Jozilicious is 1 year old!

Yesterday was my blog’s 1 year “blogoversary”. I had been anticipating the date for a while and was quietly hoping that I’d reach 60,000 page views by then. This seemed impossible a couple of months ago, but I actually reached it on Saturday! ūüôā

Page views are one indication of readership, but all your comments and emails are a more important reflection of that. I love hearing from readers and¬†enjoy giving you recommendations for anything from a birthday brunch to a high tea. I’m honoured that you trust me enough to take advice from me!

I thought about how to celebrate this blogoversary.. and came up with a few ideas but I settled on a heartfelt blog post about the last year and what blogging has taught me.

If you had told me a year ago that my life would be the way it is now, I would never have believed you. My aim was never to make money off the blog or to get “freebies”. I just wanted to express my passion for travel and food and share¬†my stories. I had no idea this¬†blog would become my key¬†focus a year later. Some of my newer readers may not know that Jozilicious was initially¬† called Travel, Food, Fun.¬† I couldn’t think of a more inventive name at the time- I just knew I wanted to blog. My initial blog posts are so embarrassing. Read the first few here and here.

So I started just writing about whatever I felt like, and adding some amateur photos taken on my phone or on my cybershot camera. Slowly I noticed my page views steadily increasing (I started on 19 a day!) and as I got more and more positive feedback about my blog, I was even more motivated to improve it.

The media industry is small and there are only a few key players out there. If one PR company knows you and your blog, they all do. Soon enough I was getting invitations to all sorts of launches, events and press trips. I went to as many as I could and used these events to network. I bought an SLR camera and enrolled myself on a photography course so that I could take more professional photos. I started blogging for Getaway Magazine. As all of this came together, my confidence grew.
This year, I’ve been on¬†5 local getaways¬†(Mount Grace, Kievitskroon,¬†Wild Horses, Irene¬†Country Lodge, Cape Town)¬†and¬†4 international trips (Zambia, Mozambique, New York, Mauritius). While some of these have been sponsored trips and others I’ve paid for myself, it has been an amazing journey and everyday I am thankful that I’ve been able to live my dream of being a travel writer, almost accidentally!

It hasn’t been without its difficulties though. Writing quality blog posts takes time and is hard work, especially when working fulltime. I am limited to 25 days of annual leave¬†a year so I am very selective about the trips I accept. I try and keep all my reviews as objective as possible and have declined requests for “sponsored” editorials (ie money to publish an article that is given to me). I make it clear to establishments that I will write about the good and the bad aspects of my experience, and if there is nothing good to write I don’t even bother doing a¬†post.¬†This doesn’t always sit well after someone has already given me a box of¬†beauty samples, for example. Another negative¬†is that¬†I have become somewhat blase about travel. Read my post on “when too much of a good thing becomes a bad thing” for more on that.

Managing personal relationships can be as challenging as the professional ones. At first, everyone in my life wanted to know what was happening with my blog. I am an open person by nature; with me, what you see is what you get. I shared my blog developments openly and honestly with everyone who asked. These¬†happenings were exciting so naturally, I was excited. It was never about showing off, I was just thrilled at the prospects Jozilicious was bringing me and expected people close to me to share in this. I learnt the hard way that not¬†everyone would be¬†happy for me. I guess when things are going well people don’t really want to hear about it, but when things are going badly everyone wants an update. This was hurtful so I started only sharing my blog news with selective people, which has led to the evaporation of certain relationships.

On the plus side, other relationships have grown. My husband and I love our little adventures to find new Jozilicious material. I’ve met some amazing people over the past year and have been completely fulfilled in a creative way, which I previously thought was impossible.

But what is a blog without its readers?
So thank YOU for reading, for your support and for believing in me!

I have no idea what the future holds for me and for Jozilicious, but I have no doubt that it’s going to be anything but dull!!