State of the Savage: May 2014

by Keith Savage · 10 comments

The cliff edge at Tantallon Castle looking toward Bass Rock

It has been nearly four weeks since I returned from my trip, and in that time I’ve worked through ideas that came to me in the wilds of southern Scotland. Somewhere along the line I mentioned a series of products and services I had started developing to further my efforts at making Traveling Savage a sustainable business. The reality of travel blogging is that it ain’t easy to earn a buck doing it – at least the way I’ve chosen to do it.

From the inception of this site I knew I wanted it to have a consistent voice that conveyed integrity and expertise. Four years later, I’m still working on it. One activity this mindset prevented from the outset was turning Traveling Savage into an internet billboard full of sponsored posts from disparate companies looking to get your eyeballs on their products. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that model – you can think of it as a commercial break in between spans of what you really want to read – and I’m sure there are scads of bloggers (travel or otherwise) humming along making quite a few more pennies than me.

But that was not my vision. Instead, I incorporated unobtrusive money-makers like ads, and while the money that brought in was welcome it was also woefully little. Meanwhile, I soldiered on, funding my trips with the start-up capital I saved before leaving my corporate job. The lack of profit has stressed me out for several years, but I put the concerns on the backburner as I shifted focus to writing a novel a little over two years ago (which – UPDATE – is on the brink of first draft writing after a productive month of micro-plotting).

As the years ticked by, however, the number of questions I received from readers pinging me for advice on their itineraries and other assorted Scotland-related travel questions grew. Month by month and week by week my inbox started filling up, and I spent more and more time responding to emails. In many cases they needed responses in short order because they were about to book the trip. I happily responded, eager to share my knowledge and help out my readers and fellow travelers, though not always in the most thorough manner, due mainly to correspondence having a lower priority than my other work.

The natural business people among you are choking right now, I’m sure.

After this most recent spin through Scotland, several enlightening conversations with wiser minds than mine, and a hard look at the cost of traveling savagely, I realized that I wasn’t putting my knowledge of Scotland to its best use – for myself or my readers. So I’ve come up with a product and a service that I’m looking to roll out:

  • A Planning a Trip to Scotland e-book. The Planning a Trip to Scotland series of posts I wrote three years ago have been, by far, the most popular posts on Traveling Savage. They are a great entry into the world of planning trips to Scotland and set the stage for deeper and more difficult decisions that ultimately arise in the planning process. I realize that WordPress and the design of my site make it somewhat difficult to keep tabs on older posts. They seem to drift off into the ether once they fall off the main page, and browsing the archive and tags can take awhile. This prospective e-book would collect the most useful logistical tidbits of planning a trip to Scotland in a cheap and convenient package easily purchased from my site and would serve as my first recommendation to anyone with questions about traveling to Scotland.
  • 1-on-1 hour-long Skype calls to discuss your Scotland trip. Sometimes you want or need more than the standard advice. You need an expert to look at your plans – or craft them for you, taking into account your specific needs. This is exactly the type of service I would have paid for on recent trips to Switzerland and Italy if I could have found a knowledgeable someone who offered it. I realized I can be this person for you on your Scotland trip. I love planning trips and lord knows I have more knowledge about Scotland than I can keep in my head. Going to Scotland is a significant expense, especially for North Americans, Australians, and anyone whose currency struggles in the shadow of the Pound. I look at this call as a kind of “great trip insurance” – a small expense that ensures your trip’s great expense won’t go up in smoke. If this interests you, contact me.

I’ve had the opportunity to do one of these hour-long calls with a reader already. She wanted to travel only by train, and she needed advice on where to base herself during the three weeks she was planning. I collected information from her about her interests, travel experience, and goals for the trip, and learned she was looking into buying a bespoke itinerary that included accommodation bookings and train tickets. After quite a bit of pre-call research for her, I presented her a new itinerary and showed how she could save £1,000 if she chose to book things herself.

Posts here on Traveling Savage won’t stop, and of course I’m still happy to answer basic questions via e-mail, but I want to continue to be able to share my love and knowledge of Scotland with you. These ideas add value to you, with more in-depth knowledge and advice through convenient means, and to me, through revenue that will make future trips to Scotland possible where I reinforce my knowledge and bolster my recommendations.

I’m in the middle of putting together a page for the 1-on-1 sessions that will serve as the portal for inquiries. In the meantime, contact me if this service would be useful to you so we can discuss details. The e-book is a set of mental blueprints just now, but I will begin working on it after I clear my novel’s next hurdle.

I’m on vacation in San Francisco next week, so my next post will be the week of June 9, but let me know what you think about all this in the comments.



DarlaNo Gravatar June 20, 2014 at 7:32 PM

Both the e-book and Skype consulting sound great, appealing to a wide audience. You may think me daft for mentioning this, but have you ever considered simply putting a PayPal donation button on your sidebar? The advice you provide is wonderful, and you might be surprised at the generosity of people — because it’s not really a donation, per se, is it? You’re providing a service and appreciative people might be motivated to pay you if they end up using the information you so passionately share. Just a thought. 🙂 My best to you on your book and business endeavors! And thank you again for this vicarious journey to Scotland.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar June 22, 2014 at 4:39 PM

I’ve considered it and reconsidered it many times. Might be time to think about it again.

Savi of Bruised PassportsNo Gravatar June 10, 2014 at 10:30 AM

Hey Keith, it’s so good to chance on a blogger who doesn’t bombard his reader with product reviews. Kudos! Even we offer free detailed itineraries to our readers all the time but we’ve had a lot of fellow bloggers berate us for not charging the readers

Keith SavageNo Gravatar June 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

I don’t see any reason to berate you. Every person needs to follow the path that works for them.

MariaNo Gravatar June 2, 2014 at 6:36 PM

I have just found your blog so I am glad to see you’ll still be writing posts. My husband and I are planning to spend 3 months in Scotland sometime next year so I will certainly be contacting you for your expertise.

Keith SavageNo Gravatar June 3, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Hi Maria, sounds great! Please contact me at your leisure.

rebeccaNo Gravatar June 1, 2014 at 3:02 AM

what a great idea! If anyone can give advice on Scotland its certainly you. I hope it works out and is profitable and enjoyable for you

jawad mehmoodNo Gravatar May 31, 2014 at 11:00 AM

This is Nice Keith wish you all the best for your next trip i am looking forward to your next post.

VickiNo Gravatar May 30, 2014 at 1:04 PM

That’s fantastic news Keith! Congratulations! I for one, love the fact you have been so open and honest in sharing your experience and opinions. I think this is a great idea and can only benefit those of us who need more hands on help planning their own adventures (like me). And if it can help fund your future trips, leading to more amazing posts, fantastic! I look forward to your “next chapter!”

Keith SavageNo Gravatar May 30, 2014 at 11:13 PM

Thanks for the support, Vicki!

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