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Growing a Website

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I have again looked at my Vagabond Journey travel site and realized that it – yet again – sucks. I do not think that it sucks nearly as bad as its first incarnation (the one with the funny colored background and the loose floating, ugly mastheads) but still sucks none the less. So I gathered up a little steam and completely changed the index page. Look at the newVagabond Journey Index.

I would be a little nervous if I was ever completely satisfied with something that I did a few months ago. As this could only indicate to me that I have not progressed. If dissatisfaction is the driving force behind betterment, then I hope to always be dissatisfied with Vagabond Journey. I want to continue making it a better travel web site, I want to continue making it grow – much as I continue to grow and change as I travel the world.

This site is where I put many of the lessons that I learn, and experiences that I have, while traveling. It is where I collect the information, links, and articles that I have helped me to travel. I put this collection on Vagabond Journey because I think that it could also help other travelers, as well as give this information a good home.

Vagabond Journey is still a child, I have to keep telling myself. I must be patient. It was born on November 1, 2007. It is not even a half year old, and I am pleased with the progress that has been made so far. Websites are like children. You create them on a fun whim, and then you have to take care of them for their whole life: they grow, change, fail, and succeed. I am still battling out my parental role in all of this.

Last May, when I began blogging regularly, I was an unprepared parent. I seriously did not know how to make a document folder on Windows, I was starting from scratch. Song of the Open Road was my second baby, and I still did not know how to take care of it.

I killed my first baby. It was a WordPress blog that one of my old academic advisors set up for me in 2005. I was a cocky dad at this time, and I started messing with the baby’s internal buttons, I was too immature to be a father. And it died. I broke my blog. I still do not know what I did to it, but I ruined it beyond repair. So I returned to Blogger and only wrote intermittently until last May, when I picked up the pace and began writing daily. I had learned my lesson from killing the WordPress baby, and I vowed to be a better parent this time around. So I cultivated Song of the Open Road and watched it quickly grow up into its teenage years. This blog did OK for me for a while, but I felt that I had to take things into adulthood, and I knew that Blogger was a perpetual teenager. I needed my own website.

So I bought Vagabond Journey.com and began tinkering. I dabbled here, put some pages up there. Found out a little of what works, and a lot of what doesn’t. I was feeling my place out on the internet, I was creating a home – an identity – for myself. Throughout this time Vagabond Journey worked through a few different incarnations. Now it has entered into its newest: yesterday, I sat down, gathered up a little steam, and put all of my webpage making skills to the test. I came up with a new index page for Vagabond Journey. I worked it out almost from scratch, I know what all of the code in it does and means. I had to learn how to speak its baby language. But I did so, and know I can communicate with my own kid. I like this incarnation the best.

A few months down the road, I do not know what my tune will be. I can only hope that someday I will be dissatisfied. I can only hope that I will keep learning, continue building my understanding, and will perpetually be improving Vagabond Journey.com. But I feat not, because I did learn the basics of HTML, so I now know the language that I am working with.

This is, and always will be, a work in progress.

Building a travel website is like raising a child. I watch Vagabond Journey going out and playing in the wide-word of organic internet searches and I feel like a proud parent as I check the site meter daily to find a rise in traffic. We are up to 450 a day, we are growing. I look at the children of my friends – Andy with Hobohideout, Nath with Ubertramp, and Craig with Travelvice – and I get proud of them too as they continue to grow and change.

I must say that Craig and Nath have the pretty children of the bunch, they are good looking, sleek and slender, and are probably good at sports, Andy has the big fat bully, who eats all of the content food and shoves his way to the front of the lunch line stealing the smaller kid’s money, and I have the nerd. Yes, I think Vagabond Journey wears big, think spectacles, plays dungeons and dragons, works hard in school, and reads lots of books. He probably even wears suspenders and is afraid to talk to girls. I have the nerd. When compared to the good looking, cool, and athletic Ubertramp and Travelvice sites, little old hand-befuddled Vagabond Journey will be the last picked for any team, and Hobohideout will be sure to steal his lunch. But rest assured that Vagabond Journey is a hard working little book worm, and one of these days, he may hit puberty and start blooming into manhood.

But for now, he is just a dork.

Uncle Craig knows this. He has even offered to do me a big favor and watch poor little Vagabond Journey for a while to teach him a few lessons about manhood. Maybe Craig could teach him how to comb his hair, how to wash his face, and stick up for himself against bullies. I am not that much of an experienced parent to teach these lessons yet.

But I am learning, and my kid is growing by the day.

Watch Vagabond Journey.com become a man.

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Filed under: Website Construction

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3053 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Cincinnati, Ohio, USAMap

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