Traveling Smart and Turning a Hobby into a “Business”
Cal State Northridge
By Rom
Topics
• What is my “business”?
• Turning a hobby into a business
• How you can start traveling smart
What Is My Business Hobby?
• Teaching others about earning and using travel points and
miles to travel smart.
How it started
• Started collecting points and miles over 2 years ago
• Wanted to save on our honeymoon.
• Opened several ...
How it started
• Earned thousands of points by meeting credit card bonus
requirements..
• Used airline miles for free flig...
What Is My Business Hobby?
• Showing people how traveling can be affordable.
• Hawaii for 25,000 miles and $5 per person.
What Is My Business Hobby?
• Black Sand Beach in Maui
What Is My Business Hobby?
• Educating people about using a good credit score to your
advantage.
• Maximizing every dollar...
Travel Consulting
• Helping people plan trips
and honeymoons.
• Example: Planned a
honeymoon trip to Turks
and Caicos in t...
Travel Consulting
• Helping people use points and miles for complicated and
unique trips. Example: Los Angeles to Hawaii t...
Travel Consulting
• I also book complicated and multiple-stop tickets for myself.
$100 in taxes per person
Why I Enjoy Blogging
•
•
•
•

Interactive
Being part of a community
Sharing with people something practical
Inspiring peop...
Why Do I Collect Points &
Miles?
• Visiting friends and family around the world.
Why Do I Collect Points &
Miles?
• Staying in Hawaii with hotel points. (18,000 Hyatt points/nt)
Why Do I Collect Points &
Miles?
• Experiencing international first or business class using airline
miles.
Why Do I Collect Points &
Miles?
• Helping people make happy memories.
Why Do I Collect Points &
Miles?
• Experiencing awesome hotels with hotel points.
Why Do I Collect Points &
Miles?
11 Days in Europe for $500
• Collected over half a million airline points and
miles with credit cards.
• Paid $500 out of ...
Paid $1,000 for $40,000 of
Travel
Half a Million Points from Credit
Cards
Neuschwanstein Castle,
Germany
London
London Eye & Big Ben
German Alps
Lake Konigsee, Germany
Questions?
Turning a Hobby Into a
Business
•
•
•
•

What do you enjoy?
What is your skill and expertise?
What do others care about?
I...
Turning a Hobby Into a
Business
• Things I enjoy – Traveling/saving money
• What others care about – Good deals on travell...
Turning a Hobby Into a
Business
• What others care about?
•
•
•
•

Explaining something complicated in simpler terms.
Solv...
Turning a Hobby Into a
Business
• Passion and Skill are key
• Benny has a passion for language learning
• Benny’s skill is...
Turning a Hobby Into a
Business
• Leading by example
• I explain which credit cards I used to earn points, how many
points...
$100 to Start a Blog
• Started a blog in October 2012
• Paid $10 to buy a website domain at Godaddy.com –
www.Romsdeals.co...
Trial and Error
• Lots of trial and error in the beginning
stages.
• Topics were too broad and didn’t draw
enough visitors...
Niche Market
• Definition: subset of the market on which a specific product is
focusing.
• Example: Cooking > Organic Cook...
Growing my business
•
•
•
•
•

Requires LOTS of time and effort – I blog 4-5 times a week.
Connect with top notch bloggers...
Monetization
• Several ways to monetize a website
•
•
•
•
•

Google Adsense
Affiliate Marketing
E-books
Selling products
C...
Google Adsense
• Most popular way to monetize a hosted website.
• Advertisers bid to show in your ad spaces in a
real-time...
Google Adsense
• Most popular monetization method on Youtube
• Companies bid on ads on Youtube.
• Pay varies - $.70 to $7 ...
Affiliate Marketing
• Affiliate marketing is type of performance-based marketing in
which a business rewards one or more a...
Affiliate Marketing
• Niche website on affiliate marketing
• www.bestadjustabledumbbells.org
• Reviews adjustable dumbbell...
Affiliate Marketing
• Smartpassiveincome.com
• Creates multiple niche websites
• Teaches how to create niche websites
• Lo...
E-books
• You can write e-books on your topic and sell it.
• Need a good readership first.
• Nomadic Matt sells guides on ...
Questions?
How you can travel for a few
dollars
• Start building credit slowly by using credit cards responsibly.
• Apply for a good ...
Myths about Credit Cards
• Common Myth – Too many credit cards is bad for your credit
score.
• Response – Many credit card...
Credit Score Components
Credit Score Components

