Travel Blogging: Final Reflection

My Plan

For my project Travel Blogging: A Study in Tourism and Identity, I sought to explore how traveling changes (or does not change) a blogger or traveler’s identity and how that is (or is not) reflected through travel blogs. I chose this topic because I love traveling, hearing about the travel experiences of others, and reading travel blogs. I am also interested in how traveling can change the identity of the traveler, and further, how that traveler (or travel blogger) writes about their experiences and/or identity shifts. Specifically, my plan for my project was to analyze two posts from two travel blogs each week through the lens of a scholarly article or outside source, such as a news article. I decided to add in an outside source to deepen my analysis and assist me in, hopefully, learning more about the art of travel blogging in general.

What Happened

During the first week of the project, I quickly realized that I needed to analyze bloggers’ About pages to learn more about each blogger personally. I couldn’t glean as much information as I wanted from only analyzing two of their posts. Analyzing their About pages as well — the first of which came from The Poor Traveler — enriched my overall analysis and provided much more material for me to apply my scholarly articles to. Through various About pages, I began to see multiple examples of shifts in identity and interesting representations of identity. On The Poor Traveler, Dimen and Carlos discuss how traveling completely changed their lives and the path of their careers. On The Expert Vagabond, Karsten provides readers with the vagabond definition and shows us how he wants to be seen. Wiens creates guides for those who want to eat like a local when they’re traveling on Migrationology. Adalid from I Am Aileen features the “If I can do it, you can do it too!” on her About page. On Local Adventurer, Esther and Jacob tell readers why and how they became involved with travel blogging by moving to a new city each year. Yulia from Miss Tourist uses the same rhetoric as Adalid. On Nomad Revelations, Leitão does the same — he uses phrases such as “the world is out there” to try and inspire readers to travel.  Yaya and Lloyd from Hand Luggage Only tell readers a bit about themselves and how they became involved in travel blogging on their About page. Waltner from Swedish Nomad had one of the most detailed and extensive About pages I’d seen — this, in itself, reveals something about his identity as a blogger. Lastly, The Savvy Backpacker’s About page lets readers know that this is not a typical travel blog — James and Susan focus more on preparing travelers. Although examining About pages was not in my initial project proposal, overall, reading and analyzing them added another level of knowledge to my project and made it much more successful.

Another component of my project that was more successful than I expected was the examination of outside sources. My first research article, “The traveler as author: examining self-presentation and discourse in the (self) published travel blog” explored the differences between the terms traveler and tourist and how this can affect perception and representation of identity. Reading this article during the first week of my project completely changed how I thought about those two words and made me think deeply about what it means for travel bloggers to focus on the term traveler rather than tourist. I had this article in the back of my mind through the duration of my project. I also learned about travel bloggers getting perks for travel blogging, self-branding on travel blogs, travel agencies using travel blogs as a marketing strategy, and travel blogging as a helpful tool for the hospitality industry. Interestingly, as I kept researching, it seemed like the next blogs I looked at corresponded to the research for that week fairly well. Or perhaps I was made more aware of certain elements that each blog had after reading previous research on those elements. Either way, it was serendipitous. The research process was about as frustrating as I predicted; I had some difficulty finding accessible articles that had information relevant to my project. Sometimes, I would find an article that had a promising Abstract, but I wasn’t allowed access to the article without paying for a subscription. In this way, finding news articles was a bit easier, but that had its own challenges as well. Predictably, not many journalists are writing about the topic of identity in travel bloggers — some are, but more should be.

Exploring the travel blogs and reading the posts was simultaneously the best and the worst portion of this project. Some of the blogs and posts were well-crafted, interesting, and helpful for the average reader. Some of them had grammatical and spelling errors, unhelpful content, and did not contain much practical information for a traveler needing guidance. Although I was not analyzing their writing skills, it was often hard to look past. I did not, however, let these factors bias my analysis of each blog. Overall, reading the posts certainly gave me the travel bug, which I discussed in one of my weekly reflections. I have added many destinations to my ever-growing bucket list. I also appreciated the variety of methods the bloggers used to travel — some were more traditional, some were backpackers, some drove around in a van, some lived in luxury, some went wherever the food took them, and some lived in and explored one city for a whole year. This variety of methods, combined with the variety of locations, provided me with a multifaceted look at how different each travel blog (and blogger) can be.

