Photography challenges

And now for something completely different …

I am not in the habit of sharing other people’s blog posts here, although I’ll happily link to them and recommend my favourites. But today there is something I just have to share.

I was very honoured that Marsha of Always Write asked me for an interview about my blogging experiences and interest in photo challenges. I think she’s done a great job of capturing and presenting my responses to her very interesting questions. Thank you Marsha!

You can read the full interview here: https://tchistorygal.net/2021/04/23/why-world-travel-blogger-sarah-wilkie-loves-photo-challenges/

Here’s how it all started …

I only started this WordPress blog in August 2020, but I’ve been sharing my travels online since July 2005 when I joined the now-defunct Virtual Tourist website community. The emphasis there was on writing reviews of places visited (restaurants, tourist sights etc.) rather than blogging.

I became a very frequent contributor and also got involved in attending the member-organised ‘in real life’ meetings, as well as organising some myself. I acquired a great network of friends around the world.

When VT (Virtual Tourist) was shut down by Trip Advisor in early 2017, many members gave up sharing travel info online. Others turned to other review sites or blogging. I joined TravellersPoint, partly because a VT friend was already active there and partly because the owner kindly developed a programme to move all our VT content across to stop it being lost. I really got into blogging, using TP (TravellersPoint) as a platform to journal my travels from that point onwards and write up some previous trips from old VT notes. But the transfer of VT material wasn’t as immediately successful as hoped, as the platform wasn’t set up to host reviews, and in any case I found I preferred the blogging format.

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Some other VT friends had started WP blogs and from time to time tried to persuade me to do the same, because they thought I would enjoy the flexibility of having my own site and full control over the content. I didn’t think I had the time to devote to two blogs and I was enjoying the community aspect of TP (although it wasn’t a patch on VT’s) so I resisted.

But in 2020 two things happened to change my mind. I retired, so had more time, and the pandemic struck, which meant no new travels for a while. I decided to take the plunge and haven’t looked back! 

Whereas on TP I wrote day by day journals of a trip (and will probably continue to do so once I can travel again), I decided my WP blog would have mostly shorter posts focused on specific sights, experiences etc. Plus I saw it as an opportunity to be more reflective about my travels, pulling together different experiences at times to reflect an overarching observation about a place, or draw parallels or simply group some photos from different locations around a common theme. My sub-title ‘travel snapshots’ reflects this concept and also an increased emphasis on photography.

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Before I started on WP I didn’t even know about these challenges. None of my ex-VT blogging friends are involved in any of them. A few months after I started my blog I came across a challenge for the first time, Friendly Friday, purely by chance, through a blog I’d started following. It looked interesting and I saw it as a way to build my network of followers while trying out a different approach to blogging. It achieved both those things and I found that the people who did that challenge also did others, which led to me discovering those too.

Even though I enjoy the challenges I don’t want them to dictate the overall ethos of my blog. I set it up to share two things, my travels and my photography, so I won’t do any challenges that would force me to deviate too far from that, e.g. a purely writing challenge or one on a theme that doesn’t relate to travel in its broadest sense – by which I mean, including places close to home as well as those far away, but usually remaining location-centric.

If you’ve found this interesting do check out Marsha’s blog – not just my interview but the many others she’s posted and all the other support she provides for fellow bloggers!

18 Comments

  • Anonymous

    Wel, glad you have been commenting on my blog posts or I wouldn’t have found you! Enjoying reading of your travel experiences, and I shall hop over to Marsha’s for your interview

  • Marsha

    Hi Sarah, Thanks again for the interview. It was a great experience. Thanks for re-featuring it here. I agree with Sandy about the chat boxes for the questions. Very cute!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks Marsha. I didn’t want this to look like a carbon copy of your page, and I thought it would give this a different look from my usual posts, so I created those in Canva, as I mentioned to Sandy 🙂 And thank you again for the opportunity to reflect on what I’m doing here and share my thoughts with a wider audience 🙂

  • SandyL

    I’d read Marsha’s post and enjoyed it there but I must say that I like your formatting here. Cute idea to have the chat box with the questions! I can see you’re doing something different here and I LIKE IT!!

    btw … I’m happy to read that Friendly Friday was your intro to blogging challenges. Thanks for the mention 😉

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thank you Sandy – I took a leaf out of your book and created those on Canva 😀 And yes, Friendly Friday was the first challenge I tried. I followed Amanda from a friend’s blog and discovered it there 🙂

  • Suzanne@PictureRetirement

    Hi Sarah, I actually read this post on Marsha’s blog first. Good idea to repost it here. I enjoyed getting to know a little more about your blogger beginnings and was not aware of the Virtual Tourist site. I think the WP community is very supportive and has a casual nature that encourages both learning and connections. I always enjoy what you have to say, and your photographs are outstanding. Many thanks for participating here.

  • maristravels

    What a fascinating background to your site on WP. I wish I’d read some of your earlier stuff but no doubt you’ll recycle it (as most of us are doing with old pieces) but in any case, you don’t seem to be short of prose or photographs at the moment. Very pleased that Marsha featured you and I’m just about to hop over to her site to read some more travel-related posts.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Thanks Mari – yes, I’m recycling a lot of that old material here. Probably 60-70% of my posts are adapted from previous ones elsewhere but I’m playing around with different pieces to bring related themes, experiences etc. together 🙂 I’m sure you’ll enjoy what you find on Marsha’s site!

  • margaret21

    It was so interesting to read more about your back-story Sarah. I was so glad to have discover3d you a few months ago, as you can be relied upon to communicate a very different and enriching travelling experience.

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