Would You Travel 8000 Kilometers To Blog?

This post was guest blogged by Mike Henry of the Beijing Olympic Games 2008 blog.

Around 2005 I read about a blogger who made a lot of money blogging the Athens Olympics. It gave me an idea to register a domain and start my own blog for the Beijing Olympics, three years away.

At the time I was working a regular 9-5 job building my internet income. I was trying to make money from different sites and the Olympic site was just one of many sites I started at the time. I lived in China for a year in 1999, so I was interested more in how the Olympics would affect China, more so than the sporting side of things.

I finally got fed up with my job at the end of 2006 and decided to spend a year traveling around South East Asia while living off the money from my websites. Around mid 2007, I thought about paying someone to write for my Beijing Olympic blog, then I thought why not just travel to China and check things out for myself. I was enjoying the beach in Langkawi, Malaysia at the time so it was kind of hard to leave.

I traveled to Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing. I found a nice apartment for around US$500 a month and spent the next 3 months exploring Beijing, writing the blog, visiting the new stadiums and going to some of the Olympic test events. It was an amazing experience. It had been 10 years since I was last in Beijing and the city had changed so much. I think people going to China for the first time for the Olympics are in for a shock, because the image of China often shown in the media is far from the reality. China does have its problems like many countries, but I don’t think the country deserves all of the negative publicity it usually gets from the western media.

Working on the internet in China

Working on the internet in China is not easy. Many news sites are blocked and when George Bush met the Dalai Lama last year many popular US sites like Google and Yahoo were redirected to Chinese sites like baidu.com – a popular search engine in China. Facebook and YouTube were also down for at least a week. I was using these sites to promote my blog, so it was a difficult time and I felt like going home.

Back in China to blog the Olympics

I just arrived back in China now with around 150 days to go until the Olympics. I am going from Shenzhen to Guangzhuo, Guilin, Yangshuo, Fenghuang, Chengdu, Xian and finally on to Beijing where I will stay for the Olympics in August.

In the past two weeks there has been a bus hijacking and an attempted plane hijack. I say this not because I think China is unsafe, but I think definitely I will be in for an exciting time following the Beijing Olympics.

Making money from the site

The site is in the process of being redesigned. I am planning on making money from Adsense, affiliate programs and from companies advertising directly on the site. It is hard to say if I will make a lot of money from the site, but I think just being able to experience the Olympics in China will be an experience I will never forget.

* Editor Note: I posted this from the Aberdeen Center Mall. It’s not traveling 8000KM to blog but it is at least 8KM. – JC


37 thoughts on “Would You Travel 8000 Kilometers To Blog?”

  1. Chris says:

    Nice looking site and definitely a dedicated blogger. My question to you is this though, why would you pigeon hole your site to a single Olympic games? All the work you’re doing now building up brand awareness and working on traffic etc will basically come to a halt as soon as these Olympics are over. Why not transition to more of a global Olympic blog and then make the trek to Vancover to cover 2010 and to London to cover 2012.

    You could basically spend your whole life covering the Olympic games around the world (which you obviously enjoy doing).

    1. Robert says:

      I agree. It seems counter-intuitive to pigeon-hole yourself to one set of Olympic games. Especially when your market will probably not care about the games themselves. Nevertheless, it’s a noble venture, and your efforts are much appreciated.

  2. Now there’s a unique money making idea. This is how you have fun while making money. Think I might just do that.

  3. jhay says:

    Indeed, Beijing has changed a lot and it sped up as it geared up for the Olympics. But I think the change has been a good one for the city, it’s much better now than back when I was still 10.

    Blogging about the Olympics is a clever idea, but yes the way the internet works in China is a great challenge. It would shock the first-time netizen as much as the change in culture will shock them.

    Still, what could be better than watching the Olympics in Beijing, blogging about it and making money while doing so? :mrgreen:

    1. Robert says:

      I find it so interesting how the challenges of the Internet in China would affect blogging. John, I would be very interested in how your normal blogging schedule and resources are affected by being in China. Clearly, that has to have some effect.

      1. John’s not in China. This was a guest post.

  4. Buy Website says:

    I could see how this would work with a network of BLOGs. Travel isn’t as easy when you have kids, but still fun to do.

    Michael

  5. Seems like an exciting lifestyle! Good luck with the blog. I think it’d be fun to be able to travel and blog about it.

  6. Adrian Keys says:

    Absolutely…China is a beautiful place and the track and field will be hopping.

    I wish you all the best and hope technical issues don’t ruin an experience of a lifetime.

  7. Hannah says:

    I’m really glad that you seem to be having so much fun with your blog! The travel must be amazing! I’m learning Mandarin right now and would absolutely love to visit China one day.

    I must say though that I agree with Chris who suggests doing blog for all of the Olympics, though it would be easy enough to do just by registering 2010gamesvancouver.com then 2012gameslondon.com, you could continue blogging about the Olympics for quite a while, as long as your blog income pays for the trips!

  8. Grace says:

    The Vancouver olympics in 2010 are coming up, and I live here, so… πŸ˜‰

  9. Aberdeen Mall…let me guess what you ate…chicken wings…maybe some Beard Papa’s? πŸ™‚

    1. John Chow says:

      Nope, I had pork ribs with black bean sauce on rice. It was very good.

