Jake here, with the August, 2018 edition of Operation Digital Nomad, our monthly report on the progress we have made toward monetizing our travel blog. Our goal is to earn at least $4000 a month through our travel blog and we are still (waaay) short of the finish line, but as always we are slowly but surely making progress. In this month’s report, I’m going to go over some non-monetary rewards that have been making it easier for us to keep up the hard work in the meantime. I’m talking about feedback from our readers and customers.
By the way, this article contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help support our travels and this website. Thank you.
I’ll be sharing some comments we’ve received from people who found our articles helpful, and even some lavender photos that customers edited using our Lightroom preset, which made up a good portion of our income last month, even though we did the product launch in June..
But first, the bottom line:
Net Income: $31.78
- Google Adsense: $2.53
- Affiliate Sales: $13.82
- Photography Sales: $72.52
- Digital Product Sales: $4.48
- Total: $93.35
- Cloudflare: (Content Delivery Network) $25.20
- SiteGround: (Website Hosting) $34.95
- Amazon S3 (Image Hosting): $1.62
- Total: $-61.57
Our overall income was up over the last month, owing largely to a few more photography sales. Our net increased substantially, even though our monthly expenses rose when our first year discount at SiteGround (our high end hosting platform) ran out and we had to pay the regular price. Check out the graph below to see how our net income has performed over the last year.
For a little more detail about where that money came from, here is what our gross income looked like, with the sources identified by color:
But here’s the graph that Dannie and I care about the most. This is the one that shows our passive income – that’s the part that we don’t have to do any extra work for each month. It’s the money that our website earns in the background from the work we’ve already done. it includes things like ad revenue, affiliate links, and sales of our digital products (like our lavender editing presets for Lightroom and Photoshop.
As you can see, it’s doing pretty well and showing real improvement over the early months of this project. As we continue to diversify the sources of passive income on our website, and increase our traffic by publishing more content, we hope that our passive income will overtake the other types within a couple months. We’re happy to see that the presets are continuing to sell (though not as quickly) after lavender photography season has ended, but we definitely want to put out some more that will have appeal year-round.
We were also happy to see an increase in our affiliate link profits, especially because we had some sales from new sources that hadn’t been performing for us in the past. That’s progress in my book!
Adsense doesn’t seem to be doing a whole lot for us, but at this stage, it’s consistently a big enough portion of our passive income that we’ll keep it around. It doesn’t require any extra work. We sometimes worry about how the ads effect the appearance of our website (we’d love some feedback on that by the way – comment if you have thoughts), but I’m hopeful that as we continue to grow our traffic we’ll be able to upgrade to a more profitable ad network.
Speaking of traffic…
I was really happy about our traffic in August, even though it was down slightly from the crazy month we had in July. Last month was slightly anomalous because our guide to photographing lavender fields in Provence, France got loads of traffic. We wrote that post to fill the informational void we found when we were researching for our trip, and apparently we weren’t the only ones who wanted some expert tips on the region.
In August, the lavender post dropped off substantially from its peak (though it’s still doing well), but we were delighted to see other articles rising up and performing well in its place, as a result, even though August was not our busiest month in history, it was still our second busiest, and very much in keeping with our upward trends.
We had a total of 4,407 page views in August, which means that if you want to compare that to our income our RPM (Return Per Mil – profit for every thousand page views) was $7.21.
Here are the new blog posts we published in August. If you haven’t read them yet, get to it!
- The Island of Burano: Venice, Italy Daytrip – You know that Island in the Venetian lagoon that has all those colorful houses? It’s Burano, and this post is our guide to visiting it from Venice. If you like taking Instagram photos, this is the place.
- Bangkok Hotel Reviews: Eastin Grand Hotel Sathorn and Feung Nakorn Balcony – A twofer hotel review from our first trip to Bangkok. We split our stay between two very cool and very different hotels, and in this article we go over the pros and cons of both experiences.
- The Island of Murano: Venice, Italy Daytrip – Another Venice island guide, this time to the glass making island of Murano. We didn’t enjoy our trip very much – mostly because Lisa was the wrong age for visiting glass shops – but it’s a very popular destination and we hope to go back someday.
- Operation Digital Nomad: July, 2018 – Much like this post, but a month older.
- Travel With Your Kid’s Books: Kindle App Review – An article about why we decided to switch out Lisa’s books for ebooks and a guide to using the Kindle App. We also made a list of Lisa’s favorite books in case any other traveling parents need inspiration.
And here are the ten most popular blog posts from August as measured in pageviews.
- Finding the Best Angle on the Roman Colosseum (401 pageviews)
- Review: The BabyZen Yoyo Travel Stroller (316 pageviews)
- Where to Photograph Provence Lavender Fields (174 pageviews)
- Why One Day in Jiufen, Taiwan is Not Enough for Photographers (125 pageviews)
- Photographing the Louvre Pyramid in Fall and Spring (95 pageviews)
- Photographing Split, Croatia’s Marjan Park (91 pageviews)
- Fairy Glen: Family Fun on the Isle of Skye (86 pageviews)
- How We Took Our Best Photo of the Roman Colosseum (86 pageviews)
- Photography Tips for Photography Rides in Venice, Italy (79 pageviews)
- Review: The KidCo Peapod Plus Travel Tent (79 pageviews)
Seeing the traffic numbers for our blog increase is extremely rewarding, but equally rewarding has been the feedback we’ve been getting from our readers.