•MOST IMPORTANT TIP:
PAY BALANCES IN FULL
AND ON TIME (65% of
score)
Improving Credit Score Slowly
•
•
•
•

Become an authorized user to a parent’s account (AMEX).
Retail Credit Cards – Remem...
Improving Credit Score Slowly
• Wife had a credit score of 711 before signing up for credit
cards.
• Applied for 4-5 credi...
Why Credit Cards?
• Banks are offering the highest credit card sign up bonuses in
years.
• Quickest way to earn points and...
My Credit Score
• Applied for at least 20 credit cards over the last 2 years.
• Paid in full and on time 100% of the time.
Disclaimers
• Traveling for free sounds enticing, but requires the following:
•
•
•
•
•

Income (part-time job)
Organizati...
Disclaimers
• Only do what you can handle or manage.
• Missing a payment or not paying in full can damage your
credit scor...
Helpful Tools
• Mint.com – Manage finances all in one place.
Helpful Tools
• Awardwallet – Manage all rewards accounts in one place.
Helpful Tools
• CreditKarma – Free Credit Score
Best Credit Card for College
Students
• Chase Freedom – $100 for free after spending $500 in 3
months.
• Rolling 5% Catego...
Best Personal Credit Card
• Chase Sapphire Preferred
• 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($500 in free travel) after
sp...
Fast Track Spending
• Amazon Payments – Transfer $1,000 a month for free to
another person through a credit card
• Chargin...
Avoiding Annual Fees
• 2 Options
• Cancel card after first year, and move credit line to another
existing credit card. Lit...
More on Credit Cards
• Lots of other credit card options including hotel credit cards
and airline specific credit cards.
•...
More on Credit Cards
My Travels Using Points &
Miles
• A week in Kauai – Paid $10 for airfare, 2 free nights Hyatt
Kauai
• 2 weeks in Italy and...
Resources
• The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau
• www.millionmilesecrets.com – points
and miles blog for beginners
• www....
End
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  1. 1. Traveling Smart and Turning a Hobby into a “Business” Cal State Northridge By Rom
  2. 2. Topics • What is my “business”? • Turning a hobby into a business • How you can start traveling smart
  3. 3. What Is My Business Hobby? • Teaching others about earning and using travel points and miles to travel smart.
  4. 4. How it started • Started collecting points and miles over 2 years ago • Wanted to save on our honeymoon. • Opened several rewards credit cards to earn points and miles.
  5. 5. How it started • Earned thousands of points by meeting credit card bonus requirements.. • Used airline miles for free flights and hotels. • Hooked after first trip on points and miles.
  6. 6. What Is My Business Hobby? • Showing people how traveling can be affordable. • Hawaii for 25,000 miles and $5 per person.
  7. 7. What Is My Business Hobby? • Black Sand Beach in Maui
  8. 8. What Is My Business Hobby? • Educating people about using a good credit score to your advantage. • Maximizing every dollar spent with credit cards. • Reviewing and analyzing credit cards. • Travel consulting.
  9. 9. Travel Consulting • Helping people plan trips and honeymoons. • Example: Planned a honeymoon trip to Turks and Caicos in the Caribbean. $100 per person and credit card points from 2 credit cards. Retail value: $2,000
  10. 10. Travel Consulting • Helping people use points and miles for complicated and unique trips. Example: Los Angeles to Hawaii to Korea to Taiwan and back on one ticket. $100 in taxes per person.
  11. 11. Travel Consulting • I also book complicated and multiple-stop tickets for myself. $100 in taxes per person
  12. 12. Why I Enjoy Blogging • • • • Interactive Being part of a community Sharing with people something practical Inspiring people to travel
  13. 13. Why Do I Collect Points & Miles? • Visiting friends and family around the world.
  14. 14. Why Do I Collect Points & Miles? • Staying in Hawaii with hotel points. (18,000 Hyatt points/nt)
  15. 15. Why Do I Collect Points & Miles? • Experiencing international first or business class using airline miles.
  16. 16. Why Do I Collect Points & Miles? • Helping people make happy memories.
  17. 17. Why Do I Collect Points & Miles? • Experiencing awesome hotels with hotel points.
  18. 18. Why Do I Collect Points & Miles?
  19. 19. 11 Days in Europe for $500 • Collected over half a million airline points and miles with credit cards. • Paid $500 out of pocket per person for airline taxes and hotels • Stayed mostly in 4-5 Star hotels
