The State of the Blog (and Business)

This summer marked ELEVEN YEARS of blogging! For me blogging has never been about traffic or big numbers. It’s about sharing ideas and making connections. I’ve always said my blog is my best business card, and as I put together this post that statement rings more true than ever, even when posts were not as regular.  This week I had lunch with my friend Vahram (whose work I first featured back in 2011!) which was a good reminder of all the good things that have come from having my blog. I think it’s pretty amazing to think about all the inspiring people I’ve met through this little “side project” and the awesome opportunities it’s led to. I’m excited to get back to it a bit more, and start building out some more ideas…

So I thought I’d share what I’ve been up to when I haven’t been blogging, and a couple exciting things to put on your radar. (Spoiler alert: I’m starting a newsletter + there’s an opportunity for you to jump on a [free] call with me!).

A page from my summer notebook. I feel like the diagram I created above will be a perpetual work in progress.

As part of my summer travels unplugged (inspired by this post) I used the time to reflect a lot around what it is that I do, and more importantly, what I wanted to do. I kid you not, the best idea came to me when I was painting a canoe. This was my one task of going to Maine, having to re-live my last visit back when I was 9 years old!

Maine canoe painting: c. 1990 + 2018 

Not distracted by my phone (I didn’t get reception, so it wasn’t even an option), my thoughts were redirected. Even though I’d been living my business since 2011, it took painting a canoe to realize that I’m no longer focusing solely on the intersection of travel and design, but also that entrepreneurship is the third key component (see top Venn diagram; I already updated it from my initial post to “entrepreneurial spirit” which I feel captures it better). I realized this has woven itself naturally into the work I do, but moving forward it’s something I’m going to be more intentional about. Here’s some fun stuff I’ve been up to recently. It’s so crazy to think everything here (with the exception of the canoe) happened thanks to my blog or social media. That’s awesome!

I (and my tours) make a cameo in the September 2018 issue of Inside Out magazine.

In September my Navigate Paris tours were featured in the popular Australian interiors magazine, Inside Out. It was such an honor to be included, and in such good company. I started offering my tours through on my own two years ago, and it’s been cool to see them getting noticed. I even had my first booking from the article two weeks after it came out! I also started a @navigateparis Instagram account if you want to follow a feed from me that’s devoted to snapshots Paris. I’m actually toying with putting together an e-book of my tours as well.

Renée put the cutest touch on her Instagram photo after our meeting.

I have my 5+ year old Skillshare map making class to thank for connecting Milwaukee/L.A. based illustrator Renée Graef to me. She took my map course (as well as Art of the Travel Poster), which helped her on some maps she was working on for her book, and is also how she discovered my work. She came to Paris this fall (her first trip to Europe!) and booked a creative consultation with me to talk about her new book, Lulu and Rocky in Milwaukee, which launches in November. I love how two fictional characters can help connect us through travel. Renée also was the illustrator of the Kirsten books in the American Girls dolls series that I grew up on, so it was such a treat to be able to work with her.

I’ve actually been working towards doing more creative coaching and consulting for a couple years, but I still haven’t had a chance to update it on my website yet. I’m hoping to update in the coming months with more offerings, but don’t hesitate to reach out if this is a service you’d be interested in knowing more about! I’m also looking to create a new offering that combines my tours and coaching in one, for a deep-dive day of inspiration as we work through your own project(s)! I’ll probably start blogging more business over there. And I want to create some online creative workshops too (but once I recover from everything I did in my next update below 😉). Be sure to sign up for my new newsletter linked below to get all the updates!

Behind the scenes teaching UX design in the OpenClassrooms video studio. It was so fun working with professionals to take my courses to the next level!

One of the other reasons for the relative silence on my blog is the past several years have been consumed with creating content for clients. While I learned a ton, it took a lot of energy I’d typically give towards my own endeavors. I just wrapping up one of the biggest and most rewarding projects I’ve ever worked on: developing masters level UX design curriculum, projects, and related courses for OpenClassrooms, which is Europe’s largest online education platform. Co-founder Mathieu Nebra started the company when he was 13 and he wanted to learn how to make a website. He had to teach himself the hard way, so he built a platform to share what he learned with others, but in a much easier way to grasp than the technical books he read. Fast forward to today, and it’s OpenClassrooms. You can watch the courses for free, with a membership, or work towards a diploma with mentor by your side.

