It’s Jake again, with our monthly installment of Operation Digital Nomad, the post in which I update everyone on our progress monetizing our travel blog so that we can travel the world indefinitely. As always, this post contains affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking on one, we get a commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
What a busy month we had in June. Dannie and I did a pretty good job at buckling down and making improvements to our website. Not only did we produce a record breaking 10 blog posts last month (more on that later), we also published our first Lightroom and Photoshop presets (more on that later) and we went through the arduous process of switching to a new theme that supports a shop page (you’d better believe there’s more on that later). The theme of this months report is awesome new stuff!
But first, the bottom line:
Net Income: -$7.89
- Google Adsense: $4.83
- Affiliate Sales: $6.57
- Photography Sales: $105.00
- Total: $116.40
- Cloudflare: (Monthly – Content Delivery Network) $25.20
- Professional Photographers of America (Monthly – Trade Association and Camera Insurance): $27.92
- Amazon S3 (Monthly – Image Hosting): $1.18
- Adobe Creative Cloud (Monthly – Software Subscription: Photoshop, Lightroom and More): $9.99
- Siteground (Upgrade of Hosting Plan): $15.00
- Creative Market (New WordPress Theme): $45
- Total: $124.29
Now, it would be easy to look at -$7.89 and say that we had a bad month, but that’s ignoring the big increase improvements we made in our income, and the two one time expenses we had this month. It also ignores the big improvements that are implied by those changes.
Plus, if you’ll recall back to the olden days of one month ago, our last edition of Operation Digital Nomad focused on passive income. This month was much better than last month when it comes to income overall, largely because we sold more photos, but it was also continued the trend of our passive income consistently rising.
I know what you’re thinking: “show me the graphs!” Ok, you asked for it. This first graph shows our overall gross income since we started Operation Digital Nomad. As you can see it was super slow at first, but quickly picked up when we started selling images. In fact, it pretty much looks like image sales are our only source of income, and a very erratic one at that.
And you wouldn’t be entirely wrong to think that; clearly it has made up the bulk of our earnings. But down in that little sliver on the bottom of the graph are our passive income sources; banner ads and affiliate links. Those are the ones that I really want to take off, because they scale more easily that actively doing photo shoots. Take a look at this graph were passive income is highlighted.
Obviously we don’t have a ton of data to work with, but I think it kind of looks like an overall increasing trend, and I also think it’s entirely due to a continued increase in blog traffic. It’s also clear that these numbers aren’t exactly going to support us yet, but I can’t wait to see how they improve as our traffic continues to increase.
We did a lot of work this month, and it was pretty rewarding to see payoffs, even if it was actually for work we’d done in months past. June was a record breaking month for traffic on jakeanddannie.com. We had a total of 1,907 users visit our site 2,255 times and view a total of 3,337 pages. Every one of those stats was a new record.
Here are the blog posts we published in June:
- Our New Lavender Editing Presets and Actions – The post in which we announced that our two new digital products are ready. One is a Lightroom Brush Preset, and the other is a Photoshop Action. Both are specifically designed for improving the color and fullness of lavender bushes in your photos. Available now in our shop. These are the brushes Dannie used to edit our own lavender photos.
- Must Have Apps for Living in China – Just what you think it is: a listicle of apps that will make your life much easier while you are visiting China, especially if you are planning on being there for more than just a few days.
- Review: 6 Things We Liked (and 5 We Didn’t) at Shanghai Disney – Some people travel the world on a mission to visit every Disney park on Earth. Since we’ve been traveling, we just went to this one. It’s not really part of our usual slow travel strategy, but hey, we were right there. Regardless, we wrote a review for those who are interested.
- Our Tie Die Class in Zhoucheng, Dali – Yunnan, China – If you ever visit the Dali Old Town – and possibly most other old towns in Yunnan, you will see a lot of tie died tapestries hanging on the walls. We went to a village that specializes in making these, watched how it was done, and took a crack at it ourselves. Go see the results!
- The Best Views From Our Month in Budapest, Hungary – I felt kind of bad when I looked at our Budapest, Hungary page and saw that the only post we’d published so far was our dismal (but surprisingly popular) Our Bad Trip to the Fisherman’s Bastion, article. Well no more! Here’s a post highlighting some of our favorite sights!
- Yes, You keep Your Old Passport When Renewing Overseas – This post is literally the answer a question we asked before our trip to Shanghai. I had a heck of a time figuring it out, so hopefully the next time some asks it, our post will be staring them in the face when they search.
