7 Lessons Learned In 7 Years of Blogging

The blog was James’ brainchild. It was September 10, 2011 and we were closing down our Charleston apartment to begin our second Round-the-World Trip.

On the first RTW, communication was an issue – it was hard to keep everyone updated. So he thought that for the second RTW a blog would be a fun, efficient way to keep family and friends up to speed. Terri, on the other hand, wasn’t certain she wanted to live our lives that out loud, and needed some convincing.

Well, Gallivance just had its 7th birthday and nobody could be more surprised than us. In that time we’ve published 600 posts, traveled to scores of new countries, lived in 7 places, owned and renovated 3 homes, had a life-threatening illness, undergone surgeries, and lost and gained friends, family … and weight.

Terri was reviewing some of our early posts for a bit of editing and cleanup when she realized that the blog was about to have a birthday. This anniversary sneaked up on us, and inspired a conversation about what 7 years of blogging had taught us.

As it turns out, 7 years = 7 lessons we’ve learned. 

1. We’ve changed … and so has the blog.
Like beginners in any endeavor, we started blogging with a cartload of enthusiasm and thimble-full of experience. Essentially all of our writing experience was with our jobs, which works fine if you’re publishing a business blog. A travel blog … not so much.

At the start, we took to heart the advice that more is better, so for the longest time we busted our butts writing two posts a week. Looking back, many of those early posts were rushed and not well written.

Generally, these older posts fall into one of three categories: keepers that aren’t too bad but need work, keepers that need lots of work, and OMG! that post needs to be trashed. We’re in the process of rewriting and reimagining many of our early posts in an attempt to bring our archives up to a level that we’re happy with.

Also, over the years our ideas about the look of the blog have changed. After a few changes, we’ve settled on a clean, minimalist theme that’s well organized and user-friendly.

So going into our eighth year, our guiding principle for Gallivance is quality over quantity. We strongly believe that if our content is interesting and well written and our photos are good, people will read our posts.

2. Find a unique angle for every post.
The New York Times said “It’s impossible to estimate the number of independent travel blogs,” so we won’t even try. But whatever the number is, it’s phenomenal, and what this means for bloggers is standing out from the herd takes effort.

For Gallivance, that meant finding a unique perspective for our posts. Our tag line is “Travel Tales with a Twist” and we try to live up to it. For instance, the charming town of Rothenburg, Germany is a medieval marvel with a 1000-year history. We could have written at length about the town’s history and its collection of centuries-old buildings, but instead, our post painted scenes from the Middle Ages through its artistic street signs.

We’re blog readers as well as writers, and basically, we write what we like to read.

3. Comments are the lifeblood of the blog.
One question bloggers have to answer at some point is what role comments will play in their blogs. Opinions abound, but all the arguments boil down to: are comments allowed or not, and are they answered or not.

Early on when post comments were a rarity, we cherished each one and they made us realize that blogging wasn’t just about publishing content. We loved the feedback and interactions as well as hearing about readers’ experiences and opinions. Like a pleasant coffee shop conversation, our post was the seed of an idea, and the comments were the interesting back and forth.

As time has passed, comments have gotten to be one of the biggest rewards of our blog. We answer every one, whether from one of our regular blogging buddies or a new visitor. When someone takes the time to make a meaningful comment we feel an obligation to acknowledge it with a thoughtful response.

Usually the comments are primarily about the post topic, but sometimes, a point we’ve made strikes a cord with a reader and the conversation ricochets in an entirely unexpected direction. These surprise turns can take on a life of their own and are great fun to watch. Most readers’ comments are meaningful and upbeat, but periodically we get a real zinger … we still joke about the “Drive-by Ranter” who submitted a tongue-lashing tirade about something that we’d written.

Bottom line, we can’t imagine our blog without comments. We love the community of new friends and we do everything we can to acknowledge and encourage them.

4. Help Someone – there’s nothing more satisfying.
“Help! My hair’s falling out, skin is peeling off my hands and feet, I have no energy and feel like crap. When will this end?”

Most of our comments and requests for advice aren’t as urgent as this one, but our series on James’ experience and recovery from dengue fever routinely gets questions from worried folks from all over the world who are anxious to know what they can expect.

We get requests for opinions on destinations, help with travel logistics, and blogging tips … and we welcome them all. It’s very satisfying when people value our opinion enough to ask for advice and we try our best to help. We’ve been the recipients of help from total strangers many times, and it feels great to be able to give back.

5. Celebrate and be inspired by other bloggers.
No blog exists in a vacuum, and who would want it to? We were blog readers long before writing our own, so we came into the game with the advantage of inspiration from countless other bloggers.

As we became more experienced, the circle of successful blogs we read and respected grew larger. Everyone loves a good thing, and Gallivance was a way to spread the word about the exceptional blogs that we’d discovered. We’re always on the lookout for interesting posts by other bloggers, and we love to plug their blog with a link to the post.

