New Look for PAYAway

The Life and Times of PAYAway

I should have guessed our plans for 2015 would be so much pie in the sky. Four months on little progress has been made with the volunteer work ebook; though this is largely due to the simple task of changing the date, from 2014 to 2015, at the bottom of one of our sites morphing into a redesign project to make our websites suitable for users on mobiles and tablets.

There were a few false starts, abandoned attempts, swearing and crying but our group/admin website PAYAway now shrinks and grows depending on how it is viewed. I’m not a website designer but tinkering around with a responsive theme and CSS stylesheets was just about within my skillset.

A good job too. The Big G is changing its algorithm in a way that will give priority to sites Google considers to be mobile friendly. I’d love to say we knew this and planned accordingly but it wasn’t until our revamp was completed that I realised this is the case. By pure chance we were able to pass their mobile friendly test, giving a little whoop of relief and delight when the analysis hit 100% and we were told: “Awesome! This page is mobile-friendly.”

If you don’t care about any of the reasons and practicalities behind this I fully understand. Though this post is partly a guided tour around our sites – with a bit ranting here and there – I write these posts as much for myself to clear my mind and exonerate myself from any false promises made or expectations, uhm, expected of this blog. Potential bloggers might also be interested in what goes on behind the scenes of a successful blog. Or this one.

Working and Volunteering Abroad

That Rug from The Big Lebowski

If you are just here to get some ideas for working abroad head over to PAYAway which now quite brilliantly ties all our sites together like that rug in The Big Lebowski. Behold my genius, for never was the term webmaster so apt. (The site was gone when you clicked that link wasn’t it?)

There is still a lot to do. The Ask the Experts section needs some experts and the Stuck? Start Here bit is missing the massive article I’m still only part way to completing. I’m not happy with the way the text links on the slider look on mobiles and tablets but I doubt I have the webmasterly chops to fix that. Sometimes you just have to recognise your limitations.

PAYAway is our first website, begun in 1999. We kept it up to date on our year long Les Ketchup sound tracked around the world trip in 2002/3, navigating TP/ICP protocols to get online in internet cafes from Bolivia to Bali. Most internet cafes back then had at least one empty table, surrounded by desktop PCs, with a protruding cable for laptops.

Not all such establishments were friendly to laptop users though: we were screamed at in Auckland – seriously, the guy really freaked out – and Bangkok for daring to ask if we could plug in our own computer to get onto the internet.

Not long after we returned from that trip we discovered the wonderful Google had launched its Adsense advertising programme. We started dreaming of buying a yacht when we made over £100 on the first day we added ads to our site. Things eventually calmed down with Adsense to the point where we now make about that in a month but in between we earned a very respectable income for a site we could work on when we needed to, but leave alone for months at a time when we were busy or otherwise distracted.

Aah, static sites, you gotta love ‘em. We had discovered passive income before we knew it was a thing but it wasn’t to last more than a few years.

During one of these distractions – while looking to buy a home abroad – we learned PAYAway had been penalised by those motherfuckers, Google. We still have no idea what we did to violate their ToS, if anything, but the only option was to move all our content to another site and put Adsense on there. The Overseas Job Centre was born from the death of PAYAway, which entered the purgatory of redirecting traffic to the new site, just as this pre self-hosted, version of our site still does now.

A few years ago we brought PAYAway back to serve as a link between all our sites and blogs. It had a Page Rank of 5 and mentions in numerous books and newspaper articles but it always sat a little awkwardly without a real role or content of its own.

Overseas Job Centre

The Overseas Job Centre

Hopefully this redesign fixes that, but there is still plenty of rejigging to do. We also gave the Overseas Job Centre a new look but this only extends to the front page and the new Job Centre section, where we hope to build an agency of sorts – though we’re trying to avoid the use of the word ‘agency’. When we are home in Turkey it might be possible to run a real one but I doubt we could sustain a decent level of service when travelling hard and fast.

Instead, the Job Centre will be a collection of jobs and programmes we highlight because a) we like what they do or have a personal connection in some way b) they are reputable organisations and they give us money or a commission to promote them. One idea we are experimenting with is to run our own cost per click advertising.

We are still working things out but there is a space waiting for when we are ready. Hopefully this will allow us to move away from sponsored post advertising on some of our sites, which for the moment still provides a moderate and necessary part of our income. Though in that industry there are some professionals that are great to work with, who state their intentions clearly and negotiate respectfully we spend too much time dealing with wankers pretending to be offering guest posts.

Here’s a tip for anyone making a pitch to us. Guest posts are welcome on our site. We want more first-hand accounts of working and volunteering abroad. It’s great content for our readers and helps to make The Working Traveller a better blog. What we don’t want is to promote your client’s gambling site for free via some shitty written generic crap.

We’re not completely against the practice. A couple of our most popular posts are sponsored. When we first received them I felt they were maybe a little generic but they were on topic and paid decently so we accepted them. Since then they have gone on to receive a better response and traffic than some of the most thought out and time consuming posts I’ve written. Sometimes I just have to accept perhaps I have no clue what I’m doing.

The rest of the OJC will be our guide section. Though it get updated every few years with some irredeemably out of date posts archived away for good, the current content needs another rewrite and this time it will be a big one with lots of new articles to provide a more comprehensive guide. Until then the old look remains. I also hope to rearrange our directory a little.

Get a Job Abroad

The Working Traveller

This is the 13th major update made to our sites as a whole. Here’s how The Working Traveller looked in 2000 when it was the mag section of PAYAway.

All this change will affect TWT. This site has taken a bit of a backseat since January and because of all the work I need to do elsewhere it may still do so for the foreseeable future. However, I’m starting to look at TWT in a new light, seeing this blog as light snack to the Overseas Job Centre’s main meal.

I think our JobSpy column is a good example of this. Its origins began as a quick and easy way to put up a little bit of content each day but despite its slightly half-arsed beginning it seems to fulfil a useful service and fits in with our philosophy of sharing helpful content we find on other, often competing, sites. We never trying to hold people too long here, hoping instead you will come back tomorrow for another bite sized suggestion on where to find a job abroad.

This Wednesday will see the first of our Workers of the World Weekly column. WotW has long existed as a way to share the articles on or about working abroad we find on other blogs but now it will be shorter and appear more often. We have other ideas for short posts on other days of the week but for the moment I’m reigning myself in from introducing them. There’s still so much to do elsewhere first and I can’t yet have TWT hog so much of our time.

We’re not really that sort of blog anyway but no one will have followed our lives vicariously this winter. For the moment we must be the least travelled travel bloggers on the planet, having barely left the town limits since we come back from our Southeast Asia trip, or even the house since the new year.

There is still a lot of work that needs doing – that ebook for a start – but with the weather warming up a change of scenery is in order. For us that will be doing more work on the balcony, in between swims in the pool or popping down to the beach front. If you are looking for a change then I hope you find what you are looking for in PAYAway, The Working Traveller, Jobs Abroad Bulletin or our other sites.

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