We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a little behind-the-scenes glance at what makes the writers of this blog tick. Now, you might be thinking, “Who cares about you ladies? We’re here for the freebies!” We wouldn’t blame you for thinking that. But for those of you who have reached out to us with questions about school, blogging, art history, travel and more, we thought this would be a great opportunity to share a bit about why we blog. So this one’s for you, interested peeps! All others, we’ll try to distract you by pointing you here, here or here for your Florence fix.
We were invited to Blog Hop by the lovely Tiana (who clearly we have a girl crush on, as she made our Instagram list not once but twice!). The idea is a bit like an old-school chain letter, except there are no dire consequences if you don’t forward to 20 people before falling asleep. Instead, you answer a few questions about your creative process and then invite a few more bloggers into the Blog Hop to share their own stories.
You can find Tiana’s Blog Hop here and our answers follow. Then, we’re particularly psyched to introduce you to two blogs that we ourselves read. Ok, andiamo!
Question #1: What are we working on/writing about?
In the Florence for Free world, we are still writing weekly articles about making your limited funds go far when exploring Italy. Most recently, however, we’ve been planning a November trip through Florence and Rome. While there, we’re working with some amazing partners (we can’t wait to share details!) to make the most of our time in Italy. Soon we’ll also be working on setting up some friend dates upon arrival. We’d like to buy some of our own favorite Florentine bloggers un caffè or two so we can get to know their stellar selves in person!
So right now, the writing is business as usual, and planning for the trip is paramount. When we return, we’ll focus on sharing new content that we’ve created in country.
Question #2: How does our work/writing differ from others of its genre?
In broad strokes, our blog falls under the umbrella of an Italian travel blog. What differentiates us is our very clear focus–if we feature a place or event on the site, it has to be free (or it’s such a good deal, it’s nearly so–but only on limited occasions). The downside is sometimes we can’t write about an incredible place in depth, because it always has an entrance fee (hence the lack of posts dedicated to our love for the Uffizi). Nevertheless, that means that the few times a museum like the Uffizi does offer free entrance, we get to make a very big deal about it, and it stands out (remember Hannah’s Uffizi party post?).
To be honest, we have doubted on occasion that we could have enough free things to feature that would keep the site going. But every time we hit that block, we put our heads together and come up with a list of things that we’ve yet to cover. These brainstorming sessions not only give us a content schedule for the next few months, but they also reaffirm our appreciation of Florence and the many resources she makes available.
Question #3: Why do we write what we do?
While living abroad as financially challenged graduate students, we were constantly trolling websites for deals on museums and trips. But no matter how much research we did, without fail once a week we would walk past a free event we didn’t have a clue about. The same was true of plotting our own walks around the city–many of the spots on our itineraries ended up being free to visit. We recognized the need for a resource that summed up all these opportunities that were at everyone’s finger tips but sometimes hard to identify. From that idea, this blog was formed.
That why is why we continue to blog, long distance and after our day jobs, for over two years. Florence for Free is certainly a labor of love, but it is because we love it that we continue to do it.
Question #4: How does our writing process work?
As we said above, much of our brainstorming is done together. We try to keep weekly Skype meetings (we live in different cities!) to generate content ideas and organize next steps for any side projects we might be working on. Then, we alternate weeks for writing, giving us each about 10 days to research, gather details and write on our chosen topics. When writing, we keep in mind who our audience is (hey now, that’s you! we like to keep things friendly around here). Then, we share our article with the other before posting for a final edit and OK. After that, we push it live and wait for your feedback. Feedback really is our favorite part. Not only do we love hearing what you liked (or didn’t), it informs and directs our future posts, so we can get you better content.
Now, for our friends!
Proof that the internet can be a beautiful place: our digital paths recently crossed with the family team behind Twelve Countries, and we were instantly impressed by their approach to life. Emily, Scott, and their son Carter set out to travel the world as a young family in April 2014 and have been blogging about their adventures at twelvecountries.com ever since. Opting to stay in each country they visit for a month, they enjoy getting to know the place, culture, and especially food in more depth than a 3-day visit can possibly warrant. Besides sharing pictures and stories, they offer unique tips and tricks to traveling with a family on a shoestring budget—without checking any luggage.
We’ve got a soft spot for this fellow North American who divides her time between hemispheres (and she keeps our Italian strong with her regular language tips). Sarah Mastroianni is a semi-nomadic freelance writer/blogger and ESL instructor. Italian-Canadian by birth, she strives to split her time between Canada (Toronto) and Italy (Siena), stopping in as many countries as she can along the way. Her blog, Not Just Another “Dolce Vita” mainly chronicles her (mis)adventures in Italy, but includes a few tall tales from her other travels as well. She’ll never say no to gelato or prosecco, and having aperitivo in the piazza is one of her favourite pastimes. Most recently, she’s been working on her professional freelancing site, www.wordistry.ca.
Thanks for hanging with us during that detour! Do you have any more questions for or about us? We’ll host a Q&A in the comments. And we promise, next week, it will be back to all things Florence. Buon weekend!