How blogging enables me to make money while traveling on a sailboat

This post may contain affiliate links.

One of the questions I commonly get from people is how I’m able to make money while traveling on our sailboat. It’s a valid question for sure, and one that still even blows my mind at times. I mean, look at my office view today!

How I make money while traveling through blogging

My office view right now

Most people think of work as something that involves sitting in rush hour traffic to get to a boring office where they sit behind a cubicle all day.  But for the past 4 years, I’ve been making money while traveling on the boat, and having a blog is one of the main reasons I’m able to do that.

Most people think of making money from a blog as having a bunch of ads and affiliate links. But it goes way beyond that (I don’t even use ads because they don’t pay well). Having this blog has allowed me to:

  • Get generous discounts on products for the boat, just by trying them out and writing my honest opinion
  • Get free products, just for putting an ad on the site, and maybe posting a few pictures on social media of me using the products
  • Get paid to post other people’s articles on my site
  • Promote my Maggie & Milly shop, where I sell my handmade nautical bracelets
  • Get paid freelancing jobs (web design, marketing material design, etc.)
  • Get paid writing jobs (this blog serves as my portfolio and has earned me several writing jobs)
  • Get my current full-time job that allows me to work remotely (yes, my current company actually hired me BECAUSE they loved the fact that I was living on and freelancing from a boat — even though I had no formal experience in my position, working for a New York Times best-selling author)

These are just a few of the perks of having a blog like this. 90% of the work I’ve gotten has been a result of having this blog.

In fact, when I first started out, I used to manually seek out sponsors. Now, sponsors are seeking me out instead of the other way around. I’ve been approached for interviews (you can listen to our interview with Boat Radio International, an online radio program that features boaters from around the world), and I’ve been written up in several online publications.

I’m not saying any of this to brag. I want to show you that it is possible to make money while traveling by having a blog.

So now, how do you get started with a blog? It’s actually not as hard as you may think. I’ll show you step by step how to get your own blog started below.

Step 1: Choose your niche

Just because you live on or travel by boat doesn’t necessarily mean you have to start a sailing blog. When I started this blog, I didn’t want to just write about sailing or our travels, so I chose a unique angle, by writing about how much it costs to live on a sailboat, how I save money, and eventually, how I make money from a boat.

This has allowed me to separate myself from a lot of the other sailing blogs out there (which I love, don’t get me wrong), but I do think niching it down a bit further has helped me distinguish myself as an “expert” of sorts, when it comes to people’s questions about making money while traveling.

People are always interested in the financial aspect of this lifestyle, and many sailing bloggers understandably aren’t comfortable divulging financial information. So I filled that niche.

Your niche doesn’t even have to pertain to sailing or travel. It can be about knitting, or kite-surfing, or whatever hobby you may have. The point is to niche it down. Don’t be too broad.

If you’re starting a blog in order to make money while you travel (or even from home), remember that you want to choose a niche that there’s an audience for. You want to make sure that you’re giving something to your audience. Don’t just make it your personal online journal.

Even if you write a travel blog, you’re teaching people about different places, cultures, and giving them something to daydream about while they’re stuck at their desks all day.

Step 2: Choose a domain name

A domain name is the URL, or the website address you want to use (i.e. savingtosail.com). You want to pick something that’s:

  • Relevant to your niche
  • Catchy/easy to remember
  • Not too long (if possible, keep it under 17 characters)
  • Contains no numbers or hyphens (too hard for people to remember and type)
  • Has a .com or .net extension (no .org, .biz, etc.)

You can purchase your domain separately through a company like Namecheap for about $12/year, which is what I do, but if you’re just starting out, a free domain is usually included when you buy hosting (see below) and requires no additional steps, so to keep this simple, we’ll do it this way.

I recommend choosing 2 or 3 in case your first choice isn’t available.

Step 3: Choose a web host

You need a “web host” to host your website or blog. I use Bluehost for ALL of my websites (I have several). Their hosting packages are affordable, their customer service is excellent, and I’ve had nothing but positive experiences using them.

*NOTE: If you purchase through this link, you can save money and get a hosting package for just $3.49/mo…  a great deal!

The great thing is that Bluehost includes a free domain with your hosting package, so you don’t have to purchase it separately. When you go to sign up, they’ll ask you what domain you’d like, so put in your choices from Step 2. If a .com version (preferred) isn’t available, try the same URL with a .net extension.

Oftentimes you can get your first or second choice this way. But always stick with .com and .net as recommended earlier. It’s more professional, easier to remember, and Google promotes these in their search engine rankings higher than other extensions.

Step 4: Install WordPress (easy — and free!)

WordPress is hands down my #1 recommended software for websites and blogs. Most websites and blogs you see today are using self-hosted WordPress because of the customization abilities, beautiful free themes, plugins for everything you can imagine, and more.

