The 6 Monters

True Blog Costs

Because the economy is so bad I see more and more bogus news stories on how to make tons of money a month blogging or how to become a fabulous money making travel blogger and travel the world for free all while blogging.

As with most industries if one began their travel blog when the blog thing was new (like 1983 or so) you most likely had a shot at making a living blogging. If you figured out how to get sponsors, affiliate links and how to use blog aggregators properly you could have learned how to make money blogging because you would have more than 25,000 views on every story you posted and perhaps one or some of those 25,000 people would click on one of the ads on your blog site and you made a little extra money.

In order to make any serious money and to control your income you have to own your blog name, address and the servers they reside on. You cannot have a free blog service. If you have a free blog (such as on wordpress.com) you cannot do google analytics or ad sense and without this you can pretty much kiss making any serious money goodbye.

In the old days companies raced to hire bloggers and to pay them to acquire their followers. What all these companies soon realized was that they did not have to pay anyone to place an ad on these blogs; they just had to allow them to have an affiliate link. All those side bar links that so many blogs have are available to anyone, even you.

On our official website we had an affiliate link (now gone) for SendMyBag. You clicked on it and if someone purchased or booked their service we made a small commission (but only if they actually made a purchase). Some blogs will actually disclose this information to you before you click on the link. We had many of the visitors from our website click on the link to learn more. What they soon realized was that they too could sign up and become an affiliate so we made nothing. What SendMyBag got was a free website to advertise on. Good deal for them. When I realized I was being used, and gaining nothing, I removed their link.

You can only put affiliate links on a paid blog subscription or on an official website, both of which will cost you money to set up, own and to keep, year, after year. The old saying, you can’t make money without spending money still applies. Your conundrum is to figure out if spending this money is worth it in the end.

Before anyone runs off to set up a money making blog I suggest you add up the costs first and then realize that writing a blog is a serious amount of work and takes dedication. You should also expect to spend up to 12 hours a day advertising your blog and making your audience grow and in finding the best aggregators to place your blog on. Oh, and take an SEO course, you are going to need it.

How much work is a blog? I followed one blogger who sat in a different coffee house and chatted with people and then he wrote about that encounter. He was posting daily at the time. He was expected to travel for a year (he had sponsors) and to visit a new coffee house in a different city all over the United States writing about these encounters. Sounds like fun, right? He didn’t even make it through the first five months when his health began to deteriorate and his doctor told him to cut back or else.

Traveling non-stop, meeting with people in a new place, then spending hours writing and posting, no wonder he was sick. He even set up a pod-cast with another blogger during this time which also takes hours to write for and to record. This is the side of making money while blogging that people do not talk about; that blogging to make a serious amount of money is also a serious amount of work.

This blogger is no longer blogging daily; he’s down to once a week. Because he was no longer able to travel he also changed what he blogged about and it was no longer compelling reading. I stopped following.

I guess what I want to say here is that if you think you are going to make a ton of money blogging you had better have something to say first. If your blog is just a series of affiliate links you won’t have many viewers.

As for all those affiliate links I see everywhere; no thanks. I won’t be clicking on any of them anytime soon. I am tired of social media being used to make me an advertising target. Mike and I have adblocker software on every internet browser we use.

Because we are in a ‘jobless’ economic recovery everyone is scrambling to figure out how to make money. Only a few of the lucky ones will actually make a decent living at blogging. I realized early on that I just wanted to blog to have an outlet for my thoughts. I didn’t want to expend so much energy trying to make this a business that I didn’t have the time or the energy to travel. Paying to own my blog in the hopes of making money is like spinning the wheel at a craps table in Vegas. I try to remember that all those fancy casinos didn’t get built because the house loses…

Florence Lince

About.me/florencelince

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Soul Searching in Sarajevo

or The European Jerusalem

(Part Two of a Two Part Series on our time in Bosnia-Herzegovina)

Being in Bosnia-Herzegovina was our first time in a country where the predominant religion was Muslim.  What impressed us with our time there was that so many Mosques’ dotted a small area.  What also made an impression were the multiple calls to prayer that one can hear around the city via loudspeaker.  Since religion has always played a part in my life I have to report that walking around the city of Sarajevo and hearing the call to prayer was in many ways relaxing and calming for me.  No, I had no idea what they were saying but the melodic sound of their voices was soothing nonetheless.

