The most important thing I learned at BlogHouse

Caution: It’s about to get personal.

What did you learn at BlogHouse? I’ve been asked this question numerous times since attending the four-day workshop that ended last week. Honestly, I learned so much that I’m still trying to process it all. My head is still spinning from the incredible amount of information bestowed upon us, and I am eager to start getting (more) serious about this blogging business.

Built into our workshop itinerary was one-on-one time with the pros from Navigate Media Group. We used this time to discuss the development of our brands and our niches. I was struggling with choosing a particular category in which to place myself. I’m a mom, yes, and I travel with my kids, so am I a family travel blogger? But I also travel without my children – with my husband or with friends. Do I still fall into the family travel category? It was at this point that Ayngelina, the pro with whom I was meeting individually, said to me, “You know, you’re more than a mom.”

I wasn’t sure how to take Ayngelina’s statement at first. I mean, being a mom is my most important role; it’s my highest priority. Everything else is secondary. However, motherhood, my children, and my family in general are not ALL that I’m about. I have interests and passions that stretch beyond the maternal routine. Thanks to overwhelming support from my husband and other family members, I am able to pursue my passions while knowing that my children are being well taken care of. Ayngelina’s comment was beginning to make sense.

So, I’ve been thinking… since I am more than a mom, who am I exactly?

Reflecting at Rio Fortuna, Costa Rica

Reflecting at Rio Fortuna, Costa Rica


I am a travelerThis goes without saying, I know. I am the person behind a travel blog, after all. I guess for business purposes my description needs to go beyond just “traveler”, but as I’ve already expressed, I don’t know that I fully qualify as a “family traveler”. I’m not exactly a solo traveler, nor am I a luxury traveler. So, for now, I am just a traveler and I like it that way.

I am a creatorI’m not comfortable referring to myself as a writer because it’s not all that I do. Also, I’ve learned that one need not be a prolific writer in order to be a successful travel blogger. So what I do is create. I create blog posts about my travel experiences which include photos that I’ve also created. In my personal life, I create (as best I can) a loving and nurturing environment for my family. I like to think that I create fun, too, for my friends and family, and in doing so create happy memories.

The most important thing I learned at #BlogHouse

Creating, the old-fashioned way

I am a ChicagoanBorn and raised in Chicago (NOT the suburbs), it’s still where I live. It is part of my identity. I am fiercely loyal to and protective of my hometown, and I love that it warmly welcomes me whenever I return from my travels.

I am a beer drinker“Craft beer enthusiast” is more like it. My famous line is, “You know how fanatical some people are about wine? That’s how I feel about beer.” I don’t drink just any beer with the sole intention of getting drunk. Oh no. I seek out finely crafted beers wherever I go, and even at home in Chicago. I appreciate the science behind the brewing process and enjoy trying new (to me) brews. Sampling local beers is always a priority when I travel, and hanging out in pubs is, in my opinion, the best way to meet the natives.

The Most Important Thing I Learned at #BlogHouse

Haus der 100 Biere, Berlin

I am a sports fanaticI am no casual fan; watching and playing sports has been a significant part of my life. Growing up, sports – hockey in particular – was the glue that held my family together and some of my happiest memories are from trips we took with my brother’s hockey team. Furthermore, I believe that organized sports teach us the concepts of loyalty, discipline, teamwork, and commitment – virtues to live by every day.

Does all this even answer the question of which niche I should be associated with? Probably not. But along with SEO and site design, I’m still figuring it out. One thing I know for sure, though, thanks to BlogHouse, is I’m “more than a mom”.

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32 Responses to The most important thing I learned at BlogHouse

  1. Susan June 20, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    You are a friend too!

    • Francesca June 20, 2014 at 9:25 am #

      ‘Tis true, Susan. I am, thank you!

  2. Amber Degrace June 20, 2014 at 8:06 am #

    So good. Love it, Francesca. Life is all about being able to accept personal evolution and in that way we learn and grow.
    Amber Degrace recently posted…The Non-Definitive But Delicious Guide: Where To Eat In Austin {Rainey Street Edition}My Profile

    • Francesca June 20, 2014 at 9:31 am #

      Thanks for your support, Amber. xo

  3. Jo Fitzsimons June 20, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    BlogHouse can be a soul searching time, that’s for sure. Glad you got to experience it.
    Jo Fitzsimons recently posted…Varadero Beach Resorts in Cuba: The Good, the Bad and the UglyMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

      And also very encouraging. I’m glad I got to experience it, too.

  4. Ayngelina June 20, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    It was so great to get to know you in Chicago, you took my brash approach like a trooper 🙂
    Ayngelina recently posted…How Far Would You Travel to Eat Iconic Canadian FoodMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Thank you for all the help and advice, Ayngelina. I appreciate the honesty and the brash approach; I’d go the same route if the roles were reversed!

  5. Alouise June 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm #

    Hi Francesca. This was a beautiful post, and it seems like Bloghouse helped you out a lot. I can relate as well, for me Bloghouse also made me step back and reevaluate who was and what I wanted. It’s a process, but it seems like your well on your way.
    Alouise recently posted…Why Visit Edmonton, Alberta This SummerMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Thank you, Alouise. There’s still some work to be done but, as you said, it is a process 🙂

  6. Katie June 21, 2014 at 10:52 am #

    Didn’t know you were a craft beer enthusiast – do you know Kim Leshinski and Hail to the Ale? If not, you should!
    Katie recently posted…Downtown Chicago in PhotosMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:06 pm #

      I don’t know Kim and Hail to the Ale – I shall remedy that now!

