On the 19th of November in 2018 I officially launched www.traveljael.com: my travel blog baby. I’d been dreaming about a travel blog for nearly ten years and finally having the site up felt like such an achievement. This week marks the one-year anniversary of the launch, so it seems fitting to take a quick look back. What did I accomplish? What didn’t go as planned? What’s been surprising (spoiler alert: a lot)? Here’s a blog post in honour of traveljael.com’s one-year birthday: a recap of the first year.
Am I Where I Thought I’d Be?
No, I’m not where I thought I’d be by now. I did think I’d be a bit further along with this project. I love sharing my travels and writing informative travel pieces so it’s frustrating that I don’t have enough time to do so. I wish I could make a living doing this, but for now, Travel Jael is just something I do in my spare time and that doesn’t bring me any income whatsoever. On the contrary, for example web hosting and domains aren’t free so blogging involves some expenses in my case.
All in all I’m really happy with what I’ve done and I’m especially happy with some of my most popular blog posts (more on these further down). If I can help someone learn something new or discover a new place, that’s the best reward for me!
A Dream That Came True
For nearly a decade I’d dreamt about having a travel blog. When I moved to Australia I had a blog, but later I decided to delete it together with all its content. I loved blogging, but I felt the blog wasn’t really me. It was part of a bigger blogging platform and I wasn’t really satisfied with it. I guess I also felt a lot of pressure on updating it, since it was more of a lifestyle blog than strictly a travel blog.
The years passed and the more travel pieces I wrote as a journalist the more it started to annoy me. I had so much to share, but nowhere to put it. After all, travel pieces do have certain limitations, for example regarding point of view and amount of words. A good travel piece requires an immense amount of research and interviewing and in the end I could only use a small portion of all this knowledge in the text.
When I met my boyfriend Tuukka, suddenly creating a blog that wasn’t part of any platform was a possibility. He’s a developer and the best boyfriend who’s always supportive and helpful with my projects. We got to practice working together putting up my online portfolio and it went really well. Soon, I started to feel that if I were to make my travel blog dream come true it was now or never.
Launching Travel Jael
In September 2018 we got the site up and running after a summer of designing and planning. I wanted to have a few blog posts ready for the launch as it felt so lame to launch a near-empty site. I worked on these as well as some final touches and updates during October and the beginning of November 2018.
What better place to launch Travel Jael than sunny Mexico? On November the 19th in 2018 whilst visiting Mexico I finally officially launched my blog! I was so happy and proud of myself and thrilled I got so much love and support from friends and family.
But not everything has been a bed of roses.
What Didn’t Go As Planned
When I launched the blog I worked as a freelance journalist and was able to put in quite a lot of effort on the blog. My dream was to manage to post one post per week and slowly build an audience.
In January I got a fixed-term position at one of Finland’s most esteemed newspapers. With a long way to and from work, a very demanding job involving regular travel to another city in Finland, suddenly the time and energy I had to invest in Travel Jael was very limited.
Right now, posting once a week is a struggle, but I do my best.
For the blog to really have a chance to grow I’d have to do a lot more: researching and learning more about SEO, reading other blogs and networking and so on. Now I only focus on writing. My content is good, but not that many are finding it, which is a pity.
Still Only in English
I’m multilingual and was looking forward to launching my blog in at least Finnish as well. My aim was to launch Travel Jael’s Finnish version in time for the blog’s one-year anniversary.
Well here we are and no sign of any other languages.
Where are my Finnish readers?
I get some stats about visitors for example, in which countries people are reading my blog and what kind of search terms they used to get to my site.
What’s surprised me is how few people read my blog in my own home country Finland. Most of my readers are in Mexico, the US and the UK. Occasionally, every now and then a Finnish reader will stumble across my blog, but that’s not even a daily occurrence.
I find this very strange, as I’d thought more of my friends and family would read the blog. But I guess having the blog in Finnish would generate more Finnish readers, so maybe the situation will change the day I finally launch the Finnish version.
Not Enough Responsible Travel Tips and Fitness Tips
Another goal was to write a lot about responsible travel and share tips on how to minimise the negative impact travel has. I have so much to say on this topic, especially when it comes to animals.
