When You Fall Off The Tree, Climb Right Back Up

You may remember a couple of months back when I excitedly announced my position as channel leader (editor) of the Tree.com Travel blog. The Travel channel was one of 14 blogs on a social media site launched by the company that owns Lending Tree and RealEstate.com. This was my dream job. But not all dreams are meant to last forever.

Pink Tree

For this dream job, I worked out of my house and set my own hours. I hired and collaborated with about a dozen of my favorite travel bloggers to create daily content for Tree.com. What travel blogger wouldn’t want to write for a national site, choose the stories to feature, and edit awesome travel posts written by leaders in the travel blogging world? After landing this gig, I was even featured in a local magazine about how Blogging Can Lead to New Career.

I was ecstatic (truly, that’s not an exaggeration) when Tree.com Travel was named one of the 11 Best New Travel Blogs of 2011 by travel journalist Christopher Elliott (of National Geographic Traveler and syndicated fame) on his world renowned blog, Elliott.com.

Just a few days after the Elliott story, Tree.com announced it would no longer be paying for content on the site. That meant all of the channel leaders and all of our contributors were out of work, effective that day. Despite the lack of PR or advertising by the parent company (not even a press release!), Tree.com was receiving over 100,000 monthly visitors just a few months after going live. As a contract employee, I was looking forward to at least seven more months of employment but then abruptly at the end of June, the dream was gone.

Big, deep, heavy sigh. What to do now? Looks like I am back to a space of confusion and flux similar to when I wrote Going Confidently in the Direction of My Dreams in 2011. I’ve got some big ideas in the works. Stay tuned for some exciting new projects launching soon. But in the meantime, give me a holler if you want to publish my book on travel with babies and toddlers or you know of someone looking for a travel editor! 😉

If you want to learn more about what happened to Tree.com, check out this story, Shake Tree.com and See What Falls Out, featured in today’s San Diego Reader magazine.

About Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama

Colleen Lanin is the founder/editor-in-chief of TravelMamas.com. As the author of her book, "The Travel Mamas' Guide," she teaches parents not only how to survive a trip with children, but also how to love exploring the world with their offspring. Her stories have appeared online and in print for such outlets as the "Today" show, NBCNews.com, Parenting Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, Chicago Tribune, Expedia, San Diego Family Magazine, and more. Colleen gives tips on television, radio, and as a public speaker. She has a master’s degree in business administration with a background in marketing. She lives in Arizona with her husband and two kids.


  1. Kara & Taylor – Glad to help bring some closure for my fellow Tree.com peeps. Keep climbing, ladies!

  2. Carol – I just checked out your site on Making a Living Writing and I love, love, love what I’ve read so far. I’ve bookmarked it to explore further and share with my blogging students as a resource.

  3. Erin & Donna – It was a pleasure working with both of you on Tree.com Travel. I hope we can work together again someday!

  4. Ah! That column that you link to in which Peggy is quoted a bunch sheds a bit more light on the Tree.com situation.

    I was sorry to see that gig go… but they were paying us quite well per blog post! They lost a ton of money going that route (big outlay at the beginning), but the content so good, the accolades so great (yay Chris Elliott), it’s a shame they didn’t power through. Because it easily could have become an incredible money maker via ad sales on each page.

  5. I was writing for Tree.com too, in the Home & Garden channel, and loved it. Thanks for the link explaining a bit more what happened to the site. Also, loving your blog! I’m off to explore it some more now. 🙂

  6. Hi Colleen —

    The Tree story was sad to watch (I wrote for 3 other Tree channels). They had no marketing vision whatever, as you note. In 2 of my channels, they couldn’t even tell us who the audience was — college students or their parents in the education channel? insurance brokers or consumers in insurance?

    They massively overpaid for timely content and then didn’t go live for months more…and now their idea is apparently to be the next Huffington Post. But they’ve overlooked one thing — they’re not a glamorous millionaire with a lot of powerful friends who people might want to write for free for the connections and exposure — they’re a major corporation! Why would any professional writer write for them for possible future ad revenue of undetermined size? I don’t think that model’s going to work for them, but I can’t wait to see how it all plays out.

    Meanwhile it worked out great for me — I got two huge contracts immediately after Tree imploded and I’m fully booked through September.

    Feel free to visit my site if you need to learn more about how to earn big and consistently as a freelance writer.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Colleen. Interesting motives on their part, great effort on yours. I saw so much potential and really enjoyed reading everyone’s posts! What a talented group of writers.

  8. Thanks for the link to the article in the San Diego Reader Magazine. It sheds light on the subject, for sure.

    Colleen, it was a pleasure working for you, although briefly. It was a great gig that paid better than most. But more importantly, the quality of the writing (if I do say so myself) was top notch, as the accolades from Chris Elliott proved.

    It’s sad to see a project that was gaining such momentum suddenly ended. At least I received my last check timely.

    Good luck in your new project! Can’t wait to learn about it.

  9. Well, overall it really does suck but I have to say that I never felt confident about the situation either. It just seemed like the channel leaders were awesome but the higher ups were not very committed. I hope you find that dream job again!

  10. Big dreams die hard, huh? I’m so sorry for your loss, friend. But sometimes, after a forest fire, really healthy new forests grow…hoping that for you. You learned a ton and knowing you, you’ll apply it in magnificent new ways. Cheering you on!

  11. Hear hear, Lisa! I like the forest fire metaphor. Colleen, you have so much drive, so much positivity and forward progression, I am truly excited to see what you do next!

  12. Colleen, it was a pleasure working with you on Tree.com and it’s truly sad that it didn’t work out. The way I see it, though, at least I found you. 🙂 I really appreciate the link to the SDR article…even though it’s pretty much what I imagined went down behind the scenes.

    I wish you a far more reliable gig — and a publisher — in the near future. Can’t wait to hear about your new project!

  13. Thanks for sharing this insight for those of us not in the know. I loved working with/for you & am sending along all my best thoughts that your dream job is just around the next corner. In the meantime, enjoy the journey. We’re all in this together. 🙂

  14. I will miss the content…some pretty good writing I must say. Too bad Tree did not see it through…could’ve really grown into something special and powerful.

  15. Many thanks for the kind words, everyone! As Oprah would say (you know how I am about Oprah), “I feel the love!” 🙂

  16. Peggy Gartin says:

    Great post, Colleen, and I commend you for staying positive despite the disappointing turn things took with Tree. The Tree.com blogs were an opportunity, albeit short, to do great work and one can never regret that. The uncertainty of “funemployment” sucks, but here’s hoping that having achieved so much, we’re in good shape to get a next gig that’s even better.

    On a personal note, they say you never really know someone until you live with them or work with them, and I’m now happy to know you. I look forward to giving you a big hug at BlogHer.

  17. Wow, Peggy, thanks! I wish you the very best in your job hunt as well. Looking forward to seeing you at BlogHer soon!

  18. Catching up on pre-BlogHer emails. Really glad that you posted this otherwise I may not have seen it. It does shed more light on the situation!!! Ugh, it was great while it lasted.

  19. La Jolla Mom – It WAS great while it lasted. I hope we can work together again soon!


  1. Life, Death and Work – Branching out from Tree.com says:

    […] Lanin, Channel Leader for the Travel blog, called it a dream job and I agree 100%. Tree asked for a commitment of 20-25 hours a week, and I got to work from home […]

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