As I’ve mentioned on this travel writing blog several times and in the travel writing newsletter, I was a speaker at the TBEX conference earlier this month in Toronto.
My talk was titled “Beyond Your Blog: Expanding Your Publishing Empire.” If you missed it attending another one at the same time or couldn’t attend TBEX for whatever reason, you’re in luck: I’ve posted the whole thing online.
Before you can have an empire of any size, however, you need to have a business. If your travel blog is a hobby, that’s fine. With some 1,000 bloggers at that conference this year, a good number by nature have to be hobbyists. For some their blog is just a way to express themselves and talk about where they’ve been. For others it’s just a path to freebies and if they get invited on a press trip somewhere, anywhere, they’re thrilled.
Ask any of the bloggers there making a real living at this, however, and they’ll tell you they’re running a real business, not just a blog. (See our past interviews with Gary Arndt, Johnny Jet, Nomadic Matt, or Matthew Long.) For some the blog isn’t even their main source of income. For some it is, but they supplement that with multiple streams of income from other sources. They write books, they lead tours, they write freelance articles, they get hired as speakers.
I do some of that, but I also have taken the portfolio approach. As I stress in that presentation, it’s getting super-hard to predict what Google is going to do on a monthly basis and it’s becoming increasingly common for content sites to lose out in the rankings to more commercial sites spending ad dollars with Google, even if they’ve done everything right in terms of SEO and search guidelines. When your traffic drops by a third on one site but you have four others, it’s painful but not deadly. If it drops by a third on the only site you run, that’s downright depressing.