Mid-Year Blogging Recap + Life Lately

Friday, 17 July 2020

Through this mid-year blogging recap and life update, we are sharing with you our recent learnings that we hope you will find of practical value.

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I decided to write a mid-year blogging recap and life update because I felt like a lot has happened in the past few months that are worth sharing. That is even if we were confined in our homes most of the time because of the quarantine.

View of Metro Manila before the lockdown
View of Metro Manila

Mid-Year Blogging Recap + Life Lately


    In particular, I would also to share some of my learnings with regard to blogging, my experience (and travails) as a working professional amid the lockdown, reflections during the lockdown, and life in general. It’s my first time to do this type of update, something really personal, so please bear with my if I sound incoherent at times. Anyway, let’s start. 

    Blogging 


    The COVID-19 lockdown has hit the blog hard in terms of traffic. I once shared that I achieved a blogging milestone last year when I hit 10,000 monthly page views starting July. I was able to maintain that until the end of the year. If you are curious to know that’s about 70% to 80% organic traffic and around 30% or 20% social media traffic. 

    All my effort to learn SEO has finally paid off with the page view achievement. Being a non-techie person, I found it quite hard to understand the technical stuff of SEO but I eventually learned it through a lot of research. I was also fortunate to have met some amazing bloggers who were kind enough to share their knowledge when it came to SEO. 

    One of those bloggers that I wanted to give credit to is Mr. Jonathan Espina of the popular Jon To The World Travel Blog who was very generous with his SEO know-how and would not hesitate to provide answers when I would consult him, even if I have not met him in person yet. I would probably treat him to a bottle of beer or a cup of coffee when I get the chance to meet him.

    On the other hand, the social media traffic, though small, involved a lot of effort and ate up a lot of my time because I was participating in a lot of blog engagement groups. I immediately realized that it would be hard to depend on social media traffic so I put more effort to increase my search engine traffic. 

    However, at the start of the year, the COVID-19 pandemic grew in proportions. It affected mainly travel blogs; since nobody was searching for travel-related articles and destinations, traffic plummeted. My content is mostly food and travel, both industries that were greatly affected by the pandemic.

    My traffic went down to as low as 3,700++ page views in June, but that’s also because I stopped participating in blog engagement threads because I wanted to really gauge how bad my organic traffic is. I also wanted less time from social media and more time with my kids. 

    Anyway, when I observed the decline in traffic, I again made adjustments with regard to SEO. Probably one of the best SEO lessons I learned during the last few months was to remove zombie pages from the blog. 

    That means looking at and assessing content that are not getting any traffic or are essentially dead. From there, you can consolidate and repurpose content or totally delete those that you think are non- salvageable. 

    The idea is that when Google sees that majority of your content is getting good traffic, the search engine giant would take it to mean that you are providing valuable information to your readers. Therefore, Google will elevate your search engine results rankings. 

    In my case, I removed my old personal entries like poems and rants from almost a decade ago since they do not have any SEO value. 

    I consolidated some of the poems into one personal post, like a collection of stories, that was getting good traffic. I also removed old press releases, optimized old posts with new information, and rewrote some articles to make them evergreen. I made a lot of consolidations because my tendency before was to create daily journal entry types instead of coming up with one whole travel guide about the places that we visited. 

    I also optimized photos which meant reducing file size to make them lighter and adding alternative text (alt text), things that I knew nothing about when I was just casually blogging. It was hard work but it kept me busy during the quarantine. 

    On top of these, I did my best to come up with new content because I wanted to replace the old content that I was removing so that it would not negatively impact my domain authority (DA). Over the three months that I did it, was able to raise my DA from 29 to 31. 

    In terms of traffic, I observed some positive results with regard to organic search although it is still a long way to go before I hit the 10,000 page views again. 

    Speaking of new content, I had the confidence to submit entries in blogging competitions again. The prize money was enticing so I wanted to try my luck again and partly because I want to force myself to create new content for my blog. 

    I joined the RedDoorz blogging contest, which I did not win but I received a consolation prize which is a free overnight stay in one of their properties. I also submitted an entry to ComCo Southeast Asia’s Write to Ignite Blogging Project, which aimed to collect positive stories during the pandemic.

    Fortunately, I placed 7th among 70 participants in the Write to Ignite Blogging Project, which was not bad at all. It was definitely a welcome change after losing in the previous contests that I joined, despite the fact that I knew I had a good fighting stance. 

    No matter, what’s important is the experience that I gained from those competitions and the determination to try again despite failing. 

    In terms of revenue from blogging, it came as a surprise that I had higher income from Google Adsense despite this blog’s low traffic. I also have income from two more ad networks but they have not been meeting the payment threshold during the lockdown as compared to Adsense. 

    But the main revenue stream of this blog is sponsored posts. As such, I can only be thankful to the clients for their trust. 

    Working from home 


    Since April, I had been working from home except two weeks last June when I had to report every day to the office. But all throughout the lockdown, I can only be thankful to our company for continuing to provide us with income despite the work suspension during the early days of the quarantine. 

    Beach at Anvaya Cove
    Hoping for the day when we can enjoy the simple pleasures

    Honestly though, I find working from home a lot stressful because our outputs and tasks are more closely monitored as compared to when we were in the office. And since it’s we from home, expect a lot of distractions from the kids as well as from household tasks that need attention. Again, I’m trying to look at the situation positively in the sense that I am with my children and I can take care of them in the morning and immediately after work. 

    Furthermore, because of the pressure to businesses brought about by the pandemic, it’s a natural tendency to have shake-ups within the organization. 

    Sometimes, you would also hear words from your leaders that you may find to be unfavorable. Just think that they are also pressured but they are doing what they can to boost employee morale and keep the business afloat during these trying times. 

    In the end, the hard truth is that we can all lose our jobs and livelihood anytime during the lockdown because of income loss. I pray that it does not happen though because I do not have big savings to support our family in the months to come. 

    Reflections during the lockdown 


    I think my thoughts during the quarantine resonate with most people’s thoughts and that is being appreciative of the things that we have, no matter how small and simple these things are. In a snap, things can change and disappear right before our very eyes. I remember our last date, that was in February. It was our Valentine’s date but we were so busy the days before so we had to postpone it for a week. Even so, we were glad that we pushed through with it because that was our last date in the old normal. 

    I might sound selfish in this statement but I would say it anyway. I probably needed the quarantine, or at least the time off from office work provided by it. Several months ago, I was wishing for more time with my children. In fact, I was considering to shift to a home-based job. That way, I can at least keep watch on my children. 

    But with the lockdown, I suddenly had so much time with my kids. We spent most of it playing out in the yard every morning and afternoon. I can only be grateful that I was able to spend so many happy moments with my babies. 

    In a way, what we get is actually what we prayed for. It may not be in the form that we were expecting (or hoping) it to be but if we look closer, it’s really what we asked for. 

    Life lately 


    Aside from working from home, there’s nothing new with our life lately. We had all plans postponed because of the pandemic such as finding a new condo, finding a house that we could possibly buy, and traveling to Boracay and Nueva Ecija. Hoping things turn out for the better soon so that we could go on with life. 

    One thing that had us concerned was when my son’s therapy had to be postponed. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with global developmental delay (GDD). With that, the recommendation was to enroll him to play school and undergo occupational therapy sessions so that he could catch up.

    However, two months into school, all classes had to be suspended because of COVID-19. We were worried that, with the postponement of the therapy, he would not be able to catch up. The school proposed that we do online therapy but we were doubtful of its efficacy. 

    We were offered a trial online session but, admittedly, we did not try it because we had reservations. Our pediatrician also told us that she was skeptical with the online therapy and said that it might be best to postpone it for now since he is still young anyway.

    Anyway, we can continue with the activities for our son and involve him in chores and a lot of play, of course. So far, we are seeing improvements when it comes to his concentration and eye contact.

    Our son also remembered some of the letters that we showed him. It’s not just memorizing the ABCs; he would pick up random letter and read it. Nevertheless, it would be best if we get the help of a professional occupational therapist. 

    As for our younger son, we are resigned to the fact that we will hold a quarantine first birthday for him. We wanted to give him a memorable first birthday like his Kuya but that might prove to be a challenge given the current scenario. On a positive note, we can always do the party at home with some friends and family. 

    Epilogue 


    That’s it for now. I know this entry is too long but I do hope that I was able to help you in some way. Keep in mind that we are all struggling and we are all fighting our own personal battles each day. Do not lose hope, reach out to people who can help you, reach out to people whom you think might need help.

    Sunset over the beach at Anvaya Cove
    Tomorrow is a new day

    Don’t hesitate to tell us your story if that will make your load lighter; the comment section is open as well as our email and social media inboxes. We will do our best to help you to the best of our abilities. These will all pass. 

    For now, take care of yourself and your loved ones. Stay safe at all times!

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