Times are certainly changing. Digital nomads have been grounded for the moment, but frankly it’s still mostly business as usual for us. As location independent entrepreneurs, we are accustomed to working from home (or whatever our current home is on the road) with our flexible careers. And for many of us, those careers involve blogging.
Perhaps you’ve recently been inspired you to look into a blogging career yourself, with plans to eventually hit the road and learn to become a digital nomad. Or maybe you want to take your existing blog to the next level.
Great! Don’t worry about the travel bit. Not yet. I always strongly suggest that the first and most important step to becoming a digital nomad is to establish the foundations of your new career, and to do it before you start traveling, when you’ll find yourself dealing with a whole new lifestyle in addition to starting and growing your blog and online business. Trust me. I concurrently built my blog while traveling full-time, and I consistently did both badly while I worked out the sheer mechanics of how to be a digital nomad; there simply weren’t enough hours in a day, and thus I constantly sacrificed one or the other: travel experiences or business opportunities.
So, in this first step for somebody with digital nomad dreams, let’s take a look at two blogging courses and services that will (dramatically) reduce your learning curve and get you up and going quickly, with the help of some of the best in the blogging business.
This post was originally published in 2017. It has since been completely re-written and republished with up-to-date information and new courses.
I have audited (or had a friend audit) both of these blog courses and setup services, which were given to me (or my friend) for free. In the case of the Superstar Blogging School, I have a long-standing relationship with the school and a deep respect for the content, which has taught even this old dog a whole bunch of new tricks. In the case of Blog Setup Matters, I obviously didn’t need a new blog set up, but I had a friend in dire straits who was able to test their services for free and provide me with a detailed report about the experience so I can relay that information to you. In both cases, if you click through to their sites from this page and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. This is how I make my living, it doesn’t affect your price, and I appreciate your support. My promise to you is that I will only promote products and services that I have used (or had a proxy use) and can heartily endorse. Thank you.
SUPERSTAR BLOGGING SCHOOL: Best Blog Course to Learn How to Run a Successful Blog
Nomadic Matt and I started our full-time travel and blogging careers around the same time. The difference is, he took his online business much more seriously than I did, and it shows; today, he is one of the (if not the) highest-paid and most respected travel bloggers of all-time. He’s also a New York Times best-selling author, the creator of one of the leading travel media conferences (TravelCon), and the founder of a non-profit organization that takes underprivileged high school students abroad.
This guy has it all going on.
And in 2016 Matt developed an online academy called the Superstar Blogging School to help other people transform their lives and careers accordingly – and it is one of the best blog courses I’ve ever taken.
I audited his course The Business of Blogging in 2016, and even with 10 years in the industry at the time, I learned a ton. I maintain that if something like this existed when I was getting started, I’d have saved thousands of dollars (and the equivalent number of hours) futzing about trying to figure out how to run a successful blog. Since 2016, the course has been regularly updated and redesigned, and the changes keep making it better and better.
Here are just a few of the topics the course dives deep into:
- How to set up a blog: creating and setting up your site. (While the focus of this course is on the travel industry, the concepts apply broadly enough to help anybody interested in learning how to start a lifestyle blog).
- Choosing a niche, and building your brand.
- Time management, and maximizing efficiency.
- Tricks to writing content for the web.
- Writing tips and resources.
- Social Media mastery, with tips for using each of the major platforms.
- Working with media.
- Networking tips.
- A huge section on SEO, with beginner and advanced modules.
- Newsletters and email marketing.
- Affiliate marketing.
- Putting ads on your site.
- Creating digital products.
- Self-publishing e-books on Amazon.
- Tours, consulting, and other ways to make money with your blog.
- Product marketing tutorials.
- Preparing a media kit.
- Working with PR and brands on sponsored campaigns.
Not only is this course about how to create a blog, but more importantly, it’s about how to structure and use your blog to support your personal brand, and how to choose and implement the best monetization strategies for you. A blog can be so much more than a website; it is the centrepiece to a full online business, and this course will help you learn how to start a blog business.
