Blog income report for June 2018 main

Welcome to my blog income report for June 2018!

Cloud9 Fiji

If you are new here, my name is Mar and I am the Owner and Editor of Once in a Lifetime Journey. The photo on the left is me swimming under Cloud9 in Fiji.

This blog is almost four and a half years old and is about luxury and out of the ordinary travel. If you are keen to read about one of the 100 countries I have been to, check out my Destinations page. Not all countries are represented there because some of them I visited long before I started this blog, but a fair few will be.

If you are an avid traveler you may also want to check my Travel Resources page with my recommendations for the best apps, tools and websites I use when planning, going on or returning from a trip.

It all started with a post about How Travel Bloggers make Money. It then followed with a book expanding to all niches and to all online channels.

For the book research, I scrutinised in detail, over 50 blog income reports from top earning bloggers. And it got me thinking.

Should I also publish my own blog income report?

Deciding to do so was not an easy or obvious choice. But like I always say with everything in my life:

What is the worst that can happen?

So I took it with a “try and see” approach: let’s try to publish a couple of income reports and see if it brings me and my readers any value.

If it doesn’t, I will stop.

If it does, I will continue to share them.

You will be asking, why am I sharing such personal and private information with a world of strangers and what value do I expect this to add to you or me?

That is precisely the same question I asked myself a few times before taking the leap. The answer is similar to the rest of the bloggers who share their income breakdown and it is two-fold:

1. Firstly, I feel it will be valuable for me to reflect and track my own progress and it will aid in keeping myself accountable to my priorities. I am a big fan of data-driven decisions and of analytics, so looking at graphs and trends is something which has always been in my DNA.

2. Secondly, I hope it will also help give others looking to make money online new ideas on ways to monetise their blog, because I am not doing what most people do and have a diverse and varying monthly income which will reflect in a different income report to the majority of the very successful bloggers.

3. Thirdly, although there are lots of bloggers publishing income reports, there are very few in the travel niche, and outside of the US, so I felt I could add something into the conversation

All too often, the more popular bloggers on the list of top-earning blogs I looked at draw too much of their blog’s revenue from streams that are hard to replicate by other bloggers in the short-term. I am referring to things like large advertising amounts or affiliates in very competitive niches with lots of available content. At the lower end of the scale, a lot of bloggers earning $1,000 to $2,000 are just doing the obvious things like ads and some sponsored posts. It is hard to draw too many learnings from that and, as the world of blogging becomes more and more saturated, these revenue streams will only become more scarce.

Why am I different from them?

I am pretty special 🙂 No really, I think I can bring in something the rest of the bloggers publishing income reports can’t.

 I had a full time job  – For the first 4 years of running the blog and for 15 years in total, I had a full time job for various corporations. This was up until January 2018, when I decided to focus my attention on the blogs and influencer work completely and handed in my resignation for my job at Google. Also, I am open to trying out all sorts of different ideas, testing them, learning what works and what doesn’t and moving on from failures. I was never afraid to fail, but I always feared not trying.

 I am in the travel niche  – Travel is an interesting niche because not a lot of blogs publish income reports and because a lot of the value received is in kind. This type of “income” is not usually reflected by other bloggers and I want to make a point of adding it in because it is a saving that I would have otherwise incurred.

I hope I can share these insights and also remain more relatable than the larger bloggers who publish blog income reports running in the thousands of dollars every month.

Previous Income Reports

If you are not new to my Income reports or to this blog, you can probably skip the next two sections about how it all started and what makes me and my blog unique.

If you are new to Once in a Lifetime Journey and just stumbled upon my blog income report, let me give you the lowdown about my background and how I got here.

I started my blog in February 2014 as a repository of my travel experiences. It was mostly an online diary of sorts and I tried to keep the blog as hidden as possible. I did not tell anyone I was writing it for the first few months as I was writing for myself.

Blogging was therapeutic for me, akin to meditation. I had just quit my eight-year long management consulting career and was taking a break, experimenting with opening a cafe, investing in some startups and even running a travel company.

You can read more about my background in my About page, where I tell you why and how I travelled 80% of my time and how I decided to start a blog.

Blogging was therapeutic for me, akin to meditation

My efforts to hide my online presence were quite successful and although I kept adding new content, the Google magic only helped at the beginning, bringing me lots of strangers that were interested in reading about my shenanigans. But once the world of blogging became so crowded and everyone started travel blogs, the additional content started to bring me no additional growth in views or readers.

