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The Trouble with Travel Blogging

The Trouble with Travel Blogging

Recently an article calling out a bunch of influencers using bots went viral. I didn’t read the piece which was taken down fairly swiftly, so missed the juicy deets of the people named and shamed but it doesn’t really matter.

I hate articles like that authored by the anonymous, immediately dampening my trust.

The other reason I didn’t really care about the piece was because…..well, it’s nothing new.

I wasn’t even remotely surprised so many influencers were called out for allegedly using bots (note, allegedly, as I didn’t read the piece and couldn’t comment on its accuracy).

This isn’t a new thing. And it started even before Instagram became everyone’s preferred social media platform. You know why people do it?

Because the whole industry is built on smoke and mirrors. It’s built on opaque media kits and silence.

I’m specifically talking about travel blogging because that’s what I know, or knew. It’s where I built my career and where I fell out of love with blogging for a bit too.

The trouble with travel blogging is that everyone lies.

And because everyone lies, nobody seems to have a solid grip on what their numbers ‘should’ be. And that silence and lack of transparency leads to confusion among new bloggers, mistrust in the ‘OG’ crowd and hella blurriness when it comes to knowing who is successful.

I wrote about how I lost my head and used a bot for a week a while back, so I’m not judging those who do. Well, not much 😉 The reason people use bots in is symptomatic of a diseased industry run by a homogenous group of men who seemingly all started their blogs in 2009. And the occasional woman who, arguably, churns out far better quality content than her male counterpart.

I’d like to name names, but that would be gross and pointless. If someone is asked to go on a press trip despite their crappy writing, mediocre photography and manipulated stats it’s not really their fault. It’s the fault of the industry.

It’s the fault of the PR agency who assigned blogger outreach to the clueless intern or outsourced it to a blogger agency professing to know all the best names (but who actually pick from a pool of their drinking buddies and girls they fancy).

The funny thing, I think, is that every year I went to World Travel Market or a blogging conference I heard people saying the same thing; “It’s about quality, numbers are only important if they’re real…..” but honestly? I call BS.

Vicky Flip Flop talked about the fact she was nearly overlooked for a press trip because her Instagram wasn’t big enough. Which, frankly, is utterly ridiculous if what you want is a quality travel writer to create reliably good content for you.

Of course, not every press trip or brand collaboration has the same goals. If your goal is to increase brand awareness and reach your audience who you know use Instagram, then of course, you need someone with a solid presence and great engagement.

But realistically? What most PRs want is to keep their clients happy. Clients who perhaps don’t understand the inner workings of Instagram and Facebook or truly understand why digital is even better than print coverage….some mightn’t even be on board with the idea of bloggers.

So why would they want the added hassle of having to explain why this person, who has a VERY engaged following and write high-quality content but yes, they are under the brands demands of a 50 DA…..

I get it.

But because of this toxic environment the industry is like a boys club. With a few cliques thrown in for good measure.

Those starting out feel they SHOULD do this, that and the other to succeed and start out with a very blurred view of what they need to aim for. I’ve talked at length about in the past and, despite the fact I KNOW my version of success isn’t to be a full time travel blogger anymore it still rancours when I look back and realise I could’ve been schmoozing and lying my way onto press trips for years instead of doggedly trying to increase my traffic to the magic number that never was….

So, the trouble with travel blogging, the trouble with it all is that it’s all smoke, mirrors and thinly veiled bullshit.

L x

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The trouble with travel blogging is its patent lack of transparency. It's great, of course, too....but here are my thoughts on what's wrong with the industry. Read more at lucylucraft.com #travelblog #blogging #travel
S3 E21: On Grief with Flora Baker // Flora the Explorer

S3 E21: On Grief with Flora Baker // Flora the Explorer

In this week’s episode, I chat with Flora Baker (aka Flora the Explorer) about our individual experiences of grief,  the surprising benefits it offered, and how to support someone who is grieving.

We talked about:

  • Why Flora doesn’t “write for SEO” – and the pros and cons of this approach for her
  • Transitioning from writing about travel to writing about mental health when her dad died
  • Griefcast
  • The benefits of being more open in talking about mental health and therapy
  • What it’s been like for both of us to transition away from travel blogging
  • The mental health impacts of travelling
  • Writing for the joy of writing
  • Dealing with grief and supporting someone who is grieving (here’s Flora’s post about how she details with grief)
  • Nick Caves letter on grief
  • The surprising benefits of grief

And more. Listen here or on Apple PodcastsSpotify or anywhere you usually get your podcasts.You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @lucylucraft or on my blog: lucylucraft.com.

