Friday, January 6, 2012

Benefits of Blogging: I Made $400 Extra in Guam While on Vacation!

There are so many benefits of blogging that can profit you both spiritually as well as financially... But, as with many things in life, you've got to stick with it. 

Lord knows how many times I've wanted to quit writing for blogs. But, for better or worse, I've stuck with it. Now, I think if I quit, I'd wind up feeling like I lost a friend.

My blogging: The early years

Today, I want to give you an example of how blogging, for me, has done many great things for my well being (my maturity) and for my pocketbook. Besides making money, blogging has helped me to become a more patient and wiser person. I think blogging is a sort of therapy for the savage mind. It's worked wonders for me and it has made me money. Yes, folks. It's true: I have made lots of money with this particular blog you are reading right here and I allow no advertising on it. I'm not sure that it is possible to make any money from a blog that has pop-up ads, unless, of course, you get a few million readers a day. This blog has made me money because of what I write about and the wonderful people it has helped me to meet.  

I have been writing this Marketing Japan blog now for just over 1.5 years. In that short time, I have surpassed 850,000 reads (thank you!) At this rate, I expect to surpass 1 million reads by the third week of February or so. Besides this blog, I have also been writing blog posts for Lew Rockwell (LRC) since 2004. At Lew Rockwell, I am in the top 10 most published writers with almost 250 articles. Lew tells me that a popular article on LRC will get over 1.5 reads. In 2005, I had the #2 most read article on that blog. 

In this time, and over these nearly eight years, blogging has helped me to grow as a writer and as a person and has helped me to meet a great many wonderful people. It has also gained attention for me and my work, and has had the unintended consequence of having people ask me for advice or even getting me paid consultation work for their businesses. Many of those requests  (for advice) I rejected because I felt that I wasn't expert enough on the subject. In those cases, I introduced someone else who could help better than I.

But whether I do the job directly and get paid, or I help someone or help my friends, then there's enough reward in that for everyone.  

I'd estimate that, in 2009 ~ 2010, beginning with experience and information contained in this blog, I earned approximately $2000 a month in consultation and marketing and promotional fees.... I also got a consultation job for one friend and full time employment for another. Of course, in my case, I had to do a lot of work and go to many meetings and come up with marketing ideas, but that's not so bad for a part time job whereby I set the hours and come and go as I please.

Vacation in heaven? Guam! Yep. Only 3 hours by plane from Japan 

Besides the above, interestingly, I also "earned" $400 while I was on vacation in Guam the other day! Seriously! Pretty wild, eh? Well, here's what happened: 

At the end of December, I took my son, my wife and her parents and her sister to Guam for a family vacation. The in-laws are getting on in years and, as in-laws are wont to do, they keep saying that they want to go on "one last vacation together with the whole family before we die." (I think many people have relatives like this. They, like my in-laws, have been saying this sort of stuff for years... I wonder where we'll go for our "last vacation together" next year? Anyway...)

We went to stay at a very nice hotel in Guam (that I promised the hotel manager I would write about and I will soon). The hotel had connecting rooms and their own golf course. This is a great hotel and the rooms were large, clean, well-kept and a bargain at $200 dollars a night - don't forget that this was at Christmas time so prices that low at such a fine hotel are unbelievable! 

They even have Santa Claus in Guam

We choose this particular hotel because it was the in-laws wish was that they could go golfing together everyday. My wife and her sister would go shopping everyday and that left me to go play in the water park with my son. Get it? The parents golf, ladies shop, I babysit.... So much for "spending our last vacation together"! It was ok. I'd rather spend eight hours a day in the pool anyway because I don't like golfing and I really don't like shopping at boutiques.

We checked into the hotel and everyone went to their rooms. Our plan was to stay at this hotel for seven nights. Like I said, this vacation was paid for by me so everyone was my guest. Unbeknownst to me, the air conditioner in my in-laws room was broken. Since they are old people and I was paying for it, they didn't say anything about it at all. I didn't find out about the broken air conditioner until the forth morning at the hotel. I walked into their room and it was baking!

I asked my in laws why they didn't turn on the air conditioner and then they told me it didn't work. I checked it and sure enough, it was broken. I was a bit upset and asked them why they didn't tell me sooner. They said that they didn't want to complain and, if they did, they thought it would hurt my feelings.

Bless their hearts. I understand. They know I was paying for the vacation and they probably think I this hotel was the best I afford so they didn't want to make me feel bad about the accomodations. Old people are like that, I guess. Especially old Japanese folks who have rarely travelled outside of Japan; they don't know what to expect. I told them that I was going to complain to the manager about it and demand a room change and a discount. They told me not to complain. But I insisted that I had to. Heck, for all I know the hotel didn't know the cooler was broken.

