Interview with a Hobo with a Laptop: Quick Blogging Tips
Digital nomads use the advantages of technology to travel the world while working online. In a recent couple of years, the number of those who explore exotic places while working from dream beaches has rapidly grown. It seems like more and more people are ready to pick up a passport, get a remote job and start the adventure far away from their dull office jobs. Dedicated to all world travelers and future digital nomads, Hobo with a laptop is more than a blog. With an aim to motivate others to live on their own terms, while working independently from anywhere in the world, Mike and Oshin, digital nomads themselves, created this amazing online place with precious resources and tips for everyone who wants to follow their footsteps. The story behind their blog is as interesting as their lifestyle. After working together for over a year, they finally met and married in the Philippines, when Mike left his Toronto-based career and moved to Asia. Together, they made a career shift and started an exciting, new chapter of a nomad traveling.
In order to help others to finally make that big step and join constantly growing community of digital nomads, Hobo with a Laptop offers valuable resources, guidelines and advice on how to improve skills, find the first job or what digital nomad tools and gears everyone should try. They also share some great tips from their own careers alongside their impressions on trending technology related topics.
We spoke to Mike about starting a blog, choosing the perfect niche, earning money from blogging and staying inspired in a really competitive world of travel blogging. Check out our article for some amazing WordPress blogging tips Mike shared!
Do you need advanced knowledge of WordPress or any other blogging platform to independently manage website if you’re only starting your blog?
Starting a blog for the first time is the perfect time to learn that “advanced knowledge”. We all start out reading step-by-step blogging tutorials, and our first blog is always the most hideous – and the one we remember the most fondly.
No pre-existing skills? You’re all set and the makings of a great blogger.
Do you maintain your blog on your own and if not, what is the breaking point when you realize you need a team to help you?
I currently maintain Hobo with a Laptop, however, I have a small team for our other affiliate marketing sites and a handful of client projects when we decide to do them.
If you’re publishing more than once per week and looking to turn your blog into your central income, I’d suggest looking into some form of online support like offshoring or a virtual assistant.
And hey, you might even marry your virtual assistant – I did!
Very important question.
Simply put, find what’s selling yet a little underserved and go at it with gusto. A good example of a right now niche that would do really well is CBD oil delivery.
Amazon, Flippa, Netflix, YouTube – anywhere where goods and services are databased, logged, sorted, searched, and rated – are all a great place to learn more about a market, what’s selling, what is under-served, and provide some level of insight into the competition. For everything else, there’s your favorite keyword research tool.
How do you keep the balance between too much advertising and earning enough money to make your blog profitable?
Every article should have a sell in affiliate marketing or blogging – however, it doesn’t mean that article should suck. You can slip a sell into anything; I could sell motorcycle parts in a post about climate change – and I have in the form of a sponsored post.
Everything should be a four-fifths story. In affiliate marketing or blogging on a dropshipping site, it’s easy to wag the dog with good storytelling.
As for advertising, we’ve been playing around with it. But most ads lead to affiliate offers, they aren’t via an ad network.
If you’re going to do ads, you need to ensure they’re highly relevant. Affiliate “ad” placements allow us to selectively choose a sitewide or category-wide offer that’s likely to convert and make more than an ad click ever would.
What plugins do you recommend for travel blogs?
What are your biggest challenges in maintaining a professional travel blog?
After 2 years and a little blogger burnout, content quality and inspiration are my biggest challenges. How many ways can you pitch a product or service without doing your head in?
To overcome burnout I think it’s important to drop a post now and again that’s all for you. Don’t think about keywords, forget the sell. Write for you, in the least 1 out of 6 posts if you hope to curb the burnout somewhat.
Writing for you can be the stuff of fandom, the glue to keep people coming back to your blog. A loss-leader.
How to make sure you have a continuous flow of publishing even when you have limited access to the Internet while traveling?
I’m terrible with consistency on Hobo, which is currently the only blog I put my real name on. My affiliate marketing blogs are all scheduled.
I schedule posts and email autoresponders a few months out to ensure I’m always on top. I follow a “table of contents” – a schedule, so all my posts relate to one another for interlinking and to create lead magnets.
What are the top 5 habits of successful travel bloggers?
- Keep a journal and write anything that sticks in your head, like sentences or descriptions, memories, and noteworthy experiences from your recent past. Writing in the present about the present is harder than writing about the past. The flaws of memory make the best details float to the top for great journaling.
- Network all the time, it makes for great crossovers and SEO link building down the line.
- Aim for a dollar a day with every blog post; always have a sell, and the bigger more lucrative the sell, the more blog posts that should be written to relate to it.
- Don’t sign up for every affiliate program under the sun in the beginning – stick to what you need, when you need it, and what your demographics align you with. Focus on them thoroughly, don’t sign up for a new program unless you’ve promoted existing offers in at least 3 articles.
- Don’t lie, don’t stretch the truth, don’t incriminate yourself – the version of a story you tell online better be the same one you tell your insurance company.
And of course, never be too proud to consider part time remote jobs. If your blog isn’t earning enough to live or an algorithm change causes you to lose profits –keep a side eye on your side hustle at all times with a long view.
What are the most important traffic sources for travel blog beginners and later for established travel blogs?
The best search engines for a blogger are those used by a higher income bracket. Pinterest and Bing attract users that tend to spend more online, for example.
In the beginning, and keeping in mind your entire post history can be seen in a click, court Reddit with your blog posts in a highly relevant niche.
The most consistent traffic source for us is Google, so never write a post without cracking open your keyword research tool.
What was the breaking point when you realized your blog is more than just a hobby?
I started Hobo with a Laptop in 2012 with a couple of posts about bus conversions, off-grid living, and tiny houses. I let it gather dust until 2017.
I logged onto an old affiliate account I had for tiny house building plans in April 2017 and had enough sitting in my account to float me a month.
So float I did, indeed. I took the month off and rebooted, ultimately started over Hobo with a Laptop.
In May 2017 I spent a month rebooting Hobo. I quit my job. I haven’t gone back to that kind of job since.
Now it’s May 2019, and one single blog has almost entirely replaced our McJob income. Not too shabby. We document how we did it on Hobo with a Laptop’s Learn Blogging section.
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!