“Hisashiburi” as we say in Japan for long time no see! I will cut to the chase – Insaitama will be around for another year after all. And here’s why! A lot has happened in the last month since breaking the news that I was closing down the blog. First and foremost, a very emotional and heartfelt thank you for all the lovely supportive and warm comments, messages and mails on the blog and particularly on Facebook and other social media forums. Some of the comments were indeed the catalyst to me reconsidering completely taking the blog offline. And then a series of events, some of which are outlined below, just consolidated my desire to give insaitama one more year…
A technical breakthrough
In preparing the blog for closure (making it smaller so that I could save it to my hard drive) the first thing I did was removed the Events Calendar plug-in along with the 500 event posts in it. I have known for a long time that there was something technically wrong with my blog, but as I said in my “goodbye” post, I wasn’t sure what. And as I said then, I didn’t want to be throwing good money after bad, to get someone technical to figure out what it was. But as it turned out, it would seem the Events Calendar plug-in was contributing, largely, to the technical issues. Ironically, even though I deleted 500 posts without redirecting them, which would normally cause a negative reaction on Google Search Engine results, my traffic started going up.
Moreover, my ranking went up. As I explained in the goodbye post, even though insaitama had more than a 1000 things to do in Saitama, insaitama wasn’t ranking on the first page of Google search engine results for the search term “things to do in Saitama”. Ironically, now there are only 500-ish things to do in Saitama and I am back ranking on the first page for the first time in a long time. I was so surprised when I was running a few last Google Analytic reports to save before closing the blog and seeing that I was getting a lot more traffic than usual for that and related terms.
Actually several people offered to contribute financially to the blog to keep it going. It gets me emotional every time. I of course have thanked them all individually, but let me just say here again – a very sincere thank you. As I said in the “last post ever” (HAHA!), it wasn’t just about the money, but a combination of things. Many of which are no longer an “issue”, hence I am writing this post!
I do want to mention one person in particular, who just wants to be known as S from the States, who was particularly persistent!! She even tried to get in touch with my hosting provider to pay on the sly. But its not like I couldn’t “afford” the blog as such, it was more that I was hung up on the cost benefit ratio. However, I have made a pact with S – if I don’t make enough from Google Ads in the next year to cover the cost of hosting, I will accept the difference from her. As she said, she wants to be the blog’s benefactress. The truth is, and I have already told her this, I wouldn’t have agreed to this pact, if I thought I’d have to take her up on it, but already there are good signs on the financial side…
Much to my surprise, the ads on my blog made more in August than ever before. At the same time, my hosting provider offered me a once off special ‘loyal long term customer’ discount to keep my business. The stars aligned. At first I thought, well I can just keep the blog up so that others can read the posts; dozens of people had messaged me or commented on my social media posts that they had saved many of my posts for future reference…. which brings me to ‘the B-game’….
The B-Game, back to blogging
Since I went self hosting six years ago, particularly in the last 5 years, I stopped “blogging” and turned insaitama into a website rather than a blog. Simultaneously, I also became way too caught up in analytics – rankings, ratings, page views etc. I played the A-Game, putting so much research into and detail in blog posts. Something Andy’s World Journeys said really got me thinking (if you haven’t already, check out his blog!)
Going forward, I am going back to blogging. Initially, I have quite a few posts I want to republish, so there will be a lot of activity. They are posts that are already fully written and very detailed. I had unpublished them, so I will just be republishing them. However, any posts I add ‘brand new’ after this, will be blog posts. I will include a map and official website in each, but it’ll be my B-game and I will be happier for it!
So there you have it folks, insaitama will be around for another year thanks in large to you the reader. 💖 I hope you will continue to follow my journey as I go back to blogging 💖
The featured image is from Yoshimi, the right side was taken on Friday! The left side in spring. It just felt fitting – a reminder how things look different in each “season” of our life. How things come and go, change through the seasons… are born, fade or die, but then are born again. The blog bloomed and then it slept, but hopefully it will bloom again… 🙂