You can install WordPress for free directly from the cPanel of your BlueHost account as follows:

  1. Navigate to the MOJO Marketplace section inside cPanel.
  2. Click the One-Click Installs icon.
    How to install WordPress on Bluehost account
  3. Choose WordPress.
    Install WP onto Bluehost account
  4. Click the Install button.
    Installing WP on Bluehost account
  5. Choose the domain name to install it to.
    mojo-select-domain
  6. If necessary, you can edit the email address, username and password for the new WordPress installation. Click “advanced options” and you can change those settings.
  7. Read through the license and service agreements and check the boxes.
  8. Select the Install Now button.
    Install WP on Bluehost

Step 5: Choose a WordPress theme

Once you’ve installed WordPress, you’ll want to log into your WordPress account and choose a theme. Your WordPress account is now where you’ll be going to do all of your bloggy stuff. You’ll rarely need to log into your Bluehost account at this point.

To log into WordPress, go to:

  • yourdomain/wp-admin

So for me, mine is: savingtosail.com/wp-admin.

Once you log in, you’ll see the WordPress dashboard (the column on the left side). This can be a little intimidating at first, but it’s an easy learning curve. To install your theme, just look on the dashboard and select Appearance —> Themes.

There are so many awesome themes that it can be a little hard to choose. I recommend Divi by Elegant Themes because it is SO easy to work with right out of the box, even if you’re a beginner and have no technical or coding skills whatsoever, and you can create a site that looks like something that a pro designed in as little as a weekend (not lying). Don’t believe me? Check out these sites I created with the Divi theme:

When I design sites for my clients, I almost always use Divi, because it allows them to make changes in the future without having to re-hire me, or hire another designer or webmaster. Seriously, it’s stupid simple. And gorgeous.

Step 6: Write your first blog post!

Now, we’re talking! To create a new (first) post, just go to Posts —> All Posts. You’ll see one that is a default “sample” post already there, called “Hello World!”. Just click on the “edit” button, and it will open that up.

Change your title, write your post, upload images using the “Add Media” button, and when everything is all set, hit the “Publish” button on the upper right hand side.

Voila!

Do you want to make money while traveling?

The point of all this is that so many people hold themselves back from their dreams because they think it’s impossible to be able to make money from anywhere, and that’s just not true.

Granted, it takes a lot of work (these posts don’t just write themselves), but writing is something I love to do, and the benefits of having an online writing portfolio have been amazing.

Will everyone have the same results? No. I know bloggers who make a lot more than I do, and I know some that don’t make any money. Hell, I don’t even make that much money through my blog itself, but the fact that I have a blog gives me credibility. I get readers who write and hire me for jobs that I never otherwise would have gotten, and I’m able to promote myself and my ventures in a way that I wouldn’t be able to without a blog. And it’s almost all pure profit because the expense to have a blog is minimal.

I pay about $60/year to host and maintain this blog, and it paid me back 200x that last year, not including the full-time job. Yes, I averaged over $1000/month in SIDE income last year — almost solely because I have this blog.

Pretty cool if you ask me.

Have you thought about starting a blog? Are you just not sure where to start, or need to bounce around some ideas? Want help withthe technical aspect of it? Post your questions/concerns in the comments, or email me and I’ll respond to every one.

How To Set Up A WordPress Blog In 9 Steps

This post may contain affiliate links.

How to set up a WordPress blog in 9 easy steps

I often get emails from people asking how to set up a blog. In fact, I’ve had so many people ask me about it that I created an email course on how to launch a profitable blog.

Today, I’m going to give you a step-by-step look at what I do to get a WordPress blog up and rolling in just 9 easy steps, which I will explain in detail.

This will give you a good blueprint for setting up a blog with WordPress, especially if it’s your first time. You may wanna grab a cup of coffee (or a beer, depending on what time of day it is, but hey – I’m not judging), because this is going to be a long post.

The Short Version

  • Purchase domain name
  • Purchase web hosting
  • Change DNS servers to point to web host
  • Assign domain name to your web host
  • Install WordPress
  • Set Up WordPress (install plugins and remove unnecessary plugins)
  • Select and install theme
  • Customize theme
  • Start blogging!

Ok, now let’s go into detail about each of the above steps. I will try not to leave anything out, but if you follow these steps and get hung up somewhere, just leave a comment and I’ll try to help you out!

Step 1: Purchase a Domain Name

The first thing you’ll need to do is choose your domain name.  The best domain names are easy to remember, fairly short (15 characters or less is best), and pertain to your blog’s niche.

Don’t pick a domain name with hyphens or numbers. They are a pain to type, hard to remember, and if you ever have to explain in person your URL, you have to literally spell it out for them. 

