Happy Birthday BigTravelNut! 🙂

One year after I launched the site, I’m still publishing regularly (two times a week right now) and still enjoying myself! I credit this success to my decision to not get a day job. I know myself, and I can pretty much guarantee you that if I had had a job for any of those 12 months, BigTravelNut would be dying a slow death right now. And that would be a shame. What can I say? I’m a one-project woman!

“So, is the site making any money yet?” the more pragmatic of you may be wondering. Well, keep reading.

What I learned about travel blogging this year

Before launching the blog, I had read quite a bit about what it was like to write a blog, the technicalities of setting it up and running it, and so forth. But here is what I have learned since going live:

It’s as much work as they say, and then some!

I think I work more now than when I had a job. I spend countless hours at the computer writing, using social media, reading other blogs, reading about building traffic and monetization, producing the monthly newsletter, looking into guest posting opportunities, discovering new travel resources, and of course planning the trips that provide fodder for the blog!

The number of talented adventurous travel bloggers out there is staggering

Every day I discover new travel bloggers (mostly through Twitter) and individuals who either travel full time or are partially nomadic like me. And many of those blogs are well written (even when the poster’s first language is not English), while some have amazing photography (sometimes both). Yes, this is a very competitive field.

Without other people, a blogger is nothing

Obviously I knew that I needed readers when I started my blog, but beyond that, a blogger also needs to meet other bloggers and network with the travel industry. Fortunately, networking with other bloggers is easy. Travel Massive is an association with local chapters that organizes meetings in major cities (including Toronto), and of course there are conferences (e.g. TBEX). Meeting other bloggers online is fun but nothing beats meeting them in person.

I was a bit wary at first, thinking of other travel bloggers as competitors, but as it turns out, travel bloggers form a very friendly community, where it’s the norm to help each other with tips and resources. I’m still getting used to this strange concept after spending 22 years in the software industry where you’re supposed to squash your competitors as much as possible!

It takes a looong time to build traffic and make money

Travelling and writing is only part of the blogging equation, albeit the best part for me. You can only make money from your blog if you attract a lot of traffic, meaning both readers and followers on social media. Building traffic is a whole different skill. It’s easy to spend all of one’s time on building traffic and forgetting to write. I fell into this trap in July when I started dedicating more time to Facebook and Twitter. And of course, there is all that social media I haven’t even touched yet like Instagram and Pinterest.

My traffic has been growing, but it’s a slow slug. I wish I was 20 years younger, or had started the blog five years ago! So am I earning an income yet? The answer is no. Unless you count $68.55 (minus Paypal and E-junkie fees) as income.

Social media can easily consume your life if you let it

See above.

Travel blogging is developing into a real profession

Some top bloggers have been earning a living at it for a few years now through advertising, affiliates, sponsored trips, speaking engagements, freelance writing gigs, selling e-books, and the like. But something is shifting now in the blogging world. It’s slowly turning into a profession. We even have a professional association now: the Professional Travel Blogger Association, who promotes the interests of travel bloggers, aims to legitimize travel blogging as a business, and facilitate business relationships within the industry. This is exciting. I became a member in June.

Some statistics

On my 3-month anniversary last November, I revealed my Google Analytics stats. How have I progressed? Here are the stats today, with the 3-month ones in brackets.

Over the past month BigTravelNut.com saw:

  • 1166 sessions  [814]  (previously called visits)
  •  901 users  [449]  (previously called unique visitors)
  •  4902 pageviews  [2571]
  •  Average session duration: 3 mins 3 secs  [4 mins 33 secs]
  •  Pages / Session: 4.20  [3.16]

Additionally, 72.4% of readers are new visitors, while 27.6% are returning visitors. (After the first 3 months those numbers were 52.6% and 27.4% respectively). BigTravelNut now has a total of 106 posts.

Party treats

And now let’s have a party! Well, a virtual party at least. No birthday party is complete without party treats. So here’s what I have for you on this momentous occasion:

  1. A draw! Leave a comment below (suggestions, congratulations, rants, etc.) before 23:59 EDT on August 28, and you will be entered into a draw to win one of my e-books (whichever one you want, plus accompanying photo book). The winner will be announced on August 29, and contacted personally.
  2. An ongoing 15% discount code on all my products (current and future) to anybody who subscribes to my newsletter. (Current subscribers, the code will be in September’s newsletter.)

 Ways to help BigTravelNut

If you’re still reading, you may be wondering how you can help BigTravelNut stay alive and thrive. Some suggestions are listed below. Today I am also introducing the Donate button. You’ll find it on the sidebar to the right.

I’ve resisted adding a Donate button until now, because I wanted to produce more content first, and give my readers the chance to get to know and appreciate BigTravelNut without asking for money or plastering the site full of Google ads and other advertisement.

I want to keep producing great content on a visually appealing site, but the truth is that blog-related expenses have been about ten times what the blog has been bringing in. So if this site has helped you, or entertained you, would you please consider making a donation to help with its upkeep? No amount is too small. Thanks!

And here is the complete list of ways (many of them free) by which you can help BigTravelNut prosper this coming year:

  • Buy my e-books
  • Donate a few dollars for the upkeep of the site
  • Like and Share my articles (FREE – buttons at the bottom of each post)
  • Follow me on Twitter (FREE)
  • Like BigTravelNut on Facebook (FREE)
  • Subscribe to my newsletter (FREE – red box in sidebar)
  • Buy me lunch of coffee, or invite me to your house for dinner! (Thanks to all the friends who have already done this by the way). 🙂

Goals for the coming year

Expect more great stuff for the coming year, including, hopefully, more videos. You know that BigTravelNut has a YouTube channel right? I want to add more content this year, starting with a video post next Tuesday that you won’t want to miss.

And in case you haven’t heard, I’m hitting the road again in less than two weeks with trips planned to San Francisco (house-sitting), Southern Spain, Athens (for TBEX), and Turkey. So things should get very interesting very soon.

I also want to keep growing my audience both here on the blog and on social media, eventually adding a visual social media site like Instagram or Pinterest to my existing accounts on Facebook and Twitter.

And finally I want to monetize the site by adding more affiliates, and some carefully selected ads. I also want to participate in more sponsored activities, and eventually short sponsored trips.

I’m sure that the TBEX conference in October will give me even more ideas on how to accomplish those goals.

If you want to hear about some exciting stuff that happened to me this year, head over to The 10 most exciting events in my travel blogger’s life (so far).

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you around the site. Don’t forget to comment below to be entered in the draw!

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