Editor’s Note: Please welcome this guest piece from our friend Lauren McManus of Createandgo.co. Enjoy!
Before I became a blogger, the extent of my travels was to a few Southern states in the U.S. (near where I grew up), and one quick trip to a super touristy area in Mexico. I also made it to Alaska once because my best friend’s grandparents lived there.
I was dying to travel more but I had been working as a full-time tax accountant for 5 years and had JUST gotten my CPA license. With two weeks of vacation a year and family to see, who has the time?
Oh, and then there’s the fact that I was living paycheck-to-paycheck as well. So, uh, yeah…this gal can’t AFFORD to travel anytime soon, even if she did have the time!
Sound familiar? I think most people are fighting similar battles in the 9-5 world.
Fast forward 3 years, and I am now a full-time blogger with a business that makes over $100,000/month. And I’ve been able to travel to places like Peru, Bali, Portugal, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua.
Alex was a personal trainer for years and I was formerly a pretty hardcore vegan for a couple years. We started in the health and fitness space because we were passionate about it! After reaching six figures with Avocadu, we started Create and Go, where we teach others how to chase their dreams through blogging.
It’s these two blogs that we owe everything to.
Why Blogging and Travel are a Match Made in Heaven
In order to travel, you need two things: time and money.
Most jobs don’t provide you with both in large quantities. You either have the time but don’t have the money, or you make enough to travel but you just don’t have the time.
A blogging business gives you the potential for BOTH – in ample quantities, if you do it right.
For our first international trip as full-time bloggers, Alex and I spent the month in Nicaragua and made $10,000 with our small health and wellness blog.
We worked a lot while we were there, but we also got to surf, explore volcanos, meet some really incredible people that we are still friends with today, and so much more!
Fast forward a year, and we spent an entire month in Portugal and earned $75,000 the month we were there. We explored castles, beaches, beautiful cities, wined and dined, and of course did some work here and there.
Being able to work from anywhere you want and earn passive income while you sleep opens up doors to possibilities and opportunities in life that you can only dream of.
How do Blogs Make Money?
You can make money blogging in a variety of ways, but there is an important path to follow if you want to make the big bucks. Some monetization methods are easier, some more passive, and some have the potential to make you a lot more.
Here are a few of the main ways to monetize a blog:
- Sponsored Posts
- Affiliate Marketing
- Selling Your Own Products
Some people also do freelancing on the side, which is a GREAT way to help supplement your blogging income.
- Ads are the most passive way to earn income, but they will also be your lowest income-earner on your blog. They are best utilized as a tool to supplement your income and make a few hundred dollars extra (or a few thousand if you have TONS of traffic) per month.
- Sponsored posts are another way that bloggers make money but they are the least passive because you get paid per post that you write. You are still technically trading your hours for dollars and writing posts does take time.
- Affiliate marketing is when you sell other people’s products and receive a commission for it. It can make you great money very passively and is something that all bloggers should use as part of their monetization strategy.
- Creating your own products is the best way to scale your income because you control your prices, profits, marketing, and every other step of the sales process. This is the final frontier of monetizing your blog and is generally the difference between making $2,000 per month or $10,000 per month as a blogger.
All of these ways to make money blogging have advantages and disadvantages, so the real power comes from diversifying and using several different strategies with your blog.
The point that most new bloggers miss here is how and when to implement these strategies into your business. This can make or break you.
5 Steps to Make Money Blogging and Finally Get to Travel
The steps outlined below should be taken in the order they are presented. These are the exact steps we took to take both of our blogs to six figures quickly.
It wasn’t all success and rainbows though. Our first blog failed and we’ve now been around the block enough times to know what blogging mistakes to avoid.
1. Start with Content
As a blogger, everything starts and ends with your content. Content creation is the single most important thing that you will do as a blogger.
This doesn’t just mean writing articles. It’s also about the content that you provide via email and on social media. It’s how you communicate with your audience.
Most new bloggers think about their blog from a “money perspective” rather than a “content perspective” What can I write about that will make me some money?
If this is you, stop. It’s time to shift your perspective from “money” to “value.” What kind of value can I provide to my audience?
Think about the content your audience wants and needs most, and then come up with ideas on how you can monetize that content later.
If you don’t, you will end up writing content with YOURSELF in mind and it won’t end up resonating well with your audience or providing enough value, and they will ultimately not be as engaged with your content (or buy from you).
2. Choose the Right Traffic Source
Another huge mistake most new (or broke) bloggers make is jumping on popular social media platforms just because everyone else is doing it.
Alex and I made a conscious decision NOT to use Facebook when we first started our blogs. Yes, Facebook is the most popular and widely used platform in the world.
But guess what, it’s NOT the best platform for bloggers to drive traffic to blog posts. (We’re talking about Facebook pages, not Facebook groups, which can be a very useful tool to grow a community).
Facebook is oversaturated, extremely competitive, not good for driving traffic to blog posts, and ads are not affordable for the average new (or broke) blogger.
Most new bloggers start their blog and immediately create a new profile for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and sometimes more. Then they try to figure out how to post everywhere, what to post, etc.
A jack of all trades is a master at none. If you spend your time trying to get good at everything, you’ll end up with mediocre results at best.
If you instead focused ALL of your time and energy on ONE platform in the beginning, you could totally dominate it! There will always be time a few months later to expand into other platforms once you have the hang of the first one.
Think about your blogging niche and the demographics of your audience when you’re deciding what basket to put all of your eggs in.
