Wow, 2015, you really outdid yourself. It’s amazing how much Ian and I accomplished in just one year’s time, continuing to build on and cross-promote our online business endeavors. We knew we had it in us, but this year we proved to ourselves that if we really stick with focusing on projects we believe in, great success will eventually come!
Have a look with us, as we review our major milestones and accomplishments in 2015!
January – February 2015
Travel Blog Success (My blog post goes viral!)
Last year started out with a big BANG! On January 2, 2015 I wrote How to Fly from the U.S. to Europe for <$200 pretty much on a whim. I’d just spent a couple of hours reflecting on what I’d learned about travel the previous year, and that was my biggest travel secret that I felt I needed to share with the world.
Two weeks later my blog hit an all-time high with over 10,000 visitors (surpassing our other blog Lonely Speck‘s most successful blog day, too), and a year later it’s still the most popular article on my blog. I’ve experimented with placing a few non-intrusive text ads on that article (it still gets somewhere around 2K views per day), which regularly brings in a decent amount of extra dough. So, to the mystery dude or lady who originally “Stumbled” that article: I can’t tell you how overwhelmingly grateful I am!
A(nother) Blog is Born
We’re kinda addicted to blogging. And with Milky Way photography out of season in the U.S. (where we spent the first two months of 2015), Ian was itching for something to do. So The Photon Collective was born. With that new blog, this blog, Lonely Speck, and Stylish Travel Girl, we now run a total of 4 blogs together. And I think we’ll stop there. With these, in addition to other project ideas that pop into our heads, our hands are pretty much full.
P.S. If you’re a photographer or interested in getting into photography this year, join our new weekly photo challenge on The Photon Collective!
March – April 2015
Let’s Learn Spanish
In spring of 2015 we headed south for a month each in Costa Rica and México. I really wanted to perfect my Spanish (yeah… that didn’t happen), and we wanted to go somewhere warm. It was nothing less than awesome.
In Costa Rica, we stayed with an awesome American expat family, went ziplining at Arenal Volcano, I saw my first sloth (including babies!!!), learned all about coffee farming at Cafe Britt and on a private tour organized by our Airbnb hosts, and just had an all-around good time experiencing the Pura Vida life that Costa Rica is famous for.
In Mexico, we learned about the country’s culture and history through various excursions (including to the pyramids of Teotihuacan), and we did a fair amount of exploration like locals, visiting Acapulco and renting a trajinera at Xochimilco with our newfound friends in Mexico.
Through the same friends, we also arranged to have Ian’s Milky Way photography displayed in a trendy, local art gallery — his first ever real-world photography exhibition!
May – September 2015
Big and Small Business Victories
After Mexico, we returned to the U.S. to start preparing for our upcoming road trip. And we reflected on our recent good fortune in Our List of Awesome: 5 Crazy Cool Moments From Our Lives this Past Month — including our levitation photography class trending on Skillshare!
It wasn’t a popular blog post or anything, but it’s one of those that I personally appreciate being able to go back and review. For example, I was celebrating 100 email subscribers to this blog back in May, and now I have (pause, while I check)…600! Conclusion: Wow, I should probably send out another newsletter soon.
Celebrating both the big and small victories is a big key to staying motivated as an entrepreneur!
Visit ALL the U.S. States
Just like last year, another of my high school friends was having a summer wedding, so we planned another road trip to see some cool places on the way there. And somewhere around eating our way through New Orleans, I got the crazy idea that maybe we should visit ALL 50 states on the trip.
Ian didn’t believe we’d actually do it until we were somewhere around #30 in the fall. And, as I’m writing this, we’ve officially been to 49 states on this trip so far, and we’re booked for Hawaii (state #50) in two weeks!
I’m a little behind in documenting our whole epic trip, but check out our weekly recaps so far!
Helping Others Achieve Their Entrepreneurial Dreams
In July, I launched a business that I’d been considering starting for awhile. I wanted to help aspiring bloggers and entrepreneurs launch and brand their business ideas online. I had TONS of experience with web development and graphic design, but I didn’t really have the tools and experience I needed to start it until I’d done the entrepreneurship thing successfully myself.
Sharing Other Nomadic Couples’ Stories
In 2015, we featured 6 other couples with their own unique paths and reasons for quitting their jobs to travel the world. Interviewing each couple provided valuable insight into how this experience varies from one couple to another.
If you missed them, read their interviews here!
October – December 2015
Launching Our First Product!
As we continued our road trip into the fall, we began working on something new: one of Ian’s bucket list goals was to create and sell a physical product. Not that we wanted to get into the regular business of manufacturing — we just wanted to give it a try. So he produced the SharpStar by Lonely Speck, a focusing tool for astrophotographers that works with a standard camera filter system.
And the endeavor was fruitful! In December 2015 we officially matched (and surpassed) our previous monthly income from our pre-entrepreneurship days.
It’s been another amazing year! Thanks for keeping us company through it all!
Now Let’s Talk Goals…
Here’s a quick overview of what we’re hoping to accomplish in the new year:
- pay off the remainder of my student loans before my birthday (November 10)
- publish an e-book… or two
- create a kick-ass promo video for North to South
- inspire all levels of photographers to practice their skills with our weekly photo challenge on The Photon Collective
- reach 1 million all-time views of North to South (currently at 600K)
What’s next for us? We’ve got a few things in mind… Follow our blog on Facebook to stay up to date on our 2016 travel plans! Want to see what we did the year before this one? Check out our Our Year in Review 2014.
About the Author
- In March 2014, Diana called it quits on her traditional American working life and set out to explore the world with her partner in crime (and love of her life) Ian Norman. They now live a sustainable life of full time travel, working for themselves and seeking adventure at the same time. Here on North to South, Diana documents their journey in achieving and maintaining this "road less traveled" way of life.
- Alabama2017.01.23U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Twenty-Two (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas)
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- North Carolina2017.01.18U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Twenty (Tennessee and the Carolinas)
- Travel Life2017.01.16Our Year in Review: Backpacking, Campervanning and Getting Engaged