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I’m trying something new on See Nic Wander. In my last email update, I sent out a survey to you, my lovely readers. In it, I asked what you wanted to read more of on the blog. I was super flattered to learn that almost everyone who responded said they wanted more personal stories.
One of my favorite bloggers of all time, Adventurous Kate, does a monthly update blog post where she writes about travel as well as personal things like what she’s reading, new hobbies she’s trying out, and things like that. I’ve been reading her updates for ages and it makes me feel like I know her, like we’re friends.
I’m inspired by her monthly update posts and so I’m going to try writing some of my own monthly update posts on this blog. There are a lot of fun little stories and smaller things that happen that don’t make it into big blog posts. Things that I want to share with you guys, my fantastic community of online friends.
Another thing people were curious about in the survey was blogging in general. I don’t want to turn into yet another blogger who blogs about blogging. But I am always learning new things and testing them out as I work to grow this site. Because I think it’s interesting to track these kinds of things, I’ll keep you posted on the new things I’m learning, what’s working, and what’s not.
I can’t wait to hear what you think!
What’s Been Going On In The Travel World
I started the month exploring my hometown. I spent time with my family and saw my sister and a few close friends before leaving for Asia. It was a looooong flight to Bali with an absolutely amazing layover in Qatar, thanks to Qatar Airways.
When I landed in Bali, I went to Canggu first. After about a week of attempting to surf and stuffing my face with avocado toast and smoothie bowls, I made my way east to the sleepy surf town of Keramas.
Here are some of the highlights!
My luxurious layover in Qatar: If you’ve never flown Qatar Airways, you should. It’s one of the nicest airlines I’ve flown on and the rates from Atlanta to Asia are surprisingly affordable. On this particular flight, I had a 10-hour layover in Doha, Qatar overnight.
I was planning to hunker down in the airport and make the best of it as I did in the Singapore Airport, but Qatar Airways surprised me with a luxurious treat. Apparently, if you have a layover over 8 hours in Doha, they will put you up in a hotel for free. I went to the counter, asked the lady if this was true, and she smiled and handed me a hotel voucher.
I went outside (you have to clear customs and immigration since the hotel isn’t in the airport) and an airport shuttle took me to a lovely hotel in downtown Doha. I showered, ate a real meal, slept about five hours, then was shuttled back to the airport for my connection. That was an incredible bonus on an already affordable ticket!
Resort Wins: There’s a famous surf resort in Keramas called The Komune. I’m just a beginner surfer myself but I’m traveling with an advanced surfer. I’d heard great things about this resort since it’s got an infinity pool that overlooks the popular Keramas surf break. So it was a really exciting surprise when we found out that The Komume Resort was running a special some of the nights we were in town.
Just walking up, I could tell that the resort was something special and I was excited to soak in all of the amazing shampoos, white fluffy towels, and poolside Bintangs I could get my hands on in 24 hours. But then something else awesome happened.
When we checked in, the receptionist said that if we extended by another day, the room would be discounted even further and the hotel would throw in free massages…. So one day became two, and I have no regrets.
Exploring Keramas: Exploring Keramas was definitely a highlight. As a non-surfer, there wasn’t much to do there but the peace and quiet was a nice break from busy Canggu. I found a weird abandoned beach club that totally looked haunted, vivid green rice paddies that seemed to stretch for miles, and some of the best sunset spots I’ve seen in Bali. Keramas is also just a short drive from two famous waterfalls which were cool to see and very refreshing after a hot day of exploring.
While this month didn’t have any obvious lows, I did have a few rough days when I first arrived in Bali due to jet lag and just general adjusting to traveling again.
It happens to me every time, the combination of leaving home and missing my family, being very sleep-deprived, and just getting used to a new routine makes me feel out of it for a few days.
I keep thinking that the more trips I take the better it will get, but it still happens like clockwork every time.