What It Means

I think it is obvious — whether we consciously realize it or not — that we all manufacture some sort of an identity online. This occurs on blogs, on wikis, and on all forms of social media. It’s nearly impossible to be your “true self” on an online platform. Travel bloggers manufacture an identity for themselves that can be easily translated and placed onto the average reader. This is where the rhetoric “If I can do this, so can you!” and “Traveling is inspiring and effortless,” comes in. Their manufactured identity is often easy and breezy, but does not always reflect how much work actually goes into traveling, blogging about it, and getting paid for it. This idea is explored further in my post about authenticity and self-branding. We cannot blame travel bloggers for wanting to make money and cultivating a likable online persona, but it is interesting to analyze. Through this project, I’ve learned, on a small scale, that travel blogs are not always completely truthful or inherently helpful. On a large scale, I’ve been reminded that online identities are not completely truthful, either.

As for the future of travel blogging, I hope this project has helped those who have been reading, liking, and commenting on my posts to think twice about what they read, especially when the information they encounter could seriously impact their own actions and decisions. Make sure to check your sources and do your research. However, don’t lose sight of the enjoyment of travel blogging and reading travel blogs. Travel, in itself, is a powerful experience, and it’s great that we have platforms on which we can share those experiences with others. Enjoy getting a bit of a travel bug while you’re reading. Consider booking a trip to that place you’ve always wanted to visit.

Personally, I’ve thought a lot about myself and how my own travels have changed me (for the better). It’s part of my personal philosophy to respect the history, culture, environment, and people of the place I’m visiting, so I appreciated any post or blog that featured information on those subjects. I’m leaving for a week-long trip to Estonia and Latvia in less than a month, so I’m eager to travel with what I’ve learned from this project in the back of my mind. I’ll be dabbling in a bit of travel blogging myself, or perhaps something more like a diary, while I’m there (providing there’s access to WiFi), so stay tuned to this blog for updates. Until then, thank you for reading.

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The Savvy Backpacker

I will be analyzing The Savvy Backpacker as the last travel blog for my project. The blog is maintained by James and Susan, a husband and wife who primarily focus on backpacking around Europe. On their About Us page, they say, “This site differs from most other travel sites because we mainly focus on all the nitty-gritty details of planning for a trip.” The blog is mostly written by James, but Susan assists with research and ideas. Their About page also includes information about their cute dog, Henry, who travels with them to different destinations. I haven’t encountered a travel blog that focuses so intensely on the planning for a trip — this is an extremely practical site. I also appreciate how colorful and aesthetically pleasing each page of the site is. A majority of their posts are on planning, preparing, and budgeting, but I still found a couple of blog posts about their favorite hostels that I can analyze.

The first post I read was The Best Hostels in Dublin. The post is thorough and contains helpful photos, pricing for both weeknights and weekends, other websites for additional research, location in relation to the city center, their opinions of the hostel environment, and links to reviews. They also link to other articles at the end of the post that someone looking for a hostel in Dublin might find helpful. James and Susan also let readers know at the end of the post that they receive a small commission from every viewer that clicks an affiliate link on their post. More travel bloggers getting paid for blogging. At least they’re honest; hopefully they are about their opinions of hostels as well.

The second post I looked at was Best Hostels in Madrid, Spain. This post is formatted similarly to the Dublin post — it is very thorough and contains lots of practical information (and more commissioned links) for interested travelers.

