Today is a special day because it marks a big milestone for me. It’s the one-year (plus one day!) anniversary of my having published my very first blog post. In other words, it’s my very first blogiversary. YAY!
That very first post was aptly titled It’s About Damn Time, because it took me so long to launch the dang thing. But anyway, I thought I would celebrate this feat by doing a quick and dirty year in review and also by looking ahead at new goals for the future.
Well, for me, the fact that I even started this thing at all was a huge accomplishment! I knew nothing about creating a website when the debatably brilliant idea came to me that I should make one. So, I had to learn. Luckily there are lots of tutorials and articles online to help someone like me. I’m still quite the novice at this website stuff, but hey, I’ve made it work for my purposes so far.
For a visual look at this past year’s accommplishments, here’s a nifty little infographic I made showing some nifty little things!
Out of the sixteen blog posts I’ve written in the past 365 days, the most popular one — by far — is the post about coffee. And Italy. We all love our coffee and our Italy, I guess! From Devil’s Drink to Frappuccino: The Coffee Scene in Italy is About to Change, it was called. (A rather long title, admittedly.)
It’s received 3,460 views to date, that’s 2,602 more than my second-most-viewed blog post, Gluten-Free Travel Tips for Europe & Beyond with its 858 views. The coffee post was featured in a Rick Steves’ monthly travel newsletter, which gave it a real boost. So thanks for that, Rick!
And also, thanks for this:
I still can’t believe I landed this revered spot on the Rick Steves’ Travelers Café! Somebody slap me! Or please don’t.
Here’s a geographic visual, which I think is pretty cool! The map shows where the blog readers are from, by country (including a list of the top-ten, by number of blog views from that country).
Since the tagline on my website is “Connecting Across Cultures,” I find it really special and humbling to see all the countries people come from who have visited my blog! Thank you guys! Sending big hugs from Seattle!
After shamelessly going on about achievements, I think it makes sense to mention another topic: Getting Started. I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic, because we sometimes get emails at work from people who write in asking how Rick got his start as a travel writer. The emails are often from people who are interested in launching their own blogs or following other similar pursuits.
And the thing I’ve encountered again and again is that people want to wait until they’re good at something before they start — myself included. That seems perfectly legit. The only problem with that logic, though, is that it doesn’t work.
Why? Because the only way to get good at something is by actually doing the thing! Therefore, you must start when you’re not ready and when you’re not really good yet. Then you can learn by doing. And hopefully, you’ll improve during the process.
In the same vein, if you try to wait until something is “perfect” before you start, that project is likely never to see the light of day. Look, I could make a list as long as my arm of things that I’d like to improve on my website. If I’d waited until I figured all of that out before launching, then I wouldn’t be celebrating my first blogiversary right now!
Just to give more weight to this topic, I’d like to mention a fantastic interview I listened to on Elizabeth Gilbert’s Magic Lessons Podcast. In this particular episode, entitled Make the Brutal Into the Beautiful, she interviews Brandon-freaking-Stanton. Yes, that Brandon Stanton. Creator of the epicly popular Humans of New York — that’s popular to the tune of some 18-million followers on Facebook.
He just happens to also have authored a couple New York Times bestsellers as well. No big deal. [FYI, Gilbert’s interview with Stanton starts around the 25-minute mark of the podcast, in case you want to get right to it.]
In the interview, Stanton tells Gilbert:
So what other convincing do you need? Go out there and start doing some creative work that you love! Now, of course this doesn’t mean that everyone who goes and does this sort of thing is going to have the epic success of Brandon Stanton. But creative work in and of itself is its own reward. So do it for the love of the work! Anything else that comes along is just icing!
Concluding the motivational talk, let’s move swiftly along to:
A Year In Travels
I feel so incredibly fortunate, not only to be able to travel for work, but also to be able to help people with their travels. Both things I am very passionate about. As mentioned in the nifty little infographic above, I got to travel to some amazing spots this past year.
Highlights of those treks include my recent visit to Portugal, Paris — it’s always a good idea! –, Italy’s Amalfi Coast, as well as spending time with family in Germany. But my spontaneous yet long-anticipated Morocco trip last November/December remains most memorable on a whole other, more personal, level.
So yet again, I am very, very grateful.
Goals for the Future
A main goal of mine is to produce writing that is meaningful, useful, and that serves or helps people in some way — whatever form that might take! It might just be to bring a smile to someone’s face. At other times, it could be to give useful tips or information. Or it could also take the form of bringing awareness to an important topic.
Another huge goal of mine is to deliberately practice becoming a more prolific writer. In other words, I want to publish posts with more frequency. I’m hoping that with more practice I’ll get faster at this writing business and be able to achieve more output!
I think it’ll be helpful for me to keep in mind the very solid, very useful advice I got from Reading Ann Lamott’s book, Bird by Bird. (Which I can’t recommend enough for any writers out there!) For me, the biggest takeaway from the book was the concept of writing and embracing “Shitty First Drafts.” If we expect greatness to simply flow through our fingertips via the keyboard and onto the page, then that pressure will make us constipated!
In a wordsmith sense of being constipated, of course.
A Word About the Featured Pic: The reason I love this picture is twofold. Firstly, I was able to fulfill two dreams the day of this picture. One was traveling to incredible Cappadocia, Turkey. The other was riding, for the very first time, in a hot-air balloon. The second reason I love this picture is because of what it represents. In this moment I was taking delight in the experience of having just soared to new heights in a way that was new for me. That's a good metaphor for the journey I'm on with this blog, as well as the journey of life in general.
New Projects in the Works
I’m collaborating with a select number of other travelers at the moment! The idea is to launch a new section on my website, for which I haven’t yet thought of a good name. If you happen to come up with a fab title that strikes your fancy — let a girl know! Basically, I’m planning to spotlight other travelers who I think are interesting, inspirational, or noteworthy in some way.
“Spotlight Traveler?” Could that be the new name? Hmmmm.
Also, if you know someone who fits that description — an interesting, inspirational, or noteworthy traveler — that you’d like to put forward (even if that someone is you!) let me know! Contact me here or better yet, at my Instagram account, @postcardsfromstef. Maybe we can collaborate! I’m always happy to receive suggestions, feedback, or recommendations! People have such interesting stories to tell, so my goal is to use my website as a platform for sharing some of them.
Suggestions from You!
On the topic of suggestions, I’d love to hear some from you! What do you want more of? With all due sappiness, a blog ain’t nothin’ without its readers! And that’s you! So give me all your feedback pleeeeeeease! Are there certain topics that you think should be covered more? Again, let a girl know! I’ll try my best to take the feedback and roll with it!
Danke. Merci. Grazie. Obrigada.
Finally, I’d just like to thank you all for joining me on this mad journey! Thank you for reading. For sharing. For commenting. And thank you for your support in general, which has really given me wings through this process! Danke. Merci. Grazie. Obrigada. Dank je wel. Teşekkür ederim. Gracias. THANK YOU!