HOW AN 84 YEAR OLD GRANDFATHER BECAME A TOP REVIEWER AND BLOGGER
Most seniors aren’t comfortable with technology and social media. But then, Sabir Shakeel isn’t most seniors. His personal story would make for an incredible movie:
As an only-child in Pakistan, he narrowly escaped death when forced to flee Kasauli in the India/Pakistan Partition war (Aug. 1947) with his father and his uncle. Years later, his brilliant mathematical mind earned him a scholarship to the Athens Technological Institute, Athens, Greece followed by further study in the United States (Univ. of Chicago and Univ. of California at Berkeley) where he met his wife, a similarly brilliant scholar who had also fled her war-torn home of Palestine. They re-located to Canada 50 years ago, where Mr. Shakeel had a 22-year career as a Research Specialist (Provincial Gov. of Ontario) and welcomed three sons and 8 grandchildren.
But long after his retirement and at the ripe old age of 79, Mr. Shakeel taught himself how to blog and to use social media. Today, as a newly-minted 84 (now 86) year old, his achievements over the past 5 years include:
205,000 (now 310,000) global readers on TripAdvisor (aka “the world’s largest travel site”)
Top Ranked ‘Level 6’ TripAdvisor Contributor based on reviews of 35 cities. He’s a ‘TRIPLE EXPERT’ with reviews on Hotels (40 now 53), Restaurants (73 now 89) & Attractions (88 now 102)
17,752+ Reviews on his personal blog focused on senior travel, 80steps.WordPress.com
90,049 Reviews on About.me/gs32ca
As a digital marketer myself, I know how incredibly hard it is to succeed as a blogger and online influencer. Despite Mr. Shakeel’s age and lack of experience with digital media, some important lessons emerge from his personal achievements:
1) Don’t Be Afraid To Create Your Voice:
As Mr. Shakeel said: Since I had never written anything before, I took a challenge to “re-invent myself” from a Research Specialist for 22 years in the Government service to a “Reviewer, Blogger”.
After he wrote a few reviews, it was the encouragement of daughter-in-law #3, Asra, that convinced him to continue. She said that: “I write from my heart felt view, reaction or opinion” of things and places. I took her sincere assessment seriously and promised to keep going if I could.”
2) Share Your Passion on the Right Sites
Mr. Shakeel’s long-held love for photography is perfectly combined with his passion for travel. As he re-tells it:
After my retirement in August 1997 from the Government of Ontario, I was assessing how to keep
myself busy, besides travelling around that included countries (now over 55), cities (585 to date) and places of interest such as historical places (e.g. Wonders of the World), resorts etc. Travelling became a permanent undertaking that also fuelled my photographic interest which started way back when I was a teen, with a small camera (Kodak Baby Brownie). Since 1949 to date, I have had over a dozen cameras. Taking pictures became an obsession.
By combining his dual passions – photography and travel – on a social platform like TripAdvisor that is specifically designed for both, Mr. Shakeel has been able to amplify his exposure and his audience.
3) Be Consistent and Committed
As his readership continued to grow, it inspired Mr. Shakeel to keep going. At last count, he had TripAdvisor readers from 77 countries and 19,000+ WordPress blog posts.
His contributions are only limited by his ability to travel or TripAdvisor regulations on review frequency. In his own words: “If I am travelling, I take full advantage of new places to cover in reviews”. This typically means daily and weekly posts, including dozens of photo shares.
4) Share Because You Care
When asked whether he’s received any personal benefits as a result of being a Top Rated blogger and reviewer on TripAdvisor, the answer is a resounding “no”. Nor does he have advertising on his personal sites — something that many bloggers advocate doing.
His personal satisfaction comes from reaching readers around the world, seeing his reviews translated into multiple languages and receiving comments of gratitude from his readers.
His final words:
“BE HONEST IN YOUR REVIEWS, NO PREJUDICE, NO MALICE. Sheer response is the most rewarding REWARD.”
about.me| SABIR SHAKEELHOW AN 84 YEAR OLD GRANDFATHER BECAME A TOP REVIEWER AND BLOGGER
PHOTOS by: SabirShakeel I Photography