Thirty copies sold in the first few months. Add a few more if you have a wider social circle.
A one dollar royalty check from KDP.
Scary, right? You spent months – maybe years – writing your book, but that’s what you know in your heart of hearts you have on the horizon after you self-publish.
Why bother? Am I right?
Why bother indeed, unless you know how to market and sell copies of your book.
The strategy I want to share with you can work for almost any type of book. I can’t guarantee that you’ll sell millions of copies, but I can guarantee that you’ll sell more copies trying this than asking your friends to write five star book reviews.
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Better three hours too soon than a minute too late.
World Class Adventurer celebrated its three year anniversary this month. During this time, I transitioned from ESL teacher in China to KTV girl to ESL teacher in Japan to a full-time writer. I’ve been creating web content on and off since 2009 and a decade later, not only has the entire global economy shifted but internet trends are coming and going faster than ever. If you want to make money as a travel blogger, you’ll need to stay up to date on the latest movers and shakers in your niche.
Step 1: What’s in a Name?
When I started writing web content, I was taught to create evergreen niche articles in an area I had a lot of knowledge and experience in. Unfortunately, what no one told me was that the nitty-gritty of content creation is a lot more…well, complicated. The same applies to your blog name.
While having a niche, in this case—travel—is the first step to knowing what you want to write about, if your blog name’s too detailed, you’ll limit your options. Even if you’ve only traveled to a few cities on one continent, naming your travel blog something like danasadventuresinnorthamerica.com isn’t gonna help you when it’s time to go abroad.
For example, I haven’t yet been to Europe or Australia but I’ve been all around North America, Asia, and Central America. Even though the majority of my focus lies in Asia, I may branch out to other locations in the future. Also, World Class Adventurer is a name that holds deep sentimental meaning to me.
My advice: Take an afternoon to jot down ideas and bounce them off of a few trusted friends before purchasing a domain name.
Also, the customer service rocks and I don’t say that about many Internet companies! Signing up is a piece of cake. Just follow this quick set-up guide.
You can register a new domain or transfer one you already own.
Choose a hosting plan that’s right for you. They offer tons of discounts so you’ll never get stuck spending too much on web hosting.
I also like that they have a PayPal option for those of us who aren’t comfortable putting credit card info online or who live in China where payment systems remain insular.
That’s it! You should see this page when you’re all done.
Step 3: WordPress
Now, this is where it gets a little tricky for new-comers but don’t worry! The actual WordPress platform is incredibly user-friendly. Here’s mine:
As you can see, the navigation bar on your left is pretty straightforward. The tabs on the homepage tell you about traffic data, insights, and ads. These ads are provided by Google Adsense. I wouldn’t recommend using them since Adsense revenue ain’t what it used to be.
Again, don’t freak out! There’s a lot to learn about WordPress. While the front end’s user-friendliness appeals to us writer-ly types, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. First, choosing a theme can be a daunting task because there are so many options out there.
What even are plug-ins and how can my blog benefit from them?
These are all questions you’ll need to ask yourself during the design process. In my opinion, the best travel blog themes are minimalist because travel blogs usually have a lot of visual content within posts. Too much going on in the header and sidebars gets distracting for your readers.
The bottom line is you don’t need to be a programmer to run a successful WordPress blog but a little bit of surface knowledge about HTML and CSS can go a long way. If you’re interested in the development side of WordPress to increase your blog’s success and job prospects, check out this article on IndigoThemes.
Step 5: Content is King
Yes, I know it’s cliché but it’s true. Your blog’s content needs to be consistent, on-topic, evergreen and fresh at the same time in order to run a successful blog. Some people don’t have time to post every day, once a week, or even twice a month. That’s perfectly understandable and I’ve been there!
While I can’t tell you how often to post new content, as a general rule of thumb, bloggers who post twice a week seem to see the most success. If you’re like me, wearing a million different hats and running around like a chicken with your head cut off, so burnt out by the middle of the week that you can’t even answer your Facebook messages let alone write a blog post, don’t worry. You’ve got options.
First, you could create your content ahead of time and post on a schedule. This is an especially important tactic for travel bloggers since traveling costs money and we don’t always have it. Or, like in my case, sometimes you’ve gotta spend six months back in your own country taking care of unforeseen circumstances.
When you create a new post, there should be a drop-down menu on the right side of your screen. Click Post Settings –> Status then choose a date and time. WordPress will automatically post it on your schedule. How cool is that?
The easier option, if you’ve got the cash, is to outsource your content. Sites like UpWork and Freelancer make it easy to find freelance writers to collaborate with. The only downside is that quality content is expensive and you don’t have total control over elements such as grammar, word choice, and style.
Step 6: Fly, Social Butterfly, Fly!
Yep, this one’s all about social media. While the biggies like FB and Twitter are still important, Instagram, YouTube, and SnapChat are the most relevant social media sites for the younger generation in 2019. Video streaming sites such as Twitch and YouNow also have vast numbers of hungry eyeballs waiting to devour content.
“Oh no!” you exclaim. “But I’m an introvert. That’s why I became a writer. Please don’t make me go in front of the camera!”
