After getting nominated for Top 20 Expat blogs and Liebster Award, I’m really happy that I got nominated for the Mystery Blogger Award by Chandrima from the Travel Stories Untold. Chandrima is a great travel blogger who loves sharing her passions for food, fashion, photography and travel-related activities. Thank you again for your nomination, Chandrima.

What is Mystery Blogger Award?

According to the creator, Okoto, “Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve every recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging, and they do it with so much love and passion.

 

3 things about me

Because this award requires sharing 3 things about myself, here are my sharing:

  1. I’m a big fan of ice-cream. I eat ice-cream almost every day and I try Ice-cream in every city that I’ve been to. My favorite country for ice-cream is Italy. The gelato is way too good there! I remember that I ate gelato 3 times every day when I was in Italy, even though it was the winter.
  2. Trying Vietnamese Pho noodles in different countries is my goal. I love trying local food surely, but I’m curious how Pho tastes like around the world, so I have a small project to try it. You can read my Pho Review around the world here.

3. Solo travel is my passion. Even though it’s still fun to travel with family and friends, I love my me-time to discover the world on my own. You can read my first solo trip story in Japan and how it changed my life here.

 

Answer to Chandrima’s question

1.What is your greatest fear?

I think I will be so scared if I get kidnapped while traveling alone in a strange country. Traveling alone is quite dangerous for female, so I’m always careful and have plans to protect myself. However, if things go wrong, it will be horrible.

2. Which is the most embarrassing (and funny) incident of your life?

It was the time that I went to a toilet in my university, Copenhagen Business School, without knowing that that was the toilet for both genders. I was so embarrassed and didn’t want to go out, but eventually, I did. You can read more about my story here.

My best performing post so far is 10 Bad things about Vietnam. Check it out if you haven’t.

 

My questions for the nominees

  1. Why did you start your blog?
  2. What is your best achievement in blogging?
  3. What has been the craziest things you have done while traveling?
  4. If you could start blogging again, what would you do differently?

Read more about my Liebster Award that I received!

If you think your blog is amazing and would love to spread it to the world, please contact me for nomination for Liebster Award and Mystery Blogger Award. Thank you!

My nominees


The rules of the Mystery Blogger Award

1. Put the award logo/image on your blog

2. List the rules.

3. Thank whoever nominated you and provide a link to their blog.

4. Mention the creator of the award and provide a link as well

5. Tell your readers 3 things about yourself

6. You have to nominate 10 – 20 people

7. Notify your nominees by commenting on their blog

8. Ask your nominees any 5 questions of your choice; with one weird or funny question (specify)

9. Share a link to your best post(s)

*The article was updated on 1st May, 2018.

Happy New Year everyone! Today is the first day of 2018, so I wish you a great year ahead. As I discussed yesterday in 2017 Reflection, setting goals is really important in blogging. Here are my blog goals & travel plans for this year!

 

1. Learning SEO

I haven’t focused on SEO in 2017, so 2018 is a good start to emphasize on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). My goal is to have more posts ranked on the first or second page of Google search for specific keywords.

How to achieve this goal?

  • Read more documents and guides on SEO
  • Use Keysearch.co platform to find specific keywords to rank
  • Write in-depth article (ideally more than 1000 words)
  • Apply SEO-friendly techniques in articles

 

2. Improving photography

If you read my recent articles, you can notice that I’ve put more pictures and also I edited them carefully. I’m currently taking a photography course at my university, so I hope that I can improve my photography skills & knowledge. Also, as I’m learning Lightroom & Photoshop, I hope that I can create more beautiful contents :)

Where to visit in Paris

How to achieve this goal?

  • Take Photography course & practice the techniques in free time
  • Read more photography materials & understand equipment
  • Learn & practice Lightroom & Photoshop

 

3. Increasing pageviews

2017 ended with an interesting news that Expatolife received more than 9000 views in December. I aim at increasing more page views this year, and here is a specific break-down goal:

  • January: 10K views
  • February: 12K views
  • March: 13K views
  • April: 15K views

blog goal

How to achieve this goal?