This inflection point happened just a couple of months after I attended a travel blogging conference in October 2015 in Bangkok. I had not tried to monetise my blog at all until that point, in fact, I had only just started telling people I had it over a year after it started.

The conference opened my eyes to the possibilities of earning a full time living from a blog. From that moment onwards, my entrepreneurial and business mindset could not stop me from at least trying to make it happen.

I also realised that my personal blog, this one you are on, was a good avenue for my trips but that my niche and personal preferences were very unique. I visit either very remote and off-the-beaten-path destinations which receive little to no tourists or go on luxurious vacations. I have a few friends who enjoy the same type of travel, but this dichotomy did not help my positioning as it was slightly schizophrenic and almost an oxymoron.

 Do you know what The Least Visited Countries in the World are?  -> I compiled my own data in this article

In order to have a more niche-oriented blog, I decided to start Singapore n Beyond which is entirely focused on Singaporean residents, providing them with long weekend trip itineraries curated by local experts in and around Asia or beyond. I started Singapore n Beyond because I realised this was an unanswered need. Singapore is small and residents tend to travel a lot, in fact Singapore ranks among the 10 best travelled nations. I intended to start the blog with the intention of monetising it.

However, I had a full time job until February 2018 so revenue was never been an objective of mine. I have a very financially-oriented mind and I create business plans for everything I do. I have also invested in a couple of startups as an angel investor. But I did not truly look at the blog as a business until 2017.

I am telling you this so you understand my frame of mind.

I never sought maximum monetisation from the blog so I declined a lot of offers from brands looking to collaborate that were not in the price range I was willing to accept. I priced myself at the higher end of the range to maximise my hourly rate not my total income.

Had my income depended on the blog, I would have accepted a lot of subpar offers and increased my monthly earnings, albeit at the expense of my hourly rate.

Although a lot of my learnings and experiences will be relatable and replicable, I need to point out a few things which make my blogs unique:

I outsource

I am a strong believer in outsourcing for two reasons. I believe in specialisation and in maximising productivity as a whole. Hence, it makes no sense for me to do something I am not good at and will take long to solve when I can hire someone who will do it better and faster (hence cheaper).

What this means:

1. I hired a Content Manager early on to take care of Singapore n Beyond and help me with the management of the two blogs. He takes care of uploading articles into WP, managing all the SEO related stuff, some social media and also editing videos and photos and he has a two degrees in English and Multimedia respectively.

2. I engage paid freelancer writers to produce the content for Singapore n Beyond. This is not just for efficiency purposes but because I wanted the content to be provided by a writer who knew the destination very well, not just me after a 2-3 day trip. So the content there is curated by local experts.

3. I have a part-time social media manager who handles Pinterest.

4. I hire freelancers for a lot of other tasks that require a skillset.

5. I use an IT and WordPress expert who I found on Fiverr long ago to handle all the WP related stuff, changes, fixes and anything. She is awesome and she is quick and very affordable.

You may not have the financial ability or agree with the mentality of outsourcing, but for me it is key and it allows me to be where I am and do what I love while letting others do what I am not good at. Having a virtual team also helps me feel better as I have someone to discuss things with, brainstorm and feel a sense of belonging.

I am very 80/20

This refers to Pareto’s principle that 80% of the value is driven by 20% of the effort and so 80% of the effort brings only 20% of the value. I strongly believe in this.

What this means:

1. I am happy to live with things being 80% perfect. I am a perfectionist and have my pet peeves, but I am comfortable doing things that are not 100% perfect. This allows me to be really fast and try things out, then iterate and improve. It is probably something that was part of my personality and got further emphasized by working for Google where this was very much the philosophy – launch, iterate and learn.

2. This also allows me to be very efficient as I rarely delve into something for too long. I assess pros and cons then just try it and see so I churn out a lot of output leading people to believe that I am super human because it seems that I do more than the average person. This is just because the last 20% takes a lot of effort and I prefer to complete it while something is live than delve on it for too long.

I am not afraid to fail

I really am not afraid to fail, do things wrong, be wrong or appear as I have failed. This is very much my personality. I am ok with a high risk of failure. I prefer to try myself and learn from it and I strongly believe it is better to try and fail than to have never tried.

