01. May 2018: Making the really scary decision to be a full-time travel blogger
02. October 2018: 4 things I’ve learned
03. May 2019: Making good progress!
04. October 2019: At least I’m not dead yet
05. May 2020: On the brink of failure
06. October 2020: Wasn’t COVID-19 supposed to be over by now?
Update time! As of this month, I’ve been a full time blogger for a year and a half. And guess what? I’m not dead! I’m actually succeeding at this (somewhat), which is super exciting. It’s also super scary and a lot stressful, which I’ll dive into in just a moment.
But first, I just want to say that following my passion in life and not looking for another job after I was laid off my corporate gig 18 months ago was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I rolled up my sleeves, said “let’s do this” (with a manly grunt)…and here I am today.
I’m not dead lying in a ditch somewhere, but…I’m not rich. And I’m ok with that. FYI, the SANspotter brand isn’t providing a full time income yet, but I’m making clear progress towards that goal. That makes me happier than you could possibly imagine.
What’s happened since my last “full time blogger” update?
Back in May of this year, I wrote about how I was starting to see some decent progress in all aspects of the business (both the blog and YouTube channel). I had just set up my Patreon account, and I was toying with the idea of putting display ads here on the blog to help cover costs. I’ll start by giving updates to those two points first, and then I’ll give some updates on some other stuff.
1. My list of (really awesome) Patrons is growing!
Back when I set up my Patreon account in March of this year, I wasn’t really sure if anyone liked me enough to sign up and support the SANspotter brand. It was essentially an experiment to see if it could augment my income as a full time blogger – and I was ready and willing to pull the plug on it at any time. But here we are seven months later, and I’m thrilled to death to see my list of patrons growing each and every month!
A huge “thanks!” goes out to everyone who has signed up as a patron so far. Your contributions have helped the SANspotter brand grow very nicely over the course of 2019. More importantly, I’m working on some exciting new benefits for you – it’s the least I can do to thank you for your continued support for me and what I do.
2. There will be no ads on the blog – at least until early next year
If you didn’t already know, I have a few other blogs that I work on to help pay the bills (after all, being a full time blogger requires multiple sources of income). However, it’s only SANspotter.com that I consider to be my biological baby. I’ve put more time and effort into this website then I have any other, and it’s for that reason that I hate to see it littered with advertisements.
However, as I mentioned in my last update, making enough money so I don’t end up lying dead in a ditch somewhere is vitally important – and I will need to put ads on this website eventually. My current thinking is that I’m going to wait until my daily traffic is much higher, which will allow me to use a premium ad network (which isn’t so spammy and intrusive).
It’s kind of weird that a full time blogger such as myself is hesitant to monetize his most active blog, right? Yeah, I know.
3. I’ve started doing sponsored content
With the growth of my YouTube channel, I’m getting a lot more requests from companies who want to work with me to sponsor videos. I turn down approximately 90% of the offers I get, focusing only on products that I know and love. So far, it’s been a nice little boost of revenue to help offset the cost of making my videos, and I’ve actually had fun doing it.
The downside is that there are a lot of trolls out there in YouTube land who think that it’s sacrilegious for an aviation YouTuber like me to be doing sponsored content. Dealing with these trolls every time I post a sponsored video (which has only been three times so far) is tiring and extremely annoying.
I know that sitting through or skipping over sponsored content is a slight nuisance, but the fact of the matter is that it’s something that I’m going have to do occasionally – especially since my channel is still relatively small and I’m not making a full-time income yet. The haters and trolls are just going to have to deal with it if they want to keep seeing SANspotter videos.
4. I’m building up my Facebook page!
Yeah, I know. I’ve never been a fan of Facebook, but the fact of the matter is that it’s where 99% of the population hangs out on the internet. And it’s still growing year after year! Anyway, I’ve been feeling like it’s time to stop resisting and that I need to start producing content exclusively for Big Blue.
Please give the SANspotter Facebook page a follow! There’s not a whole lot happening there yet, but it will start coming alive very soon.
So. How much money am I making every month?
As I mentioned earlier, I have a handful of other websites and blogs that (combined with income from the SANspotter brand) add up to a full time income. I will say that it is a LOT less than I was making in my corporate job and I do feel like a poor slob. Like, “college student with no job” poor. But you know what? I’ve never been happier and more satisfied professionally than I am right now. Being a full time blogger is a pretty sweet gig!
Anyway, the income I’ve been earning just from the SANspotter brand alone has been increasing quarter over quarter since I left that corporate job back in May 2018. I am extremely excited about the growth that I’m seeing, and I suspect it may only be a year or two before it matches what I was making in my corporate 9-5 job.
As far as the numbers go…well…I’m not willing to share that publicly in a blog post such as this. Sorry!
What else is on my mind?
As usual, my mind is always churning and I just can’t stop thinking about what I’m doing (and not doing) to grow as a full time blogger. To say that the last 18 months has been the ultimate test of my self confidence is an understatement! Anyway, here are some of the most notable things going on in my brain at the moment:
1. I’m feeling resentment (sort of)
As this blog and my YouTube channel continue to grow, I will admit that I’m feeling a slight bit of resentment for choosing to pursue this niche so hard. Of course I love everything about airlines and travel, but the cost to produce this type of content is extraordinarily high. I’m having a really hard time getting a satisfactory ROI on my investment.
