Home Personal My Blogging Appraisal Of 2019

My Blogging Appraisal Of 2019

by Chloe Gunning
Enjoying the beaches in Muscat
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links. If you book or buy something through these links, I earn a small commission (at no extra cost to you). Take a look at my privacy policy for more information.

Some exciting highlights, a few lows, and a quick look ahead to 2020. This is my blogging appraisal of 2019!

Every year around this time I write my blogging appraisal. I always find the end of year a good time to reflect, yet as I am self-employed, I don’t get one of those awkward boss-to-employee appraisals. I don’t really get the chance to chat through my career goals, the highs and lows of work life, the things I’ve achieved and the things that need to be improved for the next year.

So, as I’ve enjoyed writing these the last couple of years, and you guys are wonderfully nosy choose to read it (thank you!) I thought we could do it again. So let’s sit down with a cuppa, or a nice warming gluhwein (‘tis the season eh?) and see how it goes?

L'Umbracle, Valencia

L’Umbracle, Valencia

2019 has been another busy year, but I did FINALLY listen to my heart and slow down a little. The last few years I’d been travelling, working and living at a million miles an hour. At the end of 2017, I was feeling like it was time to slow down, but by the end of last year I hadn’t done anything about it.

Well this year I did.

I worked on fewer but bigger projects, didn’t travel as much, cut down my air travel a little and went on more trips within the UK. I also dedicated a bit more time to the important stuff: family, friends and my own physical and mental wellbeing.

In numbers 2019 looks like this: 14 different countries visited including four brand new ones (Thailand, Dominica, Oman and Malta) and 36 flights.

Kayaking in Khao Sok National Park

Kayaking in Khao Sok National Park

I’m not avoiding the elephant in the room either. I’m aware of the environmental impact of all this flying, and while I continue to plant trees in our aptly named ‘Blogger Grove’, and travel as ethically as I can, I’m sure there is more I can do in 2020. It’s front of mind. 

This year I published over 90 blogs, snapped thousands of photos and shared a few travel videos too. Most of my content has been on travel, but there’s been the odd personal update thrown in too! This one was one of my faves from the year: An Ode To Being A Travel Blogger In 2019

I also contributed to two books – Lonely Planet’s Best In Travel 2020 (I wrote the Costa Rica entry) and another that I’ll be able to tell you all about next year when it’s released!

Oh, and I’ve been developing two secret-for-now side projects! More info on those coming in 2020 too – assuming the next stages work out!

Anyway, rather than looking forward, let’s get back to the reflection on 2019 and start with a few highs…


THE HIGHS OF 2019

THE ENGAGEMENT

2019 was the year I GOT ENGAGED!! Macca and I have been together for four years, and when we were on holiday in Thailand in April, he asked me to marry him. There was no other answer than YES!! You can read all about how it happened here – it was super cute, thoughtful and a lovely insight into how lucky I am to be his fiancé! 

We’re getting married in September 2020. We’ve found a venue, booked a caterer and a band and are starting to plan the rest of our special day. We’ve also got the exciting prospect of planning a honeymoon too. Now that’s the kind of planning I LOVE!

While I could probably talk weddings all day long, it’s time to tell you a few other highs.

When he proposed!

When he proposed!

VARIED CAMPAIGNS

This year I worked on 15 travel campaigns. From sharing why Germany is great in summer, to showcasing Oman as an adventure-filled destination and exploring the Lake District without a car, it’s been a fun and varied year.

I really like working with tourist boards on campaigns as it encourages me to improve my quality of content, try something new and I LOVE working with others on the creative elements. A lot goes into each campaign, with meetings, emails, contracts, content creation, approvals and more. Often it’s not entirely straightforward, but that’s part of the challenge, and hopefully makes it more rewarding!

NEW APPROACHES TO MY BLOG

As well as a variety of travel campaigns I made a big decision to adapt the way I work to include some different styles of travel. I revealed the news in my blog  A Few Changes To Wanderlust Chloe. Have a read if you fancy!

I booked a solo trip to Valencia, and created my own mini press trip. I came back with SO much content, a passion for a city I’d been wanting to visit for years and a new zest for the way I work on my blog.

I think it’s important to evaluate things, not just by checking your bank balance, but asking yourself ‘is this working?’ For me, I knew I needed to make a few changes.

Street art in Valencia

Street art in Valencia

TRAVEL HIGHS

I went to lots of incredible destinations this year, but a few of them were serious bucket list ticks. We went on holiday to Thailand in April. It was my first time in Thailand and I absolutely loved it. The food, the culture, the scenery, the people. It’s an incredible country and I don’t know why it took me SO long to go for the first time, but I’d go back in a heartbeat.

Boat trip across Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Boat trip across Cheow Lan Lake, Khao Sok National Park, Thailand

Swimming at Erawan Waterfalls, Thailand

Swimming at Erawan Waterfalls, Thailand

Celebrating Songkran 2019, Bangkok

Celebrating Songkran 2019, Bangkok

Delicious noodles on our evening tuk tuk tour of Bangkok

Delicious noodles on our evening tuk tuk tour of Bangkok

Oman was my surprise destination of the year. While I loved my time in Jordan a few years ago, I was less enamoured by The UAE, so when the opportunity came up to visit Oman, I wondered which category it would fall into.

Thankfully I really enjoyed my time there. It’s a beautiful country, with really diverse landscapes. A real photographer’s dream. Epic mountains, pristine beaches, wadis, deserts, wildlife, lots of history and wonderfully warm people. Find out more about visiting for the first time in my Oman guide.

