Who is Arti?
Listen, in her own words…
“Namaste! My name is Arti Shah Agarwal and I am a travel blogger based out of Mumbai. I love travelling to places that help me discover more of the world and more of myself, both at the same time.
Travel for me has been a way of life and learning ever since childhood. To see the world with my own eyes is extremely inspiring to me as seeing the world in this manner brings me one step closer to my own self because I strongly believe that the world that we see outside, we ultimately carry it within.
Thus, my blog ‘My Yatra Diary' came into existence as the next step to grow naturally. If you read it, you will find that it’s all about my spiritual journeys which stems from my love of learning and exploring and has a lot of first-hand information to help people plan their own yatras.
To take my passion further of helping people with their travels, I am now running a travel company ‘Zen Yatras' which is co-founded along with my husband with a vision to tailor meaningful trips according to the needs of our clients by adhering to sustainable tourism principles.”
Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?
I started my blogging journey in 2009 and have been consistently blogging ever since. In the span of 13 years, my blog has been a profound source of strength, motivation and inspiration to broaden my horizons, think outside the ordinary and share my stories for the greater good of all.
My blog has been regularly acclaimed as one of the top travel blogs in India ever since. It has been featured in many newspapers and magazines like The Hindu, Asian Age, Maharashtra Times, The Times of India, The Speaking Tree, Life Positive and Dainik Jagran. I have won blogging competitions which helped me bag my first international travel to Japan and later to Melbourne on all expenses paid trips. I have collaborated with several tourism boards like Incredible India (Tourism Ministry, Government of India) Gujarat and Maharashtra and several hospitality brands and travel brands like Yatra, Expedia, Times of India, British Airways, Cleartrip, Lufthansa and many many more.
Describe how you first get into blogging?
What happened was that many a times when I sat down with google to plan my trips around stay, eating, etc. I found little. I realised that though a lot of general information such as history or significance on such places might be freely available, critical first hand ground information that is most vital to a traveller was still lacking. This is when I thought, why not share my experiences after I return and help out other people with these very things. This is how ‘My Yatra Diary’ came into existence.
I love traveling to the spiritual places in India or places that are close to nature and then blog about the same. My posts are my travel experiences that cover an array of articles right from where I stayed, what I ate, the places I visited, the people I met, etc. It is almost like embarking on the same journey again!
My main aim is to help people plan their trips better. In addition to all the information, I also make sure to supplement the posts with a lot of pictures in an endeavor to inspire more and more people to pack their bags, set out and travel.
How would you describe your blogging style?
I would describe my blogging style to be both inspirational and informative at the same time. I try my best to club all the information with my own experiential snippets and anecdotes as I would share things while talking to a friend such that it inspires them to pack their own bags and travel. At the same time, I try and pack in enough information such that it helps people in their own travel plans as well.
What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?
Both online and offline networking are equally good to get the word out and about and get people talking. For offline networking, I love participating in travel related exhibitions and events while online networking is majorly through reading other blogs, and being active on travel forums and social media platforms like Instagram and FB.
To sum it up, I would say that to care and be inquisitive about others work without any expectation of getting anything in return is the best form of networking. The things you stumble upon, receive and learn with this type of mindset and networking is simply boundless and amazing.
What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to their readers?
Information sharing on the basis of own experience. When you share your experiences, when you share your perspectives, and share everything honestly, as it is, without any superficiality, you open the door to connection, learning and wisdom which is always welcome and a great service to all those who are seeking it.
How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?
It’s not easy. Especially when you have other responsibilities to manage too, blogging easily takes a back seat. My own pace in blogging has declined over the years. With other mediums like you tube gaining popularity and a general decline in reading blogs, sometimes it’s difficult to stay motivated as well. The only thing that helps then, besides passion of course, is when you know you are adding value by what you are sharing. When you know your work is making a difference, no matter how small, you do make the time for it.
How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
I would love to network with more experienced professionals in the travel industry. I would love to explore different avenues and see how can I add more value in the field of travel. I would love to travel more, learn more, and grow, both on the inside and outside.
What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?
Not believing in myself enough. I have often doubted my own voice, often undervalued the uniqueness that I bring in this big World Wide Web based on the outside noise but over time, I have learnt to see the integrity that I bring on the table, to value myself and not base my worth in the hands of anyone else.
Tell me about your proudest achievement?
Winning all-expenses paid trips to Japan and Melbourne. Both these were super magical moments for me and made me believe that yes, dreams do come true after all!
Who has impacted you most in blogging and how?