And hey, I am here right? 😉

What this means:

1. I try things, I am not scared or ashamed to admit when I fail, learn and improve or move on. It is probably fair to say that I care less about what others think than the average. This is not to say that I do not listen. I have a group of trusted advisors I refer to, and I always listen to my readers, but I am not worried about the “what others might think”. If I think I am doing the right thing, I will go ahead.

2. This also makes me open to try new things even if they may not work and gives me the chance to learn from myself.

3. At the same time, that may also bring some inefficiencies as I like to try things for myself before reading about other’s failures as I often think one size does not fit all in the world of making money online. So I may waste some time trying something instead of learning from other’s failures.

I am proactive with hotel collaborations, rarely reactive

I have not changed since monetising my blog, nor do I intend to change, my travel style or spirit regardless of how much I monetise my blog or where my income comes from.

I rarely take up hotel/destination offers to go on press trips or stay with them in exchange for coverage unless they are trips I wanted to take anyway and a property I was looking to stay at.

So, I reach out to properties I want to work with after very thorough and in-depth research to ensure I will be 100% happy to recommend them afterwards.

My process for approaching a brand to work together is as follows. I first decide where I want to go, what property will fit the luxury niche of my blog, then conduct detailed due diligence on the options available and finally reach out to them if I am convinced they are a brand I will honestly recommend.

As a result, I work with very few brands and I rarely take up offers I receive for sponsored stays.

This differs to a lot of other bloggers who will include reviews of a wider range of accommodation options and hence can work with many brands. I only review the top of the range as I want to maintain my luxury travel niche positioning.

In August 2017, I decided to pause the sponsored stay work for a while and pay for my trips. This was for two reasons. Firstly, I wanted to avoid the very significant extra work that comes with having to fulfil a contract requirement. When your holidays become work, you never take rest or disconnect. This is what happened to me. In order to spend free quality time with my partner, I decided to pause on sponsored work.

That does not mean that I do not review properties, I still do, but I do not have anyone to respond to beyond my readers so I do not need to spend hours taking photos, wake up at sunrise and pose endlessly until I find the right photo. Secondly, I became quite disenchanted with luxury hotels. I had a string of three very luxurious properties which were billing themselves as the best of the best and turned out to have very mediocre service standards. I never want to find myself in the situation where I work with a brand I have to write a lot of areas for improvement about. So I was glad I had paid in full for those trips.

In the second half of 2017 I paid for almost all my trips and in the first half of 2018 this has continued albeit with some selective collaborations now that I have time to travel more flexibly.

But this has not changed my approach to working with brands and this not only ensures that I can be honest with my reviews and remain true to my luxury travel niche but also that, when a brand is not interested in working with me, and that happens 50% of the time, I most likely still book a room and pay for it myself if that is the hotel I want to showcase on my blog.

What you see in my review section is therefore 100% legitimate and honest. But the value I extract from sponsored stays is lower than I could have got and than most travel bloggers enjoy, so I consider it to be at the lower end of the range.

I can currently afford this approach because I can pay for my luxury travel but it also makes me quite unique in the world of travel blogging, especially in the luxury segment where a lot of the brands only work with bloggers that have a very large reach.

Maybe one day I will not be able to continue paying for luxury hotels charging upwards of $1,000 a night and I will have to succumb to my principles. But I genuinely hope I never have to sell my soul to the Devil and can remain independent and writing in the luxury travel niche.

What this means:

1. While the above applies to Once in a Lifetime Journey, that is not the case for Singapore n Beyond which is not segment focused and which recommends brands in all price ranges. For Singapore n Beyond, I make sure the brand is reliable in its price range, its a brand I would recommend and then look for a writer that will be keen to cover the destination and has an affinity for it and I send them on my behalf. I have a few writers who I have engaged this way with.

2. If you are looking to monetise your blog through sponsored stays, consider the value I get in the lower end, you can probably extract more value from a similar reach and audience than me.

What I was up to in June 2018

In June I spent a week in Fiji and then a few days in Singapore working with the newly opened Six Senses Singapore in Duxton Road but I stayed at home working for the rest of the month. As I went to Fiji with my best friend Edwin and he has become a real professional photographer, we managed to experiment with a few new creative ideas and concepts which were fun to produce.

