Apparently, I’m a basket case and I never will. I just read Nomadic Matt’s book “How to Make Money With Your Travel Blog” and can clearly see there’s no hope for me.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Matt makes a nice bundle of cash from his sites (yeah, he has more than one) and decided to write an e-book to tell the great unwashed how he does it. In his book he says openly that he makes around 3,000 a month (yes, that’s in US dollars) but in a recent NYTimes interview, the figure came up to 80,000 a year. That’s a lot of dough and I feel great that I managed to contribute my 27 dollars to the grand total. Yes, that’s how much the e-book costs – 27 bucks. Which, if you ask me, for 40 pages is quite much. Too much. Maybe that’s why Matt throws another e-book as a freebie. Whatever.
True, the book is full of interesting info, but still, is it worth 27 bucks? That is something you will have to decide for yourself.
The problem is that his book should be titled “How to Make Money With Your Wordpress Travel Blog”, but I suppose, if Wordpress is what Matt knows, that’s what he writes about.
My blog is not on Wordpress. Strike one against me.
It also seems that what Matt describes is not so much a straight-up travel blog, but a travel site with a blog component, similar what he has going on.
What else did I learn? SEO is really important. I suppose it is, if you are really determined to make money.
On my blog I just write what I want, how I want it. SEOs can go and perform a sexual act with a goat and a pogo stick, for all I care. Strike three against me.
Page rank. I had no clue what it was, or even how to check it until this morning. And it turns out that I’m a lowly PR4. Which is a dime a dozen, apparently. Even my very mediocre photo blog – Utsunomiya Daily is a PR4 site.
Alexa rating. Like, whatever.
The importance of links. Yeah, I know links are important, but nobody ever links to me, because blogs like mine are a dime a dozen.
Social networking. I’m too much of a misanthrope for that. You can find me on social networks, but they’re just background noise in the great scheme of things, at least in my life.
Finding your travel niche. This is all fine and dandy if your travel niche is somewhat broad. And all this “the smaller your niche, the easier it is to be the expert in that area” while certainly very true, is also very misleading.
Why? Let’s say, you’re an expert on Tochigi prefecture. How many people want to read about Tochigi prefecture in English? Maybe twelve. OK, twenty. And I can just see advertisers falling over themselves to stick an ad on a top blog read by a handful of people. Not!
On the other hand, if your niche is broad, like backpacking on a budget, then you’re safe. Thousands of people want to read about backpacking on a budget. And such a broad and trendy niche also attracts advertisers. So, the advice in Matt’s book should have read – "find your niche, but make sure that niche not too small and not too obscure".
And what about me? I don't even have a niche. Strike whatever number we’re on now against me.
In conclusion, I’ll never make any money off of my blog. And that’s fine by me. I’d rather write what I want how I want than worry about how to attract more traffic, how to SEOize my site and where to get links. I’m just not that ambitious.
So, should you buy Matt’s book? Only if you’re really serious about turning your blog into a money-making operation. If not, you’ll end up 27 bucks poorer and feeling like a totally incompetent idiot that you are. In retrospect, I should have gone to the movies instead.
PS. DISCLAIMER: To avoid any potential confusion, which is normal when reading my reviews, let me clarify: this is a mostly positive review.