Hey everyone! Welcome to the March 2015 income and traffic report for Going Awesome Places and Travel Blog Breakthrough. Well another month’s gone by and it’s another month that I’ve continued to crack the $1000 threshold. Through this report, I hope to give you insight on how exactly I make money with the hopes that it’ll spark some ideas. I also talk about my traffic numbers to give a sense of what kind of traffic is needed to make the money that I do. My philosophy with this is that there’s really no reason to not share this with you. We’re all here to support each other and I want to help.
For you as a blogger, my hope is that this report gives you at least an idea from one travel blogger’s perspective of how it is possible to make blogging a legitimate business. In addition, I think it’s incredibly valuable to see the contrast between one blog to another. Where I may have success in may be completely different from yours so don’t be worried if you’re not going along the exact same path that I am. Everyone has a different trail to the top.
My biggest advice is “persistence”. Just keep doing what you love, hustle hard and make connections.
INCOMESo how did Going Awesome Places and Travel Blog Breakthrough fare in March?
Note that I’ve converted all numbers into USD just to make it easy.
THOUGHTS ON INCOME
Overall, while I didn’t make any leaps in income, I was happy to be able to stay consistent. Last month was the first time I broke $1K and I was able to do it again.
The biggest thing that struck me this month was just how diverse my income stream was. And that’s a good thing. There were 5 different revenue types where I made $100 or greater and I believe that helps a lot because even if you had a bad month in one area, you still have an opportunity to make it up somewhere else.
I feel that my experimentation of advertising networks have levelled off in some ways. I’m very happy with the ones I’m working with right now and hope to continuously grow this as I work on building traffic.
The following are my current ad networks ordered by the income they drove in.
#1 The Blogger Network
In a never ending see-saw battle, The Blogger Network (TBN) took the lead again this month!
22.5% of the ads came from the in-image ads I talked about last month. So it looks like they do work and have been able to augment my ad revenue to settle a little over $60.
My account manager Andy reached out to me again a few times this month to let me know my eCPM numbers from the new in-image ads. Again, this is the level of support and service I’ve come to enjoy with TBN that you’d never get from Google.
#2 Google Adsense
That being said, Google still continues to perform. At $53.33 CAD I’m still happy with what’s coming in despite less ad blocks than TBN.
The funny thing this month is that I more than doubled my clicks from 52 to 136 but revenue stayed mostly stagnant. This was the result of the average cost per click (CPC) going down drastically from $1.04 to $0.44. Who knows why that is.
A pleasant surprise from this is that my one ad block on Travel Blog Breakthrough is starting to improve. While last month I only made $0.84 from it, this month it’s up to $8.88. Progress!
While last month was a bit odd with Australia driving in most of the revenue, this month settled down to more of what I’ve come to expect with US taking the lead followed by Canada and the UK.
There are no big surprises here compared to last month other than the fact that I’m still surprised that text ads do so well.
The one thing I did want to point out was the fact that I was an idiot to not link YouTube with my AdSense account. I had turned on monetization on YouTube for over half a year and I could never figure out why it was generating me $0 in revenue. It wasn’t until April that I finally figured out how to link AdSense to Youtube that I started seeing money come in. Look at all those missed opportunities with the 81 clicks from YouTube.
I thought I’d add in one more report because I was curious to see what device my ad revenue was coming from. There should be no surprise here that most of the ad revenue comes from desktop. This comes an even bigger reminder to me that when I look for my next theme that I need to have a better way of delivering ads to mobile. To be honest, right now I’m not even sure where my ads are displayed when my site switches to mobile responsive. Yep add it to the list.
My Spoutable numbers this month are worse off than they probably should’ve been since I had to disable it for a week for a Yonderbound experiment I was part of .
Wish I could show you a nice pretty graph here but I still don’t have the ability to select custom date ranges for their report.
While I was hoping to see a continued downward spiral of Sovrn, they bounced back this month with decent performance despite having only 1 ad block dedicated to it on the sidebar. So for now I’ll keep it until my major theme change when I have to clean this up.
March was a great month for experimenting with all types of affiliates.
Here are some things I learned along the way:
- I’ve been doing a lot more A/B testing with my Facebook ads lately. What I mean by that is I’ll set up two parallel ads that start at the same time. They’ll be exactly the same except for changes in maybe 2 variables. It could be a change in messaging, the type of image I use or the interest groups I target. I let it run for 2-3 days and usually what I find is that there’s a clear winner which one does the best. I axe the other ads and then shift my budget over to the successful one. Works like a charm! Strategies again thanks to my learnings at ASW.
- Neat tip on Facebook ads. You can actually target certain interest groups. The most obvious ones would be things like “travel”, “backpacking”, and whatever other travel term you can think of but what I don’t think a lot of people realize is that Facebook for some reason have allowed for interests like “nomadic matt’s travel site”, “legal nomads”, “nomadic samuel”, and “Matthew Kepnes”. I’m sure there are more out there so you just gotta try.
- After learning that Twitter resulted in all of my suitcase sales, I spent more time on Twitter ads. While still a noob on the platform, what seemed to work for me was targeting of different popular personalities on Twitter. Since I was interested in business travellers I targeted people like @johnnyjet, @thepointsguy and @paul_steele (okay he’s not business travel but he has an insane following)
Payments from CopyPress for the #HipmunkCityLove project are continuing to come in and after a few quiet months of no gigs, they’re ramping back up again so hoping to keep this up for a little extra cash.