If at all possible, go with a .com suffix, but .net will work, too. Google is rumored to give higher priority to dot-coms. It’s best to stay away from any other extensions such as .info or .biz. You want to stick with dot-coms and dot-nets.

I use Namecheap for all of my domain names. I like them because they are inexpensive (around $12/year) and their customer service is top notch.

If you’re a new Namecheap customer, you can get a new domain for as little as $3.98/year if you click on my affiliate banner below when you go to purchase your domain. This doesn’t cost you any extra (in fact if you go through my banner, chances are it’s cheaper than you’d normally get), and I get a small commission off the sale.

Namecheap

Step 2: Purchase Web Hosting

Selecting a good web host for your blog or website is also important. There’s a lot of research on different hosts and which one is the best, and depending on your needs, your requirements may be different, but I’ve been working with Bluehost exclusively for 6 years now for all of my websites, and have never had any problems. I currently have 25 domains that I host through Bluehost so that tells you something, and you can get a great price on web hosting if you use the banner below (again, I get a small commission if you sign up).

Step 3: Point Your Domain To Your Web Host

Now we need to point your domain to your web host, and this is done by pointing your domain’s DNS records to your host’s nameservers. Without getting too technical (if you really want to give yourself a headache learn how it all works, you can check out this article), let’s just say that this simply allows your domain and host to talk to one another so that content can be delivered when someone types in your URL.

It literally takes all of 30 seconds to change the DNS records on Namecheap so they point to Bluehost:

  • In Namecheap, click on your username in the upper left corner and select “Manage Domains” from the dropdown.
  • Click on the domain you want to edit
  • Select “Domain Name Server Setup” from the left menu
  • Enter the nameservers for Bluehost. I know that Bluehost’s nameservers are NS1.bluehost.com and NS2.bluehost.com, so just type the nameservers in the first two spaces and hit save. If you have your hosting with another web hosting provider, I’ve put together a list of some of the most popular ones, alo

That’s it! Sometimes it can take up to 24 hours to propagate, but in my cases, it’s usually instant and you can start creating your blog right away.

Transfer DNS records via namecheap

“But can’t I just buy my domain through a webhost and keep them together, saving myself the 30 seconds of misery to do all this DNS server crap?”

 Yes, you can, but that’s like shitting where you sleep – in my opinion – and pardon my French. If for some reason you aren’t happy with your hosting, and decide to move to another host, it can be a real pain to try to transfer the domain, etc. I’ve heard of some hosts making it such a frustrating process that the customer just gives up and stays with them to avoid conflict or hassle. For that reason alone, I like to keep them separate, but it’s up to you, and there’s no right or wrong way to do it.

Step 4: Assign Your Domain Name

In this step, you’ll need to assign your domain name to your host’s cPanel, since we didn’t purchase our domain name through our host. This just tells the host that they will be hosting that domain. Go to cPanel, and select “Addon Domains” and when you get to the next screen, enter your new domain name.

addon-domains-cpanel

If you set up your nameservers correctly in the previous step, that will count as your verification in step 2 on this page. I leave the other steps at their default settings, then hit “Assign Domain”. That’s it! Now you’re ready to rock and roll… almost. Now we have to install WordPress, which is the best blogging platform out there. But first, a quick note about the difference between WordPress.org (what you want) and WordPress.com.

WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com

Oftentimes when someone wants to set up a WordPress blog, their natural inclination is to go to WordPress.com, but WordPress.com is different than WordPress.org, which is the preferred platform for WordPress blogs. While you can set up a blog from WordPress.com, it’s you will want to make sure you’re informed before you do, to save yourself money and headaches later should you ever want to change.

WordPress.org is an open-source, free platform that has a ton of free themes and plugins, and you have full control over your site. You can customize as you please by tweaking the code to your liking and there are no limitations. You will need to purchase your own domain and hosting, but you can get these for minimal costs.

WordPress.com is a commercial site that gives you sort of a one-stop shop in that you can get your domain, hosting and the WordPress platform all in one place. However, there are limitations on the customization. For example, you can’t upload your own theme or theme from a 3rd party. You are limited to the themes on WordPress.com. You also have no custom plugins, limited storage space (unless you pay premium prices for more), limited control of your content, you must pay to remove ads, and you can’t use 3rd party platforms such as Adsense to monetize your blog, or Google Analytics to track stats. In the end, a WordPress.com site will likely cost you much more, and will give you no added benefits.

Step 5: Install WordPress

Ok, now we’re getting closer to getting your WordPress blog up and rolling!  At this point, we should be done with the domain name stuff. Now you want to go into cPanel on your hosting account (this is like a big toolbox for your hosting) and find the button to install WordPress. On my Bluehost cPanel, it has it’s own WordPress Install icon, but on some, you may find it hidden behind an icon that says “Installs” or something along those lines.