I also realised how much easier and efficient it is to travel with your own professional photographer, like couple travel bloggers do, it surely does help to have someone else handle the photography end to end. Edwin has been practising a lot and he has an eye and talent. He is also extremely patient and meticulous, a skill that is essential of any excellent photographer and something I lack completely.

We wanted to do something interesting at the Six Senses because it is a city hotel without any facilities (they will be available when the other half of Six Senses Singapore in Maxwell Road opens) and there are no drone shot possibilities. So the photography options were limited. We had to think out of the box and I think we managed to come up with something that fit the bill.

Duplex Suite at the Six Senses Duxton

Duplex Suite at the Six Senses Duxton

This was taken at the Duplex Suite at the Six Senses Duxton. What you may not realise is that it took six hours of editing and two of shooting to get this finished to the standard you see now. So not something we can repeat everywhere, but it was worth it.

Travel in June 2018

As I mentioned above I went to Fiji in June. Fiji holds a special place in my heart. It was part of the two month sabbatical I took in 2012 and which prompted me to change careers, leave my consulting life, join Google and start this blog.

It is also the place I got PADI certified on board a beautiful wooden boat that sank in the last typhoon and which was sailing around the garden island of Taveuni, a much unexplored part of Fiji.

The real Cast Away island from the movie

The real Cast Away island from the movie

So yes, Fiji has a special place in my heart and I had not returned since 2012, so when discussing a partnership with Outrigger Hotels & Resorts, Fiji was an obvious choice. The trip was in the making for six months so there was a lot of anticipation. It was lovely to be back.

Resort review of Castaway Island Fiji

Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort in the Coral Coast

Best diving in Fiji – diving will never be the same again

Progress on the blog in June 2018

A lot of the month was still spent writing the content from my May trips, it does take a lot of time to get all the writing and photography out, most people don’t realise how long it takes to write a high quality article. It can take me 2-3 days and then all the time to edit the photos, share the posts on social, etc.

But I also started to focus on improving some of the older posts we have on the blog and paying a bit of attention to Singapore n Beyond which we have abandoned a bit. I finished a massive piece of content there 100+ things to do in Singapore which I hope will become a cornerstone content piece on the blog.

I also worked on improving some of the posts that were doing well and had been written well before I put any emphasis on SEO so it was easy to make those better, provide more value to the readers and make Google happy.

I have also been spending more time than usual on Instagram these days, and that is coming from someone who spends no time at all on the app. I realised most of the successful bloggers follow one of very few strategies:

1. Heavily edited preset type of photos. You know the ones I mean, where the entire feed is made of a pleasing color palette. A lot of these Instagrammers sell these presets. I even bought some to see what the fuss was all about and understand how they work. They are not for me but it is incredible to see how they completely change a bad photo into some whimsical magical one. It is not necessarily good photography or creativity, it is just good eye for editing.

2. There are bloggers for whom the captions are the relevant part so I did a bit of research on that and wrote a really long post on Instagram quotes which you can see here. I will be using some of those on my feed. The interesting part about the caption strategy is that it tries to engage the audience and get answers. I tried this in a photo (unknowingly) because I wanted to get people’s opinions and it worked quite well. However, I also often get no answer at all if the question is more generic and does not prompt people to provide their opinion. Asking them to choose between one or the other is a good way to get an answer, like I did it the post below

3. The Nat Geo style accounts where the photograph may or may not be stunning (some indeed are prize-worthy) but where the story is actually the important part. I read that the Nat Geo social media accounts are actually the largest on the internet. For once, I am glad that the collective thinking of everyone makes sense rather than these accounts I regularly see on IG which make me wonder how they managed to accumulate so many followers with uninspiring photography. Very few successful Instagrammers are of the Nat Geo type. The reality is that most people on IG are there to consume visual content and not to read captions where they learn something. Reading Nat Geo’s accounts is like reading a book, you learn something beyond just seeing the exact same photo in the exact same place that so many others have taken before

The truth is that I have lost faith in Instagram where these days unless you pay nobody sees your work, even if you are not making any money from it. I think this has completely killed the platform and pushed people to come up with “creative” and often times questionable practices. I am running an experiment on IG based on the above and I will report back in a month or so with the results.

Planning a trip to the Maldives

Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives

Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives

Planning a month-long trip to the Maldives is no easy feat and it is proving to take longer than two months. We started in May and we are now in July and still discussing details with some of the resorts.

