Last month, I had the opportunity to talk a bit about this site on a Facebook Live session I did with my work discussing side projects and how you can use web hosting to earn a little extra income. You can see the full video below:
Here is the full transcript where I touch on some additional things that didn’t come to mind during my interview.
Tell me about your side project. What exactly is Pack Me To and how did you get started?
Pack Me To is a travel blog where I share stories about my travels around the world as well as provide travel tips and itineraries to help other travellers see the world more efficiently and comfortably. I aim to inspire other part time travelers – those who enjoy having a career or have a home base – to explore the world. I started Pack Me To as a way of handling of reverse culture shock. I had spent a couple years living in Budapest, Hungary and when I moved home I had learned so much about how to travel and the destinations themselves that I wanted to put that all in one place so I created a space where I could.
How many/what countries have you visited?
I’ve been fortunate enough to visit 29 countries. When you’re living in Europe, it’s quite easy to go somewhere new when it’s only a short train ride or flight away.
How did you setup your first website?
When I first set up my website, I was in a shared hosting environment at another host. I also purchased my domain separately from another domain registrar. I built my website using a free WordPress Theme. WordPress is super easy to get set up and doesn’t require much knowledge of how to code or design things online.
This setup was fine to get started. My website was more of a passion project and I didn’t really require much from my host. I would experience the occasional downtime due to other websites being hosted on my server but it didn’t bother me so much.
What is your website setup like right now?
Now my website is hosted at Canadian Web Hosting, but still in a shared environment. However, I am at a point where I’m considering moving towards a VPS. My website is starting to take up a lot of resources and while I haven’t experienced as much downtime compared to my previous host, because my blog has become a source of side income, I would like it to be available at all times. I’ve also recently moved from http to a https site as well.
I still use WordPress to manage my website content, however I’ve since moved to a paid theme with some slight modifications to make it my own. All this in an effort to differentiate myself from all the other travel blogs out there.
What is the most fulfilling part about having a side project?
The most fulfilling aspect of having a side project is knowing that it is fully mine. The success of it is completely on my shoulders. Whatever return I get from it is as a direct result from the work I put it.
I also find it gives me purpose outside of work. If I didn’t have this project to work on in my free time, I’d probably just spend it on something less productive like binging the latest Netflix shows or falling down a YouTube hole.
What is the most interesting thing that has happened to you as a result of this side project?
There are definitely a lot of perks – especially when you’re a travel blogger. I’ve been offered sponsored gear, trips and activities all of which helps to build more content for my website. I’ve had the opportunity to be on really delicious food tours in Tokyo, got a behind the scenes look into how a ballet is created at the Royal Winnipeg Ballet in Winnipeg and got an after hours private tour of the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee to name a few. All super cool experiences.
What are some struggles you face as a website owner?
I’m not the most technologically savvy – there’s a reason why I’m in marketing! A lot of the technical side I need to rely on my hosting provider to help me get set up. I’ve also become a master at Googling things when I have no idea what to do. For example, right now I’m making the switch from http to https and it’s a complicated route to navigate, but thankfully support has been great at answering all my questions and helping me get everything set up.
How did you first get traffic to your website and how did you learn how to monetize it?
Honestly when I was getting started, I had no idea what I was doing. I just tried a whole bunch of different things and eventually figured out what worked best for me. Today, Pinterest is my biggest source of traffic accounting for over 40% of my traffic (the one below is one of my most popular pins). I also use SEO to get some of my blog posts to rank on page 1 of Google for certain search terms.
I mainly monetize my website through affiliate links. For example, I would incorporate links to Amazon in packing guides I put together or links to hotels and tours from itinerary posts.
What are your goals with Pack Me To? Where is Pack Me To heading next?
I would like to work on increasing both my traffic and income in 2018 and I would like to start making more videos.
What is some advice you can offer to anyone who wants to start a side project?
Don’t give up too easily! Especially after the initial thrill runs out. Building something takes time and hard work. While it’s exciting at first, that feeling will eventually die down, your motivation will wane, but you need to push through that.
However, at the same time, you do need to be realistic – if something doesn’t seem to be working out after the first couple months or there isn’t a market for whatever you’re working on, then it might be time to try something else.
Would you recommend shared web hosting to others with side projects?
Yup! Shared web hosting is a low cost way of getting started. For less than $10 a month you can test out your side project idea. One of my favourite side hustlers is Chris Guillebeau author of the $100 Start Up and Side Hustle School and getting started with a website on a shared server fits perfectly within his approach to getting a side project up and running.
Is there anything you would like to add that I didn’t get to ask, Adelina?
Getting started on a website based side project is easy when it come to the technical aspects. What’s harder is seeking out inspiration whether it be something that you have an interest in like I did with travel and writing or fulfilling some need or fixing a problem you spot in your day to day life. I highly recommend Chris Guillebeau’s Side Hustle School podcast as a way to see what others are doing for their side projects and maybe get some inspiration that way. Side projects are such a fulfilling thing to have in your life and I highly recommend others just get out there and try different things and see what sticks.
I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes glimpse into what it’s like to run this blog. Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!