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Too Legit to Profit

It's the off-season here at Ramble On World Headquarters. We're doing a bit less traveling and a bit more dreaming. This takes me to a variety of travel websites that I mine for information, but I also eye as my competition. And I'm not going to lie, most of them strike me as a bit ...ummm, well self-indulgent. And when you consider that travel, and travel writing, are already a tad bougie, well then, that's saying something.

Most of these sites seem to be authored by comely young ladies like Wanderlust Chloe who just live to travel and to share their experiences. (Bless you Chloe). The sites generally all share some key hallmarks. Start with a lofty mission like helping other women gain the confidence to travel or uniting the world’s cultures. (How is that one going?) Add uber curated shots of the blogger poised above dramatic scenery as if they spend most of their days meditating in such landscapes. The articles usually read like an extended social media post of mildly-helpful humble brags e.g., “If you’ve never been to Positano – go now!”

They are too similar to someone’s vacation slide show (zzzzzz...) for my discerning readers (that’s you).


Sour grapes and upturned nose aside, I do really have to tip my cap to them.


Some surprising things about the travel blogging industry:



Number one is that it's an industry. As in people are actually making money doing this. It’s beyond me how. They are savvy participants in the digital economy. They get paid by the Fiji Tourism board and get free swag from backpack companies. They go to travel blogger conferences. They not only know what SEO stands for, they know the difference between Google’s UA and G4. They have thousands of social media followers. Chloe has over 25,000 Instagram followers. I think I have 117. This reminds me when Spinal Tap's manager was asked if the band's popularity was waning, noting the much smaller venues they now played in, and he scoffed saying "no, no, (long pause to think) it's just that their appeal has become more selective."

Finally, travel bloggers post a lot. Apparently, that really helps with search. I could post more I suppose, but then when would I take naps?


Chloe even has a target demographic:


a 25-44 year old traveler, who has a passion for fun, food, style, adventure and memorable moments… with a touch of luxury.”


Smart add after the questionable use of an ellipsis Chloe. Your advertisers probably don't want any followers that have “... a touch of austerity.


I want to have a demographic too. Maybe mine should be:


28-year old fashion model, who has a passion for driving Formula 1 cars, attends Davos, plays pick up hoops with Travis Kelce, and regularly goes deep sea wreck diving. Plus a trust fund.”


If any of you do not fit this definition, then I will have to ask you to discretely unsubscribe. It’s been a good run.


Chloe and her pals are "Influencers." I know this because Chloe won an award at one of the conferences she goes to (Travel Influencer of the year 2022). Congrats. Advertisers want to give her money because she will then use her influence to get people to buy things. Before influencers, we just used regular celebrities for this purpose. I don't really think of myself as an influencer. "Discourager" might a more apt term.

Consequently, I don’t make money doing this. In fact, it’s the opposite because the web hosting companies are masters at the bait and switch, getting me to create my site for a few bucks (sweet), but then if I actually want people to read it, well good news, we have an upgrade for you. (So smart. I really should look into this whole marketing thing someday.)


That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to get paid. It would feel validating I imagine.


But even that seems a little contrary to the original spirit of this venture; that being I need the attention and I couldn’t think of any other way to get it.


My primary reward remains when someone tells me that they enjoy reading the blog. You can’t imagine my excitement and delight when I hear this. I shout into the next room: "Honey, I have a reader!!!"


The upside for you to my complete lack of business blogging acumen is this:

  • I don’t have to write travel drivel. If I can’t think of something a wee bit interesting to write about, even when we just went somewhere pretty cool, I just take another nap.

  • There are no annoying ads beneath each paragraph that I write. (BTW do not sell yourself short here folks! If the advertising world knew how rich, savvy and smart you were, they would kill to get an ad on here. Lucky for you, Ramble On flys so far below the radar you would need sonar to find it).

  • No pop ups relentlessly requesting your email address, again, even when they already have it.

  • No top 10 lists. Cause they're lame click bait. I respect you too much, especially now that I know you ball out with Travis K.

I hope that this feels like a fair bargain. You set aside the 5 - 10 minutes a month that it takes to read my nonsense and I remain proudly, hopelessly unprofitable.


Feels like a win win. Ramble On my Friends.



p.s. if you do feel like sending someone some money, send it to Everytown for Gun Safety. I mean, what are we doing here people?

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2 Comments


Betsy Wellings
Betsy Wellings
Oct 29, 2023

I enjoyed it as always, Tom! Ramble On is amusing and informative, especially since I have not travelled around the country much. I have read at least half of your Ramble On posts and have the rest saved in a folder for later. Amusing autobiographical accounts are my favorite genre, by the way. On another note, I can relate to your enthusiasm for every new reader. I have the same thing going on with my music - all is downloadable for free on my web site, but I don't think there is much traffic there.

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Nancy Martin
Nancy Martin
Oct 28, 2023

Thanks Tom for giving me a laugh on a Saturday morning! Beautiful bluebird blue sky day in the PNW!! Had some friends travel the NE recently and your fabulous fall colors did not disappoint!! Keep on Rambling!

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