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My 2017 Half Year in Review: How I Became a Travel Blogger

The end of twenty seventeen has me feeling all the feels. This year taught me to expect the unexpected, it forced me to be stronger than I ever have before, and it showed me that nothing is more important than family. I was knocked down more times than I can count, but I picked myself up time and time again, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t at least a little proud of that. The last twelve months have led me to a place I never thought I would be, building a career that I only could have dreamed of. Julia Elizabeth Blog is less than a year old (can you believe it?) so for the purpose of this post, I’m going to start at the half-year mark. That said, July and August are mostly about my personal life, so feel free to start reading at September if you’re only here for the business side of things.

July was easily the hardest month of my life. My father passed away unexpectedly, I lost my visa to stay in the United States, and I involuntarily moved home to Norway. I had first started blogging back in April, mostly about running since I was training for my first full marathon at the time. I graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to Los Angeles, where I wrote a couple of blog posts about my new adventures in California. Since I’m a Norwegian/Canadian dual citizen and was in the US on an F1 student visa, I had to wait for my OPT application to be approved before I could start working. While I waited, I began building my life in Los Angeles and flew to San Francisco to run the San Francisco Marathon. When I crossed the finish line, I received a congratulatory text from my mom followed by a message asking that I call her… I knew something was wrong. Three months prior, my dad had been diagnosed with cancer, but we were hopeful that the treatment would work and he would beat this. While I had been running, the doctors had informed my family back home that my dad wasn’t going to make it. I got on the first flight out of San Francisco that same day and arrived in Oslo the next morning, in time to spend three days with my dad before he passed away on July 27.

August is a complete blur. As my mom, my brothers, and I planned my dad’s funeral, our doorbell continuously rang with flower deliveries and visitors from out of town. I tried to make sense of what had happened and desperately searched for a way forward, but I just felt numb through it all. As it turns out, this is the first stage of grief: denial. As the numbness faded and my emotions kicked in, I felt hopeless and broken. I removed my blog and its content since I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it anymore, let alone what I wanted to do with my life. After the funeral, I took my dog Cody to our cabin in the mountains to clear my head. The last week of August, I flew back to Los Angeles to retrieve my things and move out of the house I had sublet. Because I had left the US while the status of my OPT application was still pending, I lost my F1 visa status and thereby gave up my eligibility to stay in the country.

September is when I started up my blog again. I flew home to Norway from Los Angeles, stopping in New York on the way to visit friends, then drove back to our cabin in Eggedal, Norway with my favorite four-legged adventurer. I used writing as a distraction from other things and I discovered the wonderful blogging community. I wrote about Cody and I’s Norwegian wilderness adventures and shared photos from the mountains, trying to figure out what to do next. My family kept telling me it was okay to take some time off, but I didn’t want to be ‘that girl’ who moved home after college and didn’t do anything with her life. That’s when I decided to throw myself into blogging and this time, I was determined to turn it into something more than simply a hobby. Over the next three months, I would grow my blog from just 100 visitors in September to 15,000 views by the end of the year.

Published in September: The Backstory, Our First Adventure, A Mystical Morning in the Mountains

October brought another round of mountain adventures. I lived more permanently at our cabin with Cody, where I continued blogging about our wilderness adventures and got more serious about photography. I utilized Instagram and Twitter as marketing tools and saw a 100% increase in blog traffic. Comments poured in and I received many compliments on my photos, which encouraged me to keep going. I was approved for Google AdSense midway through the month and started monetizing my blog. While I very much enjoyed the mountain life, I began toying with other ideas. As the days got shorter and the snow began to fall, I wasn’t so sure that spending the long winter months alone at the cabin was the best idea. That’s when the thought of travel blogging first occurred to me.

Published in October: We Moved to the Mountains, Tempelseter to Ranten (1419 m.a.s.l), Madonna med Barnet (1020 m.a.s.l), Norefjell: The Hike to Nowhere, Istjern: An Icy Jungle

November rolled around and I was set on traveling. I began researching different ways that I could fund my travels through my blog. I applied to various affiliate marketing programs and started working with Amazon, Bluehost, and Fiverr. I became a seller on Etsy and a freelancer on Fiverr, offering travel-related products and services on both marketplaces. I briefly considered participating in Blogmas, when bloggers share a Christmas-related post every day of December leading up to Christmas Day, thinking it could help new readers find my blog. While I ended up not going through with Blogmas, my one post on the topic quickly circled around Pinterest and remains my most commented blog post. With the increased page views from Pinterest, I felt confident enough with my numbers to reach out to tourism boards. I approached Visit Oslo and pitched the post titled 48 Hours as a Tourist in My Own City, for which they kindly provided me with an Oslo Pass. I updated my About page to reflect my new European city adventures and booked tickets to Helsinki and Gothenburg, where I was hosted by My Helsinki and Göteborg & Co. in their respective cities. I published 72 Hours in Finland’s Capital which was shared by Discovering Finland and Visit Helsinki, reaching over 1,000 views in a single day. By the end of November I had grown my blog views to 4,500, generated four sales on Etsy, and received my first order on Fiverr.

