Why Blogging Isn’t a Business…
(and Three Ways to Make it One)
You’ve seen it. We’ve all seen it. Maybe it flew past you on the highway. Maybe it was set up right next to you at the last park you visited. There’s really no telling where it was. But you’ve seen it. We all have. It may have been a simple sticker. It may have been large banner all the way across the back. Heck, I’ve even seen it Partridge Family style covering the whole dang thing. But no matter what form it took, you’ve seen it. We all have.
Running and maintaining a blog is a very popular activity among the RV community. It’s easy to understand why. Our chosen way of life is so much against the mainstream that we feel the need to chronicle our journey in some way. For some, it’s simply so our family and loved ones back home can follow along with our adventures. For others, they may feel like they need to show outsiders a glimpse into their world; to show how they live. To show they’re normal. Whatever the reason they choose to blog, one thing stays the same. Somewhere on their rig, there is going to be a logo advertising their blogging exploits to anyone who they may pass on the road.
The crew over at Faith Takes Flight posing with their branded rig
Photograph courtesy of Heather Ledeboer from FaithTakesFlight.com
All of the reasons listed above are laudable and valid reasons to maintain a blog. The problem comes when someone thinks they are going to start a blog about their travels and make money from it. Simply blogging about what you’re doing in life, however exciting, rarely becomes a source of income. Sure, some are able to land sponsorship, but how rare is that? Is that what you want to rely on?
“I blog because writing is my favorite way to process my thoughts and what I am learning… It is my hope that my readers can find inspiration and encouragement and feel as though they are coming along with me as I discover and learn.” –Heather Ledeboer FaithTakesFlight.com
There are several ways to build your blog intentionally with the purpose of income generation in mind. No, I’m not talking about throwing in Amazon affiliate links in every post. While that was once a legitamate source of income for many people before Amazon’s policy change, it was a full time income for very few even then. But there are ways to do it. They just require a little bit more intentionality.
Now, when I talk about affiliate marketing, I’m not talking about Amazon links. They are always good to include (every penny counts), but as I mentioned, they are not going to knock a big dent in your income needs. I’m also not talking about joining a multi-level-marketing company, whose industry seems to have laid claim on the term “affiliate marketing” as of late. I’m talking about finding products you enjoy yourself and bringing them to your audience.
Affiliate marketing is a marketing arrangement by which an online retailer pays a commission to an external website for traffic or sales generated from its referrals.
Photograph courtesy of thebluediamondgallery.com
The best type of product for this in my opinion is information products. Since the product has already been made and the costs are sunk, the product creator usually will provide a larger percentage of the sale as your commission. While Amazon affiliate links will pay out 4-6%, an affiliate relationship to an information product will produce 25-50%, sometimes more! Don’t count out physical products, as there is value in those relationships. I just wouldn’t be paying too much attention to Amazon.
True affiliate marketing is by far the fastest way to build a real income. You don’t have to come up with an idea for a product, you don’t have to go through the work of creating the product, and you don’t really have to market the product to the public to make money. All you have to do is introduce the product to your audience and let them know you personally recomend it.
There’s one catch to this. You HAVE to ensure you are recomending quality products. You must have used the product and be very familiar with it. The worst thing you could do is to violate your audience’s trust by recomending an inferior product. Once you make that mistake, it could be unrecoverable. Integrity is everything.
In this type of business model, YOU will be creating and marketing your own product. This product could be an eBook, a video course, a piece of software, among many other possibilities. It requires quite a bit more work up front than that of affiliate marketing, but you also get to enjoy higher returns. This may be a great possibility for an affiliate marketer to develop into at a certain point in their business.
Digital goods is a general phrase used to describe any goods that are stored, delivered and used in its electronic format. Digital goods are sent electronically to the consumer through email or direct download.
Once you have decided what type of product you are going to produce, you still have plenty of decisions to make. Not the least of which is how you will deliver the product in question. There are several options when it comes to delivery of digital products. You could go with the launch model, the evergreen model, or the membership model.
In the launch model, you try to build up excitement with your audience to encourage purchase around the same timeframe, giving them a certain time to purchase before shutting down the shopping cart on your website. This is a useful model especially in courses where you want to step the group through a course in chronological order before moving on to your next “class” of students.
The evergreeen model is simply when you make your products available at all times. Your audience is aware they are there and can purchase at any time. This works well if you aren’t a big “salesy” type person and would rather not have to build up the excitement for a launch.
With a membership model, you greatly reduce the price of your product and offer it as a monthly fee. The membership model has the capability of providing a more steady form of income, but also is more demanding of your attention. When your audience is paying monthly for your membership they expect more from your program than they might in a launch model.
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Freelancing is a business model many RVers will be familiar with already. In fact, you could classify workamping as a type of freelance work. For our purposes here though, we will be concentrating on digital freelancing. Digital freelancing is doing work on your computer remotely for a client, usually on a per-job basis. The possibilities in freelancing are many, and there’s no way I could cover them all here. I hope to mention enough possibilities to help spur your imagination to create your own opportunity.
A freelancer is a term commonly used for a person who is self-employed and is not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term.
There are some people who have specific skills that scream for freelancing. A bookkeeper/accountant, web builder, or graphics designer would be perfect matches for freelancing. Someone with these skills could easily start a freelancing career and quickly be earning enough money to go full time.
However, just because you don’t have specific skills doesn’t mean you can’t be a freelancer. There are many general skills in demand as well. Writing, editing/proofreading, and data entry could be grown into a full time income with a little work. These types of positions may require you to build up some feedback and testimonials so that you can stand out above the competition.
Blogging can be a blessing and a curse to freelancers. Don’t want to blog about the specific business/task that you do? That’s fine. Simply continue to write about travel and include an advertisement to your freelance services in the sidebar. You never know who’s gonna be reading the content and may need your services! However, always keep in mind that your blog serves as a resume. This should always be taken into consideration when making any content or design changes. It is a representation of you and will be considered as such by prospective clients.
Building a Game Plan
Each of these models have their place. Everyone is also perfectly capable of doing any of the three. If you think, “I don’t have the skills to be a freelancer.” You are wrong. Likewise, if you think, “I don’t have the knowledge about a subject to create a digital product.” You are also wrong. Every one of these business models can be molded to fit your needs. Don’t let anyone fool you. They are all hard work. There’s no such thing as easy money or “get rich quick.” But all of these models can be done by anyone.
A natural progression might be to start out as a freelancer to get some cash flow coming in. Once you have some money coming in, you can comfortably concentrate on your list building to start affiliate marketing. Once firmly in affiliate marketing, you’ll know when the time is right to start producing your own digital products. This natural progression of business growth is a slow process, but it is well worth the hard work since the earning potential is limitless.