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Dreaded Day for Vagabond Journey Travel

The dreaded day for VagabondJourney.com has come. My hosting company sent me an email yesterday notifying that my site had been turned off. Too much resource usage was the reason given. I was on a Virtual Private Server, but even still, the traffic on this site became way too much for the CPU allowance of [...]

The dreaded day for VagabondJourney.com has come. My hosting company sent me an email yesterday notifying that my site had been turned off. Too much resource usage was the reason given. I was on a Virtual Private Server, but even still, the traffic on this site became way too much for the CPU allowance of this package to bear.

All of my database driven pages are cached, there is little else that I can do to lower my server usage.

The tech for the hosting company tried to combat this server drain by putting something called Fast CGI on my account. This lowered my CPU usage considerably, but it raised the memory usage beyond allowable bounds.

The time has come for VagabondJourney.com to go on a dedicated server. The cost for this is going to be at least three or four times what I was previously paying for hosting. The cost of this will be $150 to $200 per month. If I choose to pay this amount the profits that I make from this site will dwindle to a seriously insignificant amount.

I knew this dreaded day was coming for a long time. I’d previously hoped that I would be earning enough from the site to handle paying out $200 in hosting fees a month. This did not happen.

I am currently deep into publishing a magazine, the future of this site was primed to make a big jump into the future, and now we have hit a brick wall. I must ask myself here, is there real potential to make an amount of money from this website that would justify the time and effort that I put into it?

I as sit here now, debating on paying out $200 per month — $2400 per year — I am very unsure how to answer.

Any suggestions?

Filed under: Vagabond Journey Updates

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 88 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3413 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support Wade Shepard’s writing on this blog (please help):

Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

23 comments… add one

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  • craig | travelvice.com April 29, 2011, 3:33 pm

    I suppose it’s always possible to partition off parts of the site to be hosted elsewhere, but w/ a new domain and 301’s redirecting the traffic.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 30, 2011, 9:18 am

      This plan would work, but, man, I really don’t want to divide up the site. I think I am going to just move to a new host and pay out the cash. I just sent in a wad of money to my present hosting company to keep the site up for the next month. So this gives me a little time to find an affordable dedicated server that will work for the cpu/ memory usage of the site. Any suggestions? I am looking at Host Gator (your host, right?) and they have a dedicated package for $150.

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      • craig | travelvice.com April 30, 2011, 11:01 am

        I do use them, and they’ve been pleasant. Strongly suggest a conversation with them beforehand to explain your situation (either directly or via the forums).

        …or just $10 a month or less and cut a part of the site away (some of the non-travelogue components). 301 would ensure all the Google juice still flowed.

        Certainly the most practical financially, and with pages looking the same with a similar URL visitors would never know (presuming they’re not one-off pageview-bounces anyway).

        BTW- if you go for HG use this link just before signing up and hook a brotha up with a few bucks!

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  • reina April 30, 2011, 4:39 am

    I’m looking forward to the magazine- but I’m not sure it’ll solve your money problems. What I’d be looking to buy is something like an e travel guide….for example- you’ve spent the last months in Mexico, your visitors know you’ve gathered first-hand experience. So why not retrace the route, how you got in, means of transport, places you visited, accomodation, food, summary of costs, pros and cons aso asf. I know all this info is on the blog somewhere, but ferreting it out is a pain. I can imagine a guide like this might sell very well. You could feature it on your landing page : Comprehensive Backpackers E-Guide to xx – Mexico’s xx Coast on xx $ a day- or similar. Just my thoughts….. Take care…………

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 30, 2011, 9:53 am

      This is a great suggestion. But I don’t have confidence that I alone could pull off an entire travel guide that would be up to even my own standards. If I could assemble a team, then this could be an excellent project. It would be great to have these comprehensive travel guides to complement the travelogue entries, though, something that people with an interest in a place can just quickly download, pay a couple bucks, and have a good travel resource. This will be a future project someday, I am sure.

      Thanks for the suggestion.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 30, 2011, 2:06 pm

      I thought more about your suggestion, and i think it could work as you framed it if toned down a little. I could certainly do guides to the places that I stay for a while, as oppose to an entire country. Example: San Cristobal, Mexico; The Oaxaca Riviera, The Rio Dulce, Guatemala. This would be a great compliment to the articles, and would probably be a great revenue source.

      Thanks for keeping the wheels spinning.

      Walk Slow,

      Wade

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  • Brandon April 30, 2011, 4:58 am

    I agree with craig and reina.

    I worked for godaddy and still have close friends in the advanced hosting department and will ask them tomorrow what will be the best rout to take. even 2 VPS accounts are still going to be cheaper than a dedicated server if that’s an option. Ill check to see if that’s possible.

    And reina is right. I know you want to make money by blogging only and through paid articles…. but you have the knowledge to make an extremely high quality product to sell. And like she suggested, even if you compiled the most popular posts of your blog into a book, it would make it worth it for someone to purchase.

