When My Website Was Down…

On Sunday, my website was down for about 24 hours. I’m not 100% sure why but, according to my hosting company, there was an issue with the domain name and the servers it pointed to. I’m still confused about the reason and will soon be switching companies because of what occurred. There is no reason why my domain name should “expire” when I have paid for it for 10 years or when it comes up for renewal it stops pointing to the right place.

How did I find out about this awful incident? While sailing through the Whitsunday islands in Australia, I checked Twitter when I got reception and found myself bombarded with messages alerting me to the problem. I then had to spend all my phone credit calling my hosting company figuring out why they took my site down. After some excuses to cover themselves, my site was back up by the time I hit land again.

Yet this was no way to enjoy a holiday. How could I enjoy the last day of my sailing tour when all I can think about was how I needed to get to land to solve the problem or see when my site would be back up. It’s a buzzkill.

Which brings me back to the age old debate about balancing work and travel. As I mentioned in a previous post, there are many things you can do to try to balance the work load and ensure that neither work nor travel takes up all your time. However, lately, I’ve found that I am having trouble with the balancing act.

Running a travel blog is a lot of work. No matter what the purpose of your website is there are pictures to post, tweets to twitter, blogs to write, and RSS’s to read. Even those who blog as a hobby can spend hours per day maintaining their site.

I don’t blog as a hobby. Nomadic Matt pays my bills – it keeps me on the road, buys my plane tickets, and puts food on my table. Without my website, I have no income and I’d have to return to the cubicle. And frankly, I have no desire to do that. When your travel blog is your business there is a lot more work to do than what I mentioned above and, lately, that work has begun to dominate my life.

Over the next two months, I plan to launch two new ebooks, redesign my website, and create a travel guide section that covers backpacking in over 60 destinations around the world. These projects are quite time consuming and lately I’ve found that work or travel suffers when I need to do one or the other.

When my website was down, I learned the invaluable lesson that right now, I can’t do both. I can’t run off every day and socialize at night while attempting to build my website. I can’t build my website and travel like I want to. I’d love to be out on the beach in Magnetic Island right now but I have work to do. I would have loved to have gone hiking in Queenstown with my friends but I had work to do.

After 7 months of non-stop travel, I need to take a break and work. I need a solid month to bury my nose in my laptop in order to get these projects done. I had planned on going to Bali for a month to explore Indonesia. Now, Bali will be the perfect place for me to live cheap, eat great food, enjoy a few hours at the beach, and get lots of work done. I’ll take a few day trips here and there but I’m canceling most of my plans to do work.

In truth, blogging is a lot of work and if you plan to turn your blog into a life then you need to find a good work balance. I’ve managed to become good at increasing my productivity while working. I get a lot done and can get rid of my daily list quickly. That’s important. Wasting time on the internet wastes days. Moreover, I’ve managed to dedicate a few days here and there in order to get ahead, because eventually, you’ll get behind again. After 7 months, I’m behind again. Instead of taking a break, I have just let it pile up. When my website was down, I had my wake up call.

Bali here I come – to work!

  1. After dealing with 4 or 5 hosting companies throughout my time working online (7 years now), I now only recommend 2 companies; RackSpace or MediaTemple. I have dedicated servers with both and am so impressed with their up-time and service that I always recommend them to clients/friends.

    I’m a firm believer is that you get what you pay for, for most things… and hosting is one of them. It’s simple…. don’t skimp and save on your host if you rely on your sites being up 24/7

  2. You do an amazing job Matt. We have only been on the road 3 months full time while trying to balance the blog and you are right, It is a lot of work. We have been talking about how we need to spend a month somewhere to refocus and catch up. It is hard to travel and blog. We are still trying to manage our productivity and haven’t mastered it as well as you have, but hopefully we will figure it out one day. We never seem to get the work load done at the Internet and the list keeps piling up. Enjoy your time in Bali and glad that your site is back up and running smoothly again!

  3. Josh Bunting

    I signed up with your current hosting company partially based on the recommendation in your ebook. If you would, please keep us updated as to who you switch too. I’d be interested in hearing your experiences with whichever new company you decide on.

  4. Lots of coffee shops in Bali that have A/C andf ree wifi. I’d buy a coffee and hang out allllll day. That said, lots of distractions.

  5. Well it’s the main reason that I have nested in Bulgaria for the last year. I got a lot of things done this winter. I redesigned all my sites and combined some on wordpress and thesis except for my travel blog, and I am still editing. I should have everything set up at the end of this month before I head out north toward poland

    For hosting companies you should check out Bluehost, they are very reliable, and they have chat service so if something does go wrong you can hook up with them very fast. I suggest getting a dedicated IP and am looking into that currently, it is only $30 extra a year.

    Thats what makes house sitting great for the long term traveler. I am surprised on how very few travel bloggers not seeking out this service.

    • Shawn, you haven’t run across any of the dreaded memory errors with WordPress, Thesis, and BlueHost? I’ve had 3 clients on them trying to run WP w/ Thesis (not sure if Thesis was the issue, doubt it!) and all 3 had memory errors right off the bat. Quite frustrating.

  6. Gen

    Couldn’t hear you more. And we hate it when people chide us for wanting to get updates up or whatever other maintenance needs to be done and not “enjoying the trip”. Keeping the site up HELPS us enjoy the trip – in fact, it helps it enhance it, both experientially and financially. Besides, even if it does take hours of work to keep it going as a webmaster would like it to go, hey, we’re doin it across the world – and for us, not someone else. I’ll take that any day. You do a great job; keep on keepin on!