From past experience, reading books (and experiences with this blog and dealing with comments and people) I have learned that getting angry is not a good negotiating tactic. I calmed myself and went down to the lobby to see the manager to make a business negotiation.

When I got there I met the manager. He was a very nice man named John. I explained the situation. John promised me that he'd look into it and switch the rooms immediately. I also asked for some satisfaction and a discount. He told me that he'd have to inquire to the sales division (understandable, this is a huge and famous hotel) so he'd get back to me later on.

View from our hotel room at Onward Beach Hotel. Fabulous!

When I met John again, he arranged the room transfer and, for that, I was happy. But, he said, that the sales department did not approve of a discount because we should have told them sooner. Yes, that's true. But I also explained to him about the in-laws and the "how's" and "what for's" and why they didn't tell me. They didn't tell me because they knew I was paying and probably thought that this was the best I could afford and if they complained, I'd feel bad. Fair enough, I figured. I can understand how older folks think. John agreed with me.

Even though he agreed, he said that it would be really tough to get the sales department to change their mind. We went back and forth a bit and I felt myself getting a bit hot under the collar.

That's when I pulled out my ace-in-the hole. I told John that I was a blogger and that I blogged for one of the most famous political and social commentary blogs in the world: Lew Rockwell and I also write this blog. I didn't have a business card, but, as I have written before in how to market yourself in Internet and Social Media? Get a Great Name, that having a great and easily memorable and unique name is critical.

I said to John,

"Listen John, I don't want to fight or hassle with you, but not getting even a bit of satisfaction in the form of a discount for the room isn't good enough. Now, when we reserved the room, we reserved a room with all the amenities and that includes an air conditioner that works. Please, I need more cooperation from you guys. You don't know who I am but I am a sort of well-known blogger. Please go to Google and search "Mike Tokyo." That's me at #1 or #2. I write for one of the most famous blogs in the world. Now, I don't want to write a bad review about this hotel. In fact, everything except this broken air conditioner has been just fine. And I'm not asking for something outrageous. Just some satisfaction. But if your sales doesn't want to make me happy, then you will lose a customer and I will write about this.... Because, well, because I am being forced to pay for something that wasn't as advertised and that's bad business. So please go back and ask again."

John said he understood. He looked me in the eye and shook my hand. With that, I walked off and we agreed to talk again the next morning.

The next morning, when I saw John, he smiled broadly at me. He told me that he was a big fan of Ron Paul and Lew Rockwell!!! He said he told the top director of the hotel about my case and they both agreed to cut the first four nights rate from $200 a night to $100 a night! I was so pleased. I was also so impressed that John was that kind of go-getter aim-to-please type of guy. He didn't have to go bat for me like that. But he did. He always has my business from now on. I like that sort of attitude.

What a diamond in the rough John is!

Actually, though, besides being happy, I was stunned. At first I thought John  meant that he was cutting $25 a night off the price, for a total of $100 and that would have been good enough for me, but they cut the price in half! $100 a night! Wow! That's $400 in my pocket right there! And all because I have a big mouth and I blog.

My wife was so happy too. Not only did we get a $400 discount, but they moved her parents into a bridal suite that was twice the size of the former room. Heck, the bathroom and shower in the bridal suite was the size of my dining room back home in Japan! When I saw the room, I thought, "Wow! This is really classy! These guys know how to treat customers!" What a wonderful place to take that someone special in your life for a honeymoon, anniversary, or just for vacation. 

I knew it! I blew it. I should have told my in-laws to take my room and we'd sacrifice by taking the bridal suite. Serves me right for not being more sneaky. Ahem!

Anyhow, the verdict is in for me: Blogging pays... Doing it consistently pays much better.

Onward Beach Resort, Guam. Highly recommended.

NOTE: The hotel we stayed in in Guam was the Onward Beach Resort. We have been to Guam now six times. We have stayed in the Nikko Hotel, the Hilton, Plaza Hotel and few others whose names escape me, but, for overall room quality, food, service and pleasant experience, Onward Beach Resort has been, by far, the best experience we've had in Guam. We will be staying there again next time.... If you go there, tell the manager, John, that I sent you. (Oh, and John, don't worry... I won't be asking for a discount again!)


Anonymous said...

That's great, Mike. We've been staying at PIC and now you are the second one who has had great things to say about Onward Beach Hotel. We are going to Guam again in Golden Week (every year at Golden week) and this year it's Onward Beach Hotel! Thanks for the tip. - Rick Taylor in Shinjuku

Anonymous said...

Two-hundred-freaking-bucks-a-day? *And* you got a fantastic view of the ocean? Nice.

