The savvy traveler can Twitter and Tweet their way to a nice little income on the road.
Let’s face it: the internet has made geeks of us all. From checking our email, to arguing with strangers on forums, downloading applications, drooling over profile photos, looking for flights online – if you’re even reading this you’ve already been hooked in so you might as well learn how to make some money from your tech habit.
Most travelers are understandably a little intimidated by the learning curve of becoming a webmaster on the road. Building a site is straightforward enough in theory but there’s a lot of content to fill, design to worry about, technical stuff to understand and how the hell do you get enough traffic to make any money anyway?
That’s where Twitter comes in. Twitter is a feed service that’s capturing all the online buzz right now and is changing yet again how we access information.
What the Hell is Twitter?
It’s simple. You sign up with Twitter and become http://www.twitter.com/yourname and start posting messages that can be longer than 140 characters. If people follow you, they see your messages. That’s it.
So in essence it’s a feed service. Like those newsroom machines in the movies with paper ticking out with the hottest info fresh off the wire.
But Twitter is also incredibly easy to use. People follow feeds on their cell phones and post (called Tweeting) on the same, 140 characters being around the size of an average SMS message, after all.
Only in practice this essentially means that millions of people with nothing better to do with their lives tap out the tedious details of their lives.
Scintillating stuff, we’re sure you agree, but how is Twitter changing the face of the web, much less offering travelers the chance to supplement their budget?
Get Followed on Twitter
Not all Twitter feeds are meaningless drivel. Magazines like Wired (http://www.twitter.com/wired) use it to link to their latest articles and thus Wired fans can get regular updates of when there’s something new to read on the site. Celebrities use Twitter to maintain their following (eg.
http://www.twitter.com/stephenfry) and even Barack Obama has a Twitter page (http://www.twitter.com/barackobama) so that the American people can find out just what’s going on in the president’s mind. Ho, ho.
Popular Twitter feeds get lots of followers. If you have lots of followers, you have in essence a readership and, if it gets big enough, that’s worth money. Here’s a cool article on how to get Twitter followers and here a few ways you can cash in:
Browse through the affiliates offered at somewhere like clickjunction.com and see if there’s any service your Twitter followers are likely to buy. You make a few % of the sale each time that someone follows your link and makes a purchase. It might be a link to Amazon, a flight company or even a language course.
If you run a red hot Twitter feed on upcoming concerts and nightlife in Holland, then promoters are going to want your services. For a price, you can offer to spread the word about that thrash band they’re putting on in Rotterdam and get the word out to your partying faithful.
3.Through a regular site.
If you run a small information site that makes money from adsense – ads supplied by Google that pay each time someone clicks on them – then you can drive traffic to your site through the links you post on your Twitter feed.
If you have inside information that no one else can get or can’t be bothered to find then you can sell access to your feed. You could, for example, run a Twitter feed on all the coolest things to do in Cairo. For a few bucks a month subscribers could have your feed arriving straight to their cell phone with all the latest concerts, art exhibitions and underground raves going on.
5. Buying and Selling Stuff Via Your Iphone
Twitter is about to launch a new online marketplace via a start-up from Twitter founder, Jack Dempsey, called Squirrel which will let you become an online merchant via your Iphone. Become a traveling antiques dealer and take payments on the road.
Twitter Feeds That Could Make Money for Travelers
1. Be a guide.
The most profitable Twitter idea that comes to mind is to be the authority on a single city or country. If you’re living in Thailand and know the place like the back of your hand then you could be running a Twitter feed full of all the hot tips on where to go, what to see and what’s on. There would seem to be a particularly good angle with places to stay and nightlife as these can be condensed to 140 characters easily enough.
Blue jam at the Laughing Parrot tonight, Soi 3 Bangkok.
Half moon party at Kho pan gang
If you can maintain consistency for long enough, you could really carve out a name for yourself as being the Twitter feed for a location. Guides would link to you, you could publicise your feed in hostels and hotels and your listings service would become a byword.
What the hell can you teach on Twitter with just 140 characters? Well, languages for one. You could be http://www.twitter.com/spanishslang and post a new colloquial word or expression every day
Mala leche – meaning ‘bad milk’ and roughly equivalent to ‘sour lemons’, referring to a bitter or jaded individual.
People would follow your feed to keep up with their Espanol and might just click on that affiliate to buy a Collin’s language dictionary or flight to Mexico.
If you have enough short jokes you can tell or quotations from the past and present to fill a feed then people might follow you for a bit of whimsical distraction each day.
How many Zen monks does it take to change a lightbulb? Two. One to change it and one not to change it.
‘If you cry at my funeral I’ll never speak to you again’ (last words of Stan Laurel)
Since the Mumbai bomb blasts, we’re now into the age of Twitter journalism. Even though some of the feeds during the crisis proved to be misleading, still, they were a direct source of ground-level reportage that bypassed the traditional media. If anyone searched for ‘mumbai’ on recent Twitter posts they saw pages full of Twitterists reporting the latest news. If you can place yourself in polemic places such as war zones, natural disasters, revolutions and other such merry places, your posts could end up defining the media coverage.
Hell, you could just rewrite headlines of other news sites…
Will Twitter Let You Travel Forever?
Twitter is still something everyone is getting their heads around. It’s incredibly simple and yet no one is quite sure how to use it – which means there’s still plenty of time for the smart traveler to carve out a niche. No web design is required, no knowledge of code. All you need to do is get followed by as many people as you can.
How do you get followed? You promote yourself everywhere like the media whore you’ve become, taking part in conversations on other Twitter feeds, following others in the hope they’ll follow you, attaching your Twitter feed at the end of every forum post or article you write on other sites, maybe even going so far as having your twiiter.com/yourname tattooed on your forehead.
If all else fails, you can always beg.
So please, please, please, follow http://www.twitter.com/roadjunky and http://www.twitter.com/tomglaister And alternatively, you can always set up a website to profit from the hype, like Tom Thumb just did with a site about famous celebrities on Twitter