You’ve come a long way, baby

Mariellen Ward of Breathedreamgo in Delhi, India

March 8, 2006: My birthday in Delhi, India

Welcome to the new look of my travel blog

I started my first travel blog in 2005/06 when I was on my first trip to India. This photo, above, was taken at my friend’s place in South Delhi on my birthday, March 8, 2006. Who knew that India would become my second home, my muse and my passion? And who knew that the casual blog I wrote, on Travelblog.org, would grow into Breathedreamgo? In the latest stage in the evolution … I worked with WordPress wizard and all-around awesome guy, Michael Tieso of The Art of Travel Blogging and The Art of Backpacking, on upgrading and refreshing the site. To find out why I needed to upgrade and why I chose Canvas by WOO Themes, continue reading.

The Breathedreamgo story

I started travel blogging in 2005 — which makes me a pioneer, I guess, though I didn’t feel it at the time. I was getting ready to go on my “trip of a lifetime” to India for six months, and decided, almost as an after-thought, to set up a blog on Travelblog.org. You can read about why I went to India in the first place here, in My Story.

On that first trip (and the two subsequent ones) I blogged religiously on Travelblog.org, twice a week, keeping my friends, family and colleagues up-to-date about my adventures on the subcontinent. To my surprise, strangers started following me and interacting via the comments. I was delighted! I loved the interaction and I was encouraged by the positive comments about my travel writing.

It took a couple of years and several more trips to India, and a few blog iterations, before I finally launched Breathedreamgo.com on August 23, 2009 (Ganesh Chaturthi). I couldn’t have done it without Jennifer Johannessen of lowtotheground.ca, who has been my blog angel for the past three years.

I consider Breathedreamgo.com to be my “professional” blog, but I have not made any money directly from it so far. I have thought of it more as a platform for my travel writing. That’s changing now, though, as Breathedreamgo continues to grow, and attract awards, recognition and followers. It’s also changing because the industry is changing: there are many companies starting to work with travel bloggers now. Making a good income is now, finally, a possibility for this profession.

Upgrading the whole kit

So, it was time for me to upgrade to the next level. In the past month, I traded in my old Macbook for a Macbook Pro, and two older-model cameras for a Canon Rebel T3i, which shoots HD video. I’ve been taking a course at a local college in how to use Final Cut Pro X, and I invested in this software too — which I love!

And the last piece was to hire Michael Tieso to help upgrade Breathedreamgo. It outgrew the old template, as WordPress advancements continue to evolve. I need Breathedreamgo to be as up-to-date as possible to ensure that it loads quickly, is SEO friendly and can handle all the social media, blogging, photography and video-making I am doing.

That’s why I chose Canvas by WOO Themes: as long as you know how to modify it, it’s a very flexible, sophisticated theme, and probably one of the best themes on the market. Lucky for me, I bought it at half-price ($42) when WOO Themes was having a birthday sale.

Michael moved Breathedreamgo to Host Gator, and when I ran into some trouble, I found Host Gator to have absolutely excellent customer service. (My site was hacked and they fix it in about an hour, and sent a very thorough and comprehensive follow-up email).

I have also hired Michael Tieso to manage the technical side of Breathedreamgo (he offers blog management as a service — check the various programs you can subscribe to here). So for a reasonable fixed rate per month I have peace-of-mind knowing that the site is being backed-up and monitored.

Back to the drawing board

During the past few months as I was gearing up for this “new era,” I also went “back to the drawing board” and have been assiduously reading sites like Travelllll.com  and Problogger; looking at travel blogs I admire like ThePlanetD.com, LegalNomads.com and UncorneredMarket.com; very actively participating in forums like the Global Bloggers Network and attending TBEX 12 — all to learn more about what it takes to be a successful travel blogger.

This blog grew very organically, and although I have a BA in Journalism and lots of experience as a copywriter and a freelance writer, learning to be a blogger has been a steep climb — for one thing because I am not that technically inclined; and for another, I needed to find my voice, and stayed away from the community and even looking at other blogs for a long time, while I did it.

Now, though, I am at the stage where I need to learn from others and I am so happy there are so many generous people out there, and great resources available.

So here it is, the new-and-improved Breathedreamgo! I will be adding new features to it regularly, and getting it all ready for an upcoming lengthy blogging trip to India and South Asia that I am planning for fall and winter 2012/13.

Love to know what you think! And also, what content or features would you like to see on Breathedreamgo?

