Income Report for December 2014

Happy New Year everyone!

2014 marked a great year of progress and I’m so grateful for all of you that have stuck by me along this journey.

I’ll share with you a quote from a fan that I just got today that really made my day.

A big thank you for your travel blogger toolkit series, they are THE most useful thing I have read over the last few months

In reading that, it really brought me back to my original purpose of helping all of you out.  It’s all about pushing that needle forward and if I can give you the knowledge, power and strength to do it, then I will keep going!

So how did I fare in the month of December?


December went by faster than ever.  I may have gained a few pounds and had a little too much to drink on some occasions but on the whole I actually got a lot done.  While income started to come in from previous month’s work, traffic took a bit of a dip.  Here are some thoughts about some of the main things that went down in December.



December was definitely the month of CopyPress and the #HipmunkCityLove project.   After many months of going back and forth and not being assigned anything, I finally set up and then the flood gates opened.  As a result, one of the reasons why December was uber busy was because I was constantly trying to keep up with the tight turn around times of the articles I was assigned.

CopyPress has been an interesting because it’s the first time I’ve done freelance writing and had a specific set of writing guidelines and also the first time I’ve been paired with an editor.  I’ve really had to adapt my writing style to the requirements.

Lesson 1:  Persistence pays off.  If you don’t hear back from someone, whether it’s a writing gig, press trip or sponsored work, always make sure you follow up in a friendly manner.  Even if it’s a “no”, you’ll at least know what’s going on instead of being in the dark or missing an opportunity because someone drops the ball on the other end.

Lesson 2:  Clearly I never learned about the Oxford comma because every single editor harped on my commas (or lack thereof).  I also learned that I may have grown up learning the wrong number of spaces after a period of a sentence.  I grew up learning to add two spaces after the period but some editors insist on only one.  Now I’m just totally confused!  Any English majors here?


Sponsored work continued to be the big driver of income in December.  IZEA came through again with another high value campaign and getting paid by them was a nice top up for the month.

If you haven’t signed up for IZEA yet, there are some decent opportunities up there still.  Snazzy Traveler was one I convinced to set up an account on there so you’ll see them there now.

I’m not sure if it’s all been a fluke but I hope I continue to get opportunities but who knows how 2015 will be!


December was an exciting month for podcasting.  I had the chance to do 3 recordings in the month and with everyone that I did, I felt more and more confident at what I was doing.  As a result, each podcast seemed to require less and less editing.

The plan is to stick to a bi-weekly schedule for TBB Podcast and post them on Mondays at 7AM Eastern (EST).

I don’t want to spill any secrets for the upcoming podcasts but I can’t wait for you to hear them!  My interview with Chris of One Weird Globe just came out last week and the next two that I recorded in December are going to impress.

Open casting call:  I’m still looking for more guests on the show so if you’d like to be on just give me a shout!


The biggest thing that dropped on my lap in December was when I decided to take on the challenge of creating a Udemy course in 30 days.

This was quite the ambitious task I soon realized and I would say that the last 3 weeks of December was almost entirely dedicated to putting the course together.  The funny thing is that I thought this was be a relatively easy task as I picked a not-so-complicated topic.

My kitchen at home turned into a make-shift studio since it was the only spot in the house that had a large white wall.  I also had to learn how to use Camtasia to record the screencasts.

When things are ready, I’ll be sure to make an announcement so you can check it out on Udemy.


Alright let’s dive straight into the income numbers for the last month of the year of 2014.


A new thing I’m trying to visualize in this report is whether there was an increase or decrease so see those numbers in the parentheses.

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



  • IZEA – $400 (*NEW*)
  • Toronto Snow Show – $291 (*NEW*)
  • Snazzy Traveler – $242.45 (*NEW*)
  • Red Pineapple Media – $182.38 (*NEW*)
  • On The Town Tours [Photography] – $178.05 (*NEW*)
  • Cocha Inbound [Video] – $60.00 (*NEW*)
  • Google Adsense – $33.89 (-$3.70)
  • iTripd – $18.62 (*NEW*)
  • Sovrn – $16.32 (+$2.35)
  • Amazon Associates US – $14.87 (+$4.81)
  • SRAX – $7.98 (*NEW*)
  • Commission Junction – $7.56 (*NEW*)
  • Superlinks – $1.52 (- $0.53)
  • Media.Net – $0.79 (-$2.57)
  • ShareASale – $0 (*NONE*)