  • Have a specific plan for each month
  • Create more contents & publish frequently based on schedule
  • Focus more on SEO & Social media Marketing
  • Collaborate with other bloggers by writing guest posts & collaboration

 

4. Monetization

I haven’t earned any from my blog, so I’d like to change it this year. I hope to collaborate with more brands & companies, as well as earning from affiliate marketing.

blog goal

How to achieve this goal?

  • Read and learn affiliate marketing
  • Apply for affiliate marketing programs and apply it to posts
  • Write more content that can be monetized: gift guides, city guides, etc.
  • Contact brand & companies to collaborate
  • Build connection

 

5. Social Media Goals

I just made this infographic picture to illustrate my goals for social media in 2018. I strive to improve brand awareness, increasing followers & interaction of each channel.

  • Facebook: 2000 followers
  • Instagram: 10K followers
  • Twitter: 3000 followers

Social Media Goal

 

6. Travel Plans

2017 was an amazing year as I traveled to more than 20 countries and several cities around the world. I decide to take a gap year before studying Master, so I will spend time traveling around Asia. This is the list of the countries that I’d like to visit and discover in 2018

  • Japan: Kyushu area (Fukuoka, Nagasaki & Kumamoto), Kansai Area (Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Nara), Okinawa, & Hokkaido. I might go back to Tokyo again :)
Asakusa Tokyo Japan

I might go back to Tokyo again!

  • South Korea: Seoul
  • Thailand: Bangkok, Chiangmai & islands
  • Singapore
  • Malaysia
  • Vietnam: I’ll explore more places in my country :)

Thank you for reading my blog goal

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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’d like to celebrate all my wins, as well as my failures/ challenges and what I’ve learned from them in this post. To my lovely readers, I’m really 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 websites, over and over again. I’m still testing and improving my website every day :)

 

2. I got more than 1000 followers on Instagram

Well, it’s not a big 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 posting frequently 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. Actually, 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 during 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 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 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 to use Bluehost. I knew that they offered affiliate links but it’s so bad to advise a new blogger to use Bluehost service. Their service was so terrible. My blog went down at least 3 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 3 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 originally start Expatolife on December 20th, 2016, but it was with the domain expatolife.net that time. I changed to expatolife.com on 1st of January, but I didn’t blog much. I just post ONE article each month (not good at all, right?) because I was busy with my travel and my study. Also, I was really good at procrastination… I just considered blogging as a hobby so it was not one of my priority.

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 Siteground hosting service and installed https. I relaunched my blog in September and now I’ve been focusing on Expatolife more.

Expatolife

 

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 seconds :)

 

10. I started to consider blogging as job

When I started 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 few times

As I designed my blog on my own, my website looked horrible 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 a “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!

Thank you for reading my review

Hey everyone! How are you doing? I gotta tell you an exciting new that I got nominated for the Liebster award for Bloggers last month :)

 

What is the Liebster award?

The Liebster Award 2017 is an award that is given to bloggers by other bloggers. In German, Liebster means sweetest, kindest, nicest, and cute! It’s the great way to motivate bloggers for their work, and also help readers to know more about their favorite blogs.

Liebster Award

Who nominated me?

I was so happy that Elle from Dressing Danishly wanted to dominate Expatolife for the Liebster Award. She loves my blog, especially the articles about Copenhagen

Thank you so much for the domination. Here are my answers to your questions

 

1.Have you ever traveled anywhere you were disappointed by? Why?

Yes, I have. I dreamed of visiting Paris and expected too much about that city, but I was quite disappointed about that trip. I was there in February, and the weather was terrible. It was snowy, rainy, windy and foggy during my time there. The architecture was similar to Ho Chi Minh city, where I came from, so there was nothing much new to me. However, I think if I go back in the summer with the nice weather, I will have better image about Paris :)

 

2. If you could only visit one more country, where would it be?

If I could only visit one more country, I would choose Egypt. Egypt and its pyramids fascinate me with all the mysterious history and culture. I want to observe and go inside the pyramids. Riding the camel passing the desert is on my bucket list as well.

