Being an RVer opens up your world. I remember the first night we spent on the road in our 24ft class C. We were free. We were happy. We were excited. And more than anything, we wanted to share our newfound passion with others. So, we started a blog.
And hey, if you can make a couple of bucks (or even a full-time living) doing it, why wouldn’t you?
If you’re reading this, you’re probably in a similar boat. Maybe RVing or traveling isn’t even your ‘thing’ but you’re passionate about food, sports, art, cars, or really anything else. The truth is, blogging is an amazing way to connect with like-minded individuals, share your experience, adventures, and expertise, and you can make money sharing that passion with others.
What you really need to know is this: Is it possible to make money blogging? And if so, how can I do it too?
The purpose of this post is two-fold:
- Create your very own WordPress blog (With our favorite host, Bluehost)
- Turn your hobby into a real source of income
And remember, if the RV life sounds dreamy, but you’re not quite ready to make a serious commitment, think about renting with RVshare first and giving the life a try! Our guess is you’ll be head over heels in no time. When you are, make sure to head back to this post and start your own travel blog! We can’t wait for you to share with us what you create.
Let’s get started.
(WARNING: This post is very long. Use the section headings and numbered steps to find the information you need.)
What’s your Niche?
Most people would define a “niche” as a piece of a market ripe for the picking. And while that definition is quite accurate, I’m partial to the Merriam-Webster definition that states: “a place, employment, status, or activity for which a person or thing is best fitted.”
Here’s the truth about the internet (and blogging). It’s all been mostly done before. For example, there are a lot of travel and RV blogs all across the web. (And that’s a good thing. It means lots of people are embracing the #RVlife!)
However, what happens when you have too many blogs about the same thing?
A little thing called Market Saturation.
If there are 1,000 people all blogging about the same thing the same way, blogger #1,001 isn’t going to stand a chance at captivating an audience.
So instead of making your blog about being an RVer, a nomad, or a food critic, strive to make it more specific and tailored to you; your passion, your unique viewpoint, or your unique circumstance.
To illustrate the point, here are a few RV related blogs that use their unique skill sets to provide a point of view worth paying attention to:
- Technomadia: Focused on mobile internet, RV gear, solar power, and a whole lot more, Technomadia is the “virtual living room” of long-term technomads Cherie Ve Ard & Chris Dunphy. It even spun off into an incredibly helpful business, The RV Mobile Internet Resource Center. (NICHE: Mobile Internet, Solar/Green Tech)
- The RV Geeks: These guys are the kings of DIY RV. Focused on their very successful YouTube channel, Peter and John create some of the most helpful DIY and How-To RV videos around. If you need to learn how to do just about anything RV, they’ve got you covered. (NICHE: DIY, How-To)
The short and sweet of it is this: Instead of getting lost in a sea of similarity, stand out by focusing on what makes you different. Many marketers believe “the riches are in the niches”, and for good reason!
Readers respond to creativity and quality: so give them both.
Section One: Creating your WordPress Blog
The nitty-gritty. We’ll talk WordPress, Bluehost, themes, plugins, and more: but most important of all, let’s break it down step by step and get you blogging in no time.
Our Platform of Choice: Bluehost + WordPress
Once you’ve got your niche picked out, you’ll need to make a few decisions: How will I create my blog? And where will I host it?
(For those of you not familiar with web hosting, it’s a service that stores or “hosts” the files and media that make up your blog, allowing you to share it with the world.)
WordPress is our platform of choice to create our blog, as it’s free, easy to use, runs like a dream on Bluehost (our host of choice), and has tons of plugins and themes that allow you to customize the look, feel, and functionality of your WordPress blog. (This blog runs on WordPress, along with over 25% of the internet! That’s a lotta WordPress.)
For hosting, again, we recommend Bluehost.
They’ve been in business for 14 years, host millions of blogs and websites, and most importantly, provide reliable web hosting for as little as $2.95 a month!
For the cost of a latte a month, you can register your own domain name (I.E. www.yourblog.com instead of yourblog.wordpress.com, much more personal and professional), host your WordPress blog, and start sharing your passion with the world!
