(Guest posting is now closed but I had a few in the queue to publish…check out this inspired post from Rob Palmer)
Blogging from paradise sounds like a great idea, right? Living in the sun – surfing at the beach in the morning, working from your laptop by the pool in the afternoon and relaxing with a cocktail while the sun sets in the evening. What could be better?
But is this really a serious long-term proposition? It’s one thing for a backpacker to blog and make a few bucks to see the world with. But can blogging really make you enough money to finance a whole new career?
I’m here to tell you that it can. I know for sure, because I have been ‘blogging from paradise’ full time since 2001. Fifteen years into my new career, I still love it as much as ever – and I intend to continue for many more years to come.
Escaping the Rat Race
The decision to change my life happened back in 2000. At the time, I was living in London and working as a copywriter and marketing consultant. Although my job was better than most, I worked long hours and struggled with three hours of commuting every day.
I made good money, but it was all swallowed up by enormous mortgage expenses and the high cost of living in the big city. And as much as I love the UK, there is no denying that the weather is awful – cold, rainy and downright dreary for much of the year.
I decided my family needed a break from the January snow, ice and sleet, so we headed off to Queensland, Australia for a vacation. And that is how I found myself sitting on Bribie Island beach, watching my kids having a great time bodyboarding while the orange-red sun sank slowly in the sky.
‘This is the life,’ I thought. ‘If only we could live like this every day!’
I looked behind me and noticed a house nestled right up against the beach. The house owner was sitting at a table in front of the house, reading a book and swigging a bottle of Aussie beer. He seemed perfectly content, relaxing and enjoying the evening glow.
I realized that for him, this beautiful experience wasn’t a one off event. This was his normal life. Every day after work, he could sit in his yard and watch a spectacular sunset. In a few days’ time, I would be back in wintry London, enduring freezing fog and endless rain. But he would still be here in the glorious sunshine – day after day after day.
At that moment, I resolved that my life had to change. When I got home, I devoted all my spare time into launching a website for freelance writers. Today you would call it a blog, but back then the term hadn’t been invented. I called it an online newsletter.
Luckily, my new venture took off and started attracting a lot of traffic. I added a paid membership area which showed people how to start a freelance career, and soon I was making more money from my hobby than from my regular work.
So I quit my consultancy job, and started ‘blogging’ full time. That was the first big step.
A few months later, we took the second big step. We sold up everything in the UK and got on a plane to Australia, ready to start a whole new life.
From Gray Skies to Sunny Beaches
What a transformation! From day one, we were living a life that was truly awesome. Instead of being trapped indoors by the inclement weather, my kids were out loving life in the sun. We spent many hours on the beach, and many more hours in our swimming pool. The summers were beautiful, and the winters mild and pleasant. Spring and fall were idyllic.
I was able to continue making money ‘blogging from paradise.’ I blogged from the deck by our pool while the kids splashed around playing Marco Polo. I blogged from cafes overlooking the beach, and from the back of a camper van – waiting for the right surfing waves to come along.
We were able to travel, too. We explored Australia from northern Queensland to the southern tip of Tasmania, and we traveled the world from Hong Kong to San Francisco. I blogged wherever we were, and made more than enough money to finance our truly awesome lifestyle.
The Early Days of Blogging
So blogging has been very good to me, but it hasn’t always been easy. When we first arrived in Australia back in 2001, running an online business was much more challenging that it is today.
First of all, there was no Wi-Fi and certainly no mobile broadband. For the first couple of years, we rented homes on short lets so that we could travel around the country. But every time we moved house, I had to get a phone line installed in our new property so that I could get online.
Even when I got online, I was restricted to painfully slow dial-up speeds. If I wanted to work out on the deck by the pool, I had to trail a 30-metre wire all the way from the modem in my office to my laptop on the deck.
Publishing content was a real challenge. There was no WordPress, and no other CMS. Every web page had to be hand-coded and uploaded by FTP to the server. Hosting cost about $100 a month for a basic shared plan, and registering a new domain cost $75. Running a server to host my large mailing list cost me over $600 a month. Everything was far more expensive than it is today.
There was no social media, so promoting content was much harder. Google was more primitive than it is now, so the search results were full of spam. That made getting a legitimate site ranked annoyingly difficult.
PayPal hadn’t yet caught on, and it was hard to get a merchant account for online businesses. To process membership payments, I had to resort to a processor primarily used by porn sites. Sometimes this processor would send me emails recommending other websites in their network that I might like to partner with. The suggestions were colorful to say the least, and totally inappropriate.
There was also very little in the way of online marketing software – no backlink tools, no competitor analysis tools, no keyword research tools. There was no YouTube, and therefore no training or educational videos. I was working in the dark, finding my way by testing and trying ideas to see what worked. It was fun, for sure, but it wasn’t easy.
Lessons Learned from 15 Years of Blogging from Paradise
So based on my experiences, I can tell you that blogging is most definitely a long-term proposition. I started my website from scratch and built it up to revenues of over a million dollars a year.
If you find it hard to believe that a blog can make a million bucks a year, check out these – regular folks who pull down big money, month after month. There really is no reason why you can’t make an entire career out of blogging, too.
Secondly, I can tell you that right now is a fantastic time to get into the blogging business. Blogging has matured enormously in recent years. You now have access to tools and resources that I would have killed for back in 2001.
WordPress is an amazing platform, making it possible for anyone to get started as a blogger, even with no technical knowledge whatsoever. Tools like SEMRush, MajesticSEO and BuzzSumo give you a huge advantage in getting your blog off the ground. And social media platforms like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter make it easier than ever to promote what you do.
The costs of blogging have plummeted, too. Now you can register a domain for ten dollars and get decent hosting for a few bucks a month. That’s all you need to launch a blog that makes you a full-time income.
And nowadays, it’s so much easier to do your blogging from paradise – wherever paradise may be for you. The advent of universal Wi-Fi and mobile broadband has made it possible to blog from almost anywhere. I have blogged from a temple at the top of a mountain, and from a yacht far out at sea.
Whoever you are, and wherever you want to be, you can make a good living with nothing more than a laptop and a good idea.
Blogging from Paradise Part Two
A lot has changed in the last 15 years. My kids have grown up and left home, so I decided to start a new chapter in my life. I relocated to Thailand in 2014, and have been blogging from this new version of paradise ever since.
I have been able to spend time living in Chiang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok, soaking up a fascinating new culture and enjoying every moment in this beautiful but slightly insane country. I have learned to speak passable Thai, and have acquired a lovely Thai girlfriend to accompany me on my travels. Recently, we were guests of honor in Phnom Phenh at the wedding of a Cambodian friend – an experience I will never forget. I now have new friends all over the world, and look forward to making more.
Next year, maybe we will move on to live in Fiji, or the Bahamas…who knows? One thing is for sure, the world is my oyster, and it’s blogging that has made it all possible.
You Can Do It!
So if you are wondering if blogging is all it’s cracked up to be, wonder no longer. I have thoroughly road tested the lifestyle and give it my full seal of approval; five stars out of five.
If you want to escape the rat race, you can. You just have to make the decision to make it happen. Start a blog today, and you, too, could be living in paradise this time next year.
See you on the beach!