Every couple of years, Matt has massively updated his course. But this year, he went all out and completely revamped it. Now, it’s not an online course; it’s a full-on mentorship program. In addition to the extensive course contents above that you can work your way through at your pace, you’ll get access to the following:
- Weekly Q&As and strategy calls.
- Unlimited tech support. (This is huge; I pay almost $100/month for tech support alone).
- Notes and edits on your writing––personal writing feedback!
- A community forum to interact and network with other students.
- Bonus webinars from the most successful online creators in the world.
- Real-world assignments to keep you motivated.
- Lifetime updates so you can have access to the latest best practices.
There’s So. Much. Stuff. If you’re remotely serious about making money with an online business and blog, this will dramatically speed up the process and increase your chances of success.
Business of Blogging Webinar Replay with Nomadic Matt and Nora Dunn
In April 2020, Matt and I co-hosted a webinar about the business of blogging, where we talked about the state of the blogging industry and how it has evolved (and continues to evolve), and we shared some of our best practices while taking questions from live attendees.
Have a look! (Click here to watch it on YouTube).
Points of interest include:
03:40 – How do you manage all the tasks of blogging?
06:50 – How early in a blogging career do you hire staff?
09:50 – The importance of re-investing into your blog.
11:30 – Is a personality-centric blogging model still relevant and monetizeable?
14:40 – The difference between 2008 (when Matt and I started our blogs) and now; how to become a travel blogger now versus when we started.
16:50 – State of the “influencer” industry, and which social platforms we each use.
21:20 – The future of travel blogging post-pandemic, and when the best time to start a travel blog is.
27:40 – The first piece of advice Matt has for somebody learning how to start a travel blog.
31:00 – Where to find virtual assistants, and hiring tips.
34:40 – Video blogging vs. Written blogs.
36:25 – Dealing with content theft.
38:40 – How to earn affiliate income, and our preferred affiliate providers.
41:00 – A wee rant from me about Amazon and how they’ve changed the affiliate game, and what can be learned from it.
44:20 – The various ways to monetize a blog, and the importance of creating products for your community.
48:40 – The future of sponsored content.
50:30 – How to get answers to all the rest of your questions about how to become a blogger, newbie and experienced alike.
We spent a lot of time talking about how a blog is part of the larger construct of an online business, and how different that can look for everybody. We also spoke about streamlining, scaling, and outsourcing. I loved it when Matt said this:
“There’s always more money to be made, but you can never get your time back. So you don’t want to trade your time for money.”
We finished off chatting about his Business of Blogging program and everything he now offers. When asked why he redesigned the course this way, Matt replied:
“If you want free information, you can Google it. But if you want mentorship and free tech support and weekly strategy calls and feedback on your writing, come join Superstar Blogging; we’ll give you all that PLUS all the information you need.”
Because it’s an ongoing mentorship program, the fee structure has changed from a large one-time fee to a small monthly/annual ongoing membership platform.
- If you pay monthly, it’s $25/month for the first three months (then it goes up to $49/month).
- If you pay annually, it’s $375 for the first year (which gives you four months for free).
There’s a 14-day free trial, and you can cancel any time (you lose access to the course at the end of the month in which you cancel).
Like I said, the tech support on its own is worth the price of membership; I pay twice as much for that alone, and it’s just one of many features of this program.
If you want to learn more about how to develop an online business and community that helps people and makes you money, and be more than just an influencer, then check out The Business of Blogging here.
BLOG SETUP MATTERS: Have Your Blog Set up for You in Less Than a Week
I don’t honestly remember how I set up my blog; it was so long ago, and things were different then. Over the years the process has become more streamlined, but also considerably more involved, with a ton of components to install and configure like themes, plugins, analytics, sitemaps, widgets, social icons, newsletter signup forms, spam filters, SEO settings, and more.
When I sat down with a friend to help him through the process of setting up his own website, I was actually pretty useless. He was using a different host and the setup process had changed enough over the years that I was almost as out of my element as he was. I don’t know what he did (or didn’t do), but eventually things got so muddled that he couldn’t even figure out how to sign into the site any more to finish setting it up.
