A few weeks ago I heard a shocking statistic.
The average adult spends 705 hours a year on social media. Maybe that doesn’t sound too shocking (well, maybe a little) but you need to think about that number another way.
If you take 705 hours and average them out over a normal 8 hour workday, and assuming you work the normal 5 days a week…that 705 hours spent on social media is the equivalent of almost 4 1/2 months of work!
Now, if you work for someone else, you may love the idea of spending 4 1/2 months of your “work time” scrolling through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or TikTok watching videos of cats, but if you are like me…self-employed…that 705 hours really could be spent in better ways. You see, when you’re self-employed, if you don’t work on something that’s generating income you don’t pay your bills. And another cat vid is not going to pay the bills. Hehe!
So, what does this all mean and why does this relate to a travel blogger/vlogger’s life? Simple. I need to spend more time travel blogging/vlogging and less time on social media. Honestly, I think I already spend wayyy less time than the average adult – but I do know that I can zone out and get lost aimlessly scrolling. For no reason.
Kitty’s ahead of me. She usually is. She deleted all social apps off of her phone over a year ago. Her reasons were pure and simple: she was sick of all the polarizing negativity as well as the constant stream of ads. She still jumps back on to post a pic on her Instagram, and to connect with her friends there, but by and large she’s living rather than scrolling.
As for me, I deleted everything a few weeks ago. All social apps are off my phone. It really wasn’t that hard and I haven’t felt any loss or a yearning to go back. Although it’s only been a short time, I have noticed positive changes in my life. I am reading more. A lot more. I’m also finding myself being a bit more creative. I have ideas that I don’t think I would have had unless I got rid of some of the useless noise in my life. I also am taking more tutorials on video editing. Even though I have been editing video for years and years, I think I’ve learned more in the last three weeks than in the last three years.
So why is this all important?
Well, the pandemic was a real wake-up call for Kitty and I. You see the week when basically the entire world went into lock-down was the week we had hundreds of venues cancel our upcoming shows. We had spent nearly two decades traveling the world as full-time, professional musicians. Despite a strong and healthy career, we lost a year’s worth of work in the span of a few headspinningly crazy days.
That got us to thinking: there has to be a better way. Rather than spend all of our time on stage…could we spend our time doing something that lasts long after the audience finishes their final beer?
Meaning, a performer performs. And, when they are done performing. That’s it. The performance is over. And the money from that performance ends. Now, if you are Taylor Swift that’s fine. You could literally do one tour and never work another day in your life. But if you are Jack and Kitty, you have to basically do a show every few days if you want to pay your bills. So you spend all of your time working on your craft, then promoting yourself, then booking a show, then promoting that show, then traveling to wherever the show is (in one single year we drove over 60,000 miles!!) then you set up for the show, play the show, pack up all your gear, drive to wherever you next need to be and do it all over again.
And – poof! Everything disappears into thin air once the spotlight is turned off. You have nothing to show for the show…except (hopefully) a few dollars.
So, as a result of the pandemic we set about changing how we think about things. That’s when we discovered “content creation”. The idea of creating content, putting that content on the market, and letting it sit…and sell…forever.
In our case, “content” has meant ebooks and paperback books, streaming music, YouTube videos and now blog posts. We’ve re-invented ourselves several times along the way – trying different niches, styles and messaging. Seeing what sticks and what doesn’t.
Hell, we even launched an OnlyFans. Not because we were selling dirty pix of yours truly, but because I always thought it’d be funny to have an OnlyFans that only posted pictures of fans. Get it? OnlyFans, only fans?!
Ok, so maybe that idea hasn’t been a huge money maker (hehe), but the point is we’ve been out in the trenches experimenting, playing, having fun, trying to figure out what it means to earn a living with content. Content that is evergreen. Content that can make us a few pennies even as we sleep.
Of course, the only rule we have ever lived by is HAVE FUN. So, beyond the profitabity of an idea is the most important governing rule: ARE WE HAVING FUN?
Along the way, we finally put two and two together and realized something. We have been traveling ALL OF OUR LIVES. Literally. We’ve played shows in every single state in the country (except Alaska and Maine)…we’ve played shows in more countries around the world than I can remember…and we’ve been snapping pics and keeping journals the entire time. We’ve had blogs before, but nothing with a focus. Just selfish “look at me” blogs documenting our lives. Those are fine and they have a place, but we decided to take all of our life experiences and present that knowledge in a way that, hopefully, is entertaining, educational and fun for our audience.
We are trying to make vlogs (every Monday, Wednesay and Friday) that are quirky and fun. Right now we are focusing most of our videos on Minnesota, but over time we’ll expand our reach. We want to perfect the format before we venture out.
We are trying to write blogs (every day, if possible) that are informative and fun. Rather than our previous blogging, we’re writing with an audience in mind. What would entertain? What would help? What’s interesting?
Is this all working? Well, only time will tell. So far, our blog has earned us $0.47 in the first week. Is that amazing? Well, maybe not to you…but to us it is! We made $0.47 creating content. Content that will live on long after that final beer is poured and an encore is performed.
So how does this all relate to social media?
Simple, we need to feed the beast.
We need to take that 4 1/2 months we would have spent scrolling through therians on TikTok or with Kpop pix on Twitter, and get to work. We need to feed the beast…more blog posts, more travel videos…all while HAVING FUN.
A week or so ago, I found this blog post by travel writer Tim Leffel. It was so good I bought his books “A Better Life for Half the Price” and “Travel Writing 2.0”. I first heard of Tim when he appeared as guest on our friend Joanna Penn’s The Creative Penn podcast. By the way, we’re in Jo’s latest book “How to Make a Living with Your Writing” – be sure to pick up a copy. Seriously, if you are a creative artist, you need this book! It applies well beyond the world of writers.
Tim’s message is simple: “stop chatting, start writing”. It’s similar to the point of this blog…and I know it’s getting long, so I’m going to end by asking you a simple question…
If you had 4 1/2 months to do something…anything in the world…what would you do with that time?
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