I have been asked to participate in “a panel discussion on the impact of the online world in all its aspects – blogs, review sites, UGC, social networks, forums etc. Opportunities, changes, threats, predictions… and the death of print?”
I use the internet in all 3 phases of an expedition – before, during and afterwards.
1. Pre-expedition: planning, research and forums.
Someone will almost certainly have already done what it is that you wish to do. Accept it, embrace it!
2. During the Journey: This is very valuable if spreading the word of what you are doing is important.
3. Afterwards: This is the phase that I manage to eke a living out of thanks to the internet. So I consider it fairly vital.
I will look at these 3 stages in a bit more detail.
1. Pre-expedition: I won’t dwell on this. The most useful resource that travellers have ever had is this one: www.google.com
2. During the Journey: I began “blogging” in 2001, before the term was invented. I did so for 3 reasons:
– to raise funds and awareness for charity
– to raise awareness of my journey and try to find people who could help me
– because I enjoyed it
There are many questions you should ask yourself before committing seriously to using the internet during a journey:
– Who are you aiming at? Why?
– What’s the point of your project?
– Running a website during a journey means you need to regularly update it. How will you do this?
– How will you concisely and accurately describe what is happening?
– Are you committed enough to keep updating regular, relevant material?
– How will you keep adding value to the follower’s experience?
It has become increasingly easy to combine the internet with a journey. Many trips, for example, could be documented beautifully from just a Blackberry or iPhone!
I try to embrace all the new sites and trends that come along, test them out, and drop the ones that don’t work for me. I am not a geek. All these sites are user-friendly, simple, and free. If you are a geek there is potential to do so much more with your web sites. But ask yourself whether it is necessary. Fancy flash-based sites, for example, will not mask tedious content for long.
A list of sites follow this post. I recommend you to have a dabble with all of them. See what works for you.
Afterwards: I use the web to make a living as a speaker. I try to use my website to showcase interesting travel writing, inspiring nuggets, and good photography. I try to get things into print media -newspapers and magazines- but it is ferociously difficult.
I have managed to produce 3 books so far. I love doing this, but -as yet- I make little money from them. I got my foot in the door of book writing by self-publishing my first book after endless rejections from publishers. I am a massive evangelist for self-publishing for people who are not celebrities but who have a decent tale to tell. This holds true for ordinary books and for photography books.
Finally, here is a list of free, simple web materials that can help you get going, or get going further in the online world:
Blogger – easy starter site for blogging
All Google’s free stuff: Docs, Maps, Mail, Picasa, Latitude. All these could be valuable for your journey as they are web-based so you can run them from any internet cafe
Tumblr – classy, simple blogging option
Vimeo – nicer version of YouTube
Tube Mogul – synchronise all your video sites. Actually, a handy thing to do is to get all of these things to synchronise with each other. For example, when I update my blog it is mentioned on Twitter. When I update my photos, blog, Twitter update all these things are mentioned on my Facebook page
Twitter – worth a dabble. I used it well (I think) when I walked home for Christmas last year
Make your own Podcast
Moo – great business Cards