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How I Lost Thousands of Dollars, Or: What Is Free?

Travel and Life Resources to Save Money and Increase Liberty

I’m suddenly realizing something big…

It’s 1am, and the baby is finally asleep after perma-nursing all, day, and I KNOW I should “sleep when the baby sleeps,” but I have to get this out. It’s become clear this week that I have lost thousands of dollars in income that I did not need to lose. And I now see how to fix that.

The Boston Public Garden looks as serene as I felt, oblivious to the earnings I was losing!

The Boston Public Garden looks as serene as I felt, oblivious to the earnings I was losing.

When I started this blog in 2009, I did it because I LOVE to write for you. Clearly I still love to write, or I wouldn’t be up now with the passion to type. Over seven years, I’ve built my readership to more than 1,000 visits a day, and created nearly 700 articles here, each of which has given me great joy to publish.

Many of those pieces feature gorgeous hotels I loved staying in, airlines that were a dream to fly, and products that have saved the day for me more than once. As a result of the stories I told about these places and things, and as a result of the photos I shared, many readers have gone on to spend money with them.

Frequently, I receive emails saying, “Thank you for recommending ___ hotel/attraction/etc. on your blog! We did it because of your article and loved it.”

Flowers growing in Copley Square, Boston, like my growing understanding.

Flowers growing in Copley Square, Boston, like my growing understanding.

Meanwhile, I began to hear rumblings in the blogging community about something called “affiliates.” I vaguely understood that affiliate marketing is when you place a special link in an article so you get a small commission on a product click or purchase without costing the buyer any extra money.

“I don’t have time to figure that out,” I responded, when asked about affiliates. “I’m a full-time public school teacher with 140 essays to grade. I have two children under the age of 2.5. I also run a second website.

I barely have time to publish one post a week on each blog, let alone figure out html code to hand-place into hundreds of articles on the off chance that someone might click through and buy!”

ARGH. THAT WAS SUCH A MISTAKE.

Jamaica Pond, Boston, is free, but still needs money to be maintained!

Jamaica Pond, Boston, is free to walk, but still needs money to be maintained.

It was this week that I realized: Not adding affiliates onto this site years ago has cost me thousands of dollars in revenue that I would have earned, at no cost to my readers, who were going to book those hotels or attractions or flights anyway. Again: ARGH!

What most people don’t realize is that my two blogs are very costly to maintain, both financially and time-wise. I won’t even tell you how much I pay a month for a webhost and tech plan powerful enough to keep all these photos and words from spinning into oblivion, but I will tell you that the time cost of bringing you this site is usually at least 20 hours a week.

Now, this is my passion and I love it, which is why I spend all those hours writing, taking and editing photos, and making sure each article is widely shared on social media… But wouldn’t YOU be kicking yourself if you realized you’d been spending 20 hours a week for SEVEN YEARS on something, and could have been earning money for it the whole time?!

Travel and Life Resources to Save Money and Increase Liberty

Awake and thinking while sweet baby sleeps.

This brings us to my gender and my professions. Women are expected to give things away for free. When women request compensation, we run the risk of sounding pushy, rude, or even crazy.

Meanwhile, teachers, writers, and artists (many of whom are women) have historically been expected to give as much as possible for as little payment as possible. I am so done with that. It is time to set up a system so that I can — at the very least — cover the expenses of this site while still providing an excellent reader experience, and incur no extra costs to you.

Here’s the brilliant solution. If you have gotten any value from this site, please acknowledge the love, thought, and time it has taken to maintain so many years and words later, and consider doing the travel and life shopping that you were planning to do anyway on my new mega-post: 40 Travel and Life Resources to Save Time and Money which can help you get delicious deals on flights, hotels, vacations, gear, and lifestyle services and products, all while supporting this site at no cost to you, via affiliate magic.

It’s win-win! I have subtitled that post “LIBERTY” because it aims to give you more travel and life freedom, while providing me the liberty of soul to know my work is supported.

I will also slowly but steadily be adding affiliates to specific articles, so for example if you read this article about my favorite hotel in Hawaii, you can now browse good Hawaii hotels from a simple and clearly labeled affiliate link. My hope is that this will also save readers time because it will do the search for them.

Just as I am glad to do what it takes to support Boston's parks' beauty, I hope you'll consider supporting this site.

Just as I am glad to do what it takes to support Boston’s parks’ beauty, I hope you’ll support this site.

What will I do with any money I earn from these affiliate partners? First, of course, I will cover the many costs of this site. But beyond that, I might buy some shirts that are actually made for tall people and cover my tummy, or I might donate to charity in a powerful way, or I might purchase and consume cookies, or I might buy a plane ticket to a a place so “Wowza” that you will swoon when you read about it, but… at the end of the day, it does not and should not matter.

I declare to you now that I am prioritizing doing what it takes to get paid for the work I do and the value I provide, and I encourage you to do the same, whatever that means to you!

What are your thoughts after reading this? Are you going through a related epiphany in your life around compensation, or have you already? Do share!

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