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22 Responses to You’ve come a long way, baby

  1. Lorenzo July 24, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    Such great news Mariellen, I like the new look. Oh, and your upcoming trip sounds exciting!
    Lorenzo recently posted..Reasons To Retire In BelizeMy Profile

  2. Mariellen Ward July 24, 2012 at 11:25 pm #

    Thanks so much Lorenzo!
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..You’ve come a long way, babyMy Profile

  3. Marie July 24, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    It looks fantastic, Mariellen! I’ve followed you for a long time and have enjoyed seeing the changes. I would love to get to the point where I could pay someone to update my blogs but until then, you are right, there are so many talented and generous people out there who give advice. I’ve felt truly humbled by all the help I’ve received on this technical thing and that. Here’s to new beginnings!
    Marie recently posted..Marie wrote a new post, Remote Travel: How has your backpack changed?My Profile

  4. Mariellen Ward July 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    Thanks so much Marie! It’s great that we help and support each other on this journey. Good luck with your blogging.
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..You’ve come a long way, babyMy Profile

  5. Sharell July 25, 2012 at 1:04 am #

    It looks great and will no doubt serve you well as your site surges ahead! Very exciting!! Now, I’m also convinced to move to Hostgator when my hosting is up for renewal.
    Sharell recently posted..Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation Launches Buses with ToiletsMy Profile

  6. Madhu Nair July 25, 2012 at 3:01 am #

    The new layout looks nice and clean.
    I am glad you retained your banner – one of my personal favorites.
    Take care and keep on blogging ! 🙂

  7. Janice Soderholm July 25, 2012 at 7:34 am #

    I am on the road this fall and winter 2 trips to Bhutan planned and India of course – actually will be studying for my 500 RYT in Rishi with Vishva-ji. Maybe we will cross paths….

  8. Mariellen Ward July 25, 2012 at 9:47 am #

    Thanks Sharell, yes I was very happy with the quick and professional response I got from Host Gator when I had a problem.

    Madhu, now you now why i have been out-of-contact … I had to get this project done!

    It would be great to meet up in India Janice! I’m jealous about your training with Vivhva-ji, I would love to do that course!
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..You’ve come a long way, babyMy Profile

  9. Gillian @OneGiantStep July 25, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    The new site looks great Mariellen! Good luck on continuing to grow!
    Gillian @OneGiantStep recently posted..Monday Moment: Ubud OasisMy Profile

  10. Vicky July 25, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    Love the new blog design! Very clean and modern! We start our trip in Sept and will be spending 6 weeks in India (at the end of next year) so I will be bookmarking tons of posts from this blog!
    Vicky recently posted..The Art Of Blogging: How To Write Great “How To” PostsMy Profile

  11. Britany July 25, 2012 at 12:47 pm #

    looks great!! I use a Woo theme as well and if you ever need to alter design aspects, they’re great about responding to emails quickly. I’m looking forward to continuing to follow your blog and see where this next level takes you!
    Britany recently posted..Michael Jackson LIVES – on the D Train in NYCMy Profile

  12. Seattle Dredge July 25, 2012 at 12:49 pm #

    Love the new look! Still similar to your previous look, but simple and easy to navigate. Hope you have an awesome time on your upcoming trip 😀

  13. Carol Perehudoff July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm #

    Stellar photo, Mariellen, and it’s a great looking site. I really must upgrade mine. This gives me inspiration.
    Carol Perehudoff recently posted..Aw, AwendaMy Profile

  14. Mariellen Ward July 25, 2012 at 2:55 pm #

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the positive feedback! Woo Themes are awesome, so flexible and easy to alter.
    Mariellen Ward recently posted..You’ve come a long way, babyMy Profile

  15. flip July 26, 2012 at 1:20 am #

    love it… very clean design
    flip recently posted..Walking the Streets of KolkataMy Profile

  16. Lori Henry July 26, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    Congrats on the “new look”! It looks lovely. 🙂
    Lori Henry recently posted..Dancing Through History excerpt – Métis JiggingMy Profile

  17. Jonathan Look, Jr. July 29, 2012 at 1:51 pm #

    I just discovered your blog but I like the new look. Congratulations!
    Jonathan Look, Jr. recently posted..Zapatista Passport CheckMy Profile

  18. Lesley Peterson August 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm #

    Love the new look! and look forward to more of your thoughtful posts and inspiring photos.
    Lesley Peterson recently posted..Life lessons from the Papas: Hemingway Days, Key WestMy Profile

  19. Chandalia Sanjiv August 13, 2012 at 12:17 am #

    Congratulations,You are doing good work.

  20. Irina August 20, 2012 at 11:08 am #

    I’m also new to your blog but am enjoying the content and the look. Specifically, thanks for this post. I recently launched my own sustainable travel agency and am slowly working on the website and the blog. I was glad to read about some of the things that I did correctly and also to get some blogging tips. I look forward to following your posts.

  21. shatruajaat September 10, 2012 at 5:34 am #

    No one knows better than me how interesting number 8 is and how wonderful it is to be born under that number. Happy Birthday! I wish you all the luck. By the way, I like the website. Especially, the fact every care has been taken not to show India in a bad light as with many other foreign tourists carried away filth and squalor and utter poverty. Have you read Gregory Robert’ Shantaram, a novel based on Mumbai? In that novel Gregory quotes someone saying, every 4th person in the world was an Indian in his previous life. May be you are just many of them who get attracted towards this land of spirituality. I don’t see spirituality anywhere though, I must add! May be I am blind. Blind but not the beauty of this website. Its nice done. Thanks.
    PS: In the picture on this website you look more Indian than many Indians.

  22. Kiran Chaturvedi February 10, 2013 at 5:27 am #

    Just feel even more connected to see we share the same birht date, and th esame passion for travel and the inner journey.

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