Thailand Blogging Two Years On

Thailand Blogging

Two years ago today I started Thailand, Land of Smiles without a real clue as to what I was doing or how I would do it, the early posts really bring that point home well. I started this blog because I had a real passion for Thailand that carries on to this day and I wanted to share that passion with as many people as I could.

I wanted to share my experiences and adventures along the way and I think I’ve done that pretty well . Over time I believe I’ve become a better writer and a little bit better photographer ( still breaking camera’s though). I think what I’ve been able to put into words so far has been full of helpful information and a pretty good testament to my time spent in Thailand.

The blog has really grown since those first days when the only visitor was me. Checking the stats was a daily depressing habit  and I wondered if anyone would ever show up. Well, they did but it took time.

Today Land of Smiles brings in well over 20,000 unique visitors a month who average close to 40,000 visits and account for over 150,000 page views a month. About 60% of those visitors monthly come from search engines, with Google being the clear leader. 15% of those visitors are from referrals, mostly from other blogs in the Thailand niche. And the last 25% come from direct traffic.

Now, I’m not bringing the above numbers up to brag and I didn’t add in pictures of my Google analytics and monthly stats for a reason, it doesn’t matter. It’s not about where I am now but how I got here and how I plan to move forward. It took two years to get to this point and you can bet the first year I was writing for very few people. After the first year I saw more people trickling in here and there and I continued to write. Google doesn’t trust you for a while and as much as Google doesn’t trust you, other bloggers trust you less. After the 8 month mark Google started to relent and send me much needed traffic and other bloggers started to give me some much needed back links. It takes time and patience but if you keep at it it happens.

That being said it also involves work. Aside from writing content if you want to move forward and stand out you can’t ignore search engine optimization ( SEO ). Without SEO no one will ever find you, it literally makes the difference of being on the first page of Google or on the the 300th page. Here’s a hint,  no one goes past the first few pages of search results in most cases. Using Wordpress as a blogging platform takes care of 80% of the SEO you need right out of the gate. You need to keep up with the other 20% by doing the little things. Keywords, correct permalinks and the all important back links. All these things together help the search engines to find and rank you.

Don’t neglect the theme you use for your blog either. How your site looks is second only to the information it provides. People really do make decisions about you and your blog based on it’s look and navigation. Take the time to get it right. You wouldn’t believe the amount of e-mails I have gotten in 2 years about how nice the theme is here. It’s the main reason I haven’t thought of updating the theme, but when I do I will be keeping similar color schemes and layout. By the way the theme was free and luckily it was one that I haven’t seen used much.

Keywords are easy with a Thailand related blog because it’s hard to write an article without bringing up the main keywords in this niche: Thailand, Bangkok, Thai food, Thai women, Thai girls, Thai language, Pattaya, and or ladyboys…big breasted young teen Asian ladyboy’s, naked. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist :)

Those words are relatively easy but I have taken ranking for certain keywords to a new level. For instance, I rank #1 in Google for Brown Nipple…go ahead, check. I’m proud of that one although I really don’t know why and I’m quite certain that many a young man has been disappointed when they got to my blog and there were no brown nipples to be found. I don’t think I even rank in the top 100 pages for black nipple, talk about a tough keyword to rank for. I plan on being around for a while so who knows maybe in 2 more years I can be #1 for black nipple too…a boy can dream.

All of that is fine and well but it really doesn’t mean all that much over time unless you have people engaging with your content and in that regard I have been fortunate to make friends with a lot of great Thailand bloggers and bloggers in general that have become part of this community and a larger Thailand community overall. That’s what keeps me going, the fact that people are reading my content and they are responding to it. Not only that but they are expanding on it and bringing more to the conversation through comments here and blog posts on their blogs. That is really cool and and a major motivation to keep me blogging.