 

3. Do you prefer to travel by plane, train or bus?

I prefer to travel by plane because it shortens the travel time. I usually go very light with hand luggage only, so it doesn’t take the time to get on board.

 

4. Which city do you think has the best fashion?

I think Copenhagen. I remember the first day I visited Copenhagen, everyone seems like a model here! Not only tall and good-looking, Danes dress really well in my opinion.

 

5. Hotels v hostels: which team are you on?

I’m on the Hostel team. I use hostels mostly because it’s cost-effective, and it’s easy to meet new people. Because I travel alone, it’s more interesting to meet new people and hang out with them.

 

6. If you were to write a book about travel, what would you call it?

– An adventure of a Vietnamese girl –

How does it sound to you? As a Vietnamese, it is very difficult to apply for a visa to travel abroad. Also, I’m from a very conservative and traditional family, so it’s not common for ”a girl to go everywhere”, according to my mom.

 

7. Are there any downsides to traveling?

There are a lot of downsides actually, mostly about homesick, missing my friends and family.

 

8. You’ve got a free one-way ticket to anywhere in the world: where would you pick?

I will go to Copenhagen :) I’m in love with this city after living there one year.

 

9. Any nightmare stories you can share whilst travel?

In the first day in Italy, I slept over my bus stop and just realized when the bus was far away from the city. I had to walk 20 minutes to find another bus, and it was dark in the winter.

 

10. What are your blogging dreams for 2017?

Since my page reached 1000 views in 1 day, my blogging dreams are brought more informative news about traveling to my lovely readers, and also get 10000 views per month.

 

11. Where are you heading to next?

I’m going to explore more about my country! I’ve traveled many other places, so this is the time to see more of Vietnam.


Additional Liebster nomination requirements

10 random things about me

  1. I’m obsessed with ice-cream (love it too much).
  2. My favorite movie series is Games of Throne. I am traveling around and visiting all the filming set places. I visited the film set in Seville, Spain, and also to Dubrovnik to see the Kings Landing.
  3. Studying few words before going to a new place is always on my list.
  4. I am a mix of introvert and extrovert.
  5. My favorite place is the sea. I like stepping into the water and enjoy the coldness that the water brings.
  6. When I have free time, I usually stay at home and watch movies.
  7. Playing musical instruments is one of my hobbies.
  8. I learned some martial arts to protect myself.
  9. Once I dreamed of opening a bakery shop.
  10. My favorite city is Copenhagen :)

 

My favorite blog

Since I live in many countries, making new friends is one of the most important things to do. In How I Make Friends In A New City by Page Traveller, Amy suggested many useful ways to meet new people in new places. I think this is very useful and necessary for expats and travelers.


Questions for My Nominees

1. What is the best memory that you have while traveling?

2. What is the most extreme thing you have ever done?

3. Have you ever had something romantic while traveling?

4. Do you prefer to travel alone or with someone?

5. What is your favorite travel book?

6. What is your worst experience on the road?

7. What/Who inspires you to travel the world?

8. How do you save up to travel?

9. Do you have any advice for a new blogger?

10. Where do you think is the best place to go in the summer?


My Nominees


Rules for Liebster Award

  1. Thank the person who nominated you, and put a link to their blog on your blog. Try to include a little promotion for the person who nominated you. They will thank you for it and those who you nominate will also help you out as well.
  1. Display the award on your blog — by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  1. Write a 150-300 word post about your favorite blog that is not your own. Explain why you like the blog, provide links.
  1. Provide 10 random facts about yourself.
  1. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs that you feel deserve the award, who have a less than 200 followers.
  1. List these rules in your post
  1. Inform the people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster award and provide a link for them to your post

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