Total income:  $1455.43 (+$955.64)

Summarized down, this is what income rolls up into:

  • Sponsored Post – $824.83 (+$646.10)
  • Sponsored Campaign – $291.00 (+$291.00)
  • Photography – $178.05 (*NEW*)
  • Advertising – $60.50 (+$3.53)
  • Video – $60.00 (*NEW*)
  • Contextual Link – $18.62 (*NEW*)
  • Affiliate – $22.43 (+$8.33)
  • Sponsored Writing – $0 (*NONE*)


  • Flight – $142.10 (for January)
  • Podcasting – $14.74 (LibSyn podcast hosting)

Total expenses: $156.84 (+$40.70)

Total profit: $1298.59 (+$914.94)


As I predicted, as a few places finally came through on payments, December definitely picked up.  Here are a few thoughts on how various main forms of income performed in December.


November was a month of a ridiculous number of ad platforms.   This month, I cut most of them out.

Ad Networks Removed

  • Media.Net – Cut out December 17, 2014 and you can tell with the huge dip.
  • Superlinks – I forgot to remove it until January came around

Ad Networks Added

  • SRAX – One platform that invited me to their program was SRAX and so I thought I’d give it a shot.  Looking at its performance over December, it looks better than Media.Net and Superlinks but still not as good as Google AdSense and Sovrn.  SRAX probably won’t last but I’ll probably end up testing it for another month.

Google AdSense


  • December was a down month for me but hope it was just due to the holiday season.


  • What’s interesting here is that although the Sidebar gets way more impressions and clicks than everywhere else, it’s the Above Article ad that drives in the most money despite having 10,000 less ad requests.
  • Below Article ads don’t seem particularly effective and that might be because there are too many things down there so maybe it’s time to take it out but if I did, would I be losing out on income from that space?
  • I’m not getting much action from Footer mainly because I’ve set it up to back-fill on ads from Sovrn.
  • I didn’t set up the middle of the page ads properly so they don’t show up for December.


  • US continues to dominate as expected, bagging in more income than last month.
  • Australia dropped to 4th while Canada climbed a little higher.
  • It’s insane to see that Singapore has more pageviews than the US.  Just think about the size of Singapore compared to the US for a second.  *mind blown*



  • Sovrn is still my #2 when it comes to ads.
  • Made slightly more this month ($2.35) but nothing to write home about.
Conclusion about Ad Networks
Nothing has really changed this month.  Google AdSense is still beating out the rest with Sovrn second and SRAX coming into the picture as a #3.  For a small blog like mine, CPC ultimately does better than CPM.


Nothing to note here.  Hopefully after going to Affiliate Summit West in Vegas in January, I’ll have some better ideas about how to kick some ass here.


Sponsored work continues to be the biggest driver of income.  I’m proud of the content I’ve put together so far in that I’ve been able to inject my own experiences and personality into them as best as I can.

My goal with sponsored posts is two fold:

  • Write it in a way that it’s pretty hard to tell from reading that it’s a sponsored post (i.e. natural and fluid)
  • On top of getting paid for it, write it with SEO in mind so that the article itself will become a driver of traffic down the road


Below are a few screenshots taken from Google Analytics.  Click on them to see larger versions of them.



I still haven’t quite decided how I’ll do this for both Going Awesome Places and Travel Blog Breakthrough but this month, I’m introducing the overview screenshots for both blogs.

Going Awesome Places

Sessions and users dropped roughly by about 2,000 this month.  It’s hard to say but that may be the result of the holidays.

The big drop really came into play for pageviews and a jump in bounce rate.  The reason for this was that I discovered that I actually had Google Analytics defined in two spots – one with my theme and the other with the All In One SEO plugin.  As a result, I was doubling the pageviews for everyone coming in.  Once I made the change, you can see the dive my pagviews and bounce rate took while everything else remained roughly the same.

  • Sessions (-1,735)
  • Users (-1,810)
  • Pageviews (-22,419)
  • Bounce rate (+$48.77%)


Travel Blog Breakthrough

Travel Blog Breakthrough’s traffic has been growing month over month.  November was roughly at 800 sessions and December jumped up to 1,245 so that was nice.  A lot of the spikes you see are really the result of when toolkits and podcasts go out.

