Celebrating Two Years of Flying Off the Bookshelf

Because it’s my blog and I can do what I want, this week I want to talk about the past two years of blogging. And give you the backstory of how this all got started.

It truly blows my mind sometimes that this is what it has become: a real business with a real income and real growth.

I guess I could write a post about how I’ve gotten here and X number of things I’ve learned in 2 years of blogging. But really it comes down to the very basics: writing good content and focusing on SEO.

Instead, I’d rather be a little more personal here with what the past two years have looked like.

May 2020

The idea to start the blog came to me almost like a lightning bolt in May of 2020. Yes, at the beginning of the pandemic I had an idea for a travel blog when I had no idea when I would be able to travel next.

How it happened was this: early one morning, I was scrolling though my phone and saw a posting for some independent contract work in travel content creation. I could do that! I thought.

And then immediately realized, no, I actually can’t. Because while I had been working for awhile in content marketing and online content creation, I didn’t actually have any portfolio pieces that I could send in for an opportunity like that. All of my previous personal blogging experience had been food related and all of my professional freelance experience was about technical engineering stuff that sometimes I hardly understand even though I write about it every day.

Ok then, I thought. I’ll just create something where some portfolio pieces can live so that next time I see an opportunity like that I will have something to send it.

So you see, I didn’t exactly set out to start a blog as a business.

But it snowballed pretty quickly as I started brainstorming and planning and researching and realized…this could be its own thing. Like it’s own business where I wouldn’t want or need to apply for opportunities like the one I had seen.

I knew I wanted to talk about travel (because I missed it! and because I wanted this to be a platform that would provide—or at least give me an excuse—for travel opportunities) and I knew I wanted to talk about books (because I love them and can get pretty obsessive about them).

So pretty quickly, Flying Off the Bookshelf developed into a full…thing. My husband, who has been designing websites on the side for people for a long time, help me get the site up and running. I spent a couple months brainstorming and prepping before I published anything. And then in July 2020, I published the first post and we were off.

Having a Baby Blog in 2020

Starting a travel blog when no one is traveling may seem like a disheartening place to be. But in all honestly, it felt like an opportunity to me.

It’s pretty well known that new blogs hardly get any traffic for the first six months to one year. Blogging is by no means a get rich quick scheme; you spend A LOT of time doing A LOT of work for free.

So I figured, since I won’t be getting any traffic anyway, I might as well not be getting any traffic during this period of time when people aren’t really using travel blogs.

Not being able to travel didn’t feel like a huge deal right away. I had a few Europe trips I could use for content. I had tons of Disney World expertise I could leverage. Plus I could pull from attractions in my local community and a few weekend trips we had on the books.

So while there were definitely some blogging frustrations in 2020 and into 2021 (like days with absolutely no traffic, or weeks where it felt like I was going backwards in traffic, or days when I had technical issues with my blog that we could not figure out), overall, I was off to a pretty good start and I knew that 2020 was a good time to grow a blog while it felt like no one was really paying attention.

Blogging in 2021

You know that part about blogs not really getting a lot of traffic until they have been online 6 months to 1 year? Well in the second half of 2021, one year after launching, traffic really started to take off like I had hoped. I was able to join an advertising network (which is how this really has become a business), plus travel started picking back up. Our first time getting back on an airplane since the beginning of the pandemic was to go to San Diego in Fall of 2021.

Since then, seeing this business grow has been so fun and honestly more than I had expected. I knew growth would be slow going at first, but seeing it pick up in the past year has been amazing. The hard work has paid off, as I have surpassed goal after goal, slowly but surely.

What’s Next?

So what’s in store for the next few years of Flying Off the Bookshelf? Honestly, I have no idea! And that’s the fun of it! I am always trying to stay open to the possibilities that might be in store, and I know that the best thing I can do is keep working hard and focusing on what works.

Do I have some stretch goals in mind? Sure!

But I’m also so glad to be here right now, knowing how far this business has come.

Thanks for being here with me.