2012 in review on Vagobond.com: Looking Back
It’s been such an incredible year for the world and for travel that the question that comes to mind first when writing a year end review like this is where should I begin when I’m looking at 2012 in review on Vagobond.com?
I’ve already detailed my own travels in my column What am I doing here? Looking at my travels in 2012.
I’ve also shown you the 12 most popular articles on Vagobond in 2012 and the 12 articles that I think were our best for the year.
Our last Vagobond Travel Museum of 2012 looked at all the Vagobond Travel Museums of 2012.
So, where does that leave me? I suppose a good place to end the year is where we began it. Last year on January 2nd I announced where I wanted Vagobond to go during the coming year. I had several big goals. One of them was to differentiate Vagobond from all the many ‘travel blogs’ out there. I started the year wanting to make a clear distinction that Vagobond isn’t a travel blog – then- I got all excited when I was invited to Blogville in Italy and thought, well…maybe it should be a travel blog after all. After meeting the real travel bloggers and seeing what a travel blog really is, I came back to my original decision.
Vagobond is most certainly NOT a travel blog and I’m most certainly not a travel blogger. It was nice to meet that moment of doubt and come away with certainty.
Vagobond is an online travel magazine and resource for those interested in quirky luxury, offbeat adventures, and food, glorious food travel.
Blogville was great for many reasons, chief among them for clearing up this little bit of confusion. One of the first things I did was shut down the commenting system on Vagobond. I wanted our focus to be more personal and so I’ve encouraged our readers to interact directly with us on social media like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.
2012 in review on Vagobond.com – Contributors
You may notice that I’m using ‘us’ and ‘we’ and that was another great step in the right direction. I brought some incredible writers and travelers on board in 2012. Let’s look at our contributors:
Anthony Mathenia has continually amused and entertained us with his magnificent column Syncopated Familty Travel. See all of Anthony’s 2012 stories here.
Award winning travel writer and photographer Dave Stamboulis has shared some of his most beautiful adventures with photos and words and will continue to do so in 2013 with Through the Photographers Lens. Check out all of Dave’s 2012 contributions here.
Wine diva, Linda Kissam brought us plenty of soft adventures and breezy destination stories as she explored the world looking for a perfect pair of shoes and a great bottle of wine. See all of Linda’s contributions here.
Speaking of food, New York Foodie Sarah Spigelman brought us a ton of great foodie stories from the city that never sleeps and other destinations. A contributor to the Today Show and a well known food blogger in her own right, it was a pleasure to get her insights into one of our favorite cities. See all of Sarah’s 2012 contributions here.
All of these writers wrote regular features in 2012 but there were also some great regular contributors who shared amazing stories of travel, food, and quirky destinations. Among them were K. Pearson Brown, Melissa Ruttanai, Brian Leibold, Susan McKee, Kathering Rodeghier, and Melissa Rae Cohen.
2012 in review on Vagobond.com: The Failures
Let’s start with the bad.
Failure #1. In the odd but sort of funny events for us was the short lived column of James Isherwood. While I was in London for the World Travel Market in November a celebrity chef scandal unfolded. James had gone to a little restaurant run by a celebrity chef and when the chef asked if everything was okay, he said yes. Then he went home and wrote that the meal was a bit of a disappointment on Twitter. The chef responded by calling him a cunt and then a whole slew of celebrity chefs jumped on the hater bandwagon. I offered James a column on Vagobond to give him a bit of a voice to defend himself with. I sent him guidelines and offered to help him improve his writing (he already had a small food blog that he shared with friends.) James accepted and sent me his first column with no editing, bad grammar, bad punctuation, and even a lack of capitalization at the beginning of sentences. I fixed it, added photos (which the guidelines called for but he hadn’t sent) and published it. This scenario repeated a few times and then I was in a position of pulling teeth to get him to send me a very simple column that was actually more work for me than it was worth to publish. At that point, I looked at his blog and realized he was just sending me his blog posts after he published them. I re-explained the guidelines and then – he quit with a tweet and unfollowed me on Twitter so I couldn’t respond to his quitting tweet. I’m not so sure that chef was off the mark. Anyway, that was the end of our London Foodie column…and good riddance.
