Monetization Strategies Can Be Elusive
Travel blogging and making money can seem like mutually exclusive concepts. If you ask a travel blogger who is just starting out, “How do you plan to monetize your blog?” you get some interesting answers. Some of these, frankly, are based upon magical thinking. Many times a new blogger will have nothing more than a vague notion.
Ask the same question of someone who has been travel blogging for a while and the response may be along the lines of, “I make a little bit of money here and there, but I’m not making a living.” Others might say, “I’d really like to add a source of revenue. I do sponsored posts and advertising whenever I can, but the rates aren’t very high.” Or “I’d love to find an outlet for my creativity that regularly pays.”
Does Your Blog Have a Business Plan?
The common denominator among most start-up and intermediate travel blogs that we’ve observed is that they have yet to implement – or even consider – a business plan. This is understandable. Bloggers are creatives: they’re writers, photographers, videographers, social media sharers, and podcasters.
Many times people in creative lines of work aren’t well versed in business: they’ve not pursued business-related subjects in their studies, they haven’t ever owned or operated a business, and they’re not sales and marketing oriented.
“Blogging without a business plan is like taking off without a pre-flight checklist and then flying without instrumentation.”
Plan for Income Diversification
A business plan doesn’t need to be complicated or intimidating. We use and recommend a realistic template that is organized around the basic functions of business. At the center is our travel blog, the online hub around which our revenue streams revolve.
A good business plan’s foundation will be a purpose-driven mission. It will have a goal-driven structure encompassing each of the business functions. Once your plan is in place, you’ll find it surprisingly easy to make good decisions and establish healthy policies to propel your blogging business forward.
Blogging income can be direct – such as advertising or paid campaigns, or indirect – such as book sales, freelance writing, or virtual assisting. Income can be active – as in paid upon completion or by the hour, or more passive in nature – such as repetitive sales of digital downloads or coursework.
Much like a financial advisor will steer you into diversifying your investment portfolio, a successful blogger will generally develop multiple income streams that are both active and passive in nature. This is a revenue safety net, ensuring there is money coming in even if an existing source dries up.
“Passive or semi-passive income is the monetary gift that keeps on giving.”
Monetizing with Print on Demand
Monetizing a travel blog by selling physical products is a great way to earn income from your photography or other creative skills. Beautiful photos look great on products like t-shirts, calendars, coffee mugs, phone cases, greeting cards and the like. Quotations and witty travel-related messaging are popular on gifts and home décor, too.
However, most of the travel bloggers we’ve seen who attempt to sell physical products mistakenly employ a traditional retail inventory model. Then they find themselves trapped, responsible for receiving and storing products, administrating, shipping, making allowances for returns and other customer service issues, and having to deal with leftover products that don’t sell. Who wants to do all this and try to keep traveling, too?
With all the problems a traditional inventory model has, we’ve been very surprised that more travel bloggers haven’t turned to Print On Demand (POD) companies. These are online platforms which display your products for sale, produce your designs on an item when a customer buys it, take payment and ship the item, and provide all aspects of customer service. You, in turn, get paid a royalty on the sale (and in some cases a referral fee on items purchased from other designers, too). This is the winner’s model!
Join Us to Get Started at TBEX
We’ve made a regular monthly income with POD companies since 2008. With more than 100,000 products in our stores now, we’ve learned a lot:
- how to design products that sell
- how to effectively market POD merchandise in a variety of ways
- how to create multiple products out of one design
- how to evaluate the strengths of various POD companies (there are quite a few!) for the best fit
At TBEX, we’ll be sharing this knowledge to help you get started. With a strategic mindset, a solid business plan, and a bit of design skill, you can make money with Print On Demand. See you there!
Author Bio: Betsy and Pete Wuebker have been blogging about travel, simplicity and independence at PassingThru since 2008. Location independent since 2011, they are into their second year of full-time travel. Their online business structure is designed to provide diversified income which gives them the freedom to work from home or on the road, and their passion is to share how integrating work with life leads to more fulfillment and time for travel.