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A Couple Travelers By The Numbers: Feb ’13 Income – $3132

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Hello All!

It’s time for another traffic and income update. February was a short yet interesting month as we spent pretty much all of it in Burma, a country both Vicky and I have been anticipating for quite some time. Those posts will be trickling in now that we’re back in Thailand with sufficient internet and time.

Social Media: 

For a long time Vicky and I have pretty much been letting this play its course because I don’t know what I’m doing and Vicky can’t be bothered to pin every single post, etc. In February, however, we saw something in the traffic that was very interesting. Note the very large uptick in the middle of the month. That’s pretty much entirely Facebook referral traffic.

Beautiful isn’t it?

It’s great to see these signs of life and I think this speaks volumes about additional traffic sources and how powerful Social Media can be when done right. We’re always looking for something that can rival Google and over the last few weeks we’ve picked up a few ideas from other bloggers about how to “do” social media. One really nice insight was to begin posting our posts on relevant groups, fan pages, etc. For example, why not post our Top 10 Things To Do In Tokyo post on a fan page for people who love Tokyo. The audience is clearly interested in the topic and new to our blog – a perfect fit. We’ve already got our Virtual Assistant working on this and I hope that this will lead to increased, sustainable social media traffic in March.

Traffic:

Traffic this month was more or less steady with a slight dip largely attributable to our lack of internet and promoting abilities while in Burma. If you look at StumbleUpon, for example, we’re down a couple hundred page views from last month because we didn’t manage to click the button for all of our posts. Moreover, we didn’t post as frequently as prior months, but that’s going to change in March as we come back strong with loads of Burma posts.

Guest posts and interviews this month:

and the interviews we do on our site

Business: 

I’m going to call this business from now on instead of advertising because that’s the way I want to think of it. We’re trying to branch out beyond just our simple advertising model and business is a more appropriate term.

Despite our slow start we finished incredibly strong in February, which was our highest month ever. Actually, it’s in part due to our slow start that things turned out the way they did. After the first week in February we had only managed to collect a few hundred dollars so I shifted gears a bit and proactively reached out to my remaining contacts. When it rains it pours, as they say, and we got a lot of replies and ended up slightly overwhelmed and having to push a few requests back to March. I love starting the month with a backlog!

A few words of advice on dealing with advertisers:

  1. Always follow up in a separate email – I find pretty often that advertisers make mental notes when they see things but don’t have time to act but then forget (like all of us). I follow up in a separate email in case the first one fell into spam just to remind them and get them to act on it a bit sooner.
  2. Remove things like “advertise”, “sponsor”, etc from the original email – This might just be superstition but I’ve been doing this lately because I think it might help keep the email from falling into spam.
  3. Aim high but offer to negotiate – I like to lead with a pretty high price for a post, say for example, $250. This is good because some people will actually go for it. Others will say it’s too high, and then we negotiate. This works well with the follow up because sometimes I find that they read the original email and decide that it’s just too high and they won’t bother to reply. Then, when I email again, they initiate conversation and we can agree to something more reasonable.
  4. Check your spam – most of the time the advertising messages that end up in our spam folder belong there, but once in a blue moon it amounts to something.

A few things I’m trying to work on

  1. Asking them to pay the paypal fee – I hear from a lot of people that their advertisers will cover the paypal fee. At first I didn’t think anything of this (assuming we wouldn’t make enough for this to matter), but now I’m starting to realize 3-4% is a lot of money…
  2. Including authority links in the posts – This is just making it better in Google’s eyes and avoiding red flags. We’re always worried that this little business of ours is going to be shut down and it could come at any day. Best to do what we can to mitigate this.

