On Two Years of Blogging...

Two years ago today, I published the very first post on this blog. Emmett and I were living in Invercargill, New Zealand and I had so much I wanted to share about travel. After years of sending a sporadic series of emails from the road, it seemed like time to put it all together on one site. I’d sort of become the travel expert in my social/familial circles and having a site to direct people to would help me save some time - while still helping them. I was insanely prolific in those early days. It was almost like I had been bursting with information that I just needed to throw out into the void of the internet. I drafted my first five or six posts in about 24 hours.

One year ago this week, I published a reflection piece on my first full year of blogging. In it, I spoke about my blogging journey, my favorite posts, my most popular posts, and my favorite travel experiences of that year. Emmett and I had just moved to the Mornington Peninsula of Australia for a new job. This was all about one month before I started to get serious about finding an audience for my blog. (More on that shortly).

Me on the beach in early December - Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Me on the beach in early December - Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia

Most Popular Posts of Year 2

The following are my top five most popular posts of the past year:

1. It Happens: Dealing with Scabies

The fact that this is so popular is a totally unexpected fluke. I got scabies in early August 2017 and it was miserable. I hadn’t known anything about what they were or how they were contracted before it happened to me. When I published this, I just wanted to offer my own advice based off of my experience with scabies to help other travelers. Now 50% of all of my monthly visitors are just visiting this single post! Weird.

2. Beachcombing New Zealand

This was my top most visited post from my first year of blogging. Most people who land on this post are trying to get the scoop on where to find beautiful, iridescent paua shells on New Zealand’s beaches.

3. City Guide - Sanibel, FL, USA

My local’s guide to Sanibel is one of the first posts that I ever published on this blog. It was entirely ignored during the first year of blogging because I never mentioned it anywhere else but here. After pinning this post to Pinterest early in 2018, it kinda took off. I’m honestly not surprised it does well, though, because Sanibel is such a major U.S. tourist destination.

4. How to Live in Your Car in New Zealand

It really was difficult at times, but overall I really enjoyed living out of our car for over a month in New Zealand. I also had a lot of fun writing this post and filling it with practical tips for others to follow if/when they find themselves in the same position. This post gets a lot of traffic from people who want advice on car living around the world - not just in New Zealand.

5. Perhentian Islands: How to Get There, What to Expect, & More

I wrote this massive, very informative guide to visiting Malaysia’s Perhentian Islands earlier this year only because I had a hard time planning our Perhentian trip online. I had been really frustrated with how little info there was on how to actually get there and on the cost of travelling the islands. People started finding me from Google when researching those very same ideas after I posted this guide. Then, I was lucky enough that one of the biggest and best bloggers in the industry (Jodi from Legal Nomads) noticed this post and tacked a link to my guide on the end of her post about the region. Not that you’ll probably ever read this… But, thank you Jodi!

Perhentian Islands - Paradise in Eastern Malaysia

Perhentian Islands - Paradise in Eastern Malaysia

Year 2 In Review - Blog Growth

Post-wise, this year was really slow. Over the summer, I barely eked out one post a month. The main reason for this is the fact that I was focusing on improving this blog in a general sense. I joined the Female Travel Bloggers group on Facebook and was exposed to a super helpful network of women who also blog about travel. Being a part of this group was the catalyst for me to think more seriously about making an effort to get eyes on this blog. Why did some posts get tons of visits from Google while others sat ignored? All I know is, I write the things that I do because I want someone to read them and find them helpful or relatable. This wasn’t happening. No one could find me. I was having a serious case of the only-my-loved-ones-read-my-blog blues.

So, I decided to focus on different ways to gain viewers to Savvy Dispatches. I started to be more active on social media sites to reach other travel lovers. I spent a couple of months learning every single thing I could about Pinterest specifically and what a powerful tool it can be for blogs. I’m really happy with how far I’ve come with Pinterest since then (at the time of publishing this, I have 2.3k followers and 120k monthly viewers on my profile). I’ve been dabbling in twitter a lot this year as well and have also been trying really hard not to neglect instagram (which is actually my least favorite platform).

The next best thing I did for my blog during this second year of blogging was attend my first travel industry conference this past September: the first annual Travel Con which was held in Austin, Texas. I learned a ton from all of the sessions & keynotes and ended each day feeling very energized and capable. It was incredible how actually physically being around people doing the same thing as me could make me feel more encouraged than online networking. I also got to meet some of my heroes and heroines in the industry including bloggers and authors that I’ve loved for years. That alone made the trip worth it for me.

During Nomadic Matt’s opening talk on Day 1 of Travel Con 2018 in Austin, Texas

During Nomadic Matt’s opening talk on Day 1 of Travel Con 2018 in Austin, Texas

Where I Am Now

After a few months staying with our families when we returned home to the States this past Spring, Emmett and I moved to Richmond, Virginia. I’ve been slowly starting to explore this dynamic capital city but it hasn’t made any appearances on the blog… yet. I hope it will start to be featured more regularly in 2019. There are so many cool things to do, awesome restaurants, wonderful museums, great bars, etc. It’s just a matter of time before I can become somewhat of a Richmond expert. (I hope).

Autumn color in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Autumn color in downtown Richmond, Virginia.

Plans for Year 3?(!)

Hmm. Well, I think I’m going to try to figure this Google thing out. I bought some tools recently that will help me optimize my content for search engines, so hopefully I’ll be getting more traffic on posts via Google searches. (More than just that one scabies post, that is). I also hope that I can be more productive this year as I sort of hit a blogging slump. I have a Google Doc full of potential post ideas, I just need to actually start cranking them out.

As for travel plans, I don’t have much set in stone. (For once!) I’m getting the vibe that Year 3 will see a lot less international travel - though I do hope to make it abroad at least once or twice. After nearly two years away from home, I am feeling really motivated to see more of the United States for a while.

Cheers to more views like this in Year 3!

Cheers to more views like this in Year 3!

Thanks for following along!