Blog income report for october 2017 main

Welcome to my blog income report for October 2017!

Image for the Blog Income Report October 2017

If you are new here, my name is Mar and I am the Owner and Editor of Once in a Lifetime Journey.

This blog is almost four years old and is about luxury and out of the ordinary travel. If you are keen to read about one of the 94 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 visit 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 have a full time job  – Despite having been blogging for over three years, I still have a full time job and have only just started to put emphasis on monetising my presence and reach. 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 10 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.

"Singapore n Beyond"

However, I have had a full time job until today so revenue has 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 Instagram and part of my Facebook posts.

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 is 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 a full time job and I have not changed, nor do I intent 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.

Since August, I have decided to pause the sponsored stay work for a while and pay for my trips. This is for two reasons. Firstly, I want to avoid the very significant extra work that comes with having to fulfill 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 have also become 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.

From August on I have paid for almost all my trips to Azerbaijan, Nihi Sumba and El Salvador and I received no sponsorship.

My approach to working with hotel brands 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 100%.

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 three 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 October 2017

Let’s get down to business, shall we?

In October I have been traveling a lot. I started the month with a weekend in Cempedak Island, near Singapore, with my partner, followed almost immediately by 10 days spent between California for work, and El Salvador, as a long weekend getaway.

I really really loved El Salvador and felt very safe despite the country topping the list for the highest crime rate, so I encourage you to read more in my Guide post here and plan a trip if you are nearby. I even climbed an active volcano!

Hiking Santa Ana Volcano Main

I flew to San Francisco on Singapore Airlines Business Class service via Hong Kong, which you can read all about in my review post.

When I came back to Singapore it was the end of Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights, which I actually spent it in El Salvador and after being away for so long, I had a lot of work to catch up on which kept me very busy, and a fair amount of dreadful jetlag to deal with.

Aside from the day to day work on the blog which Cal manages to the T, I spent the weekends and evenings interviewing photographers for our Digital Marketing consulting effort. It was fascinating to see the work of so many artists, some of them were quite impressive at their young age. As I like to outsource to people who are more able than I am, I wanted to hire one or two to help out on the creative side.

The month ended on a high note with three travel related conferences happening in Singapore: Web in Travel, ITB Asia and IMM TravMedia and a host of evening networking events to attend. This was a very hectic and busy week and I slept very little. I would go to the office at 7am, eat lunch in front of my desk or in the cab and try to catch some of the action from 3,30pm onwards and until the late night.

On the Friday evening we had Travel Massive drinks which I was hosting, and on the Saturday afternoon I organised a second Travel Massive event, a crowd-sourced learning workshop where all participants brought in a skill they were willing to share and everybody learned from each other. It was inspiring, fun and interesting and I learned a lot from Ian, the Founder of Travel Massive and good friend, and Freddy, the owner of Digital Marketing Agency In Marketing We Trust and an SEO maverick.

Thanks to Freddy I also realised that I had been tracking my website traffic incorrectly all along (*sigh*) and my traffic is much higher than I had believed it was for over 3 years. Great news! Now I just need to wait for a full month to pass to have 30 days worth of traffic and finally switch my advertising efforts to MediaVine. I am very excited about that.

Although I was very busy at the office everyday, I managed to attend some of the late afternoon ITB and WIT sessions and catch the recording of others which were streamed on the Travel Massive Live chapter. In the evenings, I met a lot of interesting people and learned a ton about the very fascinating Travel industry.

As you can see, I had very little time left to work on the blog outside of the conferences but I thank Cal, my Content Manager, for being there to hold the fort. It is a blessing that I can work from anywhere and make the most of even 30 minutes waiting for a cab to get stuff done. So I was very productive with the little time I had left and managed to accomplish a lot, which I am very proud of.

At a personal level there were a lot of great achievements in October. For one, I finally paid off my mortgage (yay!), almost nine years after I set it up and six years before its term.

I bought an apartment when I was living in Dubai. Thankfully I did so before the bubble and the crisis hit badly so I was never impacted by that but I did have a mortgage which was originally for 15 years and which I passionately tried to repay early. It was amazing to finally receive the letter stating that my “balance brought forward” was ZERO! Yay! When the DHL guy delivered my original Title Deed I certainly cried.

Flat title deed

I also received someone’s offer to write my autobiography. I take this as a great compliment. He has been reading my blog for a while and thought I had a lot of interesting stories to tell. I have not taken him up on the offer but I felt extremely flattered and he is now helping me edit the second book How to make money online which I finally finished writing this month. A huge undertaking that gave me a lot of interesting insights into the industry. Thank you Richard for offering to edit my book. I can’t wait to read his feedback.

My strategic areas of focus for October have been as follows:

Improving the SEO rankings of Once in a Lifetime Journey

Statistics and graph

I decided in August that me and Cal would focus on optimising the content we already have on the blog for the remaining months of the year and we put this strategy in place from September on.

