Just like that we’re in 2016. Everything resets and it’s a chance for reflection and looking forward to all the things you want to accomplish. Set the bar high. Shoot for the stars. With one more income and traffic report remaining, this closes the books on 2015. I’m curious just as you are how I did.
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
December turned out to be quite the big month I think in part because I finally got a bunch of outstanding invoices paid and I’m sure brands wanted to get their spend in before the new year.
Note that I’ve converted all numbers into USD just to make it easy. For each line also note the figures in parentheses which represent the change from this month to the previous. Keep in mind that even though something might show up as *NEW*, it may be an income stream I’ve had in the past.
- Ambassadorship – $1,076.40 (+$815.27)
- Sponsored Post – $1,018.98 (+$438.18)
- Sponsored Campaign – $300 ($79.99)
- Freelance Writing – $300 (+$25)
- Sponsored Link – $146.88 (+$122.88)
- Advertising – $133.66 (-$3.10)
- The Blogger Network – $70.97
- Google AdSense – $40.63
- Spoutable – $17.32
- Sovrn – $1.59 (Phantom ads that are still displaying somehow)
- Affiliate – $54.12 (-$248.39)
Total income: $3,030.04 (+$1,229.83)
- Podcasting – $15 (LibSyn)
- Tools – $10 (BoardBooster, AWeber, FMTC)
- SSL Certificate – $9 (explored during the holidays whether it’d be worth it to switch to HTTPS)
- Mentoring – $9 (Sohelpful.me)
- Ads – $3.98 (Promotion on FB)
Total expenses: $46.98 (-$32.02)
Total profit: $2,983.06 (+1,261.85)
Going Awesome Places
There was growth in traffic in almost all areas for the blog in December which I was happy to see. A lot of this will become evident when looking at the exact traffic sources that were boosted.
- Sessions: +3,595
- User: +3,369
- Pageviews: -979
Travel Blog Breakthrough
The traffic for this blog continues to fluctuate all over but there was some growth throughout the month. The goal is to hopefully hit 5,000 users by mid next year.
- Sessions: +479
- User: +354
- Pageviews: +521
The stats below are only for Going Awesome Places.
Top 10 Traffic Sources
Significant growth in Pinterest which is causing most of the lift (6,760 vs 5,851). In addition, one of my posts on Iceland went somewhat viral on Facebook and so I ended up getting a bunch of referrals there. I also got some traffic boost from a link in an article from Boarding Area on Competitours.
Top 10 Search Queries
I’m getting a ton of impressions through these high value keywords on Google. Ultimately, my big drivers are definitely the Bali Itinerary and Things to Do in Shanghai.
What may be more interesting for next month is to sort this by clicks to see what’s happening there. That being said, what’s fascinating is that “buff headwear” brings in ton of impressions but I barely get clicks even though I’m in a 5 spot on average. The question becomes, perhaps the title/description isn’t enticing enough? I also found it interesting that while my impressions went up, my clicks went down from November.
Mobile has officially taken the lead in traffic. Wow. If you haven’t already yet, make sure you have a good responsive layout for your blog!
The Final Tally for 2015
With December books finally closed, I can now do a full look at the year.
Nothing more to say beyond what I mentioned last month. We all know that sponsored posts are the quick(er) way to make money blogging but what I’m happy to see this year is the rise of Ambassadorship work.
So What’s The Difference Between Sponsored Posts and Ambassadorship?
I’ve had a lot of requests to talk about sponsored posts and ambassadorship and while I probably should do a full blown post at some point, here are a few things I wanted to write down to give you guys some clarity.
First, I’ll admit that these terms are really my own interpretation of categorizing the work that I’ve been getting and it’s quite possibly a bastardization of its true meaning but let me a give it a shot in explaining what these are and why one over the other.
What is it: It’s basically when a brand/company/SEO agency/whoever says they are willing to pay you $X to have a post on your blog. This can either be written by you or by them.