To which I respond: Silly goose. It’s all about hybrid media these days. Let me explain. Yes, visual content is on the rise and people don’t read as much as they used to, sadly. But that doesn’t mean the written word is dead. Far from it, in fact. From book vloggers on YouTube to teen Instagram models to Twitch eSports players, there’s always one common denominator: the ability to influence. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those influencers and ask them for a little mention in exchange for promoting them. Bartering FTW.
Step 7: Follow (and copy) the Pros!
Look, we all wanna be one step ahead of the hottest trends in our industry but the fact of the matter is, most of us won’t be. I’m here to give you practical advice about how to start out and make it as a small to mid-level blogger. If you see something blowing up on Instagram, hop on that bandwagon. You gotta follow until you can lead.
Check out Natasha’s and Matt’s excellent travel blogs for ideas on how to get started.
This post contains affiliate links and has been included as an entry into a giveaway/sweepstakes.
Three months back in the U.S., the place my mother birthed me. The country I’d called home for twenty-three years. I think about China every day. Amid these ponderings, I realized what life in the states is missing: 人情味 (rén qíng wèi). Though I know what it means on a visceral level, Pleco’s definition, “human touch; human interest; empathy” doesn’t capture the true meaning of the word. There’s no decent English translation because this concept doesn’t exist in Anglo societies.
人情味 is your neighbor asking if you’d eaten around lunch time. It’s your friends sending you reminders to dress for the weather as the seasons change. It’s a shop owner you met once on a business trip asking about your children. It’s the three-hour buffets followed by a night of drunken karaoke with your coworkers. It’s the police officer you feel comfortable approaching to ask for directions because you know he won’t get aggressive for no reason. It’s the ability to easily forgive others for the sake of communal harmony. The list goes on.
Recently, I made a Facebook post that triggered a ton of backlash. I’d said I don’t like people from other countries who take on the negative traits of Americans. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of things I like about my country: the fresh air, beautiful scenery, down-to-Earth people, and organization, just to name a few. However, I also dislike the view of humans as a commodity, being measured by our productivity, and my generation’s lack of commitment. People aren’t held–and don’t want to be held–to higher standards and that can make for a pretty sucky society to live in at times.
I dislike that life in America is mainly about convenience. Fast food, most people looking for hookups instead of relationships, having to hold down more than one job because the wages aren’t enough to live off of unless you’re a doctor, lawyer, celebrity, or engineer. With increasingly limited options, it’s easy to see why millennials and Gen Z have become despondent. It’s difficult to care about anything in a society that kicks you when you’re down until you can’t get back up.
I like to carry the warmth of China in my heart. My friends continue to wait patiently for my return. What a joy to have experienced 人情味 in this lifetime.
I’ve had this blog for almost three years. And while it’s brought me a lot of personal fulfillment, it hasn’t actually earned me a cent. In fact, I lose out on the web hosting fee every year. I’ll admit this is my fault. With my SEO and content writing skills, I could have monetized this blog a long time ago if I had the motivation. Well, I’ve got it now.
I came back to the states and for the most part, everything and everyone stayed the same for better or for worse. Unlike in China, things move very slowly. People I’d drifted apart from grew closer and people who I’d been close with might as well exist in another galaxy.
I’m trying to look at this period of time as a chance at self-improvement. I had a lot of distractions back then that I won’t have for the next six months. This is a healing journey, not just for myself but for the relationship between me and my family as well as some of the people I grew up with. This is a chance to finally leave a place without having burnt every single bridge on the way out.
No one knows what’ll happen tomorrow. Everyone’s busy making plans for the future. Potential mates and employers might inquire about where you see yourself in five years. I’m tired of thinking that far ahead. If I can get through the day, it’s nothing short of an accomplishment that deserves to be celebrated with the most robust bottle of rum in my cabinet.
Temporary circumstances have forced me to return to the U.S. I’m unable to leave the country again until at least October. I’ve been back for a little over two months and I still keep waking up wondering why I’m not in China.
I left my hometown for good at the age of 19. Most of my friends are in New York, where I went to college, and China, where I lived since I graduated. I’ve got no one except my parents by my side in this swamp.
Being back here is a blessing and a curse. Seeing my family again after three long years has helped me a lot. The downside is that there’s no way for me to earn a living in this town. It’s impossible to find work and I dislike the environment to the point where I’ve become seriously depressed.
I keep telling myself that it’s temporary. I’ll get out of here. I have friends around the world. Asia will still welcome me back in 2020. I know that when I go back to China and eventually to Southeast Asia, I can’t go back to the KTVs. Other business ideas have floated around in my head. Every time I get a good one, I write it down and I reach out to a friend who might be able to help.
In the meantime, I’m getting a lot of thinking and writing done. I should be finished with the manuscript of my second novel before I leave. It’ll be over soon. It’ll all be over soon.
My Previous Episodes of Reverse Culture Shock (2015-2016)
It’s that day again. I’m single but I’m happy. I’m blessed because no matter where I’ve gone in the world, I’ve managed to find my people: the friends who understand and support me no matter what. I’m grateful to be able to spend valuable time with the wonderful woman who raised me before it’s too late. Finally, I’m thankful for each and every one of you, dear readers.
This Valentine’s Day, I’m offering you a piece of my heart. The first person to comment gets a free, personalized, signed copy of my novel: Grasping Feathers. Feel the love. ❤