  7. the lazy travelers June 21, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

    love this! it helps explain why we’ve always felt we could relate to you, despite the fact that we are childless pseudo-new yorkers whose knowledge of ice hockey comes exclusively from the might ducks… it’s your traveling beer swigger side!! xo

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

      The admiration is mutual, loves!

  8. Traveling Ted June 22, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Even though I am not a mom and do not have a family, I have struggled with a similar concept. My niche is outdoor adventure travel, but I feel my traveling is much more than that. The word backpacker describes both a hiker and a person who travels in that mode overseas. I do both, so I would not want to be pigeon holed into either category. I also occasionally like to live it up and get a comfortable hotel room and swim in a pool. Embrace all of your interests and use them on your blog. You don’t have to only write about family, being a mom, or even always about travel. You can always find a way to link it back to travel or family if you feel it necessary. Great advice from Ayngelina. You forgot to mention about your amazing taste in music 🙂
    Traveling Ted recently posted…A post hike dip in the Big Bend Rio Grande hot springsMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

      Ah, yes, my taste in music… I easily could have included “music appreciator” on this list. Thanks for being so understanding and supportive, Ted!

  9. Amber June 24, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    The concept of a niche has eluded me for 2 years. With the blog name With Husband In Tow, I thought it would be more “coupley” but it really isn’t, and I enjoy writing about traveling, eating, expat life, luxury stuff, budget, blogging, yoga, escaping the corporate world. What I learned, though, is that I can have a niche, but I can still write about all of this other stuff. Because there is not one single label for any of us….

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:10 pm #

      You nailed it, Amber; there is not one single label for any of us. Yet we’re constantly reminded to brand ourselves if we want to be successful. Herein lies my struggle.

  10. Lindsay @ Frugal Frolicker June 24, 2014 at 9:42 pm #

    I am experiencing similar feelings post-BlogHouse – it’s comforting to know we’re not alone here! I feel like it’s all a part of the process. Finding your niche isn’t something where you can have an epiphany on cue – it takes time, it takes a bit of evolving. I’m hoping that if I just keep writing about what I like and what I’m passionate about, I’ll inch closer to figuring it out. Eager to see where your niche searching takes you!
    Lindsay @ Frugal Frolicker recently posted…The Best Views of New York CityMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      Thanks, Lindsay. You’re doing some great stuff yourself.

  11. Mindi June 24, 2014 at 10:17 pm #

    I look forward to drinking craft beer with you in Philadelphia!
    Mindi recently posted…Girl & the Goat – All Roads Lead to Randolph StreetMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

      Ditto, Mindi! Hopefully soon!

  12. Brad Bernard June 26, 2014 at 8:09 am #

    I love this, great post. My experience at BlogHouse was amazing, so much great advice, such cool people, it’s so nice to connect with like-minded people.
    Brad Bernard recently posted…The 50 Best July Travel ExperiencesMy Profile

    • Francesca June 26, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Thanks, Brad!

  13. Erin - The World Wanderer June 29, 2014 at 10:22 am #

    I’m in love with this post, and you, of course! You ARE so much more than just a mom, I haven’t even seen you in your mom role, well, only partially. You are all those things above, but you are also an incredible person and a great friend. I know that even after just one week with you. I am so happy that this travel blogging thing has brought us together because I really feel blessed to even know you. 🙂
    Erin – The World Wanderer recently posted…The CKGS Saga Continues.My Profile

  14. Karl June 30, 2014 at 6:54 am #

    I love this post. It feels like a pep talk for anyone!

  15. craig zabransky (@StayAdventurous) July 2, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    I love that you are all this… and please know you are very funny too… hope we can travel together again soon… stay blogging, Craig

  16. Sherry Ott July 7, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    You’re going to have to add a beer mug and a soccer ball to that keychain logo of yours now! So fun to meet you at Bloghouse!

  17. Kristin July 7, 2014 at 10:06 pm #

    Love this! Had so much fun getting to know you at bloghouse!
    Kristin recently posted…Behind the Curtain at BlogHouseMy Profile

  18. Shere September 6, 2014 at 2:58 pm #

    I’m also struggling in the same point. Well, I’m just a “newbie” in motherhood and getting the transition from couple travel to family travel, but as you I feel motherhood is very important but not the only thing 🙂

    Shere y Paul

  19. Holly @ Brave Little Cheesehead April 1, 2015 at 9:21 am #

    Hi Francesca!

    This is an awesome post. It sounds like the experience was truly invaluable and inspiring! I love how you focused on one thing that someone told you that really stuck. I had a similar experience at WITS this weekend (so bummed we didn’t get to meet!) when Theresa of Tremendous Times said that being a travel blogger isn’t a title you have to earn, it’s just something you are. I loved that! Might I reach out to you directly to ask more questions? I am interested in applying for BlogHouse 2015, and would love to get your perspective. Thanks!
    Holly @ Brave Little Cheesehead recently posted…9 Tips to Fly like a ProMy Profile

    • Francesca April 2, 2015 at 2:26 pm #

      Hi Holly! Thanks for stopping by. How did we not get to meet at WITS last weekend?!

      Yes, please feel free to get in touch if you’d like to talk more about BlogHouse!

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