How to install WordPress from Bluehost cPanel

How to install WordPress from Bluehost cPanel

Once you’ve installed it, don’t forget to note your username and password for WordPress because it’s time to start putting it all together. 

(I know this sounds like a ton of steps, but it’s all relatively easy, especially once you’ve done it a time or two.) 

Step 6: Set Up WordPress

After installing WordPress, you’ll need to get to the login page, which will be at: http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin. You should have the login info from the previous step. I use ‘admin’ as the username for all my WP logins just to keep it simple.

Once you’re in, if you’re not familiar with WP, take some time to look at the Dashboard, which is on the left side of the page. The first thing I like to do is delete the sample page and sample post. To do this, select PAGES, then ALL PAGES, then trash the sample page. Same thing for the post. Go to POSTS, then ALL POSTS, and trash the sample.

The reason I don’t  keep these and just edit them is because I like a fresh start, and also I’ve tried editing them in the past and Google crawls the page prior to my getting content on it, and when the content is put on there, Google still shows the “Welcome!” default message as the meta info. Not good. I also have forgotten to change the “slug” when I did it this way, so for me, I want a clean slate.

Now, I go to the PLUGINS section, and select INSTALLED PLUGINS. It lists all the plugins that are already installed by default. These will vary depending on your hosting provider, and in my case, I get rid of them all and start from a clean slate. 

One plugin that usually comes installed (at least with Bluehost and GoDaddy) is Jetpack. I used to love it – it had analytic settings, a built in contact form, image widgets, and tons of other things. Then I discovered how much it slowed everything down. I mean, I had one site that took about 15 full seconds to load.

15 SECONDS!

That’s just ridiculous, and I was losing a ton of visitors as a result so I deleted Jetpack, and it immediately made my site faster. I also deleted Jetpack from my other sites, just in case. However, one of the handy-dandy things that apparently came installed within Jetpack was an email subscriber list. I didn’t realize that it was part of Jetpack (I thought it was a WP feature), so when I deleted Jetpack, guess what?

I lost ALL. MY. SUBSCRIBERS. Huge fail, and lesson learned. That said, I don’t want something that slows my site down so I always delete it right off the bat now. You can get non-speed-sucking plugins to cover your needs. So in my opinion, delete Jetpack, delete anything else you don’t think you’ll need or use, and start getting some really good plugins installed.

And if you were a subscriber to this blog before, you may want to resubscribe because this site was one of the ones I lost all my subscribers for. Eek.

NOTE: If a pre-installed plugin is active, you’ll have to deactivate it before it will let you delete the plugin.

WordPress Plugins I Use

Broken Link Checker: This is a tool that checks your site for broken links due to misspelling, typos or if they link to pages that no longer exist.

Fast Secure Contact Form: A quick and easy contact form. I used to use Contact Form 7, and found that this one was faster to set up and more user friendly. It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, but it’s perfectly adequate for my site.

MailChimp for WordPress: This allows you to create a subscriber list via MailChimp. It also allows you the option of having a check-able box in your comment section so anytime someone goes to leave a comment, they can subscribe to your mailing list.

NK Google Analytics: This gives you a quick and easy way to set up your Google Analytics code on your site.

Pretty Link Lite: This might just be one of my favorite plugins. What it does is allows you to mask an affiliate link with an extension of your website url. For example, with Pretty Link, my affiliate link for Bluehost is savingtosail.com/bluehost instead of the long, ugly type of link you usually get from affiliates. It makes it so much easier for me to remember, and saves me time from having to go find my affiliate link each time I need to.

W3 Total Cache: This plugin caches your site for optimal speed and page load times. No one wants a slow site.

WordPress SEO: This is my other favorite plugin. It provides a simple way to inject SEO into each post, as well as to your main page. At the bottom of each post page, you’ll see spots for Target Keyword, Meta, Title, etc. Input your desired keyword or long-tail keyword for that post, and it will calculate your keyword density and other SEO metrics and give you a score. It will tell you what you can do to improve (such as inserting your keyword into the alt section of your images, etc.). It has helped me write smarter for SEO.

Wp-Insert: This is an ad-insert plugin. You can set it to insert an adsense banner in the middle of each post automatically, or to insert an ad at the bottom of a post or page. Many variations, and because you set it and forget it, it makes it much easier to write without having to worry about where to insert an ad.

It’s also very useful if you ever decide to change your ad size within a post. Let’s say you’ve done some A/B testing and you find that you get more clicks within your posts on a banner ad vs. a leaderboard. Instead of having to manually go through all your posts and change the ad out, you can change it in one spot in Wp-Insert and voila!  Job done.

WP-SpamShield: A lot of people use Akismet for comment spam, but I find this one to be effective as well, and easier to set up.

XML Sitemap & Google News feeds: This one creates a Google sitemap for your website. A sitemap is just that – it maps all links within your site and helps with your SEO.

