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!
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:
- Navigate to the MOJO Marketplace section inside cPanel.
- Click the One-Click Installs icon.
- Choose WordPress.
- Click the Install button.
- Choose the domain name to install it to.
- 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.
- Read through the license and service agreements and check the boxes.
- Select the Install Now button.
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:
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.
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.