As I mentioned at the beginning, I never paid attention to SEO. This near-rebellious attitude emanated from the origins of the blog, when I was trying to actively hide it from anybody. But with time, I realised that while I kept adding new content to the blog, the traffic was not increasing proportionately because the posts were not optimised or written with SEO principles in mind so after being promoted on social media, they were buried in my site. In September, we started to focus on improving this.

In October, a couple of months into this endeavor, I decided to get Cal to focus almost entirely on improving each post’s ranking and keyword analysis rather than on publishing new posts. This month he has focused more than 50% of his time on that.

We have updated and relaunched all of the posts below with fresh content and a new look. Some of them needed to be updated because the format was not aligned to the new style of the blog since May:

The process to update posts is very time consuming and has a lot of parts to it. It all starts with me doing the keyword research followed by him editing the articles which we never paid attention to and republishing them as new. These are articles which in some cases did not even have an SEO Keyword and had no external links pointing at them. Most of the ones above were already generating revenue and had a lot of traffic so by improving them, I expect to see a big impact. We focused on optimising the articles that were already ranking high first to squeeze out the most value and catch the low-hanging fruit – a favorite consulting term of mine.

We are tracking the progress of this effort to ensure we are getting the desired results in a detailed Google sheet where we have all articles on the blog listed. I am confident we will see results and improvement soon and will report back.

Launching 100 Trips of a Lifetime

This was the first book I wrote. After finishing it up in September it became a bottleneck and couldn’t find the time to publish it, but I finally did it while waiting for my Avianca flight to El Salvador at San Francisco Airport. Those 8 hours, from leaving the office until 2am, were key to get it on the blog. Getting it online in Amazon is still a pending task I hope to complete in November.

I am very happy I can now add the word “Author” to my business card 🙂

Go check it out out, it makes for a great Christmas present!

Use code SUBS to get 50% off

Finalising the book How Bloggers and Digital Nomads Make Money Online

This is a book which started with an article about 28 ways travel bloggers make money, went viral and keeps generating new traffic to the blog every day. So I decided to expand it with detailed case studies, complement it with many other revenue streams beyond the travel niche and interview a lot of bloggers and digital nomads who succeeded to get their insights and tips to share with others.

The research for the book inspired these income reports and also gave me an in-depth analytical view of how successful bloggers make money online. In October I analyzed over 50 blog income reports and gathered a wealth of data and knowledge. With that, I published a benchmark roundup post including bloggers who make from $1,000 to over $100,000 online.

make money online main

Nothing of what I discovered is ground-breaking or surprising. In fact, it is all exceptionally predictable but nonetheless eye-opening.

The research for the book helped me put things into perspective and compare, side by side, the various models of successful blogs. It also convinced me that I can do it too. After all, a lot of the successful cases are doing basic things really well, none of which I cannot replicate and “steal with pride”.

It also made me aware of a lot of bloggers and digital nomads I was not familiar with or close to.

I got to read about the incredible experience of Grantourismo, the first ever professional travel bloggers, now based in Siem Reap. Lara, the founder, is a very interesting and kind person who agreed to answer a lot of my questions and I am looking forward to receiving them.

I also got behind the scenes of some of the truly large blogs like Pinch of Yum or Making Sense of Cents, both of which draw in well above $150,000 a month each. Their business models were fascinating to read about.

Writing the book has taken a whole lot more time than I expected and I found myself working well into the night and rejecting social invitations to finish it. Richard, the kind soul who offered to write my autobiography, is now editing it and I am sure he will leave it in top-notch state to then publishing it on Amazon. I plan to sell it on the blog as well as on Amazon as a Kindle book and a paperback. It will be great to see my book printed on real paper! Fingers crossed.

 If you want a sneak peek into the book, sign up below and I will send you a preview copy for feedback in the “Beta” phase. 

Learning, learning, learning

I attended, listened to and subscribed to many trainings this month.

I watched the Social Media training for hotels put together by Amber and Eric from With Husband in Tow and WHIT Media. They reached out to see if I would wanted to become an affiliate for them. Yet I wanted to make sure I don’t recommend something I had not tried and tested myself and I could vouch for. I watched some of their sessions, learned a few new things and I plan to watch the rest this month.

Amber and Eric’s courses target senior marketing executives looking to understand more about the world of social media, as well as the more junior staff starting out and wanting to have a more strategic and practical training.

Often times, I see hotels, big and small, struggle with this. Hotel management often think that because the tasks are social and digital the youngest person in their company can do it easily. But not all Millennials are good at social and even if they are great at their own facebook and Instagram, that does not mean they will do a great job with the brand.