Through networking at events like the Travel Massive, I’m discovering more opportunities come up from contacts I make through there. While I can’t announce anything yet, there might be some pretty cool stuff coming up in the world of freelance writing.
Now this was a first this month. A company contacted me out of the blue a few months ago and we started chatting about the placement of display ad on a specific article of mine.
After collaborating with them on the creative side and negotiating terms, all of it went live in the middle of March. The beauty of all this is that, I’ll be able to collect a recurring monthly fee on this one ad. This means that it’s consistent income and funny enough greater than any single ad network.
So think about it, if you can line up 2-3 big private contracts on ads, that’s even better than having to deal with ad networks.
Lesson: Keep pushing out good work and sometimes opportunities like this do come to you.
I’ve been keeping my ear to the ground with the various platforms that I’m part of and I’ve approached various contacts but so far it’s been very quiet these few months.
Like I said in my previous income report, I’m going to have to be a lot more selective about press trips in the future and only do the ones that I really want to do and will create great content for my readers as opposed to taking everything that comes my way.
The one big opportunity that came up a month ago was Competitours (Amazing Race for normal people) which I saw on MediaKitty. Being a HUGE fan of the show and having auditioned one season, I knew this was an opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up.
TRAFFICHere’s a look at my traffic numbers from March.
Going Awesome Places
While I observed a dip in traffic in February, March saw a nice bump. A lot of it had to do with the contests I was running through part of the month and as well my renewed focus in Pinterest which you’ll see below.
- Sessions (+7,539)
- Users (+6,294)
- Pageviews (+10,157)
- Bounce rate (+0.06%)
Travel Blog Breakthrough
Great to see that TBB is seeing a lot more traffic come in. As I create more content, more content is being discovered by Google and I’m starting to see more growth in organic traffic which is great.
- Sessions (+3,227)
- Users (+2,911)
- Pageviews (+4,113)
- Bounce rate (+5.41%)
TOP 10 TRAFFIC SOURCES
- The biggest smile came from finally seeing some results from Pinterest. 439 isn’t all that great but the hope is to grow the referral traffic up to at least 800 to go toe to toe with Twitter. From everything I’ve read from fellow bloggers, this should be possible.
- Yahoo traffic doubled this month. This has to do something with Firefox changing their default search engine to Yahoo.
- ReviveOldPost is on the decline which I can’t quite figure out. My only explanation is that some of those automated tweets aren’t being captured as ReviveOldPost referrals and are instead coming in as t.co. The other reason for this is that I’ve stopped tweeting in the middle of the night. For April, I’ve set ReviveOldPost to fire every 2 hours between midnight and 7AM to see if this is true since I do have a large audience from Asia.
- I looked up social-buttons.com and it looks like it’s some sort of referral spam.
- RedFlagDeals traffic is as a result of my contest efforts so glad to see that strategy is working well.
TOP 10 KEYWORDS
Some observations about search queries for March:
- Search query impressions up 2,075 and clicks are up by 1,765 which is helping with organic traffic
- Bali, Shanghai and Hong Kong are the triple threat on my blog right now. A thought is…why don’t I focus more of my writing in that region since everyone’s landing on those pages?
Here are ideas of how you can increase traffic to your blog
- Overhaul of the theme to make the site more user friendly
- More destination guide round up posts to help with navigation and direction
OTHER REFLECTIONMarch was a nice month to sit down and get shit done. I think my biggest relief was finishing all of my Quebec press trip obligations. Despite some serious hard work, I’m happy with the result. The tourism board was incredibly excited about everything I put together and the hope is that they’ll want me back in the future.
March also gave me some time here and there to tinker with Going Awesome Place’s site. There were a bunch of small things I wanted to do like the adding of SumoMe and the removing of a few plugins.
Pinterest has also become a new obsession of mine. While I wish I had more time to dedicate to it, I’m happy with the results so far and hope to build off of this month’s success.
I’m back to recording new podcasts so if you’d like to be on the show let me know!
For episode 9, it was nice to change it up and talk to a different kind of entrepreneur in Jason Cohen and the growth of his baby, WP Engine. If you want to know about his story and why WP Engine rocks, make sure you tune in!
I have a HUGE ask of you guys. If you haven’t yet, could you head over to iTunes and leave a review on the Travel Blog Breakthrough podcast? Still don’t quite have enough for reviews to show up but I am oh so close!
About the course: I go in depth into the 10 tools that all of you bloggers need to know about. I introduce the tool, talk about why it’s awesome and then show you how to set it up and use it as I would.
For a limited time, I’m offering the course for ONLY $5 to all of you super fans. Use code MARTBBINC. There are only 5 codes and it expires April 30, 2015.
For those that have enrolled, what do you think?
WHAT’S NEXTI hit the road again mid April as journey back to Asia to see the Terracotta Warriors and do some death defying climbing at Hua Shan Mountain. I haven’t done live blogging/diary-style blogging in awhile so I look forward to sharing those adventures with you. If I have time, I’m also hoping to start designing the new look for Going Awesome Places. Exciting times 🙂
3 key takeaways from March
- Private ads are a great way to get recurring revenue. The question is, how do you seek out these opportunities?
- Pinterest has serious potential. Just wish I could hire somebody to do it for me hah!
- A/B testing your ads is a great way of ensuring you put your money in an add that is proven to be effective.