I’m sure there are a ton of other great ones, but these are the ones I currently have on most of my sites.

Step 7: Choose and Install a Theme

Selecting a theme, for me, is one of the hardest parts, but also the most fun. There are a few considerations when choosing a theme.

You will want to consider your basic layout. Do you want a right sidebar? Do you want to be able to add widgets to your footer? Do you plan on selling anything direct from your website that will require e-commerce capability?

You definitely want a theme that’s responsive. This means that it will change or rearrange the layout in order to adapt and fit to any sized screen that it’s being viewed on. More and more people are reading online content on their mobile phones, iPads or other tablets.

According to the Google Analytics on one of my themes, over 58% of my readers visit my page from a mobile phone. This means that my content needs to look good on their phone, or they won’t come back. Simple as that.

Another thing to ask yourself is whether you want a free theme or if you want a premium theme. There are lots of great free themes out there. The only problem with the free WP themes is that a lot of them aren’t supported, or have very little support if anything goes wrong or you have questions. There are good ones out there, though. Just check the reviews from other users and make your decision based on that.

Premium themes can be great to have. For starters, most of them aren’t that expensive – you can find a good premium theme for around $50. If the theme comes with thorough documentation and/or good support, then it can make it worth the money spent. Again, there’s no right or wrong. I use free themes on some blogs, and premium themes on other sites, just depending on what my visual needs are for the site.

Good Places For Premium Themes

If you select a free theme from within your WordPress dashboard (under the Appearance link), you can install and activate it right from WordPress. If you select a theme from an outside party, you’ll need to upload the theme manually. You do this by going to Appearance —> Themes, then at the top, select Add New, and upload the zip file from the 3rd party.

Step 8: Customize Your Theme

Once you install your theme, you’ll want to go in and customize it. Depending on the levels of customization within your theme, this can take awhile, but take the time to play around with it and get it set up how you like it.

Some themes will have options such as the ability to upload a favicon or to change the font without having to edit your CSS stylesheet and other themes will just have the bare bones options. One great thing about WordPress, however, is that if the theme doesn’t have an option for something you want, chances are, there will be a plugin that will give you what you need, so I always look to see if there’s a plugin that’s popular before I start editing any CSS.

If you must edit your CSS, however, ALWAYS CREATE A CHILD THEME. I can’t stress this enough. Creating a child theme isn’t hard to do, and trust me, you’ll wish you had in case you mess anything up when editing CSS. I’ll talk more about that in another post.

Step 9: Start Posting!

This step is pretty self explanatory – just start writing! Of course, you’ll now need to start promoting your blog, which I’ll talk about in a future post, but in the meantime, post away!

5 Ways To Earn Money With A Blog

This post may contain affiliate links.

5 Ways To Earn Money With A BlogI get a lot of emails from readers who want to find out more about how to earn money with a blog – many of them are fellow cruisers or travel bloggers who are understandably looking for ways to make money doing something they are already doing anyway – blogging about their travels.

The truth is, I don’t make a lot of money directly from blogging per se, but I definitely make extra money as an indirect result of my blogging. I’ve gotten a few writing gigs and web design gigs from people who have come across my blog, which is awesome because it supports my wine habit.

No doubt there are many bloggers who are making a full time income from their blogs, but don’t let anyone try to tell you that it’s easy. It’s not.

I would not recommend starting a blog just as a means to try to make money. Blogging takes a lot of work, time and effort to do it effectively, and although making extra money with your blog is an added bonus, to be a successful blogger, in my opinion, you must write sincerely for your audience, building trust while also building a network of readers. The more readers you have, the more potential to make money with your blog.

That being said, here are 5 ways you can make money with a blog or website.

Adsense

This is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind when you think about making money using your website. How it works is you create an Adsense account, and once your account is set up, you simply create a new ad unit. You can select between many variables such as ad size, ad type (text or image), and you can even set up channels that allow you to target certain keywords or advertisers.

I’ve had some luck with Adsense personally, but not a huge amount, as you can see in my past side income posts. I may try to switch some things around in order to maximize my earning potential, but I think a big reason for the lackluster earnings is that people have become blind to Adsense ads because they are everywhere.F

Either way, as long as it’s done properly, there is still potential for making money using Adsense, especially if you get a lot of traffic.

Affiliate Income

Affiliate income is one way that you can earn money with a blog or website. Your success depends on a lot of things, including what your website or blog is about.  Affiliate income comes when you link to a product and if someone purchases that product via your link, you get a commission on the sale.

There are many ways this can be done, but the basic concept is that when you sign up as an affiliate for a company or product, they give you a url with a certain code that is unique to you. When you use link to a product using that url, that’s how the advertiser know if the purchase was made through you.

