The Kiva Experiment

Posted by:     Tags:      Posted date:  December 9, 2010  |  Comment
Insert Drawing :)

cruisesurfer’s log sea-date: 32:3:2

It’s another sea day and the ship’s been really rocky, so I’ve been walking around feeling as if I’m a bit tipsy. I finally went to the specialty restaurant last night for dinner and it was a welcome break from the standard crew mess fare. I had a big juicy steak for dinner. Deliciousss.

About a week ago, I thought I’d try a little experiment. I had 84 Facebook page “likes” at the time and wanted to see if I could get to 100 before my birthday on Dec 11th. The value proposition in the marketing campaign was, if I succeeded I would give $25 donation to Kiva. 16 “likes” in 7 days seemed like a fairly modest enough goal. So to make it more interesting, I was only allowed to use Twitter as my marketing tool.But what’s the point, you ask? Was this simply an exercise to inflate my ego because I am an attention whore?

Yeah, pretty much!

Knowing that there’s potentially 99 people (and 1 travel bear) reading this blog keeps me motivated to find interesting things to write about, which can be a challenge especially on sea days or when you’ve been to the same Caribbean island a dozen times. I also want to stick to a consistent writing schedule of writing at least 5 days a week.

My first degree was in Marketing but that was before social media became the force it is today (SEO and Google Adwords was the way to go back then). Anyway, all are good skills to hone and refine as I will eventually need an exit plan. It seems like people either do a couple of years on ships or spend the rest of their lives at sea. And I’m not sure if I’m able to commit to a life of detachment from reality. Imagine after a decade at sea, how hard it would be to readjust to the real world? It’s be like a scene out of Shawshank Redemption.

So how did the campaign go? It took 5 days to get 16 “likes”, it’s not amazing results but certainly faster than it would have been organically. (Btw, welcome new readers!)

I got my inspiration from Chris Guillebeau’s 279 Days To Overnight Success. Chris is a full time blogger, traveler and now published writer. What’s amazing about his story, is how fast he built his empire. And what I like about him is he’s not your stereotypical internet marketer; you know those guys who have big gaudy text on their page, pushy marketing tactics and hawk dubious sounding ebooks. Chris provides plenty of valuable content on his beautifully designed website, for free. And he seems like an all-round nice guy (he volunteered for a few years in Africa and is involved in Charity:Water). He’s currently doing an unconventional book tour for his new book The Art of Non-Conformity, across USA & Canada (It’s a shame that I won’t be able to attend!).

From a marketing point of view, I got the majority of my information from this post from Where is Jenny?. She has built a mini-empire in a matter of months. Spectacular! Jenny writes about stuff I’m interested in like being location-independent and minimalism, among other things. And this post of her’s introduced me to a ton of other bloggers doing really interesting things with their lives.

Finally, I had inspiration to tweak my design a bit after stumbling across and admiring Lauren’s blog about living abroad.

Apart from offline work, I had to spend about 7 hours online. I had to research, manage the Twitter campaign, tweak bits and pieces, and learn proper etiquette (I wanted to avoid any Twitter faux pas). But at $5/hour that meant this campaign cost me $35 in internet charges. I’m not counting the $25 to Kiva, because I was always planning on donating it on my birthday anyway! Which reminds me, I’ve just given the $25 to Warda Al Kafarneh in Palestine to buy some sheep. Everyone knows kiwis have a soft spot for sheep.

In the final analysis, it was a fun project and I learnt loads (like how many of the location-independent bloggers are a friendly, supportive bunch). It also turned out to be a good way to learn the intricacies of Twitter as a marketing and networking tool. But it’s also not financially viable while on the ship. Therefore, I won’t be joining the Twitter conversation while at sea.

Chat soon :)

About Me


In 2004, I sold everything I owned and left New Zealand to go see the world. In that time, I've run with bulls in Pampolona, watched the Man burn at Black Rock City, volunteered at a special-needs summer camp in New York, hosted & couchsurfed with 100+ people, taught English in Prague, trained with Muay Thai fighters in Phuket, worked on 5 different cruise ships, hugged strangers on streets in 7 countries and this one time, I even hitchhiked naked (but that was back home, so that doesn't really count). I moved to Vancouver, BC in 2012, to embark on new adventures. It's nice here, I think I may stay awhile! Let's connect: @roymarvelous, facebook & RSS.



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