Sam aka Hospitalera

by Sam

Who the heck is 'Sam'? Sam is actually a branding mistake, normally I am known as 'Hospitalera' on the interwebs. Curious now? Read on to learn more about me!

There you go, below, that image, that's me, Sam aka Hospitalera ;-) Or at least a happily photoshopped version of a self portrait I took a couple of years ago. That is as close as I am willing to put up a 'real' portrait of me online ;-) Not that I want to appear mysterious or anything of that nature, but I do think a bit of care, when it comes to protecting your online privacy, does a wealth of good.

Or perhaps I am just old, strange and grumpy? Or overly cautious? Perhaps, but so far, it worked for me.

That's the real me ;-)
That's the real me ;-)
... photoshopped of course!

Sam or Hospitalera

... what is in a name?

When I signed up for my first online adventure, many moons ago, I was asked to chose an username. Uh? Oh? Huch? What's that? The creative part of my brain doesn't function very well under time pressure and so I chose the first thing that came to my mind, something which I had done for the previous four years. Hospitalera is the Spanish word for a woman that gives hospitality / is hospitable. And the previous four years I had spend in Spain, on the Camino de Santiago, doing just that, giving hospitality to pilgrims. For four years everybody that didn't knew, or couldn't pronounce, my real name had called me 'Hospitalera'. Here we go, I found my internet username, what a great idea! Or not?

Camino de Santiago
Camino de Santiago
(c) Hospitalera
Sam ... in happier days
Sam ... in happier days

And what about 'Sam'?

That is actually a rather sad story ;-( Back in March 2011 we adopted a dog called Sam from our local rescue shelter. At around the same time >Lissie< was after me like the devil after a poor soul to convince me to sign up to Wizzley, telling me that it was the best thing since sliced internet marketing bread and I really, really needed to join.

So I did, but I signed up as 'Sam' because I had this vague idea to write in his name about dog related topics, like toys, games, most delicious dog food, training a dog in a positive way and that sort of stuff - all from a canine perspective. Like with so many things, I never came around to do so. The only thing I did was transferring one of my dog related hubs to here, but also that one was more of a 'quick job' and the layout of that article still needs improving ....

Fast forward to the end of 2011 / beginning 2012. Sam, our friendly, loving everything and everybody social butterfly of a Labrador started to develop serious neurological and mental problems. Basically he started to act aggressively to everything and everybody around him, including us. After long discussions with our vet(s), dog behaviorist and the like, plus the related bills, we had to acknowledge that there was no cure for this problem. We had to euthanize Sam when he was only 16 months old. He had become so unhappy with himself and with everything around him that he simply didn't had a quality of life. He also had become quite dangerous, at one occasion biting, out of the blue, the person he knew the best and the longest, apart of me and my husband, severely.

All this is still very fresh and raw in my heart, so I really don't feel able to write more about it. We tried everything to save him, but in the end, we just had to acknowledge that something in his brain was 'wrongly wired' and didn't allow him to enjoy life as he used to do. But I do know that he is now happier and that we will see him again one day, on the other side of the rainbow bridge ...

So, as Lis was after me again, yelling Wizzley, Wizzley, Wizzley! in my ears, via email and Skype, as we live on opposite sides of the globe, I decided to give it a try. I also decided to keep the username 'Sam' in memory of our beautiful dog, and yes, that is the one that serves here as my avatar ;-)

As for branding, this was pretty much a suicide / complete folly! I already have a good internet presence under my 'Hospitalera' pen name, see >this link<. But hey, not all in life is about branding and making money online, sometimes you just have to listen to your heart!

My Make Money Online Journey

... how it all started.

In fall / autumn 2005 I got married - to my own surprise ;-) That also involved in me moving to a small village in the English countryside, with not much to do, little available work and a busy brain that wanted to be occupied with something.

Coming back from our honeymoon and having developed all the photos I made during the past two weeks with my trusty non-digital SLR, I muttered to myself 'I am still a passable photographer!'