Please think about leaving the show a rating & review. For each one I receive, I give £2 to my chosen charity, which changes monthly.

Last month’s charityEndometriosis UK

This month’s charityShelter

Thanks to our sponsors for this season; The Blogger Course (get 20% off with the code WhatSheSaid) and SudioSweden (get 15% off with the code WhatSheSaid). Please support them the way they’re supporting me 🙂 

How to Find Bargains in the Charity Shop (Thrift Store)

How to Find Bargains in the Charity Shop (Thrift Store)

I just wish here in the UK we called charity shops ‘Thrift Stores’ because it sounds cool, don’t you think? Also, why can’t I just use that term? Who’s the boss of retail terminology?!

Rant over. So why shop at a charity shop? I guess if you’ve come to this post you are curious about it, even if voyeuristically so. I’ve always loved rifling through charity shops preferring it to ‘proper’ shopping finding it WAY less intimidating than vintage stores, which I never feel cool enough for.

While it was once for fun, now it’s necessary; my personal fashion ethos is to avoid fast fashion and choose ethical where I can. BUT more often than not I opt to buy used, second-hand, pre-loved….whatever you want to call it. Mostly because it’s cheaper, it’s a lighter footprint on the planet and I genuinely love the process of hunting the perfect toaster, camel brogue, skinny jean….etc etc.

I started sharing my finds on Instagram and I always get such a big response I remembered Kayte Ferris’ advice that ‘questions are content’ and wrote this here guide.

picture of legs in mirror

My guide to grabbing a bargain in the charity shop

An awful lot of what I’m saying here is contradictory so I apologise. I don’t wanna give you a bunch of rules so…..just take what you like and ditch the rest 😉

Shop Often

This is quite a simple one most people forget. Charity shopping is a hobby really, because you obviously can’t just go in and expect to get what you need you have to be patient and build a bit of a black book, so to speak.

I really got to know the charity shops near me when I moved here and now I pop into my faves (around five of them) a couple of times a week. Not for long, but it’s good to show your face because my next tip is….

Be nice

Making friends with the staff and chatting to them often is, well, just a nice human thing to do, but it’s also a banging tactic for getting the juicy stuff.

The JUICY GEMS, if you will 😉

Making friends with the staff and chatting to them often is, well, just a nice human thing to do, but it’s also a banging tactic for getting the juicy stuff.

The JUICY GEMS, if you will 😉

mustard jeans

Choose wisely

Don’t turn the charity shop into another way to consume fast fashion. It’s ethical, in the sense it’s the lesser of some evils; it’s better than Primark, but ultimately a lot of the clothes you’ll find in the charity shops are fast-fashion.

I often find Topshop, Zara and H&M pieces either because they’re a poorly made item, very trend-led or have been bought cheaply with little regard as to longevity.

But don’t be too wise

Okay, I know. CONTRADICTION.

I just think you can be too serious. I genuinely love faffing in a charity shop, poring through the clothes, imagining who wore them and what their story was.

Sometimes I buy things, get them home and realise they aren’t quite right so I take them back for a refund (keep your receipt, of course!)

girl with hat and leather jacket in changing room

Try things on

Most stores will have a small fitting room so do try things on. The sizing on the labels might not be right, or it might be a weird fit or whatever so it’s worth the extra hassle of wrestling out of your layers!

Don’t be precious (it’s for charity!)

I know people who haggle in the charity shop, but honestly…..it’s really no big deal. If something is a pound or two more than you’d like to pay, but you have the money, think about the fact it’s going to charity….not into a sweat shop.

If you don’t have the money, then I’d say it’s probably worth a haggle; especially if you’re buying multiple items and the store is chocka with clothes.

vintage chair from above

Find your favourites

I have some regulars I visit for certain things; one does amazing kiddy stuff, one has a patron who enjoys donating clothes in my size and style and others have a great homeware selection.

The point is, it’s a long game. Get shopping, find your faves and stop wasting time in the rest.