The ups:

1. I am going to spend an entire month in the Maldives except for a couple of days in Sri Lanka (read next section to find out why!) from the 22nd of October to the 20th of November. This is going to be amazing as it is a country that I love, but will imply a lot of work while there and after. I will be working with seven resorts.

2. I will be splitting the collaborations between Sabrina and Tom from Travel Tom Tom who has already been to the Maldives a couple of times before so I will be learning from two different bloggers and hopefully have a lot of fun.

3. There is a chance that I also sneak in a couple of nights with my partner to actually, wait for it, HAVE A REAL HOLIDAY! After working with so many resorts and spending the time taking photos and video, it will be really nice to be able to relax and take no photos with my partner who is a “water baby” as he likes to call himself.

4. Some of the collaborations will be paid, so I will also be generating some active revenue straightaway on top of creating new content which I am sure will convert in the future and earn me affiliate revenue.

The downs:

1. I will work with so many hotels and resorts that I will have to spend a portion of the time there writing beyond just taking photos, so I am unsure as to how much actual time to enjoy the trip I will have. This is an ongoing personal battle I have and this will be an experiment.

2. I will be away from my partner. If he cannot make it for the short holiday in between, I will actually not see him for a month so that is surely a downside. Not a tragedy, but something to consider.

3. I will be away from Singapore for a month, which will be followed by another month away in Argentina, Mexico, Cuba and Spain so anything that has to do with local clients will have to be put on hold and I am sure that will mean losing business opportunities. Remember last month when I was telling you being a travel blogger is a contradiction as you either travel or you blog? This will be the perfect stress test.

I am hoping that this trip will also bring lots of learnings. You also find out about new things, new skills and new tools when working with other bloggers and both Sabrina and Tom are big bloggers with lots of experience so I am sure I will return with lots of learning and things to try.

This will also be the first time that I try to concentrate on collaborations with a few brands in a specific destination all consecutively to make the most of the trip. Depending on how that goes this will be a strategy that I plan to continue using in the future.

Travel Bloggers Conference Asia

In May I applied to this conference and award ceremony in Sri Lanka organised by Cinnamon Hotels and half way through my Maldives planning I was notified that I am one of the Finalists for the Best Luxury Travel Blog.

This will be the first award ceremony I attend and, whether I win or not, it will be great to be there, even though it is becoming troublesome to be able to rearrange all the travel to attend. Thankfully, Sri Lanka is just an hour away from the Maldives so I am able to fit it in by moving some of the collaborations around.

Consulting opportunities

Consulting opportunities have been flooding in this month. I got introductions, new clients reaching out and even clients I worked with as an influencer wanting to hire me to help them work with others.

There is no doubt the demand for this is growing and is going to exceed my expectations. However, with it comes the ongoing trade off between active and passive income. While I spend my time working on consulting projects I have no time to work on the fundamentals so my top line keeps growing but more on the active rather than the passive.

Again, I cannot complain but I am finding it harder and harder to say no to short term income in order to focus on my long term passive income. Also, I enjoy consulting engagements so I also prioritise them because I have fun doing them.

In June my engagement with Andaz Singapore started and so half of the work I will be doing for them is already under way.

Personal Life

All this travel to the Maldives and island shots in Fiji reminded me that I am not a twenty-something and that approaching 40 also means Photoshop becomes more and more attractive.

While I have yet to edit any of my photos for this, I do want to look good. My partner is somewhat of a fitness geek and he loves exercising and the gym. He is also incredibly fit and has been for years. His physique is not that of a gym rat, he is actually very active and agile and plays football on weekends too.

One of the aspects of independent entrepreneurial life that I was most looking forward to was having the ability to stay fit and healthy. Eating good food when I wanted and going to the gym and yoga classes regularly. But I moved to an apartment a bit far from town and this all fell through when the travel times became longer and the trade-off from going to the gym was the equivalent of 2-3 hours a day. I just could not afford to spend this time every day. Or in other words, it was harder to prioritise.

I will be moving houses mid July to an area I used to live before, very near the gym and less than 5min walk from my yoga studio. It is also very central so I can go out for a walk to get some errands done. I am sure this will help keep up with what I wanted to do with an online business.

