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The Early Days Building My Online Business


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As someone who love and appreciates the value of SEO, I find myself in an annoying position at the moment.

I’m working on the SEO of this site and something that could be damaging it is the early diary-styled posts I had while I worked out how I would actually build an online business.

They aren’t in the same style of my later content and they dilute the amount of super valuable posts I have on this site.

But then, I don’t want to remove them as I don’t want to lose what I set up this blog to be – my journey from having no idea to building a successful business. So that it can show you that you really can go from having no idea to making it work.

I have decided to compromise and compile some of my early posts into this one big post.

I hope you don’t mind! Where you see the date, it is the date it was originally published.

I recommend you read this post first about how I will become a digital nomad if you haven’t yet.

16/10/2013 Online Job Ideas

The biggest question mark about how we are going to be digital nomads is what we will do to earn an online income.computerSome ideas I have considered:

1. Selling things
I have thought about selling things like Tim Ferriss in the Four Hour Work Week. Although he makes this work with minimal effort, I believe he has been pretty lucky with this.

2. Paid surveys
It seems amazing to me that people would pay me to complete surveys, but they do! I found a list here of paid surveys. However, I couldn’t earn enough money to support us this way and it seems time consuming.

3. Software products
My husband works in his free time for a business in which he has a share.  We hoped this would allow us to become location independent.  However, it’s been a year and so far we have seen no money.  Next month, we hope to start clearing $500 a month, but it’s not for certain.  He puts a lot of effort in, and it does feel like that effort could go further if he invested it in our own ventures.  Anyway, it will provide one income stream for us.

4. IT contracts
Another thing we want to investigate is IT contracts with companies here.  We have both worked on small contracts in the past where smaller companies are paying reasonably big bucks for guaranteed support work when things go wrong.  Given we will live somewhere where we need less money, if we could make a deal with one of these companies, we think we could be a good proposition for them.  We would charge less than people here and be more on call as we wouldn’t need 5-10 clients to make this work and then need to balance their needs.  We could live well on a couple of clients.

5. Online contracts thought sites like Elance
With IT skills in our reportoire this is definitely something we are going to investigate further, especially for my husband.  I do wonder if it is possible to make much money on here though when there are so many people around the world charging very low prices.

6. Online teaching/tutoring
I am definitely going to look into online teaching.  Two things worry me about this though:
1. That I won’t earn enough money for it to be really worthwhile.
2. That it will tie us to places with guaranteed great internet.

7. Blogging
I have also considered and read a lot about trying to make money out of blogging.  It seems like a hell of a lot of work for little return.  Plus, blogging is my hobby and I don’t want to make it start seeming like a chore by not doing it the way I want in the hope of extra views or click throughs.  In saying that, I feel that way about my main travel blog.  If I can get this blog to make money for me, I may have to adapt 😉

I do plan to try to make blogging an extra income source though.  I want to learn more about wordpress, SEO, marketing my blogs, writing better, etc to see if I can make some income out of blogging, as I do really love it.

8. Jobs like Search Engine Evaluators for google
I want to investigate this further.

So this is what I am thinking at the moment.  Most probably, we will try to earn an online income from a combination of the above.

22/9/2013 SEO Research

So it’s been a week since I made the pledge to be a digital nomad.

Unfortunately, I can’t say that I have come very far yet!!  However, I have been very time poor as I finished off my final round of being a student teacher.  That is over now, and once I have completed two more assignments, I will have finished my teaching diploma and will be able to dedicate more time to this.

I have still been thinking about digital nomad jobs and I have been doing some research on a few different topics.  Mainly:
1. online tutoring
2. SEO (search engine optimisation) research
3. wordpress

The main thing I have looked at is SEO research.  I want to try to design this site from the beginning as optimising whatever I need to to help it get hits. At this stage, I also am thinking about online tutoring and how I will build that website to do the same, so SEO is also part of that.

I have started trying to set up a wordpress environment on my laptop.  I have a free wordpress site through wordpress.com already, but it has limitations, as does blogger, so I want to have a play with building my own wordpress site to see if that’s the way I should move forward.