The no air-conditioner bit reminded me of Summers spent at my grandparents house. They probably wouldn't have complained either.

I went to the Florida Keys while you were there, the best I could get was a condo off the main highway.
Oh sure, it had a pool, across the busy four lane highway and about two blocks down, but for $200 bucks a night, we expected a bit more.

We never did go for a swim at that, "hotel".

I wonder about your "beach". The photo you had looked great, but I noticed the border of the photo stopped short of the ocean,... that's how they presented my "hotel"... was yours a rocky drop off? Mine was.
The definition of "beach" can mean many things I think.

The online photos of my condo weren't exactly deceptive, but it was close.

The heated pool wasn't, half the light bulbs were burnt out or missing in the condo, the staff was gone for the holidays, and... but I made the best of it.
Just pretend the roar of the cars rushing by was the ocean waves hitting the "beach"? Ha!

Oh, but it didn't stop there, we stayed at another place in Key West that did the same online photo trick - again - the "beach" was a rocky drop off.

The big plus of the trip was spending the majority of the time near Naples, Florida. It was far away from the beach so we had few preconceived ideas of what to expect, what stood out for us was a front desk Person that was top notch, the others were good too, kind of like what you described. It made a tremendous difference.

Oh, and after having spent years discussing and examining the Housing Bubble, I still wasn't prepared for seeing the overbuilding in that state, empty giant mansions with no one living in them,... "the owners were in Canada",... all I can say is, wow.

I'm inclined to go check out Guam next time, only I haven't figured out a way around the TSA goons and their gate rape/cancer scan. TSA is the reason we went to Florida instead of taking a cruise ship to Belize.

Driving to Florida was,... ~ok, and I enjoyed it most of the time, but I don't intend to do it again. The whole way back my better half intermittently sang a line from the film, Smokey and The Bandit, "We got a long ways to go and a short time to get there." 80 -85 M.P.H. in 70 - 65 M.H.P. zones most of the way, on brand new highways. (The Only People who passed us were from Texas). ... I wonder how they expect to pay for those highways?... Is that a sucker sign on my forehead?

Is it time to leave?

- clark

Mark said...

Way to go Mike! My wife will love this story.

Clark, next time you go to Florida and you want to stay at the beach for a reasonable price check out the Sarasota/Bradenton and St. Petersburg beaches on the west coast; New Smyrna Beach near Orlando south of Daytona on the Atlantic or the Destin area in the Panhandle. The Keys are coral rock islands with few beaches (Bahia Honda is nice) and Naples is in the Everglades.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the advise Mark, I might look into it if I ever go back other than Dec. thru say March. However; I'll probably staycation next year and save the money.

I originally intended to go to Belize or someplace else just as warm. I thought I could avoid the TSA grope somehow so it was sort of a last minute change of plan. Living in the North cold zone I was primarily seeking warmth (and avoiding the crowds somewhat) Tampa wasn't warm enough in Dec. to fit the bill. *And* I had to fit everything around driving there and back.

The ten degree difference in temperature between Naples and Tampa was huge. Another ten degree difference between Naples and the Keys was even greater, especially after a cold front went through.
At 65 degrees, even a heated pool is a bit of a cold adventure.

And at 65 degrees, let me tell you, a non-heated pool is preparation for doing the polar bear plunge.

The place right next door to our hotel in the Keys had a normal-ish beach, other places in the Keys did too. So a beach with sand to the shore wasn't an impossibility.

And yes, Bahia Honda was nice.

Even the drive through Alligator Alley in the middle of the Everglades turned out ok, we stood five feet from 12 foot gators with only those orange plastic fences used to stop snow drifts in the Northland between us, kind of risky, but that's what made it fun, eh?

I can't help but think of the thousands of Dollars I would have spent in Florida if I could have simply just taken a jet and had more time to spend there. I haven't flown since they "only" required a Person to remove their shoes in a symbolic gesture of slavery. I'm surely not going to nowadays.

- clark

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I should add, I was packin' heat the whole time, so I don't think I was really in much danger standing by the gators. ... I don't want anyone thinking clark is stupid. It was a reassuring feeling when I saw the "Puma Crossing" signs on the highway too. We have signs like that up here as well, only they're for deer crossings!
I wonder if there's things like that in Guam?

Probably just the standard danger like there was in the Keys?
The hotel guy said, "Don't go down any alleys or side streets after dark."

I didn't, but I wasn't exactly worried.

mikeintokyorogers said...

Nope. Especially if you're packing a heater.

mikeintokyorogers said...

The beach at Onward was nice... The sand was too hard to build sand castles so if you are into that, not good. But it was a proper beach with sand and snorkeling, etc.

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