Travel Blogger Archana Singh has been writing about her experiences for many years now. From her many skills to her financial uncertainties, to even the perks of being in this business, she spills it all in this very candid interview. By Charu Chowdhary

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Looks are deceptive. That's kinda true for me. I might look frail but I have a spirit of a lioness. And that was precisely the reason why I chose #AdventureDublin FAM trip with @Failte_Ireland A fun trip made fantastic by an awesome group of people and our great guide, Barbara. I had done zip line couple of times before but the experience with @Zipitfa surpassed my expectations. In the 3 hours I spend at the forest adventure park I covered three circuits, where I climbed the treetops, crossed the wobbly wooden planks, walked on wires, swung in the cargo nets and zipped down many zip lines. It is a place where I could spend an entire day. Have you been here? If not, you should absolutely do. This post is part of my latest #ILoveIrelandBecause … PS: it was pretty cold and windy in the park. Thank god I carried my @MokshaFineWoven scarf. Kept me warm while blending in the green environs of Ireland. #TBEXIreland #LoveDublin #VisitDublin #travel #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #passionpassport #instaclick #instagood #photoftheday #worldnomads #abmlifeiscolorful #LP #travelgram #instatravel #vacation #igtravel #travelphotography #travelling #dametraveler #TLPicks #naturephotography #nature_perfection #scenicshots #travelseewrite

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Archana Singh believes in experiencing a place first-hand before writing about it. After she quit her decade-and-a-half long corporate career, she has been travelling with a purpose and churning out stories that leave an impact and make you want to travel responsibly. She talks candidly about the uncertainties of having a blogging career, how she managed to carve a niche for herself, and which social media platforms help in driving the most engagement.

1. With massive followers on social media, what sets you apart as a travel blogger?

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The smile that you see on my face is definitely because of the place I am standing in. In case you still haven't guessed it, this is Yosemite National Park. Often referred as the 'Crown Jewel' of national parks due to its 1000-foot waterfalls, towering granite cliffs, huge Sequoia trees and deep alpine lakes. The waterfall that you see behind me is 2,425 feet tall Yosemite Waterfall, one of the largest waterfalls in the world. Which is your favorite national park and why? PS: This post is part of #MyUSTrip series, where I share some interesting insights about offbeat and popular places. Please feel free to ask any questions.⠀ ⠀ #mobilephotography #shotoniphone7 #shotoniphone7 #landscape #instagood #instadaily #worldtravel #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #photoftheday #passionpassport #digitalnomad #nationalparks #yosemite #roadtrip #nature #waterfall #trees #solotravel #travelseewrite #TravelSeeWriteInUSA #travelgram #landscapephotography #landscape #SFtravel #california #spring

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Whether you are a travel blogger or any other professional, it’s always your integrity, authenticity and uniqueness that attracts people. In my case, it’s my ability to share untold human stories from offbeat places in a relatable manner. Millennials today look for experiential and immersive travel instead of bucket list fulfilment, and that’s what I deliver. As the brand name Travel See Write suggests, I only write about places that I have personally experienced. I never tell a story, if I don’t have a unique one to share.

2. Take us through your journey. 

While I have been a traveller since I was a kid, travel writing happened by chance. It was August 2014, and I was finally visiting Ladakh. However, my trip had almost gotten cancelled because the group I was to travel with had backed out. The trip wasn’t financially viable for the organiser anymore. I had two choices – join the organiser for a short trip to Himachal or carry on all by myself. It was a hard choice, but I went with the latter.

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"Aapne jaroor Jab Tak Hai Jaan Dekhi hogi Jo aapko Demchok jaana hai. Aap to jail mein jaogi hi humari naukri aur gaadi bhi jaayegi. Sorry mam hum aapko wahan nahi le kar ja sakte." Those were the words of the cab drivers and my local Ladakhi friends whom I asked to accompany me to the Disputed Land ala Demchok, the last village on Indo-China border. But as they say where there's a will there's a way. Thanks to the truck drivers, school teacher, ITBP post guards, army post guards, rebo Changspas and above all the super sweet Ladakhi women I did it. Image: this PIC was taken on my way from Mud to Kuyul to Demchok. The water body is Indus River which originates in China owned Tibet. #lpindia #huffpostgram #huffpostgram #indiaunexplored #indiashots #ttot #ladakh #_soi #hippieinhills #lehladakh #ladakhlovers

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During my Ladakh trip, I had a life-changing experience that I felt compelled to share with others. What happened to me could have happened to anyone. Ladakh was beyond physical beauty. I experienced different faces of beauty – the beauty of the land and the beauty of the heart. I wrote a travelogue series – 11 days in Ladakh. 11 faces of beauty. The response to it was phenomenal. The rest is history.

