When I started my blog I had big dreams of just having a steady passive income that would allow me to run around the world to my heart’s content and know that I was making money while I went sight-seeing in Paris, swam off the beaches of Thailand, or explored the ruins of ancient Egypt.
It’s a nice dream but now that this is actually my life, it wasn’t exactly a realistic idea.
First off, let’s be clear that passive income is amazing but still requires work. You still need to bring readers to your site to make money off of advertising and affiliates which means regularly either creating and/or updating content (tip: for updating old content, I highly recommend the Revive Old Content ebook)
Aside from the fact that passive income isn’t actually ‘no work’ I have also become acutely aware of how quickly it can disappear and how important it is to have multiple ways of making money online.
I Lost 90% of My Blog Income Literally Overnight
When COVID hit hard in March of 2020 and the world essentially shut down, the travel industry shut down too. And that means travel blogs too. People weren’t booking hotels or tours. People weren’t buying travel insurance, luggage, or accessories. Hell, nobody was even reading about travel destinations.
Which meant that my ‘reliable’ passive income stream that I treated as my fall back for the past year and a half was suddenly no more. About 50% of my annual income- gone.
PS: Did you know I have an ebook sharing all of my affiliate marketing strategies? Check it out here.
As you can imagine, that was insanely stressful. But I was better off than most. Yes, that passive income from ads and affiliates was a huge chunk of my income, but unlike many other travel bloggers, it wasn’t my only income. I knew early on how important it was to diversify or, as my grandma used to say, to not ‘keep all of my eggs in one basket’.
The crazy thing is that I was actually looked down upon for having this mentality. I heard more than once that ‘real’ bloggers didn’t have to do any freelance work on the side. They were successful enough to be sustained by the income their blog made.
Well… who’s laughing now?
Ok, I’m not really laughing because I feel awful for bloggers who lost everything in one go. The sad fact is, most of them will not recover from this.
However, thanks to the fact that I also do quite a bit of freelance writing on a topic that is not related to travel means that, despite the pandemic, I’m doing just fine. In fact, even though I estimate that I have lost between 40-50k this year in blog/travel income, 2020 is going to be my highest-earning year yet.
How I Diversify
So, what does diversification mean? It means having multiple income streams. Not only is it a great way to make more money, but it’s also safer too. When one thing changes or stops working for you, then you still have fallbacks.
I currently have several regular income streams to diversify my income including:
- Advertisements on both blogs
- Affiliates on both blogs
- Freelance writing for other sites (under my own name)
- Ghostwriting for other bloggers
- Selling travel guides
- Selling e-books about the business of blogging and working online
I also occasionally:
- Do paid speaking engagements
- Do sponsored blog content
- Do copy editing/ proof reading
- Run group trips (new for 2021)
Of course, some of these streams are more lucrative than others but it all adds up over the year to become my annual income.
At the end of the day, I’m not just a blogger. I am a business.
And you should be too.
Ideas for Making Money Online
So, what are some ideas to help you diversify?
If you are wanting to work for yourself and be a digital nomad, then chances are you are going to prioritize ways to make money online since that allows you the most freedom.
There are probably hundreds of ideas to make money online but I’m not going to get into doing surveys for a of couple bucks or watching videos to get paid. Yes, you can make money with these methods but the pay is cheap, it’s time-consuming, and do you really want to add ‘made money doing online surveys’ to your resume? No.
As for some reliable, realistic ideas to make money online that will actually allow you to grow, consider the following:
There will always be people who want to learn and if you have a certain skill, then why not teach it? Tons of travel bloggers started by teaching English online which is still a very popular method and one that most Native-English speaking individuals can easily qualify for. However, there is also space for teachers and tutors in other disciplines as well.
Create a Course
Very similar to teaching, you can create a course. Obviously, this works better for some things than others but again, it’s an easy way to monetize a skill you already have. Plus, if you sell a course, that can turn into passive income.
Start a YouTube Channel
If you love taking and putting together videos, then create a YouTube channel to go with your blog/social media. YouTube can be monetized once you hit a certain number of subscribers/views so it will take a bit of work to get there (like your blog!) but again, passive income.
Start a Podcast
Again, it has to be something that builds and grows before you can start to monetize it, but the potential is there.
Create a Product
Whether it’s a digital product or a physical product, selling things online can be another easy way to add to your cash flow. As I mentioned above, I sell incredibly detailed travel guides to Ireland as well as a couple of ebooks about the business of blogging that I am the most successful in. You can do the same. Anything from lightroom presets to logos to t-shirts or branded merchandise has potential.
If you are an expert, you can get paid for your opinion. Companies and brands of all sizes are regularly looking for assistance to go that one step further. If you can step in and help them make that happen, they will pay you. This may sound daunting but remember, consulting doesn’t necessarily have to be with a huge business. If you are a Pinterest pro you can offer Pinterest consultation services to other bloggers.
Sell Your Photography
There is always a market for stock photography. I’ve heard it can be tricky to get your photos approved but if you are a photo genius then this is definitely a route to take. Places that will buy your photos include Adobe Stock and Getty Images. Also, consider selling your time as a photographer. There are always people looking to do photoshoots in cities. Offer photo shoots in your hometown or even as you travel.
Social Media Management
If you love social media, use those skills to offer your services to companies that maybe don’t have the same knowledge or time as you do. This can include creating the actual content, coming up with a schedule or strategy, posting, etc.
VA (Virtual Assistant) Work
Blogging and working online has dozens of tiny aspects that don’t necessarily require a ton of work but do take up a lot of time. Given that, many bloggers especially will look to hire VAs to help out with things like creating Pinterest pins, adding affiliate links into existing articles, updating articles, uploading articles, keyword research, scheduling, and more. No, it’s not the most exciting work but it’s not hard and you can do it from anywhere.
If you are fluent in more than one language, translation work could be something to look into.
Are you a grammar and spelling ninja? Why not hire yourself out to writers or companies as an editor and proofreader?
If you are an expert in something, especially something other than what you are blogging about, then consider getting into freelance writing. There may also be ghostwriting opportunities (ie you don’t get the author credit) for other blogs.
Tip: those who know about SEO have a better chance at finding digital writing jobs. Interested in learning? I highly recommend this SEO ebook by Make Traffic Happen.
Plenty of journalists conduct interviews that they end up recording and then need someone to transcribe so they can use it for their research. It may not be the most exciting job in the word, but people are willing to pay for it.
This one can be a bit more time consuming since you are essentially selling not just your expertise but also your time, but coaching and mentoring can be a very lucrative way to make money if you have a skill to share. This can be in terms of business, in terms of physical fitness, personal growth etc.
Final Note on Diversification and Ideas for Making Money Online
Yes, each of these tends to require a little bit of knowledge and skill set. But remember, experts will always be able to charge more. And the end game here is to make money, decent money, that you will continue to be able to bring in over time. There’s nothing wrong with making the most of your skillset to balance out your business and create financial stability for yourself.