An Overview Of Our 2020 Blog Revenue Report
As we round out the end of 2020, I want to take a quick look at how much money our van life travel blog has generated during the first year that our van life blog has been up and running.
Being a “digital nomad” and “making money while on the road” are sexy terms and phrases that appeal to the vast majority of us. I mean, who doesn’t want to make money while traveling, right?
But what does this all entail and how difficult is it to make sustained and real, significant money while traveling?
So in this article, we will go over the following points.
Hopefully with the data and insight we provide below, we can continue to improve our blog going forward as we enter the new year.
How Does One Make Money From Their Travel Blog?
Most travel blogs, especially those in their nascent stage, make money through either one, or both, of the following means.
1. Affiliate Programs: These are commission based sales programs that offer a percentage of a sale to the blog that helped close that sale. The most popular affiliate program right now is Amazon Affiliates.
2. Advertisements: A blog can place targeted advertisements throughout their pages and posts and earn money when a visitor clicks on the ads on the blog’s pages. The most popular advertisement program right now is with Google Adsense.
Which Revenue Streams Do We Use To Earn Money?
In our first real year in operation, the only revenue stream we utilize on our Asobolife.com travel and van life blog is our partnership with Amazon Affiliates.
We currently partner with Amazon Affiliates, instead of with other affiliate programs, for three MAJOR reasons:
1. A One-Stop Shop For Every Product In The World
The biggest reason is because Amazon provides a one-stop shop to advertise a virtually unlimited supply of products.
If there is a product we use and love, Amazon will most likely sell it. Other affiliate programs may not carry that particular product.
2. Our website traffic is TINY.
In our blog’s nascent stage, if we’re being honest here, we get virtually no significant web traffic. And so we need to provide what little traffic we do receive with the lowest barrier to make the purchase.
And in 2020, almost everybody has an Amazon account and trusts the e-commerce giant with monetary transactions.
BTW, How Small Is Your Website Traffic Anyway?
It’s fairly insignificant! But since everything is relative, below is a snapshot of our Google Analytics data for the month of December.
Because we recently changed our accounts, we had to use a new Google Analytics code on December 7. Therefore, unfortunately, our data only shows only about two weeks worth of data. Whoops!
Currently as it stands, we average about 20 sessions per day. But even more concerning is that what few visitors do visit our site, they do not really click around to read our other articles.
These numbers will have to improve if we want to make any significant amount of money next year.
But while, our users and page view numbers are small, our revenue amazingly isn’t zero!
We will discuss our revenue numbers further down in this article.
New Revenue Steams For Next Year?
We mentioned that our only current revenue stream is through Amazon Associates. But next year we would like add 1-2 more streams not only to diversify our revenue but to also just learn more about all the different ways a blog can make money.
Our priority for next year would be to work with Google Adsense to place targeted ads throughout our website.
With that in mind, we do understand two harsh truths:
1. Ads are ugly! Ads will reduce our blog’s aesthetic design and user interface. We dislike ads as much as the next person, but we hope to inserted well design ads not areas of our blog that will have the least distracting affect for our readers.
2. Paltry blog readership numbers will result in paltry advertisement revenue. In order to make any sort of money from Google ads, we have to work even harder to raise our meager readership numbers. Generating revenue with only 20 viewers a day just isn’t going to cut it.
Our Total Blog Revenue For 2020
In 12 months, with revenue generated solely through our partnership with Amazon Affiliates, we’ve made a whopping $16.21!
Some people say that making your first dollar is harder than making the next $1000. So let’s hope that’s true for next year!
Looking at our Amazon Associates report above, there are several key points to note:
1. No sales in the first 7 months of work. We didn’t actually start to produce any revenue until July 2020, seven months after we started an account with Amazon. It sure took quite a lot of days to get that first sale!
2. Our meager numbers are actually worse than they seem. In October we were featured in a travel article, which briefly increased our readership and commission-based sales. Outside of this outlier month, we actually only average less than $1/month since July.
What We Did Well
Hey, we made our first dollar! Not every website can claim that.
But that first dollar is still a low hurdle, and we clearly have much more work still to do.
We also learned an incredible amount just about the ins and outs of being an affiliate marketer. Considering we knew next to nothing the year before, this is something to be proud of.
We love learning new things and so just being able to learn more about affiliate marketing for our blog is huge for us.
Where We Can Improve
Though there is cause for celebration, we’re clearly not even close to supporting our Pan-American road trip.
If you went through our 2020 van life monthly expenses, you’d see we’re far from our goal of supporting ourselves with this blog.
We could treat ourselves to roughly four cups of coffee, but that’s about it.
Therefore, to improve our earnings with Amazon’s Affiliate program, we will need to improve AT LEAST in these two areas:
1. Work To Increase Visitor Numbers To Our Blog
More visitors should hopefully lead to more clicks on our recommended products, leading to more commission-qualifying sales.
This is clearly easier said than done.
But achieving this will involve writing much more relevant and interesting content, improving our blog’s SEO and navigation, and rewriting much of our older content to be better.
There is much to do here.
2. Improve The Quality Of Our Written Content
One reality that is of serious concern, shown in the table below, is that our readers are just not interested in purchasing the products we recommend.
Of the 22 items that were purchased that we made a commission on, only TWO were from items that we specifically recommended.
We did not recommend the other 20 items, but were still awarded a commission.
Oof, that’s not something we are proud of.
Clearly the ways we’ve marketed our recommended products is not converting at a rate we want.
This could be due to a number of reasons. Perhaps we’re not actually writing convincing enough content to entice the reader to get more information and to purchase the product. Or maybe there is just not a real interest in the specific products we chose to write about.
Whatever the case, this is something we will have to revisit next year and strategize how to better improve our affiliate sales numbers.
Increasing Revenue For Our Van Life Travel Blog - A Low Bar To Clear
Clearly we have our work cut out for us in 2021.
But the silver lining to all this is that we’ve learned so much this year about writing a travel blog and about social media marketing. The year before, we knew next to nothing.
So we hope that after the new year, we can begin to improve upon our blog by giving our readers better quality posts worth reading. And hopefully this will translate to greater revenue gains in the future.
We should be able to beat our $16.21 threshold…right?