“I want to travel fulltime, so plan to start a blog to make money.”
I always wince when someone writes that.
Two things about blogging:
The first is that it’s damn hard to make money at it.
Yea, I know. There are tons of websites and Facebook groups and books and experts that tell you otherwise.
They shill SEO hacks. Secret social media marketing tactics. Facebook groups for insiders. Mastermind Groups. eCourses.
They make it sound like the ride from zero to profit on the blogging express is easy.
Just write 4 blogs posts, an email newsletter, 10 Tweets, one podcast and 5 Facebook posts each week and you’ll be profitable in no time!
They’ll point to their own success as proof of their pudding.
But there’s often something they won’t tell you. One aspect of their success they can’t teach you to replicate.
They got lucky.
The market was ripe for their topic.
A chance encounter led to TV show appearance.
They got featured on a popular blog right before it got really hard to get featured on that blog.
They started blogging in 2001 and built their audience when it was easier.
Are they all hucksters? No.
Is their advice bad? No.
Is it impossible to make money blogging? No.
2 million new blog posts.
And that’s not YouTube videos. Or podcasts. Or Facebook posts. The stream of new content all screaming for our attention is beyond overwhelming.
Is what you want to blog about worth adding to that noise? Is it something different? Or just another “10 Things To Do in Austin With Kids” post?
Ever wonder why it seems like there are more experts who want to make money teaching people to blog, vs. just running a profitable blog themselves? That should tell you something about the market.
I’ve built websites since 1996. I’ve coded up more blogs for clients than I care to remember.
Blogs are more than HTML. There’s branding. Graphic design. Information architecture.
Blogs are nothing without content. Frequent content. Well-written content. All focused on the needs of the targeted reader.
DitchingSuburbia.com isn’t really a travel blog. It started out that way, but we’ve shifted the fcous.
Still - it’s a good example of the work involved in a blog. I don’t want to add up the hours we’ve spent on it. The naming. The branding. Identifying our target audience. Writing blog posts. Recording podcasts. Creating title images. Writing eBooks. Building community in various social channels. Promoting content.
I’ve often joked that I couldn’t have afforded to hire me to create and run the site.
So….does DitchingSuburbia make money?
We’re in the “more than coffee money but not quite gas money” range.
But making money isn’t the point.
If you start a blog with the goal of making money, the odds are against you. It takes too long. It’s a ton of work. It’s hard to find a open yet profitable niche.
The Second Thing
Which brings me to the second thing about blogging.
Making money isn’t the only way to benefit from blogging.
Or even the best way.
In our years of travel we’ve been more blessed by faces than places.
More often than not our blog was the reason we met people.
Just this past week we met two new families. One in the process of getting on the road. Another who have been traveling for a while. We ate together. Shared stories. Talked about our kids.
We took comfort in the knowledge that while we might be crazy for ditching the suburbs, we have good company.
So by all means, start blogging.
But for yourself - to remember this experience. For your kids - so as adults they’ll better understand what you were trying to do at the time. For family - so they’ll see the benefits of your new lifestyle.
And to expose yourself.
To new friends. Friends that get you. Friends who understand your choices - because they’ve made the same choice for their family.
About the same time I wrote this piece Heath Padgett published his podcast episode entitled Why Blogging is a Terrible Business. I recommend checking it out as well!