Yes, You Can Make Money With a Travel Blog

by Melissa

Hi, Ryan here.  I haven’t posted to the blog much, but Melissa has enlisted my help when it comes to some of the budgetting issues.  And the first thing she wants me to write about is how FourBackpacks.com will make money.

Making Money Online

Here’s the deal – we just had to pay out about 20% of the cash we’ve saved for this trip for some major home repairs.  Melissa will post the details once she gets out of shock later, but the end result is we need to get to the point where we’re making money as well as saving money if this trip is going to happen.

We are at the point where we have to do more than just save for this trip – we have to make money too.

How We Started

The good news is that we have been making money online for the last four years.  It’s not as easy to do as online money making schemes make you think, but with some effort we have been able to make a fair income online.

In 2008, the company I work for was hit hard by the financial crisis, and layoffs were announced.  We had two kids, a mortgage, and a ton of bills.  Every two weeks it seemed like another 5 or 6 cubes at the office were being cleaned out, and we were worried.  As a hedge against the layoffs, I started looking into side businesses, and came across online affiliate sales.  I bought a few domain names, built websites for them, and spent a few months figuring out how to get the sites to make money.

The layoffs never came (for me at least), and the sites became more of a hobby than a business.  I would work on them 4 or 5 hours a week.  In return, we made enough cash to buy a new car and pay off some debt.  This lasted through about April of 2012.  We started focusing on FourBackpacks and I stopped maintaining the sites.

The great part is we still make a couple hundred dollars each month, and we literally haven’t touched the sites in almost 9 months.

Becoming an Authority

Eventually, we will want FourBackpacks to generate some revenue.  We are not expecting it to be able to cover our costs, or replace our savings, but it can supplement our travels.  But before we can even think about how to monetize, we need to focus on several things.

Content

We have to write great content.  This is foremost in our minds, and drives what we write about.  We have a story to tell, and we think that the story is interesting enough for people to want to read our site.  But there has to be more than that – writing great content means making our story relevant to other people while weaving useful advice into our articles.

Hopefully we can accomplish the content goal by first telling people what we are doing with our travels, and then by showing them how they can do it to.

Becoming Experts

We aren’t travel experts, and we don’t pretend to be.

Yes, we have done some travel, but not enough to write about things like the best places to see in (insert almost any city/country/continent here).  So instead we will write about what we are expert in, and let our audience learn about everything else with us.

For now, we are experts in dreaming big and saving, so those are the topics we talk about.

Giving It Away

We are planning to write about everything it takes to plan and execute a trip like this – from initial dreams through the end of the trip.  And as we do this, we will try to lay out exactly what we are doing, including the mistakes and pitfalls.  Hopefully our readers will be able to walk away from our site with more than just a glimpse into what we are doing - we want our readers to be able to use our site as a resource for executing their own dreams.  To do this, we will “give away” all of our knowledge and ideas.

Community

By having great content, being honest with our writing, and sharing what we know, we think that we can build a community of readers.  Hopefully that community will include savvy travelers willing to post suggestions in our comments, newbies just starting to dream of a big trip, and those in the middle who are planning or have just started their round the world trip.

Once we have the community built, the revenue for the site will present itself.  We are not planning to have pop-up ads or hard sells, but instead will have non-invasive advertising on the site – ads which will help our readers, not get in their way or annoy them.

In my next post, I’ll write about the different types of ways that sites can make money – not sure what we’ll use on Four Backpacks yet, but hopefully this will help other travel bloggers (and dreamers :-) ) figure out how they can make money to help fund their lifestyle.

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