*madly typing away* – This is me trying my best to catch up.  What I’ve learned from blogging is that no matter how much you seem to get done, there’s always more to do.  I love that there’s always lots of content to create but at the same time you kind of wish things weren’t a frenzy all the time.  I’m way behind on Travel Blog Breakthrough but I know there’s a lot of interest for these income reports so here we go with May.


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.

  1. Because the goal of taking your blog to the next level and making money of it is not as crazy you think.
  2. Because if you’re feeling down and thinking “man this is friggin’ hard!”….well yes it is but you’re not alone. 🙂
  3. 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

With auto-pilot fully on and working a few key large projects, this is how the month of May shook out.

May 2016

PROFIT

Note that I’ve converted all numbers into USD just to make it easy. 

Income

  • Advertising – $252.75
  • Affiliate – $188.57
  • Sponsored Link – $44.00

Total income:  $485.32

Expenses

Total expenses: $111.64

Total profit: $373.68

TRAFFIC

Traffic Overview

Going Awesome Places

There was a tiny bump from the first 4 months of the year.  At this point Going Awesome Places is averaging roughly around 1,250 unique users a day.  I’d like to see this up to 1,500 and this is where I have to look at continuing to augment my traffic from various channels like Pinterest.

  • Sessions: +1,157
  • User:  +1,885
  • Pageviews:  +911

GAP-2016-May-GA-Dashboard

Travel Blog Breakthrough

Not a whole lot of change here but I can’t blame anyone but myself.  This is what you’d expect for a blog that hasn’t been able to publish new content in awhile.  The only comforting thing for you guys out there is that even if you disappear for say a month, it doesn’t mean that your traffic will drop to nothing.  Once you’ve built it up, the traffic will continue to sustain itself with all the automation tools you have in place.

  • Sessions: +121
  • User:  +324
  • Pageviews: -7

TBB-2016-May-GA-Dashboard

The stats below are only for Going Awesome Places.

Top 10 Traffic Sources

This year’s traffic make up is quite interesting to follow.  It should be no surprise that Pinterest continues to be strong and that’s all thanks to tools like BoardBooster.  As you go lower down the list, you start realizing how small of an effect the rest of social media is playing on traffic these days.

Questions that swirl around my mind are:  “Are these channels less effective” or “Am I doing a crappy job”.  The answer to Twitter taking a big dive is mostly due to the ghosting of my account.  I will get more into that next month so stay tuned.

What’s interesting to continue to follow is the slow rise of search engines like Yahoo and Bing.  They’re definitely more prominent than they were a year ago so if you haven’t yet, make sure you’re set up with them too.

GAP-2016-May-GA-Traffic-Sources

Top 10 Search Queries

“Things to do in Shanghai” has been dethroned by “Airbnb Copenhagen” which is incredible to see.  I originally wrote the post on Airbnb properties in Copenhagen for Hipmunk but it’s been incredible to see it slowly grow in rank over the past year where now it’s a great driver for Airbnb referrals.

Still, the main metric I really should be looking at is Clicks and CTR and when I do that, “bali itinerary” is still the most effective on search engines.

GAP-2016-May-GA-Queries

SO WHAT?

Since it’s been crazy difficult to write up new articles on Travel Blog Breakthrough, where I can still give back to the community is really in this section here where I can drop nuggets of wisdom and things I’m learning on the blog.

Be Picky As Hell

Knowing that I’d be insanely busy this year, I knew that the keys to success would be around being more strategic in selecting the type of work I engage in.  For other part-time bloggers, this should resonate with a lot of you.

  1. Don’t take every single offer that comes you way.
  2. It’s okay to be a bit selective.  Pick the good ones from the bad.  Which ones give you the most (read as $ or relationship building opportunity) for the amount of work you have to put in.
  3. Taking many little small deals could end up hurting.  There’s something called context switching and if you’re doing a lot of little things, you’ll end up spinning your wheels and wasting a lot of time.

I know I may be at a different stage than some of you but ultimately at the end of the day you want to work on paid campaigns that 1) pay well, 2) fit your brand and 3) you don’t have to kill yourself to do.

The Blogger Network is Now Monumetric

This is really more of a quick service announcement if anything.  A few weeks ago, The Blogger Network rebranded themselves as Monumetric.

The move makes a lot of sense because with their success and crazy innovation, they’ve really grown beyond just being a killer ad network for bloggers but with their trajectory, they have their sights on working with everyone.

So far we’ve gotten communication that nothing much should change with the branding shift.  I myself can attest to this as their levels of service have not really changed.

Monumetric Program Levels

 

If you take a look at their offerings right now, they’ve broken down their services in 4 tiers.  If you’re interested in getting started, you’ll most likely start off with Propel which means you don’t have to have a minimum of 80,000 page views in order to get accepted which was the previous requirement.  There’s a $99 set up fee but they do include their Build Your Blog Academy membership which has a lot of useful information.

Sign up to Monumetric here and start making money with ads.