The Savvy Backpacker was another aesthetically pleasing site that was, simply, nice to look at. All of their photos were expertly taken and presented to give the reader the most information possible. Previous to reading these posts, I did not know much about hostels or that they could look so chic and sophisticated. Including the photos made me (and predictably, other readers) realize how realistic (and comfortable, and cheap) staying in hostels could be. I’ll be honest; they’ve convinced me to consider backpacking much more than I already have been. I appreciated that their goal was slightly different from other travel blogs; instead of attempting to persuade others to travel and/or begin the travel bloggers’ life, their main focus was to assist individuals in making the decision to travel and to provide them with the most useful information for their pre-travel preparations and accommodations while traveling. This certainly says something about their identity — rather than just profiling the places they’ve been, they step inside a first-time traveler’s shoes and create content that’s as helpful as it is inspiring. Although they do reveal to the reader that they are receiving commission for those clicking on the links they provide, it’s important that they reveal this at the end of each post, rather than just on a Disclaimer page that the average search-engine based reader might not come across. Overall, being inspired to consider backpacking by The Savvy Backpacker was a fitting end to my travel blog analyses.

 

Swedish Nomad

The first travel blog for the final week of my project is Swedish Nomad, created by Alexander Waltner. On his About page, Waltner goes over how he and his girlfriend began traveling. He says, “I started Swedishnomad.com to share my passion for traveling and to inspire others to travel the world as well. My vision is to help and make it easier for others to travel…” and one of his photos is captioned “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Waltner’s About page is the most extensive I’ve seen; he includes sections such as what readers should expect from him, what kinds of destinations he goes to, what his travel guides feature, random facts about himself, how he started, and what the blog is about, including a breakdown of the types of posts he writes. On his Home page, Waltner features the logos of those he has collaborated with, like many popular travel blogs do. I think Swedish Nomad might be one of the more organized blogs I’ve seen, as well; on Waltner’s Destinations page, he has his travel guides split up first into continents, then into countries, and eventually into individual posts/destinations. However, I was disappointed to see that he has the countries he has visited listed, but there is not a post for every country. I was excited to see that he had visited Latvia, but I quickly discovered that I could not follow the link to any posts he had written. I also noticed that some of the links were clickable, but contained no posts on the page.

Instead of reading about Latvia, I chose Top 10 Things To Do In Copenhagen. Waltner begins the post with his goal to provide options for all types of people with varying budgets. The descriptions of each attraction are short — the longest description is about the Copenhagen Zoo, but Waltner uses the space to urge readers not to support the use of animals for our entertainment. The post also includes a few nice photos.

The second post I analyzed was 7 Reasons To Love Macedonia. Waltner stresses the non-touristy feel of Macedonia and how it is “unexplored among tourists.” His reasons also include Macedonia’s affordability, its mix of new and old architecture, the nature, the history and culture, the wine, and the locals. The descriptions in this post are also short and vague — they do not provide many examples for how a traveler could find or gain access to these reasons.

Overall, Waltner’s blog had obvious pros and cons. I appreciated the detail on his About page, but that was overshadowed by the lack of detail in his blog. As for Waltner’s identity, he clearly showed his perception on the differences between travelers and tourists. According to him, his readers are travelers and he thinks they should avoid being around, or becoming, tourists. He also shows which brands he is affiliated with right away on his Home page. I also think it’s important to note that simply listing the extensive amount of countries he’s visited without actual links says something about his identity, too; perhaps he just wants readers to know where he’s been, but he isn’t providing any useful information about those locations to his readers. Swedish Nomad was certainly an interesting study.

