I've decided to keep ongoing updates just so people can follow along and see what's happening with me and my blog. This is the first of those updates, so I hope it isn't too boring.
Today at midnight our very first Facebook contest ended. I have yet to go through 44 posts to see who won, but I've been keeping a rough count and I think I know the top five winners. When I started the contest, I had just under 300 likes. Ending the contest, I have 6 and a half thousand. The past two weeks have seen incredible growth in my blog and in the support for it, and I only hope I can continue to offer somewhat interesting articles for you to read.
Moving on, lately I have been trying to improve the usability of my website. I'm getting anywhere from 50 to 200 hits on it a day, so I want to make sure it's as user friendly as possible. One of the big issues I've encountered are the large images. Some people love them, some hate them. I tried implementing a button on my site to hide and show said images, but nobody really understood it and it was confusing so I took it out. I have noticed my site isn't doing very good on mobile because of the heavy bandwidth due to the images, so I may scale them back, or I may find some new solution. I'm still thinking on that.
I've also decided to move into my own place next month, which does mean saving up for trips around the world becomes a little more difficult. I decided to try and counter this by adding advertisements on the bottom of my blog articles. I don't like advertisements, but I like traveling. I only hope they don't take anything away from my site and aren't too distracting. They are for you, in a sense, after all. So far, I have made a total of 46 cents off them, which was because of myself testing to see if they actually worked (but don't tell Google that, or they'll lynch me).
I've also added a feature to my site to track how much of an articles are actually being read. I understand the 26 minute long article about Paris probably won't be read in detail over your lunch break, but I just want to know exactly how much of my articles are being read. Two days into tracking, I've learned only 20 - 60% of the articles are being read. This is disappointing, but I understand my posts are very long. I am thinking of a way of making the articles shorter. Maybe I'll paginate them, or maybe I'll split them into smaller articles. I'm not sure yet. (But only reading 60% of my blog post means they're 40% away from seeing any ads, which isn't good for making money!)
On the media side of things, I have asked a local radio and television company in the city, Global Regina, if they would have me on TV. So far, they have not replied. I also asked the local newspaper company, the Leader Post, if they wanted to do an article about me. Zip from them. I emailed Contiki Travels and asked if they would help sponsor me, but again nothing. I will keep trying, and hopefully get into the media somehow. I really feel once I can break into the old media, my blog will really start to grow.
I have been in discussions with several other bloggers around the world, and while some are very busy and can only do an interview, some of the talks are coming together quiet well. I realize the taste for foreign lands is unquenchable and unfortunately I've covered all the distant places I've gone to, so I hope I can find some way to satisfy my readers.
But, really the biggest news update is how great this blog is coming together. I put in countless hours each week working on it, making tweaks, preparing scheduled posts, doing research, finding, cropping and editing pictures, and I really do feel you guys appreciate it. I used to be very frequent on Instagram about my travels and that's kind of fallen to the wayside. I've had several Instagram followers "track me down" to ask what's going on. This is really special. It really means a lot to me that you guys enjoy my posts enough to miss me when I'm away.
That's all for this update. All I can say is thank you, and I'm excited to see what's next for Kenton de Jong Travel.
Goodbye for now.
And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
Sign up for a list of 100+ Things to do in Regina!
A few articles ago I listed Ogema as one of the top destinations to visit in Saskatchewan. Immediately after I wrote the article, I put my money where my mouth was and booked a weekend trip to Ogema for my girlfriend and me. I figured it wouldn't be fair to my readers to recommend a place for them to visit without actually visiting it myself, and after getting my new Galaxy S7 from TELUS I figured I needed a reason to test it out.
Earlier this year I took my Galaxy S6 to La Ronge, and had very little coverage. I wanted to use Facebook's new Live Video option, but I couldn't get enough service to even send a text message. I was pretty disappointed by the coverage with that provider, so I was interested to see how TELUS' network was in Ogema.
The result was pretty darn good! We streamed Spotify all the way there, were able to do a Live Video from the Deep South Pioneer Museum and took some really great pictures and videos of the trip. It also helped to have a reliable network when I got lost driving there (don't ask me how!). TELUS has invested over $29 billion into their network since 2000 and it has really paid off. It's a great feeling knowing that no matter where you travel, you can rely on TELUS to keep you connected.
If you've ever passed through Medicine Hat, or you're spending a few days in the area, you've probably wondered what to do there. To most people outside the city, Medicine Hat might seem like a sleepy little prairie town in the Canadian Badlands; but for those who live in Hell's Basement, they'll tell you that this city is one of the most exciting places you can explore in all of Alberta.
I've gone to Medicine Hat three times in the past two years, and while I'm no expert on this thriving city, I know where the hidden gems are. If someone I know is passing through the area, I tell them they need to visit Medicine Hat. To help explain why, I put an article together for anyone else interested in visiting the Hat.
If you're spending 24 hours in Medicine Hat, you'll need somewhere to sleep. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a little under an hour away and a great place to camp. Camping in Cypress gives you the choice to explore the park, the city, and everywhere in between.
Part 12 of my cross Canada series takes us to the smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island. However, don't let the name confuse you: PEI is actually 232 islands!
PEI also happens to have smallest population of any province in Canada, with only 146,300 people as of 2014. This means this province has less people than my hometown Regina!
Being so small, however, it was difficult to find images on Instagram. That isn't to say there's nothing there worth seeing! Quiet the quandary, actually. PEI has a few very unique locations that drive their tourism. One of them is the gorgeous themed village of Avonlea, named after the village in the hit novel "Anne of Green Gables" published in 1908. This story, and the subsequent stories, follows Anne, a red-haired "fiery" orphan who grows up on PEI. The story is an international bestseller, and is strangely very popular in Japan (or so I've been told)!