I always thought these blog birthdays were kind of dumb, and swore I wouldn’t write one, but a lot of what I thought this blog would and wouldn’t involve I was wrong about. Not only am I clearly writing one, but it’s a massive 1700 words including travel blogging tips (as if I’m at all qualified to give them out).
Hippie in Heels is One!
First of all I never considered myself a “blogger” and all year when some stranger on a plane asks me what I do, I say I run a travel website. I guess I feel like having a blog can be seen as something not that serious, while Hippie in Heels is a full-time job for me (even though people at home just think I lay at the beach all day.)
I also thought I would never filter myself, but I only share about 50% of what I get up to and the only truly personal thing I’ve shared is about the deaths of my two dogs, although haven’t shared too much about Piso who died very young.
Huck and Piso
The Up’s and Down’s
I enjoy writing tips and stories about India but never felt inclined to write about my acclimation here and how I feel about living in India. I changed that a bit with my “This is India” series where I share a little of the negative as well with true stories of the shit I deal with here! People seem to really be enjoying these stories so I feel happy that I can be more honest about the challenging side of India without offending people.
The best part about this blog is when people e-mail to say that they weren’t sure if they could travel India, but my blog helped them plan and feel confident. I think it’s cool when people share the blog with their parents to show them what India is like. My new Skype travel planning is also going well and of course I LOVE helping people plan their trips.
The hardest part about blogging is dealing with douche-bags. I have been called over and over asking if I can give a “sexy massage”, I’ve been accused of being an escort, I’m offered money to show gross men around Goa, and I get FB messages that are so creepy I consider turning off messaging all together. It’s always Indian men who are messaging me inappropriately and it does make it hard for me to be open to friendships with Indian men in general because every other day I get a repulsive message over one of my many social media platforms. Because of the culture gap, sometimes I don’t even realize at first what’s happening. Someone will be asking how much budget they need for a few good nights in Goa and I tell them just to see in their reply “oh, maybe I can only afford you one day, please revert with meeting details”.
Granted, this is about 3% of the messages I get. I have such awesome readers who keep me going and appreciate what I have to say. I’d be lying though if I didn’t say that 3% is hard to deal with some days.
I really love when readers email to tell me I helped with their trips and really this site would be non-existant if people didn’t keep coming back and telling their friends- so thank you!
This Year on Hippie in Heels
It’s strange to think a little over two years ago I was a nurse in Seattle, and only 1 year ago, I was googling “what is WordPress?” I even googled “who writes female travel blogs” and was SHOCKED how many there were! It was only a year ago I read my first travel blogs: Adventurous Kate, Alex in Wanderland, and Ashley Abroad (apparently I only got through the A’s) and saw a glimpse into what blogging was all about. I had thought I was being so unique starting one- but soon realized I’m one of thousands upon thousands.
Not one to be discouraged, I decided to go for it and started posting about all my older Europe travels. I fought off my first internet troll, made some blogging buddies, and finally after about 6 months I started making money- which let’s me honest, I’d be crazy to do all this work not hoping for money. I’ve made some great partnerships and although I saw my blog as a business from day one, other people are starting to see what I can do for their companies, which is a good feeling.
I watched my blog go from 500 monthly readers to 33,000 unique readers. The last few months I’ve been at close to 70,000 page views a month. I have written over 200 posts this year.
As my blog grew, I had to change hosts from Godaddy because they were terrible! I use Siteground now which is good for mid-range traffic blogs. If you are a beginner blogger, don’t use Godaddy, go for Bluehost! It’s just 2.95/month with this link.
I also updated to a new pretty theme. It’s called Avada and was $60.
I usually posted 5 times a week, but this year you’ll see me slow down to about 4; two of which will be from my series posts. It’s not because I don’t enjoy writing on here, but because 5 was a LOT; most bloggers post 2-3 per week. I have already posted SO much information about general travel in India that now I want to post more detailed posts about each city as I visit them.
Some of the series I’ve started are International Boho-Chic Designers and I hope to do more give aways for you guys with that one, This is India with the wacky stories, and Backpacker’s Boutique which includes luxury guides from expats and interviews about detailed packing lists.
My most popular posts:
This year in Goa
This year has been a lot of firsts. I was officially unemployed for the first time since I was 15. I am living in India with Ben, who I had only known for a mere 3 weeks before moving here. I had to learn how to be an expat and how the hell to survive without my nursing paycheck.
Blogging has finally started to help me; this month I’ll make more than I made as a nurse, but for all I know, next month I may make nothing. It’s very unreliable. Because of that I knew I needed back ups. I’ve shared that I kept my nursing active and how to do so when you move abroad. I also put fliers up for my Thai yoga massage which has been a small but nice occasional income.
PS this number is no longer correct, and even if it were- it doesn’t mean you should whatsapp message me!!!
Over monsoon I started ISLA Candles with my free time trapped in the rainy house. Even if this business doesn’t take off, it was such a learning experience. It was more work that you can imagine to source all the bits and pieces. Dealing with Indian men in business was refreshing, as I got so much more respect than usual. I also decided on planes when strangers ask, I will tell them I’m a candle-maker. It’s more interesting than writing I think!
In the last year I spent time in many cities in India, Singapore, Thailand, England, and the U.S. Next year, I will have a visa run- maybe Sri Lanka, my parents are visited for Christmas, and I have a huge trip with goMowgli that I’m on right now!
There were some sad times this year. A month or two after I moved to Goa, our little Piso (meaning crazy in local Konkani) died from parvo virus. He was an adorable but sickly little golden retriever who was taken from his mama too early. I thought that was something I wouldn’t get over, but just a year later my Huckleberry died from rabies. In my opinion, that’s the worst way to lose an animal since there are no tests to verify. His illness was the worst week of my life and although I know other people have lost dogs, I just feel like it’s impossible to get over his death and I’m not sure how other people have done so. Our rescue kitten, Kit Kat, is still with us but could have rabies, as he was only a few weeks old and unvaccinated while exposed to the virus. If he’s okay in a couple months then he’s in the clear. Ben has gotten a little puppy in Kochi that he might bring to Goa, but the pup has a mom and family in Kochi so it’s up in the air now since there are so many dogs here in Assagao that need rescued and have no mother.
Some travel blogging tips from year 1
First of all, I’m not really in a place to give tips compared to the bloggers that have been around for years, but if you’re just getting started I could be helpful…
The blog building was much harder than I thought and took about three weeks. If I could go back I would make things absolutely perfect and ready before launching to ease any stress and be able to focus on social media and getting my blog known rather than fixing bugs and mailing issues.
This year I posted 5 times a week most weeks and posted over 200 posts. Actually, my second and third month I posted 6 times a week occasionally. I think the first year it’s imperative to post at least 4 times a week with original and unique content.
When I saw my blog take a leap of readers it was when I decided to stick to writing about India. As all the blogging sites say, stick to a small niche. There were too many other bloggers out there doing the same thing. Originally I had the tagline “glamorous travel on a backpacking budget” but it was changed to “glamorous travel in India (and everywhere else)” because half way through the year I realized I wasn’t traveling as cheap as before and about 60% of my content and all my foreseeable content was about India. You need to be KNOWN for something and not only am I known for India, but girly travel in India and luxury travel in India which is so far from where I started.
SEO is important although I just use the YOAST plug-in, when reviewing my all time traffic, 50% came from Google.
It’s important to have text on your images when you share them on Pinterest and Twitter. I do my own usually but have hired people on Fiverr. By the way, if you’re saving for a trip or have any skills (seriously you can just hold a sign up with a company logo) you can make $5 per gig. I keep meaning to sign up to make Pinterest graphics for people.
I think having a media kit helped a lot when attached to e-mails to anyone I would pitch to. You want to make sure they can see all your accomplishments in one places, rather then search for them on your site and it saves time while e-mailing to just attach. I love mine and it was made by Emily over at Lets Roam Wild. I 100% recommend her work.
From the beginning, I also commented on others’ blogs although I don’t do it as much anymore except blogs I really like (and there are actually a lot). I guest posted every opportunity I could even the first month I started blogging. If you have something interesting to say, you should definitely reach out to even the biggest bloggers. Other bloggers need content so you’d be surprised how many people will be cool with it.
I also started doing this thing I read about where you give each area of your work 1% more and you will see drastic results. I used this towards my social media. I shared more people’s posts I liked, I actually started using twitter and following people. I tried to put up Instagram photos every day and commented on other bloggers Facebook posts. I don’t think it worked for Instagram, but for twitter and Facebook it helped. I now have about 1.6k to 2.3k across all my social media accounts.
Most importantly, I ALWAYS answer my e-mails, Facebook messages and comments, tweets, and website comments from my readers. I think that’s the most important part of all. When people e-mail questions I ask myself, “should I write a post about this?” because it could help other readers.
If blogging tips are something you’re interested in, just let me know in the comments and maybe I’ll write a post on it!
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