I was recently quoted in a piece over on travelllll.com Why your travel blog isn’t making any money and how to change that and I think it’s a pretty well-reasoned piece. There was one thing I thought of, after reading it, that I had wished I had said to John when he contacted me.
It’s a short story:
In 2010, I went to TBEX (travel blogger’s exchange — basically the SXSW of travel blogging) and Randall Shirley, travel writer and new-to-blogging guy (at the time, he now writes 5faves.com) stood up and asked, “How many of you are making money with your travel blog right now?”
Or maybe it was, “How many of you don’t have a day job and aren’t living on savings?”
It was a full auditorium and I was sitting in the front row with my then four month old son Cole and sheepishly raised my hand. I think maybe six other people did as well.
Of course, after the conference, I had that stairwell moment, where you think of the great comeback hours later, when it’s all but impossible to do anything about it.
If I had my wits about me, I would have said, “How many of you have been doing this for more than a year?”
Or really, “How many of you have been doing this for more than five years?”
In my limited experience, it seems to me that blogging, like being a writer, a musician, a comedian, a small business owner or pretty much anything where you have decided to pursue a creative job at the expensive of having an employer, a defined career track, a steady paycheck, or health insurance — so that you can have absolute freedom to create whatever you want — is going to go through these same struggles.
It’s a pretty sweet deal. It’s a high price. But we’re choosing this.
From what I’ve seen, even the crappiest, hackiest, least savvy bloggers tend to figure out a way to:
- write better
- gain more traffic
- make a living
If they stick with it for a few years and work really hard. People that I saw starting out in 2008 (my first year) who were on blogger and couldn’t use spellcheck, are now making six figures. (Not all of them, of course. Most of the people I knew in 2008 have quit, stopped working hard or changed directions).
In five years, anyone, I swear, anyone who doesn’t give up, self-sabotash, become inconsistent or phones it in — anyone can do this.
There’s not short cuts though. If you’re not making money now, keep trying, keep working and keep positive. You’re in the jungle with a machete and weed wacking your way to somewhere no one else has been. Of course, it’s going to feel very different than the corporate-freeway you just exited. That’s the point.