It’s been one year since I started publishing weekly articles as the Travelingi, and I think this milestone affords an opportunity to reflect on what it all means. The website has both exceeded my expectations in some areas while completely disappointing me in others.
Where I’ve experienced the most frustration is in the realm of social media. This is partially my fault; I do not put in the time required to build a large following across various platforms. However, it also has to do with the fact that social media is very much personality-driven, and the people closest to me have all insisted that I don’t have one. Even Google is under the impression that I am a robot despite completing all the captchas it can throw at me.
But the problem goes beyond my stale persona. Even on Twitter, where I have had a modicum of success, followers and likes are not translating into clicks. The fact of the matter is that blogging if not dead has become more niche than ever before, and in the case of travel writing, there is little reason to read a blog unless you are looking for specific information for an upcoming trip. Long form travel writing has mostly been replaced by the Instagram star and their ceaseless barrage of selfies in iconic locations. In short, no one wants to read 800 words on why I hate General McArthur.
Much of the constructive criticism that I have received has fallen into two veins. First, that the website does not have a clearly stated purpose, and second, it needs more photos. I agree that the website would benefit from being more defined instead of a hodgepodge of articles ranging from travel tips to more serious critiques of local culture, and this is something that may occur in the future. However, my original intent was to throw pretty much everything at the board and see what sticks.
I have been able to momentarily drive a decent amount of traffic to my website by posting comments on news media articles. Unfortunately, many news websites are eliminating their comment sections and the ones that do often will not allow self-promotion. The Washington Post has been the exception, allowing links to my site on comments that are relevant to the article. Earlier on, comments on the Guardian’s website were a significant source of repeat visitors, including many who signed up for the weekly email reminder. Sadly, the Guardian has mostly done away with its comment sections.
Where I have exceeded my expectations (although not in the way I had intended) is with Google search results. The post “A Gentleman’s Club in Mumbai” now has the dubious honor of being one of the top returns when searching for strip clubs in Mumbai. So if I learned anything at all this year, it is always to find a way to work sex into a post. Nevertheless, the exposure seems to have dragged some of my other posts higher up the returned results.
Regarding photos, these are and will remain an afterthought. This website is primarily about travel writing. For the sake of everyone’s sanity (including mine), I try to limit pieces to about 800 words. I do have a few ideas for more photo-intensive posts that I plan to sprinkle in every now and then, but it will be the exception, not the norm.
Probably the greatest accomplishment this year was simply sticking to my goal of posting once every week. Most of my time is taken up by work and the rest travel. Often I only find the time to write late Friday evening (as is the case today), and this has lamentably reduced the quality of my work. Still, I hope that I have shared at least a few insights over the last year, and hopefully will have a few more in the year to come.
And so to my faithful readers, a big heartfelt thank you! And feel free to leave a comment with any critiques; I’m always open to constructive criticism just as long as it’s not a request for more photos. Until next week….