3. What’s your process of blogging?

I usually plan my travels six-12 months in advance, keeping in mind the global travel conferences I wish to attend like Adventure Travel World Summit (ATWS), Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX), and Women in Travel Summit (WITS), among others. Based on the conference schedules, I decide the offbeat countries and regions I want to visit. Mostly, my travels are long-term (one-four months), slow, immersive, like a local and with the locals.

I do some research before visiting the places and discuss potential story ideas with local partners. However, not everything is cast in stone. I keep my travels a bit fluid to uncover untold human stories from the fields of adventure, nature, culture, sustainable tourism and solo travel. After returning from the trip, I go back to my notes to find unique story ideas that aren’t written about much. My stories are backed by strong facts, expert interviews and personal experiences. Once I have a bank of good story ideas, I start drafting my articles or pitching to publications. I do SEO optimisation on my blog and promote stories through my social media channels.

4. How easy or difficult is it to constantly feed social media?

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The world looks different when your feet are in the water. Sun, sand and a drink in your hand is the best way to make friends for life. ⠀ ⠀ One such great friend I made in the Philippines. We had nothing in common except for wanderlust. I absolutely loved traveling with her.⠀ ⠀ Has nature brought new friends in your life? I would love to hear your thoughts.⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ This post is part of my #InspiringWater Series and this picture was clicked at Pagudpud Beach in Ilocos Norte, #Philippines. While most of the people flock to Boracay I fell in love with this place. Powdery white sand, turquoise water and guess what hardly any people. You have the full beach to yourself. ⠀⠀⠀ ⠀⠀⠀ #travel #wanderlust #passionpassport #girlswhotravel #solotravel #instaclick #instagood #photoftheday #abmlifeiscolorful #LP #travelgram #instatravel #vacation #igtravel #travelphotography #travelling #dametraveler #TLPicks #instatravel #vacation #solotravel #naturephotography #nature_perfection #lovetravel #mypixeldiary #AsiaTravel #ItsMoreFunInThePhilippines

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I don’t have FOMO or the desire to always be seen or heard. Therefore, I only share content on social media when I have something worthwhile to share. I keep a healthy balance of professional and personal content and I’m not afraid of sharing my vulnerabilities. In fact, that adds to the authenticity. Also, I engage with each comment I get.

5. Does blogging pay the bills or is it just passion that sustains you?

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The best gift you could ever give someone is TIME because you are giving them something priceless that you'll never get back. ⠀ And, the person who deserves it the most is YOU. Make time for yourself and do the things you love. For me it's TRAVEL. What deserves your time the most? ⠀ Here's a small gift from my side. Use my promo code “ARCHANA” and get 15% discount on all purchases on www.danielwellington.com #DWPickoftheDay #DanielWellington #dwmoments @danielwellington #traveling #traveler #wanderlust #instatravel #travelgram #dametraveler #femmetravel #sheisnotlost #darlingescapes #photography #citizenfemme #iamtb #Australia #explore #WorldNomads #travel #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #passionpassport #photoftheday #abmlifeiscolorful #travelgram #igtravel #travelphotography #nature_perfection #scenicshots #lifeofadventure #beautifuldestinations

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Earlier it didn’t and I didn’t even care as I had a full-time marketing job to pay my bills. But since 2017, this has been my bread and butter.

6. Perks and drawbacks of being a digital influencer?

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On the second day of our #IndiaBlogTrain with #DeccanOdyssey, we were introduced to different faces of India – traditional and modern. We started our day with spiritual journey at Godavari Ghat in Panchvati followed by a visit to #GroverZampaVineyard in Nashik. ⠀ ⠀ Although, India is not known for Wine culture but after visiting the Grover Zampa Vineyard I can say our spirits are in the right hands. The wines produced in India are at par with the European wines. All we need is a bit of love for our local products. ⠀ Have you ever visited Vineyards in India? In case you haven't, explore it through the comfort of a luxury train. So, when are you embarking on this journey of a lifetime with #DeccanOdyssey ?⠀ ⠀⠀ #Incredibleindia #Maharashtra #IndiaTravel #traveling #traveler #wanderlust #instatravel #travelgram #dametraveler #femmetravel #sheisnotlost #darlingescapes #photography #citizenfemme #LuxuryTravel #TrainTravel #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #photoftheday #abmlifeiscolorful #igtravel #travelphotography #lifeofadventure #beautifuldestinations #FoodAndWine #Wine

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Perks:

  • Building your own brand that grows with time in stature and income.
  • The flexibility to set my own schedule – most of the time – and freedom to choose the topics, people, and brands I want to work with.
  • Building and connecting with a dynamic and supportive community is soul-fulfilling. You don’t even realise when you become a role model to so many people.
  • You make friends wherever you go. No place is alien to you.
  • You become more confident, adaptable and evolved in your thinking.

