Lessons learnt from 7 months of blogging and ramping things up in 2017

Can you believe it? It has been almost seven months since The Heart Less Travelled was launched. Seven months! Oh how time has just flown by!

If you don’t know the story, I started this blog back in September 2016 after deciding that instead of investing all my energy into a desperate search for a guy, maybe I should invest that energy into loving myself and just get on with building my own epic, awesome, adventurous life. And by keeping a blog, I thought that would help me stay accountable and focused on something more productive and positive. And maybe, just maybe, I might be able to inspire others in a similar situation to myself.

So I thought I’d share some of the things I’ve learnt both about myself and blogging over the last seven months, the results I’ve had (since I’m honest about everything else, might as well be honest about how well I’ve been doing) and the direction I want to take this blog for the rest of 2017. Embrace yourselves – this is a very epic post! You may need to make yourself a nice hot cuppa before you settle in.

Lessons learnt from 7 months of blogging on The Heart Less Travelled

Putting yourself out there is scary but it’s worth it

It’s been a very confronting 7 months. Sure, plenty of people are on Tinder these days and I’m impressed with the number of people you hear who have actually met their partners on there (good on them!) but talking about your dating experiences with Tinder still seems somewhat taboo and there’s still that perception that there must be something wrong with you if you’re having to go use an app to meet someone. So I guess for me to put myself out there and write all these things about the guys I’ve met on there and publicly admit that “yes, I have used Tinder – a lot”, yeah it’s pretty scary. But I figured someone had to put themselves out there, if it meant helping others.

And there were a fair few posts that were just so personal and involved other people likely to come across this blog that I just didn’t know whether I had the guts to publish them or not, especially this post about emotional affairs and falling for an unavailable guy. The stuff that movies are made of? It freaking happened to me and for so long I felt ashamed and guilty but my God if I didn’t write about this, I would regret not being able to possibly help someone else in the same predicament and make them realise that there’s nothing to be ashamed of.

I never thought I’d ever have the courage to write so much personal stuff. I’ve realised that maybe I am a lot braver than I give myself credit for.

Having a blog as a side project has given me a greater sense of purpose

Sure, I keep busy with plenty of activities like soccer, yoga and the gym but there’s no greater feeling than creating your own thing, whether that thing be a blog or a book or a painting or a phone app.

It’s such a wonderful feeling knowing that when I get home from work or yoga class or soccer training, I have something to work on, something exciting, something that requires creativity and all sorts of skills to get it all working, something that is all my own.

Most importantly it’s a wonderful feeling knowing that this thing I am creating has some sort of impact on other people. That’s a very wonderful feeling.

Having a blog as a side project has also enabled me to develop a whole lot of awesome skills

  • Writing for the Web: This is quite a tough skill to master. People these days generally have short attention spans so you need to make sure your post engages them! Uni-style essay writing is not the way to go when it comes to writing for the web! Instead, it’s all about headings and bullet points and photographs and videos and block quotes. This way you don’t get readers feeling like they’re reading War and Peace.
  • Web development and mastering WordPress – it probably helps that I work in IT and actually have technical skills but it’s still been a lot of fun getting stuck into the world of web development again and working with JavaScript and CSS styling. Learning how to use WordPress and find the right plugins has also been quite an interesting challenge. (I’m geeking out here, feel free to google those terms or get in touch with me if web development is something you’re interested in dabbling in).
  • Photography: I’ve had a lot of fun getting lots of use out of my previous DSLR camera. While I think I’m not doing too badly with taking photos, I’d like to keep working on my photography and not just shooting things in Auto mode! I’d also like to start dabbling in some photo editing as well.
I have had a blast developing my photography and taking awesome snaps with my DSLR, such as this gorgeous sunset over Mt Batur, Bali (The Heart Less Travelled)
I have had a blast developing my photography and taking awesome snaps with my DSLR, such as this gorgeous sunset over Mt Batur, Bali.

When you’re passionate enough about something, you’ll stick to it and make it work

It’s not quite a year (but we’re almost there!) but sticking to working on something for 7 months is quite the achievement for someone like me who is fabulous at starting things but not so great at sticking to them.

But in saying that, towards the end of February this year, I was ready to pack it all in and call it a day. The domain name was about to expire for this website and I thought to myself, “What’s the point in any of this?” I had even started drafting up a post announcing the end of this blog that I was going to publish on Facebook. You might understand why I was starting to feel this way when you read the stats later in this post.

