The Trip To Japan, What To Read And More

Tomorrow I’ll leave for Japan. It will be a 7 days trip followed by a two days stop in New Zealand. I always wanted to go to Japan. As a teenager I was fascinated by martial arts, by the samurai life code – bushido – and by the Japanese culture all together. As a student I started to learn hiragana and katakana by my own although my chances to go to Japan were nearly zero at that time.

Despite the fact that I had this deep wish to go to Japan, something always seemed to interfere and I had to postpone this. I postponed it so much that I barely thought I will always step foot over there. But one month ago I decided it’s time to do it. No more delays, no more excuses no more nothing: just buy the tickets, book the hotel and go. As part of my goals for 2009 this trip was suddenly simply unavoidable.

The main reason for going to Japan, apart from my all life wish, is to stretch myself, to pursue my personal development path. If you’re new here you may want to check out a full post I wrote about travel as a personal development tool. After I got back from the trip to Thailand I was so dismantled, so puzzled yet so refreshed and energized that I just couldn’t avoid to travel anymore. It’s part of my lifestyle now.

What To Do In Japan

I don’t plan my trips. I usually book the plane tickets and the hotel and this is basically all I know for sure in advance. Sometimes I take one or two guided tours just to get a glimpse of what they can offer. In Thailand, for instance, I booked a guided tour for the Floating Market in Damnoen Saeduk and I was pretty happy with it. In Japan I will only have a one day guided tour to mount Fuji, the rest is at my will. I will stay in Tokyo for the most part although I don’t exclude some one night stops in other cities, especially Kyoto.

I would really like to get some of the sakura zensen feeling (the cherry blossom celebration) but it seems I will be a little on the edge with that, from my information the climax of this was last week. Sakura zensen is one of the most interesting things to see in Japan, both from what I read and from what I heard from other people who were already there.

I will definitely visit everything would raise my interest and I won’t limit myself only to Tokyo, although I have this feeling that Tokyo itself will be really overwhelming.

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The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Tools

That’s the last post from the series The First 6 Months Of Blogging and it will be about tools I use when I blog. Every activity is enhanced by tools and blogging is no exception to this. Today’s post will be rather technical or at least strictly focused on the technical part of the whole … Read more The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Tools

The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Money

During my first 6 months of blogging I made 847 USD. I still wait for some results from one of my affiliate deals but based on the previous activity I can more or less predict how much is going to be. As you may already guessed, this is the third post from the series: The First Six Months Of Blogging, and it is about money and blogging. If you missed the first two posts, you can find them here:

The First Six Months Of Blogging – Writing
The First Six Months Of Blogging – Promotion

Why Do I Want To Make Money With My Blog?

Before dwelling on the blogging money too much I think I should clarify a bit on the “Why?”. I guess the “Why?” is fundamental and it has a tremendous impact on your overall income. If you don’t have a clear reason on why you should make money with your blog, I guess it will be pretty difficult to attract money making opportunities.

During the first 6 months I haven’t had a clear focus on making money. My main focus was at creating a self-discipline about writing, creating a comfortable blog setup and putting together a promoting strategy. I am pretty sure I could made much more than 847 USD, if I would intended that.

My revenue sources in the first 6 months are based on more or less incidental affiliate deals. I wasn’t proactive on those deals, it just happened. I found some opportunity, I evaluated the impact on my writing and promotion routine and if everything seemed ok, I jumped on it. The main reason behind those deals was to find some metrics and learn how much money I can really make. It was like a sandbox, more like an experiment than a real monetization strategy.

The reason why I want to make money with my blog is to support my lifestyle of choice. I don’t want to accumulate, but I want to be able to generate enough income to support my family and myself. At this point, all my expenses are covered from other sources. I do not depend on blog money. But I made a choice to create a different lifestyle and I want this lifestyle to be fulfilling on all levels, including financial levels.

For some of my readers it should be no secret by now that I consider money as a form of energy. Playing directly with the energy (for instance, with electricity, which is a form of energy) is not always the healthiest choice we can make. In fact, if you expose yourself too much to a powerful source of energy, you can end up pretty shocked. You need some protection when playing with this energy. You need a goal. Whenever you have a clear goal, money seems to flow much more easier. Making money with a blog just in order to make money with a blog is like putting your fingers into a power outlet. It can give you the thrills for a while, but after that you’ll end up completely wasted.

So, my goal is that my blog will support my new lifestyle. For those of you interested in more details, you can have a glimpse at what I want to do in 2009, for instance.

Broadcasting And Receiving

After I sold my online business, I choose blogging as my main communication vehicle. My message is simple: you can be a better version of yourself. I use this blog to broadcast my message. That’s all I do. I create value and broadcast it.

But I’m also ready to receive the positive (or negative, if case will be) impact of my work. I’m not only in broadcast mode, I also do receiving. I already started to receive appreciation notes from my readers (and that’s besides the comments). Some of them are saying that my writing really made a positive impact on their lives. They’re manifesting more courage, they start to change their dreams, they start to attract more happiness into their lives. That’s good. I am genuinely happy when this is happening.

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The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Promotion

The first 6 months of serious blogging are crucial. In today’s post I’ll share my experiences with one of the most ignored activities by the beginners, and that would be promotion. This is the second post from a bigger series, so I recommend you to read the introductory post, if you came here directly. If you want to know more about the first post in the series, you can go to The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Writing. And keep in mind that this post is also pretty big, over 2000 words, so you’d better book some free time to read it at ease.