Mike wanted to see Sarajevo because almost 30 years ago this city hosted a winter Olympics and Mike loves winter sports of all kinds.  Mike was a ski instructor back in Washington State and he is an avid outdoorsman and hiker so to get to travel to a location that had hosted an Olympics was special for him.

A reminder that Sarajevo was once a city of peace and goodwill

A reminder that Sarajevo was once a city of peace and goodwill. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Taking a bus from Mostar to Sarajevo takes a little more than two hours.   We again reserved a hotel in the center of old Sarajevo and it was the ideal location to begin our exploration.  We dropped off our backpacks and set out to explore the city with maps in hand.  Old Town Sarajevo is filled with shops, cafes, coffee houses, bakeries, souvenir shops, history and mosques.  We have at least two spires in every photo that we took.

Before heading to dinner we came upon a tourism office.  Sarajevo has so much history and to see all the sites we knew we had to hire someone to take us to places we would not be able to get to without a car.  Our first day trip was to the town of Srebrenica.  Our second was a day tour of the city of Sarajevo itself.  Our guide for both days was Dzenana (pronounced jenana), a young and enthusiastic 20 something who like Selmir in Mostar, loves her country.

Our wonderful guide Djenana

Our wonderful guide Djenana. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

A city tour of Sarajevo is unlike any other tour I have taken in any city I have visited.  A tour of this city is filled with references to the war and the destruction that happened during that war.  We were shown ‘sniper alley’ and the famous Romeo and Juliet bridge were two young people who were running across the bridge to get away from the fighting were murdered by a sniper; we were shown the National Library that was bombed and which burned for five days destroying 2.5 million documents that were housed here and which had detailed information from the history of the country in it; we learned that a ‘Sarajevo rose’ was the marks left on the ground by the artillery that rained on the city, sometimes as many as 300 of them in a single day; we learned that 300,000 people were trapped inside the city limits during the war many without food, water, heat, or electricity; we were given stats like 11,000 people died in the city of Sarajevo during the war, 1600 of them children; that 1 million refugees left before and during the war and most never returned; that 80 % of the city was destroyed; that Sarajevo was attacked for no other reason than it was an easy target, the aggressors never entered the city they simply staked out the high ground and tossed bombs for three years, their objective to topple the government and break the will of the people, which they never did. We learned that the Olympic Village, where once athletes from around the world stayed and competed in harmony was burned and bombed and it no longer resembles a place of peace and goodwill.  We were taken on a ‘tunnel tour’ where we were able to enter the tunnel that was used to bring in food and water and electricity to those trapped inside Sarajevo during the war.  This 800 meter tunnel made the difference in the lives of those people and helped to ensure they had a chance to survive the war.  Without that tunnel there would have been no hope.  We learned about the hatred and lingering resentment between the people of Bosnia and those who live in the region known as the Republika of Srpska who even today want to become a part of Serbia further splitting away from Bosnia-Herzegovina.  Some people never learn.

The Tunnel Tour begins in a bomb shelter. Here Djenana gave us a detailed accounting of the war and what it might have been like to live through it

The Tunnel Tour begins in a bomb shelter. Here Djenana gave us a detailed accounting of the war and what it might have been like to live through it. © Photo by Florence Ricchiazzi Lince

Our guide Dzenana showed us a map of her country and she said, “My country is shaped like a heart, why do they want to tear it apart?”  She makes an emotional point.  The feeling here however is that someday her country will be further split in two.  Until then this little country, shaped like a heart, has a lot of healing to do.  I fear it will take generations before the healing takes hold and the bombed out buildings are replaced or rebuilt.  No city which wears its war so loudly on its streets; were so many bombed and burned out buildings still dot the landscape can heal.  There are too many reminders for the survivors to put the war behind them.

I expected my time in Medjugorje to be emotional.  What I did not expect was the sadness I felt in Mostar or the heavy burden of hatred I felt in visiting Srebrenica or the lingering evidence of war still clinging to the streets of Sarajevo.  On the bus from Sarajevo back to Croatia Mike and I had time to reflect on all that we had experienced in Bosnia-Herzegovina and ultimately we felt that living there was not something we could do.  It would be too hard on us to live in a place were so much sadness still lingers.  We only live for 6 months in a new country and that would not be enough time to help heal some of the wounds that have taken years to build, and will take more time than we can give to close that pain.  We wish the people of Bosnia-Herzegovina peace.  Long and ever lasting peace.

(For more information and pictures of our time in Sarajevo follow this link)

Florence Lince

http://www.6monthers.com