After living in New York City all my life and working for 20 years as a successful private chef and caterer, I decided to trade it all in and move to Paris, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
When I moved here in 2005, I didn’t find catering rewarding anymore, so I took a year off to decide what I wanted to do next.
With all my newfound freedom and endless days off, I explored the city like mad, roaming the streets and boulevards of Paris, finding lots of hidden treasures I had never seen before.
I wanted to find a way to share all my new finds and thought a blog would be a natural outlet, so I started http://www.ipreferparis.net in June of 2006. My angle was an insider’s guide to Paris from the viewpoint of a savvy ex-New Yorker.
In the beginning I blogged twice a week about food, shopping, history, culture, and art and gradually expanded to posting four times a week and taking all my own photos. I had never really written before but it came naturally to me and I established my voice quickly.
Constantly needing new content for my blog pushed me to find new things to do in the city. Since I was taking the year off, many friends and relatives who came to Paris asked me to show them around and I took them to more interesting and offbeat places I was finding… rather than the usual tourists attractions.
Everybody seemed to love it, exclaiming that they would have never found these hidden places on their own.
After playing tour guide so many times with friends and family, I decided to go professional. I launched my tours in January 2007, specializing in small, private tours of no more than six people, showing clients the insider’s Paris they would likely never see on their own.
My approach was was more like a good friend sharing the secrets of the city rather than a formal guide who only tells the history of the usual tourist spots.
As I was planning my marketing strategy for my tours, I realized the blog was a powerful, built-in marketing tool for them. I used the same name for the blog as I did the tours, thus enforcing my brand. I announced the launch of the tours on the blog and also put a blurb about them on the bottom of each post, stating that I would show clients on the tour many of the same or same type of places I wrote about on the blog.
The marketing strategy paid off and within six months I was making a substantial income from the tours and also making income from selling ads on my blog.
My blog readers started to book my tours when they came to Paris. Now, five years later, I have almost tripled my income from the blog and the tours but my number one income source is from the tours.
If you want to do something similar, here are my top tips for getting started:
Start today. You’ll more likely regret that you didn’t start, than you will that you did. And since you have no idea where your blog will take you (who knew I’d go from chef in New York to Tour Leader in Paris?), the sooner you start, the sooner your new world will open up to you.
Pick a topic you like. You need to write and/or take pictures consistently, so pick a topic you like so that the “work” doesn’t feel like work. You can blog about traveling with pets, seeing a certain location, pursing a common goal, traveling on a budget, traveling on no budget, adventure travel, food, music, what to wear, what to drink… anything you love.
Write. It takes a few months to build up content and become “known” on the Internet. So start today and write, write, write. Within a few short weeks you’ll have enough pages to start monetizing them and your ideas will be much more clear after having written for so many days in a row. So put yourself out there and see where it takes you.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]