THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO.
Each month, we share the story of a member of the DNW community that is making money from blogging. These stories share the blogger’s journey and tips about exactly how they make money and get traffic to their blogs. I hope you find these interviews inspiring and helpful in your own journey. This month, we are featuring Claire Robinson who is a Travel Blogger from ZigZagOnEarth.
1. Introduce yourself!
I’m Claire Robinson from France.
After a first career as a Quality Manager, I have been a full time travel blogger and travel guide author for over 2 years. However, I am not a nomad. I love having a home base (in Normandy, France) and I enjoy 2 to 3 big trips per year.
The funniest things are that:
- As a teenager, I was never into traveling
- As a professional, I have always said I would never have my own company because I would not be able to motivate myself to work enough
And here I am….
I love being a solopreneur !
I work a lot but it does not really feel like work for most of the tasks… and I hire people to do what I hate the most: proofreading my eBooks.
Thanks Sharon for letting me share my journey. I hope it can help or inspire a few of your readers.
Note: there is another Claire Robinson who is also a travel blogger but from the UK. Don’t get confused in the travel blogging Facebook groups!
2. Describe your blog(s)
I run the Travel Blog ZigZagonearth.com, as well as its French version ZigZagvoyages.fr and my newest baby in German: ZigZagreisen.de.
I cater to people who:
- travel in road trip mode (for 2 to 3 weeks) focusing on Nature
- enjoy doing a lot of planning before a trip and looking at a lot of pictures
For each destination, I provide a high number of articles about specific places to see, with detailed information. They are all organised around my travel guide pages such as this one I’m currently building for New Zealand.
I have established my monetisation strategy based on what my readers need, what I love doing and what I hate doing (so that I don’t do it…)
Therefore I have two streams of monetisation on all 3 languages:
- I sell my own travel guides. They are eBooks. They contain my selection of places to see, practical maps I have drawn and a simplified information layout – it facilitates the planning of a road trip
- Affiliate marketing – mostly hotels and tours
I have chosen not to have any ads and I don’t accept any sponsored posts.
3. When did you start blogging and why did you start?
I published my first blog post in English back in August 2013. I was frustrated not being able to find the info and visuals I wanted before a trip. Thinking others might be looking for the same type of content, I decided to share my own.
At the time, my first articles were 300 word-long with 15 pictures… not so useful… but it was a start. It was never my intention to make a living out of it. And I must admit that I also started it because I was bored at my job.
Then, in 2015, my content about Iceland started taking off (when I stopped trying to be funny or witty but embraced the fact that I am not a writer, rather an information organiser – and when I focused my blog strategy).
That’s when I decided to write my first travel guide. Yes my first monetisation approach was to create an info product! The opposite path of most bloggers…
It was for similar reasons: I don’t use the guides from big brands you find in bookshops. They have 10,000 locations as if you have years to travel. They make planning more complicated, in my opinion.
I thought other people might be looking for a travel guide that simplifies the planning of their road trip.
And I started earning money with my hobby. At the end of 2015, I lost my brother suddenly and while I was away grieving, my brand new manager completely reduced the scope of my project. All that together, made me jump into full time blogging.
And today I cover 9 destinations with my travel guides!
4. What is the most rewarding part of blogging for you?
I can think of 3 different ways this new blogging career feels rewarding:
- Helping readers, of course – When people tell me they have finally found the information they were looking for, it feels great. I even had a reader telling me that I saved her marriage, because normally she spends too much time doing research and it drives her husband mad. LOL
- Being in the flow – What I love doing is structuring and simplifying information, whatever the subject – blogging allows me to be IN THE ZONE everyday as well as relive my travels. Plus it is the right tempo for me. I don’t like very long projects; I like seeing things implemented quickly so publishing regularly and changing countries every few months suit my needs
- Enjoying the freedom – because of the monetisation and traffic strategies I have chosen, nothing is directly related to my time. Yes I do have to work to keep the flow coming long term, but I don’t exchange money for time. And that flexibility in my life is what I cherish everyday.