Beach near Muscat, Oman

Beach near Muscat, Oman

Views from Diana's Point at Pool at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort

Views from Diana’s Point at Pool at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort

I also visited Dominica in the Caribbean – another surprising destination. Unlike Antigua, Barbados and many other nearby islands, Dominica is raw and rugged. It’s known for nature and adventure, rather than honeymoons and beaches. We barely saw another tourist the entire week we were there, and while that made for a special experience, I’d urge you to go if you get the chance!

View approaching Roseau, Dominica, Caribbean

View approaching Roseau, Dominica, Caribbean

The beautiful landscapes of Dominica

The beautiful landscapes of Dominica

SAYING YES MORE

Last year on my appraisal I recounted a few fears that I’d faced. I went ice climbing in Canada, white water rafting in Costa Rica and took on the longest zip line in the world in the UAE.

Well, this year I faced one of my biggest fears: public speaking. I spoke on the closing panel at Traverse’s conference in Italy, then chatted about the business side of travel blogging at Borderless Live in London. I also took to the stage at World Travel Market in November, speaking about the past and future of the travel industry and travel marketing.

I still absolutely s*** myself before doing these talks, but I’m facing my fears and no doubt it’ll get easier as my confidence and experience grows. It’s an honour to be asked to do these things, and I don’t think I’ve made too much of a fool of myself yet!

Traverse Trentino Conference 2019

Traverse Trentino Conference 2019

A FEW OTHER HIGHLIGHTS OF 2019 

This year I was nominated for the Cosmopolitan Travel Influencer Of The Year award and SitUp’s Travel Influencer Of The Year. I’ve never really won anything when it comes to blogging, so to be recognised with so many mega stars of my industry was a huge honour. The Cosmo bash was really swanky too – a fun opportunity to get glammed up!

Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards 2019

Cosmopolitan Influencer Awards 2019

It also turned out this was the year of being nominated for awards… and then collecting them for other people! It ended up being a bit of a running joke. Firstly, I attended the Traverse Creator Awards in Italy, for which I was up for the 12-month achievement award. I didn’t win, but Macca did (very well deserved too!) but as he wasn’t there, I collected the award and made a speech.

A few months later at the Visit The USA Awards, we were nominated for our content on Washington DC. Again, we didn’t win, but the blogger who did couldn’t attend and had asked me to collect her award if she did! So up on stage I went, customary handshake, awards happy face! I’m getting pretty good at it all now, so let me know if you have any awards you’d like me to collect on your behalf!

Jokes aside, it’s a huge honour to be nominated and shortlisted for any of these, and if you told me when I started blogging that one day my name would be on these kind of lists, I wouldn’t have believed you.

I also continued to be part of Google’s #TeamPixel and have been testing out the new Pixel 4. I absolutely love its astrophotography mode, and it was a lot of fun to test it out at the Greenwich Observatory last month, in the company of Tim Peake. I can’t wait to continue this relationship in 2020.

Astrophotography mode on Google Pixel 4

Astrophotography mode on Google Pixel 4

THE LOWS OF 2019

THE FUTURE OF CONTENT CREATION  

I’ve questioned my future in this industry more this year than ever before. I don’t know if it’s an age thing or just the state of the blogging / content creation world. I’ve felt paranoid at times about work running dry (has it? Nope not yet!) and worried I couldn’t keep up with the newbies on the scene.

There’s no denying that there are a lot more travel content creators today than a few years ago. The industry is saturated. There are new people emerging every week, some with more skills and confidence than I have. I’ve been blogging for five years now and one of the best things about life now is that some of the clients I worked with in my first year, I’m still working with now. I hope that continues to be the case!

Our room at 1863 Ullswater

Our room at 1863 Ullswater

Sadly, there’s also a lot I dislike about the industry right now – from spammy #ads on Instagram, to huge influencers, trading their morals for dollars from corrupt regimes. 

There’s also a fair amount of ignorance towards the environmental impacts of flying and cruising. I went on a cruise ship once for a few days, but I don’t think I’d go on another after reading about their harmful effects on the environment. Over the last year I’ve met people from across the world whose livelihoods are suffering as a result of the impact of climate change. From vineyard owners in northern Italy and coffee plantation workers in Central America, to people in the fruit and veg industry in the Caribbean, the struggles are real. I’m not going to stop flying, but I am conscious of my carbon footprint and thinking about improvements I can make in 2020. 

#AD AND THE INFLUENCER WORLD

As mentioned, I collaborate with lots of different brands on marketing campaigns, always marking my content with {AD} or using the paid partnership tools on Instagram and Facebook. UK content creators are governed by the ASA, who have developed a code of how to show the nature of working relationships. There are still plenty of content creators who ignore the rules, which makes things pretty tricky for those of us who try our best to adhere to them.

But, I would like to say… how far is this going to go, and why don’t the rules apply to other forms of content? Sometimes I read extremely advertorial pieces online or in print, and there’s no disclosure. Magazines feature ‘top 10 products’ but nowhere does it say {AD – these items were gifted}, and yet they probably were. Journalists go on the same press trips that I go on, none of us receive payment, yet in my post I need to say {ad – sponsored or gifted trip} while they don’t.

It’s frustrating. The rules and regulations often clutter my content, making it less easy to read. I fear it’s only going to get worse too, with more cumbersome hoops to jump through to appease the ASA gods.Coffee laptop


So I’m coming to the end of my dissertation-esque appraisal. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it!

As for next year, I’ve got some exciting plans to visit more of England, a couple of side projects I’m developing (one that’s a departure from blogging) and we’re hoping to buy a flat next summer before getting married in September.

2020 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting one!

I hope 2019 has been a great year for you. Thanks for reading, sharing and caring this year. I’ve loved reading your comments, helping you plan your trips and following some of your adventures too! So will you stick around for another year? I hope so!  

Merry Christmas!

Chloe x

Christmas in Switzerland

Christmas in Switzerland


  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  

You may also like

Leave a Comment

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