We’ve been on the receiving end of kind words and links to Gallivance from many other bloggers, and we truly appreciate every one. Ultimately, all these interactions feel good because they make connections that personalize the blogging process, and that’s a very good thing.

6. Be authentic. Be honest.
We’ve traveled enough to know that, if you look hard enough, every place has a unique and interesting story. We hope that our blog will encourage readers to travel which means we always try to be positive. But the reality is that every destination isn’t sweetness and light and some places are tough to visit. So we try to be honest without being negative and judgmental.

Sitting in the Belgrade train station and overlooking a cold, muddy tent city crowded with refugees was absolutely heartbreaking. It would have been easy to skip this event and write about our favorite city museum instead, but when we visited, the refugee crisis was a part of the fabric of the city and we felt compelled to write about it.

Overly rosy descriptions of cities and sights don’t ring true, and probably don’t fool anyone. We want our blog to highlight the interesting and intriguing in the world without glossing over the harsh realities. Again, it’s a case of writing what we want to read.

7. Tell stories. Share the ups and downs of travel … and life.
For thousands of years humans have enjoyed telling and listening to stories. And believe it or not, it’s the same if you’re sitting around a virtual campfire in the blogosphere. For a bit of variety, we mix up the types of blog posts we publish, but over and over we find that our most popular posts, and the ones that get the most attention involve a personal story.

Whether its an overly affectionate donkey in Santorini or a cold, cruel shower in Krakow our readers love a good tale. These posts were fun to write and they taught us something that we didn’t realize in the beginning: some people read travel blogs for practical information, and many others just read for entertainment.

After 7 years, the blog has become more successful than we ever dreamed. It’s a creative outlet that’s made us more aware as travelers, and inspired us to dig deeper into cultures both old and new. It’s become our digital home … and there’s no place like home.

Happy Trails and Peace,
James & Terri

Photo Credit: 1. farmer64

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

113 thoughts

    1. Richard, thanks so much for reblogging our post. Seven years is a long time, and when we look back at the number of places and posts, it feels like 7 years. Best to luck to you going forward with your blog. ~James

  1. What a fabulous post. And I agree with every word of it. My very first post was April 24 2010 on blogspot. I moved to WordPress June 4 2012 so I should have just received a 6 year Happy Anniversary from WP – I must have missed it somehow.
    The changes over the years have been huge, but I agree as we change the blog changes, and connecting with people is probably the most important thing. Good to know you guys! And glad to hear you’re both well.

    1. Thanks Alison. It’s been great fun following you and Don over the years as you bounce around the globe. We’ve really enjoyed reading about your recent trip to the Far East, and hope that Don can get back on the road with you again soon. I’m sure it isn’t the same without him. It’s interesting that, as time passes, the changes we make to the blog are really more small tweaks rather than big changes. We’re still having fun with the blog, and for us, that’s what’s its all about. All the best. ~James

  2. As a new blogger I was very interested in this post and it made me wonder what I will be writing in seven years time. It is interesting that I discovered gallivance from a word press editorial cited as a blog where the authors have been able to establish a community by engaging with commentators. I came to look at the comments not the posts!

    1. Anne, we’re glad to hear that you discovered our blog through the article on increasing blog traffic with comments. We were thrilled to be included in a how-to piece written by a WordPress editor. It’s introduced us to a lot of interesting new readers like you. We never really thought about comments as a way to increase our stats. For us, they were just part of the fun, and luckily, they had an unexpected side benefit. Thanks for joining in. ~James

  3. What a beautiful story and post! I am much “newer” to blogging, but I can already recognize most of the things you write. I love your blog as I find myself in some aspects
    (although I have never traveled as much!) and I seriously hope I will be able to write such a post in a couple of years 😉
    Congratulations with your achievement, and please continue with it!

    1. Thanks for the comment Marta, and for dropping by the blog. I browse lots of blogs and I’m always amazed at how many ways there are to do it well. There’s no cast-in-stone answer for the best way to blog, but each successful, long-term blogger comes up with a formula that works for them – which is the beauty of the medium. Best of luck to you, your blog, and your Dutch Life. ~James

  4. I’ve been writing my personal blog for 11 years now. I never thought it would last this long. I’m sure you know the satisfaction of writing a post you’re happy with and pressing ‘publish’, letting it go and wondering idly if it will strike a chord with someone out there…
    Like your blog, mine has grown and evolved, mainly depending on what interests me. There’s been dogs, knitting quilting, permaculture and at the moment there have been months of posts on my recent trip to North Korea. Readers come and go, but I agree that the lifeblood of a blog is in the comments.
    I’m really enjoying your blog – I’m a recent reader – and when I’m able to pull the pin and retire, I hope to travel to just as many places as you two have!

