I’m back. As you may have noticed, the site was down for nearly a week. It’s back up now, but I am looking into what the future holds for it. Let me explain. (If you want to skip ahead, make sure you read the Challenge, below).
I started the website in 2015, as part of a class. I was working toward a Master’s Degree in Digital Media at Valparaiso University and had to take a web design class. Each class member was given space in the hosted website as part of our tuition. My first website had a long web address – something like valpo.edu/digitalmedia/msmaetravels/ (no longer available).
For Christmas that year, my husband gave me money so I could have my website hosted on its own. I purchased the domain name, msmaetravels.com and began to build the website as it is today.
Why I Write
I’ve been writing travel journals and taking pictures for much longer than this website has been around. Actually, my husband started writing travel notes as early as 1980. His notes began to take more of a journal form in the ’90s. When I traveled abroad with my mother in 2000 – my first trip abroad – he insisted I keep a journal. I did, and have done so on nearly every trip since then.
For many of my posts on this website, I reference my journals and travel notes. I look back at the photos I’ve taken and am inspired.
In addition, I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) five times, although recently, most of my writing has been for this site. My love for writing has grown over the years.
Why I Travel
My love for travel has also grown. In addition to my first trip abroad, I’ve written about other trips, both at home and abroad. Each time I travel, I return wanting more. I am fascinated by the world with its natural and man-made wonders.
At some point during each trip or planning session, I think about writing a post. After looking into travel insurance for my upcoming trips, I thought, ‘I should write a post about this.’ I later realized that I had written about it before, but with my new research, a new post will be written to add to the first.
I don’t just travel for its own sake, I travel so I can share. If I wasn’t planning to share my travel experiences, I would still travel but it would not have the same meaning.
When my husband gifted me money yo pay for a web host, he gave me $100. After researching, I found a great host. I could purchase hosting at an introductory rate of $3.95 per month (regularly $11.95). I could purchase one, two, or three years at that rate. Since I was committed to making the website work, I purchased three years, even though I had to add to the $100.
When the three years were up, I could have continued at the site for the regular rate. Another option, though was to move up to a slightly more expensive plan – $5.95 per month (regularly $19.95). The more expensive plan had a larger amount of storage which would be great since I add several pictures to each post. I had already used the regular introductory rate for three years, so they would only allow me one additional year at the special rate. I added on the one year.
Now, however, that year is up. In order to continue, I have to pay $19.95 per month or just under $240 per year. If I commit to three years, I can get a discount that would bring the total to just over $500.
I started looking for a new web host. Big promises were made by a popular site that switching would be easy. Instead of $500, it would cost under $200 for three years, plus $150 to switch the website over for me. What a deal! Unfortunately, the switch was not easy, and after being without a site and no sure timeline for when everything would be settled, I decided to cancel and go back to my original host.
At the original host, the plans are not available to be purchased month-by-month. A one year or more commitment has to be made. Thankfully, I was able to convince them to make an exception and allow me to purchase just one month. Now, I have one month to decide what to do.
In the four years that I have had the site, there has not been any advertising on it. There is no “Donate Here” button. I have relied on the Travel Recommendations and Knitting Recommendations pages to try to bring in a little commission to help pay for the site. The total for all four years has been less than $50.
As much as I enjoy travel and writing and sharing my travels with everyone, I’m not sure the cost is justifiable.
My challenge to you is this – let me know if you want me to continue. I know I have regular readers, because I do get comments and “likes”. If you want to keep reading, let me know. You can comment to this thread, use the regular contact page, comment on Facebook, or email me at email@example.com.
Frederick Buechner said, “The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” I’ve thought for awhile that sharing my travel experiences and advice is my calling – it is where my deep gladness lies. According to Buechner though, if the world – or my readers – do not hunger for it, then it is not my calling.
Would you be offended if I added advertising to the site? What about a donate button? Or would you commit to try to do your Amazon shopping through my link? I could add links to other products or credit cards, if that would be of interest.
If I continue, I’d also like some comments as to what kind of content you’d like to see. Would you be willing to participate in a survey? I don’t like surveys, but they can be helpful at times. I want to build this site for my reader, so I need to know what you want.
Thanks in advance for your comments – I will read each one. Your input will guide my decision.
I do enjoy reading your posts as I do not travel and you are a very good writer. I would miss the site and your pictures…not sure I would go thru your site to order from Amazon as it’s usually a spur of the moment thing. Everyone has advertising so I wouldn’t mind seeing it on your site. You have a hard decision to make.
I’m not sure what to say, Ms.Mae. I’ve also found that writing can be an expensive “hobby.” While it produces “deep gladness” for me too, I am still trying to discover whether the world needs my writing. It seems your biggest dilemma is cost. You had hoped your site would be covering those costs by now, but it’s not. I get that. I’m a long way from my writing covering my costs (however, I haven’t been doing it seriously for 5 years). There are many ways to earn money through writing (e.g. freelancing, selling products or services, speaking, etc.). I think you need to decide if you want your travel website to be a “hobby” that you’re willing to spend money on because you enjoy it, or a business that pays you back for the time and energy you put into it. If you want it to be a business, you may need to try some new approaches to building your readership, expanding your reach, and giving your product a makeover. Writing classes, although another expense, might help you learn new ways of enticing and engaging your readers. You have a lot to decide in a month. I’ll say a prayer for you. Let me know if you’d like to pick my writer’s brain!