This recap has been scrapped several times over the course of a week since I started to write it. The truth is, I just haven’t wanted to do it. I have felt no desire to reach back through twelve whole months of thoughts and experiences to find themes or to make sense of my experiences.
I think my drive to reach a certain milestone has consumed me. The future of this blog could be the cornerstone of my ultimate dream lifestyle, and essentially my health and wellness, so I feel pretty focused on making it happen.
In the end, I pulled it together long enough to write a bare minimum on my thoughts about 2017.
I’m glad I did at least the minimum because it made me set some concrete goals.
All About Blogging
I felt like I learned a lot about blogging in 2016, but there’s no doubt that I learned exponentially more in 2017.
Here’s what I learned
Learning all the complicated details of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how to properly use Pinterest to drive traffic to my site has been a complete game changer.
During the final quarter of the year, I’ve focused on creating, publishing, and promoting content consistently, which is key to growing and retaining an audience. I successfully published one blog post a week since mid-October. This has been my goal all along and I’m so happy that I finally figured out how to make it happen.
I’ve also learned a lot from interacting with other bloggers in several Facebook groups. In particular, Travel Blog Success (merging with Super Star Blogging soon) and Female Travel Bloggers, have been the most helpful. If I can’t find the answer to a question by doing a simple search, other members are quick to offer answers, experiences, or helpful opinions.
How I learned SEO
The tool I’ve been using to learn about SEO, How I Hit #1 on Google: The 2018 Complete SEO Course, is an online course through Udemy.
So far, I’ve learned how to optimize my site for page speed and use on mobile devices. There are over 100 lessons included in the course, covering topics like Content & Keywords, Webpage Optimization, and lessons on different social media platforms. I still have a bit of a journey before I’m an SEO expert.
How I learned Pinterest
When it comes to Pinterest, Boardbooster completely altered the way I utilize the platform to increase traffic to my site. After a little work setting it up, Boardbooster fully automates your pinning and increases the impression and repin rates.
Publishing guest posts
Since it can be difficult and emotionally draining for me to write about my own mental health and wellness all the time, I decided to open up my blog for others to share their stories, too. So, I starting accepting guest posts this year and have published three so far and have three on deck.
Top 5 blog posts
These were the most popular blog posts published in 2017:
- Things to Know About New Zealand: A Guide to the Practical and Quirky
- 50+ Stocking Stuffers World Travelers Will Love
- Overcoming Depression and Traveling Despite the Odds
- How Travel Forces Me to Face My Fears
- How Travel Helped Me Recover From an Eating Disorder
All about traveling
The first part of the year began with a bang that I then spent the remainder of the year recovering from.
Solo travel + New Zealand
I’ve traveled solo in many parts of the US, but being abroad alone was a brand new experience for me the time I went to Mexico and Belize a few years ago.
I believe the move to New Zealand was an ambitious next step, which is why I think it was cut short to just three months of solo travel. It was far too big of a bite.
I’m ok with it, though. I’m glad I went.
More than glad, I just can’t think of a single word to fully encompass exactly how I feel about the experience. It will sound cliche, but I learned a lot about myself while I was there, much of which I’m still reflecting on. Yes, even now – eight months after returning home.
As with all things in my life, I don’t plan to rush through the process. I’ll take my time to connect the dots and see the bigger picture.
Staying put, slowing down + not traveling
I think I’ve left Cape Cod only one time (to visit friends in Salem, MA) since I returned home from New Zealand. There were weeks at a time that I only traveled between home and work.
Then once I started working from home, a trip to the grocery store or an occasional meal at a restaurant was pretty much the only time I left the house.
This isn’t a bad place to be, it’s just a change of pace. A much anticipated and welcomed change of pace after the last five or so years. Plus, three months in New Zealand exhausted me and I’m still recharging my batteries from that experience.
2017 was the year I really started saying “Yes” to things that made me happy and are better for my well being. That means I said “No” to all the things that I used to say “Yes” to out of obligation or guilt.
I had much more free time to relax or do nothing; to write or go on walks or take the kayak out. I had much more balance in 2017.
Places visited in 2017
Looking forward to 2018
My blogging goals for 2018 are to 1) continue to create great posts and publish them on a consistent schedule, 2) continue the course on SEO and implement what I learn to improve my search results, and 3) increase page views to 10,000 by the end of the year.
This is big news… I will also work on rebranding the site!
I purchased a new domain that I think better describes my vision and allows me to be more inclusive of wellness topics that I’m interested in writing about beyond mental health.
Rebranding seems like a complicated process and I want to do it correctly, so I’ll be taking my time. Stay tuned for the upcoming changes!
I’m headed back to WITS in 2018! The last one I went to was in 2016 in Irvine, California. It’s being held in its first international location that happens to be just a road trip away from me. So, in early May I plan to drive up to Quebec City, Canada.
What do you look forward to in 2018?