2017 Year in Review: Successes, Failures & Lessons learned

As today is the last day of 2017, I decided to look back on my blogging journey this year.

It has been an up and down year for Expatolife, but overall it’s excellent! I want to celebrate all my wins, as well as my failures/ challenges, and what I’ve learned from them in this post.

To my readers, I’m appreciated all your support and love for my blog.

Blog wins

1. I design Expatolife on my own

It was not easy to start everything at first. Some people hire designers to build their websites, but I’m cheap, so I do everything independently. I read a lot of materials, watching videos, testing sites, over and over again. I’m still trying and improving my site every day :)

2. I got more than 1000 followers on Instagram

Well, it’s not a significant number at all, but I couldn’t dream of it one year ago. Instagram is still a new game to me ( as I just started frequently posting since middle September 2017), but it’s doing great :)

If you haven’t followed my Instagram account yet, follow me here.

Instagram Expatolife

3. My post went viral – Expatolife received 1000 views in 8 hours

What was the secret behind this success?

I shared my experience dealing with a deposit scam in Copenhagen with one Facebook group, and people loved it. In March, I asked them about that problem, so the members followed my story and read it. Expatolife received many visitors that day (1196 views on April 24th).

It’s still the best day of my blogging journey, and I aim to break it next year!

4. My articles are on the first page of Google search

I didn’t focus on SEO until I realized many people visited my website from Google one day. After analyzing these statistics, I knew that one of my posts was on the first page *Yay*. Now, if you search on Google for “Bad things about Vietnam,” you can see my article is a snippet and on the first link first page :)

Bad things about Vietnam

I have a few articles that do well on Google search and Julefrokost, Ba Na Hills, etc.

5. I set up and run social media channels

This sounds like a simple task, but believe me, it’s not. It’s easy to sign up for an account on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest, but it takes lots of time to maintain these accounts by posting frequently and increasing the reach.

My Pinterest account reached 173K after 1.5 months!

So I set up my Pinterest account around July, as I recalled, but I abandoned it and just published 10 Pins and didn’t pin much, so my Pinterest reach was super low (around 2K ~ 3K for a few months). However, I decided to change it and stepped into the Pinterest challenge in the middle of November.

I bought Tailwind to schedule pins, read a lot of materials, participate in Pinterest groups, and start Pinning every day :)

And guess what? My Pinterest reach is now 173K!

Pinterest reach 2017

I admired people who shared their reach was 100K, and I could not believe that I could one day become one of them, but now I am :)

Now, my most views are from Pinterest, followed by Google Search. Click here to follow me on Pinterest!

6. My articles got featured on different websites

I was surprised when I received views from “Referral,” so I tried to look it up and found some websites linked to my posts!

7. I gave up my Bluehost hosting and moved to Siteground

When I started my blog, I read some reviews, and many people advised me to use Bluehost. I knew they offered affiliate links, but it’s terrible to recommend a new blogger to use the Bluehost service. Their service was so awful. My blog went down at least three times a week, and my website has a snail loading speed (6~7 seconds). Also, it took ages to contact their customer service.

I decided to stop using the Bluehost service at the end of September while transferring from HTTP to HTTPS. I tried to contact them all day but couldn’t. I signed up and paid for three years hosting in Bluehost, but I moved to Siteground, and things have been way better since then. It’s my best decision so far!

8. I relaunched my blog

I initially started Expatolife on December 20th, 2016, but it was with the domain expatolife.net at that time. I changed to expatolife.com on January 1st, but I didn’t blog much. I post ONE article each month (not good at all, right?) because I was busy traveling and studying. Also, I was good at procrastination. I just considered blogging a hobby, so it was not one of my priorities.

My blog received around 1K views each month (except April was 3K) until September.

In August, I bought a new theme, and I started redesigning my blog in September ( I was traveling during August, so I didn’t do anything).

Also, as I mentioned above, I moved to the Siteground hosting service and installed HTTPS. I relaunched my blog in September, and now I’ve been focusing on Expatolife more.

9. I improved the site speed

Thanks to Siteground hosting service and lots of technical improvements, my loading speed reduces from 6+ seconds to around 1 second :)

Site speed testing

10. I started to consider blogging as a job

When I began Expatolife, I considered it a hobby, so I didn’t have a plan or goal. As a result, I published once a month or nothing, and the views were low. I’ve learned that I should consider my blog a job, and I started planning its goals.

My blog views

  • September: 1.7K
  • October: 3.3K
  • November: 5.5K
  • December: 9K
GA Sep Dec 2017

My Failures

1. Procrastination

My blog would have been way better if I didn’t procrastinate too much during 2017. I didn’t set any goal or make any real plan to improve my blog, and just “dreaming it to be better.”

2. I “destroyed” my website a few times

Bad design

As I designed my blog on my own, my website looked horrible a few times.

3. I relied on Facebook too much

I once just shared my posts on Facebook and didn’t have other social media channels. Therefore, my page views depended on whether I shared my article on “correct time, correct place” or not. However, I focus on SEO and Pinterest now, so it’s better :)

Things I’ve learned

  • Considering blogging as a job
  • Having plans and setting goals for each month
  • Learning about SEO
  • Focusing on Pinterest
  • Posting high-quality articles frequently (ideally at least once a week)
  • Using Siteground instead of Bluehost

So it’s the end of my 2017 review, thank you for your support, and see you in 2018!

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One Comment

  1. Stephanie Sherlock says:

    Congratulations on all of your successes. You are doing excelling so quickly and are a good example for all Travel Bloggers.

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