Today we have Crystal as our blogger in the spotlight who blogs over at The Travelin Chick. Not only will find lots of traveling posts but Crystal can often be found blogging about life with a facial difference – a port wine stain (PWS) birthmark, as well as a condition called Sturge-Weber Syndrome.
Let’s Put The Travelin Chick In The Spotlight
Can you tell our readers about yourself?
My name is Crystal Hodges, and I’m a writer and a speaker. I’m also in college, studying American Sign Language. I love traveling and am constantly seen with a camera, pen, and paper in my hands. I’ve been blogging at The Travelin Chick for the last five years.
How would you describe your blog?
My blog originally started as a “let me tell you about my travels” type of blog, hence the name The Travelin’ Chick. Now, however, I am often blogging about life with a facial difference – a port wine stain (PWS) birthmark, as well as a condition called Sturge-Weber Syndrome, which is when the PWS affects the eye and brain.
I still travel often, so I kept the fun name.
What inspired you to start your blog?
I’ve always been a writer. I received my first journal at the age of 6 and have been hooked to the written word ever since. Starting a blog was a natural step for me, and it has been fun seeing it change and grow along with me.
What topics do you cover on your blog?
Most of my recent blog entries are about my personal experiences with my facial difference. I’ve talked about my selfie going viral on Facebook and entries that I hope encourage others to have confidence in who they are, as they are.
Occasionally I also blog about other life events, like everyday 24-year-old topics.
How do you want to improve yourself and your blog in the next year?
Personally? I’ve been working on going to the gym and getting fit, taking better care of myself.
For my blog, I’m planning to start a section on my blog where I feature different people, opening the door for them to share their stories. I also have some really cool networking opportunities coming up and am praying for new opportunities to share my blog speak in public venues more often.
How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
It’s my goal to make a difference with my difference, and blogging is a great way to reach that goal. Every time I hear from a mother of a child with a similar condition, I’m encouraged. Many people write to me telling me, “I have the same birthmark you, but I wish I could be as brave as you and tell my story.”
So many people with physical differences feel voiceless. I want to encourage others that they do have a voice and that they’re not alone in their journey.
What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Sometimes coming up with blog topics can be difficult, as well as finding the time to write. It’s all about finding that healthy balance between college courses, family, friends, work, and other everyday life.
What is the most positive aspect about blogging?
Connecting with other people. While I’m constantly sharing my story, I love hearing from readers and getting to know their stories as well. I remember going to a birthmark conference, and a mom of a child with a birthmark came up to me.
Crying, she told me a part of her story and said, “I love reading your blog and watching your YouTube videos. Without knowing it, you helped me find ways to tell my friends and family about my daughter’s condition, which ultimately helped me find a way to introduce her to the world.
You were proof that, yes, she has this condition, but she can live a normal life and do great things.”
I mean, what can be better than that?
How much time do you spend blogging?
Ever two weeks I go to my favorite coffee shop, sit down, and write until I have a new entry. I’m constantly thinking of new blog entry ideas in my head, though, like when I’m driving in the car, or am running errands.
Have you always blogged about the same content that you blog about today?
When I started my blog I was a 19-year-old college student who wasn’t even sure if she’d actually keep up with a blog. Now I’m 24 and way more focused with big dreams. My blog didn’t naturally start with its current theme, but it has been a beautiful journey to watch it develop into what it has become.
Would you encourage other people to make their own blog?
Yes! Like I mentioned above, so many people feel voiceless for whatever reason…But the thing is, we all have a story. We all have a voice. Maybe someone is a talented writer and needs to start that blog. Or, maybe someone has amazing musical talent and needs to write those songs.
Find a way to express yourself, find a way to creatively tell your story.
What is the best advice you could give to someone who is just starting their own blog?
From the technical aspect: Invest in a domain name as soon as you can, and make it look as professional as possible from the get-go. I now have a template that shares all my social media links, and I wish I had done that MUCH sooner.
On a personal level? Write about something you care about, something you’re passionate about. As you get older and the years go on, your passions may change and your story will grow. Accept that your blog will grow with you. As you change, it will change too.
I never expected my blog to become about my birthmark, I never realized there was much of a story in having a facial difference. That was unintentional and it totally caught me off guard, but I’m so glad it developed in the way it did.
Be prepared for uplifting comments, but also for negative feedback – and know that both are okay. As long as you’re true to yourself, you’re going to do amazing.
What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog and to engage with your readers?
Connecting with my readers is one of my all-time favorite things. I’m in about 25 Facebook groups dedicated to birthmarks alone, not to mention non-birthmark themed Facebook groups.
I also carry business cards with me everywhere I go, passing them out when people ask about my blog address.
I’ve also been incredibly thankful for friends who read my entries and feel encouraged to share what I wrote with their friends. Their support has been amazing.
Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
I’m a writer and a speaker, but so far blogging is just a hobby. One day I hope to have more time to invest into it, posting more entries a month, making it more of a profession.
A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online? Do you agree?
I’ve not really focused on the money making aspect of blogging, but I’ve heard it is possible to make money.
You can follow The Travel Chick on social media right here