In the last post (four days ago), we reminisced about my one year wedding anniversary. Today, we mark the one year anniversary of Somewhere Or Bust. As you could imagine, my last June was busy. (See my first post ever to recall the chaos of June 2012, which involved a hit-and-nearly-run, a wedding, a big move, a culminating school year, a three-month honeymoon, and a blog launch.)
Today, we reflect on the blog launch–the ups, the downs, and the unexpected–and look forward to some of my big moves for year two of Somewhere Or Bust (and year ten in the life of an aspiring novelist).
For years, I’ve been traveling the world and writing. During my fifteen-month round-the-world surf trip, I wrote my first two novels. (They were both awful and luckily unpublished, but they inculcated in me a love for writing and provided me with countless hours of practice.) On other trips, I’ve written articles, which I’ve been fortunate enough to place in publications like the Boston Globe or the Economist’s More Intelligent Life. But most often, the majority of my traveling writing remain in journals that line my shelves.
Somewhere Or Bust allowed me the opportunity to tell the stories that newspapers and travel magazines don’t want to tell, ones that are usually more about the people and the humorous observations in those lost-in-translation moments. (Of course, there are plenty of posts about place that I just don’t have the time or desire to pitch out.)
Not only have I loved telling these stories, but I’ve enjoyed getting involved in the travel community. I’ve always been a solo traveler (and once I met my wife, a couples traveler), but travel blogging is actually a pretty cool community. In the last year, I’ve attended conferences that motivate people to take career leaves, I was selected for the exclusive Blog House where I learned secrets from master bloggers, and I went to the world’s largest travel blogger conference, which was hosted this year in Toronto, TBEX. But of course the greatest part of the travel community are the friends I’m making through my blog’s comment section and through social media.
There haven’t been many, but I think traveling into an unfamiliar world–this place called the Internet–was initially discomfiting. When I dove into blogging, the world of the Web felt more stressful than getting scammed in Vietnam, losing my hearing in Costa Rica, or hiking with a murderer.
But after one year, I think I worked out the minor kinks. And I’m all set for when Mother Internet decides to corrupt my blog. (At least I hope I’m prepared.)
This has been the year of the unexpected. But I’ll focus more on the humorous unexpected things that occurred after launching Somewhere Or Bust.
One night in Cambodia, my wife and I returned to our room and I plopped down in front of my iPad. I had more than 100 comments on my most recent posts. “I blew up,” I told Marissa, excited that I had so many readers in just a few weeks. The first comment: “You write so well. I will take your tips and share them with my friends.” The next comment: “Where did you get such an elegantly designed theme? It is quite impressive.”
Eventually, I realized that the generic comments started to repeat and I these commenters were called spammers. I went from high to jackass.
I love the name Somewhere Or Bust, but at first the word Bust was causing me quite a few problems. In an attempt to monetize the blog early on, I had installed Ad Sense on my site. But the advertisements that were being generated by Ad Sense had nothing to do with travel. The word Bust delivered ads for bras. Then, when I started posting about Southeast Asia, ads that featured attractive Asian woman and dubious services were popping up in the sidebar. (I quickly took down Ad Sense and now rely on The Future for potential earning opportunities.)
I’m working on two travel books that I’d like to offer up as ebooks on my site. The first ebook–Misadventures Through Southeast Asia–will be free for all readers who subscribe to my free, monthly newsletter. The second ebook–Traveling Through the Cambodian Genocide–will be sold on the blog. Unlike the free ebook, Traveling Through the Cambodian Genocide will feature completely new stories about visiting the sites of genocide and interacting with the locals who live in this tragic, yet beautiful, land.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about the future (and the reflections) and I do hope you subscribe.