So, not much to report yet, but I will update this blog as I learn more 🙂

25/9/2013 My initial observations of WordPress software

So one of my current jobs is to give wordpress a go to see if I should be using this instead of my current fallback of blogger.

Blogger vs WordPress

I have used blogger for awhile now – I have five blogs hosted here!  Overall, it’s been great, especially for little blogs I have where I just wanted something quick and didn’t care about the look and feel.  I also have a site on wordpress.com.  It’s basically an online resume as part of my teaching course.  I didn’t do that on blogger as I couldn’t get blogger to handle a static site the way I wanted it too.

I have frustrations with both of these approaches.  My main one with blogger is that I have tried and tried to get my home page on my travel blog to be pretty and functional and I just keep failing.  The wordpress.com site is fine for what I wanted it to do with my online resume, but there are many limitations on their free sites, and I can’t see it working for other projects, that I want to do.

I could maybe get blogger to work out if I want to dive more into the code and start writing my own widgets.  However, if I was going to start doing that, I felt that I should give the wordpress software (from wordpress.org) a go as I have seen many impressive wordpress sites on the net, so it seems like it is probably the best long term solution.

WordPress

So I decided to trial wordpress, by building this blog in it (if you are reading this on a wordpress site now, then it was originally on blogger).  As I expected, it was not as easy or straight forward as the hype around it often states, but it was doable.  Below are some of my initial observations, I have only been using it for a few days so far, and I should also state that I used to work as a web developer, so things like HTML and css and web design are not foreign to me, although my skills are quite outdated and out of practice.

1. Installing wordpress

This definitely took longer than the hyped 5 minute install.  Perhaps only that long if you had done it before and already had a database and web server on your laptop.  I didn’t and quickly got frustrated and got my husband to do it (he is a computer programmer and has installed wordpress and associated software as part of his job before)

2. You have to get your hands dirty

By getting your hands dirty, I mean you have to dip into the code, html and css.  It could be possible to just use an out of box theme and not want to change any little things, thus avoiding looking at the code, but I would actually question why you are using wordpress software in the first place if you are happy with something about out of the box.  If you really don’t want to have to edit and have some understanding of code, then I would recommend hiring someone or sticking with blogger or wordpress.com.

And of course, there’s dealing with web servers, the actual word press software and database server as mentioned above.

3. Widgits are not as easy and foolproof as it is often made out

I have wasted so much time trying to use widgits. There are so many of them, and many I have installed just haven’t worked the way I have imagined.  For example, I have tried so many widgits to display links to social media (so people can like, share, etc blog posts), and none of them have worked correctly – the icons have been out of alignment, they don’t show the URL – things like that which make them kind of useless.  It is frustrating when I just want little things that seem like they should be easily achievable.

4. The site needs to be hosted

I haven’t got to this point yet, but I am dreading having to find a hosting company and setting it up.  I have had my blog hosted in the past and it was a pain.

5. Once you start getting some idea of what you are doing, it is pretty awesome

For all my whinging and frustrations, it is, overall, awesome.

In a few days of working on it when I get a moment, I have an ok looking site – better looking than what I could achieve on blogger or wordpress.com for free.  Given that I want to have more freedom to customise the look and feel of my blogs (on the chance that I want to make money from them one day), I am definitely going to stick with this wordpress solution.

Site screenshot of new wordpress site

My site made in wordpress – not bad after only a few days of moments here and there

29/9/2013 Making a plan

I have been putting a lot of time and effort into becoming a digital nomad so far.  However, the more I read and think about it, the more questions I have and the more my mind goes off in a million directions which is not helping anyone.  I need a plan!

plan or note

I obviously realised this before now.  I started off writing a plan, but it was quickly ignored as I read more and more interesting things (mainly blog posts) about working online in general as well as more specific things around blogging, building WordPress sites and making money out of it.

