Janice Waugh, the voice behind the Solo Traveler blog and the Solo Traveler’s Handbook, talks to me in our interview today about how she went from personal blog to public community–and where she hopes to go from here. Enjoy!
Janice, you started Solo Traveler after realizing that your personal blog was quickly going public. After that shift, how did you (or did you?) change your approach to blogging?
Solo Traveler has evolved over the years. At first I wrote all the content. Then I started the Pic of the Week so that readers could share their travel experiences as well. Then Tracey came on board as editor and added her voice to the mix. And with her involvement, we had the resources to manage more contributions from readers and the Destination of the Week became a regular feature of the blog. My approach to blogging is about building community. About giving readers a sense of ownership of the blog through real participation. I think this is well reflected on the blog’s content.
How did you become a location-independent entrepreneur? What did it take to get there?
I have been an entrepreneur my entire life. Being a blogger is just the latest manifestation of my entrepreneurial life. Blogging is a full time gig for me. As long as I have my computer or tablet and WiFi access, I can do my work from anywhere.
Where do you see your blog headed in the next 5 years? 10?
Solo Traveler serves a very broad demographic – from people in their twenties to people in the seventies. But the main writers are Tracey and myself – we’re from a very specific demographic. Over the next few years I would like to get more writers on board so that we can better serve all solo travelers.
What would you tell a loved one who wanted to become a travel blogger today?
To make travel blogging a career you need to focus on building a community of loyal readers. This means being authentic and transparent, putting yourself out there and being thoughtful about your work. But there is also the business side of blogging. It takes creativity, diligence, discipline and a lot of time.
On your blog, you advocate for traveling solo. Do you think that couples and even groups can adopt this same mentality and approach to the traveling life?
Everyone can take the time to travel solo at some point. And, in my opinion, everyone should. Traveling solo presents opportunities and experiences that simply don’t happen when you’re traveling with someone else. It also allows you the time to discover, or rediscover, your own interests and rhythm. Without being concerned about the needs of others you can learn who you are when no one is looking.
Tell us about writing The Solo Traveler’s Handbook. What was that experience like for you?
I had intended this to be a leisurely process but then I was contacted by the Smithsonian to speak there and I suddenly had a deadline. What a wonderful deadline to work to. Writing the book was enjoyable but it is far more satisfying to receive the comments from those who have read it. While those who already travel solo have liked the book it’s the newbies who really get the most out of it. It’s very satisfying to hear from them and know that it has made a difference in their lives.
Janice Waugh is author of The Solo Traveler’s Handbook, publisher of Solo Traveler Blog, the blog for those who travel alone and moderator of the Solo Travel Society on Facebook with over 70,000 fans. She has spoken at The Smithsonian and elsewhere on solo travel and at a number of industry events on travel blogging. She has been quoted in many media outlets including CNN, the Oprah Blog, the Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, LA Times and USA Today. You can follower her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+. She is also founder of Full Flight Press, publisher of The Traveler’s Handbooks series.
Interview conducted in November 2014 by Kristin Winet.