A lot has changed since I launched this business report series a month ago today. Most notably, I’ve shifted from ‘write-as-much-as-I-can’ mode to ‘let’s-gear-up-for-business’ mode.
At the end of last month’s report, I set out some targets and priorities for June 2018. While the general progress against these has been good, as I explain below in the round-up of monthly activities, there have also been some setbacks – or rather, reality checks.
Getting my business plan right
My top priority for June was to complete my business plan, and the second was to undertake the Income Boss course on blog monetisation. As it turns out, these two priorities are closely intertwined, and the second needed to be done before the first. (Who knew.)
I took time and care in choosing a blogging income course to take. I went for Income Boss by Johnny FD because I’ve followed his content for many months now, and I trust his expertise. He has been a highly successful internet entrepreneur for many years, and is now applying his knowledge to help others achieve the same.
As I write this, I have just completed Income Boss. Perhaps you want to try some of Johnny’s content? The Travel Like a Boss podcast is a good place to start. In each episode he interviews location-independent entrepreneurs about their secrets to success.
I believe Income Boss has been a highly worthwhile investment for me. In a series of video tutorials, Johnny walks through the stages of creating a blogging business systematically, from set-up through to monetisation, giving honest and open insights into his own journey to success.
While my own business is already past the earliest stages, and even though I have lots of experience in marketing and communications, it was well worth my time to follow the course from the beginning. To complete it has required a bigger time commitment than I anticipated, though.
To extract maximum value from the course, I have put effort into fulfilling the various actions and follow-ups that accompany the video tutorials. Naturally, this has had a knock-on effect on progress with my business plan. I did not want to rush ahead with the latter until I felt my learning had advanced sufficiently.
As a result, June has now passed and the business plan is still to be completed. However, I am now in a far better position to make a good job of it, and let’s be honest; it’s probably the most important piece of work I will do for the blog in the long-term.
A big decision: the time for change is now
Ever since I made the decision to go full-time with this travel blog back in March, one little issue has niggled at the back of my mind. In these last few weeks, it has come to the fore; I have agonised over it, and finally made a decision. I am talking about the blog’s name.
When I first started Story Every Day in June 2017, it was a new hobby and a way to document our world travels. When I chose the name and bought the domain, I wasn’t thinking about it from a business perspective. Now, all of that has changed.
There are two major problems with the blog’s current identity. The first is that storyeveryday is taken as a .com domain. Some guy in China owns it and wants £2,300 for it – not the kind of money I can really afford. As I have an international audience, a .co.uk domain just isn’t going to cut it. The Income Boss course reaffirmed my inclination that a rethink was in order.
The second problem is that Story Every Day doesn’t do a quick enough job of telling a new user what it’s all about. I spoke to a good friend of mine, who runs a digital agency and several years ago was my boss. She said: “When I first visited your site, it took me quite a while to figure out what it was.” Other feedback has echoed the same problem.
This is not good. Attention is a precious commodity on the internet these days – if you don’t capture people instantly, you might lose them forever. While there are plenty of brands out there with vague names that enjoy success, for a startup online business it is much harder.
All of this points towards the inevitable: my best course of action is to change the name. I was sad to reach this conclusion, as Story Every Day holds a lot of sentimental value for me. It’s the journal that followed us around the world. But now it’s a business, and it needs to operate like one.
The blog’s new identity will be closely linked with the vision I am setting out in my business plan. I’m not going to tell you what it is now, but you will find out soon enough – before the next business report, that’s for sure! Stay tuned for the big reveal.
Round-up of monthly activities
A month ago I stated my intent to ramp up my written output to one article every two days. This started out well, but has since slowed. In the space of one week I published six articles, culminating in a mega itinerary for Peru. Over the whole of June, however, I have only published 11 articles.
The Income Boss course and refinement of my business plan has placed a much greater emphasis on getting the foundations in place to market content effectively in the long term. This means taking a step back from writing in the short term, at least a little.
Eventually, content production will be the crux of what I do, but right now it’s not the best use of my time. In the coming weeks I’ll be doing enough to keep things ticking over, with more important work going on behind the scenes.
During June I’ve also written some guest posts for other websites, some of which have already gone live and others that will be published in the coming weeks. These will be my last guest posts for a while, as I want to allow some time to assess their effectiveness.