New on the Blog
This was a lighter month blog-wise because I was traveling for so many days and let’s face it, I’m not productive at all in airports. I also spent a long time collaborating with other bloggers on the “friends abroad post” listed here. I’m really happy with how it turned out!
- Ladies Southeast Asia Packing List
- 15 Carry on Essentials for under $20
- How to Make Friends Abroad while Traveling Solo
Best Food I Tried
This is very difficult to choose because I spent time in Canggu, which I’ll dub the brunch capital of the world. Canggu is absolutely brimming with places to get delicacies like vegan quinoa bowls, beetroot hummus, breakfast burritos, smoothie bowls, and any kind of dish involving a poached egg you can think of.
But if I had to pick one best meal, it would probably be the Mexican breakfast burrito and Berry Ripe smoothie combination at BeetleNut Cafe in Canggu. This combo costs about $6 USD and I may or may not have eaten it more than a dozen times.
New Books I Read
Spending 35+ hours in transit to Asia and a few days in Keramas gave me a lot of time to read. I powered through these two books in record time!
Mastering the Art of French Eating by Ann Mah – A travel book and one about food, my favorite! This book follows the true story of a woman who relocates to France with her husband and makes it her mission to explore all the famous French foods around the country.
As she travels to find these delicacies, we also get to see the real side of ex-pat life and how difficult it can be to put down roots in a new place. This book also has recipes that I’d love to try out once I have a kitchen again.
This Victorian Life by Sarah Chrisman – Another travel book, but this one is traveling back in time, not around the globe. This Victorian Life is an interesting, lighthearted book about a couple that decides to live with only the technology available in the 1890s. The couple looks at the past as an anthropologist would look at other cultures. They’re fascinated by the Victorian Era and as I read their story, I became fascinated with it too.
The book covers everything from making clothes, to finding and riding a high wheeled bicycle, to restoring a house from the 1890s. It’s delightful to read and made me think so differently about the people of the past.
What’s going on in the Blogging world
I tried a lot of new blogging ideas in March. Some of them worked great and some of them were… learning experiences.
I did my first ever sponsored Instagram post – I’ve tried a few basic strategies to grow my Instagram account in the past but I was willing to try something a little more advanced. I know this platform is very popular in the blogging community, even though it is a bit out of my comfort zone.
Even though I never know what to do with my hands in photos and I don’t have nearly enough adorable travel hats to make it in the IG game, I do think it can be a powerful tool for building blog awareness, so I decided to try sponsoring a post.
I picked out a pretty travel picture, I wrote a long caption about who I am and what I do on See Nic Wander, and I paid $5 to have Instagram show that gem to the whole wide world (well, actually about 1000 targeted people) for 24 hours. I watched the likes roll in and kept waiting to see a spike in blog traffic because who wouldn’t be intrigued by my fabulous website, right? But at the end of the promotion, I received a whopping 7 visits to my website. Womp Womp.
Now I’m not gonna lie to you, it felt GOOD getting so many likes on a picture, even when I knew they were paid for. I’ve never had so many comments and likes and saves and all that addictive Instagram fame, so that was fun.
But in all honesty, I didn’t get much of a return on that promotion since my goal is website clicks and new readers. I got 7 new Instagram followers and 7 new website clicks, so it probably won’t be a regular part of my blogging toolbox.
A lot of my friends have successfully done Instagram promotions to build their websites, so I’m not saying it’s useless. I probably did something wrong in my caption or just didn’t have a big enough budget for the kind of results I was hoping for. I’m glad I tried it, but I’m going to keep Instagram as a “for fun” thing for the time being.
I studied SEO on Digital Nomad Wannabe – Okay, if you’re interested in SEO at all (and you should be), you HAVE to check out Digital Nomad Wannabe. This website is a goldmine for people just starting out with SEO. I highly recommend reading everything on this site, watching all her youtube videos, and doing the free link building course.
