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How has The Cassey Excursion evolved in 2013? Well, first and foremost, I started with me. Before I can start thinking about all of the people I hope to influence and interact with, I had to create a blog that I loved no matter what. This would involve some great changes.

When I was using wordpress.com I felt limited, I felt that the design for my website needed fixed, and I envisioned some major design changes that none of the available designs could provide me. What did that mean? Making some sacrifices to hopefully make my blog design better, the content better, and to ultimately propel me past the statistics I already had gained since I was going to have to start fresh.

Cockatoo at Bio Park Nagasaki JapanBefore all of that, which comes a little later in this post, my ultimate goal was to have an awesome blog, one that I loved so much, that other people would come to love too. I still don’t have the fan base I did on wordpress.com and its slow progress starting fresh, but I know I’m moving in the right direction. With some big personal changes coming up in 2014, hopefully I will be able to make The Cassey Excursion more of a priority.

Today I want to tell you how I got to where I am right now, with a blog I absolutely love and adore, that feeds the fire of being able to write about traveling and things I’m passionate about. For The Cassey Excursion, 2013 has served as a stepping stone towards a much bigger journey. So right now I’m going to start at the beginning, to tell the story in full.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone out there who has read or commented on my posts so far, and those of you who have chosen to follow along. Here’s to all of the travel bloggers out there, may this be the most successful year for us yet!

Sanctuary of Truth, ThailandSo here goes…

2008: I was a junior in college and this is when I found out about wordpress.com from a friend and decided to try it out. In the beginning I chose to write about anything that inspired my fancy, so my blog was just a bunch of aspects of my life strung together and topped with my concern about the “What’s Next?” question after college.

College Graduation with Dad2009: Graduating college, I joined the Navy 3 months later and didn’t really do much with my blog, completely putting writing on the back burner.

Bloodhound Award Winners2012: Arriving back to America from my First Deployment, I had visited 11 countries and along the way I had written emails home sharing my experiences with my friends and family.

Starting out, I had written to about 10 people. By the time I came back, there were about 85 people on my emailing list! That’s when I realized maybe other people would also like to hear some of my stories, and I could publish these articles from the emails onto my blog. Hence the beginning of the “Deployment Chronicles”.

In the summer I was leaving to live in Japan for my second sea duty and traveling was about  to become a big focus in my life. I had finally found my niche!

IMG_08132013: At the beginning of the New Year I set out on our spring deployment to Thailand and this is where everything changed.

2 peculiar things happened. First, I found a blog post by Young Adventuress through Bucket List Productions (they were traveling together to Jordan at the time) about her time at a blog house in Spain through TBEX. Second, I found a book called Cashing in on your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk.

What do these 2 things have in common you ask?

Well, the Young Adventuress talked about her experience working with seasoned travel bloggers and her move to woo themes, which after some research I decided had some pretty cool blog themes and it might be something I could do too, with some serious how to youtube videos and e-books.

While on the spring deployment one of the other Officers gave me 9GB of Kindle books to put onto my Nook which I was so happy for because I love reading (converted the kindle books for nook using calibre). I didn’t want to transfer all of the books over so I decided to go through the library listing and transfer books over that I recognized, or that sounded good.

As I was scanning through I came upon a book entailed “Crush it! Cashing in on your Passion”. I originally thought this book was about sex, which is probably something I was thinking about a little too much since we had already been underway for 2.5 months at the time, and most every body gets a little ansi at that point.

Promotion to LT, USNI also liked the title so I transferred it over. A few days later, I opened it up and started reading. It turns out the book wasn’t about sex at all. In fact, it was far from it, but it was about everything I was looking for and didn’t know it. It told the story of Gary and how he came to have the most twitter friends through social media and blogging.

This opened my eyes up even more and I knew that it was time to get serious. Plus I signed up for Twitter the next day which was a smart move. Thanks Gary!

When we arrived back to Japan after our spring deployment, I decided I was going to purchase the “Canvas” theme on Woo themes and put my plan to action. The final step was to make the move from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. You can only use Woo themes through wordpress.org which opens your abilities vastly as far as design goes. To make the move I had to basically hire a server (Blue Host) to host my website domain and all of my information.

Once I got that set up, I was ready to move my content from wordpress.com to wordpress.org. One thing I invested in was a Guided transfer to have a wordpress.com representative move my website for me. In the end I learned I didn’t need this option, because I wasn’t moving it to the same domain that I was working under, but I didn’t know that at the time, so I pretty much conducted the move myself.

adventure2Unfortunately since I was moving domains I had to say goodbye to all of my site stats and previous followers which was the hardest part of this whole thing. Right when my blog was taking off, when people were following it regularly, people were commenting, and liking my posts, I had to go back to square 1. Don’t make the same mistake as me!

I know that I can gain the same traffic back and probably even more because the move I made let me really design my website how I wanted it, but the 500,000 hits I said goodbye to and the small community I built up was still a hit that I haven’t recovered from just yet. The backwards development is crapy because you always want to be moving forward but it was absolutely worth it, and in a way I have still made forward progress. I have made a website that I absolutely love!

Over the past year since I made the move, I have spent time developing my blog into exactly what I want and catching up on my travels. Now, I think I have my website running pretty smoothly, but I also have a few other plans that I would like to work on to give you all The Cassey Excursion Experience!

As I was finishing up my move to wordpress.org using woo themes, I found the Blogging Your Passion University (BYPU) podcast with Jonathan Milligan. They caught my attention real fast and I would devour the information they put out as it became available. A few months ago, in 2013, a few spots became available in their University.

I had passed up the opportunity the first time when they became available, but this time I was hooked and jumped to get a spot. Since signing up for the University I’ve been insanely busy, but I can’t wait to focus on the next step of my journey.  In a few months I’ll be making a new and exciting transition, so I’ll be able to really sit down and learn what I need to do to evolve, while expanding my traveling (more to come about that!).

adventure3Finally I received a message from @ThoseWW (Those Who Wander) on twitter inviting me to try a new social media platform called glipho. It’s a place where you can go import your blog posts and interact with people on a whole new level. At first I didn’t want to try but with Gary’s new book Jab Jab Jab Right Hook, I pushed myself to be at the forefront of a new platform, especially one that upon first look, I knew had great potential. Since joining glipho just a month ago, I have already met some new and awesome travel bloggers, and started more conversations about my posts and have even received a few followers.

In 2014 my biggest effort will be to increase interactions and make new connections. Even if its as small as contributing to the TBEX monthly challenge (Post #200, but comment #2, I misinterpreted Ha!). Its time to stop waiting for people to come to me (although I’m still convinced at some point that they will). Its time to submit articles for publishing on other websites and blogs.

I’ve been slightly timid about this because you never know how it will turn out, but its time to move past the fear and put myself out there. I’m sure there are always things that can be critiqued but what I’ve learned recently, is that you can always share the experience of the screw up later, to better help your friends avoid a similar situation. So watch out! because The Cassey Excursion is about to make some moves.

IMG_0669Do you have a similar story about how you really took off with your passion? Have you found a book or form of inspiration that has moved you to do something crazy in the direction of living your dreams? Share Please!

This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.