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15 Classes from 15 Years of Running a blog

Nomadic Matt posing by a narrow canal in sunny Amsterdam
Posted: 4/2/23 | April 2nd, 2023

In the present day is an enormous day. It marks fifteen years working this web site. I posted my first weblog entry in early April 2008, after spending over a month bugging pals I met in Vietnam for assist with coding. Again then, within the days earlier than WordPress, you needed to hand-code the whole lot, and I spent quite a lot of time determining methods to transfer photographs round, design graphics, create hyperlinks, and format the location.

I began this weblog as a option to get freelance writing gigs so I may afford to maintain touring. I simply needed to place off going company for so long as attainable. I by no means thought I’d have a profession in journey, however I assume after fifteen years doing so, this counts as a profession. I’ve created books, programs, and excursions, spoken at conferences, and am quoted within the media. So, I assume I’m form of an professional in journey? That feels bizarre to say.

Being a public determine is surreal to me, as a result of, in so some ways, I’m nonetheless only a man who desires to maintain touring. There’s a lot of the world I wish to see. Certain, I like the enterprise of working a web site. It’s a psychological problem I discover fascinating. However, to me, it’s nonetheless only a option to fulfill my journey habit and keep away from having to work in an workplace (although, now that I’ve a staff, it’s a extra difficult option to keep away from the workplace!).

Within the final fifteen years, I’ve seen the web and journey content material creation change dramatically. Digital nomads are now not bizarre, and being profitable on-line isn’t odd.

“You stop your job? Are you loopy?” isn’t one thing lots of people say as of late. There’s quite a lot of constructive encouragement for this factor that was as soon as thought of so loopy that there will need to have been one thing incorrect with you for those who needed to do it.

As individuals are susceptible to do throughout milestones like this, I needed to share some classes I’ve realized as a grizzled outdated web particular person (as a result of folks confer with me as “an OG digital creator” as if I’m 90!).

1. Most individuals succeed due to luck

Nomadic Matt posing for a photo along the winding road of Hawaii
Somebody’s video goes viral, and out of the blue their bakery in Australia has extra orders than they know what to do with.

Some folks get that fortunate interview that opens the door to fame.

Some folks simply meet that one proper particular person at a convention.

In fact, ability is required to take care of that success, however quite a lot of occasions, luck and timing play an even bigger function than folks wish to admit. That’s not one thing you possibly can management. Would I be the place I’m if I hadn’t began early with a give attention to search engine optimization? Most likely not. I simply occurred to start out on the proper time. That’s not one thing I managed. I obtained fortunate.

2. Throw quite a lot of spaghetti towards the wall

I’ve had quite a lot of failed concepts — from apps to T-shirts to a convention to a hostel. A few of these ventures caught for some time; others have been quick failures. Some got here again years later (we do excursions once more!). I’m always making an attempt new issues after which discarding what doesn’t work. However all these issues that didn’t work helped us do different issues that did work.

3. Nobody reads blogs for private updates anymore

Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt looking over a canal in Paris
Again within the day, blogs have been the place you instructed tales and gave life updates. Individuals had RSS feeds and left feedback. Now, that occurs largely through electronic mail and social media. Yeah, some folks will click on over to your tales, and blogs are nonetheless helpful for sharing service-based content material, however the way in which folks used to devour private updates is useless. It most likely gained’t come again both. The form of engagement weblog feedback used to generate is now discovered on social media.

4. Subsequently, you must be on social media

You may’t be towards social media. You must be on it. I don’t consider you possibly can run a personality-based web site with out utilizing social media these days. You don’t should be on each platform — be part of people who make you most snug — however you must be on some. As I stated, all social engagement occurs there now. It’s the place you join and preserve a relationship along with your readers. Your weblog is simply the place you ship them after they have questions.

5. You must study to make some video content material

I hate video. I like phrases. However video is the wave of the longer term, and you must study to supply it. I’ve already began doing extra video and plan to do much more. In case your weblog has a face (you), that face must be making video. It’s how younger folks devour media, and, if you would like your message heard by them, you must do it.

6. It’s vital to all the time reinvent your self

Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt speaking at a book store while on a book tour
Change is the one fixed in life — and the web modifications at lightning pace. If you happen to don’t always reinvent your self, you will get left behind actually quick. I do know tons of on-line creators who by no means moved off their dying social media platform or modified their enterprise mannequin and is puttering alongside, grinding it out however by no means actually rising. They didn’t undertake new methods or get on new platforms. They didn’t observe their viewers. And, in consequence, whereas they make a residing, it’s only a irritating grind of diminishing returns.

You must be prepared to vary course usually if you wish to succeed on-line.

7. Some methods are timeless

Though the whole lot modifications, some issues stay the identical. You must all the time have your personal web site, electronic mail continues to be king, and high quality content material versus gimmicky tendencies and memes (on any platform) continues to be one of the best ways to develop. The tried-and-true advertising and marketing methods to get folks to observe you, purchase your stuff, or join one thing haven’t modified (as a result of folks don’t change), so following the recommendation of a bunch of “boring” entrepreneurs continues to be one of the best ways to succeed.

8. Don’t go all in on one platform

Bear in mind Vine? What occurred to all these creators who went all in there? All the time unfold your self round, as a result of platforms change — and so they don’t care about you. Algorithms change, progress slows, and platforms alter course. So don’t put all of your effort into only one platform. Be in a number of locations, but additionally: all the time direct folks again to your web site and electronic mail listing, as a result of, it doesn’t matter what occurs to social media, these are all the time going to be the 2 stuff you personal and management.

