We started this website at the urging of a few very persistent family members. We were newly overseas, and while I thought we were sharing our adventures prolifically via our personal social media accounts, for some it just wasn’t enough. ‘Why don’t you start a blog?’ they said. ‘Why don’t you put your photos online?’ they said. It’s easy. It’s cheap. It will take you two minutes.
And it was. An hour or two of work online, and Drive on the Left was born.
It took us a full year to start posting regularly, to move to a self-hosted URL, to get the website its own social media accounts. For a couple of tech neophytes, it was a slow slog. But our families were happy – they got to see more about our lives from our little site than from sporadic emails and photo sharing, so all was well.
And then I went to a blogging conference and got inspired and motivated and came home wanting to kick butt and take names. My aspirations for the site flew sky high, and Drew, bless him, was a willing partner in crime. Over the next few months, his insane full-time job ended, and he agreed to take on a bulk of the website work, upgrading and managing a redesign, and expanding and monetizing, while I helped during the downtime from my full-time job.
A year after THAT, here we are.
So, what are the great benefits and hurdles of blogging as a couple? Should you attempt it yourself? Steer clear? Let’s sort it all out, shall we?
Benefits with a capital B
Divide and Conquer
By far the best thing about having a partner in blogging crime is that we can divide the work. Amen a thousand times over. As every serious blogger will attest, managing and maintaining a site can be hugely time intensive. My official line is that it’s as much work as you want it to be. But my unofficial line is, hold on tight! To give some context, we have five social media accounts for our site, four of which we actively maintain. One of which requires editing video. We write three posts a week, which require scheduling, writing, photographing, editing. We respond to comments, emails, requests. We write and submit guest posts to different publications.
Oh, and we’re also actively planning upcoming travel for several locations at any given time.
Given the workload, I’m never surprised when I see popular bloggers take on virtual assistants. Or hire out some of the social media management for their sites. Two heads are better than one, and in this way, blogging as a couple is a massive time saver.
Play to your Strengths
A close second benefit in blogging as a couple is that we get to play to our strengths. I am a project manager at heart, a designation I normally despise, but thanks to that innate strength, I know how to get shit done quickly and efficiently. Therefore, I plan our editorial calendar and keep our inbox nice and clean. Drew has the ability to put his head down and churn out content from dawn till dusk. It’s insane. But that’s how we wrote our ebook in a month and how our free Best of the Best: London book was born. The fact that he forgets to shower and eat is a conversation for another time.
Pursue your Passions
While it’s nice that we can spend time doing what we’re good at, another perk of blogging as a couple is that we get to pursue the parts of the business that we really enjoy. I love the photo side of things – taking them, and editing them. Drew has had fun learning how to edit video, so these days he’s doing most of that for us. I also love the learning aspect of the business of blogging, so have participated in a handful of great courses. Drew was done with school the day we graduated so he gets to hear all of my newfound information second hand.
We do share one passion in the business, which is actually planning the travel. I’m not kidding when I say that we spend most of our downtime talking about travel logistics. This morning over breakfast we discussed the best way to get the airport for an upcoming weekend away. Fortunately, given the sheer amount of travel we do, we’re both able to get our fill. I did all the planning for a visit to the Lake District, while Drew has been focused on our plans in San Sebastian.
So that’s all the good stuff. Blogging as a couple means we’re able to get more done, and focus on the parts of the business that we’re good at and that we enjoy. But with more than one voice over here on Planet DOTL, we frequently disagree on big and small stuff.
The Worst Parts of All
Hobby or Business?
Jumping right in the deep end, there’s this. We don’t have exactly the same hopes and dreams for this website and it impacts how we behave every day. In my mind, it’s a beautiful piece of art where we get to share our fun lives, and anything that happens to us because of the site is a great by-product. Drew thinks of the site as a business, first and foremost. He works on the site full-time and if the numbers aren’t going up consistently, or the money isn’t coming in at the rate he wants, he finds it utterly defeating.
Somewhere in my dreams the site (and its various supporting products and partnerships) will be a full-on business. But because it isn’t right now, and because I’m very much locked into my corporate job, it’s easier for me to think about it as a hobby. And it’s easier for Drew to think about it as a business.
And there’s the rub.
The Right Way is My Way
As with any two people working on something, relationship dynamics come into play.
Getting deep here, our relationship is basically like this. Drew is super easy going and laid back. I pretend to be, but am not. As the more dominant and controlling voice, I mostly do what I want and Drew is usually willing to go along with me. Until he isn’t.
When it comes to the website, our dynamic works okay most of the time – my control over the editorial calendar has never caused a disagreement, and Drew is frankly happy to let me have control over the photos and Instagram. But in a few areas, he puts his foot down, and then I feel like I should give him his moment (I mean, if he cares enough to make a stink, maybe he’s right or maybe I’m just being too rigid) and go along with something I would never do.
So far, this has surfaced mostly with brand partnerships and what opportunities we should say yes to. I want to say yes to far fewer requests and opportunities than he does. I don’t want to add pop-ups or ads or anything of the sort to our gorgeous site, while he would consider it. So far, we’ve worked out a tentative truce – Drew is willing to not mess with the aesthetic of the site, but I’ve agreed to let him pursue partnerships that I would typically ignore.
This truce will last precisely until the next interesting offer comes in that pushes the boundary a little further, and causes us to re-establish our various lines in the sand.
Who Cares More?
If we’re being completely honest, the website is probably my baby. I have been reading travel blogs for 10 years. I have lusted after other travelers and their adventures my entire adult life. I’m lucky that my partner in life happens to have the same passion for travel, but the whole act of sharing it, it’s mostly mine.
As we’ve already discussed, Drew currently puts more time into the site. And I care more. It can be a deadly combination, a power struggle. It doesn’t help, by the way, that our email all looks like it’s coming from me (we can rectify this with a Gmail upgrade but haven’t yet), so Drew frequently is emailing as me. An identity crisis if there ever was one.
I’ve come to terms with the fact that at some point, Drew will not want to be the manager of our website, the full-time owner of the work. I’m not sure when that will be, but it will come. I will need to be prepared at that point to take up the slack myself, or change the pace around here to accommodate the number of hours that are available to me.
So that’s that.
The big highs and big lows we’ve experienced blogging as a couple. Over the next couple weeks we will be sharing other blogging couples and where they find success and struggle. For now, if you and your partner are on the fence about starting your own site or sharing the work in a new way, I hope this peek inside the case study that is our life has helped make some sense of the business side of blogging.