2017 – the year of changes and growing up (older)

The end of 2017; it did zoom by pretty fast and got somewhat tragic towards the end.

Well, it was definitely a year of ups and downs – things have been changing so fast that at times, I always wonder if I’m on the top or at the bottom of the roller coaster of life.

There are many things that I care about in my life; some are good and some are bad. A target I gave myself (or perhaps I’m already practising) is to learn to compartmentalize my feelings and emotions across the various things that I care about.

Since this is a travel blog, I shall talk about my achievements for my Traveling in 2017.

Where I’ve been

So, in 2016, I wrote that I spent 38 nights away from home. I kind of have a feeling that I might ‘beat’ this record in 2017 so let’s count.

1) 2D1N Jan Batam
2) 6D6N Mar Japan (Kumamoto, Himeji, Osaka)
3) 4D3N Mar Bali (Nusa Lembongon, Penida, Sanur)
4) 12D12N Apr-May South Korea (all over korea)
5) 6D6N Jun Taiwan (Taipei, Tainan, Kaohsiung)
6) 1D Jul JB
7) 2D2N Aug Rompin Fishing
8) 4D3N Sep Bangkok
9) 5D4N Oct Shanghai
10) 5D5N Dec Japan (Tokyo)

Okay, that’s like 9 trips this year (after -1 day trip to JB, i added it so that it looks good). Seems like the only months I wasn’t overseas was in Feb and November. Okay, so.. for 2017, I spent 42 days away from my bed at home. The number looks slightly inflated because I added in all my night flights which I took a couple this year (to save on leave days).

To be honest, for the first time ever, I do get the feeling of not wanting to unpack my stuff, knowing that I’ll travel again soon. To be honest, there were times I felt a little exhausted with travelling which was why for my final Japan trip, I gave myself a lot of free time like stoning at the beach or deliberately sleeping in (to enjoy the comfy hotel bed) in order to relax and enjoy travelling.

Targets Achieved?

Breakeven Goal

In 2016, I mentioned that I was almost going to break-even for the year but I didn’t. For 2017, I’m glad to say that I have finally succeeded in breaking even and earn a bit of pocket money to reward my nightly/weekend efforts in maintaining my blog. In fact, my cost this year was even higher than previous years because of the problems photobucket gave me. Furthermore, I had to change my domain host and had to pay another sum for help to port over my website. It was pretty complicated but it was something I had to do sooner or later. Then, I had to upsize my hosting account because I can no longer depend on external parties to host my photos. As a result, I need to re-size every single of my photo for uploading (to make the size smaller) and this slows down the progress of the blog. By the time I’m done with photo resizing, I’m usually too tired to even type.

It’s not easy to calculate a proper revenue as a lot of partners requires a minimum amount in order to cashout and I do have some earnings ‘locked’ up but at the end of the day, I’m just glad to see a + outflow this year. I’m finally no longer in the red. Thankful to all readers, thankful to the search engine crawlers that make my relevant content appear high up, thankful to the ones who didn’t mind clicking on my affiliate links, google ads and on my sponsors as well.

Though I’m still far from making this hobby my living, I’m still glad to have the extra income – which I will be channelling it to making my travel slightly more premium. Maybe i can afford to stay in more 5-star hotels and perhaps eat more meals of Otoro whenever I’m in Japan.

Re-positioning, again

Back in 2014, I wanted to build a travel community – iTravelnBlog – which was pretty much a failure as I did not have time to manage it. I had no idea on how to find help (as none of my friends were keen) and it just remained stagnant. This year when the domain was up for renewal, I took the painful decision to shut it down. With the increasing demands of my full time job, I have to put this plan aside and focus on what I do best – maintaining one single blog.

There was another plan to change the name of my Facebook Page from Follow My Footsteps to flyhoneystars because ‘follow my footsteps’ (despite having 400+ likes without me being active) kind of have no link to my blog. It was supposed to be the plan in the second half of 2017 but.. let’s guess the reason for my procrastination – I haven’t designed a square logo for flyhoneystars so in a way, I can’t change the name yet. As stupid as it sounds, yes; that’s my only concern. Hopefully this wouldn’t be the case when I lookback at the end of 2018. Sighs, I even had plans to do my first-ever giveaway when I make that change but.. nothing is happening (not for the next few months).

