Should You Blog for The Trek?

So, you’re about to hike a long trail. Soon, you’ll be leaving your job, your friends and family, and the “real world” behind. You notice The Trek posted an application to join their blogging team. Score! What a great way to share your thoughts and experiences during your journey. And you’re completely correct, blogging for The Trek is an amazing opportunity! But before you fill out the application, take the time to consider if blogging is right for you.

Are you hiking to take a break from responsibilities?

Thru-hiking is a rare opportunity to have no responsibilities other than walking and keeping yourself alive (and leaving no trace). The trail provides freedom – no deadlines, no assignments, no homework. Blogging takes a bit of that away. Though The Trek doesn’t give deadlines (you post when you want) or require a certain number of posts (you post as often as you want), you’ll constantly have the looming task of writing a new post in the back of your mind. Ask yourself – will it excite you to think about what you’ll write next and when you’ll have the time to write it, or will it add stress to your experience?

Photo of graffiti on an Appalachian Trail shelter

Personally, I thought it would be nice to have just one little side project. While I did often think about writing articles, I couldn’t seem to find the motivation to actually put the words on paper. Additionally, I couldn’t find the time to write because…

Trail life is busy and tiring

Once you kick up your daily mileage, days become busy and free time becomes increasingly less common. Hiking will take up most of your daylight hours, then you arrive at camp tired and hungry. By the time you’ve set up camp and satisfied your needs, you may not have the energy to work on writing an article. Or, perhaps, you want to converse with others, play cards, or watch a movie, so there just isn’t time to write. You decide you’ll wait until you’re in town, you’ll have more downtime then, right? But town chores take up time, it’s fun to go out for meals with friends, and that real bed just feels sooo good to relax in. Before you know it, you’ll be 2+ months into your hike without posting a single article (yes…I’m talking about myself here).

Photo of three tired hikers at a cozy hostel

Maybe you’re not like me, though. Maybe you love writing so much that it never feels like a chore. Maybe you’re more introverted, so it won’t be as hard to step away from a social scene to go write. Maybe you take longer breaks on trail or in town that would provide time for writing. Consider what your daily/weekly experience on trail might look like, then consider if there will be time for writing blog posts.

Know your intentions

Why do you want to blog? From my perspective, there are two main goals a blogger can have.

  1. Story Blogging – “I’m blogging to journal my adventure and recap my experiences. My goal is to reach friends and family that want to stay up to date on my journey, but it’s okay if I become popular amongst other readers too.”
  2. Concept Blogging – “I’m using my adventure as anecdotal evidence to talk about aspects of trail life, but I’m not journaling per se. My goal is to reach a wide audience through The Trek to share my unique thoughts.”

(And then there are the Trek Writers that get into juicy stuff like gear, trail news, advice, etc.)

Neither goal is better than the other. I would argue, however, that story blogging is less time consuming. Once you get into a flow of recounting the past days/weeks/months, the story will quickly fall into place. With concept blogging, you have to take a unique thought and pull it apart to be an interesting article. Knowing which goal you have could help you decide if blogging is right for you. Beyond helping you predict the time commitment, it will also give you a better sense of direction to decide what content you want to provide.

How do you want to document your journey?

If you’re trying to hold on to memories from your hike, there are several ways to document your journey. For example, you can take photos, you can journal (on paper or electronically), you can update a social media account, you can send postcards, and you could blog. Most people I’ve met do a combination of these options. The more you do, the more time it will take, so it’s important to prioritize. Is blogging a top priority for you?

Photos from by Walt Stoneburner and Ben Stephenson

My biggest priorities are journaling and taking photos. At the end of every day, I write a recap for myself to read after this journey is over. I’m glad I do this, but it takes away time that could be used to write blogs. Ultimately, though, I prioritize the journal more. If you also want to journal and blog, here’s an idea – consider writing your journals as if they were a blog post. Then, you can combine and edit your journals whenever you write an article.

Still think you want to blog? Then go for it!

The Trek has provided this awesome opportunity to share your thoughts and experiences with their audience. If that idea excites you and you’ve thought through the reality of it, I fully recommend you apply to blog. Even if you don’t end up posting, there’s no harm in trying (you just won’t show up on the Bloggers page). If you’re accepted, you’ll be sent a Blogger’s Manual with all the ins and outs to prepare you for success. Listen to all their tips and prepare yourself well in advance of your hike’s start date.

Goodluck =)


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