Happy Holidays everyone! This is going to be the last income and traffic report of 2015 so let’s make this a good one. This one is also going to be jam packed with information as I’ll finally have an opportunity to do look back at the last 12 months and see how it’s tallied up and things that I’ve learned this year.
Travel Blog Breakthrough really started because one day I had the crazy idea to take all the things I had learned about travel blogging up to that point and share it in the form of blog posts. This turned into the Travel Blogger’s Toolkit series on Going Awesome Places.
Realizing that this was becoming bigger than what made sense for a regular travel blog, I took the leap of faith and decided to start another blog – this one you’re reading. I wanted to do more than just toolkit blog posts though and that’s how the podcast started, and these income/traffic reports started.
I may be a bit naive here but one of the frustrating parts about travel blogging is that other bloggers tend to be so guarded with their information, instead of sharing and helping. My philosophy has always been that we’re all in this together. The better we can all become as bloggers, the stronger our voice becomes which then increases the amount of opportunities that come for us as a community. Community is the operative word here.
The first report was all the way back to October 2014 and here’s a quote that I think will resonate with a lot of you.
Above all else, patience has really been the key. You have to understand that things don’t just happen overnight. As you’ll see below, it’s taken quite the long time to get my blog up to where it is today. I know it still has a long way to go to stand shoulder to shoulder with the other titans of travel blogging but it’s all part of the journey.
I think the biggest thing that keeps these income and traffic reports going is the fact that the path to success is really a journey. I for one am not one of the upper echelon bloggers. In fact, I have to say that I still suck at A LOT of things. The key at the end of the day is that these monthly reports are a perfect way to reflect on how to learn, iterate and continuing to do what you love.
As much as these are good ways for me to keep track of my own progress, I honestly do it for you guys.
- Because the goal of taking your blog to the next level and making money of it is not as crazy you think.
- Because if you’re feeling down and thinking “man this is friggin’ hard!”….well yes it is but you’re not alone. 🙂
- And really at the end of the day, it’s about generating conversation and ideas to ultimately hit those elusive breakthrough moments we’re all looking for.
BY THE NUMBERS
Let’s see how November broke out. As far as individual months go, this one ended up being an extremely productive one. I feel like I’ve been on the verge of burnout for sometime so it’s been nice to see progress.
How Do I Get Ambassadorship Opportunities?
The holy grail of blogging? I would say so. Working on larger collaborative projects tend to bring in more income and also lead to recurring gigs. So the question is then, how do you find opportunities like these?
In a simple word, it comes down to networking. If I think about all the ones I’ve gotten this year, it’s been because I made a connection with someone at an agency or brand, or a blogger friend referred me. This means that so far, these opportunities have come to me as opposed to doing outbound pitching.
While I’ve developed a lot of amazing relationships with various bloggers around the world, I think where my connections are strongest are with those that I get a chance to meet up with once a month. Travel Massive has instrumental in making that happen.
Living in a city like Toronto has its benefits since a lot of events are held here but even if you don’t, you can make an effort to get out to “local” events or conferences like TBEX to put yourself out there.
Keeping Up With Changes to Twitter
Recently, tools like Tweepi have had to depreciate their functionality because of Twitter demanded them to do so. So what does that mean for you? Well, for one, it looks like you can no longer aggressively follow and unfollow as you could before. You’re limited to 250 follows and 100 unfollows now. Also, you also can’t unfollow those that don’t follow you back which was always a key piece of the tool.
If you’re looking to build your following or trying to clean up your Twitter following as I am doing these days, this just means that you have to leverage multiple tools to do what you need to do. Right now, I’m using a combination of the following tools:
- Manage Flitter
Better Instagram Sharing To Facebook and Twitter
I recently discovered a tool called AppAction thanks to Gary over at Everything Eveywhere. I love how their sharing on Facebook and Twitter are much cleaner and also encourage users to click through to the actual Instagram feed. It’s free to sign up (for now) with ability to set aut0-sharing thresholds (share only if > certain amount of likes). They also email nifty Instagram stats if you’re interested in that kind of thing. The only downside I see with this is the fact that there’s no easy way to turn the auto-sharing on or off.
Try it out and let me know what you think!
How Did I Fare in 2015?
I don’t have December’s results ready but if we were to look at the past 12 months, how does it all tally out to? Here’s a quick snapshot of my spreadsheet. The categorization isn’t the most consistent throughout the year so I apologize in advance.
Not a bad year at all. This year, I certainly felt scattered and spread all over and these results certainly show that I worked on all sorts of projects. This is proof that diversifying income works. No one income stream brought in more than $5000 but in aggregate, each one carried its own weight.
The biggest surprise is how much the freelance writing came out to be. I often struggled with whether the extra writing I was doing was worth it but what I love about CopyPress is the fact that all the writing goes to my own blog which further augments my content.
It’s no surprise that sponsored work brought in the majority of the income. These continue to pay the most and are the easiest to come by because either people will proactively reach out to me or I get word of opportunities through platforms like IZEA and Blogger Bridge.
Lessons of 2015
- Diversifying income is key.
- Earning potential for advertising and affiliates is huge. Just need to learn how to unlock them.
- My course experiment didn’t do as well as I had hoped. A ton of effort for low return.
- Social campaigns (Social posts, twitter parties etc.) are great because the return is huge compared to level of effort.
- Ambassadorship-type opportunities are still the most desired type of work because it’s longer term, the payout is a larger lump sum, the work is not as difficult, and the chance for repeat work is higher.
What this all boils down to for you though is the fact that making money blogging IS possible. It’s not some crazy pipe dream of an idea. I still suck at a lot of things but hard work and determination have allowed me to grow and hit my own goals.
Want To See More From Travel Blog Breakthrough?
If you’ve found TBB hugely valuable over this past year and want to show your support, I’ve set up a Patreon page where you’re able to show you love for as little as $1.
Of course, I wouldn’t expect you to do so without getting anything in return and so you’ll find several tier levels similar to Kickstarter where you can basically pick a package to get even MORE out of Travel Blog Breakthrough. I’m committing to amp it up and for those that are truly committed to taking your travel blog to the next level, there are now ways for you to get access more of me.
Here are 4 things that I want to work on for next year.
- Reach a steady 40,000 sessions per month
- Break the $2000/month threshold per month
- Improve affiliate performance to $5000 annually
- Improve blog design for Going Awesome Places
What are your goals for 2016? Let’s work together to help you get there.