  20. 20. Paid $1,000 for $40,000 of Travel
  21. 21. Half a Million Points from Credit Cards
  22. 22. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
  23. 23. London
  24. 24. London Eye & Big Ben
  25. 25. German Alps
  26. 26. Lake Konigsee, Germany
  27. 27. Questions?
  28. 28. Turning a Hobby Into a Business • • • • What do you enjoy? What is your skill and expertise? What do others care about? Is it profitable? Things you Enjoy Profitable $$$ What Others Care About Sweet Spot
  29. 29. Turning a Hobby Into a Business • Things I enjoy – Traveling/saving money • What others care about – Good deals on travelling • How can my blog be profitable? – Affiliate marketing, consulting, advertisements, etc. Things you Enjoy Profitable $$$ What Others Care About
  30. 30. Turning a Hobby Into a Business • What others care about? • • • • Explaining something complicated in simpler terms. Solving a problem. Example: Traveling is too expensive. Goal: Proving that travelling can be affordable.
  31. 31. Turning a Hobby Into a Business • Passion and Skill are key • Benny has a passion for language learning • Benny’s skill is learning languages quickly and has a proven teaching system • Identifying the problem • Learning languages is too hard • Solution • Developed a system of learning languages fluently in 3 months • www.fluentin3months.com
  32. 32. Turning a Hobby Into a Business • Leading by example • I explain which credit cards I used to earn points, how many points, and how I booked each trip. (Trip Report)
  33. 33. $100 to Start a Blog • Started a blog in October 2012 • Paid $10 to buy a website domain at Godaddy.com – www.Romsdeals.com • Paid $80 for a website host on Hostgator.com • Used Wordpress software - No HTML or designing skills required • Started writing about deals and traveling
  34. 34. Trial and Error • Lots of trial and error in the beginning stages. • Topics were too broad and didn’t draw enough visitors. • Narrowed down my topic to a specific niche.
  35. 35. Niche Market • Definition: subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing. • Example: Cooking > Organic Cooking > Organic Vegan Cooking • My Niche: Traveling > Budget Traveling > Budget Traveling with Frequent Flyer Points
  36. 36. Growing my business • • • • • Requires LOTS of time and effort – I blog 4-5 times a week. Connect with top notch bloggers and constantly interact Social Media – Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/RSS feed CONTENT , CONTENT, CONTENT Search Engine Optimization – Content Marketing
  37. 37. Monetization • Several ways to monetize a website • • • • • Google Adsense Affiliate Marketing E-books Selling products Consulting
  38. 38. Google Adsense • Most popular way to monetize a hosted website. • Advertisers bid to show in your ad spaces in a real-time auction. The highest paying ad will show on your site. • Choose where to put ads on your website. • Based on traffic.
  39. 39. Google Adsense • Most popular monetization method on Youtube • Companies bid on ads on Youtube. • Pay varies - $.70 to $7 per 1,000 views.
  40. 40. Affiliate Marketing • Affiliate marketing is type of performance-based marketing in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought by the affiliate's own marketing efforts. • Example: Amazon pays 3-6% of products sold through their affiliates.
  41. 41. Affiliate Marketing • Niche website on affiliate marketing • www.bestadjustabledumbbells.org • Reviews adjustable dumbbells • Amazon affiliate program % on each sale • Reports $500 a month
  42. 42. Affiliate Marketing • Smartpassiveincome.com • Creates multiple niche websites • Teaches how to create niche websites • Lots of affiliate marketing – recommends tools and software to start a monetized blog or website • Reports $50,000 per month.
  43. 43. E-books • You can write e-books on your topic and sell it. • Need a good readership first. • Nomadic Matt sells guides on backpacking the world for cheap.
  44. 44. Questions?
  45. 45. How you can travel for a few dollars • Start building credit slowly by using credit cards responsibly. • Apply for a good rewards credit card, get sign up bonus. • Apply for more credit cards slowly.
