Why hello there. I’m here, I’m typing and I’m back to blogging. Call it a new year’s resolution or whatever: I’ve decided to make writing to you, on here, a priority again. So here we are 🙂 As I was typing the title, I strongly considered call this post “Welcome to the New Age” and now I have the Pentatonix version of Radioactive on loop in my head… Never mind.
The truth is, I really do miss writing regularly on here. I enjoy it in the moment. I like feeling as though I’m talking to someone (that’s you) through the pages of the internet. It’s friendly connection in a way I can’t seem to find anywhere else online any more. Where are all the bloggers nowadays? And by bloggers I mean people telling their story, not just churning out articles for the sake of SEO keywords and monthly user stats. Maybe I’m just having a moment, but it feels like so much of what is online now is just so… vapid, for want of a better word. Not one of the blogs I used to read post regularly any more and that just feels kind of sad. So I think: why should the YouTubers and Twitch streamers have all the fun? Just because my favourite way to communicate is though the written word, not with my face in front of a camera, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be able to participate. I mean sure, it’s harder to get found without any algorithmic feed helping your work to be put in front of interested viewers. But harder doesn’t mean impossible.
I also feel somewhat compelled to write my two pence on the more educational side of adventure and outdoors. Of course, I will always still tell stories of my own trips (and there’s a lot to catch up on from last year), but I see more and more empty articles online – full of words but with nothing to say. Again, I might just be having a moment here. But now you can actually get an AI bot to write an article and speed up the process of everyone simply using the top 10 Google results to write an article… well. It feels like time once again to take up a pen and be just a bit different to the norm.
So here we are.
What to look forward to here in 2023
More is the short answer. More articles. More blogs. More regularity. I have spent the vast part of my career growing websites and brands for other people. Now it’s about time I invested in myself and put some of that same skill and effort into supporting myself. Because as a freelancer you need some baseline level of steady inflow – be it income or work pitches or opportunities. We’ll talk more about all that in the future I’m sure. I’m still only just over a year into full time freelancing myself, so I’m still trying to craft it into something that works for me, rather than the other way around.
Anyway, I’m in the process of scheduling up a whole load of blog posts for your delectation, to give me some buffer. That’s where I went wrong last February: I ran out of buffer and then spent a month messing around in the mountains without internet signal. Lessons learnt. But that does also mean I’ve got loads to tell you still about last year (as you would have seen in my 2022 roundup post).
As for what else we’ll be talking about…
The backlog is strong. I’ve still got to tell you all about my first ever mountain marathon, my somewhat chaotic solo Walker’s Haute Route hike and my Winter Mountain Leader Training (top image by Phoebe Sleath). Never mind running the Shropshire Way, my first time in the Cairngorms, finally doing the Welsh 3000s using public transport… bikepacking in Norfolk with Cycling UK. There is a lot.
This coming year I’ve already got a few things planned. The big one, as you probably already know, is walking the John Muir Trail across California in the summer. Because I’m turning 30 and I haven’t been back to my birthplace since I left age 2. My initial excitement has worn down a bit to Oh Heck This is Big, but I’m sure I’ll get the psyche back later.
As for others, I’ve got my winter pretty full already. We’ll be talking Winter MLT round 2 (yes, really – it’s a bit of a story) and more snowy time up north. Plus I’m finally going to Morocco (third time lucky) in winter to climb Toubkal and some other peaks nearby, hopefully in beautiful winter conditions. Let’s see eh?
Obviously, I’m still writing freelance for other publications. I’m doing a lot of gear reviewing, but also feature and explainer articles for everyone from adventure magazines right through to national newspapers (I know, right). So maybe some of you would like to hear about the behind the scenes of that. Like how the whole gear review process works, or what I look for in certain gear, or how to pitch an editor…
I’m also still the sub-editor for Sidetracked magazine – a wonderful bunch of people and a very premium adventure magazine. And that also means I see a lot of articles from the other side of the editor’s inbox. I’m the one polishing up the submitted words – and maybe there are things to be told there about how to best present your work. How to self edit before submitting etc.
And I am still writing my book. I’ll be going down the traditional publishing route for this one, so you’ll probably hear all about the trials and tribulations of that. Plus I still self-publish All the Tors and I never did do a full write up about how to self-publish your own book. Or at least my experience of it. And I keep thinking I need to record the audio book for it too…
That’s Search Engine Optimisation to those on full name terms: the subtle and ancient art of Getting Things to the Top of Google. SEO has been part of my job for over 7 years now. Unsurprisingly, I’ve got a bit of a knack for it. It suits me rather well because it’s a blend of Maths-brain and Words-brain, rather like a puzzle. With extra satisfaction when you crack it. Yet how you get things to rank is a mystery to so many people – and I’d really like to help with that. Because the more people who understand, the better and broader the voices you’ll find at the top of a Google search.
Risk and Human Factors
For anyone in the business of encouraging and enabling people to go on adventures, there needs to be some balance. It’s all very well psyching people to do things, but I don’t think we talk about what goes wrong enough. Equally, you don’t want to turn into a person shouting, “NO! Don’t leave your house! You might die!” I’ve had this in the back of my mind for a while, about just how to approach the topic of risk – and the uncatchily named Human Factors which is really ways your brain can trick you into thinking it’s all alright, right up until it really really isn’t. And so, rather than get into the weeds, I’m going to start a new series here where we look at real life incidents and see what caused them. Because it’s almost always lots of little things rather than one cataclysmic event. And by discussing specific stories without judging, maybe we can start to spot those things happening in our own adventures, so we can catch and correct before it gets out of hand.
And that’s it for today, hope it wasn’t too waffle-y! I’m going to be doing a bit more on social media this year but if you really want to hear from me, then you need to be in the Adventure Squad! More like an email chat with a cuppa and as far from doomscrolling as possible. If you’re new to the blog (hello!) you might want to start here first. I’m a female adventurer based in the UK.