Viral Articles

This is.. a constant struggle for me. Well, my blog had existed since 2010 but it was only with my viral articles on filming locations (2016-2017) which made my blog stats go sky high. Prior to 2016, my monthly views were barely 10,000 and earlier this year (2017), I crossed the 30,000 mark and it has kind of stabilized within the 25-30k range which is like 200% more than before. The ‘success’ of my viral articles somewhat makes me want to repeat the success but it is really not easy. Of course, I want to hit the 40k and 50k mark as the months/years go by but I can’t seem to hit any bull’s eyes anymore. I have been super slow in writing my travelogues, especially for those that I find it is of low potential. On the other hand, I’m constantly praying for the next big hit drama with beautiful filming locations that the whole world wants to know, repeating the success of Goblin. Sadly, 2017 has come to an end and there’s no single drama that took the world by storm.

As a result of the lack of writing about my travels, I have since moved on to ‘Instagram Story’ spam which gives interested parties (mainly my friends) information about the places that I’ve visited. It’s working fine for now (I guess) as I don’t get many enquiries from my readers about my recent travels (either they ain’t interested or the information is sufficient).

Video Content

I kind of got my hands on a GoPro Hero 5 earlier this year and I thought that it would be a good chance for me to start doing Travel Videos but.. I kind of stopped after 2 videos.

Link to Channel As of today, it reflects as 3.1k views for my MariCar Osaka video and 118 views for my Bali video. Well, it wasn’t intentional to stop abruptly but for my many trips this year, I had been down with really bad weather luck. The footages that I obtained were not awesome and I don’t even know what content I can create with those footages. At the same time, I’m pretty unmotivated with the poor views and video editing takes me a few weeks (from song selection, subtitles, cropping, effects) for a job to be published. Given that I only have 2-3 hours each night before I sleep at 4-6 hours on weekends given that I don’t go out, the time I have is actually super limited. Priorities and Choices; it’s never easy. I guess I have to choose to work on my competitive advantage – which is writing.

Media Trip & Sponsors

I must have been a really good girl to ‘score’ two media trips to Japan this year. To me, visiting Japan for media trip sounds like something people more viral/popular/famous/followers than me will be entitled to. Then again, my Japan articles generally do quite well on my blog and perhaps that’s what the sponsors like in me? *grins*

Product Sponsors have been nice so far (though there isn’t any single super good one worth mentioning) and I’m glad to save some money when I travel. Anyway, on a side note, I did attempt to cold-email and request for sponsorships (alright I sent less than 5) and sadly there were no positive reply (or was there even a reply?). Earlier this year, I was reading those successful bloggers and they did mention that it is fine to be desperate so I thought I should give it a try. Sadly, I wasn’t in luck or perhaps I didn’t cast my net wide enough and.. I kind of retreat into the shadows because of my somewhat pride.

Unrelated sponsors and annoying ones that email you consistently with their unattractive packages – yes I received quite a number this year. It’s always a small struggle to say no to money (alright it’s small money) but I’m still ‘holding back’ because I don’t want to post information for the sake of earning money, especially when it doesn’t benefit my readers at all. Furthermore, I think it’s weird for me to write about things that I haven’t tried or experience? Also, I don’t like it when some brands are super upfront about their unattractive exchange in return for sponsorship. Usually, these are the ones I don’t bother replying. For me, I don’t promise to write about everything/anything and I will need to have full discretion; unless it’s an ‘Advertorial’ which I also don’t really do often. Oh well, these are just my thoughts for now. It might change in the future but let’s see.

My life

Career switch – still surviving but it will be tough. If one day I stop writing completely, this is likely reason behind it.

Alone – finally succeeded in watching a movie alone! I don’t know what’s next but I’m slowly getting comfortable with being alone and doing things alone. I kind of travelled alone for a few days in Japan too and it was awesome. I love having to pace myself only and I love being indecisive and just going with the flow. Glad that I found the time and space to listen to myself.

Celebrities – this is the most tragic of it all. my favourite member got caught in a scandal (I didn’t think it was that serious) and he went off the radar since August. Before he could make any comeback, another member of the group lost his battle against depression and departed the world. It had been the saddest days or rather weeks of my life and I can’t help but hope that time will all just reverse. I have been following them for more than 8 years and they are just a few months from their 10th anniversary. It will take time and it will hurt for a long time but this will be such a huge scar to my idol-chasing life. Hopefully the next time I’m reading this, I would have recovered at least 50%..

Do I have any wishes for the new year?

I guess I want to tell future self at the end of 2018 – that I did well and that I was happy. Achievements don’t have to be measured by any sort numerical data or spectrometer; as long as I acknowledge my own efforts and successes on a scale that only I can determine.

My take on 2017? I believe I did well. 

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