I’ve always been intrigued by people who are essentially able to leave everything behind and travel the world while making money online.
Today’s interview features a couple who has done just that! Having spent 2 years in the working world, Dave and Vicky exchanged their briefcases for backpacks, dress shoes for sandals, and beds for sleeping bags. In September 2012 they embarked on a 2 year journey across Asia and Europe.
They currently earn a “full time income” online, which enables them to travel without a traditional job, and they document this all on their blog A Couple Travelers.
Let’s dig right into the interview.
(As always, questions from The Daily Interview are in bold.)
Dave and Vicky, I absolutely love your blog – A Couple Travelers. As boring as it makes me feel about my own life, it’s so fascinating to read about your adventures around the world and quest to cross off items on your bucket lists. Love it.
Tell us a bit more about your journey – what got you into traveling, and how did it all translate into a wildly successful blog (that grossed over $20,000 in November!)?
Hey Eric, thanks for the compliment and inviting us to do this interview. It’s always great to share what we’ve been up to with interested parties.
We started ACoupleTravelers two years ago as a blog to host our travel stories. We were planning a two year backpacking trip through Europe and Asia and, like many people, wanted to chronicle our journey online for friends, family, and anyone else who was interested. Also, like many people, we had big plans of turning it into “the best travel resource guide online”, you know, something to compete with Lonely Planet.
Once we hit the road though, we saw right away that it was incredibly difficult to travel AND maintain the blog at the same time, let alone make it the best travel resource online. Lately, it is simply a blog where we tell stories about our trip and on occasion discuss a bit of business.
Seeing as it is the first question, now is a perfect time to make a few clarifications. Firstly, the blog has not been wildly successful, at least, not by my own standards and probably not by many others. It is a travel blog that is read by fair amount of people (approximately 20k page views/month).
I like our blog but I won’t hesitate to say that blogs like ours are a dime a dozen and there are many travel bloggers who are doing a much better job and even started more recently than us!
Another important point, is that while we did gross over 20k in November through our online exploits, it isn’t really fair to attribute that to the blog. Actually, A Couple Travelers makes comparatively very little (around $1k per month). The other $19k is everything else we do online, and to attribute it to A Couple Travelers (although the blog has certainly played a role in us meeting advertisers and networking with other bloggers) would be grossly misleading.
What has been your greatest success so far as a blogger?
Again this calls for some clarifications. Most of our success has not been as a blogger. I could say, for example, that over the course of a day I might wear many hats (blogger, boyfriend, businessman, other roles that start with ‘B’ I suppose), and that most of the successes I have don’t happen when I’m wearing my blogger hat, which is a hat I wear relatively infrequently and less and less so lately.
If I was to stay true to the question it would be to say that our income reports have been the most significant thing we’ve done as bloggers. Of course, we are not the first people to publish our income online.
Still, relatively few do and this transparency and openness has not been without reward. We’ve managed to attract a lot of positive attention and networking as a result of publishing our income online and I’d be lying if I said that didn’t lead to even more impressive numbers and as a result more attention/networking.
It’s sort of a positive feedback loop I suppose and has fueled the course that we offer and the blogging partnership program, among other things.
However, if I was to answer this as an online businessman, which I think is more what this question is driving at, I would say that it was the creation of our blogging partnership program, which is where we work with bloggers to promote their blogs to advertisers on commission.
Again, this is not an original idea but actually it was original for us, in that we came up with it solely by ourselves, only to find out later that this was something a few bloggers have been doing. We worked on it to refine it week after week and took it from a project that in its first month earned us $1k in profit, to earning us $9k only a few months later at its height.
Nowadays we make about $4k working with other bloggers. In total, we have taken in about $150k this year from this work, though less than 1/3 of that was our profit.
Thanks for clarifying the source of your income – although the income reports are detailed on your blog, I see that the income itself isn’t directly attributable to the blog.
Can you elaborate on the blogging partnership program? Specifically, how is it that you find other blogs to work with? I know networking plays a huge part, but is there somewhere on your blog (or do you have another site) that details the services you offer?