My hands were tied; if he couldn’t figure out how to log in, I couldn’t help him set it up. And while he could have risen to the challenge and called in the cavalry to figure out how to log in, instead he was so overwhelmed by the experience that he dropped the whole thing. Even though he had paid for a domain and hosting, it was easier to forget the whole debacle than to continue fighting with his website setup process. He thought that if he couldn’t even get this far, he had no business running a website.
My friend’s experience is not an isolated one. A reader wrote in to me recently with a similar complaint; she was so overwhelmed in trying to figure out the mechanics of her new site that she abandoned it for other ventures.
If this sounds like you and if all this tech stuff is stopping you from starting your own blog, then Blog Setup Matters is for you.
Their offering is incredibly simple, and very valuable. For a one-time fee of $299, you’ll get all this:
- Genesis Framework installed.
- Your choice of premium theme by Studiopress (this alone is worth half the cost).
- Security and SPAM plugins installed and licenses activated.
- Premium backup plugin set up and licenses activated.
- Content upgrade and landing pages installed.
- Social icons plugin installed.
- Premium SEO plugin installed and license activated, along with full configuration and sitemap enabling.
- Premium newsletter lead generation and email marketing plugin installed and license activated.
- Google analytics integration and setup.
- Sample pages and menus created.
My friend with the broken website gave Blog Setup Matters a whirl on my behalf, so he could report back to me about the experience. After signing up, he was asked for his choice of theme, the sign-in information for his host, and a few logistical questions. He was also asked why he was starting this website and what his goals are. They use this information to create the best possible bespoke setup for every situation.
While Blog Setup Matters promises to have your website set up in 2-5 days, they had my friend’s site done later that very same day. Further questions were answered promptly, and a few days later after adding his personal information, my friend was up and running with a fully functional website!
All of the services and premium products provided by Blog Setup Matters add up to over $900. But more importantly, my friend stressed that he had a renewed enthusiasm for his website; which he had formerly felt so beaten down by that it was easier to ignore than pursue.
Now. He got everything for free, so of course he was enthusiastic! But when I asked him if he would pay $299 for everything he received, he immediately said:
“Heck yeah! I’d have paid more! I’m so relieved it is all set up now and I can have a website for my services. It’s so important.”
If you’re interested in going from zero to having a fully-functional website in under a week, have a look here to see if Blog Setup Matters is for you.
On Becoming a Digital Nomad: Remote Work is the Wave of the Future, and the Digital Nomad Lifestyle Will Make an Epic Comeback
We may all be grounded right now, but some major changes are afoot. If I were to look into my magic crystal ball, I would say that in the months and years to come, there will be exponential growth in digital nomad jobs and thus in the digital nomad community.
While the majority of the world has been forced to stay at home, companies have learned to adapt, and wherever possible, employees have been working remotely. When isolation-measures are relaxed, many of these companies, having made it over the hurtle of figuring out how to operate remotely, will likely re-examine their sprawling office spaces critically, perhaps opting to reduce their footprint and streamline to a more telecommuting-friendly (and cost-effective) business model. Thus they may give employees the option to travel and work remotely.
This is a huge opportunity for people who want to embrace the digital nomad lifestyle, which includes not only the ability to work from anywhere in the world, but with a nomadic lifestyle you can also take advantage of currency arbitrage by living somewhere where the money you earn can go farther.
This is for people who are lucky enough to have remained employed. There is also a huge number of people who are at loose ends. Out of work, and perhaps looking at creating something new (like a blog or online business).
I believe if ever there was a time to create something new, that time is now. And with the tools above, it can be exponentially easier to learn how to become a blogger than if you try to do it all on your own.
Whenever I’m interviewed about my career and lifestyle and asked for advice about becoming a digital nomad and figuring out a compatible career, my first and foremost response is always “don’t try to reinvent the wheel”. The learning curve is steep and jagged, and what might seem like a big investment will turn out to be a big money––and time––saver in the end. Take it from me….a girl who stumbled her way up the learning curve to where she is now, and has the bumps and bruises to prove it.