    I commend you for taking down a VPS with mainly text files, since they are so miniscule. That is a record hard to beat!

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 30, 2011, 9:28 am

      Thanks Brandon,

      Yeah, there has to be some sort of solution. My access logs show around 6,000 visitors a day. More than what I thought, but still not an extreme amount. Something should work. I upped my VPS account (more than doubling it) with my current host to stay live for the rest of this month, but I am paying just about the same price for this as a dedicated server with another hosting company.

      I just hate dealing with this side of the game. The site was down for four hours in the middle of the day a couple days ago and I spent that night and yesterday going back and forth with the hosting company.

      The guidebook idea would be good. But it would need to be a full time project. I couldn’t do it by just including the places that I go naturally — there would be too many holes. To do this well it would be a better project for a team, and not just one traveler. The production, design, and layout alone of such an operation would be vast, not to mention the research involved. If four or five of us could work on it — utilizing everyone’s individual strengths — I think it could be done. But, by myself, I don’t believe I could do it well.

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  • Scott April 30, 2011, 8:50 am

    Wade and Family,
    What if you made your site a mostly “pay to view” content site. Lets say $1.00 dollar per month and you have to join for one year. Would that cut traffic drastically and allow you to get the magazine out and allow you to survive without a dedicated server? Or would it kill all of your ad revenue?

    Maybe you drop all your profit on a dedicated server and find an alternative way to make funds for now?

    I say the show must go on! So many people would love to have your dilemma? You have just begun to fight!!!!

    Your website has really taken on that polished professional look. Your writing talent has started to shine. Time to dig a deep trench and battle for victory!!!

    Scott

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 30, 2011, 9:37 am

      Thanks, man, these words are really encouraging. You’re right, many people would love to have this problem — a website that brings in too much traffic to afford haha. Right on, we are just starting this battle. I mean, a dedicated server is a must for most all big websites, so I should be looking at this as more of a move for the future, a badge of success perhaps haha.

      We have some other projects in the works now, which is why my production on this blog has gone down a little recently, and hopefully will have a couple more small streams of income flowing in the next month or two. But, this is all for fun, so there is no point in getting frustrated by it. Even with a dedicated server we would still be making some money — just $150 less — so I suppose that is all that matters haha. Once we get into the red then it may be time to put up the white flags, but we are still in the green now. Going good. I just became a little frustrated by this “two steps forward, one step back” path that I have been on with this website since the start. But I suppose that this is what makes things interesting haha.

      Thanks again.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 30, 2011, 9:57 am

      Didn’t respond to this the first time.

      In terms of making the site pay per view, this has been something that has come up at various points. But it would not be keeping in step with the conventions of the internet — that everything should be free — and I think I would just end up shooting myself in the foot if I did this. I would assume that even if I asked for the nominal fee of $1 per month, 90% of readers would just go elsewhere. And it would kill my organic search ad revenue. But it would definitely solve the problem of CPU usage hahaha.

      But, to be honest, I feel like a real ass each time I try to sell something. I am not a born business man haha. I can back up my position with facts and figures, but this is the real reason haha.

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  • Scott April 30, 2011, 12:43 pm

    Wade and family,
    Wish I had a magic formula for your dilemma, but alas I don’t. To keep continuously traveling with a family is a great dream that you will reach in the future (no doubt.) What about finding a nice travel destination and staying put for some time? Sell baked goods from the apartment. Write for a magazine. Or your past successful plan of working in the States and then hitting the road seems to be attractive.

    How are your artistic abilities? Can you put ink on skin?

    Got to be a way!!

    But I do know some people can write and others only dream (me.) You got the talent, so follow the dream until the rainbow is so bright you can walk up to it and lick it!!!!

    Walk slow (I love that slogan,)
    Wade and family

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  • G April 30, 2011, 12:44 pm

    Wade, the real question is how committed are you to this project. Is this something you envision yourself doing 10-20 years from now? If the answer is yes then the problem you now face is nothing more than an opportunity to exercise your creativity and determination. The more serious issue I see is your statement “But, to be honest, I feel like a real ass each time I try to sell something. I am not a born business man haha. I can back up my position with facts and figures, but this is the real reason haha.” That is truly where you need to be directing your focus, changing that attitude or belief system. I suspect that there is still some of the old anti-capitalist anarchist in you that makes really monetizing this site difficult for you. The best way I know to change your beliefs is by asking yourself questions, cross examine yourself like a skilled trial lawyer would to expose all the flaws in your current beliefs. Do that enough and you really begin to realize how little they serve you. Replace some of your disfunctional beliefs with more beneficial ones and the sky is the limit for vagabondjourney and you. There is no real reason why you couldn’t earn $100k a year off this site in 10years time. You just have to do the work, and the most important work is probably on yourself. G.

