I love you ladies, but isn’t it about time we had a man on the blog? And the first man to appear on my Q&A series is (drum roll) Josh Burrell of LOOKDWN, a blog that covers lifestyle and travel in London and beyond.
If you haven’t caught up with my other blogger Q&As, feel free to check some of them out, including Connie of Connie Consumes, Zoe of The ZRW, Binny Shah of Binny’s Food & Travel Diaries and Catherine Lux of Lux Life.
And if you are an established blogger and fancy taking part in a future Q&A, feel free to get in touch.
But for now, it’s over to you Josh…
Guest Blogger Q&A | Josh Burrell, LOOKDWN
Tell us about yourself
My name is Josh Burrell and I’m a travel blogger from London writing on my blog LOOKDWN (previously Looking Down the Burrell). I grew up in south London and live in Richmond at the moment (recently voted the happiest place in London to live) with my girlfriend Olivia who also helps out with the blog. I’ve been blogging for around 10 years which I think makes me a bit of a veteran, but most of my proper travel posts are pieces I’ve written since I moved to a self-hosted WordPress blog in 2016.
I’m a male blogger which can sometimes make me feel a bit like I’m in a minority but there are a lot of great bloggers of all genders to be discovered out there.
Why did you set up your blog?
Originally, I set my blog up on Blogger as a place to vent and share my thoughts and opinions. I’d mainly share the posts around to friends and family when I was at school and then later, university.
My first proper travel-related posts would probably have been from trips to Glastonbury Festival in 2010 and 2011 but then in 2015 I wrote a proper piece on a holiday to Budapest with Olivia.
What’s your typical week?
I blog part-time and work full-time as a Press Officer in London which does give me a bit of insight into how PR works and contact with some companies and brands.
My job keeps me busy in the day so I don’t do much work with the blog but do keep an eye on social media for updates, opportunities and other interesting blogs. During my lunch break is when I do the most catching up.
I work 9-5 and tend to hit the gym when I can in the evenings on the way home. We then make dinner and watch TV or Netflix for a bit. My girlfriend and I are into our food, so sometimes go out for dinner in the week which allows us to sample new places and tick them off my list on the blog. Weekdays can also be good to go to blog events to network and find out about new brands or products.
In the evenings and over the weekend, I catch up on emails. However, with work emails, personal emails and blog emails it can be hard to keep on top of it all! I also run a local online community for East Dulwich (where I grew up) in south London with a friend so I also look after the Twitter and Facebook pages for that.
I write a lot of ideas in notes on my phone or in notepads to jot down thoughts or things that come to me in the night or on the way home from work when I seem to be the most creative.
What do you love most about blogging?
I love being able to read other people’s thoughts and feelings and share mine with an audience around the world. It’s also quite enjoyable to be able to recommend places I’ve travelled to and then discuss them with other people who have been, or are going to the same destinations.
I’m not in it for the money but have loved some of the unique experiences I’ve been able to have through running a blog – from meeting boxer Anthony Joshua and Olympic athletes at Rio 2016 to swimming with dolphins in Hawaii this year. The dream would be to blog and travel full-time with my girlfriend, one day ticking off new destinations around the world.
What do you think is the key to a successful blog?
I think being true to yourself and acting with honesty and integrity is really important – I even wrote a blog post about this.
Consistency is really important too and something I struggle with. If you’re getting good engagement on your blog, you should keep up the good work and get people to become regulars. With travel writing and blogging, I think you should also try and tell your story differently to give people a different perspective and a reason to read your blog.
Be sure to speak to people and find out new details and see new things the way locals do instead of just being like any other tourist.
You should also be having fun with the blog and I believe that when blogging isn’t fun and exciting any more, it’s fine to take a break or step away.
What kind of content can readers expect from your site?
LOOKDWN.com consists mainly of travel and lifestyle posts but I also cover reviews, events, creative writing and poetry from time to time. I travel a lot with my girlfriend and we write quite a bit about how we travel to cool places on a regular budget.
I always do lots of research for each post I write (coming from a background in Journalism) so I like to think my posts are detailed and hopefully informative with things that people want to read about. My writing style is quite laid back and chatty so hopefully readers can relate to me, or Olivia and I as a travelling couple.
We don’t really use too much editing software so readers can expect lots of fun, natural photos from our travels too.
Tell us something about yourself that people may not know?
I’ve never seen the film Titanic.
What are your favourite travel / lifestyle blogs?
I read so many but don’t check all the travel blogs religiously as it would make me want to go travelling too much! In terms of blogs in the lifestyle and travel sector, I like checking out:
Queen Beady, Twins That Travel, The Story of John Sennett, EppieShepherd, Journeys with Jessica, Escaping Essex and KH Travels, Celinne from The Nomad’s Oasis and Nathan from World Wide Nate also do really creative things with Instagram Stories and are always travelling to cool places too!
What’s your favourite social media platform and why?
I think Twitter is my favourite as it gives me news, travel inspiration and great blogs to read. I have most followers on there after originally being apprehensive to sign up in 2011 thinking 140 characters would stifle me! I used Tweetdeck at an old job and still use it now to stay on top of keywords, schedule posts and easily share things for the Online Community I work on.
Instagram is great for feeding wanderlust and seeing new places to travel but it can be hard to find what you want now with the algorithm, although I think this bothers me a lot less than some other bloggers.
Where are your travels taking you to next?
Olivia and I are off to Paris for a daytrip then next year, we’re heading to an Italian town called Matera for a friends’ wedding – we’re hoping to tie in visits to Bari, Naples, Pompei and the Amalfi Coast while we’re there. We also want to return to the dog shelter Scooby Medina near Madrid where we went last year as it was super rewarding and they’re always in need of volunteers.
We’re hoping to do mainland America at some point as we’ve not been since we were both young and Canada would be great to combine with this. My dream destination is Jamaica as all my grandparents are from there and I’ve never been. But we’d also love to see New Zealand, Australia and Bali.
Thanks so much to Josh for taking part in this week’s blogger Q&A and for sharing your thoughts on blogging. I hope you get to visit Jamaica one day! (It’s one of my fave places). If you want to find out more about Josh, you can follow him on twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook, or of course, visit his blog.
If you’re a travel writer or travel blogger and you’d like to take part in my Q&A series, feel free to get in touch.