State of the Blog: March 2011

Every now and then, I’ll be discussing my progress with the blog, as well as my efforts to make it as a fulltime online freelance writer. I’ve always enjoyed sites that share this sort of information, so here goes.

The challenges of Quirky Travel Guy
My favorite kind of travel blogs are those in which the writer is actively traveling and provides daily updates of his or her adventures. My last blog (9000 Miles) was like that.

My biggest challenge with QTG is that I’m not in the middle of a big trip at the moment, so I have to figure out the best way to present fresh content. I still travel frequently – I went to St. Louis in December, Los Angeles in January, and will be in New Jersey next month – but these are mostly weekend excursions rather than full-time vagabonding adventures.

I want to offer more than a string of random, unconnected articles. One item I’m hoping will be successful is the Featured Travel Destination. Each month, I pick a different spot and every Monday I present a new article on that location.

February’s featured location was St. Louis. This month’s destination is Death Valley, a place you may not have considered visiting before. Upcoming featured destinations will include Los Angeles, Seattle, and Yellowstone National Park.

Stats for February
The traffic stats for my first month were pretty low. That was expected, of course. I didn’t begin spreading the word about the blog until two weeks after I started posting content, and I have some catching up to do when it comes to networking on Twitter and Facebook.

Here are the basic social media numbers at the end of February:
Alexa rank: 703,295
Twitter followers: 97
Facebook fans: 36

I want to improve these numbers as much as possible, but not for the sake of the numbers themselves. Page rank and followers mean nothing without making real connections with readers – that’s really what we’re after here.

I’m not sure how I managed to move up to 700k on Alexa with my small page views, but I won’t question it. (I just saw a site with 820 Facebook followers and 1000+ Twitter followers that ranks lower than me on Alexa. How on earth does that happen?)

Customizing the blog
I’ve been blogging in various places for about four years, but this is the first time I’ve tried to do extensive customization to fix up a site. I still have a long way to go. I’m making changes all the time and will continue to do so. For example: If I’m still using the same header six months from now, I’ll be disappointed. When I get the time, I’ve got to make an upgrade.

Stumbleupon is the next site I have to take the time to master. If you see any features or buttons or links missing from the site, feel free to send me a suggestion. I’m always open to constructive feedback.

So that’s the state of the blog for March. Keep reading, spread the word, and happy travels!

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About Scott Shetler

Scott is a Chicago-based journalist and blogger who seeks out quirky sights and awesome destinations throughout North America and beyond.

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