Blogging has given me many highs, going live from Facebook Mumbai Office recently was one such experience. I was coming to Mumbai to attend OTM, which is a trade show. So, when Tanvi from Facebook asked if I would be interested in visiting their office and going live from there, I was thrilled.
I boarded a Jet Airways flight from Delhi on the morning when I was supposed to go live. The flight started getting delayed. My original plan was to check-in to Novotel Mumbai Juhu Beach and then go to FB office but due to the flight delay I went straight to FB Office from the airport itself. Imagine arriving at a posh destination with lots of luggage and looking totally shabby!
It was lunch time by then and my kind host, Tanvi invited me have food. On a Thursday they have a live Pav Bhaji counter too! The cafeteria is cool and with some nourishment inside me, I went looking for the restroom.
The restroom gave me some clue into the life of Facebookers! There were toothpaste and toothbrushes in the bathroom along with face wash and moisturizers! There is a separate shower room too! I believe coordination across offices in different parts of the world demands such facilities!
I spruced myself up as much as could and then I went looking for coffee. Tanvi offered me the coffee in the mug with the Facebook logo on it. Another person was going live before me, so I had time to kill. I clicked a selfie with the mug and posted it on Facebook! And so many of my friends told me to get (pinch, whack) the mug for them! It was fun seeing the high demand that Facebook mug generated on my feed!
Soon it was time for me to go live! I talked all things travel blogging. Here is the feed of the live session. Do watch when you can!
Blogging has been such immense fun for me, I never know what fun opportunities will come next! Going live from Facebook Mumbai office was one such experience that I am going to savor for a long time to come!
The life of an Indian travel blogger looks glamorous from the outside. After all, I get to travel to exotic places and the bill is footed by someone else! I am immensely grateful for the opportunities too. But travel alone does not pays my bills and therein lies the rub.
There is another aspect of the travel blogging life and relates to making money or even getting those sponsored trips. A lot of my interactions with PR/Digital agencies are thoroughly professional. But that is not the topic for today.
When I am in a mood to laugh, I call them fun interactions. But when I am not in a mood to laugh, this is what an Indian travel blogger’s life looks like!
Recently I was talking to a young person who represented a portal. The conversation went like this-
Guy: “I can give you one way ticket to any destination in India!” I initially thought I heard it wrong!
Me: “One way you said?”
Me: “No, this won’t work as I need to get back home too!” After all I can not walk all the way back home after flying one way, right?
The actual conversation was a bit longer but what I quoted above was the crux of it.
Most of the digital agencies which contact me for paid assignments also have a particular pattern. It goes something like this-
PR Person: “We have this digital campaign … can you give me the blog post (or whatever else it is) by tomorrow?”
Me: “OK but when will you pay?”
PR Person: “We pay after 90 days!” And most will pay after 90 days and several reminders later! There are only a few exceptions (one actually) who pay on time and I value them a lot.
Then there are mails that invite me to participate in contests. One went like this-
“Dear Influencer, Great news! You have been invited to the Instagram contest…”
I don’t like contests at many levels. But the voting based ones top my hate list. Do a Google search for ‘buy FB votes’or for that matter on any other platform. I know it, the participants know it, the organizers know it, so who are we kidding? I do not like contests at another level too. I have so many people offering me the same thing (a trip, phone etc) without any contests, so why would I take part in one where whether I win or not is not even certain! But it is certain that the organizers will get free publicity!
There, after this rant I already feel better. I have often shown the glamorous aspects of my life as a travel blogger, I thought it was time to show a bit of the other side too!
The first time I attended SATTE it was 2013! Gosh how time passes by! I attended it again in 2014 and 2016. In 2015 I was out of town. So what is SATTE? It is a leading trade event for tourism. In 2017 35 countries and 28 tourism boards participated in the event. The next logical question is if 2017 was a trade event, what is there in it for a travel blogger? SATTE 2017 New Delhi was held at Pragati Maidan (added after reading the comments from Joe and Jyotirmoy).
I too pondered along the same lines. In 2013 I was invited by Malaysia Tourism Board! After meeting them I had no clue what to do, I must have walked around and turned back! Even last year, I reconnected with the people I worked with in the past, might have made one or two new connections. If I said I was a travel blogger to new people many would give me a quizzical look and move on.
But this year things felt different! A lot more people showed interest when you told them you are a travel blogger! And of course, in the meanwhile I have worked with a few more tourism boards! So I had many people to meet at SATTE. I also felt more bloggers attended SATTE this year! The event is colorful too, with live dances and music thrown in!
On another note, the topic of making money via blogging comes up again and again. I surely make less money than my salary, but I have definitely traveled more than I did when I used to work full time. But then I was already blogging for 10 years before I quit my job. I was aware how much money was there in blogging. I think it is growing, but I did not quit my job thinking I will make tons of money after quitting my job. To anyone out there who wants to quit their jobs, give blogging a try part time first!
SATTE 2017 was extra special for me, because Israel Tourism Board used three of my pictures as posters in their booth! It was a first for me, it was a high! By now I feel at home at SATTE and I look forward to the next edition in 2018.
PS. I was invited by UBM, the organizers of SATTE to attend the event.