I have now decided to concentrate on one thing at a time.  Firstly, this blog.  It is to be my test case, I guess you could call it.  I was tempted to use my existing blog, but it is already massive with nearly 1000 posts, and it seemed like a lot more work to start there.  I figure starting with a new blog means that I can start from scratch without any sentimentality getting in the way and all the complicated decisions that I face with my travel blog as to how I should divide it up and market it in future.  Plus, I want to document my attempt to work online and become a digital nomad.  I know I would love it if I knew of a blog like this out there to get tips from, so hopefully it will be useful to others at some point.

I am in no massive rush to earn enough money online to support our family, so I would rather do things right and start with what I enjoy, which is blogging, to see if we can make some income from that before I branch into other things.

From all the reading I have done, it seems two things are of top importance when hoping to make money from a blog – quality content and marketing.  There is no point having quality content if no one knows it is there.  Likewise, marketing nothing is not going to get me far either.  Quality content + effective marketing = lots of readers = lots of page hits and engagement.  That’s the hope anyway. After I have those latter things, that’s when I can look at possible ways to monetise the blog and hopefully make a small amount of money from it.  Although making lots of money from this blog would be nice, I am under no illusion that this is likely.  Instead, I am hoping that it can be just one form of online income for us as we follow a patchwork income approach.

So, my current rough overall plan is to work on this website doing the following:
1. Finish creating this website in WordPress and launch on the internet.
2. Be clear what direction I want this blog to take content wise.
3. Work on creating quality content.
4. Create good SEO (search engine optimisation) policies and implement them on this site.
5. Create a marketing policy and implement this once I have a reasonable amount of content.
6. Look at ways to monetise the blog once/if I have good following.

I am going to do my best to stay disciplined and work on one of these points at a time and try not to get ahead of myself.  Of course, there may be gaps where I do not need to work on this site, and then I will start working on other ventures – such as moving my travel blog into WordPress and working out what direction I want that site to take.  I am also working on a plan as to how I am going to find dedicated time to work on these endeavors next year.  For now, though, the above is where I am going to focus my attention.

5/10/2013 Off Track Already

I was really happy after my last blog post helped me clarify my plan of action.  However, by the end of that day I was already off the plan :-/

I was so happy with how good this site was looking so quickly, that I couldn’t help myself.  I had to start building a new website for my baby, Where’s Sharon?.  I had lots of justifications, primarily that I have the best chance of building up a greater reader base while we are away on our trip next month, so it’s better to have a new site now.  Especially as my urls are going to change, and I don’t know how successful I am going to be with forwarding urls, and keeping the tiny gains I have already made in search rankings.

Anyway, what’s done is done, and I can’t say I’m too sad that I veered off course.  I am so happy with how my website is going so far, and I hope to have it live next week.  I am still learning many of the same things that I wanted to learn as part of this plan – skills like building sites in wordpress and better understanding SEO.

A screenshot of my travel blog, where's sharon

My new travel blog so far

The site is getting there and so are my skills.  I’m feeling quite confident in wordpress now, and I know much more about SEO than I did, although it is still not much.  I am still learning and that is the main thing.

I plan to have this site go live during the next week, and my travel blog on the weekend.  There will still be lots of things I want to fine tune, but they will both be looking good and overall, ready to go.  I am quite excited!

Then, I will go back to my plan 🙂

13/10/2013 A new website!

I feel like I have made great progress in the last week, as I have finished both my new sites.  This site went live last night with only minimal problems still to fix, and wheressharon is ready to go as soon as everything is fixed with this.  I am finding it quite exciting.  It is nice to have my sites looking how I want, and to have control over this now, rather than being stuck with lots of compromises like I was in blogger.

me holding up my iPad with my new site on it

Checking out my new site on the iPad

I have also written a very rough social media plan for going forward, which I want to work on more before we go away, so that I have a solid plan for publicising and marketing wheressharon while we are travelling.  I am not going to bother doing any social media activities for this site until there is more content, and I feel I have more to share.