Some advertisers don’t require that the user purchase that specific product, either. For example, if you’re an Amazon affiliate, and let’s say you link to a particular book that you enjoyed and want to share with your audience. The user clicks on the link and doesn’t particularly want to buy that book, but Amazon is chock full of other awesome products and let’s say they buy something else. You still get commission on the sale, because Amazon recognizes that the reason they likely made the sale in the first place was because you directed someone to their site. It’s kind of a “referral fee” if you will.

Some sites even take it a step further, and have a cookie that will run for 7 days or even 30 days. If someone goes to their website via your link but is kind of on the fence and doesn’t buy anything, but a couple of weeks later decides that yes, they do want to make a purchase after all, you still get commission, even if they went to the site directly the next time and not via your url, because the advertiser still sees that cookie with your unique code on there.

Make sense?

It’s always good to read the fine print to see what the terms are as an affiliate, but like I said above, there’s a lot of potential to earn money with this method. More to come on this in a future post.

Sell Ad Space

Your blog or website may be a prime candidate for advertisers, and who says you have to go through Adsense to reach them? Lots of bloggers I know have a few slots on their sidebar that they rent directly to advertisers, usually on a monthly basis.

I once purchased ad space from a real popular blogger at a really affordable rate of $13/month for a 300 x 300 ad that I created myself. It helped me reach a lot of potential customers that I wouldn’t have otherwise reached, and it definitely made me more than I paid for the space.

Let’s say you have a blog on travel – you may want to reach out to companies who create products made for vacationers. Have a really favorite carry-on bag that packs a lot but still fits under an airline seat? Call or email the company and see if they’d like to invest in ad space with you!

Be prepared to show them your numbers – this is typically something you don’t really want to pursue until you have a good bit of traffic, but you can set your ad slots at a really affordable rate that advertisers may not be able to say no to.

You also want to know your demographic. If you go this route, it’s imperative that you have your Google Analytics data, complete with specific demographic info to present to your advertisers. If you show them that you run your blog or website as a business, they will take you more seriously and be more inclined to advertise with you.

And remember – be sure that when pitching these potential advertisers, be sure to let them know what value you can provide them by their advertising on your site. These advertisers don’t care about your blog – they just want to know that you can offer them something – in other words, that you can help them make money, so target your potential advertisers wisely.

Sponsors

Some bloggers also get sponsors for their blogs, just like a sports team! If you have really high quality material with good traffic, it might be worth it to pursue sponsorship opportunities with companies that you really believe in.

I once contacted my favorite beachwear company and asked if they would like to sponsor our first year of sailing. They declined a monetary sponsorship, but they did agree to send me 8 new swimsuits from their yet-to-be-released swimwear line  if I agreed to include some pics in some of my posts.

They didn’t even require that I actively promote them – simply post a few shots with a caption saying “Swimsuit by such and such company”. It was great!

Paid Reviews

One popular way that bloggers earn money  is to do a paid review. It’s pretty simple. You contact a company and ask them if they would be interested in sending you a product to review on your blog. In return, you get to keep the product (in most cases), and in some cases, the company will pay you a small amount for the review as well.

I had a friend who was a popular mommy blogger who didn’t even have to pursue companies. They came to her begging her to review their products. This was great, because she actually got to be selective and choose only the products that she really felt she would like (or already did like). This gave her credibility with her readers because they trusted her judgement.

This is definitely something that you do want to be selective about. You don’t want to write rave reviews for a crappy product just for a few bucks. After awhile, your readers will catch on and they won’t value anything you say, and your website income as well as your readership will go down. One blogger I know does paid reviews, but if she doesn’t like a product, she won’t do a review at all. Rather than bash it online, she sends the product back to the company and lets them know why she opted not to review it and what she didn’t like about the product.

Keep it real.

Donations (Bonus Method)

Bonus way to earn money with a blog here. You don’t see this too often with many blogs, but I do see it quite a bit in sailing and travel blogs. In this case, you simply display a PayPal donation button somewhere on your blog (usually in the sidebar) and if someone likes what you write and appreciates the time that goes into it, they can donate whatever they want.

Chances are, it won’t be much, and you likely won’t be supporting yourself on donations, but a few bucks here and there can buy dinner or a box of wine to reward yourself for all the hard work!

Conclusion

In conclusion, it is possible to earn money with a blog – it can take time, and it may not be much at first, but once you know your options, you can start dialing them in and seeing what works best for you. Then you can target your traffic appropriately and work on your search engine optimization (SEO) to grow your blog traffic.

More Traffic = More $$$!

How Not To Be The Only Cruiser Without A Blog… (and make your friends and family insanely jealous)

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They say you can’t swing a cat in an anchorage without hitting another blogger – it seems as though everyone out there on a boat has a blog.