9. Rent a staff

Nomadic Matt reading a stack of books about travel
You’ll by no means develop for those who don’t have a staff. There are solely so many hours in a day. You simply can’t do all of it. And your time must be spent on progress and creation, not formatting photographs. Hiring workers to assist with admin work, content material updates, electronic mail, and something in between will skyrocket your progress. It’s not possible in any other case.

10. Consider your self as a pizza store

If you wish to be a profitable enterprise, you must behave like, for instance, the brick-and-mortar pizza store down the road. You must take into consideration bills, P&L stories, taxes, advertising and marketing, gross sales, and so forth. You must give you boring advertising and marketing plans. You want staff. In any other case, you’re simply taking part in enterprise, not really working one.

I do know tons of creators who say they “run a enterprise” however when requested for specifics they don’t even know the fundamentals.

11. By no means cease studying

Go to conferences, learn books, and hearken to podcasts. The highest folks in any area learn — always.

And so they go to occasions the place they study from their friends.

And so they go to area of interest occasions, the place they study from consultants in different fields.

The best disappointment within the journey business for me is that few creators are actually specializing in bettering their expertise (I say this as somebody who ran an expert growth convention). However the ones that do? They crush it — and so they keep on prime! The remainder putter alongside.

12. Be taught to let go

Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt working on a laptop at a desk
We used to gross $500,000 a 12 months simply from our running a blog programs. Then gross sales dropped. I spent some huge cash making an attempt to get them again up, however the market had modified. Out of the blue, everybody on-line had a course on running a blog and was throwing large sums into adverts. Prospects needed extra movies and weekly calls. We tried to adapt, however ultimately, what the course market grew to become wasn’t what actually me. Now, we make about $50,000 a 12 months as a substitute. You must be prepared to let issues go if one thing isn’t working.

13. Don’t attempt to work and journey on the identical time

It’s not possible to work and journey on the identical time. You simply can’t do it. Your work suffers, your travels undergo, and your psychological well being suffers. If you wish to be a digital nomad, don’t transfer quick. Transfer sluggish, keep in locations longer, have devoted work days, and discover good coworking areas. Don’t run from café to café and vacation spot to vacation spot or else you’ll all the time really feel like you might be solely treading water, by no means like you might be shifting ahead.

14. You MUST community outdoors your business

Nomadic Matt on stage speaking at a WDS conference
You should community outdoors your business if you wish to succeed. In your personal business, folks know you and there are overlapping audiences. You may solely develop a lot. However going to occasions outdoors your business? These are extra impactful since you could be that different business’s professional. I am going to finance, enterprise, and social media conferences so I can meet folks and be their journey man. Do they want quotes or an interview? I’m there. Going to non-travel occasions has accomplished extra for my web site’s progress than any journey occasion I’ve ever been to.

15. It’s OK to stop

It’s onerous to confess failure. I do know quite a lot of journey creators — and creators generally — that hold working on-line as a result of they really feel they will by no means return to an workplace job, regardless of the very fact they’re barely surviving. Typically issues don’t work out — it’s OK to stop and let go. Use the abilities you must work for another person and get an everyday paycheck. We idolize working for ourselves within the on-line area a lot that we overlook that it’s OK to simply receives a commission to do a job and clock out and in. Don’t let pleasure get in the way in which of admitting that one thing didn’t work. Life is just too quick to be always burdened and anxious for years. Let go.


Final 12 months, I stop running a blog frequently. I simply felt like I’d stated all I may say about journey. This 12 months, I’m going to proceed that pattern and semi-retire. I wish to write extra books, journey for enjoyable (not for work), and proceed to give attention to my well being and health. Final 12 months, I gave up quite a lot of private time when journey restarted post-COVID — occasions, excursions, and conferences. It took up most of my free time. In actual fact, final 12 months was the primary 12 months since I began touring and I didn’t go to at least one new place.

However no extra.

After this month, I gained’t be happening any extra full TNN excursions (although I’ll nonetheless pop in every so often). I plan to proceed handy off the day-to-day operations of this web site to my staff. (Letting go is the toughest a part of all of this!) I plan to attend my final journey convention this 12 months.

I’ll proceed to weblog once I really feel the urge, however I wish to replace my guide The right way to Journey the World on $50 a Day, write a brand new guide, give attention to bringing journey to folks through video, and possibly do one thing fully new. I’m undecided actually.

The final fifteen years have been a wild journey. Nevertheless it’s time to do different issues. I’m undecided what, however it’s time to develop and see what’s on the market!

E book Your Journey: Logistical Ideas and Tips

E book Your Flight
Discover a low-cost flight through the use of Skyscanner. It’s my favourite search engine as a result of it searches web sites and airways across the globe so that you all the time know no stone is being left unturned.

E book Your Lodging
You may guide your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace aside from a hostel, use because it constantly returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and motels.

Don’t Overlook Journey Insurance coverage
Journey insurance coverage will shield you towards sickness, damage, theft, and cancellations. It’s complete safety in case something goes incorrect. I by no means go on a visit with out it as I’ve had to make use of it many occasions up to now. My favourite firms that supply the perfect service and worth are:

Wish to journey without spending a dime?
Journey bank cards help you earn factors that may be redeemed without spending a dime flights and lodging. They’re what hold me touring a lot for thus little. Try my information to choosing the right card and my present favorites to get began and see the newest finest offers.

Able to E book Your Journey?
Try my useful resource web page for the perfect firms to make use of while you journey. I listing all those I take advantage of once I journey. They’re the perfect at school and you’ll’t go incorrect utilizing them in your journey.

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