However, this is one of the things I haven’t had enough time to do. In many of my blog post you’ll find the occasional tip, but the blog posts completely dedicated to responsible travel that I had in mind have yet to be written.
I’m also really excited about sharing my tips for staying active whilst travelling and have a whole blog post concept dedicated to this, but once again, this is still on the to do list. There just hasn’t been enough time.
Achievements – What Went Well
Of course everything hasn’t been a struggle. I’m really proud with a lot of things. Considering the fact that my time is so limited right now I’m really impressed that I actually have managed to post quite regularly. Not only that, I’ve also managed to continue to attract more readers almost every month. Not significantly, but still: a steady growth most months. This is something I’m really proud of!
Because I want to make sure my travel guides and informative posts are of a really high quality and well researched they require a lot of time and effort (I usually work several days on these type of posts). I soon realised that I’d never be able to produce a steady stream of content if all my posts were like this. I also realised my blog was missing a personal touch.
During this summer I launched a new type of blog post concept: Travel Diary. I’m really happy with how this turned out and the feedback I’ve gotten on this has been good as well. Perhaps my Travel Diary posts aren’t my most read posts, but thanks to them I can share my travels much faster in a more personal way.
I’m also really excited that with the little time I’ve had I’ve managed to create a few blog posts that have been a great success, constantly attracting new readers from all over the world.
Most successful posts
During the last year my top 5 blog posts have been:
- Nine Interesting Facts About El Castillo in Chichen Itzá (Read this blog post here)
- The Complete Guide to Visiting Cenote Sac Actun (Read this blog post here)
- What’s Tulum Really Like a Trendy Beach Paradise or the Perfect Stage for Influencers? (Read this blog post here)
- How to Visit the Amalfi Coast on a Budget (Read this blog post here)
- Climbing a Mayan Pyramid – Ten Tips for Visiting the Ancient Nohoch Mul (Read this blog post here)
By far, the most popular blog post in the history of Travel Jael is the one with interesting facts about El Castillo. I find this quite surprising on the one hand, but then on the other hand I guess not.
Did I think this would become my most read post? No. For those not familiar, El Castillo (or the Temple of Kukulkán as it’s also called) is a pyramid-like structure in the ancient Mayan city Chichen Itzá on the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico. Obviously I myself find this structure super interesting otherwise it would have been a struggle to write a whole blog post about it. I just didn’t know there were so many other history fans out there.
I’m really happy so many others are intrigued by this structure.
In second place comes my post about cenote Sac Actun and in third place is my post about Tulum and why it’s such an influencer magnet. It’s nice to see that posts like the latter can also make it to the top list. It’s not a travel guide, but more of an analysis about Tulum: why is it such an Instagram Mecca and what should you expect.
What Has This Year Taught Me?
I’m not the most patient person and this has been one of the biggest challenges during this year. When I get excited about something I want to dedicate all my energy to make it happen and see the results immediately. When that isn’t possible I get frustrated.
I’ve been forced to come to terms with the fact that Travel Jael is a marathon not a sprint. And that’s okay too! I have a demanding job, a wide social circle and a lot of hobbies. Hence the amount of time I can work on the blog is limited, but so what? I might not have had time to write about nearly all of the topics I wanted to, but one topic at a time. Sometimes you can only take small steps, but even the smallest of steps is a step towards your goals.
This year has also opened my eyes to how incredibly saturated the world of travel blogs and travel accounts is. Chances of growing without investing time and effort in learning about SEO and marketing your blog are pretty small.
These are just a few examples. Of course there have been several other lessons as well, for example regarding technical stuff involved in running my own website.
Towards the Second Anniversary
I’m going to continue to try and be patient and do what I can with the resources I currently have.
During the second year of Travel Jael I hope I’ll finally manage to get a translation ready (at least a few of the posts). Hopefully I’ll have more time to focus on blogging. And if not, well I’ll just try to be thankful for whatever time I do have and see every post as a small step towards my goals.
Above all I hope more readers will find my blog and find its content useful. After all, what’s the point in working so hard and investing both my time and money in this if nobody reads it?
Last but not least I want to thank you. Whoever you are reading this post right now, thank you! I really appreciate it. I hope you’ve found Travel Jael useful before and will continue to follow me on this journey in the future as well.
Happy birthday Travel Jael!