Where we look back over the last year of blogging and see what people are reading. Then we discus the perils of being a digital nomad and what my future of travel might look like now I’ve settled.
My blog is celebrating her eighth birthday this week. By now she should be able to dress herself, tie her shoes and catch a ball. Time goes by so fast.
The blog name came from a nickname I was given years ago when I lived on the top floor of a block of flats in the South of Spain. I didn’t like socialising with the other British residents much, from which they concluded that I must be ‘mad’ and named me the mad woman in the attic. After all, who wouldn’t want to spend their time in Spain hanging out with a bunch of Brits, discussing property prices and the plot lines of Coronation Street?
My most read posts continue to be largely the ones I wrote about Western Australia.
In the last year the number one post is still this one, about driving from Perth to Kalgoorlie.
The second most visited is this one, about day trips out of Perth you can take using public transport.
Third place is this one, about the hippies of El Bolson, Argentina.
Of this year’s bunch, my post about Hydra Island in Greece unsurprisingly came out on top.
Most visits came from the UK, followed by Australia, and the US a close third. Canada, France, Spain and Turkey also bring in a fair few readers.
Readership generally is down. Well I’m not travelling so much; a lot of my content has been about the UK over the past year. There was someone on the telly just this morning saying how people have rediscovered holidaying in the UK and now don’t need to go abroad anymore.
We had no choice for a short time but that really doesn’t mean that I think a road trip to the South Downs is any kind of substitute for learning about new cultures and travelling to places that are a little outside the comfort zone.
Where I’m going with the blog
I have started to mix in some non-travel related stuff from time to time and I will continue with that, along with trips and places I visit. The hardest part, as ever, is pressing the send button.
Where I’m going more generally
Well, I seem to have settled back in the UK. However it wouldn’t take much for me to upend everything and disappear off on another open-ended adventure somewhere.
At first, I thought I had failed if I gave up the whole digital nomad/location independent life, but gradually I realised that it’s ok to sometimes pick a life that will be a little easier.
It is easier to be near to affordable healthcare and it’s better for my mental health to have the opportunity to connect with the people and community around me and to be able to pursue my interests without moving on every few months.
But I miss it too, the open-ended travel. I’m still a traveller at heart. More than two years after I supposedly ‘settled down’ I still l live as if I could move to the other side of the world at a minute’s notice anytime I chose. I still have no bed and sleep on a mattress on the floor, I don’t own a TV and have an almost pathological fear of owning too much ‘stuff’.
Earning a living in the post-pandemic world.
Things are slowly getting back to normal. The commuter trains are now almost back to their pre-pandemic capacity as people who really don’t need to travel back into the office are forced back there anyway.
There are so many reasons that working from home is better: you can wear what you like, you can control your own temperature. You have your own private bathroom, no enforced smalltalk, no commuting, no office events to pretend to enjoy. I could go on.
Yet as ever the world is built for extraverts who want to bully everybody back into the office: control freaks who are scared to give anybody the autonomy to decide on their work schedule.
Earning a living as a Freelancer
Freelancing has been a roller coaster. The after effects of the lockdown is to leave me unable to push a button to send anything out into the world.
Phone calls are becoming increasingly hard for me. I keep saying that someone needs to invent an app for introverts that matches us up with an extravert who’ll make our phone calls for us and push the send button when we’ve created something to share with the world.
A lot of the websites that I used to earn money whilst I was travelling don’t work when you’re paying British prices. Upwork, Fiverr, People Per Hour et al seem to attract lower and lower payments, which are in turn lapped up by workers in India or the Philippines, pushing people who live in expensive countries out of the market.
Other avenues I have pursued for money have similarly fallen by the wayside. My Etsy store makes about one sale every 6 weeks. It seems that unless you have a mammoth amount of time to invest in tweaking and listing/relisting your products, you will not be noticed by the Etsy algorithm. Instead, you have to be able to fearlessly promote your stuff on multiple social media channels, since relying on Etsy to bring in enough customers (as I do) is unlikely to pay off in any real way.
All that, and you are still competing with shops in China who are selling poor-quality goods for very little money. Etsy are supposed to clamp down on people selling products that are clearly not handmade, but they do nothing because the revenue they earn from them is too huge.
So instead they send me emails with ‘helpful suggestions’, such as why not have a sale? Why not offer a discount for first time visitors? Etc etc. Nobody should be forced to sell their creations for less than they feel entitled to; by the time you factor in Etsy’s own fees (just gone up again), my printing costs (ditto) and the astronomical cost of postage then there is very little left as profit as there is, without offering a discount.
All that and you also have to deal with the scammers who claim things never arrived (knowing that Etsy run this customer is always right policy, even when all the evidence points the other way). Then there are the people who seemingly get off on leaving bad reviews for no reason: ‘took weeks to arrive’ (well I can’t control the post office and the £3.20 profit I was left with on the sale won’t pay for UPS delivery). Or ‘item smaller than I anticipated’ (which may be true but it was still the same size as I advertised; it’s not my fault you don’t know what A5 means).
All in all, it is looking increasingly likely that I’m going to need to take … a job. [pause for gasp of horror].
But not just yet. First there is a little trip to Spain to be dealt with.