So, the question on the table is: can you really start a blog and make money from it?
I am here to tell you that you can indeed be successful at blogging, and I’m going to tell you how to do it, right here on this very page.
But before I tell you how to do it, though, I want you to keep in mind the rather simple saying, “For anything worth having, one must pay the price.”
The truth is, blogging is not some magic wand that you can wave to make money come into your pocket.
It is not a way to make money at home in the next 7 days.
It is not something you can do in 10 minutes per day.
It is not a miracle that will all of a sudden bring joy and happiness in your life.
What it is is a great opportunity for anyone who wants to generate income, provided they put in the work and understand basic business principles.
And it is not easy.
In fact, I myself consider quitting blogging wholesale about every 3 months. I seriously go through a bought of severe pessimism and wonder what is the point.
A blogger will look at their statistics– their retweets, likes, shares, stumbles, diggs, etc– and wonder why anyone isn’t sharing the content they worked so hard to produce. This will happen often, especially in the beginning.
If you can’t wade through these periods of pessimism and discouragement, you won’t make it in blogging. Just forget it.
‘Blogging’, in fact, is a very poor business plan if you are an aspiring entrepreneur. It takes a bunch of time with very small returns for a long time, and takes many hours away from more profitable activities which you could be doing. Having a vague idea named ‘blogging’ is not even close to a business plan.
But, if you are prepared to put your nose to the grindstone and really do some work, then you might make it in generating income from your blog. If not, no need to consider it– you might as well just keep a journal.
So let’s say you are still curious about blogging and I haven’t deterred you yet… Let’s jump in.
The essence of online content is that you provide information that people are interested in and/or searching for, and you guide them either to 1) more information they are interested and/or searching for or 2) purchase a product or service which meets the needs that they have.
To make money blogging, you simply need to place yourself in the path somewhere in the spectrum of those two things.
For example, if you find yourself in the travel blogging niche, you may want to write about the “Top 10 Hotels in Bangkok Thailand.” If you have a headline that is attractive enough, and interested reader will read your content.
When they read your content, you already have a certain kind of currency from them, and that is their attention. Attention is a currency which they start paying you whenever they listen to you. You just have to cultivate that attention and gently, non-creepily guide it to what you have to offer them (which will be something that meets their needs).
So, perhaps on the page about “Top 10 Hotels in Bangkok”, on the side of your page you have a hotel booking mechanism, where interested people can check hotel availability in Bangkok immediately. Or, you have written a guidebook on Bangkok and offer it to the reader at the conclusion of the article. Or, you include links in your post to flight engines which advertise the lowest price flights to Thailand.
In any of these subsequent actions of your reader, you are leading them along the line towards a purchase.
However, you shouldn’t think so simplistically about a purchase. It can be as simple as I’ve described above, yes, but the days of simple purchasing like that for a simple website owner really occurred in the late 1990s, where there were far fewer web pages. Now the web and its traffic has evolved to encapsulate more of human psychology.
Someone that makes a purchase is a going through a psychological process and a transaction of trust. You have to lead a prospect gently and build trust along a continuum over time. Do simple things like provide them with good information, insightful analysis, quality photos, etc. and you are rewarded with their trust.
Then later you will turn that trust into a transaction.
Got it? Attention –> Trust –> Transaction.
That’s the over-arching strategy of a business, and is the same as making money blogging.
There’s a lot to learn as you go, but that is the basic idea.
Now, as far as practicalities go, you need a website with a lot of really solid content to attract (and keep the attention and develop the trust of) visitors, including various search engines. The algorithm that Google now uses, for example, is much more advanced than the search engines of the 1990s. It is based far more on authority (i.e. trust) of a site than it has ever been.
So if you are thinking you’ll create a website, write 10 pages of content, put up Google ads, attract thousands of visitors, and make a bunch of money, just forget it. Those days are gone.
Instead, you need to create page after page after page of quality, useful content; and, after awhile (sometimes a long while) you will begin to have an appreciable number of visitors.
Now, the good thing about this is that anyone can do this. There are literally zero barriers to entry to create pages of useful content. You just have to spend the time churning it out.
Garnering traffic and attention, though, is just one way of looking at building a website. You have to provide something of value if you want to make money blogging. And you have to think about who it is that you are providing value for.
Now, this might be more than individuals… it might be companies. For example, if I started a blog about how great Vancouver Canada is, who do you think would be very interested in my success?
Well, visitors to Vancouver, yes… but also the Vancouver / Canada Tourist Boards, that’s who!
If I created a blog specifically devoted to helping a tourist get the most out of their trip to Vancouver, I would be doing the city a very valuable service, and would not only attract people who were thinking of visiting the city, but also would put me along the wavelength of those with similar goals (i.e. the tourism board). This kind of ‘leverage’ thinking opens doors.