  10. Neil Duckett says:

    Great idea for a blog Mike. I can understand why you’ve only taken on Beijing at the moment, as it’s a massive lifestyle change to do what you’re doing and the thought of planning the next 12+ years of your life is easier said than done ….. just so you can have a few backlinks.

    Good luck with it, i look forward to reading more and will definitely be heading over that way for some of the Olympics this year. We’re getting lots of the teams training in Japan in the lead up.

    On a technicalk note, if you have troubles accessing some of those sites do you have a VPN account you can use to route in from the US? Just a though, i’ve been to China and experienced the same difficulties you’re referring too.

    1. hay niel don’t you live in japan you should check out his blog it’s preety cool he’s blogging from japan.

  11. watercarving says:

    I’m glad things are going well for you. However, saying China isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be seems to be a stretch. They are a very limited human rights country. Many people are imprisoned for their religious or political views. How do you make that sound worse than it is?

  12. Interesting looking pics on your blog Mike. Best wishes in promoting your site from China, it might be a bit difficult.

  13. Simon Lau says:

    8000KM + all the costs to the events would be expensive expenditure but one hell of an adventure!
    I’m hoping to go see the 2010 in Vancouver πŸ™‚

  14. Its exciting to hear about someone that is able to make money traveling and doing something that they love.
    However I am a bit shocked by the obvious contradiction in your post. In one paragraph you say that “China does have its problems like many countries, but I don’t think the country deserves all of the negative publicity it usually gets from the western media.” But in the very next paragraph you talk about internet censorship. How to you justify this since its obviously not just a western representation but reality? China’s problems are much different then most countries and censorship is an example of this.

    1. Robert says:

      Censorship is a huge problem in China. It has sustained itself despite its political system, but the censorship is an issue worldwide and with human rights. I am interested to see how the next decade (particularly with the growth of the Internet) affects China.

  15. Terry Tay says:

    It would be nice to be able to travel around the world and make money blogging. It’s great that you get to experience the olympics in China. Hopefully your blog will be successful for you and it’ll reward you for your time and effort. Good luck and have fun!
    ~Terry

  16. Hey Mike, I wonder with the cost of your apartment and travel expenses, will you end up making a profit on blogging about the Olympics? But even if you don’t, it will be quite the adventure for a few months. I have to hand it to you, I admire you for just enjoying the ride.

  17. Tom Ross says:

    Sounds like a fantastic experience. To be fair many people do similar things but simply for leisure. You are doing some amazing real life research and your blog should benefit from it, hopefully feeling more in touch with your subject matter. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! You’ll learn more than paying someone else to blog for you…

  18. 02millions says:

    Beijing is a great spot if you haven’t been you should check it out for the Olympics. I worked and lived there for two years it’s not your old style Beijing anymore. Nowadays they call it the Bling Dynasty.

  19. F1Wolf says:

    To answer the question in the post title – Yes I would and I do… I have about 7000 km ahead of me in few hours time πŸ™‚ Some things you need see and experience before you can write about them … Same like with making money … Millions people blog about that and tell people what to do without ever making a dime πŸ™‚

  20. Mike says:

    Thanks John for posting my guest post and thanks everyone for the nice comments. I have no idea if the blog will cover all the costs of travel and accommodation, but I am lucky enough to have income from other sites to be able to travel to China.

    In hindsight yes I should have registered the site on a generic Olympic domain but it’s too late now. I am planning to add more China travel information to the site, so I think it will still get some traffic after the Olympics.

    I think the Olympics will go down as one of the major turning points for China in its modern history. I know I contradicted myself in my post but when you write anything about China while trying to maintain a positive outlook it is hard not to.

    Neil, heard about the VPN solution and it might be something I will look into although I heard it is technically illegal.

    Perhaps after the Olympics I can write another post on how the blog went, although I think it might be hard to put a dollar value on the experience.

  21. Crystal says:

    I’m from beijing actually, and I’m going back at the end of May. The last time I was there was three years ago I think, and I didn’t even have a blog to maintain. This year will be more exciting!

  22. This is honestlt a unique money making idea Make money online and have fun

  23. Gary says:

    Actually, I’ve traveled almost 100,000 km to blog.

    Everything-Everywhere.com

  24. Mike Huang says:

    Hmmm…so have you made any money yet?

    -Mike

  25. Mike says:

    Mike Huang > No, havent made much money yet. I have many sites that make good money on, which in turn allows me to spend time on this project.

    1. It’s pretty cool anyway that you just get to spend time blogging in Beijing.

  26. Chip says:

    Well, I would travel to blog, but I’d need the certainty of money in the end. Or, at least, having some money BEFORE starting to blog. Like, I didn’t make that much money from this traveling and blogging, so what? I made a journey, seen new places and people.

    And, like always, blogging will pay off eventually, as it is a long-term investment.

  27. natespost says:

    Make the wrong post there and they’ll deport you in a heartbeat.

  28. If you love sport then there will be enough for your to blog about next Olympics!

  29. Traveling to blog would definitely give you some new writing inspiration and insights…here’s something I haven’t heard anyone do: bloggingfrom an airplane like 30+ thousand feet up!

    Who wants to try it first ❓

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