I can barely believe that it’s that time already… but today I’ve been blogging for 18 months! A whole year and a half since I started Away With Maja and invited you all to follow along with my adventures around the world.
I can barely remember what my life was like before blogging. I can barely remember what traveling was like before I was a blogger. Trips without a laptop, not having an Instagram or a Twitter that constantly needed updating, where I posted on Facebook because I wanted to, not because I felt like I had to. It was definitely simpler to travel that way.
But with a lot of time comes change and reflection. I’ve done posts on my 6 months of blogging, and on my 1-year “blog-a-versary” in February. So I thought I’d share some of my thoughts on my 18-month “blog-a-versary” today!
Big changes for Away With Maja: monetizing
It’s been nagging me in the back of my mind for months now—but I’ve decided to monetize my blog, in hopes of making some money from this passion of mine. It’s a lot of work (I’ve already cried about Google), and a huge investment of my time. But I’m getting enough regular daily traffic now that the time has come for me to take this blog and my blogging to the next step. Even if I just make enough to cover my hosting costs, it’ll still be worth it.
Visual changes to the blog itself
Due to upping my game and needing a more user-friendly theme, I’ll be making some major changes to the visual layout of the blog in the next few weeks. I’ll be changing themes, but hopefully nothing to do with my posts and actual content will change—just how it looks on the computer (or phone). Some of these things are really small, but I’ve been meaning to get them sorted for over a year. So don’t be scared if everything changes one day!
I want and need to invest more time into networking, guest posts, freelance work, etc.
I love blogging. I love sharing my travels, all sorts of tips and advice, even just sharing photos of places I’ve been to. But as I take things into the next gear, I need to get serious about networking and expanding my writing. I both want and need to invest more time into networking with other bloggers, doing freelance work and guest posts, and more. So if you’re another blogger and reading this—I’m officially looking to branch out! Get in touch and I’d love to work with you! (The best way to get in contact is by email—firstname.lastname@example.org)
I’m teaching myself more and more tech skills
It’s only been in the last month or so that I’ve gotten serious about SEO (search engine optimization, aka how much Google will like you and put your post at the top of search engines). I’m a great writer and (luckily) have written most of my posts in an SEO-friendly way. But I’m much more serious about it now—I want to do better in search engines, to reach more people and get more traction on the blog. I’ve made vlogs on YouTube and taught myself basic editing in iMovie. I’m also teaching myself all about ads (Google AdSense), how to make them, and more. I’ve learned a tiny bit here and there of code (to be honest, I was quite good at coding 13 years ago when I had a MySpace, I just didn’t know it was called coding). All of these skills are very marketable to employers these days, and while it’s taking me a long time to learn them, I’m proud of teaching myself in the first place.
I have struggled with major tech challenges in the last few months
I’m getting to the point where I’ll need to invest in a new laptop. I love my MacBook Pro, but it’s old and has gotten a lot of use. I’ve also run out of space on it, so I basically have to delete old photos if I want to put any more on. It’s also insanely slow sometimes and I need to update my software and get a new operating system. My laptop also really struggles to connect to the internet in new places, which makes traveling and blogging extremely difficult. On top of that, my wifi at home is absolutely shit on the of best days and will literally just stop working (only 6 more weeks until we can switch internet providers…). I’m not sure what to do with all my files (they’re all backed up on my hard drive, but it’s a bit of a pain to connect it just to upload one photo), and I definitely can’t afford a new laptop right now. So I’ll be hanging in there for a while.
I’m still plugging away at social media
Have you heard the good news?! Away With Maja is now on Twitter!! And I’d love it if you’d give me a follow 😉 I’m still working on growing my social media reach. It’s so difficult (especially when Instagram algorithms change so frequently and all of a sudden you get no likes and no follows), but I’m in it for the long haul. I definitely prefer Facebook and Instagram the most, but to be a well-rounded travel blogger I feel like you have to have both of those, plus Twitter and Pinterest. It is such a huge undertaking and can get so exhausting. I’m taking it one step at a time!
If you can do one thing to support me and my blog, LIKE MY STUFF ON SOCIAL MEDIA. Seriously. Those numbers mean the world to me personally (people besides my parents actually care?!), but those numbers will mean so much if/when I start doing professional campaigns. Even better if you share it! It might seem like liking a photo on Instagram or commenting on a Facebook post isn’t a big deal, but those numbers matter. So a big thank you to everyone who follows along on social media! I notice you and I appreciate you so much.
My biggest blogging improvement: photography
Of all the things I’m learning and everything that I’m working on for the blog, I think my photography is what I have improved the most in the past 18 months. I absolutely love photography. It’s one of my favorite aspects of blogging! And my ability to create good photos has progressed by leaps and bounds. I’m still working on it, as always, and I’ll probably invest in a new camera within the next two years. But my photography is something I’m proudest of, and can’t wait to continue to learn more.
My blog’s purpose is changing (destination-wise)
Slowly but surely, my travel blog is being narrowed down and has become a bit more niche in the last few months. My main goal has always been to show people that you can travel the world on a budget, especially to lesser-known places. As I’m living in Europe now, my focus has changed to becoming much more Euro-centric—specifically Eastern Europe and Britain. Those are the places that I spend the most time (why? That’s a whole other post!), and those are the places I write most about on my blog. Those two places are what I feel I’m becoming an expert on. So I hope people are still coming along for the ride 🙂
The travel bug truly never goes away
Before I came home from this big 6-week trip this summer, I had already booked the next international trip (to the south of France at the end of October), and the next weekend trip (to the Lake District for my birthday in September). It never goes away. I’m never not thinking about and saving up for the next trip. It is a constant in my life: where to next? Whenever I cross a place off my list, I’ve discovered 3 new places I need to go to next. It never ends. It is a beautiful way to live life.
When life gets tough, my blog is what gets me through
I’ve had some rough times in the past few months, and barely any of it has been communicated on the blog. But when life gets tough, I turn to this blog. When I had a shit day at work, I’d take the night “off” and sit and write and finish a new post all night. Struggling between jobs right now, this blog is where I come to feel better, to remind myself of my purpose. It has become such a passion of mine. I’m eternally grateful for the support of all of you.
Seriously, I have no idea what my life would look like if I wasn’t blogging and if you all weren’t coming away with me on my adventures. (Well, I do know—it would be pretty sad.) Thank you for reading, for sharing, and for supporting me. I appreciate it so much!
What types of destinations or media do you want to see on Away With Maja?!
A big thank you to every single one of you for reading! Love you all!