Today exactly 5 years ago I wrote my first post on this blog: Starting Over. I was trying to recover from a painful breakup, and needed an outlet to write down my thoughts. That's the reason this blog started, the rest is history. At that time I had no idea where this blog might end up 5 years later, I actually never believed it would last that long.
From a journal to a big Taiwan resource
If you've told me at that time that I will become one of the biggest resources on traveling in Taiwan and Taipei I would've probably looked at you with great disbelief - I've never planned any of this, it just happened naturally. In 2008 I was very focused on Malaysia, where I stayed for a few months the year before. I even thought of moving there in the future. Things changed, and fate brought me to Taiwan in 2010. That's where this blog started to transform from a simple journal to something much bigger: A huge collection of travelogues, cultural observations, and updates on my life as an expat in Taiwan. These have been the pillars of my blog in the past three years, but I have never seen myself constrained to a certain idea of what my blog should be. I've also often written about wristwatches, social media, lessons in Chinese, and introduced great parts of my home country to the world. Honestly, I'm not too crazy about the adjective "Kafkaesque" in my blog name anymore, but at least it makes it unique and recognizable, and Google has indexed my content very well, which gives me a lot of traffic. I'm approaching 3 million page views (see my all time blog stats here). Changing the name (and URL) after all these years would therefore make very little sense.
The future of My Kafkaesque life
5 years is a short period of a person's life, but for a blog it's quite a long time given the fact that personal blogs are only popular for around a decade. Anniversaries are always a good opportunity to look back and forward. Since I started this blog, I have published 1380 posts (including this one), 23 posts per month on average. This chart is highlighting my most popular topics ("Taiwan posts" exclude Taipei related posts):
Taiwan and Taipei related posts are slowly taking over my blog.
For the last two years I've heavily focused on Taiwan, Taipei, and travel, and I intend to continue this way in the future. Things will be a little bit different this year, because I've just become father, which has changed my life completely. Everything is so different now, and I'm trying my best to "learn on the job" as fast as possible. I will write about my experience as a foreign father in Taiwan, and I will share a lot of tips and information along the way. This won't turn into a journal type blog, I will use my personal experience to highlight bigger issues. It's something I've been doing for a long while now, I will just add parenthood into the mix. Travelogues, cultural observations and challenges as an expat in Taiwan will remain the core of my blog. This is where I believe I can offer a valuable resource to those foreigners who are interested to visit, or are planning to move to Taiwan. To be more specific, these are some of the things I'm planning to write about in the near future:
- tips for young fathers (might not be everybody's preferred topic)
- cultural observations (one of my favorite topics)
- Taipei travelogues (there are at least 50 more places I want to introduce)
- Taiwan travelogues (in case I manage to travel somewhere with my baby)
- Taipei night market reviews (I have lots of drafts from 2012, that need to be finished)
- Taipei restaurant reviews (my wife and I visited a lot of great restaurants last year)
I won't be able to travel or go out much in the upcoming months, but I have a lot of material from 2012 when my wife and I visited several places around Taipei. I also miss blogging about night markets and restaurant reviews, something I haven't done a lot since 2011. All this is coming up in the next months.
New design elements
This year I won't completely redesign my blog like I did last year, because it takes a lot of time and effort. I might do minor tweaks here and there, and instead focus on the general ease of finding my content. I've improved the Taiwan content overview and the Taipei content overview. I'm also adding blog navigation at the bottom of every Taipei related travel post, you can see how that looks like on the example of the Mingzhi Academy. That little set of links is very helpful to those who browse my site with their smartphones, because they can always find their way back to the general content overview. What I've also done in regards to Taipei is I unified the design of districts where I intend to list every notable building and interesting area. This means that every district of Greater Taipei is now getting individual focus, you can see how that looks like on the example of Zhongzheng and Wanhua. I'm also going to put ads on my blog, some on the sidebar, some in my popular posts. I've tried to do so with Google, but I had some issues with the code. I will figure this out in the next days. I'm constantly approached by websites that want to exchange links, or ask me if they can post guest posts in exchange for some money or product, but I always refuse. I like it much more, if I'm offered to write in exchange for a decent pay per post. Writing for free is out of the question, especially for a website that's competing for the same Google search pie like my blog.
How to follow my blog
As most of you by now know, Google Reader will cease to exist by July 1, 2013. The company, that destroyed every competition in RSS reading platforms a few years ago decided to pull the plug. For most bloggers and blog readers this is a disaster. I won't go further into this issue here, because this post might turn into an angry rant. Instead I want to focus on how to follow this blog after Google Reader has become history. Here are some options for you:
1. Subscribe via email: I have added this feature provided by Feedburner on my right sidebar. Input your email address, click submit and you will get a notification email by Feedburner. You have to click on the link provided in that email and your subscription will be confirmed. It's very simple. That way you won't miss any of my posts.
2. Bookmark my blogs: This is the oldest way of following blogs, but some people still do it, because I can see it on my traffic source trackers.
3. Follow via Google Friend Connect: This is an option for those who also use Blogger. The widget can be found on the right sidebar as well. Click on "Join this site" and your Blogger profile will be added on the list. When you sign in Blogger, you will see my latest post on your blog feed overview. I'm not sure, if Google will kill this feature as well, but as long as it's there, you can use it as Reader replacement, if you mainly read blogspot blogs, and even if you're not a blogger yourself.
4. Follow me on social media: I'm sharing most of my blog posts on my Facebook page and Twitter. It's not like the personally curated Reader experience, which is in your complete control, but still better than nothing. You can also follow me on Instagram, where my community is growing the fastest, just share images from Taiwan.
5. Look for Google Reader alternatives: My favorite reading app of late is Pulse, which I mainly use on my iPad, but they also have a web version. So far you can import your Google Reader feed to the app, but Google is still used as a backend platform. I strongly hope they will allow people to add individual blog feeds in the future - so keep an eye on them. Many people recommend Feedly, but I'm not a big fan. Digg said they will make an RSS reader app, I'm very curious about how that will look like.
Are personal blogs slowly dying out?
A lot of personal blogs have stopped updating in recent years, perhaps this type of blogging is slowly dying out. Google is killing its popular reader, and it might well be that it will drastically change how we read and follow blogs. The future looks bleak, but I don't plan to stop writing, not any time soon. This blog is my platform, this is where I control everything: The design, the experience, the content, the discussion. The web is slowly turning away from the user's control. Platforms like Facebook and Google+ both use algorithms to define what lands in your stream. I don't like this trend at all, and I hope there will be alternatives to this model. How do you see this trend?
De-lurk and greet me!
If you've read this far, then you certainly must be a loyal reader of my blog! If you're a long time reader, I would like to thank you for your loyalty and support, and I hope to keep you coming to my blog in the future. According to Google this blog has 306 RSS subscribers at the moment. Most of my posts of late have between 500-1000 pageviews on average, the popular ones even more. This makes me curious about who my readers are. If you're a long time follower or just joined recently, please delurk and greet me in the comments on this special occasion. You can remain anonymous, but I would be happy to get to know stuff like the country you are from, how long are you following my blog, how regularly are you reading, which topics are the most interesting to you etc. I know I won't get 306 comments, but even if there are a few of you "coming out" as closet MKL fans, I will be happy ;-)
Thanks again for following me. Here is to another 5 years! Cheers!