This week, Stories My Suitcase Could Tell turns seven years old.
Where has the time gone?!
It feels like yesterday, but seven years ago, on November 24th 2011, I sat down at my parents’ kitchen table in the Outer Hebrides and pressed “publish” on a blog post that these days probably wouldn’t qualify for the title: a one-paragraph story that would have made little sense to anyone except those who knew me personally, with a a pen-name and a photo that didn’t show my face. Social media was still on the periphery: Facebook was for friends, not businesses, and no-one I knew used Instagram or Twitter.
What Stories My Suitcase Could Tell was back then was simply a way for me to practice writing. In many ways, it still is – writing will always be my first love, and the heart of this site – but it is now so much more besides. It’s a community (thanks to you!), and it’s a space for creativity that extends beyond words.
I don’t think I truly understood the latter until this year. Blogging here for seven years has helped me develop skills I didn’t even realize I had until this summer, when I was sitting in a lecture on marketing at Columbia Journalism School, thinking a combination of “I love this stuff!” and “Wait, how do I already know this?”
I knew the basics in that marketing lecture because of this blog. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell is where I write, but it’s also the place where I practice and share my photography. It’s where I rack my brains over HTML code. It’s where I’ve learned about the importance of keywords, metadata, SEO optimization, and analytics, not to mention the power of social media marketing. It’s where I’ve edited, proof-read, published, and then marketed my words online to the world.
Blogging can be life-changing – and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration!
Since 2011, thanks to this blog, I’ve travelled to incredible destinations, seen my blog in the pages of dream publications, and made some truly dear friends (shout out to Erin, Marie, and Stephanie!).
This year, I attended the Columbia Publishing Course in New York City, worked as a marketing and publicity intern at Penguin Random House, and started managing social media for a brand – all roles and experiences where my seven years of blogging have been incredibly helpful. In fact, I’m not sure I would have even had these experiences in the first place if it wasn’t for what this little corner of the internet has taught me.
Over the last 12 months, I’ve also been lucky to work with some great companies, like Marco Polo Guides, Natural Retreats, the Jekyll Island Authority, and my fellow islanders at Essence of Harris. My story on the Shiants came second place in the AITO Travel Blogger of the Year Awards, I won a trip to the Bahamas with Travel Massive, and I chatted (nervously!) on camera for my friend Stephanie’s new creative studio.
But as always, the highlight in year seven of blogging has been you: readers and bloggers and travellers and expats from all over the world. Writing is by its very nature a solitary profession, but to have you along for the ride makes it so much more fun. No part of this crazy journey would be anywhere near possible without you, whether you read a blog post, leave me a comment, like a Facebook post, or open the newsletter. It means more to me than I can say.
So what awaits me (and you!) in the next year of blogging?
Stories from near and far, of course – that won’t change. I’ll be sharing my travel tales, expat escapades, and thoughts on food, books, and events, all in the context of travelling and embracing the world outside your front door.
But other than that, I honestly have no idea. When I sat down at my kitchen table in 2011, I couldn’t have even begun to imagine what this blog would bring me over the following seven years, so who knows what’s in store in year eight? Whatever the future holds, I hope you’ll come along for the journey, too.
For now: thank you. Stories My Suitcase Could Tell would not be what it is without you. Here’s to another year of suitcase stories!