Editorial: January 2016

Alright, here we go: your monthly update on all that’s going on behind the scenes, as well as a peak at plans for the coming month and beyond.

Kukeri-Surva 2015-27
‘Kuker’ masks in Pernik, Bulgaria.

 

2016 Travel Plans

I spent the vast majority of 2015 writing… but now I’m getting itchy feet, and this year I hope to do a lot of travelling. New places too, places I’ve never been to – though actually putting those ideas into solid plans is always a bit of struggle. I’m not very good at planning ahead, so instead I tend to gather a bunch of destinations together and then pull ideas out of the hat at the last minute.

Anyway, here’s what that list looks like for 2016:

Middle East: Iran, Turkey
The Balkans: Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo
Scandinavia: Finland, Sweden, Denmark (and Freetown Christiania!)
Africa: South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland
Iberian Peninsula: Morocco, Spain, Portugal
Former USSR: Belarus and Ukraine

Of these trips, two are guaranteed to happen: I’ve just booked my place at a conference in Stockholm in July, and so I’ll definitely be making it up to Scandinavia this year. An intense nine-country tour of the Balkans is also going to go ahead – as it’ll form the basis for my next photo-book of communist monuments.

And as for the others? Well, we’ll see how it goes. I might even end up somewhere completely different… but these are the countries that I’m looking at in particular right now.

Haiti Disaster Tourism 11
A street market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Completely unrelated – I just like this photo.

 

Tours

My 2016 tour schedule is now up and running. Rather than expand too much this year, I decided to stick with what worked in 2015 – with two tours, happening in September and October.

I’ve made a few changes to the itinerary though; dropped a couple of destinations, and added some others instead. These tours are a day longer too, and there’s the option of an add-on day of rock climbing.

It’s all looking pretty exciting – and don’t forget, I’m offering various discounts to people who are already supporting me through Patreon.

Bulgaria Arkitektour OCT15
Visiting the Monument to the Three Generations at Perushtitsa, Bulgaria.

 

Instagram

Since my last editorial, I decided I probably ought to bite the bullet and start an account on Instagram. It’s not something I had ever expected to do – though in the end I got to thinking that as I make a living from sharing images, it probably didn’t make much sense for me to be ignoring the largest image-sharing platform in the world.

And I’ll admit, I’m sort of enjoying it now.

If you’re on Instagram too, you can come and make friends with me here.

Instagram
This is the kind of thing you can expect from me on Instagram.

 

Patreon

So I’ve been reviewing my page on Patreon, and I decided it was time for an update.

When I first got started on this platform – and when I wrote the text for that page – it all seemed very optimistic. I never really believed that my Patreon page would come to much, and back then I felt as though I was simply begging for money without having a lot to offer in return. Well now, a year on, I feel like the situation has completely changed.

For a start, these days I’m being sponsored in the region of $200 per post. That’s just incredible, it’s such a huge show of support and it means that I’m able to prioritise writing blog posts over taking on copywriting work for clients… I feel like I can really justify the time spent on writing high quality, regular posts now.

I have been putting more thought into my reward system as well, and I’ve made a few changes to what I’m offering people in return. Here’s the revised structure I’ve come up with:

$1: From now on, these Editorials are not just limited to people with full access to The Exclusion Zone. These updates are going to be open to everyone, no matter how much they sponsor me.

$3: Editorials, plus voting on posts – I had promised my $3 sponsors the vote, but that didn’t really work out so well when these votes were announced in editorial posts shown only to the $5+ people! Anyway, that’s been fixed now.

$5: The full package. Editorials, voting, and of course all the other treats that come with access to The Exclusion Zone. Don’t forget I’m including a 5% tour discount as well, in this bundle.

$10: All of the above – but that 5% tour discount becomes a 10% discount. In this package I’m also offering tour advice. It’s another thing that sounded kind of vague and woolly when I first wrote it, one year ago, but since then I have sat down with various people and helped them to draw up detailed travel itineraries based on my own experience and research. So don’t be a stranger – if you’re planning a trip, I’ll be happy to offer whatever tips, advice or planning services I can.

$15: I’m still struggling to find a suitably epic way to thank these people. Suggestions are welcome!

Aussie Abandonments-Box Hill Brickworks 20
Recently added to The Exclusion Zone: Some massive industrial ruins in Australia.

 

Upcoming Posts

I was quite happy with the last two posts – Storming the Bastille and WMDs in the Florida Keys – both of them using photo sets that had been sitting around on my hard drive for a long time now. It feels good to finally get these stories out there in full!

My plan is to publish another two before the end of January. The next will be from Bulgaria, looking at the traditional Kukeri festival when men parade the streets dressed in home-made monster costumes. That’ll be a lot of fun – and after that, I’m planning to write up my account of Dark Tourism in Kosovo.

Once those are done though, we’re going to be reaching the time for another vote… so let me know in the comments below which one of these you’d like to see in February:

Getting Lost in the Forests of Kazakhstan
3 Abandoned Military Bases in Britain
Disaster Tourism in Haiti
Exploring the Chernobyl Reactors

I’ll write one of the above four options in February… and just so you know, the other three posts I’m currently thinking about writing up will involve Battersea Power Station, a Soviet Ghost Town in Latvia and an article about the socialist freemasons of Cuba. Should be a fun month!

Skrunda-Preview
Skrunda-1: a Soviet ghost town in Latvia. Full story coming to you in February!

And that’s it for now. As ever, feel free to share any feedback / comments / suggestions / criticisms.

You can comment below, or send me a message.

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