My first income report for The Atlas Heart! This is what I did in August 2019 to start building up my income streams on this blog.
I did a thing in mid-July. I made a promise to myself and the greater internet world that I would finally give this whole full time blogging career a proper chance.
For the next year, I’m going to work my butt off to create a full time income from travel blogging. After six years of being a part-time travel blogger who had no clue how to monetize before a couple of years ago, I’m ready to take my corner of the internet to the next level.
I plan to write these income reports at the end of every month to keep myself accountable and to track my progress for both myself and for anyone else who has thought of getting into blogging as a profession.
And for the many people who constantly ask me how I make money from blogging – you will find out soon!
I spent the past month and a half getting my strategy in check, setting up my first passive income streams, and finalizing my new blog design (which should hopefully be ready before mid-September).
Building My First Income Streams – Affiliate Marketing & Ad Networks
For income this month, I focused on optimizing affiliate marketing better and getting accepted to a good ad network. For all you non-bloggers, let me explain what I mean by affiliate marketing and ad networks.
Affiliate marketing for travel blogging involves using specific links to recommend products, tours, or hotels to readers. When a reader books something from one of these links, you as a blogger get a commission. Every affiliate platform is different and has different cookies and payout settings.
Right now I’m using Amazon Associates, Get Your Guide, Viator, Booking.com, and AirBnB affiliate links on The Atlas Heart. I also recently signed up for ShareASale, which has even more affiliate link options, although I haven’t started using it yet.
Affiliate marketing is meant to be a win-win if it’s done right. I recommend what I would’ve already recommended to my readers, but I actually get paid if someone uses my recommendation.
This allows me to continue providing free and helpful content on this blog, while getting some form of income from the work I put into every post.
For the affiliate marketing optimization I worked on this past month, I went through my top 20 posts on Google and made sure they were optimized for affiliate links. I’m also making sure to optimize all new blog posts for affiliate links as they come out.
So far, I’ve had the most success with Booking.com and AirBnB for affiliate income. I’ve made little to no income via Amazon, Get Your Guide, or Viator yet.
Ad networks have become a big chunk of income for bloggers over the past few years. There are quite a few out there these days, but the top ones right now include Ezoic and Mediavine.
Once you sign up for one of these ad networks, they run display ads on your site to help bring in more passive income. Your income only goes up the more traffic you have.
I know some bloggers who make a living just off Mediavine income because their traffic is that high. I’d estimate that I’d need to have around 500,000 pageviews per month in order to live off just Mediavine income.
In August, I applied for both Ezoic and Mediavine.
I was slightly under the 25,000 sessions per month requirement that Mediavine has on their application, but I applied anyway at 20,000 sessions because I had heard other bloggers being accepted early who were a good fit.
I heard back from Ezoic first and got set up with them while I waited for a response from Mediavine.
The on boarding team at Ezoic were nice and helpful, but there was a security issue with the plug-in that was recommended for easy installation of ads on my site. And, the ads themselves weren’t overly related to my content which I wasn’t a fan of.
More than that, I had heard from multiple bloggers that Mediavine is better for site speed and revenue so I knew that if Mediavine accepted me I would change over.
When I received the green light from Mediavine a couple of weeks ago, I stopped used Ezoic and started the on boarding process with Mediavine.
My new Mediavine display ads have been running now since August 20th and they’re starting to make passive income every day.
Right now my RPM (also known as my revenue per 1,000 impressions), is around $12, but I’ve heard that this number continues to go up over the first few months after you’ve installed Mediavine.
On average, most travel bloggers I’ve talked to who use Mediavine have an average RPM of $16. This means for every 1,000 impressions on their blog, they get $16 in revenue. With my current $12 RPM, I’ll be making around $300 each month since my current pageviews per month are 25,000.
Once I get to $16 RPM, this number will increase to $400 each month, and it will obviously increase as I continue to bring in more traffic to my site as well.
I’m hoping within a couple of months, I’ll be making around $500 per month for every 25,000-30,000 sessions on my blog.
To get my ad network income stream bringing in more, I’m focusing on publishing as much quality and competitive content as I can on a daily basis. When I’m not traveling, my goal is to be getting out a SEO optimized blog post every day of the week, minus weekends.
I hired a part-time writer to help me with this initial content push, so I have someone to help me write up five in-depth articles every week. I usually write (or update) four posts per week and she writes one or two.
To join my two strategies of increasing my monthly blog traffic with affiliate marketing, I’ve been having my new writer focus on affiliate heavy blog posts that will get a decent amount of search traffic and will hopefully convert well too.
For now, I want to focus on building up these two passive income streams so that I can build off of them and have more time to build out other forms of income once they’re running smoothly.
In August 2019, I earned a total of $135.76.
- Booking: $48.62
- Amazon: $0.25
Total = $48.87
Mediavine = $86.89
- Part-Time Writer: $500
- Design Work: $600
- Adobe Lightroom (for photo editing): $9.99
- Canva Pro (for designing pins): $12.95
- Keysearch (for keyword research): $34
- Ahrefs (for more in-depth keyword research and SEO optimization work): $99
- ConvertKit (for emails): $49
*Note: For simplicity purposes, I didn’t include travel expenses for work from August.
TOTAL EXPENSES = $1,304.94
TOTAL NET INCOME = -$1,169.18
August Blog Traffic and Stats
- Monthly sessions: 20,460
- Monthly pageviews: 24,676
- Monthly users: 18,076
- Social media followers: 52,309
- Email subscribers: 2,140
- Blog posts published/updated: 12
August Traffic Comparison to Other Months
- 0.86% increase in traffic compared to July 2019 (24,466 pageviews)
- 22% increase in traffic compared to June 2019 (20,258 pageviews)
- 30% increase in traffic compared to May 2019 (18,661 pageviews)
What’s Next for September
I knew I’d take a loss in income for the first few months of building up my initial income streams, so I wasn’t surprised that I had a negative total for this first month.
It only gives me more encouragement to get these income streams running in a way that is profitable ASAP.
September 2019 Blog Goals
- Publish/update 20 optimized blog posts.
- Have my new site design go live!
- Reach 25K sessions and 30K pageviews.
- Get my engagement up on Instagram again so I can apply for a few sponsored opportunities every month as I have in the past. This will involve posting a few times a week on Instagram and engaging every day for an hour or more.
- Learn more about affiliate marketing and how to improve this type of passive income.
- Start engaging on Pinterest (and Pinterest FB groups) daily again to help boost organic traffic.
Having so many more SEO optimized blogs coming out per month is only going to help my traffic, so I’m eager to see how this pans out in another month or two.
It was also exciting to see passive income coming in from Mediavine for the first time on my blog. At least to start with, I think this is going to be one of my main income generators, so it feels great to have Mediavine finally running on my site and bringing in that income.
What Didn’t Work
I was hoping that by optimizing my top 20 blog posts for better affiliate links that I would see a steeper increase in affiliate income.
This hasn’t jumped up in the way that I was hoping, so I want to take some time this month to dive into how to optimize my affiliate marketing techniques better.
Overall, I feel pretty good about my first month of treating my blog like a serious business and testing out my new monetization strategy. I look forward testing this strategy over the next few months to see how much I can increase my income before the end of the year.
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