A major milestone in June has been the sorting of my travel money data. I recorded every penny we spent on the road, and I am now repurposing this information into a series of articles and resources on travel spending. After spending several days deep in spreadsheets, I published the first of the series: How much does it cost to travel the world?
In terms of website traffic, the progress this month has been very promising indeed. My target for June was 2,000 page views; I achieved nearly double this, with 3,926. This is a small step in a long game to reach tens or even hundreds of thousands, but it’s a great start.
My social media targets didn’t go quite as swimmingly; aiming for 750 and 500 followers on Instagram and Facebook respectively, I reached 728 and 428. As you will see in the targets section below, however, this is no great concern.
Income and expenditure
Just like last month, this section remains solely an expenditure report for now. It was not my aim to make any money in June, and I have not.
It would be easy enough to start making a quick buck at this stage, and there plenty of ways I could do so. But I am not interested in short-term fixes. I am in this for the long haul, and that means building towards sustainable and ethical sources of income.
Most startup businesses do not make a profit in the first year. With blogs, the situation differs greatly depending on the niche and business model. Amy Lynn Andrews writes “I tell new bloggers to allow 3–6 months to make a decent part-time income and 1–2 years to make a consistent full-time income”.
While the situation may change as my business plan fleshes out, I expect to start making income in the next 2–3 months. If by the end of the year I have built some trickles of income that are building towards full-time sustenance, I will consider that a success.
Expenditure in June 2018
- Income Boss course (special offer): £225.02
- Pitching templates by Adventure in You (special offer): £15.02
- Facebook post boosts: £73.44
- Pinterest promoted pin: £32
- New domain names: £57.52
- Laptop case, bag, screen protector and USB adaptor hub: £85.96
- Phone bill: £12
- Camera and phone insurance: £13.99
- Photoshop monthly subscription: £9.99
- TOTAL: £492.93
This can be sorted into categories as follows:
My expenditure at the moment looks a bit like an infrastructure project; a high initial outlay, but low running costs to follow. You can see here that the combination of course fees, new equipment and domains – all of which are set-up costs – account for over three quarters of my spending in June.
In July I will incur another big chunk of foundation costs when I attend the Travel Blogger Exchange Conference in the Czech Republic. After that, I expect the expenditure to curb significantly, with bills, subscriptions and advertising the main ongoing running costs.
Priorities and targets for July 2018
My biggest priorities for July should be obvious from the review of my June activities above. Top of the agenda is to finalise my business plan. If this works out as I hope, I will include a summary of it in next month’s business report.
My second major priority is to complete work on the blog’s new identity and launch it in good time before the Travel Blogger Exchange conference. I fly to Prague on 23 July, so I have just a couple of weeks to get these two tasks done. No pressure!
A necessary effect of this is that my content production will slow down throughout July. I aim to publish a couple of articles a week, focusing initially on travel advice for Bolivia.
I will also be tempering my output on social media. My business plan will include strategies and targets for social channels, but in the coming weeks I will switch my focus more heavily towards building an email subscription list.
My website traffic target for July is 3,000 page views. In theory this shouldn’t be too difficult, as I already achieved this in June, but with less focus on content production I expect traffic to plateau. I will be happy with gentle progress, keeping in mind the more important long-term targets.
As the Travel Blogger Exchange edges closer I will set some specific outcome targets for the event, and produce some promotional materials for it. I will update my progress on Instagram as the conference takes place on 26–28 July in Ostrava – you can follow me here.
Adjusting to the self-employed lifestyle
Striking the right work–life balance remains a challenge. Lisa’s job search continues, so we are not yet able to settle into anything resembling a steady routine. At the moment I am working on the blog roughly six days a week, but fitting it around life events and social commitments. Lisa has been helping out a lot in between job applications.
Distractions lurk at every corner, not least with the World Cup providing football on tap (hehehe). But I remain focused. With the intensity of this foundation period everything feels a little hectic, but I’ve always thrived on chaos.
I am hopeful that, when you read next month’s business report, the road ahead will be much clearer. But before that, there’s much work to be done, and the small matter of getting back on board a plane. See you at the beginning of August, from the Czech Republic!