Travel Blogging & the Hospitality Industry

Hotels, motels, and bed and breakfasts often find themselves able to increase profit and customer satisfaction via promotion on travel blog posts. Magnini, Crotts, and Zehrer explore this idea in their article “Understanding Customer Delight: An Application of Travel Blog Analysis,” which was published in the Journal of Travel Research. They did a study on measuring customer delight through 743 blog posts by using the target phrases “pleasantly surprised,” “delightful surprise,” “excellent surprise,” and “positive surprise” through TripAdvisor.com. It’s important to include that Magnini, Crotts, and Zehrer emphasized that customer delight is different from satisfaction because “it provides unexpected value or satisfaction” (536). If any of the above phrases were included in a post on TripAdvisor, they surmised that customer delight was achieved and a customer was more than satisfied with wherever they stayed. Magnini, Crotts, and Zehrer further measured multiple categories that customers could have mentioned, which were determined by phrases included in the posts. The categories included amenities, cleanliness, customer service, décor of guest room, facility (other than guest room), food, location of hotel, quietness of hotel, renovation/newness, size of guest room, and value. In this study, the researchers found that customer service was the most reported source of customer delight across the board. Specifically, “various service attributes (e.g. friendliness) are the leading cause of customer delight … a customer’s affective response to a hotel stay is highly dependent on the personal interactions that transpire during the stay” (542). Cleanliness was the second determinant of customer delight.

The findings from this study are extremely interesting and especially helpful for those in the hospitality industry. Although only looking at blog posts is not a concrete determiner for all measures of customer delight everywhere, it still provides a great framework for those in the hospitality industry to be aware of. I can only hope that those in the hospitality industry would take note of this study; providing good customer service and a clean place for travelers to stay is paramount (perhaps even more than it already was). For travel bloggers, this study sheds light on the possibilities of their influence on the hospitality industry, which could perhaps reach farther than they realized.

What does this mean for the identity of travel bloggers? The fact that their influence stretches farther than they might think could change how they perceive themselves as bloggers or how they blog. The findings from this study would be even more interesting when taking into account sponsored posts — for example, when Miss Tourist was invited to stay at her hotels in Tallinn and Pula, she could have blogged more favorably about either hotel if she was influenced by their invitation. I’m not exactly sure if this actually occurs, but the possibility is there. This study could also push more hotel owners to invite bloggers to stay at their establishment. I also don’t know how likely this is, but the results of the study could point some hotel owners, perhaps some looking for better reviews, in that direction. My hope is that hotel owners and bloggers alike would strive to remain as honest and genuine as possible about their establishments and experiences, but we can never be too sure. Overall, Magnini, Crotts, and Zehrer’s study was particularly enlightening.

Marketing, Nomads, and Hand Luggage: Weekly Reflection

For the fourth week of my project, I learned about travel blogging as a marketing strategy and analyzed the blogs Nomad Revelations and Hand Luggage Only. Overall, and compared to past weeks of my project, this week went very smoothly.

Initially, I had some difficulty finding the article on marketing to supplement my research component for the week. Once I did, I knew it would apply to my project well and teach me about another side of travel blogging that I had not encountered yet. I currently work in a marketing position, so it was sort of interesting to apply my knowledge from that realm to what travel blogs can do for a business. I have been focusing on the bloggers themselves, but I didn’t fully realize that blogs can perform differently yet just as successfully for those involved in the same business of travel. I also appreciated the study that was included in Huang, Yang, and Yung’s article. This added another level of understanding to the marketing abilities of a blog and made me think deeper about the different elements of marketing.

The travel blogs for this week seemed to be the most sophisticated and artistic so far. On Nomad Revelations, Leitão used many of his personal photos to add wonder and beauty to his posts. On Hand Luggage Only, Yaya and Lloyd did the same and added a bit more informational content for readers as well. Hand Luggage Only had a perfect balance of “frills” and practical content. If I was searching for a travel blog for personal use (my own travels) I would find the most use in Hand Luggage Only.

I have enjoyed looking at bloggers’ About pages to enrich my research. I typically look at the About pages first — this gives me an idea of what to expect and I can look for the various traits of travel blogs that my research has mentioned. Over the course of the past few weeks, I have found that it’s a little difficult to remain completely unbiased when selecting posts to read and analyze. As evidenced by this past week on Hand Luggage Only, I chose posts about two of my favorite countries, France and England. I think part of the reason for this is that I was completely in love with everything about Hand Luggage Only. I am not sure if this is because their marketing techniques are that good or because I’ve looked at so many travel blogs over the duration of my project that I know what I like. For some reason, on travel blogs that have expected formats and content, it’s easier for me to choose locations/post titles that are not familiar to me. Although I’m not sure if it affects my analysis much, in the future, I will try my best to remain unbiased when choosing posts to analyze.

