Who is Ketki Gadre?

Listen, in her own words…

“Hi I am Ketki. I am freelance travel writer and sustainable travel blogger, who loves nature, heritage, culture and wildlife. While I am an environmental consultant by profession, my travel blog www.explorewithecokats.com is my passion.”

Can you tell our readers about yourself and your blog?

My blog is my virtual diary that documents my journeys and experiences to various corners of India as well as other countries. Through the storytelling, I inspire readers to travel sustainably and become responsible and ethical travelers. My sustainable tips and suggestions help make travels immersing in a region's history, culture, and wildlife.

Describe how you first get into blogging?

I started my blog in 2017 when sustainable travel was still not the buzzword. My inspiration was my work travel that took me across the world, and I saw tourists behave very rudely towards the environment – such as trashing water bodies, scribbling on heritage sites, teasing animals, or disrespecting culture. I decided to start writing by giving tips to tourists on how they can be green/ethical/sustainable travelers. My motto was if I can do it, so can you!

How would you describe your blogging style?

My blogging style is a mix of storytelling, listicles, and descriptive articles that best portray my experience of a place. A lot of photos back up each article.

What type of networking do you think is better to enhance your traffic to the blog?

Small networking groups on social media with an understanding of the niche and blogging are my favorite go-to groups for advice and marketing my articles. However, in the world of SEO, it is best to write and let Google do the magic.

What do you think is the best service a blogger can provide to their readers?

Descriptive articles that are a mix of personal experiences, things to do, and guidance about the place – basically what will a reader look up on Google, should be available in one article. It is also important to be authentic and write honestly about an experience or a place.

How do you manage time to run your blog efficiently?

Passion drives my blog, and I can find time on weekends or late nights to pen down my experiences. It is a lengthy process – from documenting notes of the guide to taking photos, noting timings and entry fees to each place, striking up a conversation with locals, and then weaving all of this into a story. However, it is fun and extremely salifying to hit the publish button and read about it years later, still feeling the rush.

How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?

I promise myself to post more frequently on my blog, but it is challenging to keep a presence on every social media, too, which utilizes a lot of time. I aim to post every 2 weeks on my blog and at least one monthly print publication.

What was your greatest failure and what did you learn from that?

Comparing myself to others in terms of page views or brand partnerships made me feel low. However, I went back to my roots, wherein I started the blog to share my experience and not expect anything in return simply. Comments and emails from people who read my blog and found it helpful to plan a trip started making me happy. And I have stuck to that rather than getting drained in the rut of numbers.

Tell me about your proudest achievement?

It was when I was featured as the ‘Travel Influencer of the month' in January 2023 by Sustainable Tourism India, an initiative by Incredible India. I was also extremely happy when I wrote for Indigo airline's in-flight magazine Hello 6E!

Who has impacted you most in blogging and how?

I can not mention Shivya Nath, a mindful and sustainable traveler. I also love how Divyakshi Gupta brings out the essence of culture and locals in the most remote locations. Also, the many names in the many Facebook networking groups have motivated and inspired me over the years to not give up. I am thankful to all of them.

What is your greatest achievement outside of blogging?

Being a successful freelance environmental consultant. It gives me the freedom to travel and blog yet achieve both of my passions.

What do you do in your spare time?

I am a major K-drama fan, so I catch up on series or listen to music. I love catching up with friends over coffee and talking about everything in the world.

Where would you like to be in blogging five years from now?

All I want is consistency in writing and my sustainable messages to reach the masses. I want to achieve the objective with which I started my blog.

What was the most challenging moment in your blogging journey so far?

Nailing SEO, and to be honest, I am still struggling with it. The technicalities of the blog take up a lot of time and effort and I find it challenging even after all these years!

Can you name some of your favorite bloggers and explain why they are your favorites?

Shivya Nath – for her honest storytelling; Lakshmi Sharath – for introducing beautiful destinations; Dhritiman Mukherjee – for his stunning wildlife photos and the stories leading to it.

How do you motivate yourself to keep the blog up and running?

I feel extremely excited whenever I visit a new place – it just makes me want to write a version of my experience and share it with others.

Can you tell me about a few sources from where you get products for review on your site?

I don't review makeup and beauty products as most are environmentally hazardous. However, I do collaborate with brands that have products ethically sourced or use recycled products. Most of these requests come from Instagram.

What do you find the most frustrating aspect of blogging?

SEO! It needs a lot of upkeep, and one needs to keep returning to old articles, review, update, and republish.

What is the biggest difference in your life post-blogging?

I subconsciously review every action that I do. I go on a guilt trip if I am unable to find portable water to be filled in my own bottle, and I have to purchase a PET bottle. But sometimes, I do not have a choice.

Did you have any professional help or did you create the blog yourself?

I did it myself, thanks to the many YouTube tutorials. I initially started a free WordPress site but shifted to self-hosted almost immediately. I wanted the domain name for myself! However, sometimes, there are technical issues that a YouTube tutorial can't solve. So, over the years, I sometimes get a freelancer to help me if I cannot sort out an issue.

How active are you on a weekly basis? How often do you communicate with your followers?

I try to write at least 2 articles per month. I reply almost immediately if a question is asked by a follower on the blog or social media.

How much time do you spend blogging?

Upto 4 days a month – that includes research, writing, editing photos, and publishing.

What do you think is the best social media strategy for getting more visitors to a blog?

Giving a short description with a photo on social media generally drives people to go read in detail on the blog.

Would you encourage other people to make their blog?

Absolutely. Writing is liberating – it makes the reader have a vivid imagination. It is a much better platform than making videos. I still read blogs while planning my vacation rather than watching videos.

Is blogging your profession or just a hobby?

Part-time profession

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?

Like any other social media platform, blogs also require consistent efforts and quality content for readers to come to your blog and stay. It is not easy, but it is possible to make money through blogs with consistent efforts. Focus on SEO is my number one tip for anyone starting a new blog.

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