With Jessica Serna, Travel Blogger
Jessica Serna is a Texas Travel Blogger who earns 6-figures actively blogging!
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How To Build & Monetize a Travel Blog with Jessica Serna From My Curly Adventures
It all started in college, Jessica got a scholarship to play soccer in Spain. When she came back, she had to get a real job, with only 2 weeks of paid time off.
She wanted to travel, but couldn’t because of her work!
Since Jessica Serna lived in Texas, she built itineraries for herself just within Texas and posting them online. One day, a brand reached out to her to post an ad for their bike, and they paid her $75!
At that point, Jessica was hooked! She needed to figure out a way to get paid from social media!
How many hours would you put into it when working a day job?
When she got home from the day job, she would work till she went to sleep, and they worked on the weekends too.
Easily 15-20 hours/week.
What was the biggest change from part-time entrepreneur to full-time entrepreneur?
The first thing was being more focused on replacing her income, and to do that, she had to focus on strategy.
Whether it was brand deals or affiliate income, she prioritized revenue instead of “just doing it for fun”.
Did it see more traction from social media or the blog?
In the beginning, it was definitely social media. After she learned more about blogging that took over and provided more traffic and revenue.
How do you recommend someone start a blog?
The most important thing is to find what you’re passionate about. Once you find that, what is the purpose you can serve? For example, when Jessica started, there were lots of travel bloggers, but no one was talking about home-state traveling.
Is entrepreneurial burnout a real thing?
Of course! Jessica works 80 hours a week and if she wasn’t passionate about it, she would get burned out and wouldn’t want to work most of the days.
Let’s talk money! How are you currently monetizing your blog?
Sponsorships from brands on her blog bring in the most money. Essentially, she would go on a trip and tie the brand into a story that she is sharing.
Another way is through ads on the website, as well as affiliates, YouTube, and her own products.
Did you always want to be an entrepreneur?
Jessica didn’t even realize entrepreneurship was an option growing up. It definitely didn’t become a lightbulb moment until the first brand reached out to her to pay her for sponsorships.
How do you know how much to charge?
When too many people say yes to her rates, she knows that she is not charging enough. That is when Jessica looks at increasing her rates further.
At what point in the journey did you cross the 6-figure revenue?
Last year (2020)!
Did you have a revenue number in mind before making the leap?
She knew what she had saved, plus, Jessica was pretty close to what she was making at her day job.
Then, she looked at her expenses and figured out what she could cut down further, and made the leap off of that.
She quit her job without any safety net of friends and family either.
Where should someone build a website on? Does website hosting matter?
The great thing about blogging is the low start-up cost associated with it.
The first thing Jessica started with is registering a domain and hosting through Bluehost. You can go through WordPress for a free option, but then WordPress would be in your domain and you really want to own your own domain.
The theme was found through surfing on Pinterest. It was a simple paid theme from a developer. Jessica paid under $100 for her theme.
Make sure you set up all your social media handles, even if you are not planning on using them right away. If possible, make them the same!
Do fonts and colors matter on the website?
Jessica didn’t focus on it that much, as the theme already had that. It definitely does matter to an extent, but it’s easy to spend time on stuff like this that doesn’t matter.
Does website hosting matter?
Jessica sees a lot of people get caught up choosing hosting. It doesn’t really matter, but Jessica says that Bluehost is easy to set up.
At the beginning of your website journey, you will not be getting that much traffic anyway, so you won’t need to worry about it crashing until you get 1,000,000 visitors on your website.
How did you get started with getting traffic on your website?
Jessica did local networking on Facebook Groups in her area where she would collaborate with people that are in different niches. They essentially would trade content!
In the beginning, she had no idea about SEO and just wrote for herself. She wrote as if she needed the information.
How did you find topics to write about?
When Jessica first started, it was all about her ideas and what she wanted. At the time, it was very organic.
How can someone get started with Pinterest?
Pinterest was a huge part of Jessica’s growth plan! You can easily rank on Pinterest on harder topics that may be tough to rank for on Google.
There is a format that Pinterest likes, and in each niche, Pinterest likes different types of posts. Do some research and see what formula Pinterest likes.
Then, look at some other competitors in the industry. What are they doing? Are they using hashtags? Take notes and make it your own.
How did you build your email list?
It was a struggle at the beginning. It took a long time to build a really good opt-in.
If you had to scale back and only use 20% of the time you have, what would you focus on?
Creating content! Being strategic on how Jessica batched the blog posts and promote them.
How are you going to continue and grow this?
Continue to go through the 100 cities in Texas by the beginning of 2022. Use the cities that Jessica has visited to build more content, whether it be day trips to honeymoon trips.
Also, work on creating some more products so that it doesn’t just live on social media and a website.
Do you think people should guest post?
Jessica is not a fan of guest posting because she knows that her content is great and the long-term value it being on her site is better. She will look at someone who has a high-ranking website and maybe write for them, but in most cases, no.
Invest in yourself, it will pay dividends!
How long should a blog post be?
Jessica tries not to look at that too much, but the industry standard seems to be around 800.
How do you not run out of ideas?
The niche is so important! If you have a defined niche, then you will have defined content. Listening to podcasts, reading books, and talking with friends are all other great ways to find ideas.
What is your #1 tip for side hustlers getting started?
Just get started! It sounds easy, but so many people don’t get started.
Connect with Jessica Serna
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