When the youngest of our three kids went off to college, my husband, David, and I decided to embark on what we came to call our victory lap. We were living on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, so came up with the big idea to go back up to the mainland to visit family and friends that we had been a bit out of touch with while isolated on our Caribbean outpost.
In discussing the logistics of how to pull this off, buying a beat up old RV to roam the continent managed to infiltrate our obviously befuddled brains as the best way to not go broke on airfares, hotels, and rental cars. We found a 20-year-old, $3,000 motorhome on eBay and set out on what we thought would be a temporary vagabond lifestyle.
Along the way I built a website, mainly as a way to keep family and friends up to date on our escapades. We called it The GypsyNesters as a play on empty nester nomads.
We posted pictures and wrote about our adventures, and must have struck a chord because before long we had a growing number of like-minded strangers reading about our adventures. Not long after that we were contacted by Toyota.
Our initial thought was that it must be some kind of scam. “Are they trying to sell us a car?” Well no, it turned out that they wanted us to help them sell cars. They were running an ad campaign aimed at empty nesters, found us online, and wanted to hire us to drive one of their cars up the Pacific Coast Highway and write about it.
We were dumbstruck. It had never occurred to us that we could turn our blog into a source of income. Once we knew it was possible, we ran with it and set out to learn as much as we could from other bloggers at conventions, online meetups, social media groups, and travel shows.
This networking led to a steady stream of offers, mainly from travel companies such as cruise lines, tour groups, and tourism bureaus willing to pay our expenses, and often some cash as well, to travel all over the world writing stories.
Once again we were dumbfounded. Not only did this lead to us visiting over 50 countries on six continents over the past 10 years, but the massive amount of content it provided for our website made it that much more valuable as we set out trying these other monetization methods.
- Throughout our travels we’ve been posting videos to YouTube, and a few have gone semi-viral, so we have had over 4 million views. Guess what, YouTube will pay if you allow them to run ads on your videos.
- Our globe-trotting antics also brought about a huge increase in visitors to our website, which is exactly what advertisers want to see. So we began by adding Google ads to our pages. These can be set up to pay depending on how many people see them, or click on them. In our experience, it is much easier to have someone see something than click on it.
- Even better than Google is to sell ads directly. This is guaranteed money no matter who looks or clicks. The ads can be on the page, or sometimes a link placed directly in a story.
- Paid guest posts are the pinnacle of direct ads. In these, companies write their own story and pay to post it alongside our content. We are careful with these, only accepting articles that fit in with our audience, and always identify them as advertisements.
And that’s OK, because with a few hundred bucks here and a few hundred there, before long it adds up to some real money.
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