While working on my path I lived and breathed user experience (UX) design, and got to build a lot of new skills, from developing a deeper understanding of psychology, metrics & analytics, content strategy and UX writing, and the importance of design research and talking to users, to how to speak with a teleprompter (not as easy as it looks)! To say I geeked out was an understatement. 🤓 I learned that when you teach a subject you learn it at the next level. Making videos that were 2-minutes or less added to the challenge, and made it even more rewarding in the end. The other good news is that now that this project has wrapped up, I can’t wait to adapt everything I’ve learned into future projects!

When I wasn’t busy teaching or writing, I kept myself busy reading!

Over the summer I was able to have a lot of fun, not just work. The strangest thing was meeting people who had been long time fans of my blog, only to discover it years later. There are two pictured in the photo below (one was the talented photographer!). It touched me when they told me how helpful my blog was in their own journey. This was amazing to hear, because as a blogger and creator we don’t always get feedback for the work we do. It was also a good reminder of how nice it is to connect with readers. So this is a friendly reminder to say, don’t be shy when it comes to telling someone you appreciate their work. (I’m working on being better about it myself from responding to newsletters, or tweeting my favorite podcasts and tagging the creator).


Posing during my friend Haleigh‘s birthday at a chateau (there are an excess in this country!). Captured by Katie of The Travelling Light.

Now that my focus has shifted back to my own projects/business, I’m all ears for what you’d like to hear more about from me. (Leave a comment below, or send me a tweet!). I’ve also been having fun with the AMA [ask me anything] question feature on Instagram Stories—they’re saved to my highlights if you want to check them out. I plan on making it a semi regular thing. I also like how your question is likely something that others were curious about too. I’m still figuring out what to focus on for my main content, but you can count on me for some random Stories (including entertaining/depressing updates of my never ending hallway renovation 😂).

In other exciting news is I’m (finally) starting a newsletter! No promise of exactly when the first one will go out, but the more enthusiasm I see, the faster it will happen 😉. The newsletter will be an extension of my overall brand and professional work, and not just limited to Prêt à Voyager travel style posts. I’ll be sharing stories from my own experiences, insights from podcasts/books/movies/articles that have inspired me, introducing you to awesome people, interesting things happening in travel and design, and cool opportunities you may want to take advantage of. There’s no set plan, so join me on the journey to see where it takes us. (Don’t hesitate to let me know what kinds of things you’d like to see from me in your inbox too). 💌 SIGN UP FOR THE NEWSLETTER HERE! 💌

And in even more exciting news, I’d love to connect and chat with YOU! Inspired by something a Twitter friend did recently, I’ve decided to open up a handful of slots in the next couple days, so sign up while there are openings. This will be an unstructured call and we can talk about anything you’d like to talk about. Just click the Calendly link to sign up! First come, first served. Consider it your reward for reading this far. Don’t be shy, I look forward to connecting! 👋 (UPDATE: Fully booked. That went better than expected and was SO MUCH FUN! Thank you to all who were willing to take the risk and join me on this little experiment!)


The conversation continues on Twitter + Instagram as @pretavoyager.







  • This is all wonderful news. I’m really inspired by all the amazing things you do, and I’m excited to actually talk with you on Monday! Wow. :) Thank you so much for the offer.

  • October 26, 2018 at 7:05 am // Reply

    Hi Anne,
    such an adventurous idea! I signed up for today’s 10am slot but haven’t received an email with the sign-in details for the call. So hopefully will speak to you soon :)

  • anne,

    i hung up at my blogging hat a few years ago but you have continued to be such a source of inspiration for me—someone to aspire to personally and professionally. i love how you have parlayed this “side project” into something so big and how it has connected you to so many people. being outside the blog world now, that is the one thing i miss most—regularly connecting with talented women like you who inspire me to be and do better. since discontinuing my blog in 2016, it’s been so easy to slip into a nearly chronic sense of aimlessness and i’m constantly trying to shake myself out of it. but every time i read something from you or hear about your newest endeavor, it puts wind back into my sails and has me rethinking my potential. thank you for sharing your adventures and ideas! it really is appreciated.

    —caroline, aka the blogger formerly known as greedy girl

    • Lovely to see you here, Caroline! If you look in my recent archives I maybe averaged 4-5 posts a year. I definitely got side tracked and a bit disillusioned at time. Still, I can’t help but appreciate the value of my blog as a tool for me to explore ideas (share them), and connect with others. Being more intentional moving forward as I shift back to my biz. You never know who may see it! And it’s not a numbers game.

  • p.s. do you have a list of your most useful or favorite reads somewhere? several you show here are already in my collection but i can’t make out a few of them. thank you!

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