The Seven Most Important Things I Learned About Blogging Last Month – March 2014 Blog Report

Catching the train into April

That’s typical of the kinds of headlines I don’t really care for, yet a style bloggers are being told they need to write in order to quench the thirst of the SEO beast. I’ve never liked that least common denominator approach, hate myself when I do it so have decided it will cease before it becomes too ingrained. Blogging rules be damned. Happy spring.

I didn’t write the rules, why should I follow them?
– photographer W. Eugene Smith

Much like the entire month has been across the planet, Piran Café the blog was a bit fickle in March.

 

I’ve been back in Slovenia for more than six months but my mind is still on the road. And that’s not an entirely positive thing and has impacted my life on several levels, most of which I won’t get into here. Suffice it to say that reentry woes that can follow long-term travel are a difficult thing to explain if they haven’t been experienced; they’re next to impossible for a sometimes-blogger to articulate if he hasn’t been honest with himself about the direction he wants to steer said blog.

I decided a long time ago that what typically passes as travel blogging these days wasn’t for me. I have zero desire in entering into an ass-kissing relationship with the travel industry, no interest in creating Buzzfeed-esque posts and no inclination to even characterize Piran Café as a travel blog.

Yet I’ve spent much of the past five months revisiting the world of travel bloggers.  Networking mainly through some Facebook groups, I’ve met some great, committed, talented and enthusiastic people. But I’ve also learned that I don’t want to do what they’re doing. I’m still trying to figure out the precise coordinates to punch into the blog’s GPS but I do know that if I never read another over-the-top 1,000-plus word review of a luxury hotel it’ll be too soon. Back to the roots I go.

Top Five Posts For March 2014

So that said, it’s obvious readers didn’t come across any hotel PR copy here. So what did they read?

Actually, see is a better word this month than read, since photos continued to play a primary role as most of my paid assignments require days filled with wordcraft. What energy was left was directed towards my manuscript which kept chugging along, albeit at a snail’s pace.

5. Fast Food Bus, Chaiten, Chile – A Pic du Jour of a fast food joint where service was anything but fast
4. Lüftlmalerei, or Air Painting in Bavaria: 14 Examples – from a February visit to Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
3. In Praise of Books – Another Pic du Jour, this time from the Chilean capital Santiago
2. Joby’s Gorillapod SLR-Zoom – an 85-Second Review – self-explanatory, no?
1. The World’s Most Beautiful Cemeteries – La Recoleta, Buenos Aires: A Tour in 32 Photos – A stroll through one of the most popular attractions in the Argentine capital

Honorable mention: I was happy to see this one from just over one year ago given a second life by StumbleUpon and Twitter to become the fifth most read post from last month: Punched in the Crotch by a 4 1/2 Foot Tall Woman, or the Dangers of Street Photography in Potosi. Again, no further explanation required.

More numbers

Visitor figures were mentioned above; a few other numbers of note:

Domain Authority: 41
Page Authority: 51
Klout: 64
and
My Pic du Jour project hit 50 (!) straight days, then 75 (!) and has since reached into the 80s. This is by far the longest successive roll I’ve been on since Piran Café opened its doors.

Socializing: So Long, Facebook Page

As most of you certainly hadn’t noticed (or even cared) I need to mention that I decided to retire my blog’s Facebook page after 14 months of activity. I’d been struggling for a direction with it since I returned to Slovenia last September and quite honestly couldn’t figure out an honest and productive way to differentiate it from my personal Facebook account, which I found myself ignoring in the meantime.

It came down to this: the only brand that matters to me is me. I didn’t need another mirror site to do what I’d been doing all along with my personal account. Facebook’s fan page policy, which essentially made a page all but invisible to followers unless you paid for promotion, didn’t help matters. Considering the modicum of shallow engagement it created, it simply became a waste of time and effort. I honestly don’t miss it at all. The saving grace was some of the great people I met. Which brings me to this: I’d be delighted, humbled, honored and thrilled if you would accept this invitation to friend or follow me on Facebook.

Everywhere else on the SM front things continue to go quite well. For the record again, the social media numbers as of Tuesday morning 1 April, are as follows:

Google+ followers: 7,003 – up from 6,081 at end of February (4,554 January, 1,853 December, 1,261 November).
Twitter followers:  2,548 – up from 1,887 at end of February, (1,184 January, 1,098 December,  927 November)
– and for posterity’s sake, Piran Café Facebook page fans: topped out at 677 – up from 610 at end of February (468 January, 392 December, 327 November)

You can also find me on Pinterest and Foursquare. On the latter, I’m Mayor of Ljubljana’s Central Market and visit with my constituents there six days a week and post plenty of photos there too.

~ On the road ~

After sticking pretty close to home for the entire past month, it’s nice to know that I have four longer trips confirmed for between now and late September:
A week in Doha, Qatar in early May – I’ve been there a handful of times but not since the spring of 2011.
A week in Ostrava, Czech Republic and Bratislava, Slovakia. The former is a return engagement and the latter a first. Slovakia is the closest country I haven’t visited yet.
Ten days or so in Zurich and parts of southern Switzerland in August.
And 11 days in Marakech – the second time in Morocco but the first in this city I’ve heard so much about.

In April? It’s time to get back in shape. There will be lots of exploring by bike in the hills close to home.

Happy spring and thanks for reading.
Bob

 

 

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  1. Leigh says

    I’ve had a hard time too deciding over the years where my blog should go. That’s part of the reason I started working on a book – to open doors that I know nothing about and to put myself out there and be challenged to keep learning.

    You’ve been brutally honest and good on you for that. I agree that re-entry after long term travel is hard; it’s all about finding the next goal.
    Curious as to how you grew your G+ numbers so well. I’m still trying to understand it.

    1. Bob R says

      Looking forward to your book Leigh. As for G+, I began by getting involved with the photography community there, much bigger and better than anything I’ve come across on FB or elsewhere.

  2. Michele says

    I am with you Bob I am not sure I want to be a travel blogger(for the same reasons) although I do enjoy recording what we are doing even if it is just for us to read when we are older and greyer to remind ourselves we did get out there and do what others just dream about. Good luck wherever your blog goes….I will be watching 😛

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks Michele – I hope this didn’t come across as too negative, because that wasn’t the intention.

  3. Samantha @mytanfeet says

    I am always in awe of your Google + numbers and you’re doing a fantastic job, something to look up to! I feel like travel blogging has gotten so big lately with hundreds of new blogs popping up every month that it’s definitely more of a trend and I have no idea what it’ll be like in 5 or 10 years. I like that you’re going slightly against the grain and not hopping on the bandwagon. Still great numbers for March and here’s to April!

    1. Bob R says

      This is a fun monthly exercise, which you two actually inspired with your monthly reviews. 🙂

  4. Chris Boothman says

    I really enjoyed reading this review Bob. I have also found some inspiration from following you and networking with you on various social media fronts particularly on Google+ where you are so active and clearly what you are doing on there is working effectively for you.

    I think we would all do well to just take a step back and think about what we are trying to achieve with our blog. It shouldn’t all be about numbers, sure they help and give us a good sense of achievement, but what is more important is producing quality work primarily for ourselves.

  5. Sam @ Travelling King says

    Thanks for sharing Bob.
    Sometimes numbers just dont matter, its better to write and enjoy your blog rather than worry about the figures.
    Yes figures can make a difference but in the end its not the end of the worl.d

    1. Bob R says

      I’m not complaining about any numbers. 🙂 This is just a monthly update on how things, including numbers, are going here. Nothing more. 🙂

  6. Greg Seymour says

    4 Reasons Why I Love This Post – Number 2 Will Shock You

    Well I quite agree with with your overall view of travel blogs. I am in a unique situation with CostaRicaCurious in that I am an expat.. I am not going places – and at the same time I wanted to grow the blog and be a part of a community so I fell in with travel blogs.

    My writing style, if you can call it a style, is to write about the things that make me laugh or want to cry….or to write about my latest fantasy of learning some new skill, say Spanish, until the feeling passes.

    I salute your unwillingness to follow the crazy, and I love your photography.

    1. Bob R says

      Thanks, Greg, great lead. 🙂 And for the record: I don’t mind sometimes leading the crazy, but never following. 🙂

  7. Anna SK says

    I found it really interesting to read this! It showed me even more that I really want to put work into my pretty new blog and I am already excited to see the way it will turn out. Keep going!

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