I am also trying to work out what to do with all the posts on wheressharon.  I am marketing it as a family travel bog, yet I still have hundreds of posts from trips many years ago which don’t really fit in anymore.  I don’t want to remove them as suddenly the site would seem quite empty, but then what do I do with them?   I have been thinking about starting a new family travel site which focuses more on articles about family travel, rather than diary style blogging (I have both currently on wheressharon).  I would then move the posts that fit that style across and leaving wheressharon as is, but I’m just not sure!!  I worry that then I will have something that is not as good as it could be in two spots, and perhaps it is better to have a mixture of things on one site?!  I just don’t know!!

I have found the facebook groups, that I am in about blogging to be really useful.  I mostly just read, but I am learning a lot about others, especially on the topic of social media.  I would love to do a writing course, so I could improve my content, but the money and time for that is an issue.  I am still trying to stick to my rough plan.

I feel like I have reasonable SEO happening on my new websites, although I am finding it hard to work out exactly what my focus is on this site, so that’s not helping when it comes to keywords.  In the next couple of weeks, I will concentrate on my social media plans and keeping to the plan for wheressharon, as well as blogging regularly again.  I also want to have a plan of how to get my name out there, by doing things like guest blogging.  I will also concentrate on producing quality content and trying to improve my writing.

I still want to look at tutoring, but I will look at that again in more detail towards the end of our upcoming trip, as it’s not something I would be doing until we get back anyway.

So that is where I am at!  Still a long way from making an online income, but hopefully taking some positive steps forward.

17/10/2013 Moving from blogger to wordpress – the pain and the gain

It was not a fun task to move my existing travel blog from blogger to wordpress, but I do think it was a necessary one.

Blogger had been sufficient most of the year that my blog was hosted on there.  It is easy to use, free and has a lot of pluses.  However, once I started to want to customise things, I ran into problems.  I wanted a home page with an intro and a list of recent posts with excerpts and pics.  I spent a lot of time trying to make it work in blogger with plugins, but I just couldn’t.  Well, I couldn’t in a way that wasn’t ugly and worked in all browsers.

I had been looking at others’ wordpress blogs with envy for awhile and decided that if I was going to have to start building my own plugins for blogger, I may as well move to wordpress and have complete control.  It was a good move.  I am much happier with how my blog looks now, and I love how easy it is to change things that I don’t like.

Part of my home page in wordpress - I don't know why it was so difficult to create something like this in blogger

Part of my home page in wordpress – I don’t know why it was so difficult to create something like this in blogger

The moving process was (not surprisingly) nowhere near as straight forward as promised on the many blog posts that exist out there on the topic.  I wouldn’t say it was that difficult either though.  I went live with my new site two weeks after deciding to make the move, and I achieved a lot in that short time frame.  It would have been much quicker if I didn’t have so many existing blog posts (over 900 when I moved).  Within a week, I had something looking how I want, and I think that is pretty impressive and says a lot about wordpress.

I read many posts about moving from blogger to wordpress but was unable to come across one that suited my situation, that is that I built the wordpress site on my own computer first.  So I wanted to move my site between servers and between URLs.  Basically, this means to make it live, I had to move it onto a web server from my own computer, and I had to change my DNS and everything to point from blogger to this new site.  This is made more painful than it really should be by the fact that wordpress doesn’t store all of its links using relative URLs, they are generally absolute.   This means that in many places in the database, the URLs in my site were stored as “http://localhost” instead of just “/Germany/my-post/”, and I had to go to a fair bit of effort, stress and mucking around to fix them all.  And I couldn’t really do it until the actual site was live.  I do wonder how people handle some of these problems when they have a site with huge amounts of traffic.  I am very glad I made this move now, while my site is only small.

The main thing I have outstanding which is really annoying me about this move, is that the images that have come across from blogger all still have links back to blogger.  I found a tool to download all the images from blogger and fix these in my posts automatically, but I seem to be stuck with the links and no easy way to fix them, short of individually editing them all.  If anyone has a better solution than this, I would love to hear it!

The other painful thing about moving sites, is fixing things with google to ensure you don’t lose any page rankings.  I hope this has gone ok.  I have followed every instruction I have found on the topic, which is basically about ensuring that my blogger blog is no longer accessible and redirecting blogger links to wordpress.  This redirection is a big pain though, as I took the opportunity of the move to clean up my urls.  I set up redirection for my latest posts and pages when I moved and have been doing the rest as a plugin I installed in wordpress lets me know that a 404 error has been received.  When I get these, I set up a redirect.  The most painful part is that blogger has a mobile site of well and lots of query strings it likes to add to the post and I have been stuck having to redirect each of them which is a lot of links.

