Looking back at 2013…and forward to 2014

2014

I notice that this time of year is when most travel bloggers write about where they travelled over the last year, summarizing the highlights/lowlights of the past year and looking forward to the new year. We honestly didn’t have the most exciting 2013 so I figured I’d skip ‘that’ post – until I had a few other bloggers ask me about our 2013 wrap-up post. So I thought about it some more and realized that although not the most momentous year, we did achieve something major in 2013.

For years I’ve been blogging in obscurity on one of those hosted sites. The only people who read my posts were me and Lissette (Spanky). The blog, for me, was just a place where I kept my travel memories. In early 2013, with a bit of extra time on my hands, I started looking at some of the ‘Pro’ blogging sites and got inspired. I wanted my own site and domain name. But I really had no idea where to start. I bought an ebook on how to start my own blog and went through it, wondering what the heck I was getting into. I pulled my hair out getting the site up (FTP passwords, API keys, dealing with a whole bunch of technical stuff), then learning about SEO, keywords, and plug-ins. I copied over some of my posts from recent years and did a lot of rewriting. Then more technical stuff: changing site designs to something sexier, then changing the hosting (site speed with Go Daddy was horribly slow and their service sucked – I switched to Hostgator). Thanks to Chris who helped me get through all that tech geek stuff. Finally, in July, I had the site that you see in front of you now. Then I had to learn ‘social media’ to promote the site. I had never used twitter or facebook and had never heard of stumbleupon.

I’ve met some incredibly friendly bloggers over the last 6 months who’ve generously helped me out when I had questions. Some are ‘newbie’ bloggers like me and it’s been great exchanging tips and information. I also spend a lot of time on other people’s sites –  there are some great blogs out there. You can check out ‘My Favorite Links’ for some.

I’m still learning and have a long way to go before having a successful blog. Everyone loves numbers so I’ll be open about ours; 6 months in we’re getting about 3000 unique visitors a month and to date we have about 2000 twitter followers and 2400 facebook likes (If you haven’t checked out my page pls do so – I post and share a lot of photos that aren’t on the site). If you google ‘bbqboy’ I now show up at the top of the page  – I used to be behind a Filipino food truck and a Toronto store that sells barbecue accessories. That’s an achievement :).  I still have to work though on getting more people to my site (traffic) and to get more engagement and subscriptions (although my free Photo Book has proved effective in getting people to subscribe). I’m especially trying to get more engagement from the facebook fans who often don’t make it over to the site. Haven’t figured out how to do that. Those are some of the challenges for 2014. Feedback and tips from other bloggers are always appreciated!!

But the major objective for 2013 was to get the website up. In this respect we were successful.

Travel-wise it was a quiet year: I visited my mom in Mexico in March and then Lissette and I went to Tadoussac (in eastern Quebec) for some whale-watching in August.

 

2014 will be much more exciting. After another trip to  Mexico in late March, Lissette and I have big plans for the 2nd half of the year. We hope to be in Eastern Europe in mid-summer, then off to South-East Asia (including Bali) sometime in October. I’m not going to go into it in great detail at this point because there are too many things up in the air. But you can look forward to some interesting adventures from us in the latter half of 2014.

Until then, I plan on building content on the blog. I’ve been quiet with new posts (save for some guest posts on South Africa written by my friend Tony) and have been concentrating instead on adding to the Destination Guides section of the blog. These have been very popular with readers. I’ve been lucky enough to have some popular bloggers (such as MyTanFeet and FrankinCroatia) contribute as local experts to this section and will be adding additional guides in the very near future. For other bloggers: I’m always open to guest posting on my site for countries that have not yet been covered. For my subscribers;  sorry, these don’t get sent out as posts – please check in regularly for updates to this section. And don’t be shy to comment to this section with any tips, stories and updates. We always love to hear other people’s travel stories!

All the best to everyone for 2014!

Frank & Lissette

 

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Comments

  1. Don’t need to be going to 50 countries in a year to have a great 2013! Working hard on the blog is not easy, props to you for coming along so far! Looking forward to 2014 adventures and glad we found each other ! 🙂
    Samantha recently posted…New Year’s Celebrations in Costa RicaMy Profile

  2. Congrats on a big year mate, learning the blogging game sure is a time consuming one but hopefully very rewarding at the end as well. Was my pleasure to help you out and save you a few hours of hair pulling.
    Chris recently posted…The 5 Most Essential WordPress PluginsMy Profile

  3. Wow that is impressive that you’ve gained such a following! Can’t wait to see your travels in 2014. And, love reading about MTL as always 🙂

  4. What an amazing year you have had! The world of blogging is quite technical and I am still learning the ropes. You are leaps and bounds ahead of me but there is always tomorrow, right? 😉 I hope you have a great 2014 filled with travel adventures and fantastic memories. BTW, the Taiwan guide is coming along nicely. I have so much to say but I am really enjoying writing my first guest post/guide!
    Constance recently posted…Out with the Old & In with the New: My Favorite Pictures of 2013!My Profile

    • Thank you for your nice comments Constance! Great about the Taiwan guide – really happy you can contribute and looking forward to reading it!

  5. That are very impressive figures after only 6 months. Congrats on getting your site up and running. Wishing you a fabulous 2014
    Freya recently posted…Top 5 things to do in Cusco PeruMy Profile

    • Thank you very much Freya! Tough when you start because you have nothing to measure against – thanks for the encouraging words. All the best for 2014!

  6. Congratulations! I have also been blogging for an year too and still learning the ropes.

    Have a fabulous 2014!
    Rachel M recently posted…Blankets and Wine @ 50 part 2My Profile

    • Thanks Rachel – people surprised to know how technical blogging is and all the stuff you have to learn. All the best for 2014!

  7. Hey Guys!
    Your stats are definitely something to be proud of! It took me FOREVER to get that many followers on Twitter and FB. I think once you pass the 1000 or so mark, others naturally start to follow along. Just keep plugging away, the stats will eventually go up – it took us about 2 years before we were happy with our stats 🙂

    Happy Travels in 2014!
    Dariece recently posted…The Art Of Motorhome & Campervan TravelMy Profile

  8. You might not have travelled as much as you wanted, but I am am really impressed with the amount of traffic and likes you achieved in 2013 — Tell me your secret sometime!
    Dave Briggs recently posted…How Much Does It Cost to Cycle Around the World?My Profile

  9. We’d say your blog is coming along very nicely! We see you’re going to Bali this year too – we’ll be there before you (spending about 6 weeks in Bali and Lombok). Should be fun to compare experiences :-). Have a great year…
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…New reasons to visit Kauai (Part 1)My Profile

  10. In a way it’s kinda following your heart – don’t worry about “successful blogging”. 2013 was a bit of a weird year anyways. Who knows what this one has to bring our ways, it’s already got a bit on the wild side (and just when I was considerin’ the Ukraine).
    Graefyl recently posted…Do you remember your first flight?My Profile

  11. I can’t wait to hear more about your plans to go to South East Asia. I’ll be there Septemberish for a while, it would be great fun to meet up for dinner sometime! Of course if you are anything like me your plan will change about 15 times before October, but if we do end up in the same place it would be fun to say hey!
    Robb Hillman recently posted…Prioritize Your Life For Maximum HappinessMy Profile

    • Hi Robb – would definitely like to meet up with you. At this point plans pretty vague – aiming to be in SE Asia sometime mid-Sept, early Oct after 3 months in Europe. Let’s keep in touch, if at all possible we’ll make it happen.

Thanks for reading! Feedback is always appreciated!

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