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

Right this moment is an enormous day. It marks fifteen years operating this web site. I posted my first weblog entry in early April 2008, after spending over a month bugging mates I met in Vietnam for assist with coding. Again then, within the days earlier than WordPress, you needed to hand-code every little thing, and I spent numerous time determining easy methods to transfer photos round, design graphics, create hyperlinks, and format the positioning.

I began this weblog as a approach to get freelance writing gigs so I may afford to maintain touring. I simply needed to place off going company for so long as potential. 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 sort of an knowledgeable 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 need to see. Certain, I really like the enterprise of operating a web site. It’s a psychological problem I discover fascinating. However, to me, it’s nonetheless only a approach to fulfill my journey habit and keep away from having to work in an workplace (although, now that I’ve a workforce, it’s a extra difficult approach 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 earning profits 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 numerous constructive encouragement for this factor that was as soon as thought-about so loopy that there will need to have been one thing mistaken with you if you happen to needed to do it.

As persons are vulnerable to do throughout milestones like this, I needed to share some classes I’ve realized as a grizzled outdated web individual (as a result of individuals consult with me as “an OG digital creator” as if I’m 90!).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 instantly their bakery in Australia has extra orders than they know what to do with.

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

Some individuals simply meet that one proper individual at a convention.

After all, ability is required to take care of that success, however numerous instances, luck and timing play a much bigger function than individuals want to admit. That’s not one thing you may management. Would I be the place I’m if I hadn’t began early with a deal with search engine optimisation? In all probability not. I simply occurred to begin on the proper time. That’s not one thing I managed. I bought fortunate.

2. Throw numerous spaghetti in opposition to the wall

I’ve had numerous failed concepts — from apps to T-shirts to a convention to a hostel. A few of these ventures caught for some time; others had been fast failures. Some got here again years later (we do excursions once more!). I’m consistently 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 had been the place you informed tales and gave life updates. Folks had RSS feeds and left feedback. Now, that occurs largely by way of e-mail and social media. Yeah, some individuals will click on over to your tales, and blogs are nonetheless helpful for sharing service-based content material, however the way in which individuals used to devour private updates is lifeless. It most likely gained’t come again both. The sort of engagement weblog feedback used to generate is now discovered on social media.

4. Subsequently, it’s important to be on social media

You’ll be able to’t be in opposition to social media. You must be on it. I don’t consider you may run a personality-based web site with out utilizing social media these days. You don’t must be on each platform — be part of people who make you most snug — however it’s important to be on some. As I mentioned, 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 really like phrases. However video is the wave of the longer term, and it’s important to study to provide 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 individuals devour media, and, if you need your message heard by them, it’s important to do it.

6. It’s vital to at all times 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 adjustments at lightning velocity. In the event you don’t consistently 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, consequently, whereas they make a residing, it’s only a nerve-racking grind of diminishing returns.

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

7. Some methods are timeless

Regardless that every little thing adjustments, some issues stay the identical. It is best to at all times have your individual web site, e-mail remains to be king, and high quality content material versus gimmicky tendencies and memes (on any platform) remains to be one of the best ways to develop. The tried-and-true advertising methods to get individuals to observe you, purchase your stuff, or join one thing haven’t modified (as a result of individuals don’t change), so following the recommendation of a bunch of “boring” entrepreneurs remains to be one of the best ways to succeed.

8. Don’t go all in on one platform

Keep 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 — they usually don’t care about you. Algorithms change, development slows, and platforms alter path. So don’t put all of your effort into only one platform. Be in a number of locations, but additionally: at all times direct individuals again to your web site and e-mail listing, as a result of, it doesn’t matter what occurs to social media, these are at all times going to be the 2 stuff you personal and management.

9. Rent a workforce

Nomadic Matt reading a stack of books about travel
You’ll by no means develop if you happen to don’t have a workforce. There are solely so many hours in a day. You simply can’t do all of it. And your time needs to be spent on development and creation, not formatting photos. Hiring workers to assist with admin work, content material updates, e-mail, and something in between will skyrocket your development. It’s inconceivable in any other case.

10. Consider your self as a pizza store

If you wish to be a profitable enterprise, it’s important to behave like, for instance, the brick-and-mortar pizza store down the road. You must take into consideration bills, P&L stories, taxes, advertising, gross sales, and many others. You must give you boring advertising plans. You want staff. In any other case, you’re simply enjoying enterprise, not truly operating 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 take heed to podcasts. The highest individuals in any discipline learn — consistently.

They usually go to occasions the place they study from their friends.

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

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

12. Study 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 huge 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 an alternative. You must be prepared to let issues go if one thing isn’t working.

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

It’s inconceivable to work and journey on the similar 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 gradual, 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 at all times really feel like you might be solely treading water, by no means like you might be transferring ahead.

14. You MUST community outdoors your trade

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

15. It’s OK to stop

It’s laborious to confess failure. I do know numerous journey creators — and creators normally — that preserve working on-line as a result of they really feel they will by no means return to an workplace job, regardless of the actual fact they’re barely surviving. Generally issues don’t work out — it’s OK to stop and let go. Use the talents it’s important to 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 only 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 brief to be consistently careworn and anxious for years. Let go.


Final 12 months, I stop running a blog regularly. I simply felt like I’d mentioned all I may say about journey. This 12 months, I’m going to proceed that development and semi-retire. I need to write extra books, journey for enjoyable (not for work), and proceed to deal with my well being and health. Final 12 months, I gave up numerous 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 1 new place.

However no extra.

After this month, I gained’t be occurring any extra full TNN excursions (although I’ll nonetheless pop in infrequently). I plan to proceed handy off the day-to-day operations of this web site to my workforce. (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 need to replace my e-book Journey the World on $50 a Day, write a brand new e-book, deal with bringing journey to individuals by way of video, and perhaps do one thing fully new. I’m unsure actually.

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

Ebook Your Journey: Logistical Suggestions and Methods

Ebook 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 at all times know no stone is being left unturned.

Ebook Your Lodging
You’ll be able to e-book your hostel with Hostelworld. If you wish to keep someplace apart from a hostel, use Reserving.com because it constantly returns the most cost effective charges for guesthouses and lodges.

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

Need to Journey for Free?
Journey bank cards can help you earn factors that may be redeemed free of charge flights and lodging — all with none additional spending. Take a look at my information to selecting the correct card and my present favorites to get began and see the most recent finest offers.

Able to Ebook Your Journey?
Take a look at my useful resource web page for the perfect corporations to make use of if you journey. I listing all those I take advantage of once I journey. They’re the perfect in school and you’ll’t go mistaken utilizing them in your journey.

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