The final thing I am going to talk about is hosting.  Having to set up my own hosting is probably the thing that turned me off using wordpress the most.   This has turned out to be quite cheap and relatively straight forward so far.  I have had it pretty easy though, as my husband has taken care of most of it for me.  I guess I would call having to set up hosting a necessary evil, and well and truly worth it for control of your own site.

So, all in all, I am very happy with my decision to move over to wordpress and the results I have got.  I wish I had just started with wordpress in the first place, but it hasn’t really been that painful to move across.

If you are thinking about moving to wordpress and have any questions, I would be happy to answer them.

For additional insights on starting a blog, you might consider visiting FirstSiteGuide.com and check great WordPress videos they’ve made to help inexperienced bloggers better understand blogging with WordPress. They also share secrets on how to create a successful blog on your own.

21/10/2013 Building my travel blog audience

My new look, wordpress travel blog has been live for about a week now, and so far, so good!  I love the new look and I think others do too.

My next goal is to build my audience as much as possible, especially with our next trip looming, as I think when we are actually travelling is the best time to have more people interested in our blog.

To this end, I have made a social media plan, a blog post plan and I have been following it.  I have profiles for my site on twitter, facebook, pinterest, google+ and stumbleupon and I have also added delicious links to my posts.  It takes a lot of time to do all this and it’s driving me a bit crazy.  I am using hootsuite to schedule my posts for twitter and facebook which is helping a bit.

Basically, I am trying to post 2-3 times a week, spaced out every 2-3 days.  I am posting on facebook 1-2 times a day and experimenting with different types of posts and times of day.  I am tweeting 2-3 times a day and including at least one tweet to an old post, which I am proof reading before that.  I am pinning a photo into pinterest from every new post, and stumbling them as well.  I am also trying to do this on good posts I read on other blogs.

Additionally, I am interacting on other blogs, boards and facebook pages.  You can see why it adds up to a lot of time.  I am spending far more time doing all of this than working on my own blog, and I am definitely not going to be able to keep this up while travelling.  At the moment, I am having trouble keeping up with blog posts.  I am also writing another guest post this week.

I am also keeping SEO in mind as I rewrite old posts, edit old ones and create new ones.  I try to think of keywords for each one and implement best practice in using these keywords in the posts.

According to google analytics, my traffic is definitely growing.  My facebook page likes is growing too, although far more slowly than I would like.  It is hard work, and I often wonder if I am being crazy for even trying this.  My goal for my website is to have enough followers and page views that I can at least get some freebies while travelling in exchange for reviews.  Fingers crossed!

For the next week, I will continue all this, plus start a “Where’s Sharon Wednesday” on facebook – a pic of me in the world and people have to guess where, and a “Flashback Friday” – I’m rewriting old posts to make them more interesting and will post one every Friday.  I figure that’s a good way to have “new” content on the site and an incentive for me to make my old posts better.

So we’ll see how this all goes!

31/10/2013 Getting a job and pinterest

Last week, I had big news – I got a part time teaching job!

Part of the reason why I decided to work hard at being a digital nomad is that I didn’t think that was possible.  I am currently just finishing my teaching diploma, so I knew I would have more time to be able to devote to something else.  I want to teach, but not full time, and part time seemed so unlikely, that I put it out of my mind.

I had got so excited about this digital nomad stuff, that it was bitter sweet.  I was happy to have the job, but not happy that it was going to make this digital nomad journey so much harder.

I am still working hard at growing my blog.  It is hard to be as inspired though, when I don’t know if I will have time for it next year.  Or even if I should make time for it.  Being a graduate teacher is going to be hard work, and when I’m not doing that, my time and energy should go to my kids.  These thoughts killed my motivation a bit, and then I decided that I should keep working for it anyway.  I can try to get ahead while we are away, and if I put good processes in place, hopefully it won’t be nearly as much work as it is now.  I really don’t want to put all this effort in to grow my audience, just to lose it again.