All in all, this week was exciting and informational. It was refreshing to analyze a blog as sophisticated and straightforward as Hand Luggage Only. I’m eager to see what research and blogs will be a part of the last week of my project.

Hand Luggage Only

The second blog of the week is Hand Luggage Only, a travel, photography, and food blog created by Yaya and Lloyd. Their About page is fairly straightforward — one paragraph on how their blog began, one paragraph about each of them, and a reminder to the reader that they will respond to emails if you want to know more. The first thing I noticed about the blog is how beautiful it is — their photos and sophisticated design choices make it stand out.

The first post I read was 9 Beautiful National Parks In France You Have To Visit. I was drawn to this partially because I love France and partially because I didn’t necessarily know much about the National Parks in France. Yaya and Lloyd provide absolutely stunning photos and short descriptions of each National Park, including Mercantour National Park, Vanoise National Park, Ecrins National Park, Pyrenees National Park, Calanques National Park, Port-Cros National Park, Cevennes National Park, and Verdon Natural Regional Park. At the end of each description, Yaya and Lloyd add small links in that say things like, “Visiting the South of France? Check out these gorgeous towns to visit” and “Want to visit Bordeaux? See the best things to do in the city, here.” It seems like each link corresponds to the description of the National Park above it, so if you wanted to visit Calanques National Park (which is in the southern region of France) you might want to stop at nearby Bordeaux as well. This feature completely rounds out the blog post and makes it a helpful read for those looking to travel to France (I certainly am after reading this post).

The second post I read of Yaya and Lloyd’s was 15 Of The Best Cities To Visit In England. Although I’ve also been to England and really enjoyed it, I did not get the chance to visit many cities there. The post mentions locations such as Bath, Norwich, Cambridge, London, Bristol, Brighton, Durham, Hull, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, Portsmouth, York, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Bournemouth. Like the first post, each location has short description and is accompanied, typically, by a romantic photo of a gigantic castle. Each description has multiple suggestions of places to go while visiting each city and is heavily hyperlinked. Yaya and Lloyd really know how to sell it.

On the second post, I saw an advertisement for a luxury cruise through the Mediterranean. Not exactly a travel agency, but interesting all the same. Otherwise, I did not see any advertisements for actual travel agencies. As for the other research I’ve encountered throughout this project, Hand Luggage Only did not outwardly embody any of the techniques that I’ve seen used by other travel bloggers; they did not overuse the typical rhetoric, mention anything about a sponsored post, or place on emphasis on traveler vs. tourist. I think this might have been the most straightforward, sophisticated, and informational blog I’ve seen while completing this project. However, I did only read two posts to get a feel for what Yaya and Lloyd are doing, but I have a feeling they are fairly consistent throughout their posts.

Nomad Revelations

My first travel blog for this week is Nomad Revelations, created by João Leitão. His About page says, in large font, “Welcome to Nomad Revelations – an adventure travel blog, an archive of 16 years of travel experiences, exotic narratives and adventure chronicles to get you inspired and explore the world on your own.” This About page uses the typical rhetoric to try and get readers inspired to travel — phrases such as “the world is out there” and “I love to make other people inspired.” Leitão also greets readers by saying “Hi there, traveler!” We are immediately brought into the narrative that van Nuenen discussed, in which travel bloggers brand themselves and their lifestyles as unique yet somehow still attainable.

The first post I read was “The Greco-Roman City of Ephesus: A Magnificent Return to the Past.” Leitão received the opportunity to travel to Ephesus with the help of Blogger Casting, a service in Turkey that matches blogs with branding opportunities, as well as the City of Izmir by way of the Izmir Development Agency (for reference, Ephesus is in the Izmir Province of Turkey). Leitão spends the first half of the post describing the history of Ephesus and some of the historical landmarks there. In the second half, he goes over what he likes to do in Ephesus. At the end of the post, there is a short section with practical information on how to get there. Both the Blogger Casting mention and the in-depth description of Ephesus’ history were surprising components of this post. I had not heard of a service like Blogger Casting before, so it was interesting to learn more about it through the lens of this project. I have also not encountered a blogger who includes this much about the history of a location. This is certainly helpful to readers and prospective travelers and makes Leitão stand out as a travel blogger.