Why do people pay for sponsored posts: At the end of the day, a lot of it has to do with link backs. It’s an SEO play. Pure and simple. For others, it truly is about content and leveraging your brand to promote a message or drive referrals to their site. Those are the ones that I prefer.
What to be careful of: It’s very tempting to make a quick buck and possibly do something shady. Casino links are a prime example of this and where you’ll get a lot of requests earlier on. The content for these is usually plain bad, they pay terribly and there’s risk of SEO penalties. Another thing to beware of are the ones that try to disguise themselves as a free guest post when really they’re trying to embed their links. Not going to lie, I fell for all of these early on. For guest posts, always vet the writer and ask if they will have links and where they’re pointing to.
Why do them: You have to start somewhere because the bigger opportunities don’t come to the small guys just like that. They’re typically also a lot quicker to put together especially if they’re providing the content. As you evolve as a blogger, you’ll eventually start getting the more legit kind of sponsored posts. This is when a brand like Marriott reach out to you to see if you’re interested in promoting one of their latest campaigns in the form of a blog post. These ones are great because you have the freedom to craft your own story and find creative ways to weave the required mentions and links into it as you see fit. This means that they don’t have to be fluff pieces but legitimate posts that have real value.
How to find these opportunities: Now this is the biggest question isn’t it? A majority of the lower tier sponsored posts are often inbound in that you’ll get pitched via e-mail by random people. Platforms like IZEA, SeedingUp, Cooperatize, and themidgame are great ways to look for opportunities. Brands will often use them to request sponsored posts and these are a few of the places to seek them out. Lastly there’s just good old fashioned networking. This can be in the form of getting to know other bloggers and trading contacts or meeting folks in industry and being top of mind when it comes to work they want done.
How much money can be made: Lower tier opportunities come low at $50 or less. The more you grow your numbers (traffic and social media) you’ll get to the point where you can easily command $200-$400 per blog post. Once you’re really up there, I can easily see you charging $500-$1000 per post.
Bottom line: Sponsored posts come in all forms, shapes and sizes. You start off with easy ones that you’ll experiment with and eventually you want to move away from the sketchier ones. As you grow, your standards will increase and you’ll get to the point where you won’t do a sponsored post below a certain minimum $ threshold.
What is it: To me, this is when a brand reaches out to you to work on larger campaigns that span multiple channels and weeks/months where they are leaning on you to represent their brand. You essentially become their digital spokesperson.
Why do people pay for ambassadors: It’s about leveraging you as a brand and the way you can reach and engage with folks that another company has no way of doing on their own. They need you!
What’s involved in an ambassador role: It really could be anything but in my experience it’s usually a mix of a blog post, putting up of a badge on your blog, Twitter chat, social sharing, and possibly a physical appearance at an event.
Why do them: There are a bunch of reasons why. 1) It helps build deeper relationships with a brand/company. Do a good job and they’ll want you back for more. Job security. 2) It is guaranteed work across a period of time. It’s not just for one hit but a series of objectives and tasks. That means less hustling required. 3) They pay more.
How to find these opportunities: The biggest thing that matters here is networking and building relationships with brands. Meet them locally at events or go to conferences. Yes, this means that these aren’t easy to get.
How much money can be made: It depends on how extensive the work is but this can easily start at 500 and upwards to the thousands. There is no doubt that these are worth your time if it aligns with your blog strategy and schedule.
Bottom line: To me, ambassadorships are the way to go. The holy grail is definitely the one year contract ones where you’re paid monthly for work or are on a retainer with an option of renewal. That’s the legitimate form of an ambasaddorship. Till then, keep cranking away. Work towards your first one and then build on that success to seek out more opportunities.
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.
16 CommentsLeave a comment
Will – I look forward to these posts every month! Thank you for being so open and honest about them. As a fellow Toronto travel blogger who’s just starting out it really helps to get insight and expertise from others in the field. So thank you!