Podcasts in particular are a great driver of traffic because it typically means I get double exposure – promotion from my own end and also on the guest’s end.



No real surprises here this month.  My top traffic drivers are still the same and Google dominates all.  With that though, I still want to diversify my traffic in 2015 so I’m not completely reliant on search.

2014-Dececember-Google Analytics-Traffic-Sources Looking a little deeper, I noticed a few changes:

  • Facebook referral dropped but that is probably because I used FB ads in November.
  • Yahoo is slowly rising up the ranks I’m noticing so watch out for them!
  • I got all these clicks through Google Ads.  I’m still trying to figure out who that’s from because it wasn’t me.
  • Does anyone know what this doradar forum thing is?  From what I’ve read it’s some sort of spam.
  • Pinterest has gone on the way side again.  I really need to get back at it.


Comparing to the previous month, the “dukorol reviews” search term has really jumped up out of nowhere.  That can probably be attributed to the number of people planning tropical vacations to the south.

My post on the Top 10 things to do in Shanghai continues to power me through search.  Even though it’s a really old post at this point, it continues to rank well.  Weird!

2014-December-Google Analytics-Keywords


This totally wasn’t planned but somehow January just became ridiculously busy and now I’m scrambling to try to get everything in place so that when I’m on the road the last 2 weeks that I’ll have content ready.  Here’s a few things that I’m working on for the month related to TBB.



If you haven’t listened to my 2014 round up podcast, make sure you head over there but if you have you know I got free tickets to Affiliate Summit West thanks to Siteground.

I’m really not sure what to expect, this being my first conference and all but hoping to make great connection with other bloggers and learn new strategies for affiliate selling.

I will be reporting back!


The “Top 10 Tools Every Blogger Needs to Know About” course is in its final approval stages and will be coming out soon in January.  I’ll be giving out discount codes for it soon so if you’re interested look out!


  • The Blogger Network finally accepted my application and I am testing them out as they claim they’ll blow everyone out of the water.
  • Yellowhammer.IO is just plain horrible with communication.  I’ve tried to get things rolling with them for MONTHS now but still nothing.



I‘ve always wanted to go through a list of all the queries that come in that lead to Going Awesome Places.  Here are some eyebrow raising results that caught my eye.


  •  “your name (without space between letters and words)” best lingerie stores online – Haha I don’t even know where to begin with this one.  I don’t even think I’ve used the words lingerie in my blog posts…or have I??
  • get to suvarnabhumi airport from just about anywhere. if you’re planning to stick around in bangkok, there are plenty of ways to get into the heart of the city once you’ve landed. – Wow that is one long search term
  • shannondell at valley forge activities affordable excitement residents unmatched – I don’t even know how my blog came up in this search
  • yolo java to bali – Yolo is right!  Though that ride from Yogyakarta to Bali is quite the adventure
  • +”dr. safety” – I do try to keep things safe
  • food poisoning subway – That’s going to be one smelly subway


I know I tend to go on and on with these reports so I’ll end off with this.

3 key takeaways from December

  1. Breaking $50 for any one ad network is tough so if you’re looking to get into display ads, that’s the field you’re playing in.
  2. Make sure Google Analytics isn’t set up twice on your blog otherwise you artificially boost your numbers.  I really should’ve known something was wrong when my bounce rate was so low.  Travel blogs should hover above 85% bounce rate.
  3. Aside from all that Udemy craziness I was knee-deep in, the holidays were a great time to not think about blogging all the time!  Spending time with friends and family with the various parties throughout the month were a welcome break from the daily grind we’re constantly in.
Will's Wisdom
If you don’t ask, nobody will respond.

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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.

17 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Hey Will,

    A lot of great info here to sort through on monetization. Had to laugh at your editing comments. Putting on my communications/PR hat, yes, it’s been probably a decade or so since one space after a sentence has become the standard so forget the rule you learned back in typing class in high school. 😉

    As for the Oxford comma, there is still great debate over that one. It is much more common in the U.S. than in Canada and the UK. It can add clarity in a number of instances. Some of my clients demand it and others don’t. At this point, it’s a matter of style.

