Nine-to-five jobs are so yesterday. Now you can be anywhere in the world as you post your musings on a blog, and potentially get paid for it. Apply a few trade secrets, then think about retiring early. The best thing is, you don’t have to be a web geek to succeed. TNT speaks to three people who blog for a living and asks them how they do it.
Amar Hussain, travel
The blog: gapyearescape.com
The hits: 13,000 unique visitors a month.
The income: From £500-£2500/month.
Hussain, 25, might still have been hanging out in a Thai jungle, had his blog, which funded his gap year, not paid. Thankfully it didn’t turn out like that. In fact, not only did the blog pay – through ads and affiliated marketing – it ensured the blogger, from Tooting, had a riot of a time. There were surf tours and shark cage diving, plus free food and accommodation. And it all began with a conversation about an Aussie soap.
“In 2009, before travel blogs had taken off, I was in Melbourne sitting with a guy who ran the Neighbours tours and he suggested I try for a free tour by mentioning it on my site. From that point I started pitching to all sorts of operators, writing honest reviews in exchange for the experiences. Not only did the operators really appreciate them, my readers did, too,” he says.
Now much of Hussain’s income is through affiliated marketing – getting a cut, about five per cent, of purchases made through links on his site. “If you get enough of those it becomes an income. But most important is the passive income. A blog I wrote two years ago is still making me money.” Hussain now owns five sites and has a team of hired help. Not bad for what started as a gap year project.“It’s essential you start a blog that has potential for lucrative affiliate marketing – find a niche,” he says.
Andreas Kambanis, cycling
The blog: londoncyclist.co.uk
The hits: 70,000 unique visitors a month.
The income: £3000-5000/month.
Frustrated at not being able to find online advice for amateur cyclists, Kambanis started a blog while studying business and IT. Visitor numbers swelled without much maintenance, and it dawned on him he was on to something.
Kambanis, 24, who lives in St John’s Wood, wasted no time leveraging its popularity, self-publishing an e-book of London cycling routes and teasing new users to his website with free content. Things snowballed from there. He has since created several apps, and can earn money hosting competitions as well writing for other publications. But, much of his income is through affiliated marketing.
“I have 800 blog posts on my site and 300 of those are product related. I might write a couple of lines on a product or do a round-up of three.” Kambanis advises new starters to send weekly emails “with personality” to their followers, and recommends networking. “Build relationships with established bloggers. It leads to cross promotion and, more often than not, other work opportunities,” he adds.
Lily Melrose, fashion/beauty
The blog: llymlrs.com
The hits: 120,000 unique visitors a month.
The income: “Enough to live in London.”
Part of the ‘MySpace Generation’, Melrose stepped things up in 2010, when her blog, which she adapted from a graphic design project started at university, flourished. “There wasn’t much in the way of high street blogs,” the Balham 22-year-old says. “Just Americans blogging about high-end fashion, and I didn’t certainly have their money.”
Melrose now uses agency Glam Media, who she approached, to secure ads on her site and offer sponsored posts, and, in 2011 she added a beauty blog, etcllymlrs.com to her portfolio. It gets 50,000 unique visits a month. The blogs have led to other work, including helping high street shops with their social media, well and truly burying the misconception that bloggers ply their trade for free – actually, they can command much more these days.