Drawbacks:

  • Financial adventure: No fixed income. Sometimes you can earn six figures in a month and sometimes you barely make ends meet.
  • It’s not as easy and glamorous as it looks. We work 24/7 and continuously upskill ourselves to stay relevant and ahead of the curve. Even if the entry barriers are almost negligible in the field, there is also a strong chance of falling off the grid if one isn’t evolving with changing trends and tastes.
  • Be the Jack of all trades – writing, photography, business pitching, finance management, marketing, HR, and everything else that goes in running a successful business. It’s not just hard work you put in, but also blood, sweat, tears and hustle.
  • It gets a little lonely at times when you are constantly on the move. Difficult to find a partner that’s aligned to your career goals and life philosophy.

7. Top places in India you’d recommend to every traveller?

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On the third day of our #IndiaBlogTrain journey on #DeccanOdyssey, we explored the majestic @unescoworldheritage Site of #ElloraCaves in #IncredibleIndia. It was a beautiful sunny day to see the cave temple complex in its full glory. I am a big fan of getting a bird's eye view first before getting into details. And, this is exactly what I did. ⠀ ⠀ However, the sun was pretty harsh and I had to make sure I stay dehydrated. My biggest fear when traveling outdoors is falling sick because of drinking unhygienic water. Also, I am well aware of the hazardous impact the plastic waste create everytime we buy a use-n-throw bottle. Therefore i always travel with @watertogo bottle as it keeps me safe and hydrated wherever I am. And, guess what? I can fill water from anywhere anytime and it will eliminate 99.9% of microbiological contaminants including viruses and bacteria. ⠀ ⠀ Now isn't that a perfect travel partner to travel with? So, what are you waiting for to embark on an unforgettable journey with Water-to-go?⠀ ⠀ @unesco #safetravel #worldtravel #waterbottle #waterfilter #waterfiltration #hydration #responsibletravel #travelessentials #kitlist #travelbottle #adventure #unescoworldheritage #Maharashtra #Aurangabad #IndiaTravel #traveling #traveler #dametraveler #femmetravel #citizenfemme #LuxuryTravel #TrainTravel #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #abmlifeiscolorful #travelphotography

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Being a huge mountain and wildlife lover, the craggy Himalayan peaks and the lush forests of central India are my all-time favourite places. I would recommend offbeat places like Sangla, Sanougi, Thanedar, Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal and Changthang in Ladakh. Also, Satpura National Park (in Madhya Pradesh) gives you the freedom to explore wildlife in different ways. Besides jeep safari, you can opt for elephant safari, kayak, boat trips, or even walk and camp in the heart of the forest.

8. What are your top three destinations in the world?

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Being an adventure junkie I never say no to any new adventure whether it is Bungee Jumping, Skydiving, Paragliding, Balloon Riding, Zipline biking, Scuba diving, glacier trekking or anything else. The only thing that I had not experienced was a Gyrocopter flight. And I am so glad I ticked that off too during my recent visit to Dubai. Super thankful to @skydivedubai for giving me an opportunity to enjoy the thrill of a #Gyrocopter flight over the iconic Palm and Burj AL Arab Area.⠀ A gyrocopter shares the same basic controls with a fixed wing aero plane but are much more agile. And, only two people can sit in it. It’s like a smaller but better version of a helicopter. The views you get are mindblowing. ⠀ So, when are you going to try?⠀ ⠀ This picture is a part of my #SplendidMiddleEast series. Stay tuned for more as you’ll see some faces of Middle East like never before.⠀ ⠀ #VisitDubai #Adventure #Skydive #Gyrocopter #visituae #uae #travel #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #passionpassport #photoftheday #abmlifeiscolorful #travelgram #igtravel #travelphotography #travelling #dametraveler #nature_perfection #scenicshots #architecture #lifeofadventure #beautifuldestinations #chooseyouradventure #skydivedubai #mydubai #flygyrocopter

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Hokkaido, Japan: The northernmost part of the ‘Land of the Rising Sun’ is the least populated and rarely visited by tourists.

The high Tatras, Slovakia: The tallest range in the Carpathian Mountains bejewelled with plunging waterfalls, alpine meadows and more than 100 ultramarine lakes. One of the cheapest and best places to enjoy skiing, and health and wellness treatments in Europe.

Gerberoy, Northern France:  Listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Gerberoy is a dream destination for flower lovers, especially roses. A walk in this well-kept medieval fairy tale village of just 50 residents is sheer joy.