    1. Blogging for 11 years … Wow! That’s quite an accomplishment – Congrats. I’m sure that it helps being able to mix up topics a bit. As you know, we’re primarily a travel blog, but we’re not too regimented on post topics. When we see something that we think is interesting, we blog about it. But, as it happens, since we travel a lot, we see lots of cool stuff while on the road. As we said in the post: if our content is interesting and well written and our photos are good, people will read our posts. And so far, that’s worked out. Welcome to our blog and thanks. ~James

  5. Just the way I feel about blogging. I have often been asked why I blog or what I get out of it. Well, its a travel record of sorts. I write for the simple pleasure of writing

    1. Our blogging began as a practical, communication tool, but over the years it has really gotten to be more of a creative outlet for both of us. I guess that’s the beauty and appeal of blogging; it can be whatever the blogger wants it to be, which explains why there are a zillion blogs. ~James

  6. We, the readers of your blog, are most happy that you’ve continued to share with us the uniqueness of the places you’ve visited. You have a flair for discovering places and events that are special, and we love it! Thanks for continuing on even through illnesses, moves, etc. It means that blogging is a part of your life. And now, reading your Monday posts, is a part of my life! Thanks! Rusha Sams

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words Rusha. As we’ve said before, you’re one our long-term friends and blogging buddies and we really appreciate your continuing to follow along. And interestingly, you’re the only person that’s ever commented on our Monday morning posts. This timing is a behind-the-scenes at Gallivance fact you may appreciate. Years ago, we found that, because we have readers all over the globe, our posts get a better response if we post in the very early hours of Monday morning. We suspect that we catch the Sunday late-nighters and west coast folks in the US, the Monday morning coffee drinkers in Europe, as well as the afternoon readers in the Far East. It’s proven itself time after time. Blogging goes global! 🙂 ~James

      1. Whatever it is that’s working, keep doing it. I love seeing your posts on Monday morning even though I don’t always get around to reading them until later. Life gets hectic when you’re 70+ and still working part-time, being a grandmother, and traveling when we can. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. I go in spurts with blogging, but almost any guru on the hobby will tell you that’s not the way to get and keep readers. You’re doing the right thing, and we applaud you!

  7. Many of my experiences parallel yours. I too started writing in 2011 for family and friends and have learned much along the way. Alie does not share my interest in writing but, like me, has been fascinated by the response, and we both feel we are more alert to what we are seeing and hearing now.
    We are still writing for friends and family, but we just have a bigger group of friends and family now.
    I try to post on a regular weekly schedule simply to discipline myself to do it. Sometimes, however, I have to remind close friends we are not in XYZ now but just getting to writing about it.
    And someday, I am going to go back and re-write those horrible verbose early posts. 🙂

    1. Ray, it does sound like we’ve been on a similar track. Family and friends still read the blog, but most of them have a pretty good handle on where we are, so they don’t depend on the blog so much. I suspect many of them just say: “Oh, they’re gone somewhere again.”

      As for blogging while on the road, we’ve pretty much stopped doing that. Blogging while moving around has gotten to be too much of a pain. These days, we only travel with a couple of iPads, and given wifi uncertainties, as well as transport and planning hassles we just enjoy the trip, take lots of photos and blog about it when we get home. That way, we have the time and gear to make the posts much better quality. Some of those cringe-worthy, early posts were written on one of our two RTWs when we were on the move constantly. ~James

  8. happy anniversary, and this post really resonates with me on so many levels. since the inception of my blog, i’ve learned so much, and continue to learn, and i’ve loved every minute. i always enjoy your blog, as do many others, and we continue to learn right along with, and from, you. here’s to many more years -) beth

    1. Thanks Beth. I read the other day that the average blog lasts 100 days! I knew that it was a short time, but that surprised me. So anyone who makes it even one year is doing good. As you know, writing a blog that readers enjoy, like anything, takes effort. And this work separates serious bloggers from the quick dropouts. Learning and changing has to be a part of blogging as well. Information moves at the speed of light, the number of sources grows astronimically each day. So staying relevant takes more and more effort. All the best to you and I wish you many more happy blogging years. ~James

    1. Oh WOW Brenda! It’s so great to hear from you! 🙂 Thanks for the anniversary wishes – 7 years is kind of staggering. So how’s the new life? El and Keith were filling us in on a few of the details – it sounds so perfect for you guys. Please tell us more. Love to you and Larry. ~Terri

  9. Love your blog! We do love to travel, but my husband gets motion sickness from flying, so we mostly do road trips. So, I get to experience the more exotic locations from your blog (and others) while we toodle around the US. My blog is about travel, family, recipes, crochet, etc. (www.vickieholland.wordpress.com)

    1. Thanks so much, Vickie. We certainly appreciate your kind words. I can sympathize with your husband on the motion sickness – that’s no fun at all. My sister has had good luck with the motion sickness patch, but I know they don’t work for everyone. Maybe there’s a cruise in your future. 🙂 Like you we love toodling around the US, and I think we have plenty of exotic places right here at home. I’m so glad you stopped by. Please come back any time. All the best, Terri

  10. Congratulations on your blogging anniversary! I’m always surprised to read the advice that “more is better” when it comes to blog posts. I am firmly on the other side of that one, but I may be an outlier! (I realize you are saying that was early advice and you no longer follow that approach).

    I agree 100% about the value of comments. I may not have thousands of followers, but I get hundreds of comments, and that warms my heart more than any number of Likes or hits could do! I also have seen that personal stories really do resonate most with people, but as someone whose blog is semi-anonymous, I struggle with revealing too much about my personal life.

    Here’s to many more years for you, me, and our friendly blogging community!

    1. Lexie, given hackers, identity thieves, snoops and job-related issues, we certainly understand a desire for some level of anonymity. When we started our blog, we didn’t own a home and were starting a months-long RTW, so being constantly on the move made us … well … a moving target, and we didn’t worry so much about privacy. But, we’re certainly more aware now, and we have a pretty strict protocol of how much and what to divulge. As for the blog, we’ve developed a rhythm and process that we’re happy with, and as long as it’s fun, we’ll keep blogging. All the best to you and here’s to keeping “One Foot Out the Door” for the foreseeable future. ~James

  11. First of all, happy anniversary to your blog! Seven years is not a short time in the blogging world as I witness how a number of blogs come and go every now and then. I feel that in the future blogging would become more and more challenging as a lot of people tend to switch to things that are shorter and easier to read (or no need for reading at all). However, I always believe that to understand the world and to connect with people from different backgrounds we need to make an effort, i.e. read more and write more. So as long as there’s enough like-minded people, blogging world will sustain itself one way or another.

    As for comments, since the beginning I always prefer replying to comments as they create conversations — many of them led to meaningful connections. After all, it just feels weird to not respond to someone who’s talking to you, doesn’t it?

    1. Hi Bama, many thanks for the anniversary wishes. Seven years does seem like a long time. I was reading your post about 10 years in Jakarta and wondered if you’d been blogging all that time. We’ve never managed to stay in place for that length of time (I think our record is 3 years), and I’m envious of the continuity you’ve enjoyed. That’s why a blogging community is so special – we get to take it with us wherever we go.

      I have noticed that several of the blogs I’ve followed for years seem to be packing it in and moving to Instagram. I agree with you that blogging is a great way to establish quality time and communication with people – creating a chance to hold someone’s attention and have a conversation for a while. It’s hard to type comments and play on your phone at the same time. 🙂

      Thanks so much for hanging with us over the years. ~Terri

      1. This is my eighth year blogging and on the 10th anniversary I’m planning to write a post about it, and I’ll mention the people who played important roles in the life of my blog. I do use Instagram occasionally, but I still prefer blogs as a means to connect with people across the globe.

    1. Thanks so much, Leslie. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate your support and enthusiasm over all these years.Your blog has also been around a long time! How many years have you been at it? ~Terri

      1. We started out with just music. Then I introduced art that I had been doing for a very long time. Now in the summertime when I’m so busy, I started posting snippets of my husband’s book. I’ve done some writing in my day so I’m considering whether to post some of my writing.

  12. I plan to use my blog to keep in touch with family & friends once we hit the road. Since we don’t have Facebook or instagram at the moment, a blog is the easiest thing for us to use.

    1. That’s a great way to use a blog Faeriefile! We did the same thing when we went traveling, and it turned we enjoyed it so much we kept writing it. Here we are 7 years later, still having fun. 🙂 Are you thinking about hitting the road? ~Terri

      1. RV around the USA with short flights to other countries over the sea now and then. We’re taking pop(TBI related dementia) around the US so he can see the things he’s always wanted to see before he can no longer enjoy doing so. We’re using an RV for that because it allows him the stability of his own room where everything is always the same along with the option to step out and adventure when he’s in the mood.

      2. I can’t begin to tell you how fantastic that is. There’s a huge RV community out there full of ideas and incredibly helpful. Our friend Laura at TheWanderingRVer.com has been traveling this past year and is a great source of information. Will you take off soon? ~Terri

      1. I started the blog in early 2012. Love it! Currently at 471,212 hits – waiting to hit the half million mark. Isn’t that wild?

  13. Congratulations on 7 years of blogging. Great tips for a travel blog. I have to say that I prefer blogs that tell stories through photographs. Too much text puts me off not because I’m not interested but because my time is precious.

    1. Carol, this post is longer than normal for us because of the subject, but normally, we plan our posts for 500-700 words for exactly the reasons you mention. We’re big believers in being concise, and we edit to make sure our posts aren’t wordy. We also try to make our posts photo-rich to add visual interest. We’re blog readers as well, so basically, we write what we like to read. ~James

    1. Thanks Shannon. It’s good to hear that our lessons resonate with you as well, so there must be a few good messages here. As always, it would’ve made life easier had we known some of these things early on, but that’s how the learning process goes. ~James

  14. Wonderful post with lots of excellent tips. Congratulations on seven years of blogging! I am already almost to eight years now and it still shocks me. I went through a similar process of going through lots of old posts and tried hard not to laugh at some of them in the beginning. A lot have been deleted yet I’ve left some buried in the blog for my own sentimental purposes. I feel the blogosphere has really changed significantly since I began. It has been tough to keep up reading others posts and creating my own when there is also so much out there online pulling your attention. I really love your blog. It is excellent so keep up the great work and keep being unique! 🙂 Nicole

    1. Eight years Nicole! That’s wonderful. 🙂 Bama (above) said he’s also been blogging 8 years. Thanks so much for your kind words. We have a mutual admiration society going here because we love your blog, too. Your advocacy is an inspiration to us all.
      Great point about leaving some posts buried for sentimental purposes – we do that too. But some of ours were beyond redemption. We still cackle about them. You’re right about the shifts in the blogosphere, and keeping abreast seems near impossible. I think we all end up having to prioritize … and that’s hard. I am so glad that you stopped by. All the best, Terri

  15. This is my first time to read your blog since I just created my website last week and I appreciate your well written blog… your thoughts… I am not a good writer and a striving one , just trying to write my thoughts too… I hope I can learn from you and someday write a good blog… Congratulations on your blogniversary! the millionman journey

    1. Thanks for the comment Sami and for dropping by the blog. I remember that finally getting our blog up and rolling was an exciting time, and for beginning bloggers enthusiasm is a big help for long-term success. At the beginning, the possibilities seem endless and sometimes this can be a bit overwhelming. But, the key at that point is to just make a start, and go for it. Keep at it and all the best for your new blog going forward. ~James

  16. Congrats on 7 years of memories, adventures and advice! Your 7 lessons are spot on. And I agree, Monday mornings are it for hits. Had it not been for following you and meeting you, I would never have known about some of the blogs I follow not, like Planet Bell. It has been a great journey following along with you, virtually visiting places I’ll never see in person. Some days I feel like I need to work harder at not glossing over the things that make this the adventure it is. More about our life and a bit less about all the amazing places we’ve been. Although I am getting ready to write about now being in the 30% club. ;). Here to the next 7 years.

    PS Thanks for the mention in the comments. I ALWAYS read all the comments, Sometimes they are as interesting as the post!

    1. Thanks Laura. As we’ve said before, you’re one of our long-term friends and blogging buddies and we really appreciate your continuing to follow along. 30% Club – Wow! I hadn’t heard if it, but it has to be a pretty exclusive club. Alaska isn’t just someplace that you casually drop by, so seeing it the way you guys are is a big deal and a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

      As for comments, if there was ever a testimonial for their worth and importance, you are it. It’s interesting that they really do seem like an open conversation about the post and other ideas that come up, and the fact that they’re so spontaneous make them fun to see and deal with. Also, many times we’re able to include interesting information in the comments that didn’t necessarily make it into the post.

      I look forward to your post on the 30% Club. ~ James

  17. Congratulations on 7 years! We were actually referred to your blog here because we had some questions on engagement and I can truly say this was exactly what I was looking for. The taking a unique approach really struck a chord with me so thank you for the new perspective. If you have a chance I’d love some feedback on our current blog and what we could do better. If not, no worries, you have already been tremendously helpful! Our site is: https://theagapecompany.com

    1. Kestra and Jacob,
      Thanks so much for your very kind words. Welcome … we hope you’ll stick around. I’m glad that the idea of taking a unique approach for blog posts resonated with you.

      Your site is fabulous – beautiful, informative, and upbeat. You’ve really got the social media well covered. I particularly like your About Us Youtube video – it shows your fun-loving side.

      As you requested, I also took a look at your site from the perspective of a potential client to see if I had any suggestions for engaging with your reader and (hopefully) customer. One thought came to mind:

      Make it easy to find your names in print (not just a video). People (whether they’re blog readers or customers) really want to deal with people (as opposed to a company) – and they like to do it by name. As far as I could find, your names only appear once in print in the BEARZ testimonial. Perhaps an About Us link at the top to a written page would work.

      I hope that was helpful. Thanks again for stopping by, best of luck on your business, and I look forward to seeing you both again.

      All the best, Terri

      1. I love Norway. The beauty and simplicity really appeal to me. In a few weeks we’re heading to Eastern Europe – Romania & Chechia, then back through Austria, Switzerland, and France. We’re so excited. Have fun in Norway. I’ve been reading your posts on Iceland. We hope to head back there again next year. Any recommendations? ~Terri

      2. So many! We absolutely loved the coast near Stokseyri, check out some of the local AirBNBs and try a world famous Icelandic hot dog! Wow you certainly have a full travel schedule ahead of you, enjoy!

      3. So far we’ve only spent time in Reykjavik. We’re campers and will probably look into the campervan. It sounds like people have both good and bad experiences doing this. Thanks again for your help. ~Terri

  18. First, congratulations on your 7th anniversary! Your list of 7 lessons learned all ring true for me too after 5 years. Not only has my blog changed, but I think I have too. I credit bloggers like you with teaching me how to craft a story rather than just writing about what, where, when. It’s a craft I’m still working on 🙂

    My very best wishes for the next 7 years. It will be fun to see what new adventures you discover along the way.

    btw – I love the photo at point #4 with the stylize hand one the lichen-filled rock!

    1. You are too kind, Joanne. Thanks so much for your words – they sure mean a lot to us. And congratulations on 5 years – that’s fantastic. I was particularly intrigued by your comment, “Not only has my blog changed, but I think I have too.” Funny how that happens, huh?
      The photo of the stylized hand was taken in Ireland. It’s their symbol of SIPTU, the Services, Industrial, Professional and Technical Union. I think it’s the coolest logo I’ve ever seen!
      Thanks again for hanging with us all these years. 🙂 ~Terri

      1. It is funny how we change – at least some of us do. I think it’s an end result of all the experiences we have and certainly blogging increases that number of experiences 🙂

        I would have guessed completely wrong about the hand. I thought it was found in a cemetery. Oops.

      2. Joanne, I would have guessed the same thing about the hand. It’s beside a bridge in Kilkenny, and just below the hand are the letters Siptu. I looked it up, thinking it was Latin, and was I surprised! 🙂 ~T

  19. Congratulations! How time flies…I hope you keep going for many years to come. I always smile when I see a post arriving from you on my inbox. I have stopped reading the over commercialised blogs or the ones that don’t feel genuine. I started blogging in 2013 just to have a creative outlet, looking back some of my earlier posts were really bad. All the tips you have given here are great, thank you😄

    1. Thanks Gilda. Blogging since 2013! You deserve a big Congrats as well.

      We realize that everyone – and I mean everyone – has an almost unlimited number of sources of information and this certainly includes blogs. So when we publish a post, we always keep this in mind, and we do everything we can to encourage people to read our post. And if I could pass along just one tidbit to other bloggers this would be it: everyone is busy and has lots of choices, so do everything you can to make your posts good. Readers are smart and they notice the difference. ~James

  20. Congratulations on 7 years of blogging!! I love your blog posts. What with working on my writing projects and the resulting marketing that goes with them, I am finding it more and more difficult to read all the blogs I follow but I always read yours! (sometimes late but I always read them!) Keep up the good work. xo

    1. Darlene, we know that every visitor to our blog is busy and has an almost unlimited number of options when choosing what to read. So we’re pleased to know that our blog posts make the cut, particularly with readers as busy as you must be. And as a professional writer, you obviously know what makes a good story, so we’re especially flattered that you choose to keep reading Gallivance. Thanks so much for continuing to follow along. ~James

  21. Congratulations on seven years! Wishing you many more fascinating travel adventures, the blog posts of which I’m sure we’ll all enjoy. Loved the blog advice and will keep the “virtual campfire” aspect in mind 😊 have a good day!

    1. Thanks for the comment Charlotte and for dropping by the blog. Blogging long term is about pleasing both the readers and the writers of a blog. We love it when readers like our posts, but we also know that to stay motivated there has to be more than just reader satisfaction. And over the past 7 years we’ve found a good balance for us, and we know that the lessons we’ve learned will keep us and our readers happy. And that’s what it’s all about. Stay warm around your own virtual campfire. ~James

  22. As I read word by word I kept thinking “yes totally agree’. I also know that I was the recipient of many of your blogging tips when I thought I would lose my mind in the maze of blogging. I have and continue to try to pay that forward.
    Like you I have moved away from hammering out posts and have gone to one a week. Sharing the downs of travel is typically far better received than the stories of everything is unicorns and rainbows out on the road. Connecting with readers and fellow bloggers is the icing on the cake. Meeting new friends around the world has been an unexpected joy. Know that you continue to be role models on how it should be done. Congratulations on seven years!

    1. Sue, thanks very much for the kind words. It’s heartening to hear that other experienced bloggers are coming to similar conclusions. Putting this post together was interesting in that if forced us to think through our blogging, both the process and rewards, and it helped confirm that, for us, we’re on track. Publishing posts on a regular basis is important, but it’s only one of the keys to long-term blogging success. And as you and I have discussed a few times: blogging is supposed to be fun, and when it becomes a chore it’s time to stop. I look forward to reading your fun, entertaining, and informative blog year after year, and I appreciate your continuing to drop by ours as well. All the best to you and Dave and Happy Blogging. ~James

  23. Terri & James, congratulations! I love that you think of the angle, or a unique perspective for most of what you deliver!

    You are so correct in that less is often more (quality over quantity).

    Keep up the great work, continue to see the world your own way and safe travels.

    Buen viaje!

