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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)

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