My first monthly update got some pretty good reviews and everybody seemed to enjoy it, so I thought I would do another one. A lot has changed this past month, and there's a lot of changes yet to come.
First of all, we officially reached 10,000 likes on Facebook! Whoo-hoo! This is unbelievable! Compared to some Facebook pages, 10,000 doesn't seem like that much, but knowing that that many people care about my travels and read my posts mean the world to me. When my account was jammed up around 60 likes back in December I was getting pretty bummed out. Here I was, every other day pumping out long, detailed travel entries, knowing the only people who were going to read them were my close family and friends. It was frustrating because I was putting so much work into my posts, and so few people seemed to care. Now thousands care. It's unbelievable! When I go at weeks end and see that my blog was been red 600 times, I am ecstatic! There's nothing better in this world than knowing people are going out of their way to read your blog posts. So, once again, thank you everybody for your support.
The second big thing that happened, happened on March 1st. That was the day I took possession of my apartment and I didn't even realize it happened: for some reason Google disabled my Adsense account. I appealed to them to reenable it but it was denied it. They didn't have to tell me why my account is disabled, and they chose not to. I'm left assuming it was because I advertised on Facebook which brought traffic to my site, which in turn artificially inflated the money I earned via advertising. If anybody cares, in the whole month of February I made $7.87, which is $92 shy of the lowest limit Google will pay.
Since then I've been exploring alternative advertising methods. One option was RevenueHits. RevenueHits claims they aren't as good as Adsense, but they're good enough. They weren't good enough for me. I put their ads on my site to see what they looked like, and they were misleading ("Your Flash Player Is Out of Date"), unrelated ("Download Here!") and sometimes straight obnoxious (like the "popunder" one that opens a new tab when the user visits a site). I like money just as much as you, but I like respect more. I respect my readers, and I want you to respect me back. Those ads were misleading and I didn't trust them enough to show them to you. I don't care if they're one of the highest revenue making advertising companies after Adsense. I don't write for money. I write because I love to write, and I love knowing you love what I write.
I then looked at Taboola, which is a fairly common advertising site that shows other popular articles around the web. Have you ever seen those "Skinny Pills Taking Storm!" ads going around? That's Taboola. I inquired into getting an account with them, but I needed 48,000 more monthly visitors to be considered. That's not gonna happen anytime soon! I emailed a couple others. One of them, SkimLinks, seems promising but takes days to get back to me. Disqus (we will talk more about them below) also has a similar program, but you need to have a certain number of visitors to use their ads, which I don't have.
I ended up going with InfoLinks, a company that puts links onto a website's keywords. Their ads can be seen by hovering over the links with your mouse. Today is the first full day of me having them online. They have other ads too, like ads that come in on the sides and ads that pop up when you come to the site. Other ones are keyword banners. I'm not sure how I feel about those, but we will give InfoLinks a chance for now.
On a more personal note, I've been busy moving into my new place, which is why new posts have been absent for so long. I want to assure everybody I am still alive and I'm still blogging. This "quiet time" has led to about a half dozen dislikes on my Facebook page. I know you guys want new content. And I have more content coming; I just didn't have Internet to post it.
I've also added Disqus comments to my blog. I like generating conversation and I see Disqus comments becoming more and more popular on websites. They seem to have even become more popular than Facebook comments. I thought I would give them a shot. So far, nobody has commented on anything. But maybe somebody will on this one!
There are other odds and ends I could talk about -- like the local newspaper telling me they "weren't interested" in doing a piece about my blog -- but I think I'll end it here. There are some other really big things coming up, but I would rather announce them at the time of them happening than announce them now and not have them fall through.
So, until next time, goodbye, and keep on traveling!
(Maybe I should use that line more often. Is it too late for a catchphrase?)
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.
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Most people know how to ride a bicycle. They learned sometime as a child and never forgot. I am not one of those people. I tried learning when I was a child, a teenager and an adult, and I have never mastered the two-wheel contraption. Whenever I see a child zip past me on a bike, I get a little jealous inside. I've always wanted to learn, but it's just something I've never been able to do.
On my recent trip to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Alberta, I explored several of the many biking paths that wind through the area. The paths are also hikable, so I walked them instead. Although I've visited Cypress Hills several times, I never get used to the hills and lakes throughout the area. With dozens of kilometres of trails, you can spend a weekend there and never do the same thing twice. Although hiking around the park was incredible, I imagine it would be a lot more fun, and a lot easier, to bike it instead.
They say hope was the last thing to die in Auschwitz.
It's been just over 70 years since the Allies liberated the death camp and the horrors of the "Final Solution" were revealed to the world. Prior to their arrival, Auschwitz was the most effective death camp ever created, having taken the lives of over 1.1 million Jews.
Block 4 of Auschwitz holds the museum, explaining the best it can about what happened seven decades past. The museum explains what Auschwitz was originally built for – a camp for Polish prisoners of war – and how it became key to the Nazi's "Final Solution". The museum goes over the construction of Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II (Birkenau) and Auschwitz III (Monowitz), the increased sizes and effectiveness of gas chambers and the factories of death that stood and smoked over the camp during its operation.
When I started my blog, I wanted a place to tell stories. I wanted a place where I could keep memories and show them off for people later. My earliest entries on my blog are from 2011 (published in 2014), right after my trip to Europe. They're messy, they lack detail, and they are full of inaccuracies. Not the mention the wretched photography.
So, there's only been a slight improvement since then. Hahahahaha.
Four years later, my blog has become my hobby, my joy, my escape and my work. I spend hours writing content for my blog. I spend hours editing pictures, researching details, and adjusting content for SEO (search engine optimization). It's a full-time gig, and just the other day I published my 200th article. After 200 times of doing something, you'd think the articles would get easier, but they really don't. Each one is unique unto itself, and each one is a special time in my life that I shared with my readers.