2017 Year in Review: Successes, Failures & Lessons learned

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

It has been an up and down year for Expatolife, but overall it’s great! 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 on my own. I read a lot of materials, watching videos, testing sites, over and over again. I’m still testing 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 of dealing with deposit scam in Copenhagen to one Facebook group, and people loved it. I asked them about that problem in March, so the members followed my story and read it. Expatolife received lots of 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 one day, I realized lots of people visit my website from Google. 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 as well, such as 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 few months). However, I decided to change it and stepped into the Pinterest challenge from the middle of November.

I bought Tailwind to schedule pins, reading a lot of materials, participating in Pinterest groups and starting Pinning every day :)

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

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 out that 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 lots of people advised me to use Bluehost. I knew that they offered affiliate links, but it’s so bad to recommend a new blogger to use Bluehost service. Their service was so terrible. My blog went down at least three times a week, and my website has a snail loading speed (6~7 second). Also, it took ages to contact their customer service.

I decided to stop using Bluehost service at the end of September while I had to transfer 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 that time. I changed to expatolife.com on the 1st of January, but I didn’t blog much. I post ONE article each month (not good at all, right?) because I was busy with my travel and my study. Also, I was good at procrastination. I just considered blogging as 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 to redesign 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 :)


10. I started to consider blogging as a job

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

My blog views

  • September: 1.7K
  • October: 3.3K
  • November: 5.5K
  • December: 9K


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

As I designed my blog on my own, my website looked horrible a few times…
Bad design

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 article 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!

  1. 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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