travel blogger

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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Who Wrote That?

Usually, I did.  I write lots of travel reviews on sites where I think they will do the most good.  I review hotels and hostels, restaurants, guided and self-guided tours and even travel and tour companies.  I am considered a ‘senior contributor’ on a couple of sites that take reviews which just means I have written in excess of 100 reviews for every category they have.

I write my reviews well after our stay or our travel.  Mike and I have not written one review for anyone who has paid us or given us an upgrade in a hotel room or compensated us in some way.  Usually we give them our business card on the way out the door not on the way in.  This means we aren’t getting service reserved for VIP clients but for the regular folk who spend their hard earned money but should be treated fairly for it.  It also means we are free to write an honest assessment of a hotel or the food we are served.

This review thing works two ways.  You see I search online for reviews for everything travel related well before we book anything.  And I read mostly the negative reviews.  I certainly don’t read any review written by someone who has written one review which is glowing and positive and way out of whack with the other reviews I’m reading.  Usually this tells me that the review is bogus and carries no weight with me whatsoever.  People should really stop getting their friends to write bogus reviews; what they need to do is spend time fixing the problems in their establishments or on their tours instead of faking reviews.  You can tell a fake review a mile away.  People complain on sites like Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, Pissed Consumer and more.  I read them all and I’ve written on them all.  When I see reviews from past clients which make my toes curl we avoid that hotel or hostel like the plague (especially if the reviews are current).  If the bad reviews are years old and all the current reviews are positive and written by credible reviewers we might give the place or the tour a shot (and we have).

Only once have we been thanked for our review, and that is because we don’t normally return to a place to eat or stay or tour after we visit once.  However, the city of Perth in Scotland doesn’t really have a great selection of restaurants to eat in and the one with the best pizza* we visited 3 times in our short stay in that city. On entering the restaurant after our first review had posted, the manager seated us and then thanked us for our positive review of his restaurant and his food.  It was nice.  And no, we didn’t get anything for free on that return visit except good food and good service and isn’t that what we really want?  How did he know it was us; because I don’t have a cutesy gravatar name on my reviews, I use my real name with my real picture.  Reviews written by someone with a real name and a real picture are given more credibility by me than someone called anonymous.

Head to the internet and on a search engine type in consumer complaints on…and name your favorite restaurant or hotel or tour company and see if anything pops up.  Sometimes it’s an eye opener what is on the internet.  Trip Advisor is not the only travel review site on the internet; it’s the largest and most used but people write reviews on many, many sites so read them all. I do and I’m not alone.

Then write those reviews, the good ones and the bad ones.  Build your credibility as a thoughtful reviewer so that other travelers are forewarned and forearmed to make a good decision before they spend their travel dollars.  That is really why we write these reviews; especially the bad ones to warn other travelers before they book.

Florence Lince

www.about.me/florencelince

 

*Paco’s was the name of the restaurant located in Perth, Scotland in case you are interested in trying it