I started writing this blog back in February 2014 and I have learnt so much in that time! If you are planning on having a blog for keeping track of your sailing adventures I would recommend that you start early to enable you to get your head around a few things before you head off. My main reason for writing a blog is for my own personal records of our planning and adventures, for family and friends to keep track of what we are up to, and hopefully it might become a useful resource for others who are hoping to do something similar.
If we can make a bit of extra cash to spend on yacht maintenance along the way via the blog, then that would be brilliant too. Getting it all set up takes a bit of time so here is what I have learnt so far and I am sure there is much more!
- Blog sites – I have chosen to use WordPress as my blogging platform. There are lots of others, but from doing my research I decided to give WordPress a go and I have been really impressed. You can have a website address with a .wordpress.com at the end, or you can pay about $30.00 per year to have that taken off and just get your own website address. There are lots of different formats & layouts you can choose from too. I have recently been looking up lots of other sailing blogs to link up with other sailors, and I am now even more sold on the WordPress blog. Their formats are so clean and professional looking.
- Search Engine Optimisation – SEO – WordPress claim to do this for you, and there are some tricks to getting your website come up first when someone does a search. You need to use relevant keywords in your tags and through your post, add in links to other pages either within your site or other relevant material, add your blog links to various social media sites. Keep blogging regularly and with the help of WordPress SEO then you will be surprised at how close to the top your site will become when you ‘Google’ something.
- Subscribers – people can either subscribe to the blog to get updates emailed to them whenever you post something new, or if they are fellow WordPress users they can follow you on their WordPress news feed or they can follow you on Facebook or Google plus. Make it easy for people to follow you in their preferred way – so get a Facebook page, a Google plus account, Twitter etc. You can set up your WordPress blog to automatically post to these pages when you write a blog post, so it is no extra work having these extra sites. It is also a great way of driving traffic and followers back to your blog. Many of the blogs I have looked at recently don’t have any way of allowing people to follow them. the best way to get lots of subscribers is to post friendly and constructive comments on other people’s blogs and of course to post lots of great content on your own site which encourages people to want to keep in touch with what you are doing. If you want to make some extra funds via your blog then you will need to get lots of followers too.
- Facebook page, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram & Google Plus – you can set up a Facebook, Twitter and Google page for people to ‘Like’ and then you can put your blog posts, online updates and photos on the page. This makes it easy for everyone to follow your blog posts, anyone can ‘like’ this page, and you can reserve your own personal Facebook just for your friends to see. I initially started just writing for myself and once I had it all looking the way I wanted, I started promoting it to friends, family and further afield.
- Affiliate links – you can become an ‘Amazon Affiliate’ and put links on your blog pages to products or books that you recommend. When people click on those links and purchase something, you get paid a commission on the sale! You can check out an example of this on my books page. The blue underlined links take you to the Amazon site, and anything purchased via there gives you a commission. Once you have earn’t USD$100 (I think) they will transfer the money over to you. I don’t imagine that this is going to make us millionaires. But it seems like a good system. You can keep the funds in your Amazon account to use to purchase more boat stuff!
To add an Amazon Affiliate link to your blog, go to the HTML page and paste this code:
<table border=”0″ cellspacing=”10″ align=”left”>
[AMAZON ADVERT HTML CODE]
Add the code from the Amazon affiliate link (I prefer the picture option) and paste it in where the [Amazon Advert HTML Code] bit goes, and voila!
- Advertising on your blog – WordPress has a system called WordAds which you can sign up to to earn money from advertising on your blog. You need to upgrade your blog to get your own URL by paying the annual subscription and then you can earn money by the ads that they place on your site. Incidentally if you just have the free site, then they can still place advertising on there – to cover their expenses for you having a free site. You need to have a large following of people before they will consider your blog for WordAds and I don’t have enough yet. So I will let you know how that goes when I do!
- Sponsorship – Some companies can give you products or services in return for you doing a blog review or recommending their product (if it is any good). Again you will need to have a good readership base to make companies want to do this. You could also sell advertising space on your yacht – sails for example or stickers on the hull that would show up in various posts. We have been paid by an insurance company to write a post about our favourite cruising destination with links back to their website, and we have also just been offered some free products to trial in return for a review! Very cool and we are more than happy to put products through their paces and provide photos and feedback on how they performed.
- PayPal – sign up for a PayPal account. WordAds will pay you via PayPal. You can keep the funds in your PayPal account to use on future purchases via PayPal or you can get it sent back to your personal bank account. You can also put a ‘donate’ link on your page for your followers and friends to be able to easily send you money like this:
- So far no one has ‘donated’ other than Andrew who was doing a test to make sure that it worked! But I still think it is a good thing to have on the blog. I recently saw another cruiser collecting money from their followers to enable them to buy Christmas presents for the kids on the Island they were staying on – this would be a convenient way of managing that. When you are away sailing, friends or family might want to buy you a Christmas/Birthday gift – they could send funds via your donate button to enable you to buy the gift wherever you were!
- Or if you are selling something on your blog you can also use PayPal for people to easily pay you for the product. It is also an easy way for getting funds sent internationally. You can make an invoice to email to someone in any currency and they can pay it easily via credit card – saving all the international money transfer issues. You can then either use this credit to buy more things from companies who also use PayPal or you can get the funds transferred back in to your own account. Brilliant!
- You Tube – you can set up a channel and request for your videos to be ‘monetized’. I have just set up our Astrolabe Sailing Channel and have started uploading videos from the GoPro footage that we have collected over the last few months. The editing of the footage can be a bit time consuming, but I think I am getting the hang of it now. Again this is a good thing to start and become proficient in before you leave. You sign up for your video’s to be ‘monetised’ and this means that advertising shows either at the start before the clip can be watched, or on a little bar at the bottom of your clip. I presume that these different ways also provide different levels of income. However again it is a matter of getting lots of followers, producing clips that people want to watch, and then sharing them via various social media outlets. To give you an idea, we have put up about 10 clips so far in the last couple of months and have had about 600 views in total – this has generated about USD$1.00 in income… so this is going to require a lot more effort before we can retire on this income!
- Writing Articles for publications – I am loving writing the blog and have recently had an article about Passage Planning published in Boating NZ Magazine! My friend Jackie Parry has written some books and has her articles printed in magazines. She recommends sending things to various different publications and being honest about where the content has already been published – ie on your blog or in a magazine from another country etc. Other tips I have read about include:
- Coming up with a unique angle on something that hasn’t been written before
- Identifying your market – and writing your article to suit (are they sailors, non sailors, children, adults etc?)
- What format does the publication require (how many words, photos etc)
- Write a compelling introduction and a good summary, plan your body text around that
- Leave it for a week before going back and re-reading, look at it with some fresh eyes. Read it aloud.
- Double check spelling, grammar etc.
- Make sure you have followed the guidelines and met any deadlines
- Ask for feedback – if the article doesn’t get published, is there anything you can do to improve or change next time?
Anything I have missed? Would love to know any of your other making money from your blog tips and hints!