What do you mean you don’t have a blog? Shame on you, you unblogger!  I mean, what better way to make your friends and family back home insanely jealous of your carefree lifestyle?

Yes, the same friends and family who thought you were c-r-a-z-y when you told them you wanted to sell everything to move into an area the size of most of their master bathrooms and travel under five-thousand-year-old-technology.

Of course you want to start a blog. It’s the greatest way to get revenge let your loved ones know that you are safe after battling the high seas. Yep. Safe and sound…with a rum punch in hand…looking out at the sun setting over the crystal clear blue water…  See how thoughtful you are for going the extra mile to write about your life so that everyone knows that you’re ok…

Ok, so let’s get started…

Choosing a domain and hosting

So many people hesitate to start a blog because they’re afraid it’s super complicated. It’s really not. Sure, there’s a bit of a learning curve, but it’s not as complicated as you might think. There are plenty of online tutorials you can find to help you with these and they’re easy to learn if you’re just blogging and want to keep it simple.

There are really two things you need when it comes to having a professional blog. And by professional, I mean a blog that is self-hosted, with your own domain name. Some people opt for the free blogging platforms such as wordpress.com (not the same as the highly recommended self-hosted WordPress) or blogspot.com. The reality is, if you have one of these free accounts, 1) you don’t actually “own” your platform — they do, and they can shut down your blog at any time, and 2) it looks way more professional to have a domain name that doesn’t end in .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com.

If you choose one of the free platforms, your blog name have the domain format:

www.yourblogname.wordpress.com

or

www.yourblogname.blogspot.com

This makes your blog look unprofessional. In fact, if I see a blog that has a .wordpress.com or .blogspot.com extension, I won’t even visit it because I assume it’s going to be poorly designed and amateur.

Let’s say you are a fantastic writer or photographer, and you want to use your blog as a portfolio of sorts… or let’s say you want to monetize your blog and use it as a source of income (more about this in another topic), then you will probably want to purchase your own domain name, such as SavingToSail.com. This makes your blog easier for people to remember and also looks more professional.

You’ll want to pick out a domain name that is easy to remember, contains no numbers, dashes, or anything that’s a pain in the ass to type. Don’t get too cute with plays on words, either. Keep it as short and sweet as possible. Nobody wants to type in luv2sail4ever.com. I mean, why would you do that to people? My rule of thumb is to pick out something that’s no more than 15 letters that you don’t have to spell out to people. If you had the above-mentioned site, your conversation would sound like this: “Check out my blog at luv2sail4ever.com. That’s L-U-V, the number 2, S-A-I-L, the number 4, E-V-E-R.” No one would ever visit that site. NO ONE.

Once you have your domain name, you’ll then need to host it. Again, my way is not the only way, but I’ve found it works for me. My preferred hosting is through Bluehost or HostGator.  <—- more affiliate links

Why don’t I just purchase my domain through my hosting provider, you ask? Well, that’s a good question. Really it boils down to this. Let’s say you’re not happy with the host provider you chose for some reason (luckily I’ve not had this problem), and you want to switch, moving that domain to a new host is like getting a divorce. It’s a huge pain in the ass. They make it this way because your hosting provider doesn’t want to lose your business, so they hope you’ll finally just throw your hands in the air and stick with them.  If you keep it separate, though, it’s as easy as changing one little thing on NameCheap’s website (or whoever you choose to purchase your domain with) and voila! You can be with a new host in minutes.

Now, We Blog

Once you get the domain and hosting sussed out, you can finally have a little fun. My advice is to not spend too much time picking out your theme or doing some fancy design work to your blog at first. I know, I know. You see all the other pretty blog designs out there and you want to make yours look pretty, too, but people are coming to your blog for the content, not the design, so put your best storytelling hat on and start writing.  You can always tweak your design once you have some content up. This is especially good on days when you have writer’s block.

Speaking of writer’s block, chances are you will suffer from it occasionally. One thing I like to do is make a list of potential future blog topics that will be fun to write, or that you think would interest your readers.  This will come in handy if you need ideas later.

Keep ‘Em Coming Back

The biggest weapon a blogger has…the proverbial ace up the sleeve, so to speak, is his/her readership. If you’re blogging for friends and family, then you don’t have to worry about this so much, but if you’re doing it to showcase your writing, photography or other skills, and especially if you want to monetize your blog with advertisers and sponsors, you want to attract as many readers as possible. Not only that, you want to keep them coming back. How do you do this? First, you have to be a good writer. Write content that is fresh, interesting, useful, or funny.  Second, spell-check. I’m a self-proclaimed grammar snob, so whenever I read something poorly written, the misspellings immediately jump out at me and distract me from what the reader is saying. He or she could be writing about a cure for cancer and instead, I’d be thinking, “Why didn’t they use spell-check?!”