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 2, 2011, 11:17 am

      Hello G,

      Must say that I found this comment inspiring. Really standing at a crux here between expanding the site as a business or drawing back and retreating to just using it as a platform for travel writing. One is something that I could base a living off of, the other would, inevitably, become a hobby. Ideally, I want to blend both, and your advice would allow me to better do this. There is just a major hump that I am trying to get over, as my role and position in this project is moving from being a writer to that of an administrator/ editor. Not a bad place to be in, for sure, but deep down I am missing the days when my only objective was to write. But, then again, in those days I was not making any money and I needed to work for others for my sustenance. What it comes down to is work, and while work should be as enjoyable as you can make it it does not HAVE to be enjoyable. This website has grown from a hobby to a job, and like any other job there are high points and low points. I suppose the question is: would I rather be doing this job or another?

      When posed like this, VJT is the best job that I can imagine.

      As you pointed out, I need a reevaluation of perspective. If this is a job, then spending four hours a day sending emails, coordinating, dealing with advertisers and the business end, although not my favorite things in the world to do, are truly not a bad way to spend a work morning. It was just that this site went from being 90% fun and games down to 50% fairly quickly. I went from jumping up in the morning at 6AM and running to the computer (as I did for the past 5 years) to dreading the sight of my laptop. I should not view this as being a sign that things are getting bad but as an indication that I am, in fact, taking small strides towards running this site as a true business, towards making it a real profession. How many people run to work early with a big smile on their faces and truly love what they do 8 hours a day? Not many. But when it comes down to it, it is my impression that many people — though they whine and complain about working (as I am doing here) — ultimately enjoy their jobs in the end. I think that I am becoming more normal in this regard.

      If I want to take this project and make it a $100,000 a year business, there is a lot of WORK that needs to be done, it must be a job and viewed as such, not a hobby. Given this, a $200 a month overhead cost for a server that I can be confident that it will work properly is an investment that will allow me to meet my goals, not as a set back.

      It is just now a matter of doing the work and hiring the right people to transform the site into a real money maker. I need to step into a new pair of shoes and realize that a quality product is worth money and I should not be bashful about selling it. It seems to me as if we are still 6 months off from moving the site into a new league — there is still a lot of polishing that needs to be done — but soon, I hope, it will all start to really come together and that by the end of the year I can say that I am the proud peddler of a good product, that I have something to offer and that I am not afraid to accept money for it.

      The problem is the dollars and cents: can be beat the bottom line and get through this intensified development period?

      Thanks G.

      Reina, we took your suggestion and began funneling some money in that direction.

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      • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 2, 2011, 11:47 am

        I didn’t answer your question. In ten years do I see myself doing VJT?

        In a more advanced form, yes.

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        • G May 3, 2011, 4:24 pm

          Wade, as I wrote my comment and read your response I couldn’t help but think of Thoreau’s famous line, “Some of you may worry that you have built your castles in the air. Fear not, that is exactly where they should be built. Now put a foundation beneath them.” You have begun VJT exactly as you should have with passion and a focus on content; now its time to put a foundation beneath your castle.

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  • reina April 30, 2011, 4:56 pm

    G: I agree 100%. The beliefs, whether conscious or not will definitely influence or even define how much income the site will generate. I would use EFT on such issues, although I suspect readers here and especially Wade will cringe at this suggestion…………

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com April 30, 2011, 5:12 pm

      Naw, won’t cringe about the philosophy of EFT though the practices of the dissemination organizations seem a little cult like, but this is the case of many organizationally advanced philosophies.

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  • FruuGal May 4, 2011, 1:06 pm

    Wade,

    You are a victim of success! 6000 visitors a day us quite a milestone. Somehow your RSS feed was knocked off Yahoo and I was afraid that you ended your site. When I googled “Wade vagabond”, guess which site came up first?

    I agree that if you are serious about being successful you need to get serious. Maybe you will have your own boy wonder someday to handle the tedious and technical stuff.

    I would like to see an even more polished and maybe simplified site with loads of quality pictures of you. You are the main character in your blog. With your unique look, non-traditional viewpoint and excellent writing style, you have what it takes to stand out.

    Keep us posted, inquiring minds want to know!

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  • FruuGal May 4, 2011, 2:48 pm

    I take that back about a more professional site. After browsing around some, I realized how much work you have done. It already looks damn good!

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 5, 2011, 11:51 am

      Thanks FruuGal,

      Yeah, I have been putting a lot of work into the design and have been working behind the scenes a lot. Have to get back to blogging daily though, this is the bones of this operation. I realize that I do need to make a better homepage, and I’m going to have to hire out for it because I simply lack sense in this regard haha. I also need some genius tech stuff done that is a little beyond my capabilities. The homepage has always been something that I figured I would master one of these days, but that has simply not happened haha. I think the rest of the site looks OK — could maybe use some better header graphics — but I am happy about where it all stands. Now I just need some money to get this show going haha.

      Thanks for the feedback.

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  • dad May 4, 2011, 7:57 pm

    fruugal is right love dad

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    • Wade | Vagabond Journey.com May 5, 2011, 11:51 am

      Thanks, Dad!

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