  46. 46. Myths about Credit Cards • Common Myth – Too many credit cards is bad for your credit score. • Response – Many credit cards when paid in full and on time increases credit score. • Common Myth – Paying with debit cards are a better option that credit cards. • Response – Paying with debit cards does not show that you handle debts responsibly. Using and paying off credit cards improves your credit score.
  47. 47. Credit Score Components
  48. 48. Credit Score Components •MOST IMPORTANT TIP: PAY BALANCES IN FULL AND ON TIME (65% of score)
  49. 49. Improving Credit Score Slowly • • • • Become an authorized user to a parent’s account (AMEX). Retail Credit Cards – Remember to pay Apply for a no fee credit card and keep forever. Credit Score is about proving you can manage debts well.
  50. 50. Improving Credit Score Slowly • Wife had a credit score of 711 before signing up for credit cards. • Applied for 4-5 credit cards over two years. • Applied for a car lease. • Paid credit cards and car lease in full and on time. • Credit score increased.
  51. 51. Why Credit Cards? • Banks are offering the highest credit card sign up bonuses in years. • Quickest way to earn points and miles without travelling. • Credit Card Churning – Method of applying for multiple credit cards, unlocking bonuses, and strategically closing credit cards. • Earned over 2 million points with credit cards.
  52. 52. My Credit Score • Applied for at least 20 credit cards over the last 2 years. • Paid in full and on time 100% of the time.
  53. 53. Disclaimers • Traveling for free sounds enticing, but requires the following: • • • • • Income (part-time job) Organization Discipline Living within your means Financial responsibility
  54. 54. Disclaimers • Only do what you can handle or manage. • Missing a payment or not paying in full can damage your credit score. • Earning airlines miles and hotel points can be time consuming. • Award tickets subject to availability, must be flexible.
  55. 55. Helpful Tools • Mint.com – Manage finances all in one place.
  56. 56. Helpful Tools • Awardwallet – Manage all rewards accounts in one place.
  57. 57. Helpful Tools • CreditKarma – Free Credit Score
  58. 58. Best Credit Card for College Students • Chase Freedom – $100 for free after spending $500 in 3 months. • Rolling 5% Categories each quarter – 5% off Amazon Q4 • No Annual Fee ever • Points Transfer to Chase Sapphire Preferred, which transfer to airline miles.
  59. 59. Best Personal Credit Card • Chase Sapphire Preferred • 40,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points ($500 in free travel) after spending $3,000 in 3 months • Points transfer to United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Hyatt, British Airways • Best and most flexible points program • Used Chase Ultimate Rewards points to travel to Europe on business class and flights to Hawaii • First year annual fee waived, second year $95
  60. 60. Fast Track Spending • Amazon Payments – Transfer $1,000 a month for free to another person through a credit card • Charging everything to credit cards • Paying for parents and relatives and have them pay you back • Wedding spend
  61. 61. Avoiding Annual Fees • 2 Options • Cancel card after first year, and move credit line to another existing credit card. Little impact on credit score. • Call and ask for a retention bonus (waived annual fee or bonus points)
  62. 62. More on Credit Cards • Lots of other credit card options including hotel credit cards and airline specific credit cards. • Check out my HOT credit cards deal page, start here guide, and my sponsored credit card page.
  63. 63. More on Credit Cards
  64. 64. My Travels Using Points & Miles • A week in Kauai – Paid $10 for airfare, 2 free nights Hyatt Kauai • 2 weeks in Italy and France – Paid $100 per person for business class airfare • 1 week in Oahu and Maui – Paid $10 for airfare, 3 free nights Hyatt Waikiki • 11 days in London and Germany – Paid $300 per person for first class flights and $100 per person for business class. Free hotels for each night • Future – 11 days in Taiwan and Japan – Paid $2.50 for business class and $75 for first class per person • Future – Bora Bora on points and miles
  65. 65. Resources • The $100 Startup by Chris Guillebeau • www.millionmilesecrets.com – points and miles blog for beginners • www.thepointsguy.com – full-time blogger about points and miles • www.romsdeals.com – my blog about points and miles • Email me at Rom@Romsdeals.com or tweet me @Romsdeals
  66. 66. End

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