Blog Partnership

Another factor in our success resulted from working with another blogger to advertise one of his blogs. The concept is very simple, we pitch his blog to our advertising contacts and split the commissions. If we don’t make any money for him we don’t get any money. The upside for him, of course, is that he gets access to a large “database” of contacts that might otherwise not find his blog. We handle all the content writing and communication and therefore the work required on his part is fairly minimal. He has complete control on signing off on any deals. The potential downside, if any, is that he might be cannibalizing some of his own future advertising contacts. It’s certainly something you have to consider but I can see this being very beneficial for the right type of blog, particularly a new one that doesn’t have access to many contacts and isn’t being contacted very often.

So, naturally, Vicky and I got to thinking and we thought this might be a “service” that we could offer to other travel bloggers as well. We’ve been working with advertisers for 6 months now and have built up about 250 contacts. Month to month these largely go untapped since we’ve already pitched our own blogs, so why not pitch other traveler’s blogs with their permission? The work on the blogger’s part is essentially nil, since we handle the communication, the writing, and we can even handle the post formatting/publishing (if granted author access in the backend). I don’t like stepping on peoples’ toes so we’re not going to make a big thing out of this, but we’ve contacted a few carefully selected bloggers to see if there is any interest. As for everyone else, if you have a travel blog that’s PR2 or higher and are interested in working with us to promote it, send us an email and we’d be happy to work something out!

Virtual Assistants

We’ve mentioned a few times now that we’re working with several assistants for our blogs, which has generated a few questions i.e What do they do? Where do you find them? What do you pay them?

Just to quickly address a few of these questions now. We’ve primarily used eLance.com to find competent virtual assistants from all over the world and have worked with numerous individuals over the last few months. Nowadays, however, we primarily work with two individuals on a more long term basis. We generally pay them between $6 – $7 per hour, which is a mutually agreed upon rate. Frankly, there are people who are willing to work for half that, but Vicky and I have been very happy with the quality we’ve received thus far and are not interested in seeking cheaper labor. Here are a few of the tasks they’ve done for us in the past

NOTE: this isn’t to say that they do all of these all the time, it just means that at some point or another they’ve done this.

  1. Social media promotion
  2. Online research
  3. Finding cooking schools
  4. Contacting advertisers/potential sponsors
  5. Reserving hotels
  6. Uploading and formatting posts
  7. Writing a post
  8. Creating a media kit for us
  9. Contacting couchsurfers

In total we’ve shelled out around $600 across various projects and after our new site is built that number will be over $1000 so it’s by no means a small investment. If you’re interested in more details like seeing our exact proposals just send us an email!

If you’re thinking about working with a VA…

  1. Be Clear – If you’re not clear in your task you’re destined to get something you either don’t want or have the VA spend way more time than you want doing something. If you want someone to look for cooking schools in Vietnam narrow down the cities, and then narrow down further what the limit should be for the number of cooking schools found per city or you’ll end up with 100 cooking schools in Hanoi and 3 hours of wasted time.
  2. Think Ahead – It’s a funny thing having an employee and you start to get this feeling like you can just get whatever you want and all of the sudden you’re making requests for things you THINK you need but really don’t, or at least, you probably don’t need them for another month or something. Think ahead or you’ll end up wasting their time and your money.

Social Media

Website Statistics

Page Views - act feb sources - act feb

Google Page Rank: 3/10

Domain Authority: 38/100

Advertising

Total Advertising Revenue: $4,384

  • Direct Advertising ACoupleTravelers: $3,132
  • Direct Advertising AvocadoPesto: $1089
  • Direct Advertising Other: $163

Total Business Costs: $232

  • Two Domain Names: $30
  • Virtual Assistants: $202

Total Value Received: $0

Find previous traffic updates:

Previous Income Updates (Food Blog)

If you enjoyed this article, join others and get free email updates!

44 Responses to A Couple Travelers By The Numbers: Feb ’13 Income – $3132

  1. Pingback: February 2013 Traffic and Income Report - $1094 - avocadopesto

  2. great to see some travel bloggers being upfront about stats and rev – gives me a good point of reference!

    Think i need to step up the game pinterest and Google+ wise through and utilise that traffic!

    Good job guys!

    Chris March 4, 2013 at 1:29 PM Reply
    • Thanks, we do these every month and I haven’t seen too many of them on other travel blogs but I think there’s value here for us all to be a bit more open. Pinterest definitely has traffic capabilities – on Vicky’s food blog it’s usually in the top 5.

      Dave and Vicky March 4, 2013 at 3:24 PM Reply
  3. Hey,

    This is a great read for a new travel blogger such as myself. Very informative. I haven’t got into advertising yet as it’s only my second month but I’ve been offered guest posts and asked to do guest posts for some pretty big players and it’s always so rewarding when that happens. Also automatic traffic is also a nice surprise. On days when I haven’t advertised at all and I’ve managed to generate knock on traffic from social media sites or people posting my site all over the web.

    I make a habit of posting in groups of interest. Google+ communities generate a lot of traffic and posting in FB groups.

    Thanks for the advise.

    Londoner Kate March 4, 2013 at 5:38 PM Reply
    • Thanks Kay, the key is definitely patience. Nothing happens in a day, not with blogging at least. We do these updates every month and if you look back you can really see the progress in terms of traffic and income.

      That’s a good habit – We really need to work on our Google+

      Dave and Vicky March 4, 2013 at 11:20 PM Reply
  4. As always, another fantastic update from you both. I love the way you’re thinking outside to box on the business and social media aspects of blogging. Very clever!

    Bethaney - Flashpacker Family March 4, 2013 at 6:23 PM Reply
    • Thanks Beth – hope it pays off in the next update!

      Dave and Vicky March 4, 2013 at 11:18 PM Reply
  5. You got it down! We have to figure out how to be as successful as you guys!!! Any tips for newbies? When did you begin getting your first advertising income? Any tips helpful!

    Hannah @ Getting Stamped March 4, 2013 at 7:15 PM Reply
  6. Hi Guys! I came over from Nomadic Matt’s blog to say hello!

    I really think it’s interesting how you both are on the same page and you’ve been able too successfully leave your jobs and travel. Not only are you travelling, but you are making an income stream with your projects. That’s fantastic. I want to say I’m jealous, but actually, I’m celebrating your success!

    I’m Cat, and I have a blog that is mostly about my life and random thoughts (cars, IT, travel, people I meet). I started it in 2010 with the idea of focusing on horses, and then I realized I didn’t want to be in the equine industry extensively. Recently I have been focusing on travel, to ramp myself up for quitting my job and starting to blog about travel! So I left and moved to Hawaii, where I don’t know how things will turn out.

    In the meantime I am reading about other people’s adventures and have found them very inspiring. I can’t express how awesome I think it is that you travel together! Happy Travels!!! 😀

    Cat March 4, 2013 at 9:15 PM Reply
    • Sounds great Cat! I’ve always wanted to have a personal blog where I just share my thoughts, opinions, and was not “confined” to one industry. Nowadays I just don’t have time – already too many blogs to manage. Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

      Dave and Vicky March 5, 2013 at 12:56 AM Reply
  7. Very impressive! I never get much traffic from Stumble Upon. Do you stumble every week and lots of other pages as well, or do you just stumble your own posts?

    TammyOnTheMove March 4, 2013 at 9:17 PM Reply
    • We always stumble our own posts and try to stumble others as well, but to be honest it’s mostly just ours due to time constraints.

      Dave and Vicky March 4, 2013 at 11:17 PM Reply
  8. Hey guys,

    This is the first I’ve seen your blog. I found it after seeing your interview on NomadicMatt. I just wanted to say that I absolutely LOVE this post! I’ve traveled in the past, never more than 5 weeks though, and it’s always been in my mind that I should pick up and travel for a full year or more. I’ve also been learning SEO and internet marketing for the past 2 yeas while working for a top agency so I’ve been wondering more and more what my skills could make me while on the road. I’ve read a lot of travel blogs, but have never seen any share the actual numbers and analytics data. It’s very refreshing and provides a great point of reference! More than that, the monthly blogging income graph is the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in such a long time. It provides real data on what can be accomplished! Obviously the adventure of traveling is the goal, but the ability to make money while you’re traveling is what keeps the journey going. I’ll be following along some of your next posts. Congrats on all your success so far!

    Cheers,
    Brian

    Brian Donohue March 5, 2013 at 1:45 AM Reply
    • Hey Brian, thanks for stopping by!

      I’m glad you liked the post. You know, just thirty minutes ago we received an email where someone said that they were unsubscribing because they didn’t like us sharing the income reports (this was on vicky’s food blog, avocadopesto.com, where we also do these posts). So, not everyone loves them, and I know they can turn off some people who think we might be gloating. Clearly though, we were dedicated to doing this before we had any concept of making money from this blog and continue to share month to month in the hopes that it will benefit others. Cheers!

      Dave and Vicky March 5, 2013 at 1:49 AM Reply
  9. Hey Guys,

    Love your website and this article is great! I just have one question… how did you originally go about getting you advertising list together? I want to start monitizing my site, but finding it really difficult to start!

    AQ (www.suitqaisdiaries.com)

    Adrian Qais March 5, 2013 at 8:52 AM Reply
    • In the beginning we had a few people contact us. Enough to go to other bloggers and see if they were interested in trading. That’s mostly what we’ve done and still do.

      Dave and Vicky March 5, 2013 at 8:59 AM Reply
      • Thank you so much for the quick reply! Ok – I’ll wait until I have a few more advertisers and then go to other bloggers and see if I can trade! Thank you so much again – Loving your work guys!

        Adrian Qais March 7, 2013 at 6:06 AM Reply
  10. Hey Guys!

    Really interesting post. Natalie and I have been on the road two months, blogging the whole way. Our idea was to create content first then worry about monetizing the blog if we felt we were doing well and generating organic traffic. It’s REALLY difficult to find any hard stats on the subject to cross reference our progress though. We are still newbies to the game but learning more everyday. You guys seem super knowledgeable on the subject, we’ed love to connect and will be following your progress!

    Safe travels!

    Cliff and Natalie March 5, 2013 at 9:31 AM Reply
    • Thanks guys – shoot us an email anytime you have questions. Check out the earlier traffic updates to see where we were at (though the blog had been around for a few months when we started these posts). Hope we run into each other at some point, check out our route!

      Dave and Vicky March 5, 2013 at 9:32 AM Reply
  11. Wow! Your success with monetizing your blog is very impressive.
    We are just a beginners in this subject, and to see your success is very
    inspiring for us to keep on blogging.

    Thank you very much for sharing all this data.

    Gadi & Tun

    Gadi & Tun March 6, 2013 at 8:46 AM Reply
  12. This is interesting information. Nice work, now where should we get started? 🙂

    T.J. & Charlotte March 7, 2013 at 6:36 PM Reply
    • Promoting your blog via guest posts and interviews, I think, is a strong start!

      Dave and Vicky March 9, 2013 at 10:11 AM Reply
  13. Hi Dave & Vicky!

    As an idea on your next project have you been thinking about
    “Blog Coaching” ? Like for example this guy here does http://www.bloggingcartel.com/services–pricing.html. (and I don’t try to promote him)

    beinginawe March 9, 2013 at 7:57 AM Reply
    • Thanks, we don’t feel like we’re nearly qualified enough to give people other than simple advice but we appreciate the thought!

      Dave and Vicky March 9, 2013 at 10:11 AM Reply
  14. again congratulations to your success this month and thanks for sharing a lot of helpful insights on how you manage your blogging business…

    wishing you both continuous success…

    flipnomad March 10, 2013 at 6:58 AM Reply
  15. Hi Dave and Vicky,

    Very interesting post. I learned about you from your interview in nomadicmatt’s site. I’ve read through some of your posts on this site as well. Kudos to both of you for traveling, for being travel bloggers, and for being transparent about the expenses and the business side of it! 🙂 I’ve also read your post about couchsurfing, and I don’t have a profile there yet, but I plan to put one up soon. During the start of the year, after my Christmas holiday (and travel), I thought of putting up a travel blog, but got swamped with work. Oh well… hehe.. Btw, since you’re in SEA – if the Philippines is in your itinerary, and you would like to meet a local, email me. I don’t know if I’ll be able to host you, but I am open for a meet-up or drinks, and maybe touring you in my corner of the world. =) Cheers!

    Katie March 11, 2013 at 8:38 AM Reply
    • Thanks Kate! When you sign up for CS you should definitely friend us both (we have separate accounts). We will reach out to you again when we are in the Philippines but that’s not until 2014 lol. Hope you’ll be around!

      Dave and Vicky March 11, 2013 at 8:56 AM Reply
  16. This is one of the best travel blog series out there. I’m glad you’re forthright and open about how you do it and what you make. We chose not to seek out advertising or revenue as we’ve traveled for the last 2+ years, but these have been great to follow and consider what could be done. Thanks so much for it.

    Check out our travel guides (http://www.livingif.com/travel-guides/) for your future destinations, we meticulously track spending as you do, so I think you can find the costs for countries pretty useful.

    Matt @ LivingIF.com March 20, 2013 at 10:12 PM Reply
    • Thanks Matt, we really appreciate it. We’ll check out those guides to see if you have any for Lao and Cambodia (our next destinations). Cheers!

      Dave and Vicky March 20, 2013 at 11:29 PM Reply
  17. Pingback: Income Report Roundup - March 2013 - Matthew Woodward

  18. Nice job guys!

    If you were to do it all over again, would you still go to college? A friend just told me that BU and Harvard are around $65,000 a year all in! Gulp. Did your folks pay for school? We have this whole education bubble debate in the personal finance sphere and one of the solutions is to make students pay for their own education.

    Sam

    Financial Samurai March 28, 2013 at 2:09 PM Reply
    • Hey Sam – yeah, we would definitely go to college, for a lot of reasons actually. First I’d say they aren’t that expensive, more like $50k or so, not to say that isn’t expensive, just not $65k. Second a lot of colleges give need based aid, so Vicky and I did not have to pay the full ride, in fact, Harvard only cost my parents about $10k a year, which is very reasonable by American standards. Vicky took out some loans, and we finished paying those back last year, so it was a mix of parents and kids paying. Lastly, the fact that we are even on this rtw trip and making this income is related to the jobs we got after college, the experiences we had there, etc, so it was certainly necessary in our case. Though I do agree with your points about the bubble, I think that is more applicable to higher education (law, business, etc) than undergrad.

      Dave and Vicky March 28, 2013 at 10:23 PM Reply
      • Gotcha. It’s definitely good there’s aid from some of the most expensive private schools.

        Are you guys concerned at all about the Direct Advertising component of your income stream? There’s been a 180 in the personal finance space on direct ads and many are no longer accepting paid links and such given how the Google algos have aggressively changed to punish sites. It’s kinda scary for those of us who want to make a living online.

        Financial Samurai March 30, 2013 at 10:57 AM Reply
        • At this point we’ve profited well enough from it that even if Google pulled the plug tomorrow, I wouldn’t regret the decision. The time to be scared was in October when we just started.

          But yes, we’re always concerned that our income stream is going to dry up, but frankly never planned or expected to be making this much at all, so in terms of our budget we’re not in need of it for our two year travel plan. That said, I certainly don’t feel like we’re making a living online, at least not in any sustainable way that I can depend on a year from now. If we had affiliate sales, ebooks, etc, that would be different. As of now, we’re just trying to capitalize on the opportunity while it’s lasts, and buy ourselves some time to pursue other alternatives.

          Dave and Vicky March 30, 2013 at 11:01 AM Reply
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  20. Pingback: Tuesday Talks – Dave & Vicky From A Couple Travelers | Almost Fearless Travels

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