On top of that, I am going to try to travel less from now until the Maldives to keep to my promise of growing my passive income and because I will be traveling a lot from October onwards, being pretty much away for the remainder of the year.

So if I travel less and I live in a more convenient location, I will have no excuses to stay fit and this is what I intend to do: Maldives bikini operation is on and I may even post some before and after photos in October.

Revenues in the month of June 2018

June broke the $8,000 mark and started to inch close to $10,000. So far I am a bit over half way through the year end $15,000 target so on track, but can’t be sleeping on my laurels if I want to reach that ambitious target.

Here is the breakdown of June’s revenues:

–> S$ 0 From Brand collaborations

–> S$ 309 Accommodation affiliates

–> S$ 1,348 Ad revenues

–> S$6,510 from Digital Marketing Consulting

–> S$65 from sales of my Amazon book 30 Ways to make money online

 TOTAL blog income in June 2018: S$ 8,232 

 TOTAL blog value in June 2018: S$ 15,202 

Things to note:

– All amounts are in Singapore Dollar which fluctuates around 1,3 times the USD. This is because my accounts are in SGD and so is my accounting.

– I included affiliate revenues which have been accrued even if they have not been paid because affiliates have a threshold for payments which can be as high as USD150.

– The above includes income generated from both blogs. It is time consuming for me to split the two so I will keep it together for now.

Advertising revenues

Mediavine advertising revenues have continued to grow and are reaching relevant and stable levels. I spent some time in June trying to optimise some of the posts and went through all the top-50 posts once again to see if ads were placed properly. This I am sure, helped increase the revenues beyond the traffic growth. I still have AdSense on my Singapore n Beyond blog but that is a fraction of my Mediavine revenues yet still growing as that blog grows as well.

Content creation

There were no content collaborations this month. I continued to decline plenty because they were just not at the right rate. There were also lots of discussions for posts that will happen in the future like a collaboration with the Macau Tourism Board and Wego which is going live in July and August as well as the continuation of the wine posts with the Italian Trade Association in the US.

Influencer and digital marketing consulting

My work with Andaz Singapore started this month and I also continued to work with a digital marketing agency for whom I take care of influencer outreach. As they expand and get more clients, so do I.

Something exciting may happen here in July as a couple of new clients reached out and that could yield new (and very large) opportunities.

Affiliate revenues

It seems that the accommodation affiliate revenues are starting to take off. Since moving to Agoda I have seen a relevant increase in the value as Agoda pays a commission on the value of the booking and I am a luxury travel blog, however, since I am using Agoda directly via their own affiliate program, I also realise there is a very long lead time between someone booking and me getting paid.

For starters, Agoda only pays once the client has paid them, so they need to book, travel, check out and pay. And then there is a high minimum threshold of $200 before Agoda makes payments out so it is taking a while but I like the higher payout amounts and need to continue pushing for these posts to perform better so I can capitalise on the traffic.

HotelsCombined has been increasing handsomely despite the flop in February so I have maintained them because I do not know of any alternative that is as good or better for my audience.

Interesting statistics for June 2018

There are a few other statistics and elements of the blog that are worth tracking and noting.

Value from sponsored stays

My work with Outrigger Hotels & Resort was unpaid but they hosted me and Edwin fully on a week long trip to Fiji and also covered the flights from Singapore with Fiji Airways which flies direct. Fiji Airways also gave us access to the lounge, as they had marked us as VIP Guests, and upgraded us on the overnight flight to Fiji which was a great gesture given that it is a long overnight flight. I very much enjoyed their hospitality and their seats were very spacious.

After Fiji we also stayed at the Six Senses Singapore in Duxton Road. I highly recommend that you check it out. It is a fascinating opium den-inspired utopian and opulent hotel worthy of a peek. There, we stayed at the Duplex Suite, had dinner at the signature restaurant and enjoyed some of the activities available like a consultation with a Traditional Chinese Medicine professor who give me a remedy for jet lag. I will report back if it actually works.

Resort review of Castaway Island Fiji

Outrigger Fiji Beach Resort in the Coral Coast

I conspicuously declare when the stay has been sponsored to comply with regulations, my code of conduct and the professional integrity I believe all bloggers should adhere to. If you see no disclaimer in a hotel review or post, rest assured I paid for it as I do in more than 90% of my travels.

