It’s Leighton Literature’s 4th Birthday!
It’s been four years since I launched Leighton Literature and this last twelve months have definitely been my most transformative as a travel blogger. It was sometime in the summer that I felt like LL had arrived at a sink or swim moment. After so much hard work and only a modest amount of progress, I was either going to keep things plugging along as a hobby, or go for broke and put all my energies into pushing the site forward on every possible level. Obviously I went for the latter, chiefly because I’ve realized this is what I love doing: travelling and creating. As such, I found myself arriving at a very exciting and life-changing decision.
I’ve been teaching English around the world for the better part of seventeen years now, bar an exciting period in Amsterdam working as a writer, film journalist, voice over and interviewer of Hollywood stars. I still love being in the classroom, but find myself getting increasingly tired, both mentally and physically, of the nuts and bolts of school politics, unnecessarily long shifts, badly behaved children, unrealistic parent demands and just the general vibe of dancing to the tune of the company line. After all I’m not a chick anymore and the nest is feeling more and more restrictive, if I don’t spread my wings now it might never happen. With this in mind, I’ve decided to move on from China when my contract finishes next May and devote my time to being a full-time traveller. There are so many things I want to see, do, photograph and write about that it literally sends my head into a spin.
As romantic as all this sounds, such a project needs to be handled smartly if it’s gonna be even moderately sustainable. So I put together a huge plan of action, compiling a frankly ridiculous to-do list that’s been occupying every minute of my free time these past six months. So far I’ve given LL a dramatic makeover with a new site design and have reformatted every single one of my articles along the way. I’ve also been learning about the importance of SEO, which I’ve begun implementing into both my new articles as well as my back catalogue. I’m still figuring out this side of things, it’s very much an ongoing process and quite tedious work if truth be told, probably the least sexy aspect of the blogging process. Happily though I’m starting to see the results, with a marked increase in what is called organic traffic, people that come across my stuff independently through search engine speculation.
I also realized that the number of trips I needed to write up (just from 2018 alone) was spiraling out of control and that the only way I was going to get through everything was by increasing my post rate from every 48 hours to daily releases. This has been extremely demanding but finally, after two months of solid posting, I’m finally up to date and can start looking at all those old trips that I never got round to writing up. The dream on this front is that one day I’ll have finished publishing all those back catalogue pieces and can concentrate purely on new content and fresh ideas.
I’m also gonna need to go back to basics with social media promotion, an aspect of blogging that I kinda hate but recognize as an essential component of growth. Having done some extensive reading, I now have a much better idea of what’s needed and will, at some point, have to reinvent the wheel with Twitter, Instagram and all that bollocks. In all honesty I have major doubts about just how much of my time I’m willing to sink into this, but it’s a case of let’s see how things go I suppose.
There are a million and one other things I haven’t mentioned, but I’m just taking things one by one in order of importance. I’ve also begun mapping out my final six and a half months here in China so that I can cross off as many of the country’s highlights as I can before I bid adieu. There will be a Christmas trip of some sort, a two-week break in February for Chinese New Year and, quite possibly, a 3-4 week adventure at the end of my contract in May. It’s a pity the Chinese adventure has to end in a way, as my online travel directory is starting to look quite prolific: https://leightonliterature.com/china/
Before I plan out the next chapter of my long-term travel aspirations I’ll be embarking on another hugely exciting trip back home for 4-6 weeks in the UK. I want to use this time to reconnect with my country and catch up with as many old friends and family as I can. There are so many great people I haven’t seen in far too long and I’m anticipating some very good times over lunches, dinners, coffees, hikes and sightseeing. If you’re around next summer (and you’d maybe like to put me up for a few days 😉 ) don’t hesitate to get in touch, it would be great to see you!
Well, this article is getting way too long and there’s birthday cake to eat and kids to teach, so I’ll have to scoot off and leave you with some fun LL statistics from my four years online.
My Travel Reports: 334.
Short story collections: 8 Short stories: 62
Album reviews: 20
Site visitors: 65,000.
Coffees consumed while writing blogs: 4656685686856 (sloppy estimate).