Howdy all, yes travel is still something I can only dream of right now, and blogging has been hard work in 2020 but it is slowly to show benefits. Here in Victoria, Australia we are slowly planning maybe to tippy-toe our way out of lockdown, but boy it’s been tough in many ways. I don’t think an outbreak so small anywhere in the world has had quite the hard-arse response as we’ve had here in Victoria. I’m not saying that’s necessarily a bad thing mind you – or indeed a good thing. We keep an eye on Oxford England for the developments concerning what apparently is the most promising vaccine trial there is and wait for things to be a little bit more relaxed by Christmas. That’s provided numbers don’t suddenly rise again of course. But in the end of the day you do have to ask – just how long can we live the way we are?
Does Hard Work Pay Off?
Anyways, I have a few topics to discuss today. I haven’t done a post like this in quite a while, so I’m feeling a little reticent in some ways, but it is surely time. I’ll start by talking about all the work I’ve been doing on the blog in 2020, because it’s really been a monumental effort, and I am still left wondering if it’s all worth it.
Firstly – I have got myself into a situation here where I work quite a bit in advance, which I’m happy about. It means at some point I can take a couple of weeks off and still be ahead of the game instead of scrambling for material. Not only that, I have taken to posting every single day. It’s a bit mad, but the fact is back when Corona was just starting to take its grips on the world, I realised that my other main hobby of making Doctor Who Fan Fiction was going to be something I would have to put on hold. Combine that with the fact that going out, going to the football, and the like has also been impossible for much of the last six months, I’ve had more free time and so I resolved to work hard on the blog.
I worked out a structure going forward so that I could keep going at seven posts a week, featuring a video every second week, and interesting stuff around the web I found as well usually from YouTube to make one post reasonably easy and quick to sort out. Recently I have started doing interview posts on Sundays, which are more work my end than I thought they would be, but it’s been a great way to connect bloggers. You may recall, if you’ve followed the blog for long enough, I did these years ago. But this time around I’ve been able to feature a whole new bunch of bloggers.
This means I’m following a lot more bloggers too of course, and this takes time because I must read at least 12+ posts a day and try and comment/like, which is a real time challenge. I’ve also been able to update a lot of my country pages – which list my posts according to country, but that was a while ago now and some of them are already missing a few posts, and I still have some to do. On top of that, I’ve made pages devoted to my Accommodation Reviews and Train Journeys – I am aiming to one for the Flight Reviews too, just haven’t gotten around to it yet.
After six years on Word Press I became monetized!
Yes – did you notice? It’s freaking annoying, right? But the upshot of all the work, and I’d say mainly posting daily, was that I have increased traffic significantly to my blog. Not that I received a huge amount of views now, but it is close to double what I was getting daily this time last year. The mian push came in June.
But I’d only had a modest increase when I woke up one Sunday and found I was monetized. This period I was trying out different themes, none of which I was particularly happy with by I finally settled on the one you see today – which is called BLAH.
Please don’t think I’m getting rich, I am most certainly not. It works out to be a few cents – single figures – a day. In fact as I write this post I think I’ve earned $2.19USD, which is a few weeks before this post will go up, slightly more than a dollar a month, but it’s a start, right? I don’t see a future where I live off my blog or anything like that, but it would be nice to make a hundred bucks a month one day. But really, I am going to need a heck of a lot more views than I garner to get close to something like that. Actually even $100 (this is all $USD by the way) in a year would be great. At my rate we are talking $12 a year or maybe $13, and you only actually get paid when you reach $100. So what’s that, around 8 years to my first pay day? Minus two months! Then you add in paying for Word Press and the theme, and well, it still runs at a big loss lol. But honestly, I don’t blog for money. It would be nice, but it’s just a hobby I seemed to have become fanatically intwined in.
So one possible key to getting a bigger viewership, is switching to self-hosting. And anyone getting into blogging as a serious thing with the hope of earning a little extra pocket money should be aware of the differences. I blog through Word Press dot COM, and they host my website. That’s for now at least. There are some significant advantages in as much as a lot of the work is done for you in getting your site all suited up for google searches and so forth. But I’ve always felt that stuff is out of my hands, and people recommended certain SEO plugins to improve website hits and so on, but I discovered that unless I fork out a lot more per year for a Business Plan, I can’t have plugins on .COM.
