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A little over three years ago, my wife and I sold out of our bricks and mortar business and cast around for a new source of income. Our requirements were simple – we wanted a business just the two of us could run from anywhere in the world, and we wanted to create a stable and secure income for ourselves that didn’t fluctuate wildly in the way our previous businesses had.

We live on a small tourist island in The Atlantic Ocean, just off the coast of Africa, and we decided to start a blog called Lanzarote Information, with the aim of growing it to provide the best information about the island for tourists and residents.

It was incredibly hard work initially, working long hours with little or no income, but after a year the site was generating one full time income, and after eighteen months enough to support us both quite well. We’ve recently had our third birthday and we have a fabulous business that generates a significant income, and which I imagine is a valuable asset for us.

Why do I think it’s the perfect business?

The income is spread across multiple sources

We don’t rely heavily on one source for our income. Our money comes from direct advertisers, affiliate promotions, Adsense advertising, a membership program and the sale of our own books. And within each category, there are multiple sources as well – for example we have 42 direct advertisers, and we sell products as affiliates for 17 companies.

All this means that if any one source finished tomorrow, for whatever reason, it isn’t business critical to us. That’s extremely comforting, and almost recession proof.

Most of the income is passive

It simply happens automatically. Advertisers and members pay each month (some annually), affiliate sales are automatic, and our own product sales are generated mainly by our email auto-responder series.

Our only real commitment now is to create content each day, and that’s something we enjoy doing. But I know that even if we had to take some months off, perhaps through illness, the income would continue, and only start to decline over several months.

We are truly mobile

We travel between UK, mainland Spain and the island pretty much whenever we want. We can work with our laptops wherever we want. And even when we’re on the island, we spend plenty of time on Wifi in cafés because it means we meet other people and get plenty of news and things to write about.

Our success has meant great connections

Our site is now the largest relating to the island – we get over a million uniques per year. That means that we’re considered an important part of the local press community, so we get invited to all major press events and launches and we’ve travelled abroad to promote the island. It also means we get invited to some fabulous functions, parties and sporting events. People seek us out, and we’ve made some amazing connections. From a business point of view, we don’t even have to seek new advertisers any more – they come to us.

Income goes up all the time as traffic builds, but overheads don’t

Taking the salaries we pay ourselves out of the equation, our overheads aren’t significantly higher than they were in the beginning. Our hosting is dearer, as we had to move to a dedicated server, and our email hosting has gone up as the list has grown, but apart from those two items, our overheads are pretty much the same as they were when we started.

We can sell the business

I’m not sure we’ll ever want to, but I do know that a business with such a low overhead and such a high income is an extremely valuable asset, and if we ever want to “retire” I imagine that the site is worth a significant sum.

You CAN create a fabulous business based on a blog – you don’t need to invest much money, and apart from the ability to write compelling content, you don’t really need skill. The only real downside is that you need to invest a year or two of time and hard work to get the thing going.

And that’s where most people fail.

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Posted by Mike Cliffe Jones

Mike Cliffe-Jones runs the website Lanzarote Information – a portal for information about Lanzarote. He’s also the co author of the book Beyond Blogging, and lives the dot com lifestyle travelling through Europe when he’s not at home in his finca in Lanzarote.

5 Comments

  1. Great post Mike and an inspiration for our team over at TenerifeMagazine.com, We are in a similar situation in that we are a blog, have low overheads and found it tough in our first year. Good luck in 2012!

  2. Very inspiring article, Mike, thanks for sharing your story. I’ve been wanting to take my blog to a new level where it could be my full-time business but it definitely requires a big time investment.

  3. I persanally know, “how tough to generate second income source”. I am also struggle since 2007 with very less resources. Now I can abld to host my own website that is http://jtkuwar.com

    I feel your blog as my own word through your keyboard.
    Thanx

  4. Hi Mike,
    Thanks for sharing your story. it is inspirational to see how sharing something you really enjoy has brought you an income. It inspires me to continue moving forward.
    :)Sylvia

  5. Hi Mike!

    This is an insightful story that you have shared. Me and my hubby have started a blog about Indian social media, a year ago and can perfectly relate to your story. Creating interesting and varied content is our only challenge apart from surviving on the savings. We hope to start earning soon through ads as well as offline tie-ups (the banner ad has come this month:)
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful read…wish you and your wife great success for your blog!

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