Broadcast Your Message

Promotion accounts for at least 40%-45% of the overall time I spend “blogging”. If this sounds surprising, I must confess that I feel I’m not promoting this blog as I should. I feel I’m not doing enough for it.

I cannot stress enough the importance of promotion in the early months. As always, I learned this the hard way, from experience. In the first 3 months, my traffic was constant, but low. Shamefully low, as opposed to my expectations. The vast majority of traffic came from search engines and since the blog didn’t had a significant number of inbound links, my page rank was low. It still is, by the way, only this doesn’t matter now anymore. 🙂

Here’s my traffic breakdown for the first 3 months:

Search Engines – 58%
Referring sites – 28%
Direct traffic – 14%

During the first 3 months I didn’t do anything to promote this blog. I waited to be picked up by search engines. It happened sooner than I thought, only the traffic I received was extremely low. I was indexed almost instantly but the traffic was not as expected.

So, after 3 months of stagnation I decided it was time to actively involve myself in promoting this blog. I realized something extremely important: the world of blogging is really crowded. There are literally millions of blogs out there. Tens of millions. The vast majority are low quality, it’s true, but even if we accept that 1% of the blogs are really good, 1% of 50.000.000 of blogs is 500.000. You have an enormous competition: 500.000 sites! If you have a little bit of decency you realize that you really cannot wait for the search engines to pick you up and send you in the first place. You can’t afford to do that. You have to actually control the process. At least until you can automate some parts of it and assess some progress. If you do nothing to promote your blog, your chances for a steady, growing traffic are extremely low. You act on a field with enormous numbers.

So, after I started to actively work on my blog promotion, my traffic breakdown changed dramatically in the last 3 months. Here’s how:

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The First 6 Months Of Blogging – Writing

During my first 6 months of “serious” blogging I discovered a lot of things about blogging and about myself. In the first post of this series I’ll share what I learned about the blog writing process. This is a rather long post, more than 2500 words, so I suggest you set aside some time to read it comfortably. Keep in mind that this series is targeted towards people who embraced blogging more like a profession or a revenue oriented activity rather than people who blog for relaxation or fun. There’s quite a difference between journaling and blogging.

Posting Speed

During the first 6 months I wrote 106 articles on my blog. For the sake of statistics that accounts to 0,58 posts per day. Here’s the monthly breakdown:

October 2008 – 17 posts
November 2008 – 20 posts
December 2008 – 20 posts
January 2009 – 17 posts
February 2009 – 15 posts
March 2009 – 17 posts

The lowest month was February and the most productive months were November and December. During the first 3 months the enthusiasm level was pretty high and I found it easier to work. But after the first 100 days I had to rely more on self-discipline than on enthusiasm. The motivation was there all the time, but the drive to work is made of more than just enthusiasm. I had to really stick with it. I had to keep a constant flow of work, and here’s why.

Posting speed is one of the key metrics of blogging. Here are some of my thoughts about blog metrics, among other things, if you want to know more about this topic. Based on the posting speed you can actually predict some of your other blog metrics, like traffic and comments and pingbacks. In fact, posting speed was the main metric I wanted to control during the first 6 months.

When I decided to go full time blogging, this was my first and most important commitment: to write at least 15 posts per month, one post every other day, at least 1200 words for every post. That was my number one goal.

And I did this for a number of reasons:

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April Mariner Promo Code

I already told you about a long term partnership with Mariner Software, which produces, among other software gems, my journaling and blogging application of choice, MacJournal. We’ve been talking about this since February. Well, I’m writing this only to announce you that we’re up and going for the month of April 2008. I really hope … Read more April Mariner Promo Code

The First 6 Months Of Blogging – The Series

Everybody have a blog these days. And everybody wants to make money with that blog, if possible, the very next day after the first post. Well, I’ll say it straight from the beginning: it’s not that easy. It’s doable, of course, but it’s not the easy peasy piece of cake you see advertised all over … Read more The First 6 Months Of Blogging – The Series

Twitter Downshifting

Three weeks ago I deleted my first twitter account @edragonu. At that time I had more than 1000 followers and I followed around 800 people. After a few days of silence, I decided to restart my twitter experience, on another account, @dragosroua, which happens to be me real name. I restored the first account but let my followers know that I’m on a new account and invited them to follow me there. During that silence period I learned a lot about how Twitter works and about myself. Here’s what happened.

Real Followers On Twitter

After I announced that I switched accounts, I experienced a flood of new followers on the new account. Those were the real followers, the ones who were listening and had a real interest in follow me. In 2-3 days I went from 0 to 100 followers. And then it slowly started to stop. I have around 1-2 new followers per day right now.

As you can see, the “core” of the followers was less than 10% of my actual numbers. Out of 1000 listed followers, only 100 were actually listening to my tweets and were interested in following me. It’s a little bit sad. And also unexpected. I was convinced that my followers are interested in what I write. At least, I was interested in what people I followed wrote.

Fewer Followers, Better Experience

The feeling I had in the first few days of having only meaningful followers were terrific. And I still experience the same feelings now. I feel relieved, authentic, useful and true. No more dumb numbers chasing, no more empty performance metrics, just authentic interaction.

I used to spend around 2-3 hours each day only in reading my timeline. I had to find ways to filter the content and cut down the noise. Somehow I took for granted that “noise” is something that Twitter has by default and I have to get over it. After I started the new account it was like the noise never existed.

Twitter doesn’t have any associated noise, it’s you who create the noise, by succumbing to the numbers game.

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