Word Press dot ORG on the other hand let’s you find a suitable place to host your webpage, like BlueHost, and the Word Press framework is still available to you there. I investigated this a couple of months back now and started to migrate things over a few days. I received somewhat confusing help from their bots though and a lot of what I needed to do was way over my head, and I am still debating whether to go through with it. I’m not sure I can get any of my $410 bucks (for three years) back though, so I feel almost compelled to try and move over there. I would still keep the web address by the way, but I’m not sure I can still have ‘likes’.
On top of that I did a check on my webpage via Neil Patel who is big in helping others with SEO stuff, which revealed that actually my webpage is very easily discoverable and rates ‘Great’ in terms of SEO and key words, not only that it’s also excellent for back links. I’ve certainly been more aware of using certain terms and words when I write of late, and those who have followed my blog for any length of time would have probably noticed in the last six months there are a lot of back links!
So I’m in a tricky situation, having forked the money out, but it looks to be a lot more fiddly and I don’t know what the real advantages are of self-hosting any more.
YouTube is the ‘Other Brother’
The other brother of the blog, my YouTube channel – Andy’s World Journeys on YouTube – is stuttering. I’ve done a bit of work over the last 12-18 months to make it bigger and better without any bump in views. Every s often a video catches on a lot more than others, but I’ve been using that channel now for a long time – 15 years maybe – and the numbers have never really started to rise – with the exception of a handful of videos.
I know that regular posting on Youtube does help build an audience, but unless I’m on the road that’s going to be hard to achieve. Besides it takes time to edit and you really need to be able to devote yourself, even more than blogging, to the task. And blogging you can find a few minutes here and there to do some writing, whereas editing is more involving.
But I think I’ve got some pretty decent stuff out there and this is something I’m looking to ramp up more. I’m committing to publishing a new video there every second Thursday at the moment. It’s not a lot, but it is consistent. And doable. Although I’m running through all my old footage from past trips and that won’t last forever – I’m going to need restrictions lifted at some point so I can at least go out and make local videos!
See also – Pimp Up the Youtube!
Life in Melbourne in 2020
So, I am lucky, I have a full time job. It’s regarded as ‘essential’ too so even though we are in Stage Four restrictions I can head to work each day as required. We’ve been limited to only going out for essential grocery shopping and one hour’s exercise each day, and a limit of 5km. Work is the exception here but gees half of all business it feels like is shut down right now. Our state Premier is facing a lot of heat, as of mid-September our daily cases are around 35 a day, they peaked in August at around 750 I think. The aim is to get the numbers right down, apparently so we can have as ‘normal a Christmas as possible’. We will see.
Nobody wants to see huge amounts of death, and here it’s well over 700 and it’s too high, that’s total for the year, but as this thing goes on, and on, and on, I can’t help but think there must be a better approach because this isn’t sustainable. It seems like it’s all about the vaccine, once that’s out life returns to normal. I would say pretty slowly too. I mean if the vaccine is balls and no use, do we just continue doing lockdowns for the next ten years? People can’t live that way. And protests will grow and get more violent. Where does this end?
Having said all that, I am in favour of lockdowns, and indeed harsh ones if necessary. And compared to so many places in the world, Victoria’s approach has been very successful in saving lives. So you know, I empathise with politicians, it’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t in many cases!
Earlier this year I invited some bloggers I know to contribute in a ‘Life in Lockdown’ series, dealing with life in a pandemic this year – here are so of their responses –
I should say with all the contributions from interviews and the directly above, a huge shout out and thank you to all the blogger out there who have supported me in this way in 2020 and support each other!
Well, this is the ultimate in rambling. Thanks for bearing with me. 2020 has not be a complete loss of year I guess. It’s certainly not been a raging success either! And it’s going to be an entire 12 months plus, probably more than 18 I’d say, of me not leaving Australia. It’s going to be over 12 months of me not leaving Melbourne really! How’s your 2020 panned out, and how’s 2021 looking? Any better? Thanks for reading if you made it this far – and May the Journey Never End!