Things to do in Taipei with kids

One of my pins!

On the blog front, I have been working hard.  I have blog post plans, social media plans and I am getting quite into pinterest.  It is fun making cool pins, and since I started putting effort in, I am getting some repinning.  I’m hoping my pinterest traffic will grow, especially as I am having difficulties trying to understand what the point of twitter is. Pinterest is fun though, and I can see how people get addicted.

We only have a week until we go away.  I am excited about the trip, and about how much easier and better it will make blogging and building an audience.  I won’t have as much time to work on it though, so hopefully that doesn’t cause issues.

Anyway, I will keep working away on it as we get ready to go away!  It will be interesting what insights our trip gives us about how we want to spend the next few years.

20/12/2013 Twitter and building blog followers

We are currently in the Dominican Republic and have been travelling for a bit over a month now.

I have been working very hard on my blog.  It is hard work keeping up to date with that while travelling and I am finding it very difficult to do anything more than write notes about that day’s activities.  Thankfully, we are taking it easier for now on and hopefully I can get ahead.

I am doing a good job of building my audience.  Two months ago when I went live with my new wordpress site, I was getting about 10 visits a day, now I am very closer to averaging over 100.  I have grown my facebook followers and am getting close to my goal of 400.  I have just started trying to grow twitter and having great success.

With twitter, I just started yesterday following as many people as possible (twitter has limits on this) and I am finding a lot of people have followed me back.  Within 12 hours, I had doubled my previous twitter followers of 245!  I hope to keep being able to do this, although it will take some time and possibly a little bit of money, so that I can use tools to unfollow the people who don’t follow me back.

I am unsure how to progress on the whole social media front.  It is so time consuming and not really giving me bang for my buck.  I have a couple of posts ranking well in google which seems a far easier way to get more views on my blog.  With a little bit of SEO optimisation, I got my things to do in Taipei with kids post to rank at #1 for a few relevant search terms.  I am currently working on a Johor Bahru post and getting good results as well.  My next task is to try and up my ranking for some Melbourne posts.

I basically look at posts which are ranking ok and get a lot of impressions. I then optimise the keywords further, make sure I am doing some good internal linking and then see what happens!  I then repeat.  I am also getting regular hits on my other Taiwan posts since I linked to them from within my things to do in Taipei post.

I want to try to find more time to do this process for more posts.  I now get 50 hits a day just on these two posts, so it does seem to be a better way to grow my traffic.

I also want to work on my main goal for that site which is to use it to get free travel in exchange for blogging.  To this end, I need to get a few posts ready to show what I would do in return for the accommodation/activities/travel.  I also need to create a media kit.  These are my next jobs, as I really want these created before we return back to our busy life in Australia.  I hope to use this to help us travel more next year.  I am hoping, I can use it to allow us to travel round Tasmania for a week and to get some freebies on our booked Bali and KL trip.  We would also love to do some more travel in Victoria.

So that is where I am currently up to.  I am sad that I don’t have more time to work on this as I feel it is getting somewhere, I just need more time!!

11/1/2014 More great blog growth and December analytics

There’s been more great progress in the last week.  We had our first sponsored stay, J earned $500 and all my stats are moving in the right direction.

Social media

There is slow and steady growth in my social media.  My twitter followers is now over 3000 and my facebook likes over 500.  I am still following people in twitter.

My pinterest is finally starting to take off a bit and I am getting regularly 15-20 page views a day from here (compared to one a day before).  A couple of my pins have been very popular – an example is “packing list for a one year trip in a small backpack“.  Some of my US ones are going ok too.  I have been slowly gaining followers on pinterest thanks to this.

I have grown my instagram followers thanks to some reciprocal following among some bloggers.  I am not that concerned with instagram, as it doesn’t drive any traffic to my website.  It seems more about branding than traffic.  I am just using it as I enjoy it and it’s a good way to share with family and friends.