Published in November: 12 Original Blogmas Post Ideas, Holiday Preparations and Travels, A Sunny Saturday in Snowshoes, The Real Reason I’m Traveling, Oslo: 48 Hours as a Tourist in My Own City, Helsinki: 72 Hours in Finland’s Capital

December was a month of back-to-back travels. I returned from Gothenburg and wrote about Visiting Sweden’s West Coast, then took a day trip to Røros to experience Christmas in Norway’s Historical Mining Town. I visited my older brother Alexander in Vienna, where I wrote about Visiting Austria’s Capital in December in collaboration with the Vienna Tourist Board. I enjoyed a combination of city sightseeing and Christmas market exploring in Austria, and Alexander and I even took A Day Trip to Mozart’s Birthplace which was made possible by Visit Salzburg. In the middle of the month, Visit Oslo shared my 48 Hours as a Tourist in My Own City post and it was honestly like Christmas came early because this alone brought thousands of new readers to my blog. The last trip of December took me to Trondheim where I spent A Weekend in My Mom’s Hometown and visited my grandmother before Christmas. Apart from traveling, I joined the Awin affiliate marketing program and started working with Audible, Expedia, Hotels.com, and Travellink. I also launched my Facebook page, continued to grow my email list, published my Work With Me page, and Julia Elizabeth Blog hit 15,000 views!

Published in December: Gothenburg: Visiting Sweden’s West Coast, Røros: Christmas in Norway’s Historical Mining Town, Salzburg: A Day Trip to Mozart’s Birthplace, Vienna: Visiting Austria’s Capital in December, Trondheim: A Weekend in My Mom’s Hometown

In other news, I will be sending out a January newsletter on the 1st of the month detailing my upcoming travel plans and my goals for twenty eighteen. If you’re not already subscribed, be sure to sign up here so you don’t miss out. And if you’re still reading, thank you! I wish you all a Happy New Year filled with new experiences and endless adventures. I have a good feeling about 2018, anyone else?

This post contains some affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission from your purchases at no additional cost to you. This goes directly towards funding my next adventure and helps to keep my blog running. Thank you for making my travels possible!

42 Comments

  1. i’m so sorry about your dad, but it does really sound like (other than that of course) you had an amazing year! such beautiful photos, and i hope your blog grows more this year 🙂

    • Thank you so much Carli. It was definitely a rough start but things seem to be looking up for 2018! Wishing you a wonderful year with much success as well 😘

  2. What a remarkable year! So many obstacles and such a beautiful outcome. Happy you have found success here. Your blog is great!

    • Thank you Amanda, that means a lot ❤️ I’m so glad you are enjoying my blog! Yours is beautiful too and I’m excited to be following it – all the best in 2018.

  3. You had such an eventful year! I am so sorry to hear about your dad, but I am glad you have been able to channel your love for travel into this blog and take it to where it’s gotten in such a short amount of time! It is really impressive. Best of luck in 2018 and cheers to many more adventures 🙂

    • Thanks so much Megan! I often scroll through your blog for inspiration and I absolutely love following your adventures 🤗 Best of luck to you as well, wishing you a happy and healthy new year.

  4. Incredible photos and such a lovely dog! Wishing you all the best for the new year

    • Aw thanks Cristina, haha he’s a cutie 😂 Best wishes to you as well!

  5. Amita Amita

    I’m so sorry about your loss, you are so strong! Life can be so unexpected sometimes, but I’m glad you’ve had amazing opportunities come your way throughout the end of the year. Here’s to a great 2018 🙂 x

    amerzwithlove.com

    • Thank you Amita 😘 Yes so unexpected and so unfair too, but that’s just life I guess. Sending you much happiness and positivity in the new year!