Failure #2 Speaking of good riddance, there were a few things I wanted to try in 2012 that just didn’t work. One of them was to have a Sunday feature that listed the best travel deals of the week. It had a remarkably low number of visits and no social shares so I ditched it in mid-March. No one complained.
Failure #3. Completely my fault for not checking submitted guest writers for plagiarism. This only happened one time, but that was enough. A guest story about India turned out to have been stolen from a travel writer who contacted me and was rather irate about our publishing her work without permission. Thankfully she was very graceful when I explained and allowed us to replace the plagiarists attribution with her own. It was a good lesson to learn…check every guest contribution.
Failure #4 Working with Virtual Assistants in America, the Philippines, and India. While I did find some of their contributions worthwhile, for the most part, it was too difficult to oversee their work from afar and make sure that it was done in a way that met my standards. I often had to repeat what I had already paid to have done. Better to just do it right myself the first time instead of paying for it and then doing it.
Failure #5 Another goal I didn’t reach in 2012 was to provide a lot more travel videos for our readers. There were some, but I want more for you.This will be an ongoing project in 2013.
2012 in review on Vagobond.com: The Successes
Now for the really good stuff. The truth is there were so many successes for Vagobond in 2012 that I’m only listing the truly noteworthy goals here.
Success #1 One of my big goals in 2012 was to separate Vagobond from my own personality – that is, I didn’t want Vagobond to be about Vago Damitio. To do that, I had to launch separate social media accounts. If you click on the bunnies on the top of the page, you will find Vagobond social media accounts that are independent of my own (you can find mine at http://www.vagodamitio.com by the way). The reason for this is that I’m a fairly outspoken and you might even say controversial person – I want Vagobond to focus more on travel, luxury, and food than my own politics or dirty jokes. In fact, one of my virtual assistants quit after reading my personal Facebook page because I was sharing some dirty jokes!
Success #2 The relaunch of Go Vagobond, our monthly newsletter. I started it up again in December, but it’s there and we can count it as a success. To subscribe just click here or use the form in the sidebar.
Success #3 The complete redesign of the site. You can see what the site looked like in early 2012 by the screenshot above. I gave the entire site a chic new feel shamelessly based on Pinterest in the middle of the year. I also created new social media icons, revamped the entire menu and navigation scheme and changed our publishing schedule and author archiving. A lot of that work is hidden behind the scenes, but I’m proud of it. What you can see is, I think, a very remarkable improvement. I liked Vagobond’s look and feel at the beginning of 2012 – I like it much better at the end of 2012. I hope you do too.
Success #4 I managed to incorporate Vagobond Travel Media, LLC which was a major victory for me, although I failed at actually filing my taxes for the entire year which means that I’m probably still going to file everything as a self-employed worker this year. Yikes.
Success #5 The biggest success of the year was publishing at least one new travel story every day (and sometimes two or three). We’ve brought you amazing travel stories, fantastic destination guides, world class reviews and travel tips, and some of the best travel and food writing on the web. In addition, we met our goal of providing you with more interesting and beautiful travel photo essays, great travel resources, and unique travel experiences.
Success #6 Our Extraordinary Vagabonds feature introduced you to some of the most famous and remarkable travelers to ever grace the earth. The Vagobond Travel Museum, while finding it’s way, also brought some great stories and travel inspiration. And, I’d like to think that my weekly column “What am I doing here?” gave you insight into my world and the world we all live in.
Success #7 Our stories in 2012 covered six continents and a wide range of countries from Australia to Zimbabwe. We covered family travel, adventure travel, luxury travel, offbeat travel, and foodie travel. Plus. a whole lot more.
All in all, 2012 was a great year for Vagobond and for me personally. I have you, our readers to thank for that and I hope it was wonderful for you too. I’m guessing that 2013 will be even bettter for all of us.
I’ll be publishing my wacky predictions for 2013 a little later today and resolutions and things to look forward to in 2013 will come tomorrow with the new year. In the meantime, I hope you all have a safe and wonderful and very very Happy New Year.
Vago C. Damitio
Editor-in-Chief of Vagobond.com