We had the good fortune of connecting with Colleen Lanin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Colleen, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Most importantly, grit is what really has enabled me to build Travel Mamas into one of the world’s most successful personal travel blogs. I truly believe that the people who are the most successful in any field are those who have sticktoitiveness. It’s easy to enjoy your job when things are going well, but it takes grit to keep striving toward goals, even and especially when things are difficult and frustrating. Talent is wonderful but it will only get you so far in athletics, the arts, or business. Those who keep at it after others give up are the ones who win the race!

A love of learning has also served my career well. I asked a fellow travel blogger on a press trip once if she ever attended blogging conferences. She laughed at me and said she already knew everything there was to know and that she had nothing left to learn from others in the industry. My jaw almost dropped to the floor. I would be beyond bored if I felt there was nothing left to learn in any aspect of my life. No matter how good anyone is at anything, there is always room for improvement. I love learning tips from others on how to improve my writing, photography, social media, marketing, SEO (search engine optimization), and more.

Along with a thirst for knowledge, my willingness to change with the times has been key. Especially in a technology-heavy field like blogging, the only constant is change. In the nearly 13 years since I launched TravelMamas.com, for example, I have seen the launching of Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and TikTok. We used to assume people had tiny attention spans when websurfing and, therefore, online stories were kept short and sweet. Now we know that longtail articles perform better in terms of SEO, and that when people are seeking information online, they want ALL the information they can get. When I first started my travel blogging career, I made most of my income from freelance writing, direct ads, and sponsored blog posts. Now, a large portion of my income is from ad network sales and sponsored travel. I am constantly having to rethink and reinvent how I do business if I want to stay relevant.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Some blogs are personality-driven — the blogger is the product and readers are interested in their lives. At Travel Mamas, the reader is the star. My goal is typically to provide the story I would have wanted to find when planning my travels. I go above and beyond to provide the best tips as well as the most complete and reliable information. I’m sure it takes me much longer to create content than it does for many online writers, but I’d rather put in the extra effort and create one really great, helpful, inspiring story than churn out content purely to please Google.

The thing I love to do more than anything else is improving old content. I know a lot of other website editors find this process tedious but I love taking a story written many years ago and bringing it up to today’s standards with better photos, up-to-date information, more details, and more concise, interesting writing. I get a kick out of seeing an article go from an embarrassment to a source of pride.

Creating a financially successful website was definitely not easy. Blogging was still pretty new when I launched TravelMamas.com in 2009 and it took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to make any money pursuing my passions of travel, writing, and photography.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If a friend were coming to visit me in my hometown of Scottsdale, AZ, then I would be sure to provide an itinerary bursting with desert beauty, adventure, relaxation, and delicious tastes.

A hike through the Sonoran Desert is an absolute must in the Valley of the Sun. I love to point out the unusual green bark of the aptly named palo verde trees, warn of the dangers of jumping cholla, and explain how saguaro cactuses conserve water using their shallow root systems. Of course, we would be on the outlook for roadrunners (meep! meep!), cactus wrens, desert cottontail rabbits, javelinas, and other desert critters. After a day of experiencing the desert up-close, I’d bring my friend to Orange Sky at Talking Stick Resort & Casino to take in the brilliant colors of the sun setting over the landscape. We could finish up the evening with some gambling downstairs or head to next door to hit some balls at Topgolf.

For outdoorsy play, depending on the time of year, I’d suggest a Cactus League Spring Training game, a trail ride at MacDonald’s Ranch, or a stroll through the Phoenix Zoo and Desert Botanical Garden. For indoor fun, the Musical Instrument Museum delights everyone’s ears and eyes with its interactive displays. Meanwhile, Butterfly Wonderland’s fluttering beauties and the Odysea’s rotating aquarium always impresses guests.

To get my guest’s heart pumping, I would suggest an adventure that suits their comfort level. We could go on an ATV ride through the dunes, embark on a hot air balloon excursion above the desert floor, or sign up for a Segway tour of Old Town Scottsdale. Afterward, souvenir shopping and a tasty meal in Old Town makes sense. The pretty shaded patio at Olive & Ivy is always a fun choice, but my family’s favorite dining spot in the area is Tapas Papas Fritas for its inventive Spanish small plates.

What better way to relax during a Phoenix Area getaway than with a day at one of the Valley’s renowned spas? Personally, I’m partial to the Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess for its gorgeous private rooftop pool, waterfall grotto, and other swanky amenities. After a morning of pampering, we could enjoy some of the state’s delicious Mexican cuisine at the onsite La Hacienda Restaurant. To top off a fabulous visit, we’d make a trip to Sweet Republic for the best handmade ice cream in the Southwest.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
So many people have contributed to my success! First and foremost, my husband, Phil, has been my biggest supporter and cheerleader, even when I was making barely two nickels and so many others were advising I quit.

Both of my parents have been really supportive, too, which is somewhat surprising since they aren’t big risk-takers themselves. My dad in particular has been very helpful in terms of helping me talk through sticky business situations and editing stories when I ask for his help.

I am also very thankful to fellow bloggers who have shared their wisdom and passion with me over the years on press trips, at conferences, and in life. Sure, there are some bloggers who see the rest of us purely as competition but the vast majority of the fellow travel bloggers that I have met over the years are incredibly giving with their creativity, time, and encouragement. It’s something that I really appreciate about working in this industry.

Website: https://TravelMamas.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/travelmamas/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/colleen-lanin-travelmamas/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/travelmamas

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TravelMamas

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=ZDFjD5kHgSyM-iZUlhPSBw

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/user/colleenlanin

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.