Page Rank,  Alexa, SEO, and all the social networking tools are great for distracting you from the most important part of blogging, writing original content. They are all meaningless if you don’t keep writing and reaching out to others in your niche and becoming involved. Don’t write for search engines, write for people because when you write for people the funny thing is they usually show up and read. If you engage those people and give them what they are looking for they will most likely come back. All the various metrics used to measure success only tell you part of the story.

Like many bloggers I have read all the A-list bloggers on blogging and have researched all of their works and have sometimes let myself be drawn into it all . What I’ve learned in the last 2 years is that most of what they tell you is all incidental to the important equation:


Passion. If you aren’t passionate about your subject matter your readers will know it and eventually you will get tired of writing it or you’ll get tired of no one reading it.

Content is key. If you write on a regular basis  they will come. It doesn’t have to be daily but if you post on a regular basis you will see regular readers. More to the point it’s not just content but original content. Original content is written through your eyes or through your experiences. You can write about anything but unless you put your spin on it, your point of view or your thoughts then you are just rewriting news that someone else has already written…Make it yours.

Time is the hardest part of the equation. Time isn’t something you can force or bend to your will. You may write daily and have the passion,  but everything takes time. It takes time for Google to trust you and to build up content in the search engines. It takes time to get to know others in your niche and have them trust you. It takes time to figure out your direction. Give it time.

If you put in the time to write original content about a subject you are passionate about then you might be as fortunate as I have been and realize you have become part of something bigger, a community.  Big or small that community means so much more than statistics.

This post has run a lot longer than I wanted it too but hopefully it made it’s point, love what you do and do what you love. I’ve learned a lot in the past two years about Thailand, blogging and community. Where Thailand, Land of Smiles will be in the next two years, I don’t know,  but I do know that I’ll still be learning, exploring and writing about the place I love and hopefully you’ll continue to  be a part of that journey.

sig1 Thailand Blogging Two Years On

Related Posts with Thumbnails

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!
29 Responses to Thailand Blogging Two Years On
  1. malcolm
    September 25, 2009 | 5:35 am

    Talen, It is one of the best and I always look foward to you post , a good mixture of history , info and of course that great sense of humor that you throw in from time to time , keep up the great work and hopefuly I’ll still be around in two more to enjoy, along with the rest of your faithful readers.
    And I think every new and old blogger should read close and do some of the things that you laid out sooooo well, to have a good blog and one that gets lots of readers and comments . THANKS Malcolm

    • Talen
      September 25, 2009 | 8:35 am

      Thanks Malcolm, I think you’ll be around a lot longer than two years and hopefully you’ll still be writing about Thailand as well. I always look forward to your posts.

  2. Ben Shingleton
    September 25, 2009 | 5:48 am

    Hi Talen, yeah absolutly agree with your message. Enjoying what you’re writing / blogging about is key. Without the enjoyment, it can all come across a bit ‘flat’. Your passion for Thailand is clear and comes across. Looking forward to reading your blog in its third year. Congrats, Ben
    Ben Shingleton´s last blog ..3rd floor installed at the ‘new’ Riverside My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      September 25, 2009 | 8:37 am

      Thanks Ben, Enjoyment and the love of Thailand definitely keeps me writing but the community aspect is even better. Without other Thailand bloggers such as yourself it wouldn’t be as much fun.

  3. Andy
    September 25, 2009 | 6:33 am

    You’re absolutely right, passion, unique good content and patience are the main ingredients for a successful blog. On my blog a get a mere three percent of your Google hits, but that’s probably due to the even smaller niche I have chosen for my blog. For a blog even more important than the Google hits are the RSS readers, as these are the ones who stay and not just drive by. And to be honest I never expected to have as many ready as Feedburner now claims I have…
    Andy´s last blog ..Bangkok districts in the 1910s My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      September 25, 2009 | 8:40 am

      Andy, Where I might be getting a lot of google hits They aren’t nearly as targeted as yours. You may get a smaller percentage but I doubt anyone is looking for brown nipples on your blog. When a searcher gets to your blog they already know what info they want and you have it.

      You’re right about RSS and Email readers. They are important for many blogs. Maybe 1 in 100 readers will post a comment but a lot of lurkers subscribe.

