Hey guys! Can you believe that it’s been one year since I started these income and traffic reports? With this being the one year anniversary, I thought I’d try to change things up. I don’t know about you but these have been getting a little repetitive so why don’t we blow it all up!
For those of you that are just joining Travel Blog Breakthrough, first of all, WELCOME! And secondly, let’s do an intro of what these reports are all about.
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 October worked out!
The love/hate relationship with ad networks
As you go through your quest to get your blog to some level of income sustainability, you quickly learn that working with ad networks is almost a necessary evil. I love them because they provide passive income but I hate them because they are always a detriment to user experience.
The mentality you want to have with ads is that it’s the kind of thing that your readers are accustomed to. I can’t even think of any site that doesn’t have ads. Nobody will resent you for having ads. It really is just part of the business.
For months, I’ve been singing the praises of The Blogger Network (TBN) and for good reason. This month they destroyed the competing networks I work with. Sure, the numbers are a bit skewed as I send more impressions their way but I’ve just been really impressed with the continued improvement of the network. They keep coming up with new innovations like Flight for mobile and when I need to get something changed or fixed, there’s a dedicated support team just for me and they take care of it just like that.
On the flip side, there’s Spoutable that I’m contemplating taking down. As a lot of readers have pointed out, it’s a bit of a jarring experience when you move your mouse to the top right and the full page pop up appears. That being said, I like how my blog posts do show up in the ad unit which helps with reach but I’m not sure if it’s worth it.
Google AdSense is like that reliable horse you keep because you know they’ll get the job done. Month to month, there are never really any surprises. The ads are relevant to the user and easy to manage so I have no complaints.
How do you do a better job at affiliate marketing?
The deeper you get into blogging and well the internet as a whole, you realize the whole thing is run off of affiliates. While it may sound like a dirty word, it really doesn’t have to be. I talk about it with Jeannine on Episode #16 but the long and short of it is that affiliate marketing can be very lucrative if you change your mindset.
Whoa affiliate banner. That’s just one example of a way to appropriately inject affiliate content into an article. Guys like WP Engine pay $100 per sign up which is pretty massive especially if you can drive scale.
Beyond ads and affiliates, how else can you make money as a travel blogger?
If you look at the income summaries above, you’ll notice that where I make most of my money is actually in ambassadorships and sponsored posts.
- You get paid for what you love doing -> writing about travel
- More $$$
- Working with brands builds credibility
- Typically not recurring
- It’s hard work. You will need to hustle
- You may not have full control of what to write about and may affect your opinions conveyed
How do I do a better job at Instagram?
Now this is something I haven’t talked too much about. While this is probably better served as a toolkit post, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on what’s been super successful for me.
When I first started with Instagram 2 years ago, I had no clue what I was doing. This past year, I’ve really amped things up and it’s been incredible to see it grow from a few hundred followers to 14K today. While it’s hard to say if my followers have converted into readers, this has really fed into my larger social media strategy for influence building. Now when I want to build a campaign with a brand, I can leverage that 14K reach.
One key to success has definitely been the use of hashtags. To be honest it’s really the key to everything. Without good hashtags, it becomes very hard to be discoverable. Beyond the contextual hashtags that come from your photos, you’ll want put in those super popular travel hashtags that people browse through. For samples of those hashtags, feel free to check out my Instagram account.
The below is a sample of something you also want to think about when posting on Instagram. The black circles on the top and right are my own posting habits while the grey circles is where my followers are interacting. This month, I’m testing out a strategy where I post during the big bubbles. I grabbed this from Iconosquare but unfortunately they are no longer providing their analytics service for free.
Again, it’s all about testing, refining and repeating!
How does this month’s traffic look?
I’ve added a device screenshot because…holy smokes look at those numbers! If you don’t have a good responsive/mobile solution for you blog, you gotta get on it YESTERDAY! Mobile and tablet combined now make up >50% of my traffic which is totally insane.
Pinterest is continuing to rock as it has for the past month but where did Yahoo come from? I’m not saying you should go drop what you’re doing to optimize for Yahoo. The funny thing is I don’t even think I did any set up for Yahoo (I did for Bing). I’m more amused than anything.
Looking back at a year of income and traffic reports
A big part of what we should be doing as bloggers is setting up goals for ourselves. At the beginning of this and midway through the year, I said that I wanted to make $1000 consistently every month and to hit 1000 unique users per day.
While I’ve certainly hit and gone beyond $1000 a month, I’ve certainly found it difficult to maintain it. For better or for worse, the majority of my income is reliant on closing deals/partnerships/sponsorships with people on a month to month basis, I’m naturally going to see a lot of ups and downs. Doing a little math, it does look like I’ve hit an average of at least $1000 a month these past 12 months so that’s got to count for something.
Traffic has certainly increased from where I was a year ago and you can see the steady increase. On this front, I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to maintain 1000 unique users a month now and that’s huge.
I challenge you to think about your own goals today. What would you like to achieve in the year? Let me know what that is and where you feel like you need to improve to get there.
My goals? You’ll have to wait for the December edition to find out 😉
Want to see more from Travel Blog Breakthrough?
It comes to this. 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.
3 key takeaways from October
- Pay attention to mobile. It’s a thing.
- Set goals for yourself and strive to meet and exceed them.
- Instagram: hashtags and timing your posts.