Thanks Madi! Put a smile on my face to hear that this is something that you look forward to every month. Hey Madi you’ve been out to the Travel Massive events right?
Hey Will – Awesome income report and congratulations on a fantastic 2015! I have no doubts that 2016 will be even bigger for you!
I have included a link to this post in my income report round up!
Thanks for stopping by Carl and including me in your round up. I appreciate it!
Love these income reports! They’re so inspirational and it’s awesome to think that you started in October 2014 and you’re seeing such success by now.
Yes, patience is the key but obviously you’re putting in hard work and it’s paying off!
I just noticed your 1-on-1 mentoring button and it’s great that you’re even offering more value to travel bloggers/other bloggers looking to get started on the same path as you.
Anyways, I reached out to you on Twitter a while back saying it’d be great to meet you in Toronto one day so I’m still looking forward to that. No mentoring though, we’ll just have to trade our travel stories! 😉
Alright, keep up the good work dude! Looking forward to some more of your epic content!
Yeah let’s definitely meet up in Toronto when you’re back in town. And thank you for all the kind words!! It means a lot. Even if I can help one person, it keeps me putting together awesome content.
I’ve been reading your blog for a while, just never commenting. This is my first 🙂
You are kind of an inspiration to me, I even started my own blog about nail polish.
Really glad it’s working out for you. One of the things I’m noticing is that it’s easy to start everything, but hard to keep doing it. Hope I find it in me to continue
Thanks for being a long time reader and even more so for leaving a comment 🙂 Always love to hear from my readers.
Love that you’re blogging about nail polish! Great niche to be in. I totally agree about your statement about having the commitment to keep blogging and continue driving forward. So many bloggers start but fall off the bandwagon because they don’t see growth or lose interest.
It’s all possible if you stick to it and continue to try things to figure out what will work for your topic and audience.
KEEP IT UP NATHALIE! I’m rooting for ya 🙂
Awesome monthly numbers and income – thanks for sharing. I appreciate the detailed info you are giving around sponsored posts. It helps to peel back the curtain a bit. Appreciate it!
I normally use LinkVehicle for sponsored posts, but I am checking out the other four you linked for further future possibilities.
You’re welcome Derek! I try my best. I know I’m lagging behind this year so far but hope tog et back to it once things settle down.
How has LinkVehicle worked for you? Good gigs? How much do they pay each?
Will, thank you for the breakdown. Which programs do you use to keep track of all of this? I’ve heard a few different things from your podcasts. What’s the latest, for September 2016? Thanks!
Nothing fancy to be honest! I just use a Google Sheet to track it all and I manually pull it all together. 😉
Been following your blog for a while. It kinda put a fire under me to start my own blog. But I am very new to this stuff. The struggle is real. Would love to get some tips and your opinions on my site. Thanks in advance.
Thanks Tory! Oh believe me I totally know the struggle. The crazy thing is that I’m still struggling with a bunch of things but just gotta keep plugging away. I just took a look at your site and it looks amazing! Love the buyer’s guide and you have the right idea with the affiliate links in there too. Which area have you been having trouble with?
I’m struggling with generating good amounts of traffic, and outbound conversions. I think the idea of the ambassadorship is amazing but I just don’t know where to start and how to reach out to the big brands. Any tips would be helpful.
Hey Troy, traffic is one of those never ending processes to just keep improving at. Writing good SEO content is one way to go and that should bring good success if you write strategically. The other part of it is diversifying your traffic so being good at other channels like social or other traffic drivers like maybe Flipboard of Pinterest.
Sponsorship and ambassadorship is another one of those long plays that involve building relationships with brands locally through communities like Travel Massive if that’s a possibility for you and being discoverable on brands by getting on their lists, being on blogger lists and be searchable through related content. Alternatively there’s always the tactic of pitching and I have an article on the blog here that talks about a very simple type of pitch.