Liv Williams is the editor/owner of iLivExtreme.com. Liv started the site off as a simple blog seven years ago, sifting through the inner workings of her mind. She spluttered her thoughts out in word form and then hit the ‘Publish to Cyber Space’ button.
Her blog posts are extreme sports-related and all a bit tongue in cheek. Before long people started to respond and she was getting hundreds of emails. In 2015 and because of this blog, she was commissioned to write a book about her love of actions sports and those who have made sport their life. She published Chasing the Elements: The Heart and Soul of Action Sports in 2016 and she is currently writing her second book. She’s kindly given her time to give us an insight into how she started her blog and where she is at now. Read the Q&A below.
Solaris Traveller: What made you start out in travel blogging?
Liv: I started out writing about extreme sports seven years ago on my blog iLivExtreme. I loved adventure and action sports and at that point in my life felt a bit directionless. I wanted to focus on something which brought me joy and creativity and allowed me to wallow in a topic that I loved. As a happy coincidence (for me anyway!) there was no strong female voice discussing extreme sports as an industry. So I decided to roll up my sleeves and attempt to do this myself. It has been a fun and surprising ride!
What was your job before?
I worked in TV Production at the BBC in London. The city, the corporate focus and the tube didn’t suit me though.
What do you feel was the big “break” after which things started to set off?
There has been no ‘big break’ as such, just tiny amounts of progress along the way. I’m still not completely where I want to be lifestyle and career-wise, but equally, I’m no longer where I used to be. At the core of what I do is acting upon a passion for human stories and being creative in all it’s manifestations. Those are the driving factors for me. Success is an odd concept and it changes from person to person, for some it’s about lots cash coming in, gaining recognition, and for others it’s being happy, living a life unencumbered by external influence, and then of course all of the alternatives in between.
After how much time did you start making money?
After about 4/5 years of creating content for the sheer love of it, building up the iLivExtreme name in all sorts of ways I soon started to get interest from the bigger brands. The income from it all is by no means consistent even now, but I do get offered much larger one-off sums these days.
Also, some really interesting things are happening off the back of iLivExtreme. This is mostly a result of consistently building the iLivExtreme brand over the past few years. One thing is my book ‘Chasing the Elements: The Heart and Soul of Action Sports‘ which I was commissioned to write by a big sports publisher.
I’m now in talks to write a second and third on some more expansive topics. I’ve also just launched the LivWild Agency with a LinkedIn contact. I’m always stating ‘be rigid about your goals and flexible about your methods’ to anyone who asks for some advice. I practice what I preach.
Did you first make money from pay-per-click, Google Ads, Yahoo, Bing or other affiliated ads?
I tried pay-per-click on my site for about a week. Then I decided that it made my site look messy and it didn’t feel authentic, so I removed the code and haven’t ventured down that road or similar since.
Do you have a fixed income now from travel blogging or does it fluctuate?
It fluctuates and I pick paid content on a case by case basis. Sometimes it’s helpful to have a financial injection though. So if a brand approaches me asking me to host their content either it has to be an immediately good fit with my brand values or it has to be a neutral effect. By neutral, I mean that the brand and what they’re asking me to advertise cannot detract from the authenticity of the site.
What are the things that you wish you had known and wouldn’t do again.
Good question. I don’t think I’d change anything, it has been a massive learning curve and one I’ve really enjoyed. I’ve learned that content is king and that building trust between you and your readership is everything. I hope I’ve done that successfully.
Do you use Facebook Boost or Twitter Adverts to get more followers?
What is your biggest monthly blog expense?
Paying for my host account but it’s a tiny amount in comparison with what the iLivExtreme opportunity has given me. The biggest overall expense so far was having the site professionally designed. Soon my big expense will be the changes I’ve asked my web developer to make to the site to bring it up to 2017. I am trying to future-proof it as much as I can. I think the bill for that will be quite hefty…
How much time do you spend on it?
I may tweak bits and bobs on the site a couple of times each week. A lot of the time I spend on it is taken up with contacting people who I’ve read about online or who have contacted me asking about a feature. Creating the interviews on the site is pretty time consuming as well. Luckily it’s my favourite bit of the entire job as I’m meeting people (albeit sometimes only ‘electronically’) but the effect is the same.
They’re bringing me and the brand into their confidence, trusting me that I’m going to do right by them. This results in an authentic and engaging read.
What’s your advice for new starters?
I give people several tips from personal experience:
1) Write /create content / photograph what you’re passionate about. Anything else will just feel flat and your audience will know it. If you do this the remuneration will come in some form or another.
2) Make sure that you experiment with your craft so that you find your own style of writing.
3) Post excellent content frequently. If you thinking about posting something that doesn’t touch you personally in some way, my advice would be to put it on a back burner until you can find a way to make it reach out to you.
4) Spelling, punctuation and grammar are all important. You are helping people to enjoy what you’ve written by using language correctly. It makes for an enjoyable read and you’re also building a relationship of trust with your audience, they will be able to tell you’ve spent time crafting your post/article because you genuinely want to share and connect with them. If you’re uncertain about your spelling ability for example, ask a friend to take a look, there’s no shame in that whatsoever.
5) Start simple, you don’t need an account on every single social media platform, or to pay a large amount for the best website in the world. Choose say Facebook and Instagram and post to those as often as you can, choose a free web template and begin to populate your site. If you’re creating content that people love you’ll soon know about it and then spending a bit of money on a new website or to boost your Facebook posts could be justified.
Should people abandon their jobs for travel writing hoping to make money?
It’s a very personal thing, I couldn’t offer a one-size-fits-all plan. But after you’ve talked everyone’s ear off about whether you should or shouldn’t all that’s left is to ask yourself ‘do I feel passionate about this?
Am I doing it for the right reasons?
How would I feel if the travel writing experience didn’t earn me a penny?’
If the answers to those questions are ‘Yes!’ – ‘I’ve been truly honest about why I want to do this and want to go for it!’ and ‘No biggie but boy what a ride!’ then what’s holding you back?
Liv Williams Extreme Sports Book
You can buy her book on Amazon ‘Chasing the Elements: The Heart and Soul of Action Sports‘. You can also follow Liv on Instagram, Twitter, her blog and Facebook.