Did we happen to mention that this blog is now officially one year old? (Hold the applause.)
It’s been over a year actually, considering we started it as a marketing tool to sell the graphics company we built up for ten years. We slowly turned it into a travel blog once we hit the road, so there is no firm anniversary date.
With that said, I hereby present my state of the blog address, with analysis, on the one year anniversary of launching our full time RVing sabbatical road trip adventure travel lifestyle change property search community escape tribute blog.
So, just how many key SEO search terms can I cram into a lead describing my thoughts of our blog after getting serious with it a year ago?
Seriously though, how can I describe my description of what this site has become and how it got there in the surprisingly short time since we hit the road after selling our home based business? Oh dear reader, let me count the ways:
1. Thank you. I say dear reader because you are the faithful few. Without you readers – and especially you commenters – maintaining this blog just wouldn’t feel worthwhile. For that, I thank you. Please keep subscribing, reading, and most of all commenting.
2. The planning part. We originally planned for LiveWorkDream.com to be a tool to help us sell our home and business in Eureka, CA. That worked. We then planned for it to be a tool for planning the next big chunk of our life.
Within a year it has become much more than just a travel blog. It is now a valuable full-time RVing resource documenting our favorite places. Our cross country roadtrip maps serve as a reference to everywhere we’ve been. Our travel videos and fulltiming photo galleries have grown almost out of control. Our attempts to monetize this thing have shown a little promise for making actual money from the road someday. And most importantly, comments on our blog have introduced us to a new community of online friends and fellow young travelers.
3. Photo Gallery Madness. Once we ditched our old 1and1 Flash galleries for the NextGEN Gallery WordPress plugin, our management of the multitude of travel photos on this blog has blossomed. Digging deep into our various photo galleries will reveal more interesting characters, including us workamping; funny signs, ha ha and peculiar; classic RVs and cool rigs; and now flora, fauna, and roadkill across America.
Miscellaneous LiveWorkDream Scenes from Colorado:
4. Videorama. The LiveWorkDream YouTube channel now has a hundred movies. Or it will, very soon after this writing. To our embedded video playlists of dashboard movies and site panoramas we have added community interviews that have introduced us to some quite interesting characters.
Our latest addition to the LiveWorkDream Video Page is the Musicamericana playlist where we’ve captured local music scenes from pickin’ at Luckenbach to the Fiesta Idol contest in Truth or Consequences, NM.
Feel free to skip ahead at any time should you happen to care less about any of this … you won’t hurt our feelings, really.
5. Statistics Schmatistics. I was amazed when we first started tracking traffic for this website in August of last year and noticed we were getting approximately 17,000 page views from about 4,700 unique visits a week. Then I realized that the stats we were getting from our web host – 1and1.com – included all our own hits. The WordPress Stats plugin we now use actually agrees pretty closely with Google Analytics and paints a more accurate picture of the traffic we’re getting: approximately 3,500 page views – not including our own – with over 1,500 absolutely unique visitors each week.
Aside from Google searches, top referrers to this site include our link on HitchHitch.com, Rene’s comments on the RV Now blog, our friends Sara and Matt, and my comments about the Dishpointer widget. And regarding those Google searches, the most popular search phrase of all time used to find our site is “build your own rv”. That must be because of this post about, well … building your own RV .
Coincidentally – or not – our top post of all time is that same one, titled On a Budget? Build Your Own RV! with more than 2,300 views. So far. The most popular page of this site is our roadtrip photo gallery, with about half as many views. So far. And by far – in terms of reader comments – our dedication post to Spoonie has the most at 32. I know he would have been proud of this claim to fame.
Now this all may not be much to write home about in the grand scope of the blogosphere statistics. But personally, I am impressed, a bit proud, and more than a little humbled by the fact that it is more than a handful.
6. The backend. What started as a simple WordPress installation has blossomed with a plethora of plugins, often resulting in a crash course of PHP programming. To enhance our search engine optimization, and hopefully enhance your reading experience this blog is now enhanced by the following WordPress plugins.
