You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and I’ll never forget the first time I met Carol Cain. We were both invited to an event and when we finally met she gave me a really big hug! It was great! I will always remember Carol for that hug. And I didn’t know it back then, but now I realize how that hug was a great representation who Carol is. Carol is an incredibly emotional and passionate person and she’s not afraid to share those emotions. It’s what I really like about her. Don’t get me wrong, there are people who just love to go on rants all the time on social media, and when those people do, they’re usually pointing the finger at someone else. That’s NOT Carol. Carol gives an honest opinion and insight on things she experiences both good and bad. She shares things that others would be afraid to admit or put out there. To me it’s a refreshing, and at times a much needed dose of reality. Carol is a really smart, confident woman, and extremely hard working. I think at times the hard work part gets lost when people see what gets posted on social media. People that aren’t in social media for a living thing that it’s all fun and games, and with travel blogging, just a big vacation. I wanted to feature Carol here because I knew that she would give an unfiltered, real, and honest look at what goes into travel blogging. Trust me, it’s not all fun and games or just one big vacation, it’s hard work. Her posts and our interaction have been a positive influence on me and I appreciate Carol in our friendship. I can’t wait for the next time we meet for a photo walk in NYC.
Me: How and when did you get started in social media?
Carol Cain: I started blogging as a way to stay connected with family who lived far away and as a creative outlet, but I was completely clueless of what blogging was, or that there was a whole community out there that would find me, let alone read what I had to say. I first tweeted in January 2009, completely clueless as to what it really was. After a month or so I was completely hooked and haven’t looked back. Social Media has been a wonderful way to share content and make professional connections, but most importantly to connect with my audience, readers, and friends.
Me: From the outside looking in, travel blogging seems to be a lot of fun. But I also know that it’s a lot of work. To give the readers a realistic view of what goes into travel blogging, what are some of the not so glamorous parts of job that people don’t get to see, or some of the struggles that you face on the job?
Carol Cain: The more you travel, the more work you have to do. The more you rely on others to “assist” in your travels, the more accountability and work attached to it. I think that a lot of travel bloggers want the travel part, but not that obligations that come with it. And there’s always a balance that needs to be found where you are not losing yourself to hosts or sponsors or partners. I am a huge advocate for self-investment in travel, even when it is within the scope of a press trip because this allows you to go out on your own and invest in a different experience than what others might be getting, or that your hosts can afford to give you. But in order to have the funds to travel, you have to work (I freelance write) and develop paid, professional partnerships that might require long hours of writing and sitting at a desk.
My biggest struggle is balancing the travel for content with time with my family. It’s difficult to be away from my husband and three boys for an extended period of time, so I often decide when I am going to travel and for how long, and when I commit the time to just be home, I often find myself saying no a lot to trips. I can’t say it is really a struggle, because I want to be with my family too, but it’s never easy to say no to work or to opportunities that help me build on my brand and content.
Me: What’s one piece of advice that you can share with people that are thinking of trying to get into travel blogging?
Carol Cain: I always tell people that travel blogging is one of the most expensive careers to get into because seeking that unique content will often require you to pay your way. I also like to remind people that though it can be a lot of fun and the experiences can be truly special and beautiful, it is not a vacation. It is work, and professionalism should always be on the forefront of your mind because not only do those who behave badly ruin it for themselves, but they make it harder for others as well. And finally, I tell people that travel blogging, or any blogging, can’t be approached with the mindset that you will make a lot of money…or even that you will get to travel to exotic places. You can travel blog about any destination. How well you do it is and will always be a work in progress. How fast you grow and how many opportunities you get depends on how much you have invested on your brand to impress others enough to want to invest on you.
If you haven’t connected with Carol yet, I highly recommend it. Not only will you find a great friend, but someone who will give you a window to some potential vacation spots in the future! Here’s how you can connect with her: GirlGoneTravel.com, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube.