- Travel Topics
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Income report came a little late this month but it was for good reason – we were waiting on a few things to come to closure so that we could introduce them to you in this article. Let’s dive in!
After the big feature on Nomadic Matt, Vicky and I did some brainstorming about other avenues where we might be able to spread the word about our blog. We decided to see if we’d have any luck in print media aka newspapers. We often overlook these and I think it has to do with this idea in our head that we’re not doing anything that unique or interesting, largely because we’re surrounded by other travel bloggers who are doing the exact same thing we are. We often forget that not everyone is traveling the world and some might find it interesting. Also, not every newspaper has to be the Boston Globe – there are a lot of other smaller newspapers where our story might be a good fit, especially if they have a travel section.
So we reached out to about 15 or so newspapers. It’s very easy to find contact information for newspapers online. A quick Google search is all it takes.
The end result, is that none of the papers expressed interest in featuring us. Downer.
But, I still think the idea has merit, which is why we’re mentioning it. In fact, I know it has merit because I just saw the other day that Johnny Ward from OneStepForward was featured in the Chicago Tribunal – and Johnny doesn’t have much to do with Chicago, last I checked.
So think about it – start with your local paper and move upwards from there.
Buying Our First Product: TweetAdder
I had two main focuses on Social Media, work on the new twitter product we bought and try to build our newsletter.
I had read about this twitter product, Tweetadder, from a post on how a guy got 10k twitter followers in one year. I generally tend to be pretty skeptical about online products because so often they tend to be garbage, but I liked the sound of this one. The concept was pretty simple. It’s an automated process for following and unfollowing users.
If you go online and look into how to build a bigger twitter following, most people are going to tell you about running a good twitter account and tweeting interesting stuff. While that’s good advice, the honest answer is the quickest way to build followers is simply to follow people yourself. The more people you follow, the more people follow you back.
The “problem” with this, is that it’s good to keep your ratio of following:followers less than 1 so you don’t look like a spammer. Also, following people, say several hundred at once, can take a decent chunk of time if you’re doing it manually. This is where Tweetadder comes in – you can upload followers of any twitter profile you know, and then systematically and automatically follow them while your computer is on and connected to the internet. Then, a few days later, you can unfollow the people who didn’t follow you back.
Simple – right?
Vicky and I decided to give it a try because we love automating things we do anyways. It does come at a very steep price of $57, however, we found this coupon to get 35% off. So we bought it.
So far the results have been pretty good. It took us a little bit to get the hang of us, as we didn’t realize that the computer had to be on and connected to the internet in order for it to work. However, now that we’re rolling we made significant increases to our twitter followers and can follow hundreds of people at the click of a button and then unfollow the nonfollowbackers a few days later, also at the click of a button.
If you’re interested, check it out here!
A Lesson In Newsletter Building
My next task was to build our newsletter (which, surprisingly, we don’t send out, but I guess we’re waiting for like 500+ people to justify the work). I made a couple changes to the sidebar box to make it a bit more prominent as a start. Then I downloaded this plugin, which adds an opt-in check box after comments. If you want, it auto checks to “yes”. I’ve found that this actually works pretty well, and in only a few weeks after installing this plugin we went from 90 to 130 subscribers – I can only imagine how much better off we’d had been If we had always had it on. Of course, I do wonder how many people are being “tricked” into signing up, aka, not noticing the check box and just posting their comment. But since we don’t send out a newsletter right now and it’s pretty easy to unsubscribe if we do, I’m not too worried about it.
On a side note, I find it really surprising that people sometimes unsubscribe from our newsletter despite the fact that we don’t even send one out. How does that even work?
The last thing I tried was buying a pop up, which I got for about $20 on pop up ninja. Pop ups are known for being annoying but also converting well. I wanted to see if it would help at all to just throw one up, without a free product to give away or any catchy call to action. I installed it and watched as about 100 people looked at it and rejected it.
But that’s OK. I’m sure the pop up will come in handy in the future. The lesson is that you can’t just stick something in peoples’ face and expect them to say yes – you have to entice them no matter what. Unfortunately, we don’t have anything enticing (at least, I’m out of ideas) so for now, no pop up!
I was very interested this month to see how traffic panned out, a month after our big feature on Nomadic Matt. While that did bring us thousands of extra pageviews, the real questions is how many readers it brought us – something that can only be evaluated after the interview has had time to die down.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that we still had over 20k pageviews for April, compared with only 12k in February (the month before the Nomadic Matt feature).
I’m beginning to feel like traffic often comes in hurdles, and once you can get over one you can remain at the next level until the next one comes.
We also did a good job keeping up with an interview this month.
Guest posts and interviews this month:
April was a very strong month and our second highest to date after a small decline from March. This is largely in part to our brokering initiative, which we started two months ago. To clarify, we’re working with other travel blogs to promote their blogs to our extensive list of advertisers on a commission basis. In April we worked with four blogs and brought in over $5k to be divided among all of us. This is double what we achieved in march. We’re continuing this in May and have added an additional two blogs to our line up which I hope will make May a record month in this respect. To keep up with all of the activity we hired an additional assistant who is largely responsible for writing.
