It’s been a while since I’ve tried something new.
I always believed procrastination was a form of laziness, but I recently learned it’s linked to a fear of failure. And if that doesn’t exemplify my life, I don’t know what does.
I can end up so paralysed at times — so afraid of publicly screwing up that I’d rather choose to do nothing at all. Keep my words in drafts or spend two weeks editing an article because I’m concerned it’s not yet perfect.
I come up with new business ideas all the time — on a monthly basis, usually. And I talk and talk and talk about them, and make serious, concrete plans. But when it comes to actually taking the leap, I freeze, take a step back, and decide to think about it some more.
Five years later, I’m usually still thinking.
In 2020, I’ve decided that this stagnation will be no more. I’ve decided that next year is going to be the year where I feel the fear and do it anyway. Given that the 1st of January is just another arbitrary date, though, why not start now?
Which leads me to Patreon.
I’ve been discussing launching a Patreon for around two years now.
I love the concept of the site, and personally use it to support my favourite creators online, whether it’s Youtubers, podcasters, or writers. I know how tough it can be to make a living on the internet, so helping out the people who bring me joy brings me even more joy.
The concept of Patreon is simple. It’s a crowdfunding platform that allows you to make a monthly pledge to a person, and in exchange for your money, you’ll receive rewards, exclusive content, and even physical items.
Here’s what I’m offering up on my Patreon. I’ve worked so hard to ensure you’ll receive value for your money:
The $1 tier: For $1 a month, you’ll gain access to my patron-only feed, which I update every day or two. This is where I share photos, mishaps, and updates from my travels — content that I haven’t published anywhere else online. You’ll hear about the ridiculous incidents I have on a daily basis, see the photos I haven’t shared on social media, and learn more about the behind-the-scenes activities that go on when I’m hitting the road.
These updates will be more personal and vulnerable than what I share here on this site — similar to the early days of my blogging career. The posts are typically between 500 and 1,000 words, so it’s essentially like a second blog over there.
On top of that, you’ll be able to have more control over the words I put out there — excitingly, you’ll be able to vote on which countries I travel to next and the blog posts I write first. I’ll be letting you vote on which South Pacific island I visit this month, for example, then early next year, which South American country I hit up first.
So far, I’ve shared stories on why I’m probably going to cheat on Dave, the time I humiliated myself in front of a local woman, the best meals I’ve eaten in India, the moment I got stuck in a hole filled with hay, and the perils of being too polite while travelling.
Next week, I’ll be writing about what it’s like to take the trains in India, sharing another incident that involves a miscommunication in a local cafe, putting together a photo essay of my favourite cow-based India photos, and so much more.
The $5 tier: You’ll get access to everything in the $1 tier, and in addition, each month, you’ll get to read a long-form, narrative piece about my travels. Again, these are going to be experiences that I’ve never shared anywhere else. They’ll typically be 3,000 – 5,000 words in length and edited 4,000 times.
This month’s story is going to be about the time I wet myself in front of a crowd of locals in Nepal — yes, really — and I’m also working on articles about the embarrassing scam I fell for in Laos, how ridiculous it was to travel for a year with chronic hiccups, and my traumatising earthquake experience in Taiwan.
The $10 tier: Postcards!!!
On the $10 tier, you’ll gain access to everything in the previous tiers, but I’ll also send a postcard or two your way every single month. I’ve already picked up some amazing handcrafted postcards from an artist in Bundi, India for this month’s option, which you can see a photo of below.
If you guys vote to send me to Vanuatu next month, I’ll even be able to send a waterproof postcard your way from the world’s only underwater postbox! I’m excited about that one. Next year, I’ll be heading to South America, West Africa, and Central Asia — you’ll choose the precise countries — so I expect to have tons of variety with the regions I buy postcards in.
I know that postcards can sometimes have the worst designs ever, so I’ll also be making a huge effort to try to find local artists and beautiful, unusual designs in the places I travel to.
And finally, once I’ve finished this three-month trip and have a home base where I can receive products, I’ll be running monthly giveaways for my patrons, too! Think: backpacks, gift cards, tours, photography gear, and anything else I can get my hands on.
Why am I doing this now?
Because, quite frankly, it feels like in order to be a successful travel blogger at this moment in time, you have to be boring.
The vast majority of my traffic, and therefore my income, stems from Google. And the posts that do well in search engines? They’re long, detailed resources about the best things to do in a place, about how to spend three days in a city, about the best backpacks for travellers, about the top hostels in a country, about the best things to pack, about the best neighbourhoods in a town.
My favourite blog posts to write are long, funny narratives about my travel disasters.
I love telling stories, I love turning my blog posts into chapters of a book, I love making you guys laugh when I recount the silly things I’ve done.
Unfortunately, these posts make me next to no money.
I can spend the better part of a week crafting a fun anecdote, publish it, enjoy the feedback I get from you, then sigh as it disappears off the face of the internet, unlikely to be discovered or read again.
It’s challenging to justify putting my all into writing these blog posts when I also have to treat this site as a business. It’s tough to enjoy writing articles when everything needs to be about keyword research and SEO and competition analysis and… when all I really want to write about is the time I flashed my tour group in the Cook Islands or the night I had to sleep with my head in the fridge.
So there’s that, but I’ve also wanted to diversify my income for a while.
Eighty-five per cent of my traffic comes from Google, and that means that roughly 98% of my income relies on the traffic it sends my way. Google regularly updates its algorithm and every time it does, it has the potential to affect what I earn.
In March, I woke up one morning and discovered that an algorithm update had resulted in a 20% pay cut overnight. The exact same thing happened in June. And then in October. It’s been a brutal year, but fortunately, I had an increase in traffic last month for a change. It’s so unpredictable.
Knowing that one website has the power to obliterate my livelihood is concerning, and when I refuse to take sponsorship on this site, the options for diversifying my income are limited.
By launching this Patreon, I’ll be able to give you guys a way to support my travels and my work, but also to receive more of the content that I know you enjoy. If I can get to a point where I depend less on Google, I can justify focusing on the narrative side of blogging.
I’ve been running my Patreon for a week now, and I’ve been having so much fun.
It feels like the old days of blogging again, and I’m suddenly invigorated to share as much as possible — now that I don’t have to worry about keywords and optimisation.
Every evening, I’ve been brainstorming stories to tell, pounding my keyboard for hours on end, putting together anecdotes and photos, and feeling excited to write for pleasure again.
One final thing I want to share is that the money I make on Patreon will all be going back into my business to help improve the work I do online. I’ve set a couple of goals on my page:
When I hit 100 patrons, my first task will be to hire an assistant to help with all of the behind-the-scenes stuff, so that I can focus more on content creation. Given that I spent the entirety of October doing nothing but filing my taxes, it feels like it’s needed. When I reach those 100 supporters, I’ll be committing to publishing two blog posts a week.
When I hit 250 patrons, I’ll outsource even more of the day-to-day work, so that I can commit to publishing three blog posts a week, every single week.
So this is me putting myself out there and committing to finally do the things I always talk about. It’s often scary to try something new with the knowledge that if you fail, you’re going to do so publicly.
I thought this would feel the same, but as I began to put my Patreon together, I was surprised to feel nothing but excitement. I’m proud of what I’m doing over there and I’m convinced I’m offering a ton of value. If this ends up failing, it’s not through lack of effort or poor content.
If you’re in the position to make a pledge, I would greatly appreciate your support. If you’re unsure if it’s going to be worth your money, I’d love if you gave it a shot for a month to check out what I’m doing. It’s only $1 a month and I’m doing everything I can to ensure it’s more than worth it.
You can sign up for my Patreon here.
I’d love to have you on board.