Feedback From our Readers
We’ve been trying harder and harder to make sure that our articles are useful to our readers, whether it’s figuring out what destinations will be fun and safe for children (like our Pros and Cons of Venice, Italy with Children), describing a location in detail for adventurous photographers (like our photography guide to Dubrovnik’s famous city wall), technical photography tips (like our recent Tips for Using a Zoom Lens for Creative Travel Photography), or even sentimental pieces to encourage people who are thinking about taking their kids abroad (like Finding Friends for Lisa While Traveling).
But no matter how hard we try, or how closely I watch our analytics, nothing lets us know that our work is appreciated like when someone sends us a message to say so. One way people do this is by commenting at the end of an article. That’s our very favorite way because 1) it helps that article rank a little higher in Google search results, thus helping us reach more people, and 2) anyone who reads that article in the future can see what was written, which is especially helpful if the commenter also makes a contribution or asks a question we can answer. If you click through to any of our articles from this post, please do leave a comment if you are so inclined.
I’ve mentioned it before, but here are some of the things people said about our most popular article, Where to Photograph Provence Lavender Fields:
Thank you so much for all of this helpful info! We are heading there in July and will use your wonderful tips on where to photograph and thus men able to make the most of our trip! Many thanks to you and your darling family.
Thank you for your beautiful photos and your thoughtful comments. I will be in Van Gogh’s Provence in a week and your entry has delighted me very much!
Thanks for such a great article. Going there in a week. Although I don’t have the ambition of taking such great photos, I still found this piece very useful for my planning purposes. Thanks!
P.s. There is a small mistake – I think in the first place, where you refer to a wide angle lens, it should be 24-70mm instead of the 70-200mm zoom.
We fixed that link, by the way.
Another article that I was certain people would find helpful was YES, You Keep Your U.S. Passport While Renewing Overseas, which very directly answers the question I was asking in frustration before our trip to Shanghai. It turns out a lot of other people were wondering too, and they were nice enough to let me know that they found it useful. It’s now our most popular article about Asia. Here’s what they said:
Thanks for this info. Like you, I tried finding it on Google and failed… until I came on your blog.
Some here! This whole account helped me lose my anxiety about potentially having to figure out some passport-less method of travelling to Shanghai to pick up my new passport.
Thank you! I was searching this and finding no answer either. Thank you for writing this, I’m heading to Shanghai in two days to do this same thing.
Thanks for taking the time to explain how the system works. This was very helpful. It seems like the kind of information the government would have in the FAQs, but apparently that is too much to hope for. We’ve been living in Nanjing for a couple of years and need to renew soon. You made the process much less stressful for us.
People also let us know that they’ve made use of our guides or advice by sharing the photos they’ve taken.
In February we published an article called Why One Day in Jiufen Isn’t Enough for Photographers, in which we talked about spending a few nights in the little hillside village to photograph it’s famous lanterns, temples and old streets. Here’s one of our favorite photos:
One of our Instagram friends, @petite.anh, was nice enough to let us know that we’d inspired her to do the same, and even sent us a DM to make sure we saw her take on that same street early in the morning. We loved it. Here’s what she said and the image she shared:
Hey Jake and Dannie, I just wanna reach out to say that you! I read your blog post about Jiufen and followed your advice to stay overnight instead of just doing a day trip. And I really love it! The Old Street at night and early morning was soo beautiful and I could capture the town without the tourist crowd.
Another Instagamer, @dansmythni enjoyed our article Searching for Split, Croatia’s Most Beautiful Staircase, and followed our (intentionally vague) directions to find this staircase in an apartment building near the Old Town. Here’s the photo we took after spending days trying to track it down from a photo we saw on a wall:
And here’s the photo Dan took. He was even courteous enough to mention us right in the caption, which is more than we ask from our readers, but was awfully nice of him since it was his own work.
What do you think, should we write more scavenger hunt photography guides?
And finally, we’ve also gotten some feedback on the lavender field editing presets Dannie created this Summer. In addition to a few of our customers responding positively to our queries, one was even nice enough to share some of the photos she edited using the Lavender Lightroom Brush. Here are a couple of images from Victoria Welton, a Photographer from Somerset, England. She made good use of both the lavender brush, which improves the apparent vibrance and fullness of the bushes, and the blue sky brush for bringing back partly blown out skies. Thanks so much for sharing, Victoria.
If anyone else out there has images that they’ve edited with one of our presets, we’d love to share the results with our readers.
August was a really fun month for us, and it was a great month for our website as well. Dannie, Lisa an I really want to thank you for reading this and making our online journey as successful and interesting as our global one. If you’d like to go the extra mile to help support us, you can explore our site, comment on our posts or even have a look at our resources page or our shop when you are thinking about what you need for your next trip. When you do read our articles, make sure you comment with any questions or additional information that you might have for us or our other readers. When our readers take the time to come back to our site again and again, it makes a really big difference in our lives, and we are truly grateful.
And don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter. I promise it’s the least spammy newsletter you’ll ever get since 1) I usually forget to write it, and 2) when I do remember, it’s because I actually have something I can’t wait to share with you (our most recent newsletter was an open letter to Taiwan about their stinky tofu problem). Ok, that’s it for now, thanks again, and happy travels.