Greetings from Azerbaijan!
The longer I travel, the more quickly these monthly update posts seem to come. I swear I was just writing about being on the road eight months and, here I am, already writing about nine.
I’ve gotten gushy and emotional quite a bit over the last few months, talking about lessons I learned in Armenia and speculating as to how much longer I will be on the road. So I thought I’d change things up a bit for my nine-month update and talk a little bit about this blog – where it has been and where it is going.
I started this blog over two years ago, in January 2010.
At that time, it wasn’t much more than a poorly planned WordPress blog called Katie Goes Global. By August 2010, I decided to get a bit more serious and I invested in a domain name and switched to self-hosting (in case you’re wondering, www.katiegoesglobal.com was not available – hence, the switch to Katie Going Global). But even then, I wasn’t quite sure what I was doing. I had already dreamed up the idea of my current career break and I wanted to blog about it, but I didn’t really know what to do in the meantime. Those first few months, I perhaps posted once a month and I was lucky to get a couple visitors each day (seriously, in September 2010, I had 93 unique visitors the entire month).
By this time last year, I was starting to get a bit more into a groove.
I decided to attend the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) Conference in Vancouver and I was preparing to give notice at work and announce my current adventure to the world. In May 2011, I had around 1,100 unique visitors during the month and 2,500 page views.
One year later, I just saw my highest traffic month ever, with over 4,600 visitors and more than 10,000 page views.
So before I go any further – THANK YOU to all of you for reading and commenting and sharing my posts with others.
Knowing you all are out there reading and hopefully enjoying what I am writing makes everything worthwhile.
What does this all mean?
Well, it means I am in a place now that I never even contemplated back in 2010. For one, I am making a small amount of money from advertising and affiliate sales on the site. While I don’t anticipate that this would ever be enough to make a full-time living travel blogging (and that’s not really what I want anyway), it is a nice supplement to my current travel budget.
I have also been fortunate to start partnering with some great companies – typically, they provide me with something (a tour, accommodation, etc.) on a complimentary basis and I provide a review on my blog as well as promotion through Twitter and Facebook. You may have noticed a few of these recently – a couple tours I took with Context Travel in Istanbul and reviews of the hostels I have stayed at in Georgia, courtesy of Hostelworld. Even though I am getting the benefit of the free tour or place to stay, I assure you that all opinions I share will be completely honest – I will only recommend things to you that I believe in and would recommend to my closest friends.
What lies ahead?
I will be in Azerbaijan until next week as I work on getting my visas for Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Then I will stop through Georgia (I think the border guards may soon get sick of me!) on my way back to Armenia for a week to see more of the country and catch up with some of my fellow volunteers who are still there.
On June 17, I fly to Tajikistan. I will spend a day in Dushanbe, the capital, before heading to Penjikent, near the border with Uzbekistan and close to an area called the Zerafshan Valley. After a day of training there with the Zerafshan Tourism Development Association (ZTDA), I will head to the mountains for a month to work with local families, teaching them English and coaching them on hosting Western tourists. I will also work with ZTDA on their marketing and fundraising efforts. I think this could be the most challenging, yet fulfilling, endeavor I have pursued on my trip and I am really excited about it!
While I should have internet access while in Tajikistan, I have no idea how reliable it will be (likewise with the rest of Central Asia). I am going to try to schedule several blog posts in advance, but bear with me if I don’t respond to comments, tweets or emails right away.
Finally, although I can’t go into details yet, I have committed to doing something in the United States in mid-October, which means I sort of, kind of, have an end date to this trip. Stay tuned to my Facebook page for more on that soon!
And even though I will be back on American soil this fall, I will definitely continue to travel as much as possible and to keep up with the travel blogging – just because my current trip will end doesn’t mean this blog will.