  4. Mike
    September 25, 2009 | 7:25 am

    Talen I totally agree with you-very well put. One can but dream of similar monthly stats!

    Keep on blogging as I always look forward to your posts.
    Mike´s last blog ..A Democratic Thailand-The Way Forward? My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      September 25, 2009 | 8:43 am

      Mike, Write about nipples and naked Thai/Chinese women and they come in droves…ladyboys too.

      Seriously though I really think time and passion is the biggest part of the equation. We live in a pretty small niche and with the great community we have I think we can spread the love around pretty well.

  5. Richard Barrow
    September 25, 2009 | 11:33 am

    Congratulations on reaching the two year point. Hopefully you will have many more years of good posts for us all to read.
    Richard Barrow´s last blog ..An Arranged Wedding to Promote Thai Jungle Tourism My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      September 26, 2009 | 2:24 am

      Thanks Richard, I hope to be writing for a long time.Maybe one day I can catch up to you and Stephen but That would be a tall order.

  6. Monica
    September 25, 2009 | 4:06 pm

    Hmm…2 years and 20,000. I’ve got a long, long way to go. It’s only been 2 months for me. Haha! Thanks for sharing your story. Makes feel not so discouraged on days when my blog barely hits two digits.

    • Talen
      September 26, 2009 | 2:32 am

      Monica, It will grow it just takes time. With the great stories and pictures you take I have a feeling it won’t take as much time as you think.

  7. BangkokDan
    September 26, 2009 | 1:45 am

    Very well done, Talen, that is quite an achievement in such a short time!

    You’re dedicated, and that’s already more than half of it.

    Add discipline and producing your own stuff and you’re nearly there.

    All in all there are wonderful blogs in Thailand, such as yours.

    Keep on blogging! Best -

    BangkokDan´s last blog ..Prostrate Thou Self My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      September 26, 2009 | 2:31 am

      And yours is definitely one of those wonderful blogs Dan. Thanks for the kind words.

  8. SiamRick
    September 26, 2009 | 12:21 pm

    Something I just discovered recently is that on Typepad, if you write your headline first, that becomes the permalink. I suppose it’s the same on most blogging platforms, though I wouldn’t know. But if you start your draft first and do a save, the first sentence becomes the permalink and whatever headline you write does not become the permalink. Of course, both of these are extremely important elements in a blog. (You can edit the permalink before publishing but I’m not sure what this impacts.)

    The importance of really nailing down the headline and first sentence finally broke through my lead-lined head. I used to write in draft on Typepad for many many months, but now I write in a text editor. Finish it there, sharpen the first sentence of the piece by rewriting and re-editing. Then I work on a headline and sharpen that. SEOing all the way. I’ve learned that SEOing makes for mostly boring headlines but unfortunately, boring is what gets the Google crawler excited, it seems.

    Is this your experience, Talen?

    The reason for writing a comment was to congratulate you on a very very fine blog. The passion really comes through.

    And let me say I’m most impressed that after two years, you’re getting 150,000 page views a month. Well “the content is the message”, no two ways about it.

    Well done!

  9. SiamRick
    September 26, 2009 | 12:37 pm

    Ack, I left an HTML code open, drat! Meant to bold face your name.

    And 2. I make what I write in the headline the permalink now. There’s rarely any art to it because the first and only priority is: SEO.

  10. Talen
    September 26, 2009 | 7:06 pm

    Rick, I’m not sure how typepad works. In wordpress the permalink structure is set in the admin panel.

    A good title will definitely draw in readers but writing them for the search engines is the wrong way to go. SEO is only part of the story. Like I said it’s pretty easy to rank in our niche because it’s hard to write without using the keywords naturally.

  11. SiamRick
    September 26, 2009 | 10:35 pm

    Interesting, Talen. I’d been giving my comment some more thought today and then you said pretty much what I concluded. An enticing headline does have a lot of magic and I resolved to shift away from the SEO-only focus. Boring stuff, as I said. And the key words take care of the SEO, as you said. A good exchange.

