Tuesday, April 7, 2015

150,000 views from something that's produced in a tent!

Blog-central, editing suite, photo studio, writers' retreat... oh, and we occasionally sleep here too!
When Mike came up with the idea to keep a blog, I was sceptical. I’m old fashioned, he said. Why? Because I kept a diary. People don’t do diaries anymore, they keep a blog. Ok, I thought, and what’s wrong with being old fashioned? Nothing as far as I can see.  The only downside with being old fashioned is that it usually means you’re old too… But hey, what the heck. Life starts at forty, so I’m just a ten year old with 50 years of experience (should work well on a cv…). Anyway back to the blog, it just passed the 150,000 page views today… in just 16 months!

All in all it took a year before we had the blog up and running. Being in a tent and having never setup a blog before didn’t help, nor did my reluctance to do it. I had seen too much rubbish on the net, to be willing to do that myself I suppose. Mike kept pestering me, he’s good at that, to set one up. In the end I gave in under two provisos. It had to be more than just a ‘blogganised’ diary; should be informative and address the issues we couldn’t find answers to ourselves before we left, like where to find campgrounds in places like Mexico and Central America for instance. 

We also wanted to show the beautiful, and not so beautiful, places where we’ve been. Which is why we put a lot of effort into our photographs, trying to visualise the places where we’ve been. We also added video to our blog for the same reason. Of course camping the whole trip and being limited to free-wifi means it will never be a professional production. We simply do not have the capacity to put on a Russ Malkin show. Instead we are learning as we go along and continuously come up with new ideas (most of which end-up in the bin as they require more internet bandwidth and finances). Yet because of all the ideas the blog has grown into much more than a blog. It's now a full site. We have learned a little bit html programming to add functionality that would have been impossible to add otherwise, like the dropdown menus added recently.

When we started the blog neither of us had the faintest idea that in the relatively small timeframe of just over one year, our scribbles and photographs would have been seen 150,000 times…!  We also had no idea we would produce 300+ pages of information on travelling, product reviews, maintenance, border crossings, campgrounds and remarkable people we have met. We haven't paid for a domain name, nor have we paid anyone to promote our posts. It's all done for free, using a freely available service. We simply post them and use our Facebook page as a noticeboard to show it has been posted. Honestly, anyone can do it.

We don't use fancy or top of the line equipment to produce our blog. All we have is the smallest and simplest Apple MacBook Air notebook, not even a full laptop, and we don't have a lot of memory in it either. The Mac is now 4 years old and used every day to such an extend that the keyboard has worn through on several keys. We use free programmes like iMovie and TextEdit for video editing and writing the stories. The only application we paid for is an old student version of Photoshop, which we could get at a rock bottom price and which is now out of date of course. But even photo editing can be done using free available programmes now. iPhoto's capabilities would cover 90% of what we do and is used to organise our photos, while Gimp would do all and most likely replace Photoshop in the future when it becomes obsolete.

Our blog is hosted by Google. Why? First of all because it’s free. There are more free blog hosting options available though, so why Google? Because Google has servers all over the world, meaning if one drops out, another takes over. All in all we are quite happy with Google, touch wood. Having a blog with the same people that make the worlds’ most used search engine means our blog is easy to find, the links with Picasa for photos and YouTube for video work well. The only problem we have with the system is that we have to be online to produce the pages. Keeping the blog up to date would be much easier if we could produce the pages off-line and upload them when finished. Still, it’s a free service and we can spend the saved money on what it's all about: travelling. 150,000 Pageviews. It’s still hard to comprehend for someone who until just over a year ago wrote a diary for only a handful of people...