Jake here, bringing you the December, 2017 issue of Operation Digital Nomad, our quest to monetize our slow travel blog and extend our journeys indefinitely. We finished off our year in Europe with a wintery Christmastime in Vienna, Austria. It was Lisa’s first Christmas since learning to talk, and probably the first one she has a chance of remembering, so it will always be special for that reason. But as far as Operation Digital Nomad was concerned, the big Christmas miracle is that we finally had our first profitable month of blogging!

So without further ado, here’s the bottom line.




Net Income: $15.56

(Sounds of pomp and circumstance play in the background. You suddenly feel the urge to stand and clap in celebration.)

Yes, we netted $15.56. It might not be a big number, but it is a big deal! After the frustration we were starting to feel as I wrote last month’s analysis, we put some effort into exploring alternate income sources and as a result we are starting to make some progress. Here’s where our money came from.

Earnings:

  • Adsense: $1.65
  • Affiliate Sales: $0.00
  • Photography Sales: $72.27
  • Total: $73.92

Adsense:

Our Adsense income continues to fluctuate from month to month without amounting to much. Banner ads are passive income (my favorite kind!), but in order to live off of them we would have to have substantially more traffic than we do right now.

Photography Sales:

The biggest chunk of change this month came from the sale of some photographs. As a family traveling full time with a toddler, we are well positioned to work with certain brands, and we made an arrangement with Idaho Jones in which we would sell them some photography of their new bag. The $72.27 is what we made from those sales after subtracting a fee from Shootproof, which we used to show them the images and collect the payment. If that continues, then we should expect each month to be profitable to at least some degree from here on in. We have also arranged other photography sales from which we have not yet collected.

So of the options I talked about last month, photography sales has been the most profitable so far. The only problem is that it’s not scaleable and it’s not passive. We can only sell photographs as fast as we can take them, and our ultimate goal is to be pulling in income directly from the blog. That’s why we really need to double down on our efforts at affiliate sales (the item above from which we made zero dollars in December).

Affiliate Sales:

We learned from our interview with Baby Can Travel that affiliate sales have a lot of potential for income, but so far we have not been closing the deals. We have put up numerous affiliate links (including several on our resources page), and though we have received dozens of clicks on those links, none have yet materialized into purchases. I was a little surprised that we didn’t get some sales out of our review of the Ergobaby Omni 360, which got quite a bit of traffic during the holiday season. We also published reviews in December for our Peapod Plus Travel Tent and for our brand new (and well photographed) Idaho Jones Gallivant Baby Changing Diaper Backpack. Read the latter review for a 15% discount code.

I’m not 100% sure about the best way to convert on those clicks, but I’m encouraged that the links are at least getting a little love. Like banner ads, and unlike Photography Sales, affiliate links do scale with our blog traffic, which means that as our site continues to grow (keep reading for more on that), we should see more income.

Expenses:

As always, because we are treating travel as a lifestyle instead of an occupation, we do not include plane tickets, lodging, or food as expenses for these reports, since we would be paying for these things even if we had a regular job.




Blog Traffic

As excited as I am about our first profitable month of travel blogging, I get even more excited when I look at our blog traffic. Yes, it’s improving, but mostly I just like looking at graphs. There are so, so many graphs that I could share with you, but I know that you are busy, so I’ll just go with my favorites. If you want to learn a little more about some of the terms I use in this section, take a look at Operation Nomad: October, 2017 in which I take a more detailed look at the topic.

Traffic Sources:

This graph shows where our blog traffic came from in November and December.In these graphs, you can see that Organic search results like Google are making up a larger and larger proportion of our traffic. Indeed, our search traffic has increased by 22.5% since last month, which is so significant that the other sources look like they are shrinking even though they are slowly growing as well. Take a look below.This graph shows how our traffic numbers have changed over the last month.

This graph shows how our traffic numbers have changed over the last month.

The overall 18.6% increase in sessions is a substantial improvement, and though the pages per session has decreased, that is partly a data bug caused by spam traffic in November. Finally, I want to show you some graphs from Google Search Console to show you how we have been improving over the last 90 days.

Google Search Traffic:

This graph shows how our web traffic from google has improved over the last three months.In the chart above you can see that we have been showing up in more web searches every month, and getting clicks to match. This stuff is the bread and butter of blogging, and seeing this continual improvement is heartening.

This graph shows how our image traffic from google has improved over the last few months.

Because we are photographers and our blog is very image heavy, we also get a lot of traffic from Google Images. The fact that many of our posts are actually about photographing the destinations probably helps a lot.

 

This Month’s Blog Posts:

Here are the blog posts we published this month in order of how many pageviews they received.

  1. Review: The Idaho Jones Gallivant Baby Changing Diaper Backpack (43 pageviews)
  2. Operation Digital Nomad: November 2017 (42 pageviews)
  3. Wiener Eistraum (31 pageviews)
  4. Staying Healthy While Traveling – With Christina from Adventure Together (30 pageviews)
  5. Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy: A Photographer’s Guide (27 pageviews)
  6. Our Florida Christmas Roadtrip (23 pageviews)
  7. Photography Tips for Gondola Rides in Venice (17 pageviews)
  8. Review: The KidCo Peapod Plus Travel Tent (17 pageviews)

And here are our 10 most viewed pages this month:

  1. Home Page (241 pageviews)
  2. Review: The Ergobaby Omni 360 (65 pageviews)
  3. Review: The Idaho Jones Baby Changing Diaper Backpack (43 pageviews)
  4. Operation Digital Nomad: November 2017 (42 pageviews)
  5. Does it Snow in Dubrovnik (34 pageviews)
  6. Wiener Eistraum (31 pageviews)
  7. Staying Healthy While Traveling – With Christina from Adventure Together (30 pageviews)
  8. Piazza San Marco in Venice, Italy: A Photographer’s Guide (27 pageviews)
  9. Travel Schedule (27 Pageviews)
  10. Our Florida Christmas Roadtrip (23 pageviews)

Our other big improvement for the blog this month was putting together a few pages to tie the blog posts together. The most obvious example is the central Operation Digital Nomad page which ties all these wonderful updates together and explains the general concept of monetizing our blog and why we want to do it. Additionally, we put up a Destinations Page in which we index the cities we have been and the blog posts that we have written about each place. It’s not yet complete because we still need to flesh out each of those pages a little more, but at least now our blog feels more organized.

Thank You

Hey, our first month in the black is a milestone we don’t take lightly. We worked hard for it, but we have to remember that we owe any success we achieve to all the people who take the time out of their day to read our posts, comment and follow us on social media. That’s you. Thanks so much for being here for us during our year in Europe. 2018 is our Asia year, and I am currently writing this in Xiamen, China. It’s going to be another incredible year and we are so excited to be sharing it with you. You really do mean everything to us.




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