Today is a very special day.
No, it’s not a birthday. Or an anniversary.
Today is the day that my blog, my pet project and passion, reached 5 MILLION page-views!
Honestly, I still can’t believe my blog has made it this far. I started this blog while I was studying abroad in Japan, back in mid 2012… I never intended it to keep it up, let alone turn this into a full-time job.
Blogging is great.
I wrote a post a while back about my 12 tips for running a successful “Personal Blog” – if you want to grab some of my bits of wisdom to use on your own blog.
Really, though, I think it all boils down to lots of hard work and luck.
I was lucky that I started this blog when I didn’t have a full-time job (or even hobby), I was a student on full-scholarship (and then some, paying for my apartment, studies, course material, and living expenses) to study for 13 months in Tokyo, Japan. The scholarship I was on had a strict rule that you were not allowed to seek paid employment (and unpaid internships and volunteer work were strongly encouraged).
I was really, really lucky.
I interned for the year and volunteered on weekends. And with all the leftover time I had, I blogged.
For the first eight months, I spent at least ninety minutes every day writing, researching, and formatting blog posts – even when my then-boyfriend (now husband) was the only one reading the blog… and I was getting an average of 5-10 views a day (the majority of which came from Ryosuke).
These are the stats for my first year of blogging (2012) – 1,775 views.
I started my blog in August of 2012. For the first year, I averaged 9 views per day. And a lot of those “views” were me refreshing the page over and over again because I wanted to pretend my blog was popular (or Ryosuke refreshing the page over and over again to make me think that other people were actually reading my blog).
That was 2012.
By 2013, I got a little bit better at blogging.
In February, a small Japanese site picked up one of my posts (how to eat Sukiyaki). They included a link to my blog at the bottom of their article (which was completely in Japanese). In the next 72 hours, I got about 3500 views, which was more than DOUBLED my total page view count.
I discovered this while I was at “work.” At the time, I was interning twice a week at a travel-startup company down in Shibuya. My boss (who is a really fantastic person, Ryosuke and I still meet up with him and his wife 2-3 times a year) saw potential in me, so he often assigned me “homework” and taught me about how SEO, blogs, and the internet worked. Without what I learned from that internship, there is no way I would be where I am today.
Once again, lucky me.
While I was at the office, we pulled up my blog stats during an SEO lesson and saw 1000 new page views that morning. The whole office crowded around my computer and congratulated me!
Of course, anyone who clicked onto my blog immediately left because my blog was written in English (which the Japanese site was in Japanese).
However, once I got that back-link from a high-ranked site, Google started including my blog in search results. I started getting 3-4 views per day from Google search, growing every week.
A lot of what he taught me (or I learned on my own, the hard way) I put into this post of 16 Things I wish I had known before I started blogging.
These are the stats for my second year of blogging (2013) – 374,027 views.
I got almost 200 hundred times the number of page views in year two. I picked up loyal readers. I started ranking in Google Search. My studies in Japan finished and I moved back to America. I started guest posting on other sites (I wrote over 50 guest posts in 2013). I graduated college. Ryosuke and I got married. One of my articles got picked up by Huffington Post.
In 2013 I averaged 1,024 views per day.
2013 was a good year.
In early 2014, Ryosuke and I moved to Tokyo for his job.
For the first three months, I didn’t have a visa that allowed me to work. I didn’t want to job-hunt for a company that would sponsor my visa, because then I would be completely dependent on that company… and would only be able to legally work in whatever field that visa provided (if I got hired to teach English, I could only teach English and if I got hired as a regular employee at a traditional Japanese company, I could only do that).
Fun fact, “Spouse or Child of Japanese National” visas are the only visas in Japan that allow someone to work in any field. Since I had absolutely no idea what I wanted to do with my life, that seemed like the safer option.
So I waited the three months.
Once again, I was lucky. Ryosuke was making enough (albeit just barely) to support both of us. And he was 100% supportive of my decision to wait for the better visa.
After two weeks, I was bored out of my mind and threw myself into blogging.
I wrote something that went viral on Huffington Post. I did more guest posts. I started writing a book about long-distance relationships (and then gave up). By the time I got my visa, I realized that blogging was the only thing I really loved doing.
I joined a couple affiliate programs and I started putting ads on my blog. Combined, I was making about $120 per month.
I asked Ryosuke to give me a year. If I could make over $1500 per month blogging by May of 2015, I could keep blogging. If I was making below $1500 per month, I would give up and find a “real job.”
I didn’t know how I would do it… but I knew that I would figure it out. I believed in myself (and gave myself permission to try my hardest, even if I ended up failing). Lucky for me, Ryosuke believed in myself even more than I did – and he thought the “give me a year” thing was a great idea.
I got a job teaching English twice a week, to help with the bills, and spent the other three days on my blog.
I started drawing comics. I ran a Kickstarter campaign to self-publish a comic book (from the comics and articles on my blog) and it was funded over $14,000. I lost most of that because of printing and shipping costs, of course, but still walked away with enough to give me hope. I started a YouTube channel.
These are the stats for my third year of blogging (2014) – 2,220,261 views.
With luck, hard work, and comics, my third year of blogging saw over 2 million views.
In 2014 I averaged 6,082 page views per day.
2014 was a really good year.
And 2015 has also been an excellent year.
I’m writing this post on August 9th, 2015, right as my blog hit 5 million page views.
A lot has happened in the nine months of 2015. Needless to say, I went above and beyond the “make $1500 per month or get a real job” deadline. In fact, Ryosuke quit his job in February and started working from home alongside me (as a freelance translator and helping edit/post YouTube videos).
Our YouTube channel hit over 50,000 subscribers (as I’m writing this, it’s at around 75,000).
Ryosuke started a blog where he posts my comics, translated into Japanese.
I published two more comic books.
I dealt with a lot of hate mail (it’s always been bad, but as my blog and channel grow, so do the number of haters). Someone followed up home from the supermarket and posted our address on 2ch (a Japanese site). I debated quitting all of this, but decided not to.
We moved out to the countryside.
These are the stats for my fourth year of blogging (as of August of 2015) – 2,406,094 views.
The year isn’t over yet. Really, I have no idea what is going to happen. I’ve been lucky enough to have an amazing following (thank you, thank you SO much). And I’m excited to see what the future holds.
So far, in 2015 I averaged 15,038 page views per day.
And now, we’re back to the beginning. Or end.
I’m getting kind of emotional here, sorry. I just… I still can’t believe it.
I feel so lucky and blessed to have amazing people like you reading my blog, to have such a supportive husband, and to have this job that I love so much.
I couldn’t have done it without y’all.
To celebrate my blog hitting 5 million views, Ryosuke and I got a trip last week to a fancy Ryokan in Utsunomiya.
Of course, I’m going to write all about our trip later.
But for now… I’m just going to be happy. And eat lots of chocolate.