01. May 2018: Making the really scary decision to be a full-time travel blogger
02. October 2018: 6 month update: 4 things I’ve learned
03. May 2019: 1 year update: making good progress!
04. October 2019: 18 month update: at least I’m not dead yet
05. May 2020: 2 year update: on the brink of failure
Wow! Where the heck does time go? It seems just like yesterday that I wrote that post announcing my departure from the corporate world and a scary transition into full-time travel blogging. It was a very scary and exciting time, and I have no doubt that it will remain as one of the most memorable (and defining) events in my life. One full year has passed now and I figured it was time for another update.
It’s been an incredible year of ups and downs. I learned a lot about the business of blogging and self-employment (many times the hard way), and I don’t feel as if I could’ve learned this much while still working a full-time corporate job. They say that the best way to learn something is just to dive in head first and go for it, and now I totally believe it.
Anyway, I’m writing this post for several reasons:
- First of all, I wanted to give everyone an update as to what’s been happening behind the scenes, as well as to give you an idea of what you can expect from the SANspotter brand going forward.
- I also really enjoy creating these types of journal posts, since they help my own personal development. It’s kind of fun to look back and read old journal posts just to see where my state of mind was at at the time. Sometimes I’ve made progress (yay!), and sometimes I haven’t (boo!). That’s the fun of keeping a record of things.
All in all, things have been going well
Remember my last update six months ago? If you read it between the lines, you could get a sense that my tone was slightly negative and I was flailing a little bit – at least in terms of what to do with the blog. At the time, it was the only thing that I was working on which wasn’t turning a profit. And that was kind of a big deal since I consider my blog to be the focal point of the SANspotter brand.
To make matters even worse, I was experiencing a rather significant drop in traffic at the time – which was concerning. From July of last year until late December, my traffic was decreasing month over month and it was nothing short of demoralizing. I pour so much energy into into writing blog posts that not seeing any growth from all that effort was making me think that it was time to end it. Seriously. I was that close.
The good news is that things have recovered nicely since then. I spent most of December trying to figure out why I was losing traffic month over month, and I was able to trace it down to a handful of SEO issues that were negatively impacting my credibility in the eyes of Google. Before this little incident, I had no idea even how to research something like that. So in that sense, I’m thankful that it taught me a valuable lesson about Search Engine Optimization and other technical tidbits I never would’ve known otherwise.
Long story short, blog growth is strong again, and I’m happy with the way that things are progressing. For those that are curious, here’s a chart showing the growth of sanspotter.com since 2013:
Still working on monetizing the blog
One of the things that I’ve really learned about myself over the past six months is that I’m too much of a perfectionist. Of course I’m very proud of that, but when it comes to building a business and earning enough money to put food on the table, it conflicts with my best interests.
SANspotter.com isn’t making very much profit yet, but at this point it’s entirely by choice. I’m getting enough daily traffic to the site now that I could throw ads on it which would generate enough revenue to help pay some bills. However, I’d rather not do that (because it looks messy), which is stupid since this blog is a business now and I need to eat.
In order to hold out on the ads as long as possible, I’ve been trying other things such as Patreon and promoting affiliate products. Both seem to be working moderately well, but it’s still highly likely that this blog is going to become ad supported within 6-12 months.
Don’t worry though. Migrating towards an ad-supported business model isn’t going to be messy and intrusive for you (the reader). Quantity and placement of these ads is going to be exactly like what you see on any blog over at boardingarea.com actually. No full screen underwear ad pop ups I promise!
The YouTube channel
Of all the things that I’ve got going on right now, the growth of my YouTube channel makes me the happiest. Quality video content takes even longer to create than quality blog content, so it’s really nice to see that I’m being rewarded for the time and effort I’m putting into it.
FYI, my latest videos are averaging about 14 hours each in terms of the time it takes to edit and record the voiceovers. And that’s not including the time it takes to actually travel and film the content!
I don’t really have any more to this YouTube update other than saying “THANKS!” to all my subscribers for all the love and support you’ve shown so far. There is some really exciting stuff coming to the channel this year, so do stay tuned for that!
I’ve been busy with other projects too
Because of how timid I am to to sell and promote products too heavily on sanspotter.com, I’ve been working on a handful of other web projects to help pay the bills.
The biggest change over the past six months or so is the fact that I’ve stopped doing contract work altogether. Trading my time for dollars is simply not a good use of my time anymore, because it’s not scalable. Therefore, I’ve been working on building up several other websites that I’ve been tinkering with over the past 6 years or so. These are completely unrelated to travel and aviation, and are built for one purpose in mind: to generate revenue. They are generating income passively, which is nice because it means they more they earn, the more time I can spend doing SANspotter stuff.
So far, it’s working quite well. It’s taken a bit of pressure off me to monetize sanspotter.com, but it comes at the cost of not being able to post here as often as I’d like (because I’m still trying to build those websites up). If you’ve been wondering why I’m still only posting one article to SANspotter.com every week, that’s why.
Also, if you’re wondering why I don’t just put 100% of my effort into the SANspotter brand so that it’ll grow faster, it’s because that the airline niche is incredibly saturated on the Internet and it’s extremely hard to monetize (and stand out) compared to other niches. The other websites that I’m working on aren’t as difficult in that regard.
I’m also still working on creating aircraft illustrations for my Norebbo brand.
So yeah – as you can see, I’ve been quite busy even though it seems like I don’t post SANspotter content very often. Eventually, the SANspotter brand will be generating enough revenue so I can justify working on it full time. With the growth I’m seeing here on the blog and my YouTube channel, I’m very confident that it’ll happen. Eventually.
What’s planned for the SANspotter brand over the next six months?
As I already mentioned, it’s possible that the blog will become ad supported by the end of the year. However, I do have a few other things in mind which, if successful, might prevent that from happening. You’ll be hearing more from me about this in the coming months…
- The frequency of my blog posts isn’t likely to change. My YouTube videos and other web projects take up too much of my time.
- I need to be better at keeping in constant communication with my mailing list subscribers. Therefore, I’ll be sending out at least one email after every trip I take with a few bite-size tips and tricks that I’ve learned (sometimes the hard way) about being a frequent flyer. If you’re not already on my mailing list, you can sign up via the form at the bottom of this post. Hope to see you there!
Overall, I’m really excited and very happy about the progress I’ve been making. Has it been perfect? Heck no! If things would’ve worked out the way I had planned, I’d be making a full-time living with this blog by now.
The really funny thing about that is the fact that out of all my projects, this blog generates the least amount of revenue every month. It’s my favorite but least profitable project at the moment! It’s also one of my most time consuming, so there’s definitely some work to be done to balance that out.
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read all of this. As I said earlier, I’m a big fan of journaling and jotting down thoughts and status updates as I move through really big challenges in life, so this is just something I felt like I needed to do. If anything, I’m hoping that it’s somewhat educational as well. Possibly even inspiring for those wishing to be a full time travel blogger themselves.
Stay tuned for the next update six months from now…