Best of all, as your website grows, you can upgrade to more robust packages, including a fully managed and optimized WordPress hosting service for just $19.95 a month.
Let’s cover the process step by step.
1. Pick a Domain Name & Purchase your Hosting
Sometimes overlooked and more of an afterthought, choosing the best domain is a challenge worth deliberating over.
While a not-so-perfect domain name won’t make or break your success, the goal is to pick a name that is catchy, memorable, applicable to your niche, and of course, available.
Additionally, when choosing a domain name, avoid special characters, dashes, and underlines whenever possible, as they can be harder for visitors to remember when typing in your domain name.
While domains typically cost around $10 per year to register through registrars like GoDaddy, Bluehost will actually give you a free domain name for the first year, as long as you prepay your hosting for at least one year.
Pre-paying for the year is the key to getting super cheap per month pricing, at $4.95 per month. You can even pay as little as $2.95 per month if you prepay for three years.
Once you’ve navigated to the Bluehost shared hosting page, you’re presented with the following three plans:
Again, while you’re free to select any package that suits your needs, we recommend starting with the “basic” plan, coming in at just $4.95 a month (when prepaid for the year), which provides both a free domain name and 5 email accounts.
Once you’ve selected the package, you’ll be presented with a screen to choose your new domain name, and what TLD you’d like to use (.com, .net, .org, etc.) We recommend going with a .com when possible.
If you have an existing domain name, you’d also enter it on this page, but on the right side. However, this guide will walk you through the process when obtaining a free domain name through Bluehost.
Click next after choosing your domain name, and, if it’s available to register, you’ll be presented with the order page.
The order page will ask for billing and contact information, and present you with a few additional options, like site backup and domain privacy.
Review any add-ons you feel are necessary and make your purchase. While the add-on services do provide value, don’t feel for a moment that you need them to get started! All you need right now is a domain name and hosting.
2. Install WordPress
Well, we’ve made it this far, and I promise, you’re not far off from having your very own RV travel blog. Once you have your hosting and domain purchased, log in using the password you set during signup and the login credentials sent to you via email.
Once you’ve fully set up your account, WordPress will be automatically installed, and you’ll be presented the option to “Start Building” your new blog! (Pictured below.)
Once you click this button, you’ll be taken to the WordPress dashboard, specifically to the site setup funnel. The next step will be filling out your Site Title and Site Description. Remember to be creative!
On the next window, you’ll be asked “Are you going to update your site with news or blog posts?” and you’ll want to click “Yes”!
You’ll then choose what visitors should see on your homepage, the most recent posts or a static welcome page. For simplicity, we’ll choose “Most recent news or updates”, since we’re building a blog!
3. Choose a WordPress Theme
Once the initial setup is complete, you can click the ‘Appearance’ tab on the left-hand side of the WordPress admin, and then click ‘Themes’.
We’d recommend choosing a simple, blog style theme, such as the freely available (and likely pre-installed) ‘Twenty Sixteen’ theme.
You can then click the ‘Customize’ button and easily make adjustments and changes to the design, colors, and style of the theme, personalizing it to suit your needs!
If you’d like to learn more about the Customizer tool and configuring themes for your blog, check out this great blog post on using the WordPress Customizer.
4. Setup Social Media Profiles
Once your blog is set up, configured, designed, and ready to rock n’ roll, we recommend one more step before moving any further: secure social media usernames on every platform that you can! Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Google +, you name it, and you should have it.
Namechk is a wonderfully useful (and free) tool that allows you to check your desired brand or blog name for availability on dozens of social networks. It even allows you to check on domain availability for your chosen name if you skipped step one for some reason!
Once your social media accounts are created, take time to fill out as many details as you can, write bios, introductions, and descriptions for each, and if possible, create (or hire someone to create) designs you can use as your branding. Canva is a great FREE DIY option for creating social media graphics. (Pictured below.)
5. Start Creating Content!
Just a couple hundred words ago, you had nothing but an idea. Now all you’re missing is content! Starting a blog is exciting, isn’t it?
Now, there are hundreds of blog posts on how to write good content, however, at the end of the day, aim to craft content that you would read. Create content that you would share. And most importantly, create content that you’re proud of. Here are a few things to keep in mind when writing a blog post for your new blog:
- Choose topics wisely – When picking a topic, ask yourself: “Will this post benefit someone? Will it enrich their lives, let them share in my adventure, teach them something new, or help them solve a problem?” If the answer is yes, you’ve got a great topic on your hands. If the answer is no, maybe think twice about sinking time and energy into a post that won’t connect with your audience.
- Craft an enticing headline – No, we’re not calling for “clickbait”, but the truth is, enticing headlines that whet the appetite of your readers will increase the number of eyeballs you get on your content. Eyeballs (and readers) are key to the success of every blog.
- Write in an informative yet friendly tone – No one wants to read a dry, drab, and boring blog. Give your readers a taste of that adventurous spirit you’ve got inside! Make it personal, make it helpful, and make it fun. Again, above all else, your content should provide as much value to the reader as possible.
- Check your spelling and grammar – While spelling and grammar mistakes are common, and typically not that big of a deal, if you plan on turning your blog into a business, potential advertisers, affiliates, and readers will appreciate your posts being squeaky clean in the grammar department. Some tools to monitor grammar and spelling include Grammarly and Hemingway, (both of which we use here at RVshare).
That wraps up section one! We learned a little bit about choosing a niche, picking a domain name, getting the right hosting package, setting up your WordPress blog, and writing content! Now let’s build an audience and make some money!
Section Two: Promoting Your Blog & Making Money
In this section, we’ll discuss the two elephants still left in the room:
How do I grow my audience, and how do I monetize it?
It’s important to remember that there is no foolproof way to a profitable blog and no “silver bullet”.
But with a little insight, some hard work, and dedication, you can set yourself up for success.
Don’t Blog Just to Make Money
Being a blogger is a way of life, not just a job. It may seem glamorous on Instagram when all you see are laptops in coffee shops and five-star meals at beachside cafés. But in reality, blogging is a lot of hard work and doesn’t always bring in the big bucks, especially early on.
If your only reason to blog is to make money, think twice. To be a truly great blogger, you need both expertise and passion.
If, and only if, you can craft high-quality content people actually want to read, then, and only then, can you turn your blog into a real money maker.
Now, this isn’t meant to discourage you! Thousands of people make a great living blogging, and you can too!
Just realize it’s gonna take some blood, sweat, (and maybe even some tears) to get there. Remember, everyone started somewhere.
Consistency is Key
One of the biggest keys to growing and profiting from a blog lies in being consistent.
When a reader signs up for your email newsletter or checks back regularly, they have an expectation, and you need to meet it.
Whether you post once a week, twice a week, or every day, get on a schedule and keep it.
When a visitor knows to expect a new post every Monday and Wednesday, there’s a much better chance of them coming back to see what’s new than if you have a sporadic posting schedule.
Additionally, Google and the other search engines love consistency and freshness in a blog. When you post new content regularly, Google knows you care about the success of your blog, and they know you’re keeping your blog up to date and fresh, making them much more likely to rank you for search terms your potential readers may search for.
Don’t worry, we’ll talk a little more about SEO later on, just know that Google likes consistency, and so do your readers.
Consistency translates beyond posting frequency, however. Aim to be consistent in your writing style, post layouts, and overall tone and voice in your writing.
Readers will appreciate a blog that maintains a fairly consistent approach to content.
Were you a class clown in school? Inject a little humor into all of your content. Are you a statistics junkie? Include down and dirty stats and math to help your readers make informed decisions based on your opinions.
Whatever your angle, whatever your voice, find it, hold onto it, and share it with others.
Promoting and Growing your Blog
We’re gonna talk briefly about four ways to promote and grow your blog. Keep in mind, this is a general overview. We’ll link to some resources to learn more about each strategy.
We strongly encourage you to do as much research as you can, and start pounding the pavement.
Search Engine Optimization: Waste of time or Goldmine?
Search engine optimization (or SEO for short) is the process of optimizing factors both on your website and externally to rank higher in search engine results, allowing you to access a treasure trove of potential readers searching for the kind of content you create.
For example, if you wrote a blog post entitled “Our 10 Favorite RV Dinner Recipes”, it would be of great benefit to appear high up on Google search results when someone searches “RV dinner recipes” or something similar. SEO helps you achieve that goal.
While SEO has changed quite a bit over the years, and is constantly evolving, some basic tenants remain:
- Craft high quality content on a regular basis.
- Answer the questions your readers are asking, and provide the solutions they might be looking for. Always provide as much value as humanly possible.
- Optimize “on-page” factors to help Google’s “crawlers” decipher what your website is about and the topic of each post. (The most technical part.)
- Strategically build high quality, relevant links from similar websites back to yours. (Referred to as link building.)
While not as straightforward as it was in days past, SEO is still an incredibly valuable marketing tool.
The bottom line? SEO, when done right, can drastically increase the amount of traffic (or visits) to your blog.
Why Social Media is KEY to your Blog’s Success
The entire world is becoming more and more social. People want to follow you, your brand, your story, and your adventures.
We won’t get into too much detail about social media marketing, as it’s far beyond the scope of this article, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t talk about its power and importance.
When creating a social media strategy, follow the same guidelines you set for your blog: consistency in tone, voice, and posting, and always providing value.
Show off the beautiful scenery of your campsite, or bring readers into your work life with a snapchat story of your work setup. Get personal, get involved.
Speaking of getting involved, a key to increasing engagement and reach with your social media strategy is by interacting directly with your followers. If someone asks a question, take a moment to answer it! The two minutes it takes you to write a reply may just net you a reader, a supporter, and even a customer for life! Never underestimate the power of a personal interaction.
Another way to streamline your social media marketing efforts is by using a software like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts on social media in advance. This way, you can sit down for an hour or two, schedule out all of your social media posts for that upcoming week, and focus on more important things!
Here are some more resources covering social media marketing in further detail.
- Social Media Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide
- Moz’s Beginner’s Guide to Social Media
- The Complete Buffer Guide to Social Media Success
Using Email to Grow and Nurture your Audience
Email is one of the most important, if not the most important ways to not only grow, but nurture your audience. It also serves as a platform for you to promote offers, products, services, and other monetization options every blogger should at least research and experiment with.
Ensure your WordPress blog has a ‘call to action’ in place to gather email addresses and any other info you’d like to collect. OptinMonster and Bloom are both fantastic plugins for creating opt-in forms to help increase the number of email signups you get from your blog.
MailChimp and Aweber are two of the most popular email list services, allowing you to create a list, send campaigns and newsletters, track your progress, and more, but there are many more options out there!
A word of caution: Respect the inbox. Don’t email more than you need to, and don’t send promotional emails, spam, or any content that might harm your relationship with your reader.
Keep it simple: If you wouldn’t want it in your inbox, don’t put it in theirs.
Reach out to them, share your content, ask questions, and provide resources that benefit their day-to-day lives.
When you do that, they’ll be happy to heed your advice and check out any products or services that can, in turn, create revenue for your blog.
For more information on email marketing and email list growth techniques, check out the following posts:
- The Ultimate Guide To Successful Email Marketing
- MailChimp for Bloggers
- Email Marketing’s 10 Most Important Questions, Answered
Reach Out and Network
When you’re an RVer, for example, you constantly rub shoulders with other RVers, whether at RV parks, Wal-Mart, National Parks, meetups and mixers, RV shows, or even a rest stop.
Use this opportunity to make friends and branch out!
Often, it’s difficult to keep in touch with those we meet on the road. Following each other on social media and reading your blog can help your new friends stay in contact. They can even become valuable sounding boards for your content, advocates of your blog, and hopefully (and most importantly) life-long friends.
The same applies for any blog that’s not RV or travel based. Are there groups in your local area that fit in with your niche? Join those communities, contribute way more than you ask for, and good things will happen.
