In this post we evaluate our progress as we figure out how to start a blog and make money after 3 – 4 months –and the perks that came with the little success we’ve had to date.
For context, this post was written on July 14, 2017 after rebooting Hobo earlier in May.
Editor’s Note From My Future Self
I really, really hate this post. It’s so self indulgent, I cringe whenever I read it now (it’s currently the end of 2018).
To give you an idea of the timeline and set expectations for your own blog, we found our way atop the shoulders of Google and were pulling in 8,600 users per month by the end of 2017 –so that nine months I estimated to get any love from search engines was an accurate one.
Aside from that, in hindsight I realize how stupid it was to want “free swag” because that’s so not the point because it means you’re making a commitment to the wrong group of people.
In early/mid 2018 we took on so many sponsors we were making a few grand per month, but it stopped being fun. Free swag is a passion killer. It stops being fun when you turn it into another job.
Putting readers and their curiosities first is what makes blogging fun.
When you read this, take it with a grain of salt –delusions of grandeur and all of that. It’s the only way I can reconcile keeping this post up. I was excited, like Jo Jo the Idiot Circus Boy.
Don’t do it for the glory, because even our friends –those travel bloggers who are wildly successful are wildly successful because they still approach their craft with the same zeal they did when they were beginners, dreaming.
It’s a business, sure. But it’s a hobby that you can build your life around. That’s the fun part. I hope you find success, reader. But not to the point where you lose your hunger and passion.
Alright, let’s go back in time again to July 2017 Me.
How We’re Doing
With rising traffic, an Alexa score that’s climbing fast, and several sponsorships after less than 4 months since rebooting Hobo with a Laptop –we’re still miles from being the kind of bloggers that can live off our blog entirely.
Making money blogging is no easy task.
On one hand, there’s all the positives; in under 4 months, we’d turned Hobo around from a meager 30 page views per day to almost 2,000.
We’ve gotten back link shout-outs from some amazing leaders in blogging whose niche overlaps with ours.
Our Alexa score moved a quarter of a million points in a matter of weeks. We get over 200 – 300 visitors from Pinterest every week from zero 3 months ago. We’ve generated over $4,000 in commercial sponsorships, along with some additional affiliate income. And we’ve got almost 400 people on our mailing list.
And we still aren’t quite there yet –we have countless miles to go until we’ve got the kind of online influence that makes “day job replacement money”.
Our social following is light at best, Moz can’t update their database fast enough (they aren’t as kind to us as Alexa), and we still have yet to really find our stride. See for yourself: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram.
In the meantime, we’re just fine making money with our other projects, but I’d really like to see this blog make over $10k per month on it’s own before the end of the year –that includes revenue from our upcoming online courses and guides, too.
Related: Read our review of FlexJobs –a great source for copywriting work!
A F*ck Ton of Work
The traffic numbers above aren’t much to a seasoned blogger, but it’s all about celebrating the little things that offer a glimpse of what’s coming. It’s important to stop every once in a while and take an unscripted breather.
And that’s what this monologue has been leading up to: Why it’s important to stop and reflect on how far you’ve come, where you’re going, and why you’re even trying.
The perks eventually come with the territory, and a lot of late nights.
Sometimes Everything Feels Like a Mess (and That’s OK)
We’ve documented many of the strategies we’ve used to grow, but we haven’t really scraped the surface just yet. In the months to come we’ll become more helpful to our readers –we just need to see what shakes out in our Google Analytics to get the best idea of what our readers want.
At the time of writing this, our content likely confuses Google –and our average reader. It shows; we get a wee more than zero traffic from Google right now.
And we’re not done with expanding our range, either. We’re about to leap head first into talking about our recent investments into cryptocurrencies –a niche I know will be hotter than any that’s licked the pages of our blog to date, but only if we do it well.
We’re experimenting with new ways to make money online, making them work, owning the process, and then teaching others how to do it, too.
And we’re working on achieving everything on the influencer wish list below. Consider this blog the digital nomad equivalent of Mike Rowe’s “Dirty Jobs”.
Why the Hard Work of Figuring Out How to Become an Influencer is Worth It.
Some bloggers will work at it for 3 years before they get their first sponsor knocking on their door. For others, it may be a series of costly failures and reboots (I think I’ve rebooted Hobo about three or four times).
