2008 has been a helluva year for me. I’ve swam with whale sharks, had monkeys sit on my head, been around armed soldiers in a hot zone, was in the area of a presidential assassination attempt, drove close to 10,000km, explored caves, been to the top of mountains, slept in open deserts and walked in the tops of the rainforest.
In a few days I’ll be flying to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates and starting a whole new leg of my journey. For the last year I’ve been in SE Asia and Australia. After a while I’ve enjoyed almost every minute of it, I’m looking forward to visiting a new part of the world where the rules are totally different. Different language, different religion, different climate, and different time zone. I’ve basically been within an hour or two of the same time zone for the past year so I haven’t had major issues of adjustment to deal with.
I’m excited to go to Dubai because, along with perhaps Shanghai, Dubai is one of the “happening” places on Earth right now. Lots of construction, the tallest building in the world, and lots of ridiculous things like a refrigerated beach and indoor ski slope. I can’t wait to see it.
The current plan is to go to Egypt and parts of Jordan. Hopefully this fighting in Gaza doesn’t get any worse. I’ll have to keep an eye on it. I have pretty good instincts about that sort of stuff.
From there I’ll be going to Rome and working my way to either Amsterdam or London before coming back to North America for a few months. Sometime in mid/late 2009 I’ll be heading off on a tour of Latin America. During my time in the US I plan on doing some driving/camping around the country. I have no idea where I will go yet. The Grand Canyon is on the list if for no other reason than I have never been there.
Today also marks a milestone for my website. If you look at the little counter up in the top right of the site, you will see that I’ve passed the 1,000 RSS Subscriber mark. There are very few travel blogs with that many subscribers, very few which are run by individuals, and no travelogues that I know of. (The number goes up and down every day, so I’m sure it will dip below 1,000 during the next week or two)
When I started my trip, the only people who really followed my blog were friends and family. In late 2007 I made a decision to see if I could make something out of what I was doing. I know a lot of people dream of traveling like I do and would love to make a career out of it. I figured I was already traveling and I have the internet expertise, so I should take a shot at it and see what I could do. The above graph are my results to date.
My background is in the technical side of things. During the last year I’ve had a real education learning about online marketing and promotions. Even though I’ve been traveling, I’ve treated the website and my photography like a job. I don’t really make any money off of the site at this point. I’ve probably made about $100 total from Google by running their ads, not quite enough to cover the costs of hosting. Making money right now really isn’t my goal, however. What I’d like to do is to reach out to as many people as possible, because that is what I really enjoy doing.
I’ve gotten emails and tweets from people telling me how inspiring I am and how I have helped them make the decision to travel. That was never my intent with this website, but it really makes me feel good when I get feedback like that. With the economy going in the crapper, there might be more people who travel vicariously through people like me than do it themselves.
I have a lot of things planned for 2009. I hope I can get to all of them, but there is only so much you can do as a one man operation living out of a bag. I’ve learned that lesson the hard way. Here are some of the things I’m going to be doing in 2009:
- Write a book. This is the number one priority for me this year. Given my unique lifestyle, I’m in a position to work my ass off like no one else to promote it. (If you are in the publishing biz, or know someone who is, drop me a line.) I don’t hope to just write a book as a one shot deal either. If it goes well, I’d like to an annual, or biannual event.
- Sell photographs I’ve taken close to 40,000 photos on my trip. There are around 4,000 which are good enough to put online. Of that I’m sure I could put together 50 for sale as prints or for a photo book or something. This is an area I know little about and haven’t researched much.
- Professional Site Redesign I am in the middle of having this done right now. I hope to have a real nice looking site that I don’t have to worry about again for several years. I hope to have this done by the end of January.
- Podcasting This has been a constant struggle with me. Trying to do travel video by yourself while taking a lot of still photos at the same time is difficult, and impossible if you want to do it well. On my Latin America trip, my plan is to travel with someone who can produce the podcast (camera work and video editing). I have no idea who this will be at this point, I only know I can’t do it alone. I think a podcast which is live from the road would be really unique and has the potential to be very successful. I also just like talking in front of the camera :)
I also appreciate the feedback I get from all of you. What I’m doing here is pretty unique, so I don’t have a lot of other sites I can use as a model. I’m making it up as I go along. National Geographic was never a one man operation :) While I get a photo up every day, I am sometimes inconsistent in when I get articles up, and I’m struggling to not make all my articles so factual. I also need to work on taking more photos of people, not just landscapes and buildings.
Thanks for following along, and if I’m in your town in 2009, please let know!