Live your life anywhere in the world when you operate and manage a travel website. It's the perfect job, right? Live anywhere in the world, be your own boss and live every ones dream.
What does it actually take to startup and maintain a successful website?
Yes, in theory it is a perfect job, but it will take more than an internet connection and a cool destination. The folks who are out there living their lives on the road for years on end are few and far between. Most have other sources of income, and the few who are solely dependant on their travel websites know how to work it like a full time job.
For starters, set your goals to something realistic. For example, a goal of making beer money, or even a dollar a day, is easily obtainable, and hopefully you won't get burned out by the time you get there. After that, go for $10 per day then $20. Then strive for selling some of your online real estate directly to companies to advertise. Eventually you may earn enough to make an actual living. This could take a year or two or ten, so don't quit your day job but more importantly, don't stop believin', just hold on to that feelin'.
This is a process of creating an interesting and worthwhile platform for your travel niche.
Go to Google and type "how to make a website". Here, I'll even give you a link from the first page of results. Done. I'm not going to get into technicallities on making websites, you'll find that everywhere. A few topics that deserve extra research include folder management, graphic design(if you're doing your own) and web design.
Unfortunately, having a "cool travel Blog" is pretty unfocused if you're looking to survive off it. Narrow it down to a specific travel topic that you know well. Make sure it's something you will still be interested in for the long term and something you either know, or are about to know a lot about. The more you understand your travel niche, the better your information is. Even better if you become an "expert" in your niche, people will flock to you for information.
The problem with a generic idea for a travel blog is that a lot of them end up in the never regions of the web. Often folks start the blog when they leave home and realize how much work it takes to keep up with, especially when it's competing with your attention vs traveling, the very thing you set out to do. Finally, after a few weeks of no updates, readership falls off and the blog dies. Then it ends up in a faraway place of the World Wide Web called "Bloggy Heaven".
This can be because of a lack of focus, an over abundance of mojitos or simply not enough time to keep things current. It is hard to dedicate time each week to sitting on a computer when you could be visiting the Hermitage or camelling across the Sahara.
If you want this to work, then treat it like a job. You can't spend a few hours each week on your website and expect it to blossom into a successful money making machine. Invest time into marketing and link building. Network with other travel websites and build a partnership between them. See what others are doing and try doing that. Don't copy other peoples work, create original content in your own unique way.
Advice Time: If you're going to create a travel website and update it as your go, you should have the site fully operational and understand your workflow before you leave home. That way when your traveling you can focus your time on creating and updating, not learning about PHP and CSS.
Now it's time to get literary, literally. Don't create content just to fill up the first pages, make content worth reading, watching, or looking at. This is hardest part to do on a consistent basis but you will get better at it as you continue building your site. Sometimes writing comes naturally, other times it takes awhile. The key is practice.
Hopefully you've paid attention in English class, because writing skills are going to be your best friend. If you're not already a writer, then you likely don't have a style. This will also come with practice, so start typing. I also suggest you read Lonely Planets book on Travel Writing. It won't make you an instant Bill Bryson, but it does offer insight into the trade.
Just Google that phrase and see the hoards of people pimping ways to make a living off affiliate links, e-commerce websites, porno websites and more. Don't listen to any of it. Listen to me.
Start small and see what works. Get a Google Adsense account setup with Google Analytics and see which ads work and which ads don't. After you get some learning down, you can consider another reliable source of online income, like Amazon affiliate or commission junction, for example.
If you're starting from nothing, then don't try too hard to be the next big thing. Learn what looks good and doesn't. Read the webmaster forums on Digital Point and find out what others say is working for them.
Whatever you do, don't buy into "guaranteed" traffic systems or black hat tactics. Just use your common sense and build something interesting that others should want to check out. Over time, readership will come as your content gets better. As viewers pick up, so will adsense clicks, affiliate sales and advertisers attention. This is not a get rich quick scheme, it is a process that takes time to build a lasting internet presence. Here is some more iformation on how to monetize your website.
To look in the long term you have to see past making that first few dollars. Look at making a platform in the online travel industry. Create a website that makes the internet a better place for folks looking for travel information. Network with other travel websites for ideas, article exchanges or link swaps.
Whether your just getting started or a long time pro, you can also submit your writing to Travel Droppings to generate more exposure.
Some have succeeded, and if you get a moment you should check out their stories. Most of them have a page or two talking about who they are and how they got there.
Nerdy Nomad, has been online for some time and has met considerable success. She regularly posts her earnings and what is working for her and what doesn't. She has several website on different topics that revolve around travel. This is great site to follow if your looking to make a living.
Then you have Nomadic Matt, one of the first big time travel bloggers. Almost a celebrity on the WWW. He now travels and updates his blog and earns a respectable living doing it. He is seen as an expert at creating a living off your travel blog. He also offers e-books on the topic.
Andy Graham of the Hobo Traveler has been online for a very long time and his website is massive. That didn't happen overnight either. He started years ago and built it up. He has a few things going on that earn him his dollars and no shorage of content.
Finally, my favorite example is The Man in Seat 61.com, operated by Mark Smith. He started his website in 2001 and went full time with it in 2007. He knows his niche inside and out and is very passionate about train travel, making this a perfect website match. You can find out more on how he got started, including the travel website awards and media appearences his website has recieved. Talk about good publicity.
Creating a successful travel website is very hard work. The web is saturated with travel content and the sites on top have a lot of swagger that you don't have. Don't let that deter you if it is what you really want. Keep working at your travel website and after enough time creating worthwhile content, you will find success.
Monetize that Website - A few avenues for monetizing your website. Some work better than others. Find what works for you.
How to successfully Work Online - Our Travel Droppings team has an interview with a successful working traveler
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