I’m still here though! When a few friends got in touch and asked me to keep writing, I figured that while I’ve still got things of value to say, I might as well keep going!

How successful has The Heart Less Travelled been? (Stats and other fun figures!)

Here are some summary stats highlighting just how well the blog has done since being launched:

  • Total number of posts published: 29 (including this post)
  • Total number of comments: 21
  • Total number of views: 2171
  • Total visitors: 1211
  • Views per visitor: 1.79

How do I feel about these results? I’ll be honest, I feel they could be better. A lot better. That’s not to say that I’m ungrateful because I’m pretty damn grateful to have people coming to my website, reading my stuff and letting me know when they’ve enjoyed it. But hey I’m only human and I think it would be pretty awesome if I got a lot more traffic (but at the same time, not letting that one goal be the only thing that drives me).

These are the top 5 countries where visitors have come from:

  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • Canada

77% of my views have come from Australia and New Zealand, which makes sense considering that I am based in Australia but I also have a large group of friends based in New Zealand. And then if we focus in on Australia, 65% of visitors are based in Western Australia but only 17% are based in Queensland. I’m genuinely surprised about the Queensland stat – I didn’t think anyone in this part of Australia was visiting my blog but there you go.

This poses an interesting conundrum because while the majority of my readers come from Perth, what happens if I start writing more and more about Queensland (which is inevitable seeing as I live here now)? Am I going to lose a whole lot of readers because posts about Queensland won’t be relevant to them (but possibly gain more Queenslander followers)? Only time will tell and it poses an interesting challenge in finding that balance between writing about my own personal experiences but somehow making them relevant regardless of where that personal experience took place.

In terms of gender and age? According to Google Analytics, 60% of my visitors are in the 25 – 34 year age group and 75% of visitors are female. This pretty much aligns with the stats on my Facebook fan page, where 47% of my fans are females aged 25 to 34 years old. Again this makes sense seeing as I happen to fall smack bang in the middle of this group as do a lot of my friends who are also regular readers. And in all honesty, I will probably continue to target this group because I relate to them the most, although I think it would be nice to get perspectives from other groups (I’m thinking males… And I just had a huge lightbulb go off in my head, so watch this space).

Plans for ramping things up with The Heart Less Travelled throughout 2017

Having a clearer purpose, believe in it and find peace with not having a niche

I’ve spent a fair bit of time evaluating how effective I’ve been in making the purpose of this blog clear and sometimes I’m not sure if I’ve quite managed to hit the spot. For a while I was hovering between being a travel blog/dating and relationship blog but I just don’t think I really knew what my true purpose was for this site.

So then I thought I’d try and come up with a nice little catchphrase that would hopefully make everything all clear (you may have noticed it displayed in the website header). I came up with:

“Living big. Living bravely. Living beautifully.”

This is followed by what I’m calling a “sub-catchphrase”: “It’s time to become your own epic love story.”

To me this sums up what I want to get across to my readers. Don’t play small. Live the biggest, best life that you’ve always wanted. A life which to you is fulfilling and full of adventure and excitement. And this helps me not only with driving this website forward but with driving my own life forward as I continue to carry on and go hard at building my own big, brave, beautiful life.

Sometimes I wonder if not having a niche has gone against me. Would I be getting more visitors and hits if I only blogged about, say, travelling (Answer: I highly doubt it. The travel blog market is ridiculously saturated nowadays) or dating as a single woman in her late 20s (I feel like I’d only end up writing about the same thing every week if I had chosen to go down this path).

And then I remember that by default, I am the kind of person that can’t be boxed in. I am a tomboy who adores sports (especially rugby) and I play soccer, but I still love clothes shopping, dressing up and wearing make-up. I am an introverted geek who loves reading books and sitting on my laptop all the time but on a good night and with the right mood (and enough alcohol), I can be the life of the party. I may not be the most talkative person but I’m naturally loud with a laugh that can be heard from Antarctica. I love to eat but I’m not really a foodie (KFC is one of my favourite meals, I am definitely no foodie).

So how on Earth is someone with so many interests and passions and experiences, meant to be able to just write about one freaking thing? If I did that, I wouldn’t be bringing all of me to the table. And I want to bring all of me to the table.

I've come to peace with having a niche. I'm the kind of weirdo who can't be boxed in and I'm not going to put my blog in any one box either (The Heart Less Travelled)
Bringing all of me to the table: I’ve come to peace with having a niche. I’m the kind of weirdo who can’t be boxed in and I’m not going to put my blog in any one box either!

