Putting yourself out there

This is something I wrote last year for a fellow blogger — sharing it now to hopefully encourage anyone who wants to write but is too wracked with self-doubt to start.

Gaya_LetterSizeWhenever people tell me that they want to try blogging but they’re not sure if they can do it, I always share this bit of wisdom from a very unlikely source: Ryzza Mae Dizon. It’s something she said in passing when someone complimented her dancing, and I don’t think she even remembers saying it now. But it has stuck to my mind ever since I heard her say it and I’ve always found it inspiring.

She said: “Hindi ako magaling. Makapal lang talaga ang mukha ko.” (I’m not good, I’m just gutsy.)

What I’ve learned about life is that talent will only ever get you so far. Conversely, a lack of talent will only hold you back for as long as you let it. What really counts is your attitude — your willingness to put yourself out there and work for what you want, even if you’re not sure what people are going to think.

In my blogging experience (such as it is!) “attitude” has required three things: courage, principles, and accepting who I am.

Courage. Blogging takes bravery! Many of my friends and readers have been to way more places than I have, and I know it’s presumptuous of me to ask them to read a travel blog by a person less-traveled than they are but…makapal lang talaga ang mukha ko! 😀 What have I got to lose, right? Also, I realized early on that I am not as good a writer as others — as much as I want to, I can’t do the sort of emo writing that seems to be popular with the artsy crowd. I can only do my style of writing and I have to be content with that. So, even if you think no one cares what you have to say, or you don’t write well enough, or, for travel blogs, even if you haven’t been to that many places, if you want to start your own blog then do it. Stop wondering what your friends are going to think and just do it. Anyway, it’s not like you’re holding people at gunpoint and forcing them to read your blog.

Speaking of which, it’s also important not to get discouraged if only a few people read your blog at first. I know it can be disheartening to put so much of your heart and soul and self into a post and have it be read by only a handful of people but…it happens. A lot. Unless you have the benefit of a popular last name, or you’ve got tons of friends (or people wanting to curry favor), or, I don’t know, you work the circuit really well, you aren’t going to automatically shoot to the top of the blogger Billboards. So forget all that for a bit and just write. Write and write and write, and eventually your efforts will start to pay off. (And in the meantime, if it helps your self-esteem, think of yourself as a starving artist. 🙂 You’re brilliant — the world just doesn’t know it yet.)

. A lot of people have been very successful at making money out of their blogs and so many of us go into blogging hoping that we will also be able to earn from it. Certainly, that’s one of my goals (though honestly I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet). But I think it’s also important to set standards for yourself.

I remember searching for printers in Cebu, and I came across a website for “Cebu Printing Services” claiming to be “Cebu’s No. 1 Printing Company” — only there were no printing services being offered, just printing-related blog posts with embedded hyperlinks to sites selling, um, PDE5 inhibitors (look it up). I don’t want to judge, and some people might argue that those links don’t hurt anyone, but — speaking for myself — that’s just not something I’m willing to do. As a blogger, you have to decide for yourself where you want to draw the line. In my case, I think it’s important that people who read my blog are able to trust me, so I decided very early on that I won’t allow misleading links, or write good reviews for bad services. And while I try to make my posts interesting, inspiring, and/or helpful to others, it’s a matter of self-respect that I don’t write, for the sake of going viral, what this article calls “aspirational porn.” I tell people they can make their travel dreams come true, but I also make sure to tell them about the work (and sometimes luck) that goes into it. The last thing I want to do is to raise people’s expectations only to let them down, or “inspire” them to be irresponsible and selfish.

Identity. Figure out who you are and work with that. Me, I’ll never have the coolness factor of other bloggers. I’m not someone who quit work to travel all around the world. I’m not someone who has managed to make a living out of traveling. I don’t look good in a bikini, can’t even do a decent jump shot…basically, I don’t think people will want to be me. I’m just an ordinary person, so I’m sticking with that, hoping that my blog will somehow resonate with people who also feel ordinary and encourage them to do not-so-ordinary things. I don’t know if I’ve been able to accomplish that, but sometimes people tell me that my blog inspires them to travel, and that makes me very happy.

Putting yourself out there in blogging
© Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 


Remember what matters

In the time and money black hole that is December, sometimes we forget that urgent does not equal important. We get so caught up in the things we have to do that we forget the people we’re doing them for.

You’ve probably seen this video — it’s been shared a lot in social media — but if you haven’t, it’s only two minutes and very worth the time it takes to watch it. I’m still blinking back tears. A timely reminder, whether you celebrate Christmas or not.

Remember what matters | © Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Coffee and trains | Mar Jefferson Go

Mar Jefferson Go_Coffee Girl

Remember my ridiculously talented friend Mar Jefferson Go? (I wrote about him here and he created the artwork that we offered to our Typhoon Haiyan donors here.) He posted that coffee painting above on his Facebook page today, and I liked it so much, I just basically stole it — downloaded it from Fb and posted it here without telling him. (Ayaw kasuko, boss!) And I remembered I hadn’t talked about him here in a long while, so here I am, talking about him, which I really like doing because he’s a good guy, a cool guy, and he’s so talented, I think his art deserves to be better known.

Plus, on my birthday a few weeks ago, he sent me this:

Mar Jefferson Go_Smalltown Girls, Midnight Trains

And I was so busy that day, I only managed to say it was very nice and thanks. (Tsk.)

Anyway, here’s where you can find his other stuff:

Instagram: http://instagram.com/boatpaperplane
Tumblr: http://boatpaperplane.tumblr.com
Behance: http://www.behance.net/marjefferson

And if you want to commission artwork, or if you want to collaborate with Mar on a project, you can always get in touch with him at boatpaperplane@gmail.com.

Happy weekend everyone! 🙂

Art by Mar Jefferson Go | © Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved. 

Five Likes

Screenshot (228)

My entire blog has a total of 5 Likes! Yay! 😀

Here’s the story: I switched to self-hosted WordPress 3 days ago. Most things transfer over — all your posts, images, stats, etc. — but not people’s Likes on your posts. So: if you have a WordPress.com blog and you’re planning to migrate to WordPress.org sooner or later, sooner is probably a better idea than later, especially if you like your Likes. It’s not that I’m attached to the Likes, per se, as to the fact that they’re imprints of all the wonderful people I’ve interacted with during the 15 or so months that I’ve been here. Now I’m down to 5. 🙁 🙂 The folks who did the transfer assured me my blog subscribers/followers would also be transferred and my posts would still appear on the Reader so hopefully people are still seeing this post (hi!).

I was afraid of the learning curve for WordPress.org but it’s not too bad, actually. The dashboard is nearly identical to the WordPress.com one. I think the main difference would be having to maintain your own site. So far I haven’t done any maintenance yet so maybe that’s why I’m all the-learning-curve-isn’t-so-bad. 😀 The one thing that I had to do immediately though was make a backup, but the thought of doing it myself intimidated me — there are instructions, but the thought of doing it wrong or incompletely and losing everything… shudder — so I gave in and signed up for 1 year of VaultPress.

Anyway, that’s what’s new from my end. Oh, and my father is off tomorrow for a week or so of doing flight mech on Japan flights — I used to take aircraft safety for granted but a lot of stuff have happened lately, so please keep his flights in your thoughts/prayers. I hope everyone’s having a great weekend!