Shop online!

Quite a few of the bigger charities have online stores. Oxfam and Amnesty International are my faves and it makes the whole rifling-through-rails a breeze.

A guide to charity shop thrift store shopping #1

Pack a charity-shop kit

I take a couple of tote bags, a tape measure (particularly for vintage finds, or places with no changing room) and a solid understanding of my style and current wardrobe.

A note on sizing

The charity shop tags aren’t always right. Sometime they label a size 12 a medium, but if that size 12 is from Topshop it’s a small (IMO) and jeans are often mislabelled due to their waist sizes.

Et voila! Let me know if you have any questions, or add your own tips in the comments.

L x

Navigating Childcare as a Freelancer

Navigating Childcare as a Freelancer

This is a much requested post AND one I’ve been promising to write for a long time, too. It baffles me in a way and saddens me somewhat too — because it speaks to a much deeper issue really doesn’t it?

Funnily enough, this post was supposed to go live last week (I post every other Wednesday) but guess what? Yep. Childcare issues. Then I went into a four-day solo parenting stint and this post was, naturally, pushed to the bottom of the pile.

And it got me thinking about a few things surrounding childcare; how expensive it is, sure; how HARD it is, yep; but, mostly, how completely unreliable it ultimately is when you’re the primary caregiver. Which, let’s face it, falls on the mother in a heterosexual partnership.

It’s why I decided to quit working over the summer when we first moved from London to Brighton. (Which makes me incredibly lucky, I know.)

To that end, in the depths of my very privileged despair I took to Instagram and posted this…

View this post on Instagram

It’s one of those days when you feel a bit like working is harder work than it’s worth, you know? I realised I’d stopped booking stuff into nursery days because I’m constantly in fear of #thecall & if I have a bad month (like the past few) I come home with pennies after I’ve paid my share of the bills….. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ I know I sound ungrateful. I’m not. I’m so privileged to have the options I do, and the choices I’m able to make. But FML people….. motherhood and working? Yep, I’m losing that battle right now. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In closing, I felt the picture to best go with this caption was a recycled image of my feet with inexplicable petals thrown in. As you were ❤️ ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

A post shared by Lucy Lucraft (@lucylucraft) on

Unsurprisingly I’m not the only one who feels like this. It is, of course, a failing of the heteronormative, patriarchal society we live in that sees so many women dropping out of the workplace. It’s not always because they choose to be a ‘home-maker’ *cringes* but often because the cost of working is too high.

Yep, that’s right. It COSTS women to work. I never EVER thought that would be a consideration in my life, something I’d stay up worrying about or a choice I would have to make. Naive? Yeah, possibly. But realistically, when we are told our GCSE options will affect our future careers (and, by the way, what do you want to be when you grow up?) and shoved into a ‘careers advice’ session were you told about the glass ceiling you’d eventually hit?

Me neither. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing about my career so far. Nothing. But even so, I would’ve loved a little heads up that maternity pay is hard going, that freelance life is best started sooner rather than later and that NOPE, you probably won’t be able to work while the baby naps.

C’est la vie, amiright? So let’s quit bitching and moaning (actually, please NEVER quit that) and have a look at the main childcare options for working parents.

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Long mage with title text and three smaller images of the seaside

Nursery / Daycare

I intrinsically chose this option, not sure why. And I have to say, it’s been the best choice for Anaïs who is incredibly extroverted and loves being around people.

Anaïs started nursery aged five months (I think?) and when I look back, that’s kinda mad! I mean, don’t get me wrong, I would do it again and we absolutely adored her first nursery, which was a tiny townhouse in west London run by the most incredible Spanish lady (it was a bilingual nursery) I just can’t believe she was there before she could even walk.

In Brighton, her first nursery didn’t work out (which was a real lesson in trusting your instincts) but the second one has been amazing. Anaïs loves it, we love them and overall it’s been overwhelmingly positive.

But there are downsides to nursery/daycare and here they are…..

