Looking back at 2013 and forward to 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.
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 . 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.
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