5. What do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging for me is promoting my blog, self-promotion. I’d rather talk about other people’s business and help out if I can. And I prefer letting my work speak for itself.
But in this crowded space, it is not sufficient. If I want to reach another level with it, I will have to be more proactive… I have to push myself to talk about me and my blog. Hence me answering this interview.
By the way, Sharon asked for 3 pictures of me relating to my work… and I’ve found only 2 so I went for a walk at the marina close to my place and took a selfie 🙂
6. How much did you earn in the last month and how?
When I decided to go full time, my mum, although well-intentioned and supportive, said I should keep a part-time job consulting in my field…
And then I made enough money to pay all my expenses.
Then I told her my goal was to make 10,000 euros per month and you should have seen the look on her face. Yeahhh right! (“Mais bien sûr…” in French).
Well, for the last few months, I have earned over 10,000 euros per month from my 3 blogs together (mostly 2 of them because the German one is still very young).
The structure of my income varies depending on the month. But over a year, I make 45% of it from selling my eBooks and 55% from affiliate marketing.
And apart from the travel costs, other expenses to run the business are not high. I don’t outsource except for proofreading my eBooks.
7. What tips do you have for bloggers trying to monetise their blogs?
My main advice is to sit and actually write down your own strategy. Don’t try to do this or that because it worked for someone else. And don’t think you have it in your head.
- Who you ideal reader is – don’t try talking to everyone
- What does he/she need? How can I help?
- What do I love doing?
- What do I hate doing? (e.g. I hate Instagram so I won’t be working with destination boards any time soon… it is not in my strategy)
- What are my skills?
Based on that, check out all the ways you can monetise a blog and choose the ones that fit best your blog and you. Then you can learn from people who have successfully implemented what you have selected (for example Sharon’s course for SEO).
8. How much traffic did your blog have in the last month and where does it come from?
My English website was at 163k page views in September and the French one at 126k. My main source of traffic is Search Engine – 80%
The rest is from Pinterest and direct.
I did the same exercise for my traffic strategy as I did for monetisation. Finding where my reader is and what I like doing best.
9. What tasks do you do that have the biggest impact on your traffic?
Defining my strategy – Making content systematic and targeted to my audience and choosing the right keywords for it. Writing detailed articles with SEO optimisation (although I really have to work on my link building). On site SEO is a good fit for me and the way I love working.
10. What has helped you the most when it comes to getting search traffic?
Clarifying who my reader is and defining the right content strategy. I truly believe this is a step many bloggers are skipping.
And starting my French website. Search volumes are lower but competition is way lower! It was easier to get traction on it.
The German site seems to be heading in the same direction. Yeah!
11. What are your main goals for your blog?
Right now I am developing my latest baby, the German site to reach the same level as the French one. The next eBook will be Andalusia at the end of the year in English and beginning 2020 in the other languages.
And I have finally started working on my newsletter after telling myself every month for 3 years, that it was really important to do it! Arghhhh procrastination !
Regarding wider goals, I am not sure. I am trying to finish a few things, to try and get some space in my head and clarify where I am going next.
12. What are you doing to work towards your main goals? How do you work out where to prioritise your time?
My strategies are still good at the moment to keep moving forward.
I am not scattered with too many traffic channels or income channels. So the tasks are very clear:
- Create content on one of the 3 blogs – as per keyword research for each destination
- Update old content
- Treatment of photos and video 2 to 3 times a year
- Create eBooks 2 to 3 times a year
- Do a little bit of social media
- Write newsletter once a month
- and a few accounting tasks
Every morning, I see what I feel like doing and get to work. However I do know that if I want to reach another step for my English and French blogs (except adding new destinations), I will have to do more networking and link building… Procrastination again…
13. What three biggest tips/pieces of advice do you have for other bloggers?
- I will repeat myself but first clarify on paper your own strategy based on real facts
- Implement step by step. Start with one monetisation channel and one traffic channel and master them. Then move on to the next. Invest in courses to master each channel you have chosen
- Be patient, keep going – things take time and those who keep working at it are one step closer to reaching their goals
14. Where can we find you online?