    • Talen
      September 27, 2009 | 2:28 am

      Rick, SEO still has it’s place but in a niche as small as ours there is only so many ways that a searcher will find us.

      People interested in Thailand will always find us and when you write for them they’re sure to come back.

  12. Pattaya Pete
    September 28, 2009 | 2:37 am

    A belated congratulations Talen. Those monthly numbers are quite large. I wish you continued success in the future.

    My main blog is aimed at being a travel resource, and I’ve been thinking about starting a new blog with my personal stories as well.

    As you mentioned it seems to be a small community of Thailand bloggers, I don’t think I’ve quite made it in the niche yet…but I’m trying :-)

    Look forward to your next post. When is your next trip back to LOS?

    Pattaya Pete´s last blog ..Pattaya Beer Bars My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      September 28, 2009 | 1:10 pm

      Thanks Pete.

      Why not incorporate the personal stories into the travel blog? You’ve already spent the time working the travel up and the personal stories could be used to relate to different travel issues.

      It definitely takes a little time getting into a niche and being trusted. Just keep plugging away it will come.

      I’ve been neglecting my links lately…have a lot to add and you are on the list. Not sure how much it will help but I’ll add you in today…every litle bit helps.

  13. Pattaya Pete
    September 29, 2009 | 2:00 am

    I have been going back and forth on adding personal stories to the blog – you point out some good reasons for adding them. Plus there is only so much travel info I’ll be able to write on one city before I’m tapped out.

    I need to keep at it – I’ve got the passion and the time, however I need to turn that into some more content.

    Thanks for considering adding me to your links. Much appreciated!
    Pattaya Pete´s last blog ..Pattaya Beer Bars My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      September 29, 2009 | 2:29 am

      Pete, if you keep it all on one blog it will work out much better in the long run. I think there are tons of travel related things to write but you can mix it up and relate your story into the travel details.

      In the long run one blog is always better than 2 and google will love all the extra content.

  14. Catherine
    October 13, 2009 | 12:54 am

    Talen, apologies for coming in late. I believe your post went about the same time I was heading out.

    Congrats on your huge numbers. Twenty thousand unique visitors in two years is a fabulous accomplishment and a true reflection of the quality of your posts.

    Your fine attention to detail always inspires me to be a better writer, and I thank you for that.

    Because of you, when I’m walking around Thailand I look closer into what is happening around me. I’ve now recorded some doozies that normally would have me shaking my head and not much more. I know, I know, I need to get them on my blog ;-)

    I have not been a member of the Thai community for long, but I’ve learned a great deal in that time and most of it has been from you.

    Thank you for your helpful advice, as well as your kind friendship.
    Catherine´s last blog ..Thai 101 Learners Series: Vocabulary Acquisition My ComLuv Profile

    • Talen
      October 13, 2009 | 2:11 am

      Cat, Thank you for the kind words. I have a feeling you’ll be beating those numbers in the near future. What I have is just my opinions and personal experiences which everyone has. You have that coupled with a very real commodity learning the Thai language… and what you do you do very well.

  15. Feedburner
    October 27, 2009 | 12:19 am

    Hey webmaster of this site just checkin’ your feedburner stats jump up and down yesterday 206 and now over 400 where can you get additional feedburner hits?

    • Talen
      October 27, 2009 | 12:45 am

      Feedburner, It’s not that they are additional hits but how feedburner actually works. I have somewhere close to 500 feed subscribers but feedburner only shows a count for those people that actually opened up their feed reader for that day…not actually read your feed but opened their feed account. so that’s why the numbers fluctuate daily.

      So some days it will read 200 some days over 400 and everywhere in between. The best number is actually only foun=d on the feedburner site and thats those that opened up their feed and clicked through to your blog to read.

  1. Thailand Blogging Two Years On :Thailand Hotel Promotion
  2. Posts about SEO as of September 25, 2009 | All About WordPress
Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL