Greetings from Novi Sad, Serbia! Each time I write one of these roundups I find myself feeling dumbstruck that yet another month has managed to speed on by, but this time I’m far more flabbergasted by how much has happened in the last thirty days. There have been far more highs than lows this month (unless we’re counting hangovers…then we might be even), and even during the low points I’ve been able to find silver linings and am convinced that things are working out the way they’re supposed to.
For July, I thought I’d break down everything that happened into the categories of travel, blogging, and personal growth, seeing as plenty of noteworthy things happened in each. And of course, stick around ’til the end for a few highlights and extras!
Without further ado…
My July of 2015…
Talk about a whirlwind! My July was split between four different countries; it began with the end of my time in Macedonia followed by an unceremonious three-day stint in Albania, nearly three weeks on the coast of Montenegro, and the final five days in Serbia (country number 27! Almost there!).
I talked a lot last month about how badly I wanted to slow things down and spend more time in fewer places, and to some degree I did manage to achieve this. I found a lovely little hostel in Ulcinj, Montenegro to make my temporary home base while I caught up on tons of work I’d been neglecting and discovered just how much there was to love in this little seaside city, a place I’d known nothing about prior to my arrival. Since then, I’ve only visited two other cities, though I’ve been changing sleeping arrangements/hostels far too often, sometimes spending just one or two nights in each place. I guess with every move there was good reason for it, but I’d prefer to cut that sh*t out moving forward.
As I’ve mentioned, I didn’t really fall in love with Albania, but Montenegro was a different story. Both Ulcinj and Kotor were simply stunning and full of the most wonderful people. I can’t wait to write full blog posts about these places. I know some of you are already smitten just from the photos, but I fully intend to stoke your wanderlust even more. The Balkans are underappreciated in the grand scheme of things, and seeing as they are still so affordable compared to the rest of Europe, I hope many of you can make your way here sooner rather than later.
I can’t leave out Serbia though–this country has exceeded my expectations and then some. Belgrade seduced me right from the very start (okay, so it might have partially been the rakija) and only continued to dazzle me as time went on. The unique nightlife scene was particularly exciting (river barges all along the Danube and Sava rivers contain nightclubs of every persuasion), but even just the simple act of strolling through the streets had me feeling right at home. Interestingly enough, I could see myself spending a lot of time in Belgrade in the future. I love it when a destination surprises me!
As for what happens next, well, I have actually made a few major decisions in that regard, but I’m saving the announcement for a special post that’s coming soon!
Brace yourselves, friends, things are about to get a little braggy.
Let me start by pointing out that patience has never been my strong suit. I’m the girl who waits by the stove for her water to boil. I’m the girl who’s constantly burning her tongue because she drinks her coffee when it’s still boiling lava hot. I’m the girl who jumped from one sport or activity to the next as a child, unable to comprehend why I couldn’t just be amazing at something right from the get go. I’m the girl who wants overnight success.
I’ve wisened up enough in my old age to realize that there is no such thing, but it doesn’t keep the impatient inner me from wanting it nonetheless. What I’ve enjoyed about blogging is that I’ve been able to enjoy small successes along the way. My first email subscribers, my first 100 posts, my first blogging conference! Though admittedly, at times, it felt like a slog. It felt like I was going nowhere fast, and I questioned whether it was even worth it to press on. I’m sure I’ll encounter similar rough patches throughout my blogging career, but I can happily report that this month was not one of them.
In fact, this has been by far my most successful month for blogging yet, and I can’t wait to see how much more I can achieve with this little lovechild of mine in the months and years to come. So, what exactly did I manage to achieve this month?
For starters, I completely blew last month’s traffic out of the water. I mean, in the month of July, I TRIPLED June’s traffic. That’s HUGE! In a way though, this makes me prematurely sad because the likelihood of matching such numbers in August is low, but damn, did it feel good to pull off that kind of growth! It has been pretty slow and steady up until now, but I’m more determined than ever to keep growing this thing, even if it’s not as dramatic in the next few months.