The second post I analyzed was “#Vanlife in Kyrgyzstan – Travel in Central Asia with a Camper Van.” I was mostly drawn to this post because of #vanlife — I was automatically curious about what that could mean. As expected, the post is about Leitão’s experience traveling by van across Kyrgyzstan. Leitão begins the post with the same sort of rhetoric he uses on his About page:

Traveling with a campervan is always rewarding in terms of personal experience. The liberty of being able to go whatever road you impulsively chose, sleep anywhere you want and decide the exact time when to leave a certain place, makes this type of travel a perfect fit for the independent-minded and spontaneous traveler.

He goes over some of the history of Kyrgyzstan and provides a “detailed itinerary” of his path through the country, but it does not include anything about timing or mileage — it’s more of a list of the locations he visited with short descriptions on each. The rest of the post contains beautiful photos from his travels cross-country. Although I expected more prose instead of photos, they provide a unique view of Kyrgyzstan and would definitely inspire a future traveler to consider driving across the country instead of any other method. At the end of the post, he provides a short note: “This trip was made possible by the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This travel blog solely matches my opinion and travel experience, and does not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.” Another post with a disclaimer — interesting.

Although I shouldn’t be surprised by the inclusion of the rhetoric van Nuenen discusses, I still am with every blog I analyze that uses it. Perhaps I’ve been thinking about the power of words more than expected since reading van Nuenen’s article. I did not notice any advertisements from travel agencies on Nomad Revelations, but I will keep my eyes peeled on the next blog.

Travel Blogging As Marketing Strategy

How should travel agencies handle the growing influence of travel blogging? Travel agencies can either capitalize on the opportunity to advertise and mediate negative comments through travel blogs or get left behind in the tide of bloggers.

Huang, Yung, and Yang’s article “How do travel agencies obtain a competitive advantage?: Through a travel blog marketing channel” in Journal of Vacation Marketing discusses how travel agencies can capitalize on the opportunity. Interacting with customers on blogs gives travel agencies the ability to get ahead of any negative comments, questions, or confusion from customers. Huang, Yung, and Yang say:

Managing for competitive advantage in a multi-channel environment means that managers are involved with customer interactions across multiple channels.

Blogging is also a much more economical strategy than traditional advertising. Blogs can generate a conversation and spread information through word-of-mouth. If done well, travel blogging can be a beneficial marketing strategy for travel agencies.

Huang, Yung, and Yang performed a study on eleven travel agencies in Taiwan’s travel market. They analyzed four variables, including external environmental forces (such as increasing blog users, the threat of substitute channels, and the bargaining power of buyers), internal motivations for investment (strengthening promotion effectiveness and expanding distribution channels), developing differentiated strategies (building a brand image, offering a superior product, and developing new products), and seizing the expected performance (generating interest, increasing sales, and encouraging repeat visits to the blog) (144).

Within the external environmental forces variable, they found that travel agencies can use travel blogs to gain a competitive advantage among potential customers. Marketers can also gain insight on the conversations occurring throughout the blogosphere. As for internal motivations for investment, adopting travel blogging as a strategy can maximize their yield and create an advantage over business competitors. For differentiated strategies, Huang, Yung, and Yang found that travel blogs make it easier for travel agencies to customer-specific solutions and superior products (145). This certainly makes sense due to the ability of travel blogs to open even more lines of communication between agencies and customers. As for the seizing expected performance variable, the use of a blog can increase sales and page ranks with major search engines. Huang, Yung, and Yang concluded that using a travel blog is an effective marketing strategy for travel agencies to ensure they have a competitive advantage.

