A Conversation with Pam MacNaughtan

Pam, tell us a little bit about yourself and your blog, Spunkygirl Monologues. What gave you the idea to start the blog?

I’m a 30-something solo female traveler. I spent years dreaming about escaping my career in retail management and seeing the world, but it was always a dream. In late 2009 my Grandmother was found unconscious in her apartment and rushed to the hospital. I spent the next month sitting by her bedside with my Mom, making the most incredibly difficult decisions. It was the most intense month of my life, and I started the blog in an effort to create some form of normalcy.

While in the hospital my Grandmother would talk about living life, and how saving for a rainy day is pointless. When she passed away just two months later I took her words to heart and my blog naturally turned into a travel blog. Six months later I had quit my job and I flew to Thailand.

What are your goals for your writing in the next few years and how do you see your income stream changing with the new media landscape?

I’m in the process of expanding my writing portfolio. I hope to write more freelance articles, and I’m working on some eBook ideas as well. In terms of the blog, I plan to incorporate more guide-like posts that cover things like destinations, saving money for travel, and traveling on the cheap.

If someone asked you for advice on making money doing travel blogging, what would you tell them?

I think the most important this to know is that a travel blog is a labor of love. It requires a lot of hard work, and flexibility. Approaching travel blogging as a business model, rather than as a passion, doesn’t always work. Readers connect with personalities. Be honest, share your passions, and work hard.

If you want to write freelance articles for other website, read them, know what they write and what their readers like, then send out pitches (outlines). When you get turned down, don’t get discouraged. Keep trying!

As a self-proclaimed solo female traveler (you) talking to another female traveler (me), tell me some of the best advice you would give to a female travel blogger. In your opinion, what’s it really like to travel as a woman and why is it important to write about it?

I love the freedom I have as a solo female traveler. I find that locals are more open to speaking with, or helping me as a solo female, and as such my experiences have been magnified for the better.  I’ve been invited to have tea and steamed buns with locals at a Mosque in Xi’an, China. I’ve had local men go out of their way to help me when I’m lost, or reassure me that yes, I am on the right bus. I’ve eaten strange snacks, but had delightful conversations that I will never understand because neither of us spoke the same language.

Many women want to experience the world on their own, but then they watch the news, and their fears take over. I think the most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind and be aware of your surroundings. Not crazy aware, just aware, like you would be at home. Solo female travel can be invigorating, and life altering. Just enjoy the ride.

How do you relate to your readers when you write? What keeps them coming back?

For awhile I made the mistake of becoming too monotoned on the blog, and quickly learned that my readers like my quirky travel stories, and tips on how to quit their soul-sucking job and pursue their dream of travel.

I think it’s about personality. I’ve learned to just write, and not hold things back. When I wrote about Living and Traveling with Ginormous Boobs I was surprised by the response, and now that I know my readers enjoy occasional boob humor, I’ll include posts about them from time to time.

Tell us a little bit about how you stumbled into writing and blogging in the first place. Did you always want to be a writer or did you have aspirations for something else that eventually turned into writing?

Believe it or not I wanted to be just about everything when I was growing up, except a writer. I think it’s hilarious that I’m a blogger. Seriously. I can’t even keep a journal for more than a week! In 2007/2008 I dabble with blogging, but it never stuck. I think the turning point came after the death of my grandmother. I felt this sudden urgency to travel, and the passion came out in the blog, and for whatever strange reason, it is now almost 3.5 years later and I am still writing.

What are some of your planned adventures over the coming year? Anything you’d like our readers to know about or keep an eye out for?

I’ve tried to keep my travel plans very open this year, as last year was more stressful in terms of travel, and I am hoping to find more passion this year. I’m currently in Bucerias, Mexico with friends, and I’m working on an idea for summer. It’s awesome, but still too premature to announce. I also have plans to either go to Cuba or explore Central America. Then later in the year I plan to return to Thailand and settle there as an expat for awhile.

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Writer. Blogger. Solo Traveler. Photographer. Troublemaker. Bacon-addict. In 2010 Pamela left her retail management career to pursue her dream of traveling long term, and hasn’t looked back since. Pamela is attracted to strange, odd, unique, or crazy experiences. Pamela has toured working brothels, and driven from Prague, Czech Republic to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. When Pamela is not writing for Travel and Escape, you can find her adventures on her blog www.spunkygirlmonologues.com.

Interview conducted in February 2013 by Kristin Mock.

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