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Travel and Blogging Plans for 2009…..and my 1,000th Subscriber

Travel

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.

Blogging

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)

RSS Subscriber Growth

RSS Subscriber Growth

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!

  • 9 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. Corinne says:

    Gary!

    Love your site! I’ll sign up soon, I promise.

    Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I just returned from Jordan. Even heard the roaring of jets while standing on the Israeli border (on the Jordan River), and it didn’t mar our experience one bit. The Jordanians are some of the nicest, most hospitable people in the world. Even after asking us where we were from, not one person hesitated or treated us poorly.

    Don’t let the Gaza thing stop you from going!

    Jordan is awesome. Plan on spending a bare minimum of three days at Petra. It is huge and worth it.

    Happy New Year!
    Corinne

  2. Looking forward to welcome you in Dubai. I am sure you will love the place.

  3. Hello Gary, I am Andy of HoboTraveler.com Travel Blog, I earn great money from my Blog and travel site, enough to live in any country. I am going to work on a project this year 2009 to see how to help travelers make money from their Travel Blogs. As best I understand you made about 100 dollars from your work and you have obviously done a lot of work. I made about 1400 last year from Photo and it was totallby by accident. I hope to read more about your book venture, I have not wrote a book yet. I have traveled for over 10 years and visited 79 countries.

    Keep up the good work, I am reading. Thanks from Andy of HoboTraveler.com Travel Blog

  4. Congratulations on a great. Hope next year is even better.

  5. Jay Lardy says:

    Hey, Gary!

    Congrats on a fantastic 2008. I’ve really enjoyed reading about your adventures. I even learned something useful. After watching your podcast on stromatalites, I traveled to Glacier National Park – where you absolutely have to go if you haven’t already. Anyway, Glacier is one of the few other areas in the world where stromatalites have been found. I actually knew what they were, thanks to you!

    Too cool. Happy New Year and thanks for following me on twitter (rudy2tone).

  6. Neil Duckett says:

    Congrats with everything you achieved in 08 Gary and all the best for bigger and better in 09. I’m especially looking forward to seeing if the blog redesign has any significant change in traffic and numbers of if it stays at as steady incline.

  7. nipsy says:

    It has been a pleasure to follow you in your journey, and I thank you for sharing. I have nominated you for the lemonade award, although I am sure you have received it before. You can find it here http://motherforlife.today.com/2009/01/01/sharing-the-goodness/

    I look forward to more photos and stories..And don’t forget to nudge me when you get to Hungary..LOL

  8. Francoise says:

    Can’t wait to see what you’ve got in store for your site in 2009!

    I 2nd what Shawn says, though I can’t speak for the situation in Israel as I’ve never traveled there. I’ve been to other part of the Middle East and trouble is very much localized and easy to avoid (most of the time).

    Neighbouring countries like Jordan and Egypt will see an increase in demonstrations, but those are easily avoided as well.

    I’m so jealous ;), the Middle East is my favorite destination. Have fun!

  9. Shawn says:

    Gary I would not rule out visiting Israel just because the fighting in Gaza. The Gaza conflict is extremely isolated. All the tourist areas are very safe. The Dead Sea area, the Central and North regions are safe to visit. Of course, if Hezbollah in Lebanon start shooting rockets then the North would be difficult to travel, although that is not to likely to happen.

    I am in Israel at the moment and there is no problem. The media obscures the reality of the moment and buries the context of the subject.

    Egypt and Jordan will be fine to travel, they really don’t care about the Palestinians anyway, although they do like Americans very much and don’t combined politics with the individual.

    Happy trails.

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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