In case you’re wondering how the hell I pulled this off, it’s simple: I wrote something that people actually cared about. My post entitled Why the Nomadic Lifestyle Can’t Last was personal and earnest, and its message just so happened to tug at the heartstrings of travelers and nomads all over the world. The post was shared left and right and still brings me a good chunk of traffic every day. It brought me new readers that are hopefully here to stay and gave me a better idea of what kind of travel content people are really hungry for.
Stats aside, I managed to earn a tiny bit of money from my blog this month as well, both through the Amazon affiliate program and through social media campaigns. Monetizing more aggressively is my main goal for August, though you can rest assured it won’t be in an offensive, seizure-inducing ad kind of way.
Finally, my blogging successes seem to be spilling over into the world of Instagram. I’ve been recognized by a few different sites as an inspiring travel Instagrammer, and my photos have even landed me a new brand partnership that I am beyond stoked about! But that announcement is for another post as well…oh, the suspense!
In Personal Growth
This month, I’ve parted ways with a travel companion and become a solo traveler once again, and as difficult as it has been to admit to myself, being alone is necessary for me right now. With all that I am trying to achieve work-wise and with my blog, personal space has never been so valuable. In fact, I’ve been choosing private rooms over dorms whenever feasible so I don’t have to justify my work habits to anyone, because to the average traveler, apparently I look like an asshole.
You may laugh, but this really became a problem for me when traveling in Montenegro. No one could seem to understand that for me, travel was a lifestyle choice and not a permanent vacation, and despite many of them simply being curious about what it was I was doing and why I felt the need to be on my laptop more often than not, their questions typically came across as judgmental, condescending, and sometimes just downright rude. Perhaps they’d never met anyone trying to make it as a digital nomad before; perhaps they were just dicks and they don’t deserve excuses. Whatever the case may be, I felt quite alone at times, surrounded by nothing but backpackers intent on luring me away from my responsibilities (believe it or not, some of the things I do actually matter!) because “What’s the point of traveling if you’re just on your laptop the whole time?”
I’ve found consolation from my online community of bloggers and travelers and can always find support from my family, but I’ve learned that because of how drastically my travel style has changed over time, many travelers simply won’t relate to me anymore. Of course, I did find a few lovely people who were nothing but patient with me and my work habits, and for those people I am truly grateful. But as time goes on, I will have to find a balance between spending time with backpackers and spending time with people who really “get it.” Or even if they don’t fully understand, they tolerate it at the very least.
Speaking of being on my laptop all the time, I’ve secured lots of new work this month which is really exciting! It means I won’t be so reliant on my savings anymore (if at all) and that as soon as my blog starts generating income, I’ll finally be able to say I’ve made it. The nice thing about the work I’m doing (social media consulting for travel brands) is that, unlike freelance writing (which is what I really wanted to pursue at the beginning of this year), the income is consistent. I know roughly how much I’ll make each month and can, therefore, budget accordingly. That said, I still need to work on managing my time to fulfill my paying obligations and still nurture this little blog in my free time, all while actually enjoying the places I visit. It’s a lot to handle, which is why I’m looking forward to being settled in one place for longer than a few weeks.
I think that’s it for July! Here are the extras I promised…
My Most Popular Blog Posts
Why the Nomadic Lifestyle Can’t Last – Not just my most popular this month, my most popular post ever.
My Best Instagram
Blog Posts I’m Loving
What I Miss Most About Long-Term Travel – Though I’m looking forward to the day when I can call someplace home, I’m sure that when I do finally settle into a stationary life somewhere, I’m going to reminisce about the freedoms associated with long-term travel, like the ones outlined in this post by Ashley Abroad.
Today is National Random National Holiday Day! – By my favorite bloggers forever and always, the ladies of Man Repeller.
30 Things I Didn’t Do Until I Turned 30 – A hilarious and touching post by a blogger I’ve admired for a long time for her adventurous spirit and business acumen and whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person this month, Adventurous Kate. I hope to accomplish even half as much as she has by the time I hit 30.
Bring on August!