From blogging, entrepreneurship, to something else entirely. It’s easier to get better at something that you love doing. And, most of the time, you need to be good at what you do in order to get paid for it!
I find it difficult to work hard if I’m not passionate about the topic. Whereas, I can become obsessive when I’m working on something that I genuinely enjoy.
But no matter how passionate you are, there’s a fine line between a hobby and a business. Especially when it comes to blogging.
It can be as simple as, whether or not your blog is valuable to other people (not just yourself and your unconditionally supportive grandparents!).
I wrote these 10 steps to help you stand out above the hoards of travel bloggers who want to turn their blog into a business. Some of you might remember these pointers from one of my four, free e-guides. This blog post will help those of you who want to put those ideas into action!
Table of Contents
Talking about turning my blog into a business at a festival in Amsterdam!
1. GET YOUR BLOG A CUSTOM DOMAIN
I am going to bang my head against my hotel room next time a travel blogger, without a custom domain, is confused why brands won’t collaborate with them. If there’s something between you and the .com (Weebly, Wix, or WordPress) then you need to have words with yourself.
Invest in your blog as you would any other business. When you buy a custom domain, it shows that you are here to stay. No-one is going to take you seriously if you aren’t willing to invest $10 in a custom domain name.
I receive signatureless emails from “business owners” every day with a Gmail or Hotmail email address, asking to work with me. Do you know where those emails go? Directly into my spam box. If I can’t instantly research your company from an email address, you’ve lost my attention. Why should this be different for us travel bloggers, soliciting collaborations from our favourite brands?
I use Iwantmyname.com for my domain purchases. The platform is easy-to-use with a one-click setup for hundreds of external services, and they have great customer support. Unlike other domain services, you keep 100% control over your domain and you can transfer it anytime.
2. FIND YOUR NICHE
When someone visits your site, you want them to instantly recognise what you’re all about. You want them to feel like the website was built for them!
If your readers are unable follow a clear theme with structured blog content, they will feel confused and leave your site within seconds of arriving.
I hope to be THE resource for travel bloggers who want to take their blog to the next level and discover additional ways to make money online, so they can travel. Staying true to my domain name, I also provide travel guides both generally and location-specific. What’s your blog about?
3. GROW YOUR EMAIL LIST
Create relevant, unique and valuable opt-in incentives. I offer four, free e-guides and a monthly newsletter packed full of resources to help you make money online.
Keep on refreshing your content to add value. Give your readers something they can’t turn down or unsubscribe from!
Utilise the best email marketing software for beautiful newsletters and sign up forms. I use Mailchimp to send email marketing campaigns and I integrate Mailmunch to make my signup forms look like I know what I’m doing.
An email readership speaks volumes and continues to carry weight in 2018 as a signifier of influence. It’s much easier to get someone to follow you on social media, to then convert them to an email subscriber and keep them engaged, that’s someone who listens to what you have to say. Business owners and blogger outreach teams know this and they will reward you for it.
4. CREATE REAL VALUE
In-depth blog posts with a specific goal and step by step guides. You need to research and answer valuable questions that are on the minds of your target audience.
Write articles that solve problems, provide new insight into a unique destination, or write something that is simply better than what you can read on the first page of Google.
5. SUPERCHARGE YOUR SEARCH TRAFFIC
Use search engine optimisation techniques and content marketing to develop a consistent traffic source from Google Search.
In January 2018, I reached 29,732 pageviews from search traffic alone! That’s a jump, in leaps and bounds, from where I started in January 2017 with just 1,614 pageviews.
You can read more about how I did this here:
6. GET SOCIAL
Harness the power of social media to support your blog and maximise your referral traffic. In the digital playing field today, you can’t really go without it.
I try not to worry too much about driving traffic to my blog on social media otherwise it can spoil the fun. I put a strong focus on on-site value for my audience. For example, on Instagram, I rarely share a post about the content on my blog. Instead, I share user-generated content from posts submitted to my hashtag.
By rewarding my audience, it encourages loyalty and interest in my business and brand.
Sometimes I think about what I’d do if I were to start again. Knowing what I know now, I would seriously consider going 100% social. I secure the majority of my collaborations simply thanks to my Instagram following and it doesn’t take half as much of the time than my blog does! But I am proud of my blog and it gives me somewhere dedicated and long-lasting to share my thoughts.
7. SELL SOMETHING!
You can sell services, brand partnerships, sponsored posts, e-guides and e-courses.
Affiliate programs you can find on these platforms:
- Lonely Planet Publications
- Agoda.com (Global)
In addition to promoting other products and services I know and love, I sell an Instagram hashtags e-guide for travel bloggers. 100% of the revenue generated from my e-guides go towards micro-financing entrepreneurs in developing countries with Care International UK.
8. BUILD A PORTFOLIO
This doesn’t have to be complicated, but the more professional the better. You want to build trust! If working with brands you love is your thing, create a portfolio of your best work to showcase when securing sponsorships and collaborations.
I opted to display my portfolio on my contact page, I also have an offline presentation that I spruce up when something big comes along.
Testimonials are golden, if you can gather quotes from your happiest customers then this will heighten your chances of success when approaching brands.
9. ASK FOR HELP
Facebook Groups are an essential for travel bloggers. You can’t beat the enthusiasm and readiness to help of people who are learning the same things as you are.
10. DON'T GIVE UP
Every day you keep going, thousands of others quit.
This is the most important lesson you can learn. You can ignore everything else so long as you follow this simple rule, consistently create content and don’t give up! There are 7 billion people in the world, I promise no matter who you are, you’ll find at least a small group of people who will like what you’re putting out.
And remember whatever you do, do it because you love doing it. If you are starting a travel blog for the money, you’ll have given up after the first year because it really does take that long.
It can take weeks of dedication to write, design, and launch an e-guide. It might then take months for it to gain traction. The same goes for affiliate marketing and getting brand sponsorships, but if you can develop an evergreen sales pitch that keeps on selling to your growing audience, you’ll receive consistent returns long after you’ve put the work in.
Tommorrow could be the day you’ve been waiting for!