Aiden Joseph is the person behind Freeborn Aiden, a blog about adventure travel. Find out how he has been able to differentiate himself in the busy travel niche and build a loyal following.
Revenue of $1,000/mo
Email list size of 500
Founded in 2015
Hello! What’s your background, and what is your blog about?
I’m Aiden. I was born and raised in the North of England. When I was younger I wanted to be a fighter pilot, then a bank robber and then a musician but somehow I ended up blogging!
My blog is about adventure travel. Usually, I simply write about places that I find interesting. Where my blog differs from a lot of others is that I try to always provide a personal experience rather than simply listing things you can do and see in a particular place.
Since starting my blog, I’ve used the extra income it ha generated to more to less continuously keep on traveling for the last 3 years so id say that its being kind of successful.
What motivated you to get started with the blog?
My primary motivation was sheer desperation! I returned home from backpacking South America and desperately wanted to hit the road again. Fortunately, an answer was at hand when a blogger I had met in Colombia encouraged me to start my own blog and use it to travel the world!
Financially I was in pretty dire straits living in my Mothers spare room. If it hadn’t worked I’d have had to have taken a “real” job in England.
I have no background in blogging, marketing or web design so had to learn all of this stuff as I went along. I did have an existing, albeit lament, talent for writing through which I knew would help me through the initial stages.
What is the revenue model for the blog?
I make money mainly from sponsored content and sometimes for content creation for 3rd parties. I also have a few affiliate scheme and occasionally help with brand awareness through my social media channels. My first paid gig was $50 for a post about South East Asia; I was ecstatic!
These days I can make up to $1k per month which goes pretty far in a lot of countries. I supplement this by working with other bloggers on a “waged” basis as and when.
My advice to anybody starting a travel blog today would firstly br to consider another niche as the travel one is jam packed and its hard to break into! Other than that, is to set up as many quality affiliate schemes as you can early on. They do take time to start making money but it’s a passive income stream meaning you can. Also, don’t ever sell sponsored content too cheap as the SEO companies do talk to another and you will then struggle to ever increase your prices.
What are some strategies you have used for building up the traffic?
The best way to get traffic is simply to get yourself to the top of Google. This means finding a key word search term which is popular but where there isn’t too much competition. Other than that, guest posting on bigger blogs gets you an initial profile but you can end up squandering some of your best ideas on somebody else site.'The best way to get traffic is simply to get yourself to the top of Google.'Click To Tweet
In order to find paying clients, I often do contact exchanges with other bloggers. Building strong alliances with other bloggers is crucial but be warned, some of them can be pretty duplicitous.
How have you grown the email list?
Email bangs are not my main focus. I do have a list which I collate using a Sumo Pop-up on my site but don’t really utilise it. Some bloggers do offer to sell their lists but this is unethical; besides that, jf somebody hasn’t subscribed to your list then they are most probably not interested in what you have to say. I mean, how often do you actively engage with unsolicited emails?
How do you write great content that performs well?
To write great content you firstly need to be truly excited about the topic. The enthusiasm will manages itself in the content and it will flow and engage readers. If you’re not, then the content will feel strained and will be mediocre at best.
For me, topics often suggest themselves. For example, I recently got stranded in Madagascar during a cyclone so that article pretty wrote itself. Beyond that, I often try to find a lesser explored angle on a particular piece. For example, there is a lot of content out there about Istanbul’s architectural history but far less about its street cats! See what I mean?
Sadly, the best performing content is seldom the best written or most unique. It can feel disenfranchising to see your personal masterpiece sink without a trace whereas your “10 Best Ice Cream Vans in Brighton” click-bait goes viral. Its just the way it sometimes is.
What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced and obstacles you’ve overcome with your blog? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
The biggest mistakes I made were not continuously building my social media following. You need to constantly be making efforts to increase your following on all channels including any new ones that spring up. Some of these new channels will fail so you may feel you wasted time concentrating on them but you need to cover all bases.
I now use a VA to work on this for me as it is tedious and time consuming, but I’m still playing catch up because of early oversights.
Have you found anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Tim Ferris’ “4 Hour Work Week” is pretty much the bloggers bible and it is inspiring and does contain some useful advice – however its not a little book of miracles though and I don’t hold it in the same reverence as some. Most of my best lessons, have simply come from speaking to my peers and sharing insights.'Find a niche you are passionate about and then make sure you spend time working on the aspects of blogging that you do like doing.'Click To Tweet
One of the best decisions I ever made was to hire a proper web designer. Id taken the site layout as far as I could and it just did not look professional enough to take things to the next level. It means handing over cash but it really is a vital investment.
What’s your advice for bloggers who are just starting out?
It is worth investing time and even money in educating yourself before you even start your blog. This way, you can avoid some rocky mistakes altogether and get off to a flying start. A strong start will then help you maintain the faith during the lean times which inevitably lie ahead.
Also, make sure that you continue to enjoy it. Find a niche you are passionate about and then make sure you spend time working on the aspects of blogging that you do like doing. For me, I spend half of my work day doing the laborious “back end” stuff but then treat myself to a few hours actual content writing as that’s the part of it I love.
Where can we go to learn more?