How I started my travel blog, and my journey from Blogger to a self hosted WordPress site

by Michelle on March 29, 2012 · 5 comments

my first blog layout

September 2010

After months of backpacking across Australia, it was a strange feeling being back home. While my hometown stayed the same, I had gone, conquered, and while basking in the glory of my post-adventure, I was inspired.

I remember looking at my desk and saw the black journal I wrote in almost everyday while I was in Australia. Somewhere in my drawers there were other similar journals of my other travels. I remember looking at my shelf of Lonely Planet guide books, and suddenly I realized that what I really want to do, is to become a travel writer.

It was only logical.

It was one of those moments. My parents know about these moments all too well. If I suddenly announce that I want to backpack across Australia or become a pirate, they know better than to object. In fact, they would probably wish me luck finding Davey Jones’s treasure, like all good parents should.

And while I didn’t get a job with Lonely Planet, a couple weeks later, I was hired as the new Editor for my university newspaper. Using my powers as the Editor, I added in a travel section, where I write a bi-monthly column with travel tips, which to be honest, was probably left largely neglected by the student body. Undeterred, I also began freelancing with an online travel site called The Circumference, where I was paid per article for pieces that I wrote about Australia.

January 2011

It wasn’t until the new year, when I stumbled upon the world of travel blogging. Up until then, I’ve always associated blogging with people who either posted photos of their puppy and girlfriends with captions like “Look at miii biiiitchzzz!” against a neon background, or post endless photos of their Etsy crafts.

But then I discovered Nomadic Matt, who not only inspired me to create this blog, but from him and a few other travel bloggers, I discovered that there are people out there who travel, and post about their adventures, and they do this for a living. And not are they able to make a career out of something they love, some of these people are getting book contracts, movie deals, and all sorts of things related to fame and success that I’ve always envisioned for my future.

I began discovering more travel bloggers. I subscribed to their e-mails. I subscribed to their feeds. I read their posts religiously.

Soon after, I knew I wanted to make a travel blog as well.

And so, I created a blog through Blogger because their templates were easy to use, and the idea of creating a self hosted blog seemed too costly and difficult. Plus, mid terms were coming up.

February to July 2011

In the next few months, the blog gained relative success, mainly because of my friends who enjoyed reading it (and possibly wondering if i’d write something about them). I also made quite a few friends in the travel blogging community, and soon I found myself sitting comfortably at around a few thousand page views a month. It wasn’t a lot, but I was also getting fan mail, which always makes me happy.

One guy discribed my blog as being “mad chill and youthful.” I loved it, and it became my blog’s slogan.

August 2011

One day in August, I checked out my blogger stats and was really surprised when one day, I saw that i had 10,000 daily page views. I had leaped from 3,200 page views in July to 41,000 page views in August. It looked like this:

I then discovered that someone posted my “69 Fun Facts about Germany” article in Stumble Upon, and immediately it received over 2,000+ likes, and 900+ likes on Facebook. I even had some friends who told me that they found my post on Stumble Upon and had no idea I  had a travel blog. My initial response probably involved a lot of curse words, because well, the whole post basically consists of a bunch of random facts about Germany I found; it wasn’t exactly my best work.

Also, if you google “69 fun,” my blog comes up 2nd.

That post was no doubt my claim to fame, although it brought the sort of fame that you feel grateful for, and yet, cant help but feel slightly embarrassed about….similar to Justin Timberlake looking back on his *N Sync days or being George Clooney’s fling of the month.

I then decided to take advantage of my sudden fame, and added a “linked within” widget to my posts. It became pretty successful as according to Alexa Rank, the average visitor is claimed to have viewed 4.9 pages of my blog before leaving. I was also receiving a lot of reader mail. Some funny, some positive, and some of people correcting my Germany facts, and others telling me how they hate Germany.

Google Adsense also e-mailed me asking me to make a full account with them. They sensed my blog had potential.

November 2011

I remade my blog layout, and it looked like this:

March 2012

Over the past few months, as my blog grew in readership, I kept wondering if I should get a self-hosted WordPress blog. Everyone seems to have one, and it seems way more credible and professional then what I can do with my Blogger blog. Originally I put off the switch because I thought I would have to start over, but once I discovered that it was possible to migrate all my posts, comments, even SEO over to my new blog, I knew I had to do it.

I spent about two weeks designing a banner, a logo, and attempted to figure out how to make this site. Migrating from Blogger to WordPress was a lot harder than those supposedly “easy” how-to tutorials on the internet claim to be (I’m one of those computer illiterate people where if there’s no picture diagram included in a step, I will instantly be lost).

Luckily, Hostgator provided a free 24 hour live support, and I must have asked those technicians a million questions.

Extremely difficult to solve questions of course such as:

“How do I log into my account?”
“What is my host name?”
“Can you make my website for me? I’ll buy you lunch…*wink wink*…oh you live in India?”

I then spent an excessive amount of time figuring out WordPress and learning what a plugin is, or what a widget is. I mean, a few months ago, I would have assumed that Seo is the name of some cute Spaniard.

And so, that pretty much brings me my blog today. It’s quite exciting how far this blog has come! What do you guys think of the new layout?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire April 2, 2012 at 10:30 pm

Not going to lie, I had to go type in “69 fun” in google just to see it for myself! That is quite an accomplishment and a great success story! I wish you the best as you continue to blog about your travels! I love your layout, by the way!

Reply

michelle April 3, 2012 at 4:41 am

Thanks! 🙂

Reply

Ali April 15, 2012 at 10:49 am

Hehe…so did I! Nice work taking advantage of the unexpected fame – I would have done the same! Like the layout 🙂

Reply

Michelle Michelle April 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Thanks! The migration was really complicated but worth it I think!

Reply

Jessie Broad May 1, 2014 at 11:12 am

I’m glad that its all working out for you! I hope to one day be quoting a similar success story – are you blogging full time yet? Cant wait to read more of your work 🙂

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: