How Nomadic Matt earns money to travel

foreign currency and coins

Foreign currency and coins. Photo: Philip Brewer / Flickr

It’s the dream of many backpackers: to express our creativity through stories and photos on our travel blogs, and make enough money to keep traveling.  Nomadic Matt is one of the more notable examples of people who have achieved this goal. In a recent post, he reveals the details: How I make money and afford to travel.

Throughout the piece, Matt addresses head-on how a blogger and his readers can clash over the thorny issue of monetization. The sad downside of success is that the bigger your audience, the more likely you are to attract critics and detractors.  He explains his stance on ads, for example:

Just like you read magazines with ads, you’ll find blogs with ads. If you think I do this as some sort of insincere way to make money, I think you’ve found the wrong website to read. I love what I do and the ads help me do it just like the ads help keep National Geographic running.

Turning a profit from publishing content is nothing new, as Matt astutely points out.  I think the main issue at stake is it’s easier to resent an individual vs. an organization.  If your local bank makes a lot of money, it doesn’t bother you.  But if you have a neighbor who constantly flaunts his Ferrari, platinum Rolex watch, and Neiman Marcus clothes, that might tick you off more.  We react to personalities more than institutions.   Not implying that Matt is blinging it up, by any means.  He works hard for his success, and that’s to be admired.

There will always be self-proclaimed purists who insist that commercializing any form of expression will ruin it.  If readers buy a blogger’s products (such as e-books), it gives the blogger real support and assures continued writing output.  At the other extreme, some web publishers lose their way when “sponsored posts,” free press trips, and ad revenue gain priority over delivering value to readers. Is money the problem, or the love of money?

What’s your opinion on bloggers making a living from their blogs?  Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Posted by | Comments (9)  | September 16, 2011
Category: Lifestyle Design, Money Management, Notes from the collective travel mind

9 Responses to “How Nomadic Matt earns money to travel”

  1. Dave Says:

    If the content is good, the ads are irrelevant, as static ads are easy to ignore. I also don’t mind the occasional pop up, I’d prefer they never happen, but I’ll endure them on occasion. But if I get popped up every time I visit a site, I’ll just stop visiting that site.

    And if I do find an article very interesting or engaging, then I’ll even purposely click on the ads as a form of payment for a good article.

  2. Davis Says:

    Everything must be paid for; if not by the recipient, then by the donor or someone else. If you demand that the price of a thing be zero, then you must expect the supply of it to dry up. There is no such thing as a free lunch.

    We all ignore ads. I am delighted that we live in a world where we get so much for little or no cost, paid for by the people who pay for advertising.

  3. maddie Says:

    Monetizing blogs helps keep good content flowing. It provides an incentive for creative writers to continue sharing on blogs. That being said, some people think blogging is some kind of get rich quick scheme. I think that’s a hard road to travel. <- deliberate pun. If someone is a really good blogger, I look at ads as being a way to pay them to write instead of doing something else.

  4. Heather Says:

    The money has to come from somewhere. If there is a demand for a supply then the benefits for a quality product should follow. Those who do earn money through their blogs are selling a product to an audience, I appreciate ads for relevant subjects but the bottom line is that if they’ve found a way to fund their dreams… more power to them!

  5. Elliot Says:

    I generally support the travel blogging community, but a sour taste is left in my month when you see aggressive link selling, for things which just aren’t related to the blog. Perhaps, however, you’ve got to get in bed with the corporate in order to fund your travel dreams.

    Anyone else feel anything about this?

  6. Davis Says:

    @Elliot: Am I missing something? I clicked on your site and found nothing but advertising. I suppose anonymous STD testing is related to some sort of travel, but how to become a Certified Public Accountant? I had thought to ask how you paid for your own travel and blog content, though I now see that I misunderstood the matter.

  7. James Says:

    @Davis I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick here, as what you are referring to is Google Adsense, and targeting is done automatically, that why you are probably seeing things for STD testing and the like.

    Anyway, worth checking your facts.

  8. Davis Says:

    @James, I am flattered (if baffled) that the cunning algorithms of Adsense should think I might need be concerned about STDs, but why in the world should they also suspect me lusting to become a Certified Public Accountant? And I thought the objection was to unrelated ads, per se.

    Anyway, I have no problem with anyone having ads on their site, whether related to travel or not, even if I have none on my own.

  9. Francis Tapon Says:

    Rolf, I’m not sure if people are more likely to be envious of a person rather than an entity. There’s a strong anti-corporation feelings (see the movie, Corporation), although people forget that corporations are made up of and owned by individuals. We treat them as these faceless monsters, but are more likely to respect Bill Gates or Warren Buffett than Microsoft or Berkshire Hathaway.

    I’d say that it’s more likely that there are simply envious people out there, period. They envy rich corporations as much as rich/successful individuals. They subscribe to the “purist” belief, which rarely pays the bills.