On money, advertising and dreams of the next step

Just going through some questions from you that I thought I could answer.

How can we make money now if most of the banners are gone?

So our main income through this blog isn't generated by banner ads. Our last paid banner on the right hand side expired just a few weeks ago, so I figured why not remove them all at once since I anyway get claustrophobic with all those colors and names surrounding my creative space. Most of the banners and logos that you've seen there: Tommy Hilfiger, Babajaan, Orlebar Brown etc - are logos for some of the brands that we work with. But since the particular space in the sidebar hasn't been purchased in themselves, we are free to move information about our sponsors to wherever we want on the site.

I had initially added them there to highlight the collaborations and so that no first time visitor would miss the point of what we're doing and who we're doing it with. But like I said the other day, I've felt kind of sick to my stomach because of the self promotion we've been up to until now and it's time to get back to the basics. I've been waiting for that moment for a long time mind you, I've always said: "when we reach so and so many readers, I'll drop it down a notch" so there you go.

In regards to the banners: these days, most businesses value real human reviews and honest reports rather than an old fashioned banner. You are also probably guilty of ignoring banners and ads that flashes before your eyes while surfing online, so knowing this, we do not get very many requests about banner advertising anyway.

Do we get a lot of free stuff sent to us because of the blog?

Since we have a nice little following now of around 125.000+ unique visitors per month, we often get requests from companies and brands that want to be seen within our repertoire. There are blogs and websites with way much more readers than what we have, but in our specific category and with our somewhat unique lifestyle, we are one of the larger blogs in the world. Because of this, we sometimes get offered free nights in lovely hotels and resorts around the globe. Sometimes we get free bikinis and clothes. Invitation to stay in marinas and Yacht Clubs. Jewelry, shoes, kitchen appliances and boat/sailing equipment to name the most common.

From all the requests that we receive, we probably accept around 30% only. We're very careful to work only with brands that suits us and the style on the blog, and you'll never hear about a product or a service that we do not have a personal interest in or an admiration for.

So if not generally through banners, how do we actually make money on the blog?

Besides the occasional photo and video commission we've done for private as well as corporate clients, we also charge for the time it takes us to test products and for the time it takes to produce material. Material which these companies can use for their own marketing.

So why does companies want to work with our blog?

Well besides the 125.000+ unique visitors and the loyal group of people we have gathered on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr - we think our overall story and blog offers a unique platform for spreading the word about something awesome to an even more awesome audience. Like I mention sometimes and I do love repeating it: the combination of people reading our blog is pretty darn unique. 

It's not only sailors who hangs around here, it's also a big bunch of those who dream about the lifestyle but never yet set their foot on a boat. The blog is not only for young women looking for a quick fix of glamour and adventure, but there's also a lot of middle aged men with a high annual income or with a lucrative own business that stops by to read what's said. There are the creative people who come for the art and photography of our site, and there are the ones that simply prefer to read about someone else's love story for a change. I think the variety of people is what attracts brands like our largest sponsor Tommy Hilfiger for example - because we are not only into sailing, not only into fashion, not only into adventure, it's not only about love - but all at the very same time. And our steadily growing following is a proof of that we're doing at least something right.

How much money do we make and can one live solely on a blogs income?

Truth is that while the blogs income technically could support our lifestyle if we lived a very easy spartan kind of life, it isn't enough in these times of refit. Almost all the money that is made goes straight into the boat at the moment. And as Alex barely have time to finish the necessary job on our own boat, I am currently the only one of us two that brings in dineros. Which is totally fine with me as he literally worked his ass off with composite/dangerous chemicals during the year and a half that we spent in Antigua to get the dollars needed to begin the refit of this very boat. And as Duende must get ready before anything else, we are now living with the minimum to somehow make it work at the end. 

If you'd break down the amount of time that I spend in photography, editing, sourcing information, location hunting, writing, planning, video recording, answering emails and inquiries, posting, posing, directing the photos taken of myself and occasionally persuading my partner to strike a pose too, my hourly wage doesn't come up to a lot of cents. But then again, we left on this voyage because we wanted to be free from external obligations, and to by own means build our own little oasis in the world so I just gotta keep on doing what I'm doing and hope that we continue to grow as we've been lucky to do until today. Sharing my writings and photography is my greatest passion and I'm extremely grateful that it has received such an incredible audience. That is the biggest payment of all in the end. But yeah, I won't lie, I definitely wouldn't cry if we got another super sponsor like Mr Hilfiger.

Did we have a lot of money when we started or are we from some affluent family or such?

Hell no. Deal is that we left with Alex's strong good boat and a wee bit of savings. Both of which are now vanished 2,5 years after leaving home and after we've sold the perfectly equipped boat in order to buy a larger one more suitable for our life and needs. Selling the old boat and buying a new turned out to be a damn expensive operation but it was something that just needed to be done in order to live a comfortable life. That doesn't imply that we actually are living a comfortable life now in times of renovation, but the hope of getting there soon is still alive.

In general I would say that we are, just like most other young sailors that we've met, always trying to find smart ways to stay afloat. Mentally, physically and financially.

What's the story now? Will we ever get ready with the boat and get moving again?

Our current occupation is to get the boat ready as it is our home and it's what brings us places. There's been a few more things added to the list and we must probably stay a bit longer to get it all done absolutely properly. After all this what Alex is busy with is done, we'll go out and do a real shake down test sail to make sure all new installations and structural improvements has been worthwhile so we can sleep safe and well at night during an ocean crossing.

Would that test prove to satisfy us, we can again start calculating if we really have the finances enough to cross the Pacific this year. I know, I'm sorry to scare you, but better we keep this option alive. Some days we are very optimistic, others when reality hits us with a big fat reminder in the back of our heads and the list of things to do for the boat still seems endless, we get a little sad for the fact that we maybe won't be able to go just now. It's a long way to go in both time and distance and there isn't very many options for finding job once you're out on the other side, so we must be sure that what we're doing is a sound plan before we go through that canal.

We're also running against the clock due to the new approaching cyclone season in South Pacific (November) and we'd like to have enough time to discover the Pacific islands before having to rush out of there in the end of October. Number one mission right now is obviously to first get the boat safe and ready for it is the most important of it all in the end, and then we'll see where the wind will bring us next.