    1. Thanks Chris. Looking for interesting angles for our posts takes a bit more work, but it’s a fun challenge and we like the results. Terri and I enjoy research, and delving into details about a city or attraction turns up lots of information that’s fun to craft into a coherent story. For example, I’ve always been interested in the Maya and thought that I had a good grasp of their history. But doing our series of posts on the Yucatan forced me to look at new research and ideas that I wasn’t aware of. Basically, if both we and our readers are happy, it’s all good. Thanks so much for continuing to follow along. ~James

  24. Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. Your posts are always interesting and on-point. I especially like the way you expand on your ideas and knowledge in your comments section. Congratulations on seven years of blogging!

    1. Thanks Joe. It’s interesting that you noticed the additional info included in the comments. Sometimes, depending on how much reading and research I’ve done on a post, I have lots of info that doesn’t make it into the final post. And if the comments go that way, I include it. Which all comes under the heading of “If I find it interesting, other people probably will.” And after your comment, I know that at least some people do. Thanks for noticing. Also, as I’ve said to others, we realize that everyone who reads our blog has lots of choices about where to spend their time online, and we appreciate anyone who takes the time to spend it us. Thanks. ~James

  25. Congratulations with your 7th blogiversary! These are fantastic tips for any blogger. Quality over quantity, always. 🙂 And, answering comments is key.

    Thank you for doing the hard work of “trial and error”. I can’t believe you are tackling going through the archives and improving older posts. That’s a tremendous amount of work. When I read through my first blog about our sailing life as I wrote my memoir, I felt the need to do the same (or at the very least fix the typos), but couldn’t face that extra work having a different focus.

    I like blogs that have a simple, straightforward theme. It’s why I chose Hemmingway for mine. No distractions – the text and photos is what’s important. You guys are doing an amazing job balancing the two. That donkey photo looks like a painting, by the way.

    1. Thanks Liesbet. It’s finally dawning on us that, if we have any legacy at all, it will be our blog. So, it needs to be something we’re proud of. As for the archives, we have 600 posts so any editing is being done slowly and selectively. Our first step was deleting the embarrassing, cringe-worthy posts, which was a good start. On themes, Terri is the team expert on the look of the blog, and like you, she’s very into simplicity so that’s always our mantra.

      It’s funny about the text/photo ratio and how it’s turned out. We both appreciate long form posts as well as photo essays, but we find that our real favorite format is a good combination of both text and photos. So over the years, we’ve just moved that way with our posts and it’s what we’ve grown accustomed to. And BTW, I don’t know if you’ve read the linked post on our experience with that darling donkey on Santorini, but if you haven’t give it a read. He followed us around like a love-starved puppy. Too cute. And finally, as I’ve said to our other long-term readers, we realize that you have lots of demands on your time, as well as many choices of what to read, so we’re flattered and appreciative that you continue to spend time at Gallivance. Thanks. ~James

  26. Congrats!I am new to the blogging world and I loved your pointers especially the image of visual campfire.Having moved out of India more than decade ago , and lots changes since then, I am constantly looking for my tribe, finding them and then relocating again.There is solace in knowing that a virtual campfire exists !

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. Yes, the virtual campfire exists. It just takes some time and energy to find it. Over the years we’ve definitely developed a circle of online friends through our blog that we communicate with and keep tabs on. We read and comment on their blogs, as they do ours. It’s one of the blogging benefits that we enjoy. Best of luck in locating your tribe. ~James

  27. Loved this post James and Terri about how you and your blog have evolved over the 7 years you’ve been writing. Having been a devoted reader for years, I’ve enjoyed following your stories and travels and almost feel like I can celebrate your sense of accomplishment in your achievement right along with you! I especially identified with # 3 about comments and the interaction with the blogging community and readers which can provide a wealth of online friendships. Although I’ve stepped away from blogging for several months due to Richard’s health issues, I love the feeling that I can armchair travel virtually anywhere I want by reading a terrific blog! Looking forward to our paths crossing somewhere, someday in this amazing world. Anita

    1. Thanks Anita. First, we’re so sorry to hear about Richard’s health problems and hope that he’s doing well and on the way to recovery.

      As for the blog, frankly, we’re suprised that we’re still at it after 7 years. It’s turned out to be much more popular than either of us ever expected, which of course, keeps us inspired. Over the years it’s gotten to be a regular part of our lives that we enjoy, and basically, as long as it’s fun, we’ll keep it going. As we said in the post, and as you say, the comments are one of the big rewards and one of the things we look forward to. We enjoy keeping in touch with our circle of friends, like you and Richard, who we’ve come to know through the blog. And one thing we never take for granted are our long-term readers, like you guys, who have followed along through the years. We know that you have an infinite number of ways to spend your time, and we appreciate that you’re willing to spend some of it with us. Again, all the best to Richard and Thanks. ~James

  28. We think your blog is great – and congrats on 7 years! We are reading your helpful advice carefully, as we have only been posting for a few months.