Pros

  • Safe, great for children who love playing with others.
  • Often great activities; our nursery has a weekly artist, musician and they take trips to the local old people’s home too.
  • Good facilities; we visited one with an indoor soft play! Madness.
  • Probably makes transition to school easier, but who knows…
  • Great if you want to get chicken pox out of the way quicksmart. Ditto that hand, foot and mouth and all other gross-sounding illnesses 😉

Cons

  • Expensive. I pay £800 pcm for four ‘short days’ of 8-4pm.
  • All nurseries have different price inclusions, which if missed can add up.
  • ZERO leeway with illness, which spreads like wildfire. Kids be filthy 😉

Childminder

I’ve never used a childminder but know people who have. I looked into it in preparation for going back to work and met with a few childminders through the Childminder.org website.

Pros

  • Many childminders have a setup akin to a nursery, with several children and other childminders.
  • It’s normally cheaper than nursery.
  • Your little one might find it easier to build a stronger bond with a childminder, as opposed to having several different caregivers.
  • Normally, you have to drop off and pick up (as per nursery) but it’s a little more flexible with some childminders.

Cons

  • I found it a bit of a faff trying to find a childminder who ticked all the boxes; location, price etc etc
  • You need to be a little more vigilant and ensure you check your childminder meets legal criterias. Childcare.org gives guidelines.
  • I suppose that were a childminder to be ill, you might be a bit screwed although they do seem to work with others to negate this.

Family/Friends

This isn’t an option for lots of us so feel free to grumble and skip it. But even if it is an option, it mightn’t be the best one anyway. Helpful stuff, Luce….I know, I know!

Pros

  • It’s normally free!
  • Who could be more trustworthy than family? I guess that’s subjective….
  • You get lovely family time as a bonus. Again, I guess this depends on your family dynamics!

Cons

  • It’s potentially not as reliable
  • You’re at the mercy of someone who isn’t being paid….this can be awkward.
  • If you hate your family, it’s probably not your favourite day of the week.
  • You are unlikely to get full-time childcare with this option, although I do know folks who have.

Co-working creche

I looked into this option when I still lived in London as it felt like a really cool option. I was keen to get out of the flat and co-work and I wasn’t yet sure I was ready to leave Anaïs with a stranger full-time. So this seemed like a happy medium.

I visited a few, but quickly realised genuine co-working creche facilities are few and far between and, sadly, none that I saw did both well. It wasn’t right for me, but I know a couple of people who have found it a great option.

Pros

  • Your baby will be close by which is great if you’re nervous about leaving them.
  • It’s a great way to meet like-minded folk in the same, or a similar boat as you.

Cons

  • It can be a pricey option, although the places I viewed varied wildly so shop around.
  • If you hate the idea of co-working, it’s crap. But then, why would you choose this option….
  • You have to lug a baby, and all of your work gear into an office….which didn’t work for me with no car!

Working around naps

Nope. Just nope. The amount of people who still shame me when I tell them that, “No, I can’t write 1000 words for a national newspaper while my toddler plays with her toys.” is alarming.

It might work for you, and that’s great. But for me? It’s a hard no.

L x

S3 E20: On Press Trips with Vicky Flip Flop

S3 E20: On Press Trips with Vicky Flip Flop

In this week’s episode, I chat with Vicky Flip Flop about the nitty gritty of going on press trips – what it’s really like, how to get invited on them, and how to provide value to brands.

We talked about:

  • Vicky’s journey as a festival blogger and how it’s opened her up to some “cheeky” collaborations
  • Whether it was easier for us starting out in blogging before everyone had slick websites with all the bells and whistles (check out Vickys blog post on this topic)
  • How Vicky knew it was time to take her blog full-time
  • The stress that comes with being a digital nomad
  • What it’s like to go on a press trip and why it’s not a free holiday
  • The things that provide value to brands and what could get you in trouble as a blogger
  • Why Vicky hates Instagram and my top tip for falling back in love with the platform
  • My conversation with Anna aka Ardent Wanderess 
  • How Vicky stays consistent with blogging three times a week

And more. Listen here or on Apple PodcastsSpotify or anywhere you usually get your podcasts.You can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest @lucylucraft or on my blog: lucylucraft.com.

Please think about leaving the show a rating & review. For each one I receive, I give £2 to my chosen charity, which changes monthly.

Last month’s charityEndometriosis UK

This month’s charityShelter

Thanks to our sponsors for this season; The Blogger Course (get 20% off with the code WhatSheSaid) and SudioSweden (get 15% off with the code WhatSheSaid). Please support them the way they’re supporting me 🙂