A few months ago I started a small series to talk about my ongoing goal to make at least $500 a month from this website. You can read How To Make Money From A Travel Blog: Part 1 and Part 2 here.
This Month’s Results
In the month of October I made $709 from this website, which is a 100% improvement over the previous month’s revenue of $347. That means I not only hit my goal of making $500/month, but I passed it by over $200.
In terms of revenue, here’s where it came from for the month of October.
- Amazon Associates – $349
Last month I predicted that my Amazon revenue would likely go down this month. That turned out to be incorrect, and I made almost half of my revenue from a few Amazon products. My strategy for this has been rather simple – find posts that are already popular on my website, and then link to a few helpful Amazon products where appropriate. For example I have a post talking about a popular diet I once tried. Since it was a popular post, I simply added a few links to the bottom for some books that might interest people. Now one out of every ten people or so who read that post buy that book, which is a great source of revenue.
Barclaycard Arrival – $250
Since one of the ways I earn free travel is to leverage travel rewards cards, I’ve been trying for a few months to get approved to promote them on this website. Many of the applications take months to process, and unless you’re a huge retailer you often get denied. But I was recently approved for one of the best American travel rewards cards, the Barclaycard Arrival. It’s obviously not ideal for me, since I would prefer to discuss products that I actually use myself. But I pointed out that I don’t own that card in a few places, and simply quoted what I think is good about that card. Last month two people signed up for it based on my information, which amounted to a $125 commission for each.
Google Adsense – $54.30
Google actually climbed to the #3 spot on my website this last month, which was a nice surprise. I was considering getting rid of Google ads completely at around the $20/mo mark, but $50/mo is enough for me to leave them on. I suspect I am making more since I added a mobile ad to WPtouch Pro for Adsense, as well as a responsive sidebar for my main site for people who have large desktop screen sizes (I didn’t have a sidebar last month). This allows me to keep my site content-focused for people with smaller screens, but take advantage of advertising on the sidebar for people with larger ones.
DigitalOcean – $20 actual revenue, $420 pending
Someone pointed out to me after last month’s posts that making money off of Digital Ocean wasn’t really what they had in mind for monetizing a travel website. I hadn’t really thought about it, but it’s a valid point. For me though, since my interests are really varied, I often review many of the products and services that I use. If they have an affiliate program, then great. But if not, I still often write and publish reviews. I try hard to only write reviews for products that I actually use myself, and currently I have approximately $50/mo worth of services at DigitalOcean.
I was a bit concerned when looking at these numbers that many of the sign-ups at DigitalOcean haven’t converted at all. Thankfully I woke up this morning (November 1st) and saw that $70 worth had actually converted into revenue overnight, so I am hopeful that more of these sign-ups will eventually start paying out. Since DigitalOcean pays out once a customer spends $10, and their cheapest often is $5/mo, for many people it will take at least 2 months for the commission to be earned, which is what I am seeing. I suspect many won’t convert though, since some people probably just signed up to check it out. But we’ll see.
StrongVPN – $16
I did a post over a year ago about how to use a VPN provider, like StrongVPN, to watch Netflex in other countries. I think I made three small commissions via StrongVPN this last month.
Commission Junction – $8.26
Since I now have a sidebar again, I added a few of my old Commission Junction ads back to my site. While the amount I earned this month seems pretty poor, I actually helped sell about $3,000 worth of hotel bookings via Commission Junction last month. Unfortunately I only get paid when people actually complete their stays, and so far none of them have yet. Assuming all of those bookings ultimately turn into commissions, there’s another $150 or so that I’ll receive, most likely during this next month.
World Nomads – $0
I usually make between $50 and $100 a month of travel insurance that people buy through my website, but last month I didn’t make any which is unusual. I sent roughly the same amount of traffic to World Nomads, but people didn’t end up purchasing. I suspect this is just an anomaly, but we’ll see next month.
I’ve been tracking a few statistics on the web over the past three month’s to see just how well my website is doing compared to others.
My Alexa rating at the end of last month was 563,000, and today it is 312,548, which is a great improvement. In terms of my US ranking, I’m sitting at 156,000. Once you break 100,000 for the US, Alexa starts treating you different and actively monitoring your statistics.
I also track SitePrice.org to see what it thinks my website is worth, even though I know the number doesn’t mean all that much. SitePrice.org said my website was worth $16,560 at the end of last month, and today it says it is worth $21,215. That number essentially estimates your site worth based on traffic and how much money someone can make by monetizing your website. So if somewhere were to pay $21,000 for this website, and it was making $700/month, they would make their original investment back in a little over two years.
In terms of eBook sign-ups for my free travel guide, Beginner’s Guide to Long-Term Travel and Lifestyle Design, I average around 2 or 3 a day, which I’m definitely happy with. If I can establish an ongoing relationship with 1,000 people who are interested in travelling over the course of a year, I think that will be great.
Time For A New Goal
I chose $500/mo for my original goal for two reasons.
First, I spend roughly $6,000 a year on airline tickets. At $500/mo, I basically offset all of that, which means I can basically travel for free.
And second, at around $500/mo I think it is easy to say that this website is a legitimate business, albeit a small one. What that means is that I should be able to write-off most of my travel related expenses going forward.
I also thought that if I ever stop travelling for a period of time (which I’m going to do for three months to save some money in February) that I could simply divert my website income into my retirement portfolio. Most financial advisors would be pretty happy if they could convince clients to shove away $500/mo towards retirement each month. If I could basically just keep writing on this website every few days and have that essentially fund my retirement, it means I can use my other income for enjoying life and seeing things in the world that interest me.
I’m going to set a new goal of $1,000 month, just to see if I can hit it. I actually woke up this morning to see that I had made almost $200 overnight thanks to a new Barclaycard sign-up, as well as $70 worth of DigitalOcean sign-ups finally converting. So that means I only need to make another $800 in the next 29 days.