Jasper left his finance career in 2010 and has since been traveling the world non-stop, as documented on his travel blog, The Traveling Dutchman. He’s an Amazon Best Selling Author, a podcast host and has been featured on many media outlets including Men’s Health and the BBC. He is a Udemy instructor and has published over 10 courses.
You’ve built a very successful blog. Did you start out with the goal of building a huge following, or was this a passion project that gained momentum over time?
I started the blog knowing nothing about blogging, websites or the internet in general, let alone running and monetizing a blog. I started it because I wanted to find a more efficient way to let friends and family know what I was up to so that I didn’t have to respond to so many emails anymore. It was never my intention to built a following, it happened organically over time.
While many of our readers are probably familiar with you, how would you describe your job, in your own words? Basically, for the layman, what do you do?
I travel the world supporting myself by working on my laptop – that’s in a nutshell what I do.
How did you go about branding? How long did it take to come up with the right name?
I honestly didn’t think about my “brand” as I wasn’t planning on building one. My friends were calling me “The Flying Dutchman” at the time, so I first wanted to call my blog that. However, I noticed so many others are using that name already, so I changed it to “The Traveling Dutchman.”
Do you have any advice for novices starting their own blogs? Any rookie mistakes to avoid?
If I were to start over with the intention of monetizing the blog and building a brand, I’d focus on a more specific niche within travel. You could pick a certain location, a country, an area or even something smaller like a national park or popular tourist destination. Or, you could focus on a certain audience, for example retirees, families with a baby or single travelers. The more specific the better, because you’ll have less competition so it will be easier to stand out and build a reputation quickly and become the expert in your niche. Once you have some traction, you could expand and start to write about more general topics.
What platform does your blog run on?
I use WordPress.
Why did you pick this platform over the other options?
When I created my blog it seemed to be the easiest way to do it, I had zero coding or html knowledge so I had to learn everything from scratch and there was a lot of info available for wordpress.
What three pieces of advice would you give people looking to follow a similar path?
- Pick a very specific niche
- Hire a mentor to help you
- Only start if you’re passionate about your topic and you see yourself writing about it for the next 3 to 5 years
If you could get one message back to yourself, when you were starting out, what would you tell yourself?
It would be to invest in a mentorship program.
In a perfect world you have great content on a reliable schedule, but life’s not always perfect. Would you rather post mediocre content to keep a schedule, or miss a day to improve a piece?
I prefer to post less often and better content. Mediocre content just doesn’t cut it on the internet today with so much other websites talking about the same topics.
Which social media sites do you consider the most important? How do you divide your time up between social media sites?
For me Facebook is the most important one, although Instagram is becoming more important. I use a tool called Edgar that helps me post on my social media sites automatically.
Let’s assume we’re not omniscient . . . what’s the one question you have an awesome answer for, but we didn’t think to ask?
The question would be: “What is the most effective way to monetize a blog?”
The answer is:
Start building an email list as soon as you start and implement a sales sequence for a product that you create yourself or someone else’s product through an affiliate platform like Clickbank. You won’t sell much at the beginning, but learning about how to sell stuff to your list and how to build a list is essential to the long term profitability of your blog.
We like to wrap up with a bit of fun, so what was your favorite movie this year?
The Hateful Eight, I love Quentin Tarantino movies!
Images ©: Traveling Dutchman & First Site Guide