9. Instagram or Twitter? Your favourite and why?

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On my maiden trip to Sri Lanka, I went with zero expectations. And boy, what an experience it turned out to be. Right from the airlines, hotels, food to the excursions – everything was top notch. I could have never believed a small island like Sri Lanka could pack so much – golden beaches, spiritual places, rich heritage, culture treasures, rare spice plantations, lush tea gardens, misty mountains, great wildlife and delectable cuisine among many other things. No wonder over four lakh Indians visit Sri Lanka every year.⠀ ⠀ Sri Lanka is known for is its beaches – the coastal road drive from Colombo To Galle is to die for. Endless, open, cerulean beaches framed by 18-karat hued sand. The turquoise blue water is amazingly clean. You won’t find garbage anywhere – no plastic bags, straws, or any kind of waste. There are a lot adventure sports activities to keep you busy. I really loved spending time at the Turtle sanctuary. ⠀ ⠀ Have you been to Sri Lanka? What did you love the most?⠀ ⠀ Thanks @parrulmahajan for posing.⠀ ⠀ PS: I am starting a new series ‘Fascinating Faces of Srilanka’ today. Stay tuned for some great insights about the Pearl of the Indian Ocean.⠀ ⠀ #SriLankanAirlinesIndia #SrilankanAirlines #VisitSrilanka #ExploreSrilanka #VisitColombo #OutboundKonnections #travel #wanderlust #girlswhotravel #passionpassport #photoftheday #abmlifeiscolorful #travelgram #igtravel #travelphotography #travelling #dametraveler #Blackandwhite #nature_perfection #scenicshots #architecture #lifeofadventure #beautifuldestinations #Beaches #SunAndSand #naturephotography #water #sky

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I love Instagram more than Twitter because it’s a fast, beautiful and fun way to share my travel experiences with my audience through a series of pictures. I treat Instagram as a microblogging platform where through creative visuals, well-thought-out captions and hashtags I tell stories that drive active engagement. Also, Instagram stories are a great way to engage live with your fans and followers and have 10x higher engagement than Twitter or Facebook. Out of all the social media platforms, Instagram delivers the most when it comes to doing paid campaigns, either through collaborating with brands or with fellow influencers.

10. What camera do you typically use while travelling? One tip for great photographs?

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If I had not seen this place with my own eyes, I could have been misled into thinking it is somewhere in Europe but it is not. ⠀ ⠀ Located at the foothill of Mount Kinabalu, @desadairyfarm offers one of the most breathtaking scenery straight out of picture postcards. I wasn’t surprised why it’s often chosen as a wedding photography destination. After all, where do you get to see the majestic Mount Kinabalu overlooking beautiful green pastures. However, when you are there make sure you hold your hats and caps well. The cool breeze can steal it from you.⠀ ⠀ The real attraction here is the 199 hectares cattle farm, producing about 900,00 litres of milk per year. It’s a great family getaway, where there are activities such as feeding the calves with bottled milk, feeding goats with grass etc. Before leaving, don’t forget to try their freshly made ice cream, flavoured milk, cheese, pizza and a lot of other products. A visit here is both educational and fun!⠀ ⠀ My pic cc: @shubham.mansingka⠀Rest of the pictures clicked by me. Please don’t forget to see them as well. Something special is waiting for your there 😍😉 ⠀ —————————————————- ⠀ ⠀ If you are a lover of nature there’s no better place than this. ⠀ ⠀ So, when are you visiting the beautiful region of Sabah in East Malaysia? ⠀ ⠀ —————————————————- ⠀ ⠀ PS: This picture is part of my NEW series #WhyNotSabah where I share the offbeat gems and untold stories of man and the wild. Stay tuned for updates.⠀ ⠀ —————————————————– ⠀ ⠀ BTW I am totally in love with the dress I am wearing. Super comfy and perfect for travel. If you like it, do check out @renaloveofficial ⠀ ⠀ ———————————————-⠀ ⠀ ⠀ #amazingborneo #borneo #sabah #eastmalaysia #malaysiatrulyasia #landscape_photography #girlswhotravel #abmlifeiscolorful #travelphotography #dametraveler #landscapehunter #green #summer #nature #sky #mountains #naturephotography #naturelovers #outdoors #summertime #people #mountain #skyporn #skyline #naturelover #natureza #nature_perfection #skylovers #grass

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I use a Sony A7II, which has a full-frame, mirrorless camera. My only tip for taking great photos is to use your imagination; you don’t take a photo but make a photo. Instead of investing more on gear, invest in learning. Also, look around and try to compose the shot in [your] head before pressing the shutter.

Related: Mariellen Ward: The 59-Year-Old Travel Blogger On Being Relevant In The Age of Millennials