Sharon, the writer of this website, has a paid SEO course as well that I’m adding to my wishlist, so maybe I’ll be writing a review of this course for you in the future…
I finally got KeySearch, the tool that helps you find good post keywords – I’d seen tons of people talk about Keysearch but I didn’t understand how it could help me until I spent a frantic 50 hours reading every piece of content Digital Nomad Wannabe is ever written.
After watching a few youtube videos, I realized that just choosing keywords based on what I think people would search for is not a good strategy, not at all. Keysearch tells you exactly what words and phrases to use in your posts to help Google find them and rank them. I wish I would have gotten it at the very beginning.
I started keeping a log of all my blogging hours – This might be the most important blog thing I’ve done this month. After blogging for two and a half years now, I finally started to keep track of how much time I’m spending on it and what I’m doing with that time.
One of my goals for this year is to work smarter, not harder. Tracking my time has helped me use my time on the computer more productively (ie, not get lost in a thread of Facebook comments for an hour). It’s a small change but I can already tell it’s made me more productive.
What’s Coming Next?
Next, I’ll be exploring Uluwatu in the Bukit peninsula of Bali. The Bukit is another surf spot, also known for amazing cliff views. After the Bukit, I’ll also be heading to Lombok, the island next to Bali. It’s more relaxed and while I love Bali, I’m excited to explore more of Indonesia. I loved Flores so much when I went to Komodo so I’m hoping Lombok will have a similar charm.
Well, February was the best month, being with you and your mom, eating all the Asian creations you made for us, then trying to recreate them in March. My friends and family noticed how sad I was when you flew away, so they gave me a Birthday Week. Very nice way to recover!!
Ahhh YAY we did have so much fun in Feb! Still missing all our amazing veggy concoctions and jeopardy nights 🙂
I so appreciate your candid chat on how to grow your IG and Blog I look forward to even more posts on this! I have been slow to get some traction and feel a bit paralyzed to conquer all aspects of travel blogging as I still manage all the details of wandering around the globe which I have been doing full time now for 2 years. We are kindred spirits. Thank you for your inspiration and realness. I look forward to learning more strategies you are trying to build your brand and how you can monetize your travels all while sharing highlights on this magical planet. I’m still on the fence about teaching English. I’ve worked for itutorgroup and DadaABC but just seemed to have so many wifi issues connecting and getting steady shifts, but maybe VIPKID is better so I’ll check them out. Happy Travels Girl! Liza aka seewithme.net
Thank you so much for your comment! I definitely feel you, figuring out blogging is a looooooong game for sure. 🙂 Let me know if you need any help getting started with VIPKID, I haven’t had too many internet issues with them and the schedule is nice because you can change it week to week and choose your hours at short notice if needed. That’s nice because you can go somewhere, check out the wifi situation, then decide if you want to open classes or not. 🙂
It has only been 24 hours since I came across your blog (thanks to an ITA discussion group) and I am almost done reading all your posts, checking out all the products you use/endorse and googling a bunch of things you have mentioned! Lol. So I was planning on taking some time off and traveling while teaching English online. However, due to some unforseen circumstance, my plans are put on hold for a little bit. But in the mean time I haven’t stopped researching some contries and finding random blogs that are making me more eager and wishing I was leaving in 94 days as planned but this not gives me time to do research and maybe a new country on my 6 month quest may change, who knows? Everything happens for a reason. So again, silly question. I have been doing alot of reading on Bali and Thailand. Knowing their travel requirements and their length for staying in Bali, I am assuming you pay and extend for longer? Do you do this right at the airport when you land? Just curious, that is all.
Hi Meghan!! Thank you so much for your feedback and I’m so happy this site is helping you on your journey!! For Bali, at the airport, you can get a free visa for 30 days without the option to extend or you can get a $35 extendable visa. If you buy the extendable one, you have the option to add an additional 30 days once you’re there. There are companies that can handle this for you but you’ll have to go to immigration to extend and pay an extra fee. It’s not hard to do but just make sure to buy the extendable visa in the airport to have that option. 🙂