- Travel Topics
Vicky and I have “finished” trekking in Nepal (a term I use quite loosely as I got altitude sickness and had to come down after 2 days). I had imagined that trekking for a few weeks in November would probably hurt our income for the month, but I guess that is one bright side of altitude sickness. In preparation I did what I could to really put everything on the VAs to see to what extent they could run things while I am not around. To be honest, I reckon that 90% of what I do can and should be outsourced. Up until now I’ve been running at around 60-70% outsourced and I should have incorporated the other 20-30% earlier, which was my error.
In other news, Vadovia has stopped accepting paid tours while they transition and that was always around $500 a month for us, but we had a good time and I’m glad we took advantage of it while it was out there. You have to jump on those things, as they don’t come around too often. A good lesson for sure.
We have actually been talking about halting our travels earlier or at least altering to the plan to incorporate some house sitting in 2014. I really just don’t see us going another year, we don’t have the enthusiasm for it. I’m more interested in settling down for a bit, abroad, and working on some online projects. It’s so difficult to start something while traveling, not impossible, but difficult. We were looking at some apartments in the Thai islands, Indonesia, and Malaysia and there are some very nice ones around $800-$1200 a month, which is more than in our price range and affords us all the comforts we need (beach, gym, internet, etc). Before that though we have a few more boxes to tick, primarily in India, and then we’ll see where to go from here.
Working With Businesses
I decided I would try and experiment this month seeing if I could solicit ads from legitimate travel companies. I figured, hey, this is a travel blog, we should be working with travel companies. If it works, it will be a scalable model as there are thousands of travel companies out there. It would also provide us with an incentive to grow our traffic and social media reach. I have also been very interested in the subscription model, so to speak, which is to create something that people pay to subscribe to. The benefit of this model is that people pay monthly so it creates recurring income streams. Also, depending on what you charge, if you can even find say 100 people (not a lot when you’re drawing from thousands) and are charging them $10 a month (also not a lot if you’re providing appropriate value), then that’s an extra $1k a month! Easier said than done of course, but it has its merits.
So I created a business page on the website, and by that I mean a blank page on the website where I was going to list businesses with their link (nofollow) and a description about the business supplied by them. I could have dressed this up really nicely but I wanted to try a really bare bones, get it out fast approach. Marketing is important but I felt to some extent people would either be interested or not. Later on, if I got any hits at all I could make it look better and offer more stuff in order to increase the response rate
The offer was simple. A link to your business with a description on this page. The value proposition was that potential readers would come across it and maybe see your company, hop over to your website, and book a tour for example. The price of a tour isn’t cheap compared to what I was charging so if you even get one incremental person it pays for itself.
I priced it at three different levels, $10/month, $5/month, and $2/month and had three batches of emails go out, 40 companies each. I had our VA collect the emails from Trip Advisor activities in NYC, Paris, and London. Lastly, I stuck up a few companies for free to make it look like people/competitors were already interested.
The results were largely underwhelming though not without lessons. I can largely group them into the following buckets
Thanks but I have no budget for working with travel blogs
Thanks but I don’t have a budget for this, however I can offer you a discount or free tour
Thanks but although I have a budget for working with bloggers I want people who have actually used my services and feel they can personally recommend me
In total I received two yeses at the $2/month mark. Of these, one paid for the entire year upfront and the other I think has since changed their mind or is not responding to emails. This basically paid for the work the VA did.
Of those buckets, there isn’t much that we can do to fix 1 and 2. Unfortunately, as for 3, we have already been to NYC, London, and Paris so we weren’t able to capitalize on that, but it did give me an idea to try something similar when we head to our next major western city (Sydney in January). 4 is totally reasonable that the person insisted that, but the fact is if we just worked with people that worked with us, this model wouldn’t be scalable at all. I wanted to create a sort of travel directory/listings on my site – not a list of companies I can personally recommend.
Overall it was disappointing though perhaps not terribly surprising how few people were interested in working with this travel blog. It’s true, we don’t get a ton of traffic but we do get thousands of visitors a month and if you don’t think 100k visitors a year on this blog is worth $20, well, that’s a tough valuation (though maybe it’s the truth) and it’s one of the reasons why I haven’t put as much effort into this blog going forward when there are so many other lucrative opportunities.
As I said before, there are potentially a few things I could do to dress this up if I wanted to, namely, making the page look more professional as well as sweetening the deal to include social media and newsletter exposure. All of that might be worth trying for the Sydney batch when that time comes in a few months, but it’s nothing I’m going to jump on immediately.
Advertising held reasonably steady this month though we’re seeing an expected decline in the brokering program as we phase it out and phase in more of our own blogs. As many bloggers are aware there was a Google update this month which negatively impacted many bloggers who do what we’re doing now. We were lucky enough to escape unscathed this time, but it has still impacted the general environment and for at least the bulk of the month I felt that demand was noticeably lower than usual. On the other hand though, while for the majority of the month it seemed relatively like a lull, it’s the type of thing that can turn on a dime if an advertiser makes a big order, and that’s more or less what happened; In the last 7-10 days I had a few $600-$700 orders across my blogs and that really made the difference for me. It does seem like the end of the month tends to yield the most orders.
But really, I try not to think about it too much.
There’s more important things to do with our time, namely, finding out what’s going to be our next big thing. As I was explaining to a few people in the course we’re offering, you would probably think from our month to month earnings that I spend a lot of my time thinking and working on this advertising, but really the majority of time is spent brainstorming other ideas altogether. I’ve had a few people reach out to me to share ideas and discuss potential partnerships, which is great, but it’s still a process.
I’m still convinced that at one point or another I have to take the plunge and purchase a website that isn’t a garbage can like the one’s we’ve been purchasing (albeit lucrative garbage cans), but something that is actually earning in a legitimate way; adsense, affiliate sales, subscriptions, etc. The difficulty that I’m running into it how to properly value them. I’ve been working with blogs for sometime now and it’s quite easy for me to value a blog and say I could probably make X on this so I’m happy to bid Y. As it turns out, because this is a relatively niche thing we’re involved in I can usually get blogs at a much lower amount then I believe they make, and so far that has held true.
When it comes to other sites, however, I’m a bit at a loss, and I feel like I’m running into other “mes” out there who have been working with adsense and affiliate sale blogs for some time, know the ins and outs of SEO and promotion, and therefore can outbid me every time. It seems that just about anything that is earning money in a verifiable way doesn’t sell for less than $500, which for me is right on that line between a lot and a little. It’s kind of just enough money that I don’t want to lose it getting stuck with a lemon. At some point I’m going to have to take the plunge though – it’s the logical next step. I just have to keep looking and find the right website to break the ice with.
Traffic and Sources
Google Page Rank: 3/10
Domain Authority: 41/100
ACoupleTravelers – $16,557
AvocadoPesto – $1,259
Total Business Costs: $2,655
Total Value Received: $0
As we are heading to India, this month we donated $150 to Pratigya Children’s Shelter, a part of the Dalit Freedom Network.
“Dalit Freedom Network UK is working to bring freedom, hope and justice to India’s Dalits (Untouchables) by helping end Dalit trafficking and slavery. Almost half of all those people who are trafficked or in modern slavery around the world today are Dalits in India”