Monetizing your Blog (i.e. ACTUALLY Making Money)
The moment of truth has arrived. You picked a name, you built a blog, you crafted kick butt content, you grew and nurtured your audience. Now what? How do you turn all of these numbers into actual dollars? We’re going to list a few of the ways to monetize your blog, along with a little bit of insight into each method, and some external resources for you to learn more and dive deeper.
One of the best ways to make money with your blog is through affiliate marketing. But, what even is affiliate marketing exactly?
Affiliate marketing is when a website earns a referral fee or commission for sending users (via a link) to a product or service, who then make a purchase. A percentage or flat fee from that purchase or signup then goes to the publisher. (That’s you!)
While there are many great affiliate programs, like Amazon Associates, which lets you earn commission by linking to any Amazon products, one great way for travel and RV bloggers in particular to generate affiliate marketing is through the RVshare Affiliate Program! As a blogger, you can earn money every time you send us an RV owner or RV renter who ends up using our service.
For more information on how you can sign up to our affiliate program, as well as commission and payout details, email firstname.lastname@example.org, and one of our amazing team members will reach out to you in no time!
We won’t get into too much detail, but when monetizing a blog, you have a few advertising options. You could embed Google Adsense, a product that acts as a middleman between advertisers and publishers. Advertisers pay Google for “clicks” to their website, and Google automatically places the ads on relevant pages based on a number of factors.
If an ad is placed on your website and is clicked on by a user, Google gets paid and shares a piece of the pie with you. While it’s no longer the biggest income generator in the blogging world, it’s still a viable source of income for many websites, and worth a shot. Other advertising networks operate in a similar fashion.
You can additionally sell ads directly to advertisers, cutting Google out of the picture, but you have to locate advertisers yourself, which can be more hassle than you have time for.
Below are a few resources to help you get started selling advertising on your blog.
- The Ultimate Guide to Making Money From Ad Networks
- When and How to Sell Ads on Your WordPress Site
- Ads 101: Selling Ads (Direct) on Your Blog
When building a blog audience, you reach a point where product creators and services can benefit from exposure on your blog. Sponsorships could be as simple as a sponsored (paid) post on your blog reviewing or detailing a service or product.
For example, if you run an RV blog, maybe a company will pay you to review their newest sewer hose kit and publish that review on your blog. The key is to provide enough value (read: eyeballs and buyers) to potential advertisers.
Sponsorships could also be as elaborate as getting paid to travel the country snapping photos for a lifestyle gear brand.
Here are a few resources on sponsored content, how to attract brands and sponsors for your blog, and more.
Creating your Own Products & Services
While it’s the route that requires the most knowledge, skill, patience, perseverance (and luck) of them all, creating your own products and offering your services can be the most lucrative way to monetize your blog.
As an example, are you an expert chef running an RV recipe blog? Why not write an ebook detailing a recipe for every day for a year? You can then sell that ebook directly to your readers on your blog, cutting out the middleman, and profiting directly from your skill, talent, and experience.
There are hundreds of ways to create both products and services unique to you, and using your blog audience as your potential market can lead to not only profit, but a closer bond with your readers.
Here are some resources on creating your own products and services to monetize on your blog.
- Creating Product Week: How to Create and Sell Products On Your Blog
- How to Launch and Market your First Info Product
- 5 More Ideas to Sell Your Own Product and Make Money Online
The Bottom Line
Starting an RV blog (or any blog, for that matter), requires a lot of hard work, patience, and diligence; but most of all, it requires passion.
If you’re truly passionate about sharing your lifestyle, travels, adventures, and knowledge with the world, you absolutely can make a living blogging.
We sincerely hope this guide has given you the knowledge, confidence, and kick in the rear to get started.
And again, we recommend Bluehost as the best solution for RV bloggers looking to get started right away.
Comment below to tell us about how you started the blog of your dreams or plan on it! And feel more than welcome to ask any questions about starting blogs, we’ll be sure to help however we can.
See you on the road!