Traffic and readership

Traffic increased from May and we finally crossed the 100k mark. All metrics are up as they usually are in the Northern hemisphere Summer when more people travel because a lot of my content is very summery.

This month the blog stayed at 101,000 page views. My current obsession is definitively on traffic rather than on anything else and I am painstakingly working towards boosting it. Summer months will help as a lot of my content is seasonal, but the goal will be for it not to drop after the summer ends.

Readership in June 2018

Readership in June 2018

You can also take a look at the split between active and passive income as that is something I am keenly monitoring.

Passive vs Active Income June 2018

Passive vs Active Income June 2018

My objective is to maximise the red column there so that I can reduce the blue one and have the life that everyone thinks I have and which I don’t: Permanent holidays.

I can see how July and August continue to be struggle months as I have a lot of active engagements lined up, but I hope to have time to push passive income development too.

Business opportunities I declined

SEO companies around the world (notably from India) have become more and more aggressive and I have started to mark emails as Spam when they repeatedly email me. Their strategies are becoming wiser and the tricks pulled to get a link from my blog to their client are starting to be quite crazy. In case you don’t know, brands will usually buy links from other websites because this increases their Domain Authority, one of the signals Google uses to decide who to rank highest on the search results of a specific keyword or query.

Here is funny email, at least she has a good sense of humour:

Humour in a spam letter

Humour in a spam letter

2018 Goals

I set these goals in January so let’s see how we have progressed in the first months of the year.

AreaGoal for 2018January progress
TrafficBring traffic to 200,000 across both blogsReally need to push it hard here as it is not growing fast enough.
Domain AuthorityIncrease to 45Decided to give up. I spend far too much time worrying about this despite there seems to be less and less correlation between DA and actual rankings. Google is far smarter these days and gives the readers their best answer so I only want to focus on that. I became a travel writer because I loved to share stories of unknown places and DA is getting in the way of that.
Influencer and digital marketing practiceSet up Once in a Lifetime Media

Build the revenues to $15,000 a month
Revenues keep growing and I see how this target could be met, but I have had no time to set up a website with my offering, I hope July is the month since I will be traveling less and spending more time on this.
Build Case Studies of campaigns (formerly TrustPilot)Create 5 case studies with impact and resultsI am collecting the data but I have not had time to prepare the materials, another for the summer!
Press KitRevamp and improveYay! I have a new press kit that is really nice, now I need to put it up on the site!
Affiliate revenueIncrease revenues to $1,000Getting here with Agoda and hopefully Context Travel will also help there. It has been a learning curve but we are getting there I think.
BookSell 100 booksAnother where I procrastinate, I hope the summer will be the time when it will finally happen. Meanwhile, hundreds of pages are being read through the Kindle borrowing scheme but the online reporting system from Amazon is SO terrible that you don’t even know when and how you are paid, it is appalling and shameful that such a big company has such backwards system.
Advertising revenueMake $1,500 a monthOn track, this is a target that is going to be reached maybe even in July, depending on how much the usual July slumber hits me so I may have to review the target.
Personal brandingBuild my personal brand
-Interview filmed waiting to be aired soon
-Two conferences on my belt and more to come end of the year
- Currently working on slots for speaking or attending ITB and WIT in October
- Just been interviewed for another Influencer marketing network
Niche SiteBuild a site generating $2,000 a monthNot started, may not even start it at all.
AdWordsTest AdWords budgeting and monetisationAdWords spent was decreased in May and the traffic and revenues still continued to increase so I may test a few things here in the future
TravelContinue to travel and reach 105 countries visited. Beat my 140 days on the road personal record- So far this year I have added Rwanda, Somaliland and Ethiopia and reached my 100th country!
- Albania and Montenegro are planned
- Currently working on Argentina and maybe Dominican republic (or Cuba again)
- So probably I will not reach 105 but stay at 103 unless I can sneak Bangladesh in or something new comes up (unlikely as my travel plans for the rest of the year are almost fully booked)

Wrapping up June 2018

I am looking forward to July and being able to push on some of the targets above that I have been postponing until now. But I may get sidetracked again because an opportunity to work with a big brand on some blogger outreach efforts may tie me up until the end of August when travel starts again.

Let me know what your thoughts are, what you would love to see more of, less of and what questions come to mind. Also, if anything is not clear, drop me a line. My contact details are in the Contact page.

Looking forward to another great month.