- Travel Topics
Wow, what a month it’s been. We have a great traffic and income report to bring to you today so I’m just going to cut right to the chase as we have lots to talk about.
Last month I mentioned that we were going to start posting on relevant groups, fan pages, etc to see if we could boost our Facebook traffic. For example, why not post our Top 10 Things To Do In Tokyo post on a fan page for people who love Tokyo. Well, we gave this a try for a few days and while we did see an uptick in traffic, we just didn’t feel that the small increase justified the time/cost that was required to find the relevant groups and post there. Still, it’s an idea that perhaps we’ll revisit in the future if we see some compelling results elsewhere or find a way to be more efficient with it.
All the same, that didn’t mean that we were inactive on Facebook in March. In fact, Vicky made a concerted effort to start posting regular status updates and fan page posts (if you follow us, you probably noticed the influx). Social Media, as I have heard, is one of those things that you get out what you put in – there aren’t many shortcuts. So, what did we see? Well consider this graph:
Facebook doesn’t let me adjust the date here, but I can tell you before March that was a pretty flat curve.
Now, that’s all well and good, but what does it really translate to? Well, let’s take a look at our likes:
As you can see, we’re getting a lot more activity in March as compared to February. The large uptick in the middle there comes from when we suggested our page to our Facebook friends (a function that all pages can do, but that we’ve never done up until now). I imagine it’s something you can do once and get a nice boost from it, but later times won’t yield much.
The funny thing is, is that we actually removed the Facebook Like Pop Up for March. Frankly, it did great at the start but lately we haven’t seen anything from it. It’s almost as if there were a group of people who needed to be suggested to (much like the above tick), and once you do it once, it works, but it’s not a long term thing. I think the pop up and the fan page suggestion work similarly like that.
It’s nice to see some progress on this front though it’s still very difficult to tease out the effort and attribute any engagement/traffic increase to it. It’s certainly not overwhelming and you can’t just look at Facebook referral traffic because there could be lots of reasons why they are coming to your blog from FB, such as what other bloggers decided to share. Still, we certainly feel like it is paying off, as all metrics point in that direction.
Is It Worth It To Purchase Products?
We recently purchased a twitter product as well to help increase followers. We rarely, if ever, purchase anything but I think it’s time to start testing some reputable products and putting our earnings back into the blog. There just aren’t enough people attempting to spend money on their blog and report the results, which I think is a shame. So far, this product is doing wonders for our account – so much so that we saw about 100 follower increase in 24 hours. Still, I want to allow one month to progress to give a fuller picture of it, so you’ll just have to wait until the April update – sorry!
Similarly, my last musing around email list subscribers. Right now ACoupleTravelers has a newsletter with about 50 people on it (you can sign up on the sidebar). We haven’t sent out a single article, and won’t until we get more people subscribed, but we haven’t really made much of an effort to do so. One thing I read over and over again is the importance of email subscribers – though I don’t know exactly what we would do with them. I’m very close to buying a pop up which I’ve heard works incredibly well to increase conversion, but I’d like to have a free product to offer to sweeten the deal. Hopefully more developments next month.
We had a record breaking month largely thanks to our interview on Nomadic Matt.
Guest posts and interviews this month:
As many bloggers know, Matt runs a huge travel blog, one of the largest on the web. Needless to say, a front page interview on his website brought loads of engaged traffic to our site. In fact, the people didn’t just come to take a look, many of them delved deeply through our pages and left comments. It was quite a shock. Look at the referral traffic and pages per visit count:
Surprise, surprise, Matt get’s really good traffic. But perhaps the real surprise is in how long it is persisting, even now that we’re off the front page and not featured. Moreover, I suspect that many of these people are coming back in the form of direct traffic, which is why even when you subtract the Nomadic Matt referral we still have a record breaking month.
Naturally, this was a relatively lucky break if there ever was one, but it does go to show how crazy a single feature can be in terms of traffic. Now, there’s no particular reason why we should have been featured over any of the other hundreds of potential bloggers – we were just lucky. Back in November, Matt sent out a request for interviews and Vicky was quick to see it and email him. We sent back our interview as soon as possible and Matt eventually got it up at the beginning of March. Often, I find, that good things go to those who can get there first, deserving or not.
Interviews Better Than Guest Posts?
Now might seem like a silly time to talk about why we like interviews and have always made that a cornerstone of our strategy, since it’s really a no-brainer to accept an interview offer from Matt. Still, I thought maybe I would mention why we prefer interviews to guest posts and seek them out. Personally, I don’t think interviews get enough credit. A lot of people are about the guest posting, but I prefer interviews for a few reasons.