Blogging and making money online isn’t a walk in the park (unless it’s for a blog post). Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why it’s all going to be worth it.
The Perks of Influence
It’s important to keep an eye on the prize at all times. Of all the perks that come from figuring out how to be an influencer, these are probably our favorites.
1. More Opportunities
You never know who’s watching your blogging journey unfold. You get to make noise when you have a blog –and that’s as cathartic as it is business savvy, if you do it right.
Since we’ve rebooted Hobo with a Laptop we’ve gotten some great online tools for free, were able to reward our readers with the same –and we made some excellent connections by networking with our peers. We’ve reconnected with old friends who became masters of their own niche since losing touch, and built new relationships with influencers we once enjoyed from the side lines.
Demonstrating even a little bit of know-how will turn you from consumer to contributor, in no time.
Case and point; just a couple weeks ago I wrote about an interest in online trading. Today I trade cryptocurrencies, and I’m working on a resource to help others do the same with an old friend and mentor who saw my post and “had an idea for something the market really needs”. If the shoes fits, wear it.
2. You Live, You Learn
Once you’re making money blogging –or whatever you’re doing for an income as a digital nomad—you start finding the time to broaden your horizons and learn new skills. Skills that will then turn into additional revenue streams. It becomes a series of spinning plates –a bunch of fires burning, a snowball rolling down a hill—you get the idea. With 5 cups of coffee coursing through my veins I get a little carried away on the metaphor.
You live, you learn, you discover new passions, you monetize, rinse, repeat.
3. Success Begets Success (and Hardware Upgrades)
You start by writing reviews or producing content for clients with your smart phone camera, soon after you can afford a GoPro, and then a drone. With every step along the way you can charge and gain more.
Every step brings you a cut above the sea of other bloggers and content producers. Eventually, and maybe even after only a year –you’re a top dog in your niche. You can do anything as long as you treat it like a business –you can finally blog full-time, without any form of day job.
Success begets time, too. It’s no secret that time is running out –if only in the sense that the world is irrevocably changing and the things we can see today might not be there tomorrow. Imagine all the things you could see and do if you put your head down and made a solid go of it and invested in yourself.
4. You Get Free Swag and Hotel Stays
One thing that really blew me away working with influencers and hotels/resorts was how low I perceived the bar to be to earn a free stay at a fancy-pants resort or a hotel with a killer swimming pool.
I’ve seen bloggers with a DA as low as 23 get all-inclusive 1-week stays at resorts that aren’t part of some big conglomerate. And there’s more indie resorts out there in the land of palm trees and bikinis than there are chains.
And a week of living costs –of living large— can become an asset that matures over time. You save the cost of living, you share a killer story, you hook more followers, and you do right by a client. You build reputation with both followers and other prospective clients. And then you earn more back links, your relevance increases, and you learn how to negotiate along the way.
The key is to never be afraid to ask, ask in advance, and be prepared to tell your prospective sponsor what exactly they’re getting. What seems out of the picture for you may not be.
Friends and peers who are further along than us (who treat their blog like a business) get anything from tickets to international film festivals to entire years of free flights, or their entire backpack, wardrobe, and gear all covered by sponsors.
5. You Inspire and Help Others
After a few years of taking amazing photos, writing thoughtful articles, and sharing your experiences –you have a body of work that has served to inspire and help others. And IMHO –this should always be your driving force behind everything you do.
I’ll never forget the blogger that pulled me out of the cubicle, and I’m sure you won’t either.
And if you make learning new skills a priority along your way, you may even be able to apply them on a volunteer basis for any of the thousands of non-profit organizations you’ll come across over the years. Why let corporate sponsors have your ear all the time?
Anything you learn on the road –from internet marketing or online course creation to navigating Bitcoin (a few examples of things on my own plate), it can all be used to help those less fortunate in a way that can be additionally amplified by your audience.
Putting it all together –it’s completely possible to make an income while helping and inspiring others and checking off items on your bucket list.
We’d love to hear from you –what are you working on? What are your roadblocks? How far along are you? Where are you headed? What’s your blog URL where you document the journey?
Let’s have a chat in the comments.
Did you like this post? Then I really think you might want to read these:
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