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
My apologies for what is going to seem like a completely random post, but I’ve got a lot on my mind right now and I really need to get it out in the open and documented in writing. As many of you know, I left a very well-paying corporate job about six weeks ago with the goal of becoming a full-time blogger (whatever the hell that means). There’s no turning back now. I’m in it deep.
Keep in mind that it was one of the most difficult decisions that I’ve ever made in my life, as I was literally giving up a six-figure paycheck in exchange for a job that paid virtually nothing. And I do mean nothing – SANspotter.com generates less than $50 of income a month right now, which as you can guess, makes me feel very nervous about trying to build it into a full-time career and it’s causing me to second-guess the decision to do this every day.
Why did I quit my job if I wasn’t making any money yet?
My decision to go full-time with this was based solely on the fact that traffic to SANspotter.com has been growing strongly month over month for quite some time now, and I felt confident that I would be able to figure out the monetization portion of it if I wasn’t being distracted by a full-time job and all of the stress that came along with it. Yes, keeping my job while finding the time to travel is something that I’ve mastered so well over the years, but it got to the point where I felt like I couldn’t advance to the next level if I didn’t take a giant leap of faith and just go for it.
I do have some other side projects that I’m working on right now that generates some income (freelance design work mostly), but Its not anywhere near close to replacing the income from the job I just walked away from.
But I didn’t quit my job to be a freelance designer. I did it to turn this blog into a business. And to be honest, I’d be perfectly happy if I could find 1/10 the success that Ben (the guy who inspired me to start travel blogging in the first place) has had with his blog. I have no intentions (or desire) to turn this into a massive business with an office and rooms full of employees – all I want to do is make a comfortable living from what I love doing so much, which is traveling the world, writing about my experiences, and teaching others about what I have learned along the way.
So what’s next for SANspotter.com?
Thankfully, I am not completely obtuse and I am very aware of the realities of business. Just because I want something really badly doesn’t mean it’s going to happen. I know that. I’ve got an incredible amount of work ahead of me in order to reach my first goal (which is earning enough to cover my monthly bills), so much in fact that I am almost paralyzed with fear and second-guessing every decision I make every single day. Let me tell you – it’s really fun to sit and fantasize about being a full-time blogger when you have a good job with a dependable paycheck coming in every week, but now that I am living it, the reality is far from being sexy.
For example, where should my main source of revenue be coming from? Should it be from advertisements? Affiliate marketing? Or product sales? It should actually a combination of all three, and I knew that before I made the decision to go full-time with this. But still, I’m finding myself overthinking everything and it’s been difficult to wake up every morning feeling energized to take massive action and plow forward full steam ahead – but I’ve go to do it. Change is scary.
Here’s a more specific breakdown of some of the changes you will see starting very soon:
- First of all, don’t worry! I am not going to be plastering the blog with annoying advertisements and links to credit cards everywhere. I take pride in keeping things as clean and clutter-free as possible, and that will continue just like always. I promise.
- Also, the trip reports will continue as normal. They are a ton of work, but I enjoy creating them and it’s never going to stop (unless I lose my arms in a horrific farming accident or something). So don’t worry about that either!
- Instead of plastering the blog with advertisements, my main source of revenue will be coming from product sales. These will be products that I create, and will be fully relevant to the topics I write about (airline and travel stuff). The goal is for them to be as useful to you as possible, because giving back and providing you the opportunity to grow and succeed with me is something I am very much interested in. FYI, my social media image packs are a perfect example of this.
- Occasional affiliate links and product reviews. You’ve already seen this with my introductory post about ExpertFlyer, and it’s important for you to know that I’m only going to review products and tools that I use myself (and that I feel would be genuinely useful to my travel savvy readers). No articles about deodorant promotions, I promise!
- More frequent posting (I can almost hear some of you muttering “oh hell yeah!” from here). To be honest, this is more difficult for me than it sounds. Nearly all of the titan airline and points bloggers (onemileatatime, mommyspoints, viewfromthewing, etc) post up to seven times a day, which I’m telling you right now, is something that I have no desire to do and it’s just not going to happen. I am more of a quality-versus-quantity kind of guy anyway, so while I will never post with that much frequency, I could see myself eventually ramping up to one post per day. I can’t promise that the frequency of my trip reports will increase very much however. As I said before, those buggers take a long time to write and edit and even doing this full time I’m not sure how I could possibly do it any faster than I already am.
- Occasional guest posts. Everyone keeps telling me that this is a very important thing to do in order to grow my readership, but I’ll admit that I’ve been hesitant to do it because this blog is essentially my baby and it’s been all about me since the very beginning. But I’m willing to open it up a bit, especially to those who have a similar writing style as mine. As a matter of fact, I’ve already been talking to a few different people about creating some exclusive content for SANspotter.com soon, which I think you are really going to enjoy!
- More talk about travel blogging as a business. I realize that many of my current readers won’t be interested in this topic, but it’s something that I am very passionate about (and it’ll be a great way to attract new readers). I believe that I am very qualified to talk about it because of my direct experience of dealing with this stuff on a daily basis, so why not? Again, this goes back to my desire to teach and to help others grow with me so I hope that I can make a difference here!
Wrapping it all up
I hope you are as excited as I am about my decision to take this blog to the next level. All of these changes are going to start happening gradually over the next few months, and it’s not like I’m just going to flip a switch and everything is going to change next week. As I said before, I’m still juggling a bit of freelance design work which is (unfortunately) consuming a lot of my time still, so I’m basically not even doing this full time yet. Funny how that works…
Okay, enough rambling. I need to get cracking on that Edelweiss ZRH-SAN review, because it’s going to be huuuuge…