dream.  I am one of them.  

I've toyed with writing a Local's Guide To Vegas, and very well may, but that is just because I am so sick of all the guides out there.  It would be more a giant middle finger to the guidebook companies than me completing some dream.  No, my dreams are:
     1. Have my own Going Nomadic travel show on TV, which I host. (Basically get paid to be awesome around the world) and
     2.  Travel as a rock band's tour photographer.

28. Are you a judgmental person, do you prefer to take sides instead of standing neutral?     I grew up in Boston, so yes, of course I'm judgmental! It's in my culture!
But besides from ranting between friends as an amusing pastime, I'm really not judgmental at all.     I may have opinions about stuff, but that doesn't mean your opinion is wrong.  I actually like meeting people with different values and views than me, because I love learning what makes other people tick.   The biggest thing that pisses me off is discrimination.  I don't understand why it matters what color someone is, where they grew up, what they like to eat, or who they love.  I am discriminatory about discrimination.

29. Your collaboration with other bloggers, are you much into social networking, tell us everything about it?     I am a social networking whore. I love collaborating with others, and love promoting companies, blogs, people, and music I like on social media.   I also like helping other bloggers, and collaborate with them when possible (whether its on a big project, or just passing on contacts and info I have that may help them on their own project).   Travel bloggers (and bloggers in general I find) are always willing to help each other out, because we are all striving to be taken seriously in the journalism realm.

30. What genre attracts you the most and which genre you avoid?     Well, of course travel and music attract me.   It's what I do and love.   I also love some mommy bloggers because I love cooking, and love recipes.   I obviously avoid any blogs that are racist, sexist, or discriminatory in any sort of way.  I also stay away from political blogs as I find them to be based in opinions and fear mongering, not facts and observations.  I am also super attracted to snarkyness (The Oatmeal, The Bloggess, Unbrave Girl)

31. Your Views on Contests and increasing plagiarism?     Don't steal my shit and pay me! :) 

Contests are often, when you read the fine print, nothing more than a way to get free links, or to scam artsist for the full rights to use their photography anywhere they please without paying or you.   I stopped submitting to contests long ago.   If you want me to create great content on your destination, pay me to do it, don't ask me to fight alongside others in a popularity contest (which are easily rigged). 
Plagiarism is NEVER acceptable and neither is reprinting my articles and photos, in full, on your site, without permission or links back.   If you ask if you can use a photo, I will often just let you.  If you want to use an excerpt, or quote my article, and link back to the full article on my site, go for it.  Steal my stuff and say it is your own (or use my content to make you money without giving me any), I will send you a bill. 

32. Words for me and my blogs Desire v/s Destiny and Blogger Interviews and my Website www.MyMagicJobs.com    I love the Blogger Interviews and that you interview bloggers from all sorts of genres.   It's great to learn about, and meet people outside of your genre!   I would make the title of MyMagicJobs much bigger.  It is so small you don't even notice it.   Destiny vs Desire should just be a photo blog!   Make the homepage just posts of photos, but put a nice size button on the sidebar for MyMagicJobs, so to promote that site.  I think you should add captions to your photos too.  I want to know what river you are on, and what type of snake are you holding! :)

33. On winning the Award/s , Are they Really necessary.     Awards are always nice, but you do notice how many awards are totally meaningless. I just won one of the Best female Travel Bloggers, along with 79 other female travel bloggers.   They gave us a button we can put on our blog.   Pretty much, they found every female travel blogger they could find and gave us an “award” hoping we would put this link back to them.  It's a joke.  Most awards are.  
As for winning actual awards,  I have never.  Would I like to, of course.    (Hint hint hint Bloggies, Nat Geo, Matador, Getty, etc awards.....)

34. So whats Next in your list?     Maybe get dressed and brush my teeth.  I'm not sure yet. (Perks of working from home on a laptop).

35.Words for your readers and why they should follow you?  THANK YOU!  And... Follow me if you hate guidebooks and love Awesome! 

Rahul Miglani (The Interviewer)  : One of the Best Interview So far ! Cheers and Good Luck , Dani !

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