What does this mean for travel blogging? The platforms and businesses that make use of travel blogging (and blogs in general) are growing quickly and realizing the communicative power of the blogosphere. Travel blogs can help agencies create and maintain a more positive brand image.

What does this mean for the identity of travel bloggers? I’m not exactly sure yet. I’m hoping to gain insight on this question while creating my next posts. This week, I will be looking at the usual two travel blogs, but also looking for targeted advertisements from travel agencies. I have noticed these on previous travel blogs, but I will add these analyses to my next two posts for the week, as well as to any future posts to which this study is relevant. However, I have not yet seen any information on travel agencies creating or using their own blog, so I will keep my eyes open for research on that topic.

Studio Tours: Coffee, Politics, and Fitness

Bonnie’s blog on coffeehouse, blogging, and wiki culture was an extremely interesting beginning to my studio tours. I also love writing and coffee, so I was drawn in immediately. I appreciate how honest, detailed, and poised Bonnie’s posts are. I also love her descriptions of the coffeehouses and the people in them — they gently place me in her shoes yet unapologetically pull me into the scene at the same time. I also loved reading about the history of coffee and coffeehouses, both early and more recent, supplemented by sources that I allowed me to read more into the topic if desired. I found myself equally interested the history and the actual coffeehouses that Bonnie visited. I certainly have a few places to check out if I end up in Rochester someday. I appreciate how Bonnie organizes her posts — headings, the occasional photo(s), and the format of the blog as a whole make reading each well-crafted post much faster than expected (I was always a little disappointed when I was done reading a post — I could read about coffee and writing all day). I also like that Bonnie writes her posts a week ahead of their posting — this allows for teasers on future posts, like our little preview to Cafè Steam. The only thing I would suggest to Bonnie is a small formatting thing, and it might be just an issue on my end — when figuring out the chronological order of her posts, I found myself having to look for the date at the bottom of each post and working backwards to ensure I was reading the posts in the order they were posted. I eventually got the hang of it, and I know that if I was reading top-down or reading each post as it was posted, I would not have as much of an issue. However, the great content makes up for this one hundred times over. I may be a bit biased in general, since coffee and writing are two of my favorite things, but overall, Bonnie’s blog is an entertaining and educational read.

While reading Joshua’s blog, I liked that each post was backed up my multiple factual sources while managing to stay current, relevant, and interesting. I am passionate about politics and have read a few blogs based on politics, some of which focus too much on opinion rather than factual evidence. It was great to see Joshua using viable sources. I also liked that his posts center on what is going on today in politics, rather than what happened a few months ago or just on the expected political stances. For example, the post on gun control featured information on both the March For Our Lives and on the three main gun control arguments. This makes the post extremely relevant to readers while also educating them on what different sides believe. Although Joshua’s posts are opinionated, he supplements his opinions with viable sources and facts. This makes the post very useful for those looking for information on the issue of gun control. I also appreciated Joshua’s post with tips on navigating political debates. This is an issue we all encounter, whether it be over the holidays with our families or otherwise — politics has become more polarized than ever before (or at least it seems that way) so this is an extremely relevant topic. I think it would be great for Joshua to do profiles (of a sort) of different political issues that are especially prominent in the news today and to handle them like the post on gun control. I thought that was structured quite well and would be a good formula for future posts. I also think it would be helpful to provide a bit more of what “the other side” may think about certain issues — I appreciate that Joshua’s blog takes a stance (as it should) but I think telling us more would fully encapsulate an issue and to inform readers as much as possible. Overall, I really liked reading Joshua’s well-informed, politics-based blog.

