Dan and Alissa set up a website in January that has already become a runaway hit. Maybe it’s the great name or possibly the cool stories. Anyways, I was intrigued and so decided it was worth finding out a bit more about This World Rocks and there travelling plans.
The first question is in two parts: Have you run any Internet websites before you started This World Rocks and if so what have you done?
We were both web professionals in our previous full-time jobs and did freelance web design as well. So when we left for our trip, we decided to continue to do as much freelance work as possible, as well as continue to work with the clients we already had. We are going to be giving our business a name and re-launching a portfolio website in the next few weeks.
We also run an online Wedding Save the Date magnet; website that launched in December of 2011. We have a site redesign of this business in the works as well.
What first got you into the idea of setting up This World Rocks and did you have a few false starts before you got it right?
ThisWorldRocks.com was our first attempt at a travel blog, but not our first website, which helped us a lot when getting it set-up. The closest thing we had to a travel blog would be a Flickr account and a Facebook account. I also used to write lengthy trip report emails to my family during our trips which I used to create back-dated posts on our blog. This was we didn’t launch a travel blog that had no travel stories.
What are the most useful resources you’ve found out there that you’d recommend to people looking to develop their blog?
We are really big fans of WordPress and consider it to be the best blogging platform available. The amount of pre-designed themes, useful plugins, and array of free support forums make it a no-brainer for us.
We have also had a lot of success joining travel blog support groups that have forums and workshops for bloggers to ask each other questions and advice. Currently the most helpful has been TravelBlogSuccess.com.
Have you started earning a regular income from This World Rocks or are you just focusing on building up your site first?
We decided that we would not actively try and make money off of our blog for at least the first four months. Right now we are solely focused on getting quality content on the site and lots of it. We have made a little money doing sponsored posts, but only from people who have approached us to write about topics we think is good for our site. For example, I agreed to write a sponsored post about Las Vegas pools, but declined to write one about women’s beauty products.
You’ve decided to take an 18 month round the world trip and plan on visiting at least 35 countries with a couple of question marks at the end. With so much time on your hands have you got a couple of business projects up your sleeve that you want to launch, or are you just going to be just relaxing?
Even before we left for our trip we had a few business ideas that we were working on, most of which were seasonal type businesses that require a lot of work during short periods of time throughout the year (i.e. Halloween, engagement season, etc). We are not sure what we’ll do when we hit the question marks, but we are glad we have a lot of time left to think about it.
Focusing on other things, what is your travel plans for the next six months (excluding the April 1st trip to the Sea Shepherd of course)?
We were surprised at how many people we fooled with our fictional crazy decision to save the whales, and we weren’t sure to be upset or flattered that so many people thought we were crazy enough to do it! We will be spending the next six months in Asia, hoping to hit Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, China, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and the Philippines. I also really want to make it to Palau to do some WWII history travel, but we aren’t sure yet if it will fit the budget.
What are you most looking forward to?
Burma is probably what we are most excited about because it features the most unknown travel locations that we’ve been to and has a more unexplored feel to it. We are also pumped about eating the food in Vietnam and returning to the Philippines for a second time.
Funniest moment while travelling?
When we were staying with villagers in Ambrym, almost every interaction with the kids there was funny. The island has a tradition of believing in black magic, and when I did some slight of hand magic tricks for a few kids, it turned into a mob of 25 kids yelling “BLACK MAGIC! BLACK MAGIC!”. Apparently my magic was scary because it even made a few of them cry. I also have a shaved head, and some of the kids started calling me G.I. Joe because there was a rumor going around the village that I was from the U.S. Army.