July 2011 Question & Answers

Time once again to dip into the mailbag here from the Canary Islands….

Dru Stefan Stone asks: Are you all self-financed or how are you able to sustain your extensive travels? While I believe I’ve read it is a combination, is it because of your blog that you have been contacted by different entities?

For basically the first 3 1/2 years I traveled I covered the costs of everything. I sold a business over 10 years ago and also sold my home to help fund my travels.

It has only been in the last year or so that I’ve had some trips covered by tourism boards and other companies.

Also, as my website has grown, more opportunities have come in for me to earn revenue which is also helping me travel.

The biggest thing having a popular website allows me to do isn’t so much the travel, it is the access. I can meet with officials, experts and get permission to photograph things that others cannot. It expands what I’m able to do more than if I was just traveling without a blog.

Alex from Alexinwanderland.com asks: Do you consider yourself a writer or a photographer, primarily?

Neither. The writer/photographer dichotomy is something that comes from print. You wrote, you took photos or maybe you were an editor. Either way you had specialized role in a much larger organization.

Running a blog, I am the entire organization. Writing and photography is certainly a big part of that, but there is a whole lot more. I have to handle the business aspects, marketing, social media and everything else which goes along with running a publication.

I’m comfortable with the term blogger. It captures everything I do.

Amanda Wahlmeier asks: What advice would you give to a young travel writer?

As I mentioned in the above question, I don’t consider myself a travel writer per se. That being said, the one bit of advice I’d give is to establish your own name and audience independent of any publication.

Journalism is in flux right now. Freelance writing might get you a paycheck, but those checks are shrinking as are the opportunities to get them.

The best long term security is to have an online presence with your own personality stamped on it. This isn’t an easy thing to do and not everyone might be able to do it, but if you can pull it off it has the best long term security. Pursue freelance or staff work if you wish, but don’t neglect your own space online.

Jackie Stackable wants to know: What is the meaning of life?

Jordan Oram What practical key points do you have for people looking to create income/live the travel life that allows them to explore, create, and share as many travel bloggers do? I think many people have the passion/desire but, like myself, are intimidated by the business/how of it.

You don’t have to make money from the internet. Just consider how you would have approached this problem 20 years ago before there was a web browser. You probably would have worked odd jobs or done something else to raise money for your travels.

Too many people think that the only way to earn money while traveling is online. It is a very difficult thing to do and it will probably take years to get to a point where you can sustain traveling from a website. It will also require more work than just hold a normal job would entail.

By all means start a website and work on it, but don’t plan on that supporting you right away. Have a alternative means of income while you are working on the blog if you want to start traveling immediately.

As for the business stuff, you can figure that out over time. You don’t need an MBA. “Business stuff” is just figuring out how to solve various problems as they come up. You can learn more starting a business than you ever can in B-School.

Bruce Poon Tip wants to know: Will the Green Bay Packers repeat next year?

Bruce, the short answer is “yes”. The long answer is “hell yes”.

The Packers find themselves in a very unusual spot. Not only are they they reigning Super Bowl Champs but they will probably be the most improved team next year. Think about that for a second….

They had more injuries last year than any other team, so they will have a slew of starters returning who weren’t even around for the playoffs last year. That includes Jermichael Finley, one of the best tight ends in the league, and perennial 1,200 yard rusher Ryan Grant which can give them the running game which was non-existant last year.

Obviously, anything can happen in football. That is why they play the games. At this point, however, I think you’d have to be nuts not to pick the Packers as odds on favorites to repeat.

9 thoughts on “July 2011 Question & Answers”

  1. Apple now has Rhapsody as an app, which is a great start, but it is currently hampered by the inability to store locally on your iPod, and has a dismal 64kbps bit rate. If this changes, then it will somewhat negate this advantage for the Zune, but the 10 songs per month will still be a big plus in Zune Pass’ favor.

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your advice here. I started my first website with the notion that, once it took off, I would be able to travel and work at the same time. But once it did, life got in the way (ie. I had children, which makes a true vagabond lifestyle difficult.) The lifestyle in which you explore, write and photograph has got to be one of the most alluring ideas ever. Great insights in this post.

  3. I find this post really encouraging. I am a student studying English Literature at university, and I long to be a travel writer. I graduate next year, and hope my blog will help in some way help with my desired career. I have also been a model for 14years, and so I really enjoy the photographic aspect of your site too.

  4. I love the mailbag! Particularly the advice to young travel writers, it’s a tough world out there, keep working hard!

  5. Hi Gary, How’s things getting along there?

    Been reading your interesting articles now and then. The tips you provide for Travelers like myself is very informative and helpful. Looking forward to more write ups from you.

  6. So true about making money with a blog. Start blogginf first. It takes a lot of time and energy so be the best blogger you can be and then, think about “branding your name” . Be unique.

  7. Very good advices about making money online.
    While it is by no means impossible, you shouldnt rely on it at the beginning otherwise you’re heading for big troubles ;)

  8. Hi Gary, I am following you for a while, your story, your articles and your pictures are my ispiration. Regarding running a blog and live with the online revenue is one of my dream and I will make it hapen (I hope so) :-)

  9. Hey Gary,

    Thanks for the post this morning.

    Shawn and I are going through the schooling of online business right now (as in learning as we go) and we were shaking our heads in agreement as we read your blog…

    Especially about the part of “building your own brand”. And the part about being tough getting started, we’re in the midst of it right now.

    Would you agree, having a big “why” is important to propel you to take the next step?

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