Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 17 May 2016 • Blog
It’s been a while since Vira and I started blogging on Indohoy, so I thought it’s about time to show our hand of cards about the so-called glamorous world of travel blogging, at least in Indonesia. I thought we’d tell our side of the story, a confession of an Indonesian travel blogger, as people probably have wrong perceptions of what we do, and by we, I mean Indohoy and not generalising other travel bloggers.
So let’s get down to it.
– Must Be Nice to Get a Paid Holiday! Yes and No.
Yes, sometimes we get to travel to some beautiful places, get to stay in nice hotels, experience new things, and all of our expenses are paid. That might sound like a dream trip; but it’s not the whole story. The fact is most of the time the itinerary on a famtrip (short for familiarisation trip, a trip where medias are invited to promote a destination or property) has been predetermined, all down to the last grain of rice we eat. If we’re fortunate it’ll involve interesting places and events that are hard to access; other times it’s cliché and predictable. Then there’s the case of having limited time to sulk in things. Not to mention, not all organisers can plan and execute well, leaving its participants neglected and sometimes left in danger. When it’s not going our way, it’s definitely a trip you wish ended sooner.
By the way, this is also a good read; a post from Adam Poskitt, fellow travel blogger.
– Do Bloggers Lie in Their Reviews?
Famtrips and working with brands pretty much means we work for a client. But how much is put in our mouth when there’s value involved? Travel bloggers are often paid or given a free trip to help promotion, but each blogger has a prerogative to decide whether they want to follow the brief or go haywire. So do they lie about their reviews? I don’t know.
Indohoy believes that we have a say, so when brands work with us we will put our stamp on things. Our paid posts, as you’ve probably seen with disclaimers or ‘sponsored post’ tags, doesn’t mean we’ve been forced to say things on the agenda. We try to be wise about our reviews. Honestly, I can’t say that we’ve liked all the brands and products we’ve worked with, but then again the market isn’t all like us. What we dislike doesn’t mean it’s bad for other people and that we should bash it. We could recommend it to a more suitable market or give positive feedback. Having said that, when brands work with thus, we hope that they understand our market readers and they need to trust us to develop the content of their product.
Unfortunately, some bloggers feel comfortable with becoming walking billboards, saying what is expected of them. In this case, they are more media than they are bloggers with opinions.
A blogger is supposedly opinion based.
– It’s Work
When people travel, especially during the holiday, they enjoy their time off doing what they want or doing nothing at all to the extent they become human vegetables. But, as a travel blogger, at least half of the time it’s work. We document everything we do, what we eat, and where we stay, which means putting a lot of thought in our photos, shoot before we eat even when we’re super starving, and take pictures of hotel rooms before making a wreck of it no matter how tired we are (having mix thoughts of this. I’m tending to pro-mess as it seems more natural. Moving on!). Not to mention when a day is done, we have to back-up pictures, edit pictures, chase deadlines, think of stories, promote posts, and get little sleep in the process. And as free trips seem to be a lot of fun, it doesn’t pay the rent. To be a sustainable website or blog, we need to earn so we work hard to create high valued posts so clients aren’t disappointed. Behind every picture of us laying in a hammock in front of a beach, is a good hour after midnight preparing the next post.
– The Drama
Ah yes, the drama. Sure! Every so-called community has drama. The Indonesian travel blogger community is a small one only by consistency and lack of discovery of fellow travel bloggers, but it’s a growing one. In the process of growth and the limited opportunities of ‘work’, there has been some scratching and clawing online. Much of it has to do with who gets invited to famtrips or gets a job. But of course, there’s a lot of factors for this. Honestly, I initially had mixed feelings when new bloggers appeared and quickly escalated. I created my own drama, discussing things with Vira and a small circle of friends, but I realized that every blog has their own market and there’s no need for drama. Also, by experience, I know sometimes the marketing people are just not attentive enough about which blogger to work with or it’s about who you know. Thus, I’ve learned that drama no longer is relevant, so I keep it to the minimum. However, drama is unavoidable. But in good spirit, there’s always something that we can learn from other people’s behavior and drama can spike conversation, good or bad.
I think Anis doesn’t like me.
– What We’ve Learned
For me, I thought that blogging was the destination, that it was the main goal. Turns out, travel blogging is only part of the whole journey. We’ve learned so much after doing it for some time. We’ve added tons of new friends, met some respected people, learned a shitload of information, not to mention learning more about the digital world and writing skills. Yes, I’m still no expert for that matter, especially when it comes to grammar and typos, but I think I’ve grown slightly better compared to when I first started.
Add to that, when traveling Indonesia, I’ve learned so much about the country. It might be cliché but really, what I’ve learned on the road was far more extensive compared to what I’ve learned in school, and for good reason. If everything about Indonesia was inserted in the curriculum, we would hardly graduate. I’m sure that goes for every country in the world.
Learning about thread making in Alor. Photo by Unggul.
I’m not sure if I’ve conveyed my notes out correctly but for the time being, that pretty much summarised the experience of being a travel blogger, specifically an Indohoy travel blogger. For some, it might look like a lot to endure, and at times, it is. However, the truth is I like doing it and that pretty much eliminates many of the hardships of the work. Now, it also comes more naturally.
I hope this post will give you a little insight to our world. For the time being, this is my notes after 7 years of blogging, we’ll see what happens after 10. Amen!
If you have any questions about travel bloggers or different opinions, do leave it in the comment box.