For example, YouTube is a great platform for anyone in the beauty niche because of online tutorials, but it’s also not a platform used much by older audiences. If you are blogging about beauty for older women, Pinterest would be a much better match.
Our #1 recommended traffic source for most bloggers is Pinterest. We started driving hundreds of thousands of views a month to our health and wellness blog in the first several months of starting our blog – all for free. No paid ads.
We teach more about these strategies in our Pinterest course for bloggers, Pinterest Traffic Avalanche.
3. Build an Email List
The importance of building an email list cannot be understated. Seriously…
If you’re thinking, “I already get too many emails that I don’t read. They can’t be that important.” – you couldn’t be more wrong.
I get it. I do. Because that’s what I thought. I HATED writing emails when we first started and Alex kept pushing me to do it anyway. I trusted him, even though I didn’t see it at the time.
It wasn’t until we created our first products that I began to understand. As an accountant, I’m a data and numbers person. And the numbers were telling me loud and clear that most of our sales were coming from our email list, not our articles where the products were frequently linked.
Most people will land on 1-2 blog posts on your website and never return.
Out of sight, out of mind.
But if you can get them to give you their email address, you have a way to communicate with them again. You can get back on the minds of your readers and remind them of why they liked your content and how you can help them.
Emails are also a way to communicate on a deeper level with your audience and help them get to know you (and also get to know them if you ask for replies).
You begin building a relationship with your readers and this trust is what ultimately causes them to purchase something from you.
It’s never too early to start building an email list. You should start as soon as you begin driving traffic to your blog!
4. Start with Affiliate Marketing
When most new bloggers think about how to make money blogging, they immediately think they have to have a product to sell.
This is true to some extent because, at some point, you will need a product to sell, but the cool thing is that it doesn’t have to be YOUR product.
There are tons of successful companies out there paying people commissions to help sell their products. They take care of all the customer service and everything else after the sale.
Affiliate marketing is the best way to get started monetizing your blog because it will help you learn what types of products your audience is interested in and how to market and sell those products to them.
It’s very important that you start here because this learning process is the difference between success in 6 months and success in 2 years, if ever.
Our first blog failed because we didn’t yet know our audience on a deep enough level to know what they really wanted and needed. We spent weeks creating a product only to have one single person buy it.
It was devastating and a HUGE time sink. The second time around, we started with affiliate marketing. Only after learning what products were selling best with our audience did we venture to create our own products again.
We talk more about how to get started with affiliate marketing in our Make Money Blogging for Beginners Course.
5. Create Your Own Products
The downside of affiliate marketing is that you can’t control your prices and margins or many other aspects of the sales process. You can’t change the sales pages and there are often limitations on how you can promote the product.
The first affiliate product that we had great success with earned us about $5/sale. That obviously wasn’t going to get us to $10,000/month anytime soon, which was our goal at the time.
But after learning that our audience was interested in a product on yoga for weight loss, we simply created our own yoga program. Our $5 sales immediately turned into $37 sales.
THIS is how you scale your income and how we were able to reach our goal of $10,000/month.
What kind of products are we talking about?
Digital (information) products like eBooks and online courses – They are much easier to create with a lot less up-front costs and time investment than creating physical products.
They can be anything like smaller eBooks that sell for $17 or massive online courses that you sell for $397 or more. Of course, it’s a good idea to start a little smaller unless you REALLY know your stuff.
The cool thing about creating your own products is that every time you come out with a new product, you have the potential to dramatically increase your income.
We went from $2,000/month to $40,000/month with just two products on our health and wellness blog. We now have 4 blogging courses that we sell on Create and Go, and this has helped us take our income from $50,000 to $75,000 and now over $100,000/month with our blogs.
The sky is the limit when you create your own products!
We teach more about how to scale your income and create your own digital products in our Six-Figure Blogger Course.
Final Tips for Blogging WHILE Traveling
Being able to travel while blogging full-time has been THE most incredible experience that Alex and I have ever had. It’s been so much fun and a massive learning process.
We have done everything from two-week stays in Costa Rica to 4-month stints hopping between countries, and we have learned a LOT along the way about how to run our businesses while we’re at home and away.
Here are our top pointers for working while traveling:
Set the Right Expectations
One thing that you need to understand and be okay with is that you will never get as much work done while traveling than you will at home in a stable environment.
There are too many distractions and adventures tempting you away from your work. It’s not the best spot to be in if you are trying to actively grow your business.
We have found that for us personally, shorter trips where we can spend a lot more time having fun are much more enjoyable than trying to force work and play together all the time.
For example, creating your own products can be VERY time-consuming and stressful at times – even when you’re working from the comfort of your own home. Traveling can make this a lot more stressful and double the time it takes you to finish projects.
Stay Focused and Prioritize
When we first traveled to Nicaragua, a lot of the other people we were staying with would surf every day. While we wished we could join them, building our online business was more important to us.
We still went occasionally, but we made sure to prioritize work over fun when necessary. And guess what, it paid off.
We traveled to several different countries over the last couple of years, mostly with groups of other young entrepreneurs and digital nomads, and we made more than most of them because we WORKED more.
The best thing that you can do for yourself and your future is to start building your online business FIRST and know that as soon as you start turning some considerable profits, you’ll have plenty of time to travel as you see fit!
If we’ve learned anything from our travels, it’s that traveling CHEAPLY because you’re broke is not nearly as fun as feeling more comfortable spending your money on the best experiences – because you can afford it!
How Can I Get Started Blogging?
This course teaches you everything you need to know to get started, including how to navigate WordPress, how to design your blog with a theme, write your first few posts, start your first email list, and more!