Don’t worry. I’m not going to abandon the SANspotter brand anytime soon! However, I will say that if I had to start all over again from scratch, I’m not sure that I would choose the airline review niche. The competitiveness, high cost of travel, and the pressure of feeling that I need to travel nonstop definitely takes it’s toll.
Being a full time blogger is definitely fun and exciting, but it would be much more profitable in niches other than this!
2. I think I’ve reached the limit of what I’m capable of
I’m currently producing one full video and one full blog post every week for the SANspotter brand. This is on top of a handful of other small projects that I’ve got going on at any given time. Yeah, I’ve been feeling a little maxed out lately.
As a matter of fact, I was recently toying with the idea of doing *two* videos every week. However, over the past six weeks or so, the extreme pressure I’ve been feeling to produce amazing content over and over again is negatively affecting my health. I’ve been having trouble sleeping, and the constant dizzy headaches are certainly not good. I’m not sure, but I think my body is telling me to slow the hell down and try not to push so dang hard.
3. “Don’t worry. It’s working.”
One of the problems that I have is that I always feel like I need to be doing something. I’m always thinking that I’m not doing enough, and that creates enormous amounts of negative pressure (as I just described above).
However, when I take a step back and look at everything from a distance, I can see that what I’ve been doing as a full time blogger over the past several years has actually been working. The single blog post every week along with the single video is growing the brand nicely.
I absolutely do not need to be pumping out content every single day like other bloggers and vloggers are doing in order to grow. Yes, I would probably grow a lot faster if I did that, but that comes at a cost (poor health and immense stress). I’m totally cool keeping the pace that I’ve got going.
What do I have planned for the next six months?
As you could probably guess by now, my plan going well into spring 2020 is to just keep on keepin’ on. I don’t have any plans to to ramp up blog post or video production, as I feel like I need to give myself time to work on other projects in order to keep my sanity. I also need to time to rest so that I have the energy to keep producing great content.
I really don’t understand how other full time bloggers (and vloggers) such as Ben and Paul and Sam can continue to produce so much content on a daily basis without burning out. I just don’t have that kind of stamina in me.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. For the first time since I left my corporate job back in May 2018, I feel like I’ve made it. No, I haven’t quite reached my lofty financial goals yet (and I knew I wouldn’t by this point). However, looking at all the charts and spreadsheets that I’ve built showing the progression of the brand is very exciting. Income is definitely trending up, and it should only be another year or two before the SANspotter brand is generating enough revenue to be my sole project.
Kaz from Dr. AvGeek
It’s very encouraging that your business is growing. Unless you do credit card affiliates in your blog, it’s hard to scale. It takes time to build up audience on YouTube. But I believe if you keep posting quality videos on YouTube, you keep growing larger (snowball effect). At least that’s what I understand. I have 390 subscribers now on my YouTube and the number seems very small but I feel like I am interacting more with viewers.
“I really don’t understand how other full time bloggers (and vloggers) such as Ben and Paul and Sam can continue to produce so much content on a daily basis without burning out. ”
I agree. Also, I don’t understand how Paul, Josh, and Noel keep flying in Business.. Probably once you have 100k subscribers, you get enough revenue to cover business class tickets. You’ll be the next Scott!
Thanks for the encouragement Kaz! My monetization strategy for the blog will be display ads and affiliate marketing. Credit card hustling pays a lot more, for sure, but…I’d go insane creating that type of content. Haha!
I’m also not sure if I’ll ever be successful enough to fly business class all the time. It’s a dreamy goal for sure, but only time will tell!
Hey Scott, do not worry about trolls, it’s just a part of life. The bigger YouTubers do not even waste time screening comments (once they reach certain size) as other “normal” comments drown them out. And your followers don’t care about trolls.
Thanks John! Yeah, I am finding that I care less and less about trolls as time goes on. Haters gonna hate I guess.
You are definitely one of the best youtubers I have followed in a long time. You show great potenial to be one of the great aviation channels the fact that its taking so long is because its a small niche but think about how many people are starting to fly each year and are realising that planes and airports are awesome and comming into the niche. Also remember and keep telling yourself that the channel is growing!!! This is very important. Ignore the trolls they would jump on 90% of those offers instead of just the 10% you do.
Also maybe do some approachable videos to the general public that are also informative? I don’t know but maybe some tips and tricks for people that are scared or nervous flyers or whatever you have learned!
I will be joining the patreon crew soon. See you there!
Thanks Ermin! I really don’t think I have the chops to be as big and successful as some of the other aviation blogger/vlogger Titans, which is ok by me – I’m just having fun doing what I’m doing and I’d probably be doing this anyway even if there wasn’t an way to make a business out of it.
I appreciate the encouraging words and ideas for future content!
Hi Scott. Just coming across your site, etc. I’m new to San Diego and love having a local lookout for travel reviews. Found you because of an older article you posted on Delta One to JFK making it to SD – a subject near and dear to my heart 🙂
Welome to San Diego Jonathan! I arrived 20 years ago and haven’t looked back. It’s a pretty nice place to call home!
Wishing you good luck! If I had one complaint, it would be the site being a bit slow to load. Why don’t you use something like Cloudflare and full site caching to improve the front end loading speed. Think it would be beneficial from an SEO point of view as well since Google likes fast loading sites.
Otherwise, great job! Just keep at it is what I say and you’ll see your audience grow.