English Countryside
English Countryside
(c) Hospitalera

I don't remember what prompted me to do this, but one day I did a Google search for 'selling photos online' or similar and there it was! Microstock sites that accepted any photo for licensing that was good enough. Back in the old days of film, you needed to be a recognized photographer before a photo library would have accepted you, now you could just upload your photo online and if it was good enough, it was accepted. Not the person mattered anymore, only the quality of the work this person did!

Why am I telling you all this?

Because by starting with stock photography I learned one skill that proofed crucial over the years and online adventures to come: Keywords!

When you upload an image you are required to 'keyword' it so that buyers can find what they are looking for. Use too common words and you sink in the mass, use too rare words and nobody is looking for your stuff. This experience would be incredibly valuable down the timeline when I discovered internet marking and what goes with it ...

More Image Related Things I do:

Apart of photography, I also discovered illustrations, fractals and the like. I don't want to bore you with all of this, so here simply two links to my online portfolios so that you can see for yourself what I am speaking about:

The Next Thing I discovered

... referral earnings ;-)

I can earn money by referring other people to places where they can earn money? Really?!

Actually, it took quite some time to get my head around this one! And again, it all started out with online photography and Microstock sites. The basic idea was if you recommended a new submitter to a site, you got a tiny amount of money, usually three U$ cents every time one of their images was licensed from the company's share. That doesn't sound too much, but boy, how did it add up over time - and provided a nice chunk of absolutely passive income over time! So, here i was hooked on affiliate marketing early on, recommending what worked for me and helping others to make it work for them became a huge part of my make money online strategy, but more to that later.

If you are a photographer or any sort of visual artist, you might want to check out my two main money makers in that field. And yes, these are referral links, a woman has to live, but don't worry, you will not lose one single cent by using my links ;-)

Shutterstock - Established and quite picky what they accept, but they do sell your images big time!

DepositPhotos - New microstock agencies turn up and disappear again by the minute, this one is new, but it is not only not too picky, it actually does sell your images!

In case you wonder, when I speak of 'selling images' I mean that you are selling a license for this image. You don't sell one image only one time, you can sell the license to use your image hundreds of times - it is a volume business!

My First Own Website

... very scary and still a work in progress, believe it or not!

The next logical step, or so I thought, was to build my own website promoting my photography and illustrations. And here I failed miserably! If you want to have a good laugh, click on the link below. That is my own website that I started back in 2007 and never came around to develop ;-(

Perhaps my biggest failure: My Photography Portfolio Actually I am working on this site at the moment, if you visit it a bit later in 2012, you might actually see something worth seeing ;-)

But in 2008 I also started my main blog my joy and my pride ;-) After trying desperately to learn html and CSS I had discovered Wordpress! Since 2008 I write on this blog about all things related to SEO, keywords, internet marketing, making money online and the like. It became my main show case so to speak. And no, it is not 'pretty' in the classical sense of the word, but the content is really good, if I may say so myself ;-)

Gradually I moved from making money online with my own images, to making money online with my own words ;-)

Niche Websites!

... my next discovery ;-)

As I learned more about building websites and making money online, I discovered the concept of 'niche'. Back in the days, that is pre-Panda, that meant finding a keyword with a high search volume and a low competition and building a site around it. Write some reasonable well researched content for said site and backlinking the heck out of it to make it raise in the SERPentines and cash in the money via Adsense and affiliates. Used to work like a charm, now --- not so much anymore ...

What I do now

... for a living?

In 2008 my husband and I moved to Prague (Czech Republic) and, simultaneously I gave up a well paid job as a SEO consultant I had, something I somehow had acquired over time. I also switched in 2011 to what is known as the Fraser or Keyword Strategy method when it comes to building my own sites.

I reduced the number of my own websites, which in one given moment was 40+ considerably and now I concentrate on, gasp, building real websites that are actually useful to real readers and have given up on link building completely. If you are interested in this approach, have a look at the link below which will allow you to try it out for free without the need to reveal your credit card details:

How Much Money Do I Really Make online?

... as of February 2012

The exact figures are between me and my tax accountant ;-) But here you go, an approximate break down of my online earnings by $/month.

  • $ equals between $0 to $9.99 / month
  • $$ equals between $10 to $99.99 / month
  • $$$ equals between $100 to $999.99 / month

My three income streams:

... never put all your eggs in one basket ;-)

  • Own Products (photography, illustrations, Zazzle and some custom work):

              $$$ / month

  • Advertisements (mostly Adsense) on websites I own and those I don't own, like Wizzley:

              $$ /month

  • Affiliate income from own websites and on those I don't own:

              $$$ / month


That is as much as I am willing to share, for the moment ;-) When I hit 100 published articles here on Wizzley, I might write an article how much money I made here so far. And yes, I am more successful with affiliate marketing than with advertisement, perhaps because people have actually grown to trust my recommendations?!

What else is there to know about me?

... some random facts and funny tidbits
  • I have ADD - Which sometimes leads me on stray ways and makes me distracted easily, hence I will never finish that great novel that is lurking in my head somewhere. But that is ok, that is who and how I am ;-)
  • I love >Harry Potter< - I have always been a bookworm, and the parallel world that J.K. Rowlings created is still taking my breath away with its details and allusions to thousands of years of literature that was created before she was born.
  • I am not a native English speaker, which might explain some odd sentence constructions and funny typos. Just in case you wondered ...
  • We have a cat - 15 years and still going strong, photo below ;-)
Oscar the Cat (c) Hospitalera
Oscar the Cat (c) Hospitalera
- 15 Years and still super fit!
Updated: 08/06/2012, Sam
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Sam on 03/19/2013

Oscar says "Meow Purrrrr" which translates to "Thank You!" ;-)

dustytoes on 03/19/2013

I've been reading your Wizzleys for all this time and never came across this. Glad to know you better - thanks for sharing with us "Sam". Happy Birthday Oscar!

Sam on 03/17/2013

Thanks! Shutterstock is difficult to get into, Depositphotos might be easier ;-) Oscar is celebrating this week his 16th birthday btw! SY

BrendaReeves on 03/17/2013

This is the first time I've read your profile. Oscar looks just like my cat Josephine. I'm going to try posting some images on Shtterstock and Depositphotos. I'll go through your links.

Sam on 08/04/2012

No earnlat, I don't build back links to my own articles anymore, when I add a RSS feed to my blog, as I have done here on this article, I am happy to see it being nofollow. Niche is simply a fancy term saying that your own website should concentrate on one single topic. SY

earnlat on 08/03/2012

Nice work. So you don't use the backlinks and the like for seo? As a newbie to seo, tell me more about total niche technique.

Sam on 02/14/2012

Thanks Cat! You wouldn't want, nor get for that matter ;-), Oscar. He is not your typical cuddly cat. One day I have to write about how we ended up with him- let's just say he got 'kicked out' of his former home for asocial behavior!
Thanks for your compliments about my art work also! I really do need to get my online portfolio site brushed up more, it is kind of embarrassing as I meanwhile design websites for other people and my oldest site looks like ...
Never got into audio, perhaps you could write an article about it here? I am curious about the equipment you use. I always threaten hubby that one day I will record his snoring and sell it on iStock ;-)

Cat on 02/14/2012

Oscar is gorgeous! I have three great cats already but would love to squeeze in a black and white one too :D

I enjoyed reading about your online journey. It's kind of the opposite of mine - I started with writing/affiliate marketing & am now focusing on graphic work - I love Zazzle! - and audio stuff. But as you say, keywording is vital to everything online, so wherever you start, it's all good experience for other fields too.

I look forward to seeing your art/photo site when it's more developed - you have lots of great images!

Sam on 02/13/2012

Thanks katiem2, the most what I had as pets at the same time were two dogs and one cat and that was quite a bit of work, so I tip my hat to you and your family ;-) But when hubby retires in a few years we are planning to move to the countryside and then we plan to do some serious homesteading, including chicken.
Yes, Oscar is quite an amazing cat for his age, still chasing his tail from time to time or doing a 'mad cat flying' performance for us ;-)

katiem2 on 02/13/2012

Awesome, I'm an animal lover as well, with 2 dogs, 3 cats and a large fish tank... we are one big happy family. I'm inspired by the age and health of your amazing cat, we have a ten year old just recovering from a cold, it was scary as it was the first time she's been sick, on the mend now. It's great to meet you and learn more about who Sam is, looking forward to knowing you better and better as time goes by.

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