So what’s been going on with our website, EarthVagabonds.com ?
Most folks probably haven’t noticed — and understandably don’t care — but we do have a good number of followers and loyal readers who may be wondering.
At this moment, this website is working properly. After all, here you are reading this blog post. But in recent weeks, and months, there have been some hiccups; ALL of them, out of our control.
Most notably, at the end of October – into November, we could not post anything to the blog (we were trying). And back in June/July, the blog was completely offline for more than a week. Both times, our web hosting service “DreamHost” was the issue. (There were sporadic DreamHost outages earlier in 2023, too.)
Our blog history
We’ve had a blog/web page since we quit work and retired in 2015. At first, it was titled “elliemae411.wordpress.com.” Indeed, WordPress was part of the URL address (as all their free hosted pages are). During the summer and fall of that year, Ellen lived by herself and posted entries from Tulum, Mexico — where she kinda tested out our slow travel idea — as I wrapped up home and work responsibilities back in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
I officially dropped out and joined her in December 2015. In the summer of 2016, we changed the blog name to EarthVagabonds.com. It was a low-cost blog that was still hosted by WordPress.com.
Throughout this time, we viewed the blog as an easy way to keep family and friends updated about what we were doing and where. With a few clicks or taps, anybody who wanted to know could find out.
But pretty quickly, it turned into our official journal, a timeline, THE record of our world-wandering and adventures and what it was costing.
In mid-2019, we met a travel blogger in Malaysia who convinced us we might actually make money from our blog. She explained how getting 25,000 clicks per month could earn us a share of advertising revenue generated by ads on the blog page. At the time we were getting about 10,000 hits per month – without any real effort. There was a niche need for budget slow travel in early retirement. We decided we’d devote more time and effort to attracting page visits and see if we could indeed make a little money.
Part of that effort involved moving the whole site to a new hosting service (WordPress was quite restrictive on designs at the time, and stingy with ad revenue sharing). The move also meant taking on much more of technical responsibility for the site layout and operation. The WordPress ‘templates’ were no longer an option. My wife took on the challenge and learned what she needed to become a hands-on ‘webmistress’.
In the end, we settled on DreamHost as the host for our redesigned and upgraded site. We spent about six months really trying to grow the number of daily clicks. We kept up our regular postings and amped up our social media efforts on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram to promote the blog and encourage hits.
Then came COVID. Whatever hope we had of making money on a travel blog was blown up completely. Obviously, nobody was looking for travel info during lengthy global lockdowns.
Thankfully, we had no real need to make money from the blog. In fact, the whole effort was a lark; let’s see what happens if we give this a try. For REAL travel bloggers (those who must make a living on their blogs), COVID was a disaster.
During the COVID time and since, we’ve gone back to the more personal and noncommercial approach to our blog/web page. In truth, we quickly learned that gaining 25,000 clicks and more per month requires a lot of time and effort and dedication. It’s a job! Professional travel bloggers are always ‘on the clock’, posting, promoting, collaborating, begging for page views. We’re retired; we don’t want to work! Forget all that!
Of course, during the COVID crisis, our blog helped raise funds to assist the desperately poor indigenous Ati tribe of Malay, Aklan, Philippines — who we came to know and love while ‘stranded’ in their vicinity for two years of COVID closures.
And we continue to document our ongoing global adventures as well as share how anybody – with some planning and motivation – might similarly enjoy such an extended slow travel existence at a relatively modest cost. Ellie and I both contribute and are proud of the info we post.
Plus someday, when I’m old/infirm/unable to travel, I know I’ll get a kick out of reliving this most amazing part of my life by rereading the archived blog posts.
Lastly, our blog is a good record/resource – but we’re really more proud of our related Facebook group (recently rebranded as: Budget Slow Travelers in (Early) Retirement). If you aren’t a member, check it out. There you will find 5,000 other like-minded folks exchanging information and tips on slow travel and budgeting.
Back to the DreamHost problem
The explanation to our recent blog/web page issues: apparently DreamHost had an “equipment failure.” Service outages have resulted. Fixes have been slow and tenuous. Customer service is uneven. For us, the DreamHost experience has often been a bad dream.
In all cases, webmistress Ellen has been left discouraged and scrambling and prodding DreamHost for answers, and help and restoration of the service we pay for.
Yes, we continue to pay DreamHost to make EarthVagabonds.com available on the internet. Granted, the $135 per year is about as cheap as can possibly be for self-hosting services — but still, shouldn’t it work after we pay?
To DreamHost’s credit, each time, they did communicate and eventually provide direction and solutions that restored our site. At one point they even ‘migrated’ us to a new server – presumably abandoning some corrupted equipment. Still the hassles and delays are really frustrating for my sweet, dedicated, blogger-wife. We kinda get the feeling – as low paying customers – we are their last priority.
We have a few options we are considering. Most likely, we will move our blog back WordPress hosting at some point. Now that we’ve given up trying to make money, it would be far easier to pay a similar small yearly hosting fee and let WordPress.com handle all the technical issues that Ellen was wrestling with on DreamHost. If we want, WordPress will even run advertising with its ‘WordAds’ (instead of the GoogleAds we tried with Dreamhost) and give us a small cut which could help cover the annual fee.
For now, we will continue to post a couple times each week here as has been our long-standing practice. We hope things will stabilize on DreamHost with a little more time as we weigh our other options. Candidly, as you may have noticed, blogs and websites as a whole seem to be fading out of popularity overall. The same kind of content can be put out on Facebook which grows ever more popular in our “immediate” world. Personally, I like the ‘permanent diary’ aspect of our blog however.
Of course, we want to thank everyone who does check-in on EarthVagabonds.com. Please continue to do so. Now you have the backstory of what’s been going on and an explanation of any continuing disruptions which might occur. Bottom line, it’s an unwelcome situation — but at the same time, just another part of our endless adventure.
As always, be thankful and generous, happy trails & more beer.
Life is NOW!
The end is near.