The imposter syndrome returns as I prepare for this Q2 update. My initial feeling: I haven’t accomplished much. I spent the entire month of July traveling before settling into our new home in Saigon. If I’ve learned anything over this past year, it’s that I am a terrible travel blogger, as in, travel and blog at the same time.
Yet, in the spirit of accountability, I forced myself to eschew the self-doubt, dig through the numbers, and reflect on how this blog fared in Q2. After all, Being Uncomfortable is 2019’s theme, and writing about progress, or lack thereof, to the world is the very definition of being uncomfortable.
What is My Blog Niche?
Apparently the number one rule to successful blog is to have a niche. I spent Q2 thinking about this question, and the more I thought about it, the more it brought upon another question that I have yet found the answer, “What is my passion?” Isn’t that how one defines a niche? By focusing in on a specific area in which one is passionate, and can churn out articles after articles on said passion?
What if, as Emilie Wapnick so eloquently explained in a TedTalk, that some of us don’t have one true calling? Despite the lack of passion, the one common thread across stories I have shared is my experiences living abroad. This blog began as a way to keep in touch with family and friends while in the Peace Corps, but over the last decade, I also wrote about things I wish I had known as a way to pay it forward.
Among the inordinate amount of available content, I still find personal blogs to be some of the best resources. With everyone competing for the top Google listing, quality stories by lesser-known bloggers often are overshadowed by clickbait posts that are stuffed with keywords for SEO. With this line of reasoning, I examined what I find frustrating, and how to address them going forward.
- A list of quality blog posts to plan a vacation; posts that have useful content without annoying pop-ups. I tested this idea with a resource page for Taiwan and will roll out a few more countries to see if people find them useful.
- Travel blogs are a dime a dozen now, but blogs about living in a place as a foreigner/outsider is surprisingly rare. I struggled to find stories of people living in Saigon. I began my own series of Saigon Chronicle to share experiencing a place not as a tourist or traveler, but as an outsider attempting to be a resident. I have some ideas to showcase other bloggers’ stories from living abroad, but am working on the best way to organize these posts.
- In similar vein, I was surprised at how difficult it was to find a quick-start guide to living in Ho Chi Minh City. I had written one such guide for Shanghai, and was hoping I would find one for Saigon. Looking to start blog lists to facilitate moving to new cities.
- People tend to shy away from sharing personal stories in blogs these days. Yet, the reason I love reading blogs is precisely for those personal stories and the lessons gleaned from them. So I continue to share my own story in hopes to inspire others. One of my most popular posts from Q2 was a story on how dots have connected for me both in career and life.
I still can’t defining my niche in one nifty sentence. Like finding one’s passion, this is a work-in-progress. Hopefully this lofty question will have a more defined answer in next quarter’s updates.
Q2 Goals Check-in
Take care of the legal side of my blog – F
Somehow, I totally forgot about this goal and let other ideas take priority. Need to put this back on the top of list and tackle it head first before the end of Q3.
Publish two posts per week – B
I published 11 posts in Q2, which is not quite a post per week. This average was brought down again because I published zero articles in June. Excluding June, I did meet the twice a week goal.
Fix old posts and broken links – B
I began the quarter with over 750 broken links and missing images. These take quite a lot of time without any immediate benefit, but I also view my blog as a sort of life portfolio, and it feels good to have old stories displayed nicely again. Broken links are now down to 150. Should be able to complete this goal without problem in Q3.
Drive Quality Engagement – A
I am most proud of this goal, and it’s also the reason I love writing. I published two interviews for Debt & Cupcakes, and The Fioneers. I gravitated toward writing about financial freedom, because that has facilitated traveling and living abroad. I love the personal finance community; it’s full of colorful personalities and a wealth of inspiration.
Three of my posts were included as recommended reading by Rockstar Finance, Tread Lightly, Retired Early, and Our Bill Pickle. These features helped immensely to drive traffic and gain exposure. Oh, I did make some money from publishing an article for a travel site as well!
Traffic & Engagement
Finally, some metrics on traffic and engagement. I spent quite a lot of time to drive up these numbers, since they feel like low-hanging fruit. Yet, social media can be a never-ending rabbit hole. I do intend on scaling back engagement a slight bit to focus more on writing. It’s a balancing act.
Average stats for Q2:
- 2,236 monthly page views (+1,279)
- 77.84% bounce rate (-2.37pts)
- 11k monthly Pinterest viewers (-600)
- 45 email subscribers (+9)
- 1,983 likes on Facebook page (+67)
- 2,462 followers on Twitter* (+406)
- 1,532 followers on Instagram* (+527)
*as of June 30, 2019
Besides working on Q2 Goals that didn’t get an A, I also want to work on:
- Kick off a Life Abroad series
- Publish 5 more Travel Guide blog lists
- Restructure the menu to facilitate navigation
- Work on something nicer for my email-subscribers
It’s easy to give up in the beginning when I don’t have a big following. No one would know nor care. But half the battle is for myself, to take something I’ve nurtured for over a decade and give it new life. Bloggers are a dime a dozen, and I can literally sense the internal eye-rolls when I mention working on a blog (or is it all in
Supporters often hold back on positive comments, while haters jump in with the negative thoughts. Every now and again, I learn someone has changed their way of life from a post I wrote. News like this gives me the push I need. If you’ve gained something from my words, I would love to know about it. Let’s spread positivity!