    Sadly – we are not world travellers; but our accent is that you are never too old, and we give accounts (and some advice) on travelling the back roads of Europe, staying in private B&B’s. We have made some very good, lasting friends this way – and keep getting invitations to go back and stay as house guests!

    We tend to seek out the unusual – for instance, I ‘discovered’ Matera in 2009; much earlier than it ‘came on the map’ in great Britain.

    Yes – I tend to personalise my accounts. The posts are mostly written by me – although Graham, my husband, has a few regarding his own day trips and general tips on driving rules, etc. He is also responsible for the design and layout of our blogs, and the photographs are his own: many are pretty stunning.

    We love sharing our experiences. As we write and post the blogs we are once again in medieval France, or watching ladies with flying hands making oriechetti in a small back street in Bari, Apulia, south Italy.

    We are happy to share links, if that would please you. We do not use our blogs commercially.


    Jackie and Graham Usher.

    1. Thanks for the comment Jackie and for dropping by the blog. We’re always interested in hearing other bloggers’ approach to writing posts, and you’re right, it’s never too late to make a start. A lot of our travel is international, but we also have a small, towed camper which we use in the US for long, driving road trips as well. As you know, if one looks hard enough, every place has a story to tell and interesting sights to see, whether traveling by car, train, bus, or plane. We’ve just returned from an extended trip to Romania, and as a part of the planning for that trip, we considered, but didn’t manage to, spend some time in the Puglia area of Italy. I look forward to reading your posts about your experiences there. Thanks again a happy trails. ~James

      1. Have just caught up with you, as I’ve had long bouts of illness, and then upheaval due to a new ‘invalid’ shower room being installed. This somehow took 3 months! A sad saga – but now we are enjoying the smart result.

        Our blog is http://www.dreamitdriveiteurope.com and we do tell of out-of-the-way places. Also some very good B&Bs (and one, at least, to be avoided!) At the moment Graham is still putting in photos for our 3 month, 2016 trip down to Sicily, stopping off for 7 weeks in Basilicata, close to Matera. But I have finished writing about our 2018 tour of France – it’s waiting in the wings. I’ve also been pulling up odd bits and pieces about former holidays, including Crete – which I hope will be ‘fed in’ once 2016 is finally completed…

        It is doubtful if I’ll be able to cross the Channel again, though we renewed my passport – but Graham will be able to travel. I’m insisting he takes 2 weeks in The Dolomites in 2020 , as we had to cancel our visit there and in Croatia this spring. It was all booked, but I had some terrible bouts of illness that knocked all our plans on the head.

        Never mind – writing about the places and people brings it all back to me. I think our blogs tend to share much the same ‘tone’, though the content is different.

        Happy Hopping around –
        Jackie and Graham, http://www.ddreamitdriveiteurope.com

      2. It’s good to hear from you Jackie, and I’m sorry to hear that your illness is hampering your travel. But maintaining a good attitude is half the battle, and you seem to have that sussed.

        It’s funny that you mention putting things in the “pipeline” for publication. We do exactly the same thing. I guess the good news is that we travel enough to have good experiences to write about. I envy your extensive trips traveling around Europe in an RV. I don’t mind hotels and apartments, but the predictability of having your own lodging and transport must take lots of the uncertainties out of the equation.

        Our thoughts are with you and we hope your health improves quickly so you can get back out on the road. ~James

  29. Congratulations with your blog anniversary! As you can see from my blog, I don’t use many words, but I enjoy reading yours, and have found it interesting to get to know about the places you visit. Some are now on my wish list. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Bertie. I can see from your blog, that you’ve been at it a bit longer than we have. Congrats to you as well. I’m glad you’ve picked up some travel ideas from our blog. This is one of the things that keeps us going, and it’s good to hear. ~James

  30. A very honest post with loads of insight and helpful tips for a new blogger.
    Just like your experience, I had thought it was about quantity in the beginning and I was aiming to write so many posts in a week which didn’t turn out to be so good. I have long realized that its about quality posts and corrected the errors of my ways.
    Your seven year (currently eight years) adventure was an interesting read.

    1. Thanks for the comment and for dropping by the blog. There are as many blogging styles as there are bloggers, but over the years we’ve learned what works for us and quality content is priority 1. Basically, we write what we like to read, and we feel that as long as the content and art are good our readers will keep coming back. We’re having fun and it seems to be working so we’re happy. ~ James

  31. Hi Terri and James, Your word “lifeblood” resonates with me. Many great gems and a way to share your philosophy. I bookmarked this post. I have also sent this post to a friends who would like to begin blogging. You describe the lessons well. Thank you for sharing. Erica

    1. Many thanks, Erica. I always love it when we find specific words that resonate with others. And when it comes to comments on a blog, “lifeblood” seems the perfect description. Our goal is to open up a conversation. That’s where all the fun begins. Thanks for passing the post on to your friend. I hope it helps. 🙂 All the best, Terri

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