- Operation Digital Nomad: May, 2018 – Much like this post, but one month older. It has aged well.
- Dunbar, Scotland Camping and Caravanning Club Site Review – We camped for the entire month of July (last year) in Dunbar, Scotland, so we figured we were in a pretty good position to write a review of the campsite.
- Roman Ruins of Salona in Split, Croatia: Photography Guide – Our guide to getting great photos when you are touring Roman ruins near Split. We go over everything including how to get there, what to bring, the layout of the park, and how we found our angles.
- Slowing Down in Dali, China – The post in which we officially announce that we have settled down in the amazing city of Dali, China for the year. In it we talk about what motivated us to slow down our travels, and what made us choose Dali.
And here are the most popular posts from June:
- Where to Photograph Provence Lavender Fields (455 pageviews)
- Finding the Best Angle on the Roman Colosseum (179 pageviews)
- Review: The BabyZen Yoyo Travel Stroller (140 pageviews)
- Our Experience Staying at Airbnbs in Paris (119 pageviews)
- Review: The KidCo Peapod Plus Travel Tent (115 pageviews)
- Fairy Glen: Family Fun on the Isle of Skye (100 pageviews)
- Photography Tips for Gondola Rides in Venice, Italy (69 pageviews)
- Loire Valley Chateaux: Photographing the Valley of Kings (66 pageviews)
- Photographing the Louvre Pyramid in Fall and Spring (61 pageviews)
- Our New Lavender Editing Presets and Actions (53 pageviews)
It’s no surprise that this list is top heavy. Our lavender photography guide absolutely crushed it this month, which just so happened to be the start of lavender season in Provence. That post actually outperformed last months top three posts combined. But lest you think that it was doing well while the rest of the site languished, our second best performing post this month did better than last months number one as well.
And now, as is our custom, here is a graph of our last three months of organic search traffic, courtesy of Google Search Console:
That’s looking great, but I’ve noticed that, by comparison, the graph of our image search traffic seems to have leveled off a bit. We’ll see if that trend continues, but I think it might have to do with the way people plan their travels. Image search traffic might peak earlier in the season when people are researching potential destinations, whereas regular search traffic might peak later when people have arrived and are looking to explore.
Our New Theme!
Did you notice that our site looks different? Of course you did, since you visit every day and you are paying close attention. If not, then you clearly need to sign up for our email newsletter so that we can remind you to come back and see us once in a while (only twice a month I swear, and we always include some fun exclusive content).
Our old theme was causing us a few problems. The first was that we wanted to set up a WooCommerce store so that we could more easily display products and services that we recommend (see below), and though the old theme didn’t preclude a store, it also didn’t explicitly support one. The second problem was that out of nowhere some of our featured images stopped rendering correctly. Obviously that wasn’t acceptable for a photo-centric blog like ours.
Our new theme is called Grazie by Herpark Studios. We found it on CreativeMarket, along with many, many other themes and digital products. Another great place to shop for themes, if you are looking, is ThemeForest.
Our New Presets!
Speaking of digital products, we finally have a couple for sale for $5 each. Dannie worked hard to get these ready for release before the end of Lavender season, since they are very specialized presets. You can read all about them in our announcement post, or you can buy them from our shop.
Our New Shop!
So one of the main reasons we wanted to switch themes was because we had those new presets and we needed a really nice shop page to sell them on. And now that we have one, we actually got to move almost everything from our resource page into the shop. Our old resource page was basically one really long list of products and services that you had to scroll through on the off chance that you’d find something you thought looked useful. Now it’s a much more visual, categorized and easy to use shopping page.
What does this mean? Well it greatly increases the odds that we will make affiliate sales in the coming months. The shop only went live recently, so we’ll still have to wait to see whether it works, but I’ll have more information next time I write this report. In the meantime, here’s how you can help me out (other than by visiting the resource page while planning your next trip or photo shoot):
Our shop is still sparsely populated. I’m making a list of items to add, and I’d love to here about any travel/photography/family products or services that you think might fit right in. Of course, we only include things that we use and love, but who knows what you might remind me of. We’d also love to here what you think of our new site.
Once again, I want to thank you for your support, even if it just meant reading this blog post. Every month we are more and more encouraged by our progress on this blog, and your continued interest is how we measure that success. We couldn’t do it without you and we can’t wait to share our stories with you again.