It was mid-November and I was on Skype with my therapist, pouring my heart out.
I told her about my terrible October, which came to a head when I was forced to move out of my apartment unexpectedly–a move that left me feeling very, very lost.
Now, usually I embrace uncertainty. It’s one of the things I love about travel–not knowing what comes next.
But this time I was exhausted and felt forced into it. I hadn’t chosen to be untethered. I hadn’t had a chance to downsize my possessions. I was already thinking about spending more time on the road in 2015, but I wasn’t ready for it just yet.
Still, I found myself adrift. And, as usual, I called my therapist.
The conversation circled a lot, but always turned on a common theme: getting un-lost.
We talked about where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do, and how it was probably a good idea to give myself a rest, to not force myself to make big decisions right away. After all the sickness and heating issues and harassment of October, November needed to be about healing.
We also talked about business. Because I was feeling a little lost there, too.
Where did I want to put my energy in 2015? How could I make this business work?
I had already decided to tackle (ambitiously) two full-length 100 Locals travel guides in the first half of the year (more on those soon). I had also (very excitingly) been offered a long-term correspondent role at a magazine (more on that soon, too). But those alone wouldn’t quite make ends meet (yet), so I needed something else as well.
To brainstorm, she asked me to talk about the different pieces of my business.
I told her the books were my brainchild. They’re the thing I do that I think is most interesting and salable. They’re the unique idea – the thing I’ve never seen done quite that way anywhere else. They currently account for about 1/4 of the income I need to survive at a basic level. I’d like to eventually get them to cover my basic expenses completely.
Then I talked about my magazine work. With the correspondent role and my other stories, I’d say my magazine work covers about 50% of what I need to live. Not too shabby when you consider that just a year ago, it covered maybe 1%.
Then I talked about the blog.
The blog is the thing that, if I won the lottery, I would still do exactly the same way. I’ve been blogging for 15 years very consistently (though on different platforms and topics over time). I was a blogger back when we called them online diaries. I taught myself to code HTML just so that I could publish stuff online.
So it makes perfect sense that the blog is my first love. This where I am the editor and the content is a joint effort between me and you guys (whose questions and comments and shares help me direct my work). This is where I can talk about the things I think are important without shopping my ideas around to magazine editors or limiting them to magazine subscribers. This is where I can be a little informal, to talk about things like depression or loneliness or loss, as well as travel, on my own terms.
But the blog doesn’t really make money.
I tried ads for a little while, but I kind of hated them. I started down the road of long-term sponsorship last year, but my heart wasn’t really in it.
And I’ve never done advertorials or paid guest posts because…gross.
The only ways the blog makes me money are as a vehicle to sell my books and from a tiny tiny bit of affiliate sales (which just means that when I recommend a book or a camera or a product, I use an Amazon affiliate link instead of a regular link, and when someone goes to Amazon and buys something through my link, they toss me a dollar or two), which maybe (big maybe) cover the hosting cost of the website itself.
I also occasionally accept free or discounted stuff to review here on the blog, but I don’t get any payment for those reviews and I never guarantee a positive one.
And so the blog is the one thing I pour tons of time and energy into and don’t really make any money from. Any savvy business advisor would say that this is the place to start scaling back my time and energy.
But I don’t want to scale back time or energy. I want to answer every reader email. I want to track my travel expenses and share them to help you plan your trips. I want to talk about things I think are important.
And so out of that Skype call came a determination to do things a little differently around here.
I’m still going to say no to advertising and only use affiliate links for stuff I would be telling you about anyway. I’m also going to keep answering reader emails and comments. And, of course, I’ll keep writing and sharing.
But instead of considering advertising along the way, I’m going to ask for your help.
If you love this blog…if my travel budgets, my crazy mishaps, Luna’s antics, or anything else around here has helped you, entertained you, or just made you smile, would you consider making a donation? Even $5, $10, or $20 helps a lot.
All you have to do is stop by PayPal (which will let you donate via credit card) and send to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And if you can’t donate right now? No problem. I’ll still be here writing and sharing and just glad that you’re reading and hoping that the things I write are useful, or at least entertaining.
Thanks for reading and for considering supporting me in this ad-free blogging quest.