Making the Leap to Google Apps

It’s painful to recount this story but for years I’ve been using the standard e-mail web client that hosting companies provide.  With Bluehost, I eventually set up Mail on my Mac to connect to the mail server.  It was useable but never that great.  The rudimentary interface I could live with but what killed me was the amount of spam I was starting to get.  A big problem with my set up was that hosting companies don’t have spam filters built in (at least not that I could find).  Every day I felt like I was battling spammers by trashing the barrage on an hourly basis.

Enough was enough and I decided to bite the bullet and start my migration process to Google Apps for Work which would then give me access to Gmail.  Signing up was simple which was no surprise but what did surprise me was that for the migration I wanted to do, I was actually able to talk to someone on the phone to help me through it.  There’s usually never anyone you can speak to at Google so I was quite impressed.

The migration itself took a good 6-8 hours since I had a lot of emails to move over but once it was done, I was good to go.  I loved how seamless it was and how it also added labels for all the existing folders I already had set up.  The bit of manual work I had to do after migration was complete was the combing through of all the emails that weren’t labelled, applying labels and archiving everything.

So how much does it cost?  Since I only needed access for one user, the cost is a very affordable $5/month.  This gives you access to:

  • Business email addresses (I retained my blog e-mail address with proper domain)
  • Video and voice calls
  • Integrated online calendars
  • 30GB of online storage for file syncing and sharing
  • Online text documents, spreadsheets and slides
  • Easy to create project sites
  • Security and admin controls
  • 24/7 phone and email support

This meant as a bonus, I automatically get access to amazing tools like Google Docs, Sheets, Calendar and Hangouts.

Having had this for a few months now, I am SO glad I made the switch.  I don’t know why I didn’t do it earlier.

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 created 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.

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Will Tang

I'm the writer behind Going Awesome Places and through its growth, I've learned a heck of a lot from trial and error. I have a passion for helping others succeed and through TBB my hope is to empower you with what works (and what doesn't) so you know exactly how you can take your blog to the next level.

7 CommentsLeave a comment

  • hey will – good to see you start these up again. always look forward to reading. just curious when you joined the Blogger Network did you have to pay the fee? I’m hesitant to PAY someone $100 for the privilege of serving THEIR ads if you know what i mean? also right now i make about a decent amount from straight google ads so to just turn around and pay that out seems strange.

    would love to know why you use the blogger network and what the benefits are!

    Thanks
    Sher
    http://www.shershegoes.com
    Sher recently posted…Happy 4th of July + *GIVEAWAY* Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2016My Profile

    • Hey Sher!

      Thanks for coming back 🙂 You’re right when I joined there wasn’t a $100 fee. The fee is new of this year and they tried to balance it out by offering their blogging course for free as part of this tier. It’s basically a one-time starter fee to get in because it’s a lot of work for their reps to provide close to one-to-one service for smaller blogs. When I joined they made an exception for me because even I didn’t meet their minimum threshold. With that said, this year has been incredible for TBN/Monumetric with a lot of the leaps and bounds they’ve made in their technology and at the end of the day the money I’ve been able to make. If you’re iffy about display advertising stick to Google Adsense for now but if you’re ready to make the leap, definitely consider Monumetric!

  • Hi Will!

    I’ve been listening to a few of your podcast episodes and finally made it to your site today. I wanted to send you some love for actually posting what your monthly expenses for maintaining your blog are, and not just your earnings -thank you! I’m a brand new travel-blogger and in doing a lot of research on “must-have” web tools and plugins I had started to wonder exactly when the start up costs of this hobby might start making returns. It’s very helpful to see what another experienced blogger has racked up in monthly expenses, but also great to see that you’re still coming out ahead! Cheers! 🙂

    • Hey Annalisa! Thanks for the shout out. I try my best to be as transparent as possible and so glad to have a podcast listener convert into a reader as well 🙂 Keep up the good work with your blog!!

  • Will,

    Just came across your blog. Great job! And thanks for sharing this sort of information, it’s really helpful.

    I applied to Monumetric a few weeks ago, but still haven’t heard anything. Do you know how long it takes them to accept new members?

    • Hey Aida, my pleasure! It should take only a few weeks to approve but if nothing happens my recommendation would be to maybe shoot them an e-mail or tweet to see if you can push it along. Hope that helps!

  • Hi there Will,
    Thanks for sharing your stats and insights, I really appreciate the openness and your attitude towards helping others. I think there is a lot to gain from that (for everyone involved!) 🙂
    I’m currently at a stagnant period with my own travel blog. I’ve been writing for 2 years now, writing up mostly 1 (long) article per month. As I have a full-time job and I’m doing freelance website development on the side, it’s hard to free up time to properly invest time in writing more, both articles and SEO content. I definitely agree that thinking about monetizing from the start is a good idea. As I started the blog without any commercial strategy, I’m not sure where to start now that I know what I know.

    However, as both traveling and writing are still my passions, I will keep the blog on and as active as I can. I’m learning more every day and I hope what they say is right: it’s not a sprint but a marathon.

    Thanks again for the great article(s), perhaps we could somehow collaborate with our blogs in the future 🙂
    Victor recently posted…Travel games: the ultimate listMy Profile

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