  7. Sofia

    Bali is a perfect choice, I’m glad you chose that place. It’s a great place to recover and get back in balance – even for those who don’t plan to…
    When we went there they had a day specially meant for relaxing and contemplating. Everything was closed and nobody was allowed outside. You weren’t allowed to watch tv or listen to music (from speakers).
    It was a good day though, people should really take some time off and get back in balance, that way they will work more effectively.
    Can’t wait to see what will come out of this! 😉

  8. I’m glad you’re back and very glad things are up and running again. I hope you have a really great and productive time in Bali tackling all your bits and bobs that will make life so much easier. :-)

  9. You bring up a good point – it is very very difficult to work and travel at the same time. Our first experience with blogging and traveling wasn’t a disaster, but it was definitely a wake up call. Our traffic suffered (although bounced back quickly) and it was stressful trying to get all of our work done in the periods where we could find an internet connection. I imagine that setting up a temporary base that allows you to maintain your work schedule in each location you visit will make a big difference. Good luck!

  10. I hate to hear that you’ve had problems with your host, especially since we’re on the same one… Things like that just should not happen. Please let us know which host you’re switching too and what you think about them.

    Really, you get behind? You seem so organized to us. We’ve had big problems to blog if being out on a trip. We tend to stay too long or go too far when sighseeing, time rushes… and energy too. But we’ve done shorter trips than you mostly, so that’s the problem behind that. We always want to get out as much as possible from every trip, thinking that we can post when we’ve come home…

    I guess one should prepare some posts in advance really, just in case of sickness too!

    Have a really nice Bali trip :-)

  11. Well this is good- and bad news. good news is that, as somebody else pointed at, it appears that even you get behind with your site and posts… I had a big problem while in Vietnam- I could not access my blog, not even see it! I was somehow blocked or banned access, which meant a month behind. And then way to often I travel quicker than what I post, which means getting even further back. Blogging is a lot of time and effort, even more when connections are not lightning fast, and for those who are starting and not experts in the field sometimes it can get frustrating.

    Anyhow, good luck with your new host. Bali should be a good place to work in, though connections are not the best of the lot. At any rate, the island is a gem.

    Have fun!

    maitravelsite dot com

  12. I think you’ll actually enjoy working in Bali for the simple fact that you won’t have to think about all the stuff you have to do. Running a blog is HARD work. Between Beersandbeans and NarikosNest.com I have no spare time and unfortunately I am so busy that I haven’t been successful as I want to be on either of them. And again this week I decided a rehaul was in order for both sites.

    Fitting travel in has been very difficult for me.

    But above all the pain of it the worst is lying in bed thinking about what needs to be done or worse, being out enjoying the world and thinking the same thing – it sucks!

    Spending a week working in Bali will be awesome and it will make you feel so much better. :)

  13. God, I relate to this!!! It’s a drafted post in my head already… trying to juggle a f/t job, planning a trip, reading blogs, writing posts, redesigning my site… my mind is starting to splinter. I could use Bali too! Can I stow away in your backpack? I’m small! 😀

  14. Boy, don’t I know about that this topic! I am also very busy but love it (as you seem to also) and keeping my blog up to date can be really draining. And, my blog is nothing like yours! Not even remotely close in its scope and depth.
    I had another website that pretty much dominated my life in 2009 and I finally shut it down due to inactivity. I am back on board to create a new one with a slightly different focus but I am mentally preparing myself for the amount of work and hrs I know that I will have to dedicate to it. Good luck getting work done and Bali!

  15. Josh

    Nothing sucks more than a hosting issue that goes wrong for no reason. I just has a similar issue with another site that needed to have a backup ran, only to find out they marked the account suspended and did do backup although nothing was wrong with the account. Ugh, annoying.

    Like you say or are doing, put your money where your mouth is and move to another hopefully more reliable company.

  16. I found travelling with a relatively static site difficult enough. How you manage to balance work and travel with a site that requires far more frequent updates is something I need to learn (and this is a good place to do so). Bali is a good spot to have a holiday from the holiday though. Enjoy.

  17. Matt, all the best for getting things done in Bali! Myself I ran into the problem of constant updates and work with my site a while back, but decided to take it more easily on the online front. Thankfully I don’t need the money to survive from my site. But the lack of updates nags me also, quite a bit. I’m down from weekly updates to an update every few weeks, which is not optimal.

    But like you said, it’s all about the balance. 😉

    BTW, hopefully we can catch up some day on the road for a few drinks, I will be only back in Bali on 1st of May….maybe you are still there by then, probably not anymore…but hey, let’s see.

  18. I’ve heard a good many people are riding the recession out in Bali – might be interesting to explore that, as it sounds like a hell of a plan 😉

  19. I know that feeling well. Not because our server went down, but about reaching a point where you know for one reason or another, it’s time to stop.

    We stopped in Panama, Buffalo, Atlanta, Buenos Aires and now Salta.

    And like you (as you say in your About), I get antsy after about 3 months in one place.

    It’s a different type of travel, I think, when you figure out how to get internet in your home or where’s the best place to go for coffee or start to develop friendships that require more daily interaction than those on the road. That, and Bali seems like a pretty fabulous place to stop for a bit.

    But we all know, we’re eventually moving on.

  20. Sorry to hear about the host problem, what a nightmare.

    It’s nice to get some ‘bad news’ truth on here though. Even though I also appear to be one of them, people who run travel blogs and travel facinate me on how its possible. I can blast out a lot of writing an work when I get time to focus, but little bits here and there in between the usual travelling tends to be of a lesser quality and rushed. Which annoys me.

    I think taking the odd month or so to STOP travelling and get some work done is a key point to continuing the effort of a nomadic life and keep the quality there.

  21. You have wrote:”Now, Bali will the be perfect place for me to live cheap, eat great food, enjoy a few hours at the beach, and get lots of work done.” And what income do you have from your site?

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