Courtney Steltenpool is the mind behind courtystelt.com. Although she's relatively new to the scene, Courtney is already making big waves with her blog. We caught up with Courtney this week to learn more about her unique approach to travel writing.
- Name: Courtney Steltenpool
- Age: 27
- Blog: courtystelt.com
Tell us about your travel blog. What makes it unique?
My travel blog is very new, and has only been live for about a month and a half. I’m still trying to find my bearings but I believe that my narrative style writing is what makes my blog different to others. I don’t like just writing about my experiences – anyone can do that. I like telling a story that evokes emotion from my readers. I want them to feel like they experienced my story just as I did, and that is why I use a narrative style format. I do have some posts, however, which deviate from this format but I have found that they don’t resonate as well with my audience. I also like to write like myself, rather than changing my style to suit the status quo. Close friends have told me that reading my posts feels like they are hearing my voice tell the story, which is exactly what I want to achieve! Ultimately, I want to inspire people to travel through my stories.
How did you get into travel blogging?
I’ve wanted to start a travel blog for a long time, and to be honest it is something that I should have done a long time ago. I have always enjoyed writing and obviously I enjoy travelling, but it wasn’t until about two months ago when I realised that I needed a hobby, and that I wanted to start writing about my adventures. I have so many hilarious stories from my travels, and wanted to tell them! So I just did it, despite having some reservations about my writing not being good enough, or what people might think. Like I said, it’s still early days but with every post I feel as though I’m finding my voice.
How do you balance a 9-5 with being a travel blogger? How much time a week do you spend blogging?
It’s definitely not easy to balance, especially considering that I commute 90 minutes each way to work, meaning I do about a 12-hour day door-to-door. I’ve recently gotten a new job closer to home though, which will mean I will have more time to commit to blogging. Until then, I use my time on the train during the commute to write, or I jot down ideas or notes whenever an idea hits me so I can jump right into a story when I have time to write. It’s a busy lifestyle!
What is the main goal with your blog? Money? Free travel? Big audience?
Obviously, all of the above are long-term goals of most travel bloggers, aren’t they? It would be incredible if my blog started making money or providing me with free travel, but I know that those kinds of dreams unfortunately aren’t realistic for everyone! I think that my main goal would be to create a large enough audience to start seeing some benefits, but mainly I want to have a life where I am able to work, write and travel without being affected by time or financial restraints. I also do a bit of freelance social media management so it would be great to further that so I am making enough income to work as a digital nomad and write about my travels simultaneously… that’s the dream!
You have a background in marketing and communications. What techniques do you use to promote your blog? What has been most successful?
At this stage, social media is a dominant force in the blogging industry, and I’m lucky that I have plenty of experience using social media for business thanks to my background in marketing and communications. I also have a Masters in Strategic Marketing, which is definitely helpful when it comes to creating a strategy for my travel blog! I am also starting to employ techniques to my own social media accounts that I know work when it comes to growth and reach, as well as exploring other social networks that I’m not entirely familiar with (such as Twitter), but Instagram is definitely my strong point.
You seem to be dominating Instagram right now. Do you find Instagram more effective than Twitter, Pinterest or other social media? Why?
Thank you! While I wouldn’t say I’m dominating Instagram, it is definitely my largest audience and therefore gives me the widest reach when it comes to getting people to visit my blog. That being said, I have been growing slowly but steadily on Twitter, and am interested to learn more about how I can utilise it to grow my audience overall. I definitely feel more comfortable using Instagram, and have been using strategies and techniques that I have developed through my professional experience to help grow my brand. It’s still early days, and sadly social media is very saturated with travel bloggers at the moment, so it is really a matter of figuring out a way to stand out from the crowd.
What travel destinations are on your bucket list?
What travel destinations aren’t on my bucket list would be a more appropriate question, I think! If I had to choose, I’d say Italy is quite high on my priority list. I am itching to explore the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre, as well as spend some time in some of the country’s major cities, like Venice and Florence. Heading over to Canada and Alaska is also something I’m quite keen to do soon, as the wilderness over there seems incredible. Also, Africa is a place that I have wanted to travel to for a long time, so I’d have to put Kenya and Tanzania on the bucket list too!
Have you had any close-calls or dangerous moments while traveling?
Luckily, I’ve never had an experience overseas where I’ve had a close-call or any exceptionally dangerous moments. That being said, I am yet to travel anywhere that is considered a dangerous place to visit! I did have a few uncomfortable moments travelling through the southern states of the USA with my best friend, who is also a female, but other than that I am lucky to say I haven’t encountered anything serious!