Produce a wider variety of content in a variety of formats

I definitely want to keep that personal touch and still be honest and open about topics and issues that I am passionate about but I want to produce content with that “WIIFM” factor (i.e. “What’s In It For Me?”). Content that you can take with you and go “I’ll have to go and check that place out or read that book or print this freebie out and stick it on the fridge”.

So in terms of content I’m thinking reviews of books I’ve read, more travel stories (I mean, I’ve done an entire trip around Europe and haven’t even written about it on here!), recipes, tutorials, freebies and printables, reviews of activities I’ve tried. As long as all this content somehow ties back to my overarching theme of living this big, brave, beautiful life and isn’t just content I produce because I think it’ll make great clickbait and attract thousands of people.

There will no doubt still be plenty of personal content too but I don’t want this blog turning into a public diary about my life. 🙂

If there’s anything you’d like me to write about, please let me know – feel free to leave a comment or get in touch with me directly.

I also want to try dabbling with different formats and styles (I’m sure you don’t want to read crazy long posts like this every week) which I’ve already started doing which such posts as this one on life in Brisbane’s inner-city suburbs. I have taken hundreds and hundreds of photos with my beloved DSLR camera, so I think it’s high time I shared more of those in some way. And then there’s things like videos, infographics, poetry, podcasts and my goodness, I just start getting very excited about it all.

At Lake Bled, Slovenia: I'm looking forward to sharing more of my travel stories (The Heart Less Travelled)
At Lake Bled, Slovenia: I’m looking forward to sharing more of my travel stories.

Improving User Experience

As a result of wanting to deliver a wider variety of content, this means I’m going to need to do some serious re-thinking around the design and structure of this website. I’m sure you’ll notice it when it happens.

Performance and loading especially on mobile is also something I want to look into. Let’s just say, I don’t want my website being the reason you need a bigger data plan!

Start building relationships with other bloggers

As a pre-teen dabbling in the world of personal website design back in the early 2000s (a lifetime ago now!), I can recall the existence of a very strong community of very tech savvy pre-teen and teenage females who were passionate about making awesome personal websites. It was a lot of fun. I would spend hours just chatting on forums and leaving comments in guest books (yes websites had guestbooks back then). Sadly I’ve lost contact with a lot of those people.

Therefore, I want to start connecting with other like-minded bloggers especially those based in Brisbane. I’ve recently been in contact with the lovely Kez from Acacia’s Dreams (check out her awesome website!) who happens to be a regular reader on here and I’m looking forward to hopefully meeting her in the not-too-distant future.

Greater reader engagement (and more traffic!)

I will not lie. I would love to have a lot more traffic coming in.

But I would much rather have 100 regular engaged visitors who look around and read maybe 5 or 6 posts in one go, leave comments, share links to my posts and come back every week for the latest updates rather than 100,000 visitors who just read one post and don’t come back again.

And I encourage those of you who visit me regularly to leave comments, share your thoughts and even share this post with others (yes I’m being shameless here but I don’t care). I LOVE comments! They make me feel loved!

Some secret projects coming up

I have some ideas for some pretty cool projects brewing in my head and a notebook full of ideas so keep an eye out. They’re not exactly part of this website but they still somehow relate. Watch this space!

I hope from reading this, you’ve gotten a greater insight into the realities (both the challenges and joys) of blogging and I also hope that all my regular readers are getting excited about what’s coming up, because I know for sure that I am very excited!

Leave a comment or send me a message if you have any feedback or ideas on content you’d like to see. And to my fellow bloggers – I would love to hear your insights and blogging goals!

  4 comments for “Lessons learnt from 7 months of blogging and ramping things up in 2017

  1. April 4, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Congrats on making it to 7 months! Sounds like you have a lot of exciting things planned for this blogs future!
    And thanks for the shout out girl, I can’t wait to see you in Perth! Xx

    Kez | acaciasdreams.com

    • April 4, 2017 at 3:49 pm

      Thank you!! It is all really so exciting! And no worries about the shout out – cannot wait to see you soon!! x

  2. April 5, 2017 at 9:52 am

    I really liked reading about your plans for your blog in the future. It inspires me to make more plans for my blog and to look at what I want to do.

    I’m about to read more of your posts! Congratulations on 7 months!

    • April 5, 2017 at 3:32 pm

      Hey Karlie, thank you so much for visiting by and leaving a comment! I’m super glad this post has motivated you to make more plans for your blog! 🙂 🙂

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