  6. I’m sorry about your father🙁 but I’m happy to read how you were able to find yourself in your travels.

  7. Abi Abi

    Such an eventful year, reading blogs like these make me ever hopeful that my dream of becoming a travel blogger could be just around the corner. Remember sometimes in life we are arrows and have to be took backwards to be shot into greatness

    • That it was! Keep working at it Abi, you will get there 😅 And wow I just love that, thank you for your kind words.

  8. Hello there! This was one of the most beautiful yet emotional posts I read today. Firstly, I am so so sorry about your dad. This must be heart breaking moment of your life. I don’t even wanna thing about cancer getting to anyone fom my family. To be honest – we are doing this cleanzing diet on raw vegetables mostly from time to time which is the best cure to prevent yourself from cancer. This is just awful what is happening to people in 21st century. Secondly, I am so glad to read you were ble to overcome the saddnes and you invested in blogging. Actually, you became a successful blogger so fast! I wanna say – congrats! Me and my husband has been blogging since 2014 but it was not a popular website at all. This summer, we invested in our own domain and now we try to grow our blog and share our travel adventures and tips… but it’s not easy. Congratulations on your huge success! All the best to you 😉 Oh, we used to live in Oslo for 2 years but we come from Poland 🙂 We love Norway! Wiola and Mike

    • Hi Wiola and Mike, That really means a lot to me, thank you so much! Glad to hear, it’s important to take good care of yourself and lead a healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately there’s only so much we can control 😢 Sounds like you have taken some important steps for your blog – I wish you both much success with it. And oh what a small world! Poland is on my travel bucket list 😛 Thanks for reading and for your lovely comment, wishing you all the best in 2018.

  9. Rok Rok

    Wow, big success, congrats!

  10. So sorry to hear about your dad. I’m glad that you were able to find something that you enjoy and you are able to blog about it. Thank you for sharing.

  11. Sounds like a whirlwind of a year! I’m so sorry about the sudden loss of your father. I lost close family members this year as well, and it’s sort of tainted the whole of 2017 for me.

    Congrats on your blog growth, though! I love, love your dog photos – they remind me of my girl, a Great Pyrenees who’s having her 4th birthday today.

    Good luck in 2018!

    • Thank you so much, so sorry for your loss as well ❤️ And a very happy birthday to your pup – sending you both a big hug and best wishes for the new year.

  12. Hi Admin,

    You are such a inspiration of many young girls. Your story inspire to be a Blogger. What could be more when life support to complete dreams !

    • Hi there Sophia! Aw that means so much to me – thank you 🤗

  13. I’m so sorry about your dad. This was a truly inspiring post to read! I read it all! The mountains look beautiful. I craving travel lately, but don’t have the funds to do so. You’re motivation is really great! Has me thinking that’s for sure. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this!

    • Thank you for your comment and for reading 😘 I’m so happy you liked it and it was so fun connecting with you today. I hope you will find a way to travel soon!!

  14. I’m sorry about your father. 🙁 But I’m glad you were able to stand back up and walk through life with a smile. Have a great 2018! I see that you’re travelling to Spain this month! I live in Spain now and I love it here 🙂

    • Thanks so much Caly ❤️ Ahh you’re so lucky, I’ve been in Barcelona for 3 days now and I’m very much enjoying my time here. The city is absolutely beautiful and I’m looking forward to more adventures in Spain this month!

  15. I am so sorry for your loss. You are so strong, and your traveling reflects your ability to pick up the pieces and turn it into something beautiful. Have a blessed 2018.

    • Thank you Alice, you’re so sweet 🤗 Wishing you all the best this year!

  16. What a fabulous success story! You are an inspiration!

  17. Among many of my other goals I hope to become a travel blogger one day.

    • Good luck on achieving all your goals ☺️ Keep working at it!

  18. I am so sorry for your loss. I thoroughly enjoyed your post and subscribed! Happy travels!

    • Thanks so much Jillian, I’m loving your posts as well 😍 Happy travels to you too!

  19. Wow, your photos are amazing! So sorry about the loss of your dad!!

  20. You spent a great year. And your little furball seems to be having a great time. Plan a trip to India, I’ll like to see both of you.

    • Thank you Anshul, he sure is a great mountain buddy! Oh I’d love to visit India, don’t know about this year but it’s definitely on my list for the future 🙂

  21. Thomas Nicholas Yager Thomas Nicholas Yager

    Julia, I hope to become one of your followers! This will be my first experience, related to BLOGS! Love You, Uncle Tom XOX

    • Love you too Uncle Tom!! Thank you so much, I’m excited to have you along for the journey 😘

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