One thing I realized, however obvious it may sound, is that if you are hiring someone, say a contractor, on an hourly basis and you only utilize them when there is actual work to be done, then you aren’t actually paying anything extra to hire someone else but you are getting things done faster. This is a little counter intuitive, at least, compared to what we are used to. Normally, we think more employees = more costs, but that’s only true if they’re say, required to show up to work 9 to 5. On the contrary, if I have say 6 articles to be written, then if one person writes 6 or two people write 3 and they receive the same wage, the costs are the same, but the turnaround is twice as fast. Neat huh? Just goes to show that you shouldn’t be afraid to take on more assistants if there is actually work to be done.
The Best Investment You’ll Ever Make
Traveling has resulted in a lot of time to read. Recently, I’ve been focusing exclusively on books about business and entrepreneurship. I know, boring huh? Vicky laughed the other day when she saw me reading a book on “The Art of Productivity”.
One thing I’ve really taken to heart is that the best investment you can ever make is an investment in yourself, because the potential is limitless. This means buying books, signing up for courses, anything that could potentially educate you. The thing is, the internet has created a new generation of people who want something for nothing. We tend to think that we can just get everything for free – the information is out there somewhere, and we tend to undervalue information based courses and products that aren’t free, thinking we “can probably find it on the internet”.
I think this is really shortsighted, for a few reasons.
Sometimes, it’s worth paying just to have the information gathered and presented to you in an organized way.
If you are running a business it’s important to be investing in it and it’s always important to be investing in yourself. That’s why Vicky and I bought Tweetadder, because, in the long run, we’re confident that we can make that money back in the form of increased traffic and, frankly, even tweets if we wanted to go down that route. Yes, we could do all of this ourselves manually, but why?
Vicky and I also signed up for Ramit Sethi’s Earn1K course, which is a course about freelancing and earning money on the side, and a rather pricey one at that. Now, to be honest, we both feel this course is pretty crappy and not worth the money, but it has a full money back guarantee anyways and I’m glad we gave it a shot.
If you’re looking for something simpler, here’s a great investment – take someone out to lunch. Not just your friend, but someone who’s brain you want to pick. I really do like this article on the best $20 you’ll ever spend. Things happen when people get together and share ideas. Consider this recent email Vicky and I received.
“Hi Dave and Vicki!
I just wanted to drop a note to thank you; since meeting up with you and chatting about income strategies etc my income has increased substantially. Even just learning one or two things about how someone does something just a little bit differently can make the difference! Just wanted you to know that your transparency and willingness to share information has made a difference! Thanks again.”
This blogger invited us out to grab dinner and treated us to a drink. We got to talking a bit and exchanged some ideas. I guess they’ve turned out to be helpful – at least paying back for the beer.
On the reverse end, Vicky and I just had a great dinner with someone she found on Couch Surfing. We’ve talked about Couch Surfing quite a bit on this blog, but what people fail to realize time and time again is that it doesn’t HAVE to be about free accommodation – you can just message someone who looks interesting and ask them if they want to meet up. Thanks to this concept, Vicky and I met our first native Cambodian. He also works for an NGO, and was able to enlighten us on the current state of Camboodian politics, human rights issues, and NGOs – now that’s a dinner well spent!
Experimenting With Adsense
Up until recently we didn’t bother to try monetizing with Google Adsense on our travel blog. We use it on Vicky’s food blog and it seems to work OK, but she gets over double the page views that our travel blog gets. We had also heard that the click rate on travel blogs is particularly low. Still, after we hit 20k pageviews, we decided that it was time to try for ourselves – so we stuck a vertical adsense ad on the side, just to see what would happen.
I was pretty surprised to see that the click rate was higher than what we get on the Food Blog.
So, this month, we report our first adsense earnings. Again, while this is small compared to our overall earnings it’s completely passive. Also, there really are so many great things you can do with a couple hundred bucks a year, I can fund the creation of a new site (or buy one outright), take a course, etc. All of these can lead to much bigger and better things – so I never scoff at any money someone is willing to throw at me. Still I do think there are better options that we could be doing with that space, which leads me to my next thing…
Breaking Into Banner Ads
Matthew Woodward has been teasing me in his income reports for the last two months about how we’re leaving money on the table with our two blogs. I’m sure he’s right – I definitely think we could be getting more out of the blogs. The question is what are the different things we could be doing and how do we balance that with the time investment? For example, last month we added the shop to our blog and in April, we made our first sale of $13.50. While this is a relatively small portion of our income, it is passive and it’s nice to be earning affiliate income for a change aka something Google won’t punish us for.
Our next focus for this month is going to be banner ads, starting with the sidebar. I really like this for several reasons.
So, we have the real estate on both our blogs and the question is how do we fill them and what companies to seek out. Well, we purchased another plugin that we’ll be updating you on in the next income report, as well as mentioning our successes and failures in reaching out to companies – you can be sure we won’t hold back.
OK, enough rambling, here’s what everyone wants to see!
Google Page Rank: 3/10
Domain Authority: 41/100
Total Revenue: $5,575
ACoupleTravelers – $4905.82
AvocadoPesto – $669.13
Total Business Costs: $400
Total Value Received: $54
Previous Income Updates (Food Blog)