This past October, I had the opportunity to travel with Stephen Bugno of Bohemian Traveler.
We were both invited on a trip through Indonesia in order to help promote tourism there.
It wasn't long after we met in Jakarta for the first time that he mentioned Travel Blog Success.
Specifically, he said if it weren't for the community, he wouldn't be there with me, riding a boat upriver into Borneo to visit endangered orangutans.
Travel Blog Success: When and why did you decide to join Travel Blog Success?
Stephen: I joined Travel Blog Success in November 2010.
At this time my blogs were a year and a half old and I had yet to make any money off them. I was living with my parents and working a part-time job to support myself.
My father soon started nagging me about the time and effort I was putting into my blogs and the fact that I was earning no money from all this work. Part of him was right.
How long could I keep working at something without earning any money?
I kept telling him I would soon be earning money. Was I sure about that? Not really. That’s when I decided to join Travel Blog Success.
TBS: Which resource did you find most useful within the community?
Stephen: In the beginning I found the written lessons very useful. I read over the lessons about the early stages of blogging and tried to correct a lot of the mistakes I made when I first started my blogs and had no idea what I was doing.
I then continued through to the lessons geared towards the middle and later stages of blogging, like the ones about making money and growing my business.
After I joined, I also found the forum an advantageous place to get feedback and questions answers.
It’s still a great place for detailed advice but is now more of a resource and has been replaced by the instant gratification found in the in the private TBS Facebook Group Page.
I would also say one of the greatest resources is the group of experienced bloggers.
They are a really supportive group and on hand to give advice and knowhow to the newbie bloggers.
TBS: Was there a single piece of advice which had the greatest impact on your approach to running a blog?
Stephen: I guess I would say perseverance. Some people work for more than a year on their blogs without monetizing them (like me).
If you stick with it, and make the right moves, monetization is a reality.
If I hadn’t joined TBS and made the necessary improvements to my blog, as well as generating an income, I probably would have let my blogs, and my dreams of location independence, die.
TBS: What are some of the benefits and opportunities you've experienced as a result of building your own audience through Bohemian Traveler?
Stephen: One of the benefits is the press trips that I get invited to from time to time.
Most recently the Ministry of Tourism in Indonesia hosted a two-week trip for 8 international bloggers.
It was an incredible opportunity and an all-expenses paid trip that was available to me only because I was a blogger and active on various social media channels.
Occasionally when I travel, a city tourism board or private travel company supports me with hotels and tours.
Although it’s not “free” (because I’m working for them) it does save me money not having to pay for those things.
TBS: How has running a successful travel blog changed your life?
Stephen: The biggest benefit for me has been the ability to become location independent.
My goal from the beginning was to be able to work from wherever it was traveling or living. I was tired of working a job to save up to leave for traveling.
Now I’m a digital nomad and make my office wherever I am, be it at a guesthouse in Vietnam, a friend’s apartment in Switzerland, or a coffee shop in Philadelphia.
All I need is a connection to the internet. Even though there are stresses and struggles, the bottom line is, I’m living my dream.
TBS: What's your #1 piece of advice to people who eventually want to support themselves and their travels from a blog?
Stephen: I think this is a path you pursue for the lifestyle. If your dream is to be purely a travel writer or photographer, I think there are slightly different tracks to take.
If you’re not passionate about the traveling and digital nomad way of life, there are easier careers to follow.
My advice would be to educate yourself on all the various aspects of blogging.
You aren’t only a writer, you’re a small business owner and that means you’ve got to negotiate ad contracts, design your website, edit your own photography, plan and execute your travels, write engaging content, be current with social media.
There is no easy road to success and making money from your blog. You’ve got to be dedicated and persevere.