The blogger community in Cleveland has always been a strong, connected group. For me, one of my favorite things about being part of that community is connecting with like-minded individuals who are passionate about Cleveland and being their authentic selves.
Amanda from Cleveland Traveler is one of those folks I’ve had a chance to meet through the blogging community. She just recently launched a Cleveland Traveler merch shop (check my Instagram today for a pic of what I chose from the shop) and I wanted to give her a chance to tell you more about that and herself…
What gave you the idea to start Cleveland Traveler?
I’ve been a blogger since 2010, blogging mostly on my original travel blog, A Dangerous Business. That blog is a global blog, though, and covers destinations all around the world. A few years ago, my then-boyfriend (now-husband) and I talked about moving to downtown Cleveland, and I toyed around with the idea of starting a Cleveland-specific website.
We ended up not moving downtown, and I tabled the website. But at the end of 2018, I circled back to the idea of starting a dedicated Cleveland blog. I was spending more time in Cleveland, but didn’t have a great place to share those explorations. Cleveland Traveler was officially launched in January 2019 with the intent of showing off Cleveland to more people.
What have been some of your favorite posts/topics?
The first post I was really excited to write was my Cleveland mural guide, which is updated frequently with new murals and street art as they appear around the city. Art is a big part of Cleveland’s identity, and I love seeing so many diverse voices reflected in our city’s murals.
I’ve also love writing about places in Cleveland that locals may not even know that much about, whether it’s a witchcraft museum or a cat cafe or the Cultural Gardens.
What is something you are hoping to write about but haven’t yet?
I have such a huge list of things I’d like to write about, many of which just aren’t feasible right now with a pandemic going on. But we have more food-specific guides on the list, date night guides, and more.
I also hope to cover all the city’s museums eventually, since Cleveland has so many great ones.
Tell me about your pandemic pivot into merchandise.
Being a travel blogger during a global pandemic is tough! Everything bottomed out in mid-March; the income streams I had that I thought were pretty diversified all dried up at once, especially on my main global travel blog. That blog had been making a full-time income through advertising and affiliate marketing and some brand/destination partnerships, but it all evaporated virtually overnight.
In “normal” years, I would be traveling at least 1/3 of the time; in 2019, I was on the road 40% of the year. So to be suddenly stuck at home indefinitely was a huge adjustment. I decided to do the only thing that made sense, and focused more of my efforts on Cleveland Traveler. This included being more consistent about publishing new content, and also looking into launching some of my own products.
Merchandise wasn’t something that was originally on my to-do list for 2020, but this pandemic has caused a lot of people to pivot and try new things in attempts to save their businesses. I love Cleveland, and I know most Clevelanders love Cleveland, so I figured adding some unique merch to my site made sense. I worked with an illustrator for my first design, and launched the Cleveland Traveler Shop in August 2020.
I hope I’ll be able to grow it with more designs and products in the future!
What are some of your favorite local businesses to work with and why is collaboration so important?
To be honest, I haven’t done a lot of local collabs yet! I’m well versed in them with my other blog, and have worked with travel brands and tourism boards from all around the world. With Cleveland Traveler, though, I’ve focused so far on just writing about topics I really like, and highlighting local businesses that I love regardless of whether we’ve partnered up or not.
Collaborations are something I’d love to pursue in the future, and I have plenty of ideas of how those could look – especially with my new Cleveland merch! But I’m not quite there yet; right now I’m still focused more on just building trust with my audience.
How do you give back to the community, either personally or professionally?
Traveling the world can be a very humbling thing. You learn a lot not only about other cultures and ways of living, but also a lot about your own privileges and biases. Traveling as much as I have in the last few years has also galvanized a lot of my beliefs surrounding things like responsible tourism, and using both my voice and my wallet to support and fight for things I believe in.
On a personal level, I support a handful of both local and international organizations regularly that give back to communities in need. I encourage my readers/followers to give to specific causes when they can, and try to provide info on where/when to make those donations, whether it’s to a local food bank or an international humanitarian fund during a crisis.
At the business level, my travel blogs both fall under an umbrella LLC, and with that I do things like carbon offsetting annually. In 2019, I started donating 1% of profits from destination/brand partnerships to different causes fighting climate change.
And in 2020, since I’m not traveling as much, I’m doing what I can to volunteer my time and services locally, too. One good thing about being “grounded” during the pandemic has been getting the chance to get involved in things locally that I normally wouldn’t be able to do. If you’re in Summit County, you may see me working the polls in November, for example!
***Disclosure: I received a complimentary merchandise item of my choice from the Cleveland Traveler shop. As always, all opinions are 100% my own.***