Happy 2-year “blog-a-versary” to me! Away With Maja has officially turned 2, meaning I’ve been blogging here for TWO full years! Can you believe it?!
Since starting blogging here, I’ve written a lot about my reflections after 6 months of blogging, 1 year of blogging, and 1.5 years of blogging. So I only thought it would be fitting to write about reflections after 2 years of blogging!
Traveling (and sharing it with you through the blog!) is my greatest passion in life. Personally, the past few months have been the hardest of my life. And I’ve turned, time and again, to this blog for comfort. It’s my baby, my pride and joy, and something I care about so deeply.
As 2018 starts anew, I want to have a bit more of an honest conversation with you guys—because at the end of the day, my readers (you!) are what’s important in all of this.
I’ve got a lot of new goals this year. I want to publish good, relevant, readable content. I want to grow my social media following (more on that below!). My three main specific goals for the next year of blogging are: to get 2,000 blog views a month (I was soooo close to hitting that this January!), set up two affiliate programs (it’s been on the backburner for ages), and collaborate with at least one brand/company. In general, I’m aiming to network more with brands and other bloggers.
I want to turn this blog into a brand and a business—and successful ones at that. The truth is that as I keep blogging, I love it even more. And I would love to be able to start making some (more) money from it, so that I can, in turn, spend more time on it. More below!
I spend a lot of time blogging. I know it might not seem like I do all that much on the blog (especially if I’m not posting lots of articles frequently). So I wanted to share a bit of a look inside. The reality is that I spend about an hour before work, and a bare minimum of one hour when I get home. More realistically, I will generally work on stuff for my blog for 3-4 hours after a full day of work. That’s anywhere from 2 to 5 hours a day—even on days where I’m already spending 8-9 hours at work!!
My days off when I’m not actively traveling are generally spent exploring, typically somewhere in Yorkshire. Or else spending half of the day (or even all of the day!) working on my blog and “catching up” on stuff. For every post I publish, I spend at the absolute very least one hour on it. Almost all of the time, it’s two hours. At least. That’s writing (and sometimes researching) the content, selecting photos and uploading them, editing the post for SEO, adding in photos and links, and THEN hitting publish when it’s all done.
It’s a HUGE time commitment, and one that I don’t think many people are aware of. It takes a lot to be able to blog!
These days, I feel like I spend most of my “blog time” doing social media. I make a weekly schedule every Sunday, where I plan out what I’m going to post and when on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. When I do just 2ish hours “bare minimum” on my blog each day, most of what I’m doing is social media. Scrolling and liking and commenting on Instagram, retweeting on Twitter, replying to comments on Facebook. Part of this is because the nature of blogging in and of itself is changing. Social media is now how bloggers pitch to brands, how they make money, and how they interact with followers and readers. Our world is becoming more social-media-centric by the day.
To be honest, this is something I want to change. Yes, I think it’s important to post on social media, and yes, I will still do my tweeting and commenting. But I want to make a shift to where I can spend less time on social media, and more time actually writing. At the end of the day, being a social media influencer is not my passion. Travel blogging is.
The evenings that I come home from work and open up my laptop, ready to work for another 3 hours? I want to be writing and creating content and publishing posts. Sometimes I feel so trapped by the social media “game” and while I know that the numbers are important, sometimes I just want to spend my time on new articles.
So as I go forward, I want to try to find a better balance between social media and writing, between Facebook/Twitter/Instagram posts and actual posts. I know there is a better equilibrium out there for me—I just need to spend some time finding it.
However, I NEED to get on Pinterest. So many bloggers use this platform to get huge followings—now that I’ve upped my Twitter game, Pinterest is next.
That being said, I want to connect more with my readers! One of my favorite things about blogging is actually communicating with the people who read my blog and follow along on my adventures. I LOVE when people message me or email me (it’s on the sidebar, email@example.com!!!) with questions about places I’ve been or a question they had on a blog post. I love sharing my stories and so I love actually talking to people about it!
I know I just spent a lot of time talking about how I want to dial it back on social media, but I already know that I will be working on reader connections more on social media. I’m planning on doing a live Q&A on Instagram Stories, and hopefully writing a full Q&A blog post as well (depending on the questions, ha!). I want followers and readers to feel like they can talk to me! Because, of my favorite bloggers, the ones I like the most are the honest ones who let their personality shine through. I want to be like that.
I need to get serious about guest posts and freelance writing. This has been a long time coming. But as a next step for my blog, this is one of the best ways to get my name out there. More people will follow me and actually read my blog if I have written work elsewhere, and it’s a way to gain huge exposure. I’m hoping that in the months to come, I can find some freelance opportunities, expand my portfolio, and increase my reach. If you know of any guest post opportunities, or freelancing opportunities, please do get in touch!!
I am going to need to invest big money in new technology soon. My MacBook Pro laptop is nearly 7 years old. It is painfully slow, and I’ve been in the process of deleting photos (to make more memory room) for approximately one year now. It has major issues connecting to wifi. I can’t go on much longer when it just fails to let me get things done. So I’ll need to get a new one, probably in the next year. My camera has done amazing things for me, but I feel like I’m at the end of the line with what I can learn. I said I wanted to improve my photography with my basic (point-and-shoot) camera. Then once I have the basics and can take nice photos, I’d buy a proper camera. (I used to think DSLR but now am thinking mirrorless since they’re typically smaller.) I’m at that stage where I don’t feel like I can improve much more with the camera I have.
I’ll also need to buy a new phone, and probably soon. I got my phone in Russia (roughly £100), since my old smartphone broke on day 3 of a 6-week trip. And I needed a phone in order to just check my emails and Facebook, due to my wifi-connectivity issues with my laptop. My phone (a ZTE Blade? Android? Don’t totally know..) has gotten to the point that I have to restart it at least 5 times a day, and when I’m on an app for more than about 5 minutes, it will just automatically quit. It is SO. FRUSTRATING. So sometime soon I’ll need to buy a new phone.
All of these tech items cost money. LOTS of money. And considering how much I’m struggling with work/finding a real, full-time job, I really don’t have money to spare right now. This doesn’t even include things like my hosting renewal for my blog (roughly $120/year, that I just paid two weeks ago!), editing programs like Lightroom (which I really want to get in the next year!), and more.
For the meantime, I will struggle on with my broken and failing technology. But I will need to invest a lot of money on tech gear in the coming year.
Monetization is a huge step! Depending on how you’re reading right now, you might notice some ads on the blog. I signed up for Google AdSense and ads went live on my blog in October. Meaning I’ve monetized my blog!!! This has been such a huge step for me. Not really financially (yet?!), but mentally and emotionally. Knowing that I am earning money (however small it is) from this blog is something I am so incredibly proud of. And that’s important, because…
I want to be able to make money from my blog, so I can do it as a job. There, I said it. When I started this blog, my goal was never to “be a travel blogger.” I did it for fun, as a way to share my adventures. But this summer during my big trip I realized a few things. First of all, that I didn’t want to work in museums/history (what I’d planned on doing since college). And second of all, that what I really wanted to do for a career was this blog. It is honestly so scary typing that and publishing this post. This has been a dream of mine for months and it’s terrifying putting it out in the open.
There are travel bloggers out there who are super successfully and make shit tons of money. A lot of travel bloggers are on the road 7 days a week, 365 days a year, meaning they’re not spending money on rent when they’re traveling—meaning they can save lots of money. Some travel bloggers make money on the side while they have a full-time job (yes, they are still travel bloggers!!). There IS a way to succeed in this industry.
I don’t really care about making tons of money. I just want to make enough money to survive and pay bills and travel. What makes me happy is blogging and sharing content with you all. So that’s really all I want to do. I want to have a job/career/work that I’m passionate about. And I think this is it.
These two years have been such a wild ride. Thank you so much to each and every one of you for following along, and for supporting my blog. It honestly means the world to me. Every comment, and every like, means so much to me.
THANK YOU EVERYONE! I love you all so much and can’t wait to see what the next year of Away With Maja brings!
What would you like to see on Away With Maja in the months to come? What types of posts or destinations would you want to see?
A big huge THANK YOU for following along!