    • Hey Deb! Haha glad I was able to make you laugh there. Clearly my English isn’t up to snuff these days eh? It’s the smallest thing but typing with a single space after sentences is SO WEIRD! It’s going to be a hard habit to break I think. I’m still doing it as I’m typing here! It also doesn’t help that all the phones do the automatic period after you double tap the space button. It’s a conspiracy I tell ya!

      I do agree that the Oxford comma makes a lot of sense. Again for some reason, I feel that I was taught the non-Oxford comma way but you’re right, that may have to do with the fact that I’m in Canada.

      Good to know though! Thanks for clearing some of that up!

  • I had success a few months ago with IZEA but since then I have had very few opportunities that were even remotely relevant. My profile is complete and I’ve added tons of keywords.. is there some sort of trick I’m missing here?

    • Hey Marissa! Thanks for stopping by. I got two big gigs with IZEA but you’re right I haven’t heard anything since the end of the year. It may have been my luck that a few travel opportunities showed up towards the end of 2014 but I’m optimistic that they’ll try to bring more travel brands in.

      And no, no real trick with getting opportunities on IZEA. I would say just keep your eye out on new opportunities and pitching when you find something relevant. You subscribe to their emails right?

      • I do get their emails, although for some reason I never get notifications about open bids even though I have it set to notify me as they happen. Hopefully the advertisers are just wrapping up from the holiday season 🙂 Thanks for your help Will and looking forward to more of your useful tips to come!

  • It’s interesting to read how you are going since we are both travel bloggers earning similar amounts but in different ways.
    I’ve found Izea pointless unfortunately. I’ve got adsense averaging about $7 a day now (I have more PVs though), so that is enough that I will keep it. Mid and below posts work best for me. No one likes my sidebar for some reason!!
    I recommend getting on to Pinterest. It provides about half my traffic and takes pretty much no time.

    • Hey Sharon! Yeah it’s always fun to be able to follow each other’s income reports! There’s a lot to learn actually.

      I’ll say with IZEA that it may have been a bit of luck for me. The two big offers they gave me were ones where they approached me and since then it’s quieted down. AdSense at $7 a day is awesome! $4 a day would be a good day for me. I’m testing out a few other ad networks still so looking to see if there are any better alternatives.

      As for Pinterest….yes I know that’s been on my to-do for a few months now. I’ve done the re-org but just haven’t consistently produced content for it and need to find a more efficient way of automating it if that’s even possible. Any suggestions?

  • Great to read in such detail how you are getting on Will.

    I also have that darodar pop up a few times. I think I’ve clicked through on it in the past to see what it was but feel the same about it as you.

    Interesting to read of your article on Shanghai been so old yet consistent. My site is like that too, some old posts just hit the nail on the head as far as Google is concerned and keep bringing in traffic.

    You mentioned Yahoo rising. Do you think this could be influenced by the recent move of Mozilla Firefox to place it as the preferred search function over Google? We can’t rely 100% on Google.

    As for the income streams, you have good diversity. I’ve been signed up with Izea for more than a year but seem to get little from them.

    Interesting to read of your Google Ads experience. I’ve been experimenting with them for a while and am reading a book about finding the best match for your site. It is a long time practising but the results can vary widely.

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  • It’s interesting to read how you are going since we are both travel bloggers earning similar amounts but in different ways.
    I’ve found Izea pointless unfortunately. I’ve got adsense averaging about $7 a day now (I have more PVs though), so that is enough that I will keep it. Mid and below posts work best for me. No one likes my sidebar for some reason!!
    I recommend getting on to Pinterest. It provides about half my traffic and takes pretty much no time.
    Sharon recently posted

    • Hey! Thanks for stopping by. In regards to IZEA, I think I’ve said this before on some recent income reports but I think it’s the kind of thing where you want to keep it in your back pocket. It might not produce anything valuable for a long time but once in awhile it’s going to have some gems in it and because you’re signed up, you’ll be able to jump on it. IZEA is also a platform where brands can actually reach out to you so just by having a properly set up profile lets you be discovered. You never know what might happen right?

  • As an aspiring digital nomad / location independent human – I really enjoy and value these posts so thank you for doing them! Just a quick question, how do you get Google Analytics to give you the incoming search terms? I can see the referral locations, but not what was actually searched for.

  • When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the
    -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I
    receive 4 emails with the same comment. Perhaps there
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