This is a recurrent mistake I see, which is why I started to offer digital marketing consulting services. For those clients who cannot afford or do not want to engage with a third party or who have a full time person handling social, WHIT Media’s training is great.

blogging image

I also watched a training by Matthew Woodward about Private Blog Networks and read multiple articles on his blog, which is a wealth of knowledge. I do not plan to pursue this rather “hacky” trick but I found it fascinating to know more about.

Sharon’s Digital Nomad Wannabe blog is also one I spend time on regularly. This month, I purchased her book about making money blogging. Although it is concise and full of content, I expected to learn lots of things I did not already know because of the headline price of $49 (which I bought at 50% because she had an offer running). My expectations may not have been fair as I have been blogging for almost four years and I have spent hours reading about the subject, so a lot of what she said in the book I already knew. I would recommend the book if you are somewhere between starting out and reaching intermediate level or if you have not really cracked the SEO, sponsored posts and sponsored stays realm. I probably need more in-depth books about specific topics at this point.

I also attended her SEO course which was the “sales hook” session to promote her new Build Blog Freedom Course. My partner has signed up for this. The course works on a monthly subscription fee basis and she adds new content every month. Since he is starting from scratch, it is quite useful for him. I have not watched any session or read any of her materials but I will keep you posted on the value as the monthly fee is almost $100 which is a lot of money in relative terms to other things available and to all the free content on the web, so expectations are high.

I also attended a lot of sessions from the Travel Massive Live chapter about varying topics from how to lead your own tour to social media. I like that the Travel Massive Live sessions are short, packed full of content and recorded so I can watch them at a later time.

I joined Startup Asia Women

This is a relatively new networking group for women entrepreneurs in Asia. I am already a member and Angel Investor for CRIB, a fantastic and very professional not for profit organisation that focuses on improving entrepreneurship and investment in female-led startups in Asia. Startup Asia Women is a platform with similar objectives and a focus on connections. I just signed up as a member and hope to meet lots of interesting people.

SEO Audit

I paid Matthew Woodward’s agency to deliver an SEO Audit in September and the results were delivered in October. This was not cheap and it was a conscious business expense which I hoped would reflect better SEO performance in the future.

After over three years with the current theme and structure of the blog and a failed attempt at changing the theme which cost me $1,000 paid to an agency that did not delivere anything and made me waste a lot of time, I wanted a professional look at my site and I paid who I thought would be the best in the field.

They delivered a detailed audit with recommendations, but they did not tell me exactly how to fix some issues in a few areas. This required a bit of back of forth as their promise was indeed the delivery of “step-by-step actionable recommendations”. But I eventually had a call with them to go over all my questions and Cal has been working hard to implement all the changes. I sure hope the blog will drastically improve performance and ultimately DA, after all the improvements are completed. Fingers crossed.

Revenues in the month of October 2017

Revenues for October 2017

After all of the above, there was practically no time for anything else. I socialised zero this month, beyond the conference networking I saw none of my friends. I slept an average of 6-7h every night and was productive every single hour that I was awake. I even skipped meals many days because I was too busy getting stuff done. It is incredible how much one can get done with pure determination, consistency and commitment.

As you can see from this month’s focus, everything I did was geared towards long-term passive income building and not towards short term gains. Very little time was spent chasing collaborations or revenue. However, I managed to cash in on some work done in previous months that was paid in October as well as some brief collaborations with some brands that pushed the revenue a bit higher. I also set the foundation for a few things to come in November which I am excited for and proud of.

Here is the breakdown of October revenues:

-> S$1,344 from a 360-degree brand collaboration that was paid this month

–>S$322 from a Sponsored post

–>S$137 Accommodation affiliates

–>S$140 Ad revenues

–>S$10 Amazon affiliates

–>$89 from my 100 Trips of a Lifetime eBook sales


 TOTAL blog income in October 2017: S$2,031 

 TOTAL blog value in October 2017: S$2,265  (see next section for what I include as value)

Things to note:

– All amounts are in Singapore Dollar which fluctuates around 1,3 times to 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.

In October most of my income was passive as I had no time to work actively on selling sponsored posts or campaigns and it is not my focus. However, I committed to at least 5 brand collaborations for November which will appear in next month’s income report but were really October’s work.

Interesting statistics for October 2017

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

Domain Authority

Domain Authority October 2017

My Domain Authority for Once in a Lifetime Journey remained stable at 36. This is used to determine the value of my domain to those who are looking to place links just for the pure SEO value and also for Google to decide how high my posts rank on search results, so the higher the better for organic traffic.

Value from sponsored stays

When I started monetising the blog, this was the main source of income and something which was very valuable to me. In September, I told you how I have put this on hold for now.

In October 2017, I received less than $300 in value for comped stays for a small sponsorship from my trip to El Salvador.

I had arranged for a sponsored stay in Bali for my Singapore n Beyond writer but she unfortunately fell sick and had to cancel last minute. That was around $1,000 worth of stays that did not happen this month.

