While the life and profession of being a blogger might seem like a boring one to most people, it all depends on what type of blogger you ask. I personally do a lot more than blogging and I love my job. If you were to ask travel bloggers, I’m sure you would hear the same. Gary Arndt is a travel blogger and he also has quite the following online as well, with over half a million followers across his social networks and he also has quite the blog as well. I’m quite jealous of all the places Gary has visited and after reading this “Meet the Blogger” interview I’m sure you will be too!
1.) Please tell us about yourself and how you got into blogging?
I started a personal blog back in 1997. It wasn’t even called a blog back then, it was just my personal website. When I decided to travel around the world, it was natural for me to start a website to document the trip. I had previously taken a trip around the world in 1999 and I created a small website for the people in my office to follow along, so I saw this as something similar.
2.) What is the focus of your blog and why did you choose that niche?
My blog documents my travels around the world. I have been traveling around the world non-stop since March 2007. During that time I have visited over 140 countries and territories and all 7 continents. Last month I was named the Photographer of the Year by the Society of American Travel Writers and in 2010 I was named as one of the Top 25 Blogs on the Internet by Time Magazine.
3.) How are you currently monetizing your blog traffic?
My monetization strategy right now is endorsements and sponsorships. This is a very different approach from what most bloggers do. I’m able to do this because, 1) travel and tourism is the world’s biggest industry with $12 trillion in annual global revenue, and 2) I have one of the largest personal audiences in that industry.When I decided to try and make a full time living doing this in late 2007, I knew this was the option I wanted to pursue. There are several reasons for this:
It requires less work. Once you establish a relationship with a company, you aren’t in constant sales mode. You just need to continue that relationship. I have been working with my primary sponsor, G Adventures, for over 3 years now. They are the world’s biggest adventure travel company and I travel with them many times a year.
It establishes myself as a premium brand. My associating myself with reputable companies, it solidifies myself as being reputable.
I’m able to maintain it while traveling. I have a travel schedule that would exhaust most people. I’m always in foreign countries and out exploring the world. That radically limits the amount of time I have to create ebooks, do SEO or focus on affiliate marketing. Most of the traditional avenues of blog monetization would be very hard for me to do given my schedule.
I’m looking at diversifying my revenue in the near future. That might include a book, photography work shops and perhaps another website.
4.) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started blogging?
Things have changed so much since I started, I’m not sure how much would still apply back in 2007. I supposed I would have jumped on to ceratin social media platforms sooner than I did (and I was still rather early).
5.) What are three blogs that you visit almost daily?
- I have over 100 sites in my RSS reader. Some of my favorites are:
- Universe Today. Science and astronomy in particular are interests of mine. I always try to visit related sites when I travel.
- PVPonline.com. Not a blog per se, but I’m a friend of Scott Kurtz and I’ve been reading it for over 10 years.
- GigaOM. There is so much technology news out there, I’ve cut back on almost everything. I have kept GigaOM in my reader, however.
6.) Can you give us three recommended tools/services that you use with your blogging?
I don’t actively do any SEO. I don’t have any tools I use to manage social media. There are a few services I use to keep the blog up and running:
- Smugmug. I use Smugmug to host 100% of my images. I highly recommend people not host their images on the same server that their blog is on.
- Websynthesis. They do dedicated WordPress hosting. Since I moved to them earlier this year, I’ve had almost 100% up time and things are much faster. I pay more, but it has been worth it.
- Cloudflare. Most people ignore DNS hosting. Cloudflare provides a psudo-CDN and well as an extra layer of security.
7.) What advice would you have for someone who is just starting with their first blog?
Don’t quit your day job.
8.) What’s the best advice or tip you’ve discovered about blogging since getting started?
If you want to be successful, you need to be in this for the long haul. I see too many people who start a blog and then expect to be a success in 6 months. This is probably going to take years. You have to be able to keep going even when it seems that no one is paying attention. If you don’t give up and keep trying to improve, something eventually will.
9.) If you only had $100 to start a new blog, how would you use it?
I’d guess I’d use the money to buy a domain, open an account an Aweber and pay for hosting.
10.) How can readers of the blog get in touch with you?
I’m everywhere online. You can find me at:
Thanks again Gary for taking the time to share your advice and story with the Blogging Tips community. If you would like to learn about other bloggers and how they are finding success online, be sure to read through our blogger interview series.