For a guy who knows very little about the internets, I must say I have come a long way since the days I struggled to wire a typewriter to my television set thinking I could make my own computer.
I found out there are much easier ways.
And now I have my own little blog…still small but steadily growing. I am not a programmer nor consider myself internet savvy, which goes to show that you don’t have to be a rocket surgeon to publish yourself.
How much does a professional blog cost? How much can you make? Both are questions that can only be answered by actually doing it yourself. So the best answer I can give is to show you my personal experience trying to blog professionally. By professionally I mean for money, not to make a living. I have a full-time job and my blog is a part-time hobby. I would love that, one day, I could say that I make thousands of dollars from my part-time blog, and some people do. But I am not holding out for that. I developed my site to give people travel information and to give myself a personal outlet. I have, however, been keeping a blog diary with notes and figures that you might find interesting:
1 Jul: Offering local souvenirs is a great start that has so much potential. I wish I was a bit more savvy about sales.
11 May: Five days of back n forth between Atlantic Tour, myself and the customer and he bought. 19% in my pocket for a few emails. Not bad!
04 May: May is a big month for celebrations here so I really pushed some of my posts about the festivals and events. Peaked at about 1,250 visitors that month.
07 March: Site is up, more or less how I want it and I am quite happy with the layout. Got my tax refund and most of it covers my blogging expenses (thank goodness)!
05 March: Fed up after fighting with my theme, I finally decided to drop the extra $$ and go with woothemes. Luckily they refunded my money.
February: I feel like a little rock star! I got my first chance at income…I will get 20% on all trips with Atlantic Tour sold through the website. Their website was abysmal…Now it is all through mine and is starting to bring in some traffic!
28 December: One regret is that I didn’t follow Dave’s advice at travelblogsuccess.com and go with woo themes. I searched a listing of WordPress themes and settled on what turned out to be a second-rate company. It was a great looking theme, but needed lots of work, wasn’t very customizable and my site went offline for a week after WordPress updated to 3.1.
27 December: I brainstormed for days over what to call my site. Coastalconnectionsguide/blogspot just wasn’t gonna cut it. Finally I decided on the current URL and went with godaddy.com because I found a discount code. Godaddy is one of the bigger and most popular domain registration sites, but it is a bit difficult to navigate and it all ended up costing more than I was expecting. And to be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was doing so I ended up buying things I didn’t need. Godaddy tries hard at convincing you that you need more bells and whistles than you really do.
11 December: A few months into it I was getting a solid 15 new visits a day. Don’t laugh, I was very new to blogging and cherished each one! Google analytics told me that I was getting the majority of my visits from people clicking on forum posts. That got me thinking that traffic to a location-specific site such as mine is probably limited to the number of people interested in traveling there. Makes sense. But then it also made sense to try and target advertising to this niche group of people. I decided I needed to get serious and I stumbled across Travel Blog Success. Wasn’t cheap and I even emailed the owner to ask what makes his lessons worth the cost. He replied that evening (which shows a strong connect with customers) and explained his experience and what he is passing on to his customers. Sold.
August: My first thought was to start a local traveler’s magazine for the area. I had come up with the idea ages ago, but started reflecting on it again in August, 2010 and decided to go with a blog format to kind of test the waters. The only blog I had done was a two-post thing that was tied to the org that I was volunteering for. I wasn’t really into that. But all the sudden I felt compelled to work on this… a travel guide to the area written by a person who lives there. And a few nutty stories thrown in to keep things interesting! So I sat down and sketched out a few ideas of how to design it, took up a new blogger URL and spent hours figuring it all out. Once the design was the best I could get it based on my limited blogger skills, I started posting advice to people asking about my area on travel forums. I did a little networking through other blog aggregators like expatblogs.com and started seeing a steady, albiet slow, rise in traffic.