As I was reading Kendra’s blog, I appreciated that each post of the week provided new information to the reader — I did not feel like any of her posts had the same rhythm or became predictable. Variety in posts, especially with an issue such as health and fitness, is important. It’s often easy to ignore posts on health and fitness because the media bombards us with this information every day. The fact that Kendra included different types of posts (workout tips, recipes, and tips on self-love) was refreshing. These factors make the blog feel informed and balanced. Before reading all of Kendra’s posts, I expected the posts on workout tips to be more exercise-based, but was pleasantly surprised to see that Kendra went beyond just exercise and went deeper; for example, into why some people should exercise at certain times of the day due to circadian rhythm in Have Energy? Go Work Out. This adds another level of information about exercise itself and gives readers the opportunity to look more into the research that Kendra provides for them. I especially liked the recipes that Kendra included; even though her first recipe did not go as planned, she improved on her recipe for the following week and owned up to her macaronic and cheese expectations not being met. In the future, I think it would be helpful for readers to get an alternative recipe or a description of how to make macaroni and cheese healthier (for example: using vegetable noodles, low fat milk, adding vegetables, etc) — even if this rhetoric occurs after telling readers that the previous recipe did not work out as well as planned. I like how honest Kendra’s weekly reflections are; she opens up about things that did not go as planned during the week, as well as portions that went very well. Formatting-wise, I appreciate how minimalist the blog is. As she said in her project proposal, a white background makes it easier for readers to access and understand information without distractions. Kendra also uses headings in some of her posts, which also aids understanding. Overall, I enjoyed reading Kendra’s blog and learning more about health and fitness.

Miss Tourist

The second blog analysis of the week comes from Miss Tourist, created by Yulia. On her About page, she says, “You are never too old, too busy, or too poor to start traveling!” and “Adventure is in all of us!” with a slideshow of photos from her travels. However, she does reveal that “If you are a reader thinking to start your own travel blog, read this post. Note that it is not an easy job though, it is actually way harder than any 9 to 5 jobs I have been to.”

As I wrote in an earlier post, I wanted to make sure to read a blog post on Estonia or Latvia to learn more about my upcoming trip this May — so, I selected Yulia’s post Everything You Should Know About Tallinn, Estonia. The post begins with a short description of how Yulia got the opportunity to travel to Estonia, and then she lists various attractions in Estonia, including The Old City, St. Olaf’s Church, the Estonian History Museum, Kadriorg Palace and Kadriorg Park, the KUMU Art Museum, and Lennusadam, which is the Seaplane Harbor. Yulia also goes over unique places to stay and eat in Tallinn as well as how to get there from other locations in Europe. Interestingly, she included a short vlog showing her readers/viewers her hotel room in Tallinn. I also appreciated that she went over some of the history of Estonia and the popular languages spoken there. At the end of the post, Yulia mentioned that the hotel she stayed in “welcomed her as a guest” but “her opinions are always her own.”

The second post I read was titled Pula, Croatia — The Jewel of the Istrian Coast! Right away in her post, Yulia implores readers to travel to the Istrian Coast rather than the “very touristy” parts of Croatia — most of which are on the Dalmatian Coast. She recommends traveling to Pula for “something the same beautiful but less promoted.” She then lists fun things to do in Pula, such as visiting the Pula Amphitheater, the Temple of Augustus, wine tastings, visiting the neighboring islands, and biking around the city. Like the post about Tallinn, Yulia then provides places to stay in Pula — she recommends Hotel Oasiss — along with when you should visit and how to get there. Also like the first post, Yulia was invited to stay at Hotel Oasiss, but she reminded her readers that her opinions are her own.

I did not expect to come across another blogger getting perks for travel blogging again this week. Like other bloggers, Yulia included a statement about her opinions being her own. She did not give her readers much more information on hotels in both Tallinn and Pula; this of course makes sense due to the nature of how she stayed at each hotel, but not giving readers a longer list of hotels in the area, perhaps at different price points, is not very helpful — especially when she was invited to stay at both hotels. Yulia also uses the typical rhetoric on her About page to get readers excited about traveling — or perhaps becoming a travel blogger themselves. I did, however, appreciate that Yulia used multiple forms of media for her post about Tallinn. Adding a vlog to a blog post makes the post much more interactive. Again, though, the vlog was to show her readers “how awesome” her hotel room was. Overall, I enjoyed exploring Yulia’s blog (and I enjoyed learning a bit more about Tallinn for my travels next month).