And why I’m planning another one
My main passion in life is traveling. I feel so free when I’m just moving from place to place. Sometimes, I spend a few days somewhere. Other times, I spend a few months. I’m not tied down to any one place, so I can just leave at a moment’s notice if that’s what I want.
It’s this passion that led me to start documenting my travels. I started when my wife and I spent six months traveling around South East Asia. In the beginning, I didn’t think the site would get many visitors and didn’t expect it to make any money.
Maybe that has something to do with why it worked out so well. I wasn’t writing with the intention of earning money. I just want to document our journey and maybe help others that would be traveling to similar destinations.
I wrote about topics that other weren’t writing about
One thing that I noticed early on in our travels was that there wasn’t any great info on the internet about how to get from A to B.
In Western countries, it’s easy. You just take a bus or train. Timetables are easy to find.
But in many parts of South East Asia, there aren’t any regular buses or trains. This meant that we needed to ask around locally. Once we had it figured out, I’d write a blog post about it. Partly to help others, but also to help myself.
I’d likely revisit some places later, so wanted to remember how I got around.
I was surprised that some of these incredibly short posts quickly got to page one of Google search. This is because no one else was writing such specific posts. It was fairly easy to rank well. That meant that the website was getting consistent views early on.
My first 10 visitors
I still remember the day I first had 10 visitors to my site in a day. It’s funny to look back and think about how excited that made me. It was the first time I realized that there were some real people out there that wanted to read what I was writing about.
Not long after that, the site got 100 visitors in a day, then 200, and then 300. I was blown away.
I also started getting comments from other travelers thanking me for helping them figure out how to get from A to B.
I was loving it.
There was one couple that followed almost the same route as ours but were a couple of months behind us. They used to comment regularly and ask for specific advice about places we’d visited.
A few times, I wrote a blog post just for them to answer their questions. If there were asked, there must be others that also wanted those questions answered.
Monetizing the site
I can’t remember exactly when I started monetizing the site, but it was probably around three months into our journey. As I was reviewing hotels we stay at, I decided to add hotel affiliate links.
The first commission I got was for $1. Someone had booked a cheap hostel in Thailand. It was exciting to see the site could make money, but $1 for a booking led me to think I wouldn’t earn much.
A $1 commission every day would earn me $30. Not great, but better than nothing.
But I started earning some higher commissions. After a year the site was earning around $500 a month.
It was at around the 18-month mark that I reached $1,000 a month. It stayed at that level for the next 18 months.
$400 commission in one day
I had two big commission days that astounded me. It just shows how lucrative a travel blog could be. One day I woke up to see a $400 commission for one booking. Someone had booked 10 nights at a 5-star hotel in Singapore for around $600 a night.
It was also interesting to see how different people travel. One person was booking $10-a-night hostels, while the next person was spending $6,000 on a 10-day stay in a top hotel.
On another day I had a cluster of 10 bookings at the same hotel. At first, I thought it must be some elaborate kind of credit card fraud. It turned out to be some booking agent that booked rooms for a group door.
After 6 months of travel, we settled in Bangkok for the next year but still traveled a month here and there to countries in Asia. Hong Kong and Seoul were my favorites.
$10,000 of travel freebies
After that, we headed to Europe for six months. This is when I started to approach hotels and attractions about featuring them on our site. Some also contacted us directly.
We got around $10,000 of freebies from that. The best one was three free nights at a hotel that normally cost around $600 a night. We also got free rail travel around Europe. All that was on top of the $1,000 a month I was making.
At its peak, the site was getting between 30,000 and 45,000 page views a month. I knew other travel bloggers that were getting 100,000+ views per month. It’s not like I was one of the best bloggers. I was maybe slightly above average. But that was enough to make me around $60,000 over three years.
Selling the site
After three years, I got a bit fed up of write travel posts. I felt like it was detracting a little from our travels. It was at this point that I decided to sell the site. It sold for $25,000. These days, a similar site would likely sell for around $40,000. That’s 40 times the monthly profit.
It sold for $25,000
Overall, it was a great experience. Now that we’ve had a long break from traveling, I’d like to give this another go.
I think the key to making it work is to travel to lesser-known places. It’s almost impossible to rank well if writing about places like London, Paris, or New York. But writing about Batumi, Yerevan, or Anatolia might mean it’s easier to rank.
It’s also more of an adventure when you’re visiting lesser-known places. Those are the places where you tend to find the unexpected.
How to set up a blog
I’ll probably write about setting up my new blog as well. For anyone that doesn’t know how to, it should help them create their own blog if they want to. Stay tuned.
If you’re not a traveler, but live in a place that gets tourists, a travel blog might also work for you. One approach could be to document everything your town or city has to offer. As you live there, you know it better than anyone and are in an ideal position to offer the best advice. Something for you to consider.
Have you ever created a successful blog? Do you have any tips on making it a success?
And would you like to start a blog?