First and foremost interviews make the focus about you and not your content. Inevitably when you do one or the other you’re hoping that some of the readers from the blog will come over to check you out. In what scenario do you think this is more likely? I think it’s interviews, and I can tell you that we’ve done some guest posting on some fairly large blogs and they generally send us trickles of traffic. Interviews on the other hand fair a lot better.
The second is SEO. When I write a guest post I include an author bio with links to our blogs, which is great, but it ends there. Interviews generally allow me to include links to our posts, which gets some nice link juice to our inner pages and spreads it out more naturally to the blog. Google loves this. On top of this, we still always get a link to the home page in the intro.
Lastly, it’s about the long term benefit. In my opinion, the long term benefit of almost any post is search engine traffic. That’s how people find something you wrote months ago. When I write a guest post I’m giving up that benefit for whatever referral traffic I’ll get from the blog now, which is usually just a couple days worth. I think when it comes down to it, I’m more likely to get traffic from having a post on our blog for a lifetime than from people coming over because they saw it on another blog over a few days time period. In my opinion this doesn’t pertain to interviews because no one searches for interviews in search engines, so giving them up is no big deal, and there’s no place for an interview with ourselves on our blog anyways – it could only be done elsewhere.
If you’re still hanging in there, congratulations. It’s time to talk business, and March was a record breaking month.
Coincidentally, the Nomadic Matt feature coincided with our February traffic and income update, which resulted in loads of emails and questions about what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, you name it.
I feel like I’ve addressed a lot of this before in past income reports but I’m going to try to go a step beyond what I normally do and share some pieces of information we’ve never talked about (until now).
If you’ve been following along, you know that 99% of our income, unfortunately, comes from selling posts – whereby companies want to be advertised in posts largely for search engine benefit. Here’s a quick Q/A with myself to answer the multitude of questions we’ve received.
How do we get those offers?
We contact them directly, mostly. Sometimes other bloggers refer us, and sometimes they contact us.
How do we get contacts?
We trade with other bloggers. For example, recently I received 100+ new email addresses by swapping lists with another blogger.
Where did the original contacts come from?
For the most part they contacted us, this was back in July/August of last year. Once we had a few, maybe 10, we started trading. We’ve tried other things too. You have to be proactive. I tried asking bloggers if they would just give me them for free (they said no), but at least I asked. I looked at blogs who had advertisements on their sidebars and emailed those companies directly via their website, this probably got me 1 or 2 people out of 50 attempts – so not very efficient.
What do you write?
We send a template email with a quick introduction, our blog stats (PR, DA, Traffic), what we can offer for advertising (posts, sidebar links, etc), and what we charge. I try to include as much info as possible without overwhelming them to cut down on the back and forth. Responding to email takes a lot of time even if you are just giving out your paypal all the time.
What do you charge?
We ask for $250 – which we don’t always get. March was lucky in that we had a lot of big offers, which is why we did so well. Usually we settle for much less. Aim high, make compromises.
What do you accept?
Pretty much everything. Here’s a graph of March. The y axis is number of posts accepted (on both our blogs), the x axis is price sold for.
It is completely random that we didn’t have any in the 150-200 range.
For better or for worse, our strategy has always been to move quantity and sell as many as we could. A lot of bloggers I talk to balk at a $75 post. It’s cheapening the brand, lowering the prices for everyone else, insulting, risky, etc. That’s their business, fine, but I think of it differently.
Some companies honestly don’t have the budget for the big money. They’re smaller and link building is not a top priority for them. They can only offer $75, not because they’re trying to scam you – they just don’t have the budget that some of the big guys do. Still, plenty of the small guys will come back for more, maybe because no one else publishes their posts, which can add up to a lot more than you would think.
Say it takes me about 6 minutes to publish a post and handle the communication if they provide the content. If they pay me $75, that’s $750/hour. Now, I’m not working 9 to 5 on this but I know a good hourly rate when I see one. People want to know why we seem to make that much more than other people doing the same thing given the relative newness of our blog – that’s the difference. Look at the graph and cut off everything below $150. How much less would we have made? I tally it at almost $1500.
What stats do I need?
Probably should be at least a year old, with PR greater than or equal (ge) to 2 and DA ge 30.
Are there any risks?
Sure, Google might deindex your website.
Hopefully that answers most of the questions. There’s plenty of other things we could talk about but it’s largely opinion and speculation based. Those are the facts.
Last month we mentioned that we were partnering up with other blogs to see if we could be successful promoting their blogs to our advertisers. It was a natural progression from where we were because it allows us to better use our contacts, particularly those who we’ve already worked with in the past.
March was our first month doing this head on. We worked with seven blogs and eventually narrowed it down to four that were the most successful in terms of offers received and mutual satisfaction with the program. Certainly, we had our fair share of mixups/mishaps and will have more in the future, but I do think we’re getting the hang of it a little bit. We’re going to continue working with these four as long as both groups are happy and are not taking on any new ones until we get the hang of things more.
The good thing here is that it’s another income stream for us and also is giving new blogs the opportunity to build up their contacts and earn some money if they’re interested. Many of the blogs we worked with earned several hundred dollars in March on account of our partnership and one even earned nearly a grand.
The bad thing is that it relies on the same conditions to earn money. What we’re doing is amplifying our current income not diversifying it, which is what I’d like to be doing. It’s also a lot of work for a relatively smaller income.
Still Trying To Diversify
Believe it or not we are working on other ways to earn money aside from direct advertising, though progress is slow and is largely inhibited by the fact that we’re not “full on”. We have one foot in the personal travel blog mentality, which is not very keen on running a business and more focused on the travel, while another foot is in the “location independent make a living online” mentality. The two are often at odds and it’s a constant struggle between doing what we set out to do and build a business at the same time.
For example, if I was thinking more business, I would be writing a post like “Best Travel Gear From 6 Months On the Road” and pack it with affiliate links for the products we’ve enjoyed using over the last six months. I might still write that post, it’s a good one and I don’t mean to make it sound like a money grab, but still, it’s somewhat separate from our normal posts, which are focused on what we did, where we went, etc. I’d also love to be focusing more on offering products and services, but time is short and I’m not sure we have the experience to offer anything valuable that you can’t find elsewhere. If anyone has any ideas for courses and ebooks they’d like to see but don’t, let us know!
With all that said and done, we did manage to make some progress in a few areas – here are the highlights.
ebooks store – We finally added an ebooks store to our blog. No, the ebooks aren’t ours. That said, we’re happy to market them on our blog because we trust the authors, their brand, and the products that they’re coming up with. You can see the ebooks tab at the top of the menu bar. While we’re not thrilled with the design and would like to have more products there, I’ve learned that sometimes you just have to go and do it, and worry about fixing it later. So, we thought we’d get it up and running now and work on improving it over time, rather than waiting until it’s perfect and delaying it inevitably. If you have something you would like to be marketed there, shoot us an email.
Peer To Peer Lending – One thing Vicky and I have been excited about is peer to peer lending, which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s about giving loans to people on the internet all the while circumventing the banks and collecting the interest. Imagine investing in stocks, but the stock is someone’s loan request. We’ve read some very positive accounts about this and finally got around to investing around $1k into it. We’ll share the preliminary results next month.
Other Sites – I finally got around to purchasing a website on Flippa.com for around $500. It’s a website that sells Facebook Likes, Twitter Followers, and YouTube Views – how noble of me. Oh well, it was an itch I’ve been wanting to scratch for sometime now. So far the results aren’t going so well as we haven’t had a single sale, but maybe we can turn that around in April with some creative marketing.
How long does this all take?
Lately, each month brings more and more to write about, which is usually a good thing, but it probably leaves many people wondering if we do any traveling at all or if we just go from place to place and sit in our rooms all day and work. Interestingly enough, in January I took note of how long I was spending on the blog everyday. I thought I would make this into a separate post but then decided against it. Still, I’ll share the results now since I did the work. Drum roll please….
AVG: 1.5 hours/day
Yeah, no fancy graphs this time – we’ll keep it uber simple. In January I was spending around 1.5 hours a day on the blog. That’s a seven day a week average though, so I guess it’s like 2 hours a day in a normal work week. Granted, Vicky was probably spending a similar amount of time, but because there are two of us we tend to run twice as many things and not one thing twice as much.
Admittedly, in February and March I think that average was higher, maybe 3 hours? The newest projects, particularly the blog partnering and the new websites, are requiring a lot more time despite the fact that they are yielding a lot less income. Still, the hourly rate seems to be lucrative so we’re going to keep going with it while we look for other opportunities.
OK, enough rambling, here’s what everyone wants to see!
Google Page Rank: 3/10
Domain Authority: 37/100
Total Revenue: $6,109
Total Business Costs: $950
Total Value Received: $270
Previous Income Updates (Food Blog)