After the existential exploration of my writer identity in Q3, I decided to focus on writing in Q4, and worry about everything else (how to make money, career, etc.) next year. While I dove into writing, the universe presented new plans on how I should spend time in 2020.
#NaNoWriMo Writing Challenge
In the world of blogging, it’s easy to get distracted with marketing, SEO optimization, photo curation, edits, etc. In November, I dabbled in #NaNoWriMo, a novel-writing challenge to help writers get to a 50-thousand word manuscript. I decided it’s an excellent opportunity to get ahead on blog content. In the end, I only got to 30-thousand words. Even still, I was able to make significant progress in getting through my backlog.
The challenge was helpful. Not only was I able to focus on writing, but it also gave me a clear idea of how long it actually takes to put together a blog post. Photos, layout, links, and edits take up as much time, if not more, as putting words on the screen. Despite putting down 30k words, I still have posts yet to be published. Like many activities in the world, blogging requires a genuine interest to sustain. Definitely not the most efficient way to rake in quick cash.
Q4 Goals Check-in
Complete Posts from Past Year of Full-Time Travel – B+
Thanks to the writing challenge, I made excellent progress, but not yet 100% complete. Definitely need to check off this goal soon.
Fix SEO on 15 Old Posts – B
I didn’t end up keeping track of exactly how many I had fixed. But progress was undoubtedly made. I see this from steady organic traffic over the quarter.
Create a Start-Here Page – D
I created an outline of what this page would look like but did not advance beyond. Let me fix this in Q1.
Publish 5 more Travel Guide blog lists – D
I only managed to do one on Vietnam. Consistently failing at this goal has given me a newfound appreciation for great curators. This takes so much work to do it well!
Publish Two Posts Per Week – B+
This quarter averaged 1.4 posts per week. Quite happy with this progress. For the new year, I will dial this goal down to one post per week to focus on other aspects of the blog, and a new job! More on this job thing later.
Traffic & Engagement
Average Stats for Q4
- 2,341 monthly page views (+460)
- 458 (20%) monthly page views from organic search (+185/+5pts)
- 78.17% bounce rate (-0.22pts)
- 42.48k monthly Pinterest viewers (+23k)
- 67 email subscribers (+13)
- 2,463 Likes on Facebook page* (+34)
- 2,988 Followers on Twitter* (+218)
- 1,581 Followers on Instagram* (+33)
* As of December 31, 2019
I’m quite pleased with the progress, considering I spent the quarter focusing on writing, neglecting marketing, and took the better part of December off to spend time with family in Taiwan!
New Year, New Job
Now, before I get to Q1 goals, let’s discuss this job news. I have the tendency to want to do everything at once and end up doing nothing at all. There is a part of me that still wants to put my expensive grad degree to good use. In Q3, I told myself that I would focus. I stopped snooping around for jobs and dedicated to writing.
Meanwhile, I fulfilled a previous commitment to help out with a Non-Profit Job Fair. I was so keen to write that I didn’t even bother finding out if any of the organizations were hiring. I met some interesting people and left it at that.
Just before leaving for the holidays, a girl I had met at the job fair approached me about a job opportunity. She read my blog before our meeting and said it’s better than a CV. One thing led to another. Just after the new year, I received and signed an offer to be the Donor Relations and Grants Manager for the LIN Center for Community Development.
If I don’t end up making a single penny from this blog, getting a meaningful job to leverage that pricey grad degree is still very worthwhile. All dots do indeed connect, eventually.
2020 Q1 Goals
I negotiated for flexible work hours, intending to continue this expensive hobby. In Q1, I hope to continue to create one new post per week, steadily increase traffic and engagement, and work on goals I had previously failed to meet. For now, I will not set other lofty goals, but instead, reach steady stead with the new job first.
Final Thoughts: Be Intentional with Time
In 2020, my theme for the year is to “be intentional.” I’m delighted to have spent so much time working on this hobby while I could. Things can change in an instant. If you can afford it, cherish any “gaps” you may have in life because it’s often temporary.
I will continue to publish these quarterly updates to keep myself accountable and ensure that I don’t get swept away in my new job. Work-life balance continues to be important to me, and that balance includes time to work on hobbies.
I *really* value work-life balance. I used to think it’s because I didn’t love my job, but now I know it’s because I really love my life. ?— Wanderlust Wendy (@wanderlustwlee) September 12, 2019