- Akismet – Checks comments against the Akismet web service to see if they look like spam or not. By Matt Mullenweg.
- All in One SEO Pack – Out-of-the-box SEO for your WordPress blog. By uberdose.
- BM-TrackPing – Automagically separate comments, trackbacks, and pingbacks on your wordpress blog By Ben Gillbanks.
- Category Order – Sorts the sidebar category list according to a user-defined ‘Category Order’ option in the ‘Manage’ menu By David Coppit.
- cforms II – offers unparalleled flexibility in deploying contact forms across your blog. By Oliver Seidel.
- FeedBurner FeedSmith – detects all ways to access your original WordPress feeds and redirects them to your FeedBurner feed so you can track every possible subscriber. By FeedBurner.
- NextGEN Gallery – A NextGENeration Photo gallery for the WEB2.0(beta). By NextGEN DEV-Team.
- Nofollow Case by Case – allows you to selectively apply rel=”nofollow” to your comment links. By Oliver Bockelmann.
- Sociable – Automatically add links on your posts to popular social bookmarking sites. By Peter Harkins.
- Subscribe To Comments – Allows readers to receive notifications of new comments that are posted to an entry. By Mark Jaquith.
- Text Link Ads – Really Simple Web/RSS Advertising For Personal or Commercial Use By Text Link Ads.
- WordPress.com Stats – Tracks views, post/page views, referrers, and clicks. By Andy Skelton.
- WordPress Database Backup – On-demand backup of your WordPress database. By Austin Matzko.
- WP-Deadbolt – Give yourself control of e-mail addresses that can be used when registering on your WordPress blog. By whoo.
- WP-EMail – Allows people to recommand/send your WordPress blog’s post/page to a friend. By Lester ‘GaMerZ’ Chan.
7. Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam! As of this writing, the Akismet plugin has caught just over 11,050 spam comments for us. I only remember one occasion where a valid comment was stopped. For some reason the Russians particularly like us.
8. Subscribers. According to Feedburner, we now have about 61 RSS feed subscribers on average, with a “reach “of 13 – that’s the average number of people who have viewed or clicked on the content in your feed daily. If there is a better way we can reach you, please let us know.
Eleven readers have chosen to subscribe via email by registering as a user of this blog. FYI: Our default user level is “Subscriber” and anyone can register using the Meta link in the sidebar … Assuming you are not with the Russian mafia or another of the domains we have deadbolted after receiving spam comments.
9. Blog Revenue. Ha! Let’s just call this section Monetization for now. Talk to us in five years to see if we actually make any money.
We first tried to monetize this blog – and make extra money while we’re on the road, with no income – by publishing AdSense ads from Google and selling relative RVing books found on Amazon. These two revenue streams have been steadily increasing from pennies a week to pennies a day.
Next, we added a PayPal donate button which to date has not delivered a single donation our way. It can’t be the script, because it’s working on Jerry’s site! I guess raising awareness about canine cancer is just a more justifiable cause than putting biodiesel in our tank.
We then discovered Commission Junction which allows us to rotate banner ads from various advertisers we personally select. This has proven to be the most work for the least money. But the program is extremely versatile and shows great promise for growth once traffic increases.
Finally, we signed up for Text Link Ads which could actually prove to be quite lucrative – if we weren’t so discreet with those. We honestly do try to keep any obnoxious advertising to a minimum. And we do our best to only publish relative advertisements.
10. A year on the road. Schyeah, right! As if. The one thing we quickly learned about trying to blog about the country while searching for the ideal community to settle own in, is that it can’t be done in a year. That’s why we’re workamping and wracking our brains about whether to keep on keepin’ on, or grab our own little piece of paradise – at least for a while – wherever that may be.
Epilogue: Oh dear reader, please don’t feel shorted. There are plenty more than ten ways to describe what has become of our own little live work dream. But we’ve gone on long enough – for now. It’s only taken me a few weeks to finish this post thanks to our current full-time workamping job here at the ranch. But that’s another story for another time.
The life of this fulltimer is always changing. Check back often to see what crazy hair-brained adventures we get ourselves into next. And thank you once again for your continued support.