Blogging has been a really weird experience for me, mostly because I started for fun, then it turned into something more, then it all collapsed and now I’m back at square one. And it all happened so quickly that I honestly don’t know what to think of it- but I continue because I can no longer seem to let go. Confused? Let’s start from 2016.
So, in my first year of university, I decided to go on a language exchange to Kyoto, Japan. I had already learnt the basics for fun, and thought this would just be a great extended holiday. Sure, I could technically describe it that way, but the truth is it was so much more than that- I really fell in love with Kyoto and couldn’t bear the thought of forgetting all the fun things I did there, the experiences I had and the things I learnt. So, on a whim, I started this blog, writing just about my Japan trip, and that was it. I was content, even if no one read it, because it was for me.
But then, I stumbled across this website called Odigo. At the time, it was a travel website exclusively for Japan, with articles and recommendations that you could write and actually gain points from. The points could then be exchanged for Amazon gift cards, or, if you actually reach 100 000 points, you could exchange it for cash. Again, I thought, I’ll just write about my own experiences, get however many points I can, and that would be it. Boy, was I wrong.
You see, I actually started enjoying writing for Odigo. My articles would get a bunch of views, likes and even comments, and I was thrilled. A crazy idea popped up- I don’t need Amazon gift cards. I’ll just get the 100 000 points instead and change it for cash. 100 000 yen. That’s about 1000 dollars.
This seemingly impossible task suddenly became very possible when one day, my article was featured on their Facebook page. My article views jumped, straight into the hundreds. And then, a while later my articles started getting featured on the front page of the website – now some of those articles had thousands of views. I was ecstatic – maybe my goal was actually achievable.
And then, something even more crazy happened. The staff at Odigo contacted me and asked me to write commissioned articles for them. The points I would get per article would jump up, so obviously I immediately agreed. And for a while, it was amazing. I would write articles that would get lots of views and points, and it was very rewarding. Eventually I reached my goal of converting my points to cash- 3 times. Within a year, before the end of 2017.
This wasn’t even enough to be a part time job but I was really happy I was getting something. It was fun and rewarding, and Odigo became a part of my life. I would extrapolate from my experiences and suggest articles, and the staff were always a delight to work with. It was exciting and I felt like I was actually helping people with their planning or at least entertaining them by writing.
But then, Odigo suddenly stopped moving. We were told things were going to slow down for New year’s holidays, but weeks after that we (the commissioned writers) heard nothing from them. We would ask about the commissioned articles on our group- no response. About what was going on- no response. About whether we were ever going to get any updates- once every few months they would apologise and promise an update. I was getting upset, but continued posting- I still had the views to rely on.
I eventually got so annoyed that I privately contacted them and got a bunch of empty promises in return. The thing is, I wanted to believe it wasn’t over. It had gotten out that they were undergoing management change, and they then stated that they wanted to update the website and that it would take time. Again, I wanted to believe them. So I waited. During this time, both my blogging and anxiety peaked- I actually reached 20k views on a single article, but I was crippling under the idea that it could all be over.
And then, it finally was. The new staff told us that they only wanted writers living in Japan and created a separate group. I was crushed because of the amount of effort I had put in. I was bitter. But I still had my articles and my profile page, which had shifted to the new Odigo site. Whatever. I carried on with my life, but didn’t really know what to do now.
A couple more months passed and the unthinkable had happened – the website was gone. It was now redirecting to a website called Tokyo Creative. My profile page was gone. I panicked and reached out to one of the writers who lived in Japan and supposedly continued on with their writers’ programme- she knew nothing, they had deserted them yet again and she finally gave up and left the group. I couldn’t believe it, I almost wanted to cry. This was something I had slowly built, and it was gone, just like that.
My articles can apparently still be found on the new Tokyo creative website, but you have to dig for them, they are no longer affiliated to me by profile (they simply credit my name at the end, nothing else), you can no longer see how many views they have and all the comments are gone. To say I was disappointed was a massive understatement. I actually even emailed the new CEO, who happens to be a YouTuber, asking if I could get my profile back, or at least some way I could view all my articles in one place (I had used this experience as part of my writing portfolio, and now it was gone). I got no response, of course, and I’ve never felt more pathetic. I had thought about reaching out publicly though his YouTube channel but I was so demoralised I didn’t really see any point in it anymore. I stopped writing entirely, for about a year, basically all of 2018.
And then, in 2019, I had an experience I didn’t want to forget again- I was going for my full student exchange programme. I returned to my wordpress site, which had been sitting, collecting dust for two years, and I thought, why not. I still had all my Odigo articles saved in my laptop, and there’s more I want to write about again. So I picked up the pieces and started again, from scratch. I updated my site and started posting again. The posts don’t get much attention, but I’m now, again, writing for myself. And to be honest, I don’t know how to feel about it.
I continue to write because I don’t want to forget, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be as dedicated as I was, or if I’ll ever find this as rewarding as I once did. But I’ve also found new things I want to talk about- my exchange and anime. I couldn’t talk about these on Odigo, so at least that’s a plus? I don’t know if this will ever lead to anything, but I still want to write.
I know this post turned out to be a downer lmao, but it isn’t all bad. After all, there still lots more I actually want to write about and there’s a lot I learnt from the whole thing. Odigo was never my website, and they did whatever they wanted because they could. People can and will drop you if you no longer benefit them. You can fail at something you worked hard at, and it’s going to hurt, but you can also try again.
I don’t hate Tokyo Creative. They work with YouTubers that I have supported for a long time and will continue to (Abroad in Japan is genuinely hilarious and one of my favourite channels). But I’d be lying if I said I’ve gotten over it, and that’s okay. Because I will continue to move on. Life always does.