Anubha Momin became a travel blogger after moving from Toronto to the Canadian Arctic and starting her blog Finding True North. She is also a contributor to a number of online publications and recently spoke at the Women’s Travel Summit. In our interview, Anubha tells us how she learned to blog by studying and reading others’ blogs, discusses what she hopes to do in the future, and gives us a sneak peek into her presentation at the Summit. Enjoy!
Anubha, you were born in Bangladesh, raised in Toronto, and now live in the Canadian Arctic. Tell us a little bit about how you ended up there and how the area became your blogging muse.
In October of 2012, I left my hometown of Toronto, Ontario (pop. 2.5 million) to move to Iqaluit, Nunavut (pop. 7000), a remote Arctic community in Canada’s newest and largest territory. Two forces inspired this somewhat spontaneous life change: love, and adventure. In regards to the former, my partner, Justin, was offered a job in Iqaluit, which he accepted with little hesitation. As I helped Justin prepare for his big move, I learned more and more about life in Iqaluit, and, after more than a month of researching, well, I didn’t want to be left out (or behind!). You can read more about my move to the north in my blog post, From Toronto to Iqaluit in 8 Easy Steps.
As for the adventure, Iqaluit is one of Nunavut’s 25 fly-in only communities; this means there are no roads connecting us to each other or to the rest of Canada. This is just one of the ways that Nunavut is really different from the rest of Canada (for more on what makes Nunavut unique, check out That Awkward Moment When Your Life is a Canadian Stereotype), and it is the inimitable nature of Canada’s north, as well as the rarity of being one to experience it, that inspired me to document my experiences. I partner up with my fellow Iqalummiut, Sara Statham, and together we started Finding True North, as an exploration of and homage to our life north of the treeline.
Your blog, Finding True North, documents your life living in the Arctic. What is tourism like up there in Nunavut?
It’s amazing just how many travellers I have met in the year and a half that I have been living in Iqaluit. For a place that is somewhat difficult and expensive to visit, there is a growing tourism industry that attracts outdoor enthusiasts from around the world. There are a few different tour operators in Nunavut, mostly operating out of Iqaluit, which offer packages to fulfill all your Arctic adventure dreams, from dog-sledding to whale-watching to cultural experiences. That being said, I think a lot of touring in the north is still done through word-of-mouth-based self-guided exploration, and for this reason, northern Canada attracts a whack of brave-slash-zany explorers.
Did you have any experience with writing or photography before starting to blog? Tell us a little bit about how you “learned the ropes.”
I have been always been a writer, starting with school newspapers as a middle and high school student. In university, I was a guest blogger for the student blog, and from there began working as a contributor on various other websites. All of these experiences have definitely influenced the way that I blog now, but most of my learning comes from being an avid consumer of blogs and social media. As I scan headlines and 140-character tweets, I am taking in information about trends in formatting, content development, and photography. I apply what I have learned to my blog posts not only to attract more viewership, but also to challenge myself to keep up with the mutable world of digital publishing.
You also write for Go Girl. What advice do you have for new writers who are trying to get their feet wet in the freelancing industry?
I’m still learning the method myself! I know what has worked for me: defining my niche topic (example: living in and writing about Nunavut), choosing an umbrella genre (example: travel and tourism), connecting with others who share your vision (example: Go Girl Travel Network), rounded out with a good dash of shameless self-promotion (hashtags: they work!). All the while, keep honing your craft – you learn to write by writing, so get at it! A self-published blog is a great way to keep yourself in practice, try new styles of writing, and get feedback. There is no substitute for good content, for a potential employer, and more importantly, for your own satisfaction as a freelancer.
How do you see your income mix changing in the next 5 years? What will the impact of digital media be on the travel industry?
I am currently transitioning from full-time employment to a mix of contract, freelance, and permanent part-time work. For me, having that part-time salary is a great buffer until I have a better idea of what my freelance income flow can be (my advice is to find a part-time position in a field that will improve the skills you need to work as a freelancer, like public relations or social media). Digital media provides a lot of opportunities for established or burgeoning writers or photographers to reach a wider audience, connect with other professionals, and learn new tricks and tips. For those in the travel industry, I don’t think anything, other than maybe travel by plane, has drawn in the borders of the world as much as the evolution of digital media. in the coming years, I expect this will amplify and expand, making it even easier for us to share our stories (and deepen our wanderlust!).
You are leading a session at the upcoming Women’s Travel Summit, the inaugural women’s travel blogging conference. Can you give us a sneak peek at what you’ll be talking about?
The title of my presentation was On Becoming Badass by Accident: Why You Should Visit the Canadian Arctic, and the crux of my thesis was that living in Nunavut would turn even the most non-hardcore among us (ie. me) into bona fide (accidental) badasses. To find out more, you have to visit the blog, or even better, come on up for a visit!
Anubha Momin is a sexual health advocate and freelance writer whose home base is Iqaluit, Nunavut. She chronicles life in a remote Arctic town on her blog, Finding True North, and as a contributor to the Go Girl Travel Network. Anubha’s work has also been featured in Canadian Geographic, Up Here Magazine, and various online publications. You can follow Anubha on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
Interview conducted in March, 2014 by Kristin Winet.