In the blogging partnership we work with other blogs to promote their blogs to our advertisers for a commission.
Originally we found a list of blogs simply by looking at other blogger’s link pages. We had some basic criteria we were looking for (PR at least 2, etc) and reached out to a few to see if they would be interested. Since it doesn’t cost anything, we got a few people that were interested, namely, people who wanted to be making money off their blogs but didn’t have the contacts to do so.
Then we started sharing the positive results in our income reports and people started reaching out to us. Now we have more demand than we can handle. We keep the exact details to ourselves to prevent copycats.
I’m guessing there was a time when things weren’t going as well as they are now, and perhaps you hit a few roadblocks along the way. What do you consider to be your biggest failure with respect to your online business, and what did you learn from it?
To be honest, we’ve been incredibly lucky, and started making money on our blog almost right away (well, about 4 months into it, which for blogging I consider right away).
After only a few more months, we were consistently earning $2k per month through our online exploits. To put that in perspective, our expectations/hopes were that we could earn an extra $5k blogging over the entire course of our two year trip.
So to be earning that kind of money after only a few months in, was, well – unreal.
After that, it’s mostly just been up and we’ve almost made more money every month. The quality of the blog has been relatively consistent overtime as well.
Yes, we’ve hit roadblocks. We tried to branch out into various other ways of earning money that didn’t work. We also tried buying some websites that didn’t pan out. These things hurt a bit, but overall, things just went really really well and continue to do so.
Our biggest failures, at least the ones that I can point to now (there are probably plenty more I’ll find out a few years from now), are generally ones of omission. I look at what we were doing last year around this time, making $2k per month, and what we’re doing now, making 5-10 times that, and really, there isn’t that much of a gap, mostly a knowledge gap.
In terms of means and ability, what we’re doing now we could have been doing then, more or less. In terms of a knowledge gap, well, we’ve definitely learned a few things along the way but for the most part it’s just that we didn’t take the time to sit down and think about what it is we were doing and how we could maximize it more.
Because of your transparency with publishing monthly income reports, we (as readers) love to get that insight into how you’re generating an income, and it’s inspiring to watch that income grow.
I have no doubt that you’ve experimented with different ways of monetizing A Couple Travelers – what has worked the best for you so far? Is there something you expected to perform well, but turned out to be disappointing?
Unfortunately the only thing that I have found to work with a travel blog is selling links. That’s it. It’s not glamorous, that’s for sure, but Adsense, affiliate sales, etc. have largely been failures for us. We don’t have the traffic or the audience for that sort of thing.
Travel blog readers largely aren’t buyers – they’re just people looking for an entertaining story.
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at blogging. If you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
The key to success is: Network, network, network. [Click here to tweet this]
What are your favorite online resources?
I learn more from talking with other people and asking them what’s working than from anything else on the web. A few months ago we started a course where we teach people how to make money on their travel blog.
We’ve been charging $200 for it and had about 17 or so sign ups. That’s not bad, but we gained more knowledge and income from the people who signed up than from the actual course fees. That’s why I push networking so hard.
For someone who is just starting out and wants to start a travel blog (or any other blog for that matter), what advice do you have? What do you wish someone told you about when you first started?
If you’re interested in making money blogging, don’t start a travel blog.
I mean, you shouldn’t start a blog to make money as just about any blogger will tell you, but really, if you are going to do it, don’t start a travel blog. Start an SEO blog, or a business blog. Something where your audience actually wants to spend money (because, theoretically, they are reading your blog to invest in their business).
The things I wish we had been told are what we write about in our income reports, which is why we do them. Basically, there was this very secret world of people making money online and not telling anyone about it. We decided to change that and wrote all about it.
Finally, where can people find you online?
Thanks so much for the interview, Dave and Vicky! It was great having you here.
What did you think of the interview? Have you also been able to travel the world while earning an income online? Leave us a comment below! Thanks!