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, rest assured I paid for it as I do in more than 70% of the cases to maintain independence.

Business opportunities I declined

I said no to a lot of business opportunities for partnership and sponsored posts or links. This is due to three reasons:

1. I have very limited time to work on these, so unless they meet my high rates I decline.

2. They are not passive income so they do not contribute to my long term strategic goal.

3. I am very selective and require a 150% fit from the brand.

This is a common situation for bloggers and not unique to me, we all say no to a lot of lower pay opportunities. The threshold is unique to everyone’s situation but in October I found myself saying no to over 30 offers, more than one per day. Mind you, these are often standard automated emails with no real substance just fishing for bloggers looking to accept very low amounts, sometimes even in the range of $10 for a post.

This month’s most “interesting” offer came from a company who targets seniors wanting me to publish a post about money and finance resources for seniors. The completely automated email was clearly not even validated for relevance as the lady was assuring me that she read my Macau guide and I would totally benefit from linking to this guide for seniors to better manage their finances. You can understand why the rate of offers received vs. offers accepted is quite low given the blanket email blast strategy most brands use for blogger outreach.

Focus for November 2017

November is a continuation of October but we will start to see the light in some aspects as all of the posts should be SEO optimised by the end of the month.

1. SEO: Continuing to improve the SEO of old posts and hopefully finish the revamp of the top-20 posts. Finish implementing all the recommendations from the audit.

2. Viator: Add Viator affiliate links to the posts where it makes sense. I never got around to doing that but it is relevant in some of the posts, for example, the guide to El Salvador where you really want to go on day tours of the main sights.

3. Books: Publish and launch the 100 Trips of a Lifetime book on Amazon’s Kindle. Hopefully I will also finish the other book on How to make money blogging and online and publish it in December both on the blog and on Amazon. I also want to make it into an Audible and I will use Edwin, my best friend, who has kindly agreed to lend me his voice, to record it. I will also leverage his Irish bank account for Audible as you need to be based in UK, Ireland, Canada or the US and I don’t have a bank account in any of these countries.

4. Affiliates: I am trying to optimise some of the affiliate marketing posts around hotel recommendations now that I have finally managed to crack the formula. The objective should be to hit $50 in Amazon revenues, a very aggressive target for year end, and to surpass the $300 from Hotels Combined and Agoda. I will also update the Gift guide for travelers, a very popular and awesome post where I share a few fantastic gift ideas for the travel lovers in your life. I bet you will want to buy a few of them for yourself and will find something for that hard-to-buy-for loved one. As opposed to other Christmas posts this is not a compilation of items from Amazon but rather a long list of gift ideas I have accumulated over the years and bought myself for friends and loved ones so it is quite unique.

5. Pinterest: I hired a Pinterest VA towards the end of October so will be monitoring traffic closely to assess impact. I never paid attention to Pinterest and felt I could not crack the code so this would be evergreen traffic and I am very much looking forward to finally resolving the mystery.

6. MediaVine: Now that I fixed the traffic tracking issue, I just need a couple of weeks to apply to MediaVine. That will be very exciting!

7. Blogger outreach: I have started to work with an agency to help them reach out to bloggers. I started by asking in a few blogging groups for interest and have built a database with over 400 bloggers in all niches with a strong focus on travel who are open to working with brands and their rates, turnaround times, niche, etc. As this will be an ongoing effort I hope it can be a great way to help the overall blogging industry get a better name as I coach and provide advice to the bloggers I work with based on what I see others doing. Hopefully it will uplift everyone and also give me a steady revenue source.

8. Brand campaigns: I met a lot of interesting brands at ITB and WIT and need to follow up on possible brand campaigns with a few of them. Some are pure sponsorship/social media campaigns whereas others are larger ambassadorship programs which I am very excited about.

Wrapping up October

I feel that October was a really interesting month with lots of achievements and stepping stones into my future goals. It was a month filled with positivity and foundational work, but also very little sleep. I am a very persevering person so it is good to see the fruits of one’s hard work. But I can’t let it slip and sleep on the laurels as we say in Catalan. It’s time to take this momentum and push forward.

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.

  • Jub Bryant

    Great recap Mar, I love how you make the most of 30 minutes in a cab ride…very Gary Vaynerchuk-esque 🙂

    Interested to hear more about the SEO audit in a couple months after you’ve implemented changes. I watch some of Matthew’s stuff, but can’t bring myself to do PBN’s.

    You rock!

    • Hello Jub! I can’t bding myself to PBN either – not for me, I like to play safe and do the right thing. I believe in Karma and on following my instincts. I’ll let you know how we go once all implemented, probably another couple of weeks to have it finished. Take care!

  • We’re excited to have you come over to Mediavine and become an MVP!

    • Mar

      Just sent the report Jenny! Thank you

100 Trips of a Lifetime
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