Another thing I cannot stress enough is to put really good photos to put in your posts. Not only do photos help break up the text, they also help set the mood for your blog post. Images stir up emotions, so use them often and smartly. If you can’t take good photos, learn how, or use stock photography. My personal favorite stock photo website is SXC.hu.  You can get really great stock photos there for free. You will need to check the rights for each photo to make sure there are no restrictions. NOTE: do not just take images off the internet. Images are copyrighted material and just because they are online doesn’t make them fair use, so know what you’re getting and don’t steal someone’s work. If you want some pointers on editing your photos to make them look fabulous, check out A Lesson in Basic Photoshop – Tips to Improve Your Cruising Photos, written by Jessica, a fellow cruiser.

Making Money From Your Blog

This is a topic that I will cover in another post in more detail, but there are lots of ways you can make a little side income with your blog. Below are a few:

  • Adsense
  • Affiliate Income
  • Sponsors
  • Sell Advertising Space
  • Acquiring Writing Gigs
  • Sell Your Photos
  • Sell Other Goods or Services

Don’t think that the readers will just come rolling in, though. It takes a long time to build your following. It also takes a lot of work, so just know that you will get out of it what you put in to it, but if done right, at the very least you’ll have a diary of sorts to revisit later when the memories of your travels have faded. Who knows, you might even make a little extra money if you so desire. Regardless,  you’ll have the satisfaction of having some really awesome readers who comment and interact with you, and most importantly, your friends and family will be totally jealous happy for you.

Got questions about starting a blog? Leave them in the comments!

A Blog is Born

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Welcome and thanks for reading my very first blog post! I’ve been itching to write for quite some time but I’ve had a tough time getting started because of work, boat repairs, lack of creativity, <insert other lame excuse here>. Yes, I can be a complete procrastinator, and I keep telling myself that I’ll stop procrastinating… tomorrow. But here I am, and there you are, and now that we’re in this together, I will try my best to be informative and entertaining and whatever else a blogger should be for their readers.

Oh and going back to the boat repairs comment above… I guess I should mention that I live on a sailboat. In fact, it’s the entire inspiration for this blog. However, I will go ahead and say right now that this is not going to be a sailing blog. Of course my posts will be scattered with info here and there on boats, sailing and travel since this is my life, but there are already a ton of really great sailing blogs out there and I want to do something a little different.

You see, when we (me and my honey) tell people that we live on a boat, we get mixed reactions or questions, such as, “What do you eat?” (answer: food), “Where do you go to the bathroom?” (answer: the head – aka the boat bathroom), and perhaps the most common reaction, “Wow, sailing around on a boat – you must be RICH!” (answer: unintelligible due to my laughing hysterically). We are not rich. Not even close. Did that stop us from taking the leap and going after our dream? Not for a second. It took about a year for our house to sell and once that bad boy was gone, so were we, and we haven’t looked back since.

A little about us – we are young(ish) – meaning we are nowhere near retirement age. In our previous lives, we were your average middle-class couple. We basically lived paycheck to paycheck, but we sometimes allowed ourselves to splurge on nice dinners out, we took simple vacations, we put a little money in savings, but most importantly, we had no real debt except our mortgage. Now, not much has changed except we no longer have a mortgage, which is good because our “paychecks” are not as consistent as they once were, nor are they as large.

We love our boat. We love our life. We’re living our dream in that we’re currently sailing up and down the East Coast and seeing some of the most beautiful places here in the States. However, we do want to sail to faraway lands and of course that costs money, so we are in “Saving to Sail” mode. We’d love to sail around The Bahamas, then down the Caribbean Island chain… then perhaps Colombia or Panama. The possibilities are endless.

Which takes me to the whole point of starting this blog. In my pursuit of happiness, I’ve learned that sometimes all it takes is a little creativity and willingness to work hard and make some sacrifices to make your dreams a reality. You don’t have to wait until you retire and you don’t have to be rich (unless of course, your dream is to own a football team… then you have to be pretty damn rich). I’m no expert by any means, but I firmly believe that if you are on the right path and are doing something that you love and truly feel passionate about, then the Universe will meet you halfway – I mean, you still have to work hard. Nothing comes free. The question is how badly do you want it?

My short term goal is to save an extra $10,000 cash by December 31st, 2013, which means we’ll have to cut back on our current spending, as well as find ways to make money on the side. During this time, I’ll be blogging about it all. This is only the beginning and I don’t want to limit myself with parameters. I want to grow and learn and share things (bad and good, right and wrong) along the way. I hope that my experiences will help inspire you to follow your own dream, or explore the possibilities of what’s out there. Maybe you’ll just learn a nice way to pick up a little extra cash for that pair of shoes you’ve been coveting or that trip to Paris you’ve been dying to take? That works, too! I’m just glad you’re here, so thanks for following along. So tell me – what’s your dream?