No Free Lunches in the Blogging Game

Now that I have done over three years of travel blogging through my blog www.tikkustravelthon.in, I have one confession to make. There are no free lunches in blogging. In fact, the myth that on the internet, most things are free or cheap and that one can make easy money is a pack of white lies. Nothing can be further from the truth. The fact is that everything on the net apart from email cost money. Yes, you have to pay for services, apps, video editing, plugins, photographs, advertisements, promotions, broadcasting services, storage space, music, copyrights, ISBN, first-time registration fees etc. I mean everything costs money from getting a URL to paying a service provider. Getting book reviews done cost money. Executing book events and blogging equipment all cost money and you have to pay them upfront. Some of the payments are recurring month on month like memberships.

There are no, and I repeat, no free lunches in the world and that holds true on the internet and the blogging space. You want PR write-ups for your books, you got to pay. You want to hire a self-publishing company, you have to pay and give away a part of your royalty. I mean, be ready to spend if you are to make any headway in blogging. You have to be serious about it. Otherwise, you will just fall off and lose interest like most bloggers. Your blog will join others in a huge graveyard of blogs on the net and there are more than 75 million of them. A large majority fold up in the first six months and by the end of the year, the blogger is exhausted when he begins to realise that blogging is not what he/she meant it to be. There is no quick money to be made unless you hit a goldmine or some magical idea and your content goes viral regularly. Even then, you need to learn to package your content to be able to sell it well and make any reasonable revenue stream.

Let us look at a quick list of items that I pay for

Recurring Cost

  1. Blog URL and Email: Rs 4,000 for two years
  2. MailChimp: $75 per month
  3. SmugMug membership: $125 per month
  4. Shutterstock membership: $29.99 for 10 photos per month
  5. Freelance writer fee (4 freelancers): 50 paise per word
  6. Backend SEO and website maintenance including content posting: Rs 38,000 per month
  7. Video editing and packaging: Rs 15,000 per month
  8. Translations: 50 paise per word
  9. Book reviews: Rs 1000 per book
  10. ISBN number: $39 for one ISBN number
  11. PR for book: Rs 5000 per book
  12. Google drive 1 TB: Rs 175 per month
  13. Advertising and Promotion: $100 a month
  14. Self-publishing Package: Rs 2.4 lakhs
  15. Upgrade to Amazon server: Rs 15,000 one-time fee
  16. Brand Trademark and Registration: Rs 10,000 one-time fee

 

Professional Equipment

Fixed Cost  

  1. Canon Mark IV camera: Rs 4 lakhs
  2. Camera Bag and Stand: Rs 30,000
  3. Zoom lens: Rs 89,000
  4. GoPro 5 with accessories: Rs 40,000
  5. MacBook Pro: Rs 1,20,000
  6. iPhone XS: Rs 1,10,000

 

As you can see, apart from creating your email id, nothing is really for free on the net. Everything costs money and that adds to your operational cost. You need to be able to sustain these costs for at least 2 if not 3 years before you can think of getting some inbound revenue from ebook sales, leads, content tie-ups or events. At first, it will be a trickle, let me assure you. You need a thick skin and some amount of good start-up capital to really sustain blogging as a professional and be taken seriously by your customers. Make sure you have all the content rights and trademarks done in advance. Have GST number with all company registration details done. It would be advisable to get your tax consultant if you have one involved in your blogging activities especially the sales part of it. He or she can help in saving and recovering tax for your company. I have started Tikku’s Travelthon as a sole proprietor of the company and have done all the logo and brand trademarks. A lot of places like bookstores in the US or UK are governed by their tax laws where they withheld 30% of the earnings that you make and this has to be recovered by especially applying for it with the tax authorities.

As you can see, you need adequate capital just to start blogging and to just get an identity established. It takes even more to promote yourself, your blog and its services. This is the money you have to put up front, even before you can think of getting any sort of return. It is safe to say blogging cannot be a ‘rags to riches’ story. With my experience, you need adequate manpower, resources, money and partners to get anywhere in this field. So beware of this investment and keep money aside for advertisements and promotions.

I am not trying to scare you, just making you aware that blogging is not a ‘get rich quick’ story. It is a grind. It is hard and requires efforts, ideas, persistence, passion and yes, start-up capital, the more the better. Well, if there are no free lunches in the world, why should there be in blogging or, for that matter, on the net?

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