If you were to create a site full of good content and pictures, the tourism board might contact you and offer certain perks or ‘press trips’, which mean they pay for transportation, accommodation, and/or tours to various parts of the city. (Perhaps you could be more proactive and contact them, and start a dialogue about partnering, if you’re a real hustler. 😉 )
Press trips are actually very common in the travel blog industry. You’d be surprised at what tourism boards and tourism companies are willing to do, and the incredible opportunities they will offer the right people. (Wait til I tell you about my buddy Dave…)
Travel-related companies might be interested in working with you as well (think Expedia, American Airlines, various resorts and travel gear companies). Really, it is up to you to think of who might be interested in the content you write. This is true whether you have a travel blog or any other kind of blog.
If you chose another blogging niche, say, ‘mommy blogging’ (all the rage now), you can write about ways to help mothers do the various things they need to do (stay organized, stay in shape, raise kids, etc.). Then you can think of which companies would be interested in your site and/or partnering and/or advertising. (By the way, there are tons in the ‘mommy blog’ space!)
Partnering with companies, of course, is only one way you could take your blog. You may really enjoy writing, and thus begin to self-publish your writing. You can publish a book, e-book, presentation, videos, or whatever wonderful content you can dream up! This approach is especially effective if you write your blog in such a way that you attract a large following (i.e. people who return to your blog again and again to get updates).
I’d say, in fact, that building a large following (not large traffic, per se) is the first key to becoming successful at blogging. If you’ve got really interested followers, they will be interested in whatever product or service you share with them. (You have built trust, remember??)
Anyways, let me tell you more about travel blogging in particular.
As you probably know, I blog in the travel space. I don’t always blog about travel per se, but I’ve written a good deal about various places to visit and a lifestyle of seeing the world. Thus, I am definitely in the travel blog sphere of things.
By the way, some people calculate travel industry as an $8 trillion dollar industry.
Yes, that’s $8 trillion.
As in $8,000,000,000,000… Would you like a piece of that pie?
Well, I’ve met a number of travel bloggers over the past couple of years, including some very successful ones that have connected to the big business of travel. My buddy Dave is one of them.
Dave has a couple of travel blogs he has been running for a few years and now makes a full-time income through them. He can afford to travel practically anywhere he wishes, and he is courted by lots of travel-related companies for partnerships, advertising, and the like.
Recently, in fact, Dave was given a full-blown adventure tour of Patagonia, Chile and Ushuaia, Argentina by an outdoor tourism company.
That’s right. They sponsored Dave to make a full tour of one of the most beautiful places on the planet.
Now, how the sponsorship worked was that Dave didn’t pay in dollars and cents. Instead he paid in exposure for the tourism company and a number of blog posts on his blog (which has 5000+ subscribers).
See that ‘leverage’ thinking? Once you have a blog, you can learn to leverage it.
Sponsored trips are only one way Dave makes money (and enjoys trips of a lifetime) from his blog. He also organizes advertising deals on his site with relevant companies. These companies make an effort to contact Dave given the status of his blog, and the authority it has in the travel space. It’s a little bit like being a mini-celebrity.
Dave also posts his earnings from his blog right out there so you can see them. He is not only successful, he is transparent… a rare combination.
So, if you’re like me, you might be wondering… how can I get to his level? And how long will this take?
Well, Dave has put together a product (which is a community, really) to help travel bloggers achieve success. In this community, he not only teaches what it takes to succeed in travel blogging, but also has a huge crop of travel bloggers all sharing their questions and concerns as they move along.
Dave covers everything from A to Z about travel blogging. I’ve never seen a resource as exhaustive as his. It’s better than any book you’d buy off the shelf.
It has everything from which domain and hosting provider to pick, to which wordpress plugins to use, to how much a 125×125 advertising block should cost, to how to write good copy, to how to work with advertisers, to how to organize a press trip, to revealing his own experiences with specific companies!
It is literally a wealth of information and content, but that’s not all. Practically every day in the secret Facebook group, there is a question or topic of discussion that is really important to travel bloggers, covering every aspect of succeeding, from new ideas and websites, to developing engaging content, to working with advertising and sponsors, to combating malware and ensuring the security of your website, to creating a marketing strategy… the list really is endless because something new comes up every day.
There is a wealth of information on taking you from wherever you are (beginner, blogger, advanced) making you successful, whether that is more income, more press trips, or a wider global audience. And if there’s any person to help you with that, it’s Dave.
Now, I won’t tell you more about Dave, I’ll let him tell you more about his story.
Full disclosure: My recommendation of Dave’s program is not based on being compensated, but rather on how useful I feel his product is. That being said, the links on this page are in fact affiliate links, which means if you buy through my link, I will get a small commission. If you do this, I will be eternally grateful. However, if don’t want to click the links, I totally understand and we can still be friends. 😉