Passive and Active Income
There are very few of us who make an actual living with our travel blogs when compared to the number of travel blogs that are out there. Off the top of my head I can think of several; Wandering Earl, Nomadic Matt, Nomadic Samuel, Natalie Sisson, Gary Arndt, to name a few. There are more, but the point I want to reiterate (in case you haven't read last week's entry) is that you cannot travel without an income source.
Let's get one big myth out of the way right at the start: no one's travel blog started off magically making money, and none of the current "big league" players arrived where they are today without funding their own travels for the first year or two while they built up their business and their brand enough so that they had an established following. Everyone starts off at zero.
Which brings me to myth number two: the myth of passive income. Because let's get one thing straight: building your brand to the point where it is a profitable business and not just a hobby is something that takes time. Lots and lots of valuable time. And effort. And work. And sacrifice. And investment. Not just of the financial type, but also of yourself. There is no part of brand building that is passive. It is 100% active income, because you'll be working your tail off the first couple of years getting your brand to maintenance mode.
Once you arrive at maintenance mode, you can relax a little bit. You'll still be working, and you'll still have to put in hours, but this is the sweet spot that has been over-hyped through publications such as The 4 Hour Work Week. Once you reach this point you can generally maintain your profitability through minimal time investments, especially if you are outsourcing your daily tasks through virtual assistants in all corners of the globe.
It's like a movie star getting ready to do a film. The pre-production phase means that the actor in question is preparing for the role. Spending three to four hours a day in the gym getting into shape. Losing or gaining weight. Growing a beard, or their hair. Preparing themselves mentally as well as physically for the role they will be playing. Learning how to ride a horse, scuba dive, dance, etc. And until they reach the shooting period, they spend three to four hours a day, minimum, every single day, getting ready for the part.
Once the film is ready to shoot, they can go into maintenance mode. They've already lost/gained the weight, grown the hair/beard, gone through the sword fight training, the horse riding training, the dance classes, the martial arts classes, and so on. They are physically and mentally ready for the role and can then go into the maintenance mode of shooting the film.
Don't misunderstand me. Passive income is a very real thing. It exists. And it's a glorious moment when you reach the point where you have products and services that sell themselves based on referrals, affiliates, residual website traffic and so on. It's nice to know that I can go to the beach and take a couple of weeks to explore the Balkans or the rainforests of the Amazon or what have you, and check my daily emails and see sales reports coming in.
But to reach that point, to get your brand ready, it is anything but passive. It's very much an all-hands-on-deck, hoist-the mainsail and work your fingers to the bone day in and day out with 10, 12 and 14 hour days and beyond to build the platform, write the eBooks, create the products, hone the services, produce YouTube and blog content, build up your social media presence and meaningful relationships with your global audience so that they trust you enough to buy said products and services.
Building a brand is a full-time job. It is not a four hour a week commitment. It is a hands-on, nose-to-the-grindstone, daily effort. Anyone who tells you otherwise is point-blank lying. While it's true that you can outsource a lot of things to help reduce your workload, the money to pay those outsourced contract employees has to come from somewhere, and they still require management. And if you don't have the money to outsource, you'll be doing it all yourself, which means putting in a lot of hours and sacrificing until you reach that point.
Not a single travel blogger (or any other blogger, for that matter) out there magically started with thousands of sales and tens of thousands of website hits per month. Everyone starts out at zero. And while everyone has a different rate of growth, it's the same process for everyone. If you want to run a profitable travel blog to fund your life on the road, you have to be willing and ready to put in the time and the money to get your brand to the point where it's making you enough money to fund your lifestyle.
If you remember from the last episode, this is usually a year or two for the average blogger. That means hands-on management every step of the way, writing the blog posts, going on location and shooting film and taking photos, editing those photos and cutting the video and so on. Then there is investing the time + the money it takes to get to those locations, as well as for the gear you need to film and photograph, plus your money for accommodations and food while you are on location.
After that, there's the social media routine and the press kit and the public relations and the networking and the marketing and the day-to-day work involved in running a profitable business. And one of this, not a single aspect, can be considered passive, toes-in-the-sand-with-a-mojito-in-my-hand-while-the-money-just-rolls-in. It's all very much active, reward-based income that is based entirely on how much time and effort you are willing to put into baking your brand a reality.
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