This is a question that has been plaguing me recently as I have begun to work through a new strategy for Todd’s Wanderings. It is also a question that is inevitably on the minds of TBC readers and just about anyone who is attracted to the bright lights of blogging.
According the 1,000-1,000 Challenge we are focused at the minimum of earning (or proving that it’s possible) 1,000 USD per month. To be very honest, this is not such a hard thing to do. Developing 1,000 visitors a day is MUCH more difficult. The hard part in monetization is deciding if you want t make more and then choosing the correct strategy for your business model.
Maybe it’s the development worker in me, but I hate developing plans without a solid set of data guiding my decisions. Recently I set off a rant about advertisers trying to low ball good, honest, attractive, hard traveling bloggers. It occurred to me that there is nowhere we can point advertisers to industry standards to back up our claims that our rates are fair and not inflated. To help rectify this situation, and to help us all in answering the question of this post I have put together a poll, along with Laurence from Finding the Universe, to help create a rate card for text based advertising and sponsored posts.
I actually have an ulterior motive for this poll. It has occurred to me over the past two years that advertising can only get you so far in your monetization strategies. If you only want to make 1,000 a month and keep your blog loose then this is a great option for you. Check out our three part series on making money with your blog for a good introduction to advertising.
But if you are looking to live off of your blog, or spend more money when traveling, than it requires a different strategy and business model. You might also have other goals with your blog and text links are a potential liability to your future growth as Google frowns upon them to the point they have permanent wrinkles. For example, my goal at Todd’s Wanderings is to help get my first book published and sold to millions of people. If Google deindexes my blog my plan is ruined.
First things First: The Survey
Please fill in our quick 8 question only Advertising Survey, and share it with others.
This will help the entire Travel Blogging Community and we will share the results wide and far.
Second things Second
I have been thinking long and hard about what has made Todd’s Wanderings a success to this point, as well as what my next steps need to be. I have gone through a process of analyzing popular blogs, in and out of the travel world, and have reevaluated my own goals, vision and strategy. You can preview and critique my new blog design to see where I’m headed.
By now your thinking, great what good will this be for me other than making sure that Todd picks up the tab when we meet in person? Well the benefit is that I’m planning to layout my whole process here on the TBC. I want to help you build up your blogs, earn more money, and be able to take me out to dinner (drinks included) when we meet up
Over the next few months I plan to lay it all out, build up a number of free tools for TBC readers to use, and I might even develop a more in depth course that goes into greater detail on each of the subjects I’ll touch on. I want this to be useful so keep the comments and the suggestions coming and I’ll step up my game.
Anatomy of a Successful Travel Blog
First off I want to make one thing perfectly clear: there is no one way to be successful. To that end it pays to be creative, and to establish yourself and your blog as a purple cow. But in general a successful travel blog will realize that a blog is not a business by itself. I have struggled with this concept as I desperately want my blog and my daily writing to earn money on its own. Unfortunatly, this is not the case. A successful travel blog is one that uses the medium of a blog to interact with an audience, and in that interaction develop a business.
What does this mean? It means you have to have a business plan that is linked to but separate from your blogging plan. It means that you need to have a plan to attract your audience through your blog, but then you have to have a plan of what you will do with them once they are listening and talking back to you.
Many bloggers, myself included, spend so much time focusing on producing content to increase our traffic numbers, but then we fail to take the next step. We naively assume that increased traffic will lead to increased revenue. Of course massive traffic can lead to more money, but of all the travel blogs I have seen very few actually reach the 1,000 visitors a day that we strive to meet here at TBC. This does not mean you can’t still earn money, it just means that you need a plan.
At the core of many successful blogs are three factors that work together:
1) Find something that you love to do (I’m assuming that is traveling, exploring, getting drunk in odd places around the world)
2) Find similar people who value your expertise at the thing you love to do
3) Make sure that it’s something that people will pay for (yeah, this is quite an important part)
Travel Blogging Adds Extra Demands
The “how” is a very different thing from the topic of your blog. And this is where things become a bit more difficult for Travel Bloggers. Besides the normal blogging and business basics, we also need to be expert photographers, storytellers, researchers, writers, videographers, editors, marketers, and conversationalists. That’s a lot to ask from anyone. Oh, and you have to be up to speed on all the hottest trends in internet technology and where the kids are hanging out (what you don’t know what Google + is yet?).
Did I also mention that there are thousands of travel blogs competing for your audience, and a few smaller websites like Travelocity, National Geographic, Times, and just about every single newspaper on the planet?
Are you freaked out yet? Are your palms sweating? Have you cracked open another beer to ease the pain of what you committed yourself to?
Actually, it’s not as hard as you might think. In fact, if you have a good plan, work hard, and are talented you will have no problem
So that I don’t leave you hanging, here are a few of the topics I’ll be delving into over the next few months. Don’t worry; the structure will come as well:
- Website Design and Usability
- Distinguishing yourself from everyone else
- Available Market and who your audience is
- Developing Content
- Providing Value
- Conversion (what you want people to do besides read your words and look at your pictures)
- Promotion (this goes beyond just the “use social media” or “guest blogging” suggestions. You need to have a strategy on who you want to attract and how you will target and engage them).
After we talk about all of this, we also have to discuss the nuts and bolts of travel blog writing, developing stories, getting people to care, and developing your voice.
Oh, and then we need to talk about the actual business blue prints that are working for travel bloggers, how to monetize, what your options are, and how to decide what works best for you.
Yeah, and you thought you had a busy schedule coming up!
And just in case you don’t believe me that anyone can earn money attracting an audience online, have a look at ShaneShane. It will blow your mind
What else would you like to learn about? Any essential travel blogging aspects that I missed?