My father. He is a traveler, in the real sense of the word and it’s in him, that I have found my inspiration to travel as well. The way he has supported me in my blogging journey has had a huge impact in my life. Not only him, in fact, I have been blessed to have my people around me who have always supported and motivated me in all my blogging sojourns.
What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?
That I have co-founded and now running my own travel company “Zen Yatra”. Though it’s on quite a small scale right now but it’s a step towards fulfilling a vision of helping and serving people to travel in an insightful way.
What do you do in your spare time?
Sleep. As Dalai Lama says, sleep is the best meditation!
Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?
I would like to take My Yatra Diary further, in the real world. I would like to do something meaningful in the real world, in the field of travel and spirituality, two of my core passions that I would like to devote my life to.
What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far?
Choices! Blogging is an unpredictable journey, it is not easy and can also be lonesome sometimes. The opportunities come when they have to come, at other times you have no choice but to live in a vacuum and continue giving your best. With the advent of Instagram bloggers and You Tube vloggers, it’s difficult to keep yourself motivated to continue the written medium of blogging and you wonder if what you’re doing is worthwhile after all. I have had my moments like these and I still have them sometimes, such weak moments are very challenging to me.
Can you name some of your favorite bloggers and explain why they are your favorites?
Without taking any names, I would just like to say that I love my travel community and the blogging fraternity in general.
I have had the opportunity to interact with many many inspiring people through blogging and though many of them have now drifted apart, but the things I have learnt during this blogging yatra of mine are things which I believe, I could never learn from any high-end institute or professional organisation. All the interactions, all my learnings, all the love, encouragement and support by my blogger friends are very very precious to me.
How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?
My brother has been my constant motivation behind me running the blog. He’s been there like a constant rock through all the ups and downs of my blogging life.
Can you tell me about a few sources from where you get products for review on your site?
For me, it’s mostly travel brands, SEO agencies, digital marketing agencies who approach for promoting their travel services and spreading word about their tours through sponsored posts or reviews.
What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?
Social media. As much as I love being connected with my followers but social media doesn’t come naturally to me. As much as I would want to hate it, I cannot deny the fact that SM is such a vital and core integral part of blogging, branding and basic marketing.
What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging?
Blogging has changed me a lot, over the years, for the better. During my yatras, I have found precious gems in those dark nooks and crevices within myself where I once thought I had ceased to exist. It has opened doors to matchless opportunities I never thought were possible, it has helped me meet unique inspiring people from different walks of life I would never have met otherwise, it has made me believe in myself, in the beauty of the world and helped me shape my own perspectives towards life and living.
Did you have any professional help or did you create the blog yourself?
I created the blog myself without any professional help. More than professional help, what actually really matters, is unconditional (personal) support from your family which I believe really helps in laying the foundation for a long, happy and fulfilling innings.
How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?
I try to write at least one quality post per month on my blog. Besides that, I try to be as active as I can on Social Media, especially Instagram. I mainly communicate with my followers through this medium as well.
How much time do you spend blogging?
I don’t have a fixed time table as of now since it’s not possible but I do believe in quality over quantity. So whenever I am with my blog, which is whenever I can, I am with it 100 percent, that’s how I like to do it.
What do you think is the best social media strategy for getting more visitors to a blog?
Instead of thinking about gaining more visitors, think about how you can make an impact and what value you can give to your followers. Gaining can give you short term happiness but giving in this manner will not only give you long lasting fruitful returns for your blog but a good night’s sleep as well! 😉
Would you encourage other people to make their blog?
Every one of us is unique, a one-of-a-kind, special, limited edition! This uniqueness doesn't happen by accident but is a part of God's grand scheme of things.
So yes – if you can accept this uniqueness of yours, and share it with others as well – you will definitely make a positive impact through blogging!
Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?
I don’t know in which category to classify ‘My Yatra Diary’ since this is what I love to do and it helps me earn a little as well. So, in essence, it’s a bit of both but neither as well.
A lot of people think that blogging is an easy way to make money online. Do you have some tips for those people who are interested in making money from the blog?
Blogging is definitely not an easy way to make money online. And if you are starting your blog with this mindset, you couldn’t be far from reality. The biggest tip is to forget about money making, atleast during the initial years of blogging. There are a lot of factors behind the blog which go beyond just numbers and figures. It takes time and effort to build your credibility, trust, reputation, connections and all this can come only through your passion for sharing, with time. We say content is king, and marketing is queen – so if you can strike a fine balance with both, you have a good chance with monetising.