I have a klout account now, and I do take pleasure in it going up (up to 65 yay!), but I’m not sure it means much.  It measures social media interaction, so it may go down when I return home anyway.

Site growth

My stats are still improving, although they have slowed down a little bit in the last week.  The following is from google analytics.  It shows visits and page views over the last 5 weeks.

Where's Sharon? visits and page views

Where’s Sharon? visits and page views

Here is my growth in social media over the same time period.  It is quite dramatic thanks to twitter and pinterest, although facebook also shows a similar curve.

Where's Sharon? visits from social media

Where’s Sharon? visits from social media

I think Alexa ranking is silly, but I am also happy that that has dropped a lot.  I am now less than half a million (a month ago I was over a million), and yesterday I even dropped down near 300,000.

Other tasks

Unfortunately, J’s laptop broke so he hasn’t been able to chase up a banner designer like we had planned.  I did make cool new cover images for facebook and twitter though.  He has finally fixed our email so we have a site email address now.

I am obviously very happy with all of this.  I am nervous how it will all go when we get back to Australia soon and I have less time to work on it.  I just hope we don’t go backwards on site hits.  I will continue to work on growing followers on twitter and facebook.

2/1/2014 Blog growth and first free stay!

In the short time since my last post, things have really taken off for me.

Twitter success

I am still working on building my twitter followers, and I now have over 2000.  I subscribed to a great site called justunfollow, and it is helping me manage this growth.  It costs $10 a month, but I think it is the best money I could spend on my blog, as I just wouldn’t be able to be encouraging this twitter growth so easily without it.

I use it to “Copy followers” from successful travel blog twitter accounts, and then to unfollow people who don’t follow me back.  I follow people who follow me, and I unfollow people who have unfollowed me.  It also direct messages everyone who follows me asking them to follow my facebook page.  I, personally, hate these messages, but it has given me great success, and I have grown my facebook like by nearly 100 in the last week!  Suddenly I am near my goal of 500 likes.  This goal has now increased to 1000!

Site growth

Most importantly, though, my site is seeing far more hits.  Many from twitter.  I have had great steady growth over the last month.  I have seen big gains over the holiday period.  There was a slight drop on Christmas Day, but otherwise this period has been excellent for me.  I actually expected less hits at this time so very happy.

In the last month, I have had over 3600 visits, 8000 page views and nearly 3000 unique visitors.  If I just look at the last week and times it by 4, I would have 4400 visits and over 12000 page views!  I feel like 10000 page views a month is having made it, so I am basically at that point!

My only disappointment is that my domain authority has gone down.  I have been working hard to build back links, so I had been expecting a rise.  It has actually gone down though.

Blog goals

I now have the following goals for Where’s Sharon?:

  • 20000 page views per month
  • 1000 facebook like
  • 10000 twitter followers
  • That I can use the blog to obtain free travel in Australia

I also want to improve the design.  We are hoping to find a designer in the next week to help us.

Media Kit

My new media kit - hoping to have a designer tidy it up for me

My new media kit

I finally made a media kit!  And added a simple “work with us” page to the site.  I sent the media kit to a couple of resorts here in the Dominican Republic asking for accommodation in return for a review and was shocked when they both said yes!  We are staying in one this weekend.  $400 worth, so I feel like i have finally effectively made some money from my blog.

I wish I had started building my blog and social media during our Asia trip, so I could have used the blog more effectively for this purpose for this trip.  I’m hoping I will have the same success with this when we get back to Australia.

Thoughts about being a digital nomad

I am very happy that I managed to get a part time teaching job, but I am still disappointed that that means not being able to take becoming a digital nomad more seriously this year.  The success I am starting to gain now makes me feel that I could have reached the point of making some income online, and I would have really enjoyed it.  I guess it’s never too late to try again after this year if I find I would prefer it over teaching.

Read what came next here and more posts on blogging and income reports here.

About the Author

Sharon Gourlay is passionate about working online and helping others to follow in her footsteps. She left Australia with her young family at the end of 2014 determined to grow an online business. She succeeded and now supports her family of 5 to live their dream lifestyle.

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