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How To Start A Money Making Blog: Case Study NOW


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Thinking about starting a new site? Working on your old site and feel like it’s going nowhere? Is your blog going well but you are always interested in what’s working for others?

Then you will love my latest case study!

This is my fourth case study and I have a strong feeling it’s going to be best yet.

Not just because it’s focused on what’s working RIGHT NOW in blogging, SEO, Facebook and monetisation, but because I am 100% committed to making this site into my biggest project yet. I have so many different plans past my usual formula of SEO + affiliate marketing and I can’t wait to share it all with you to help you grow your own blogs.

As always, I’m going to share behind the scenes information of everything I do, how much traffic my blog is getting and how much money it is making, all while teaching you how to do it too!

Sound good?

Let’s start!

You will learn...

  1. Why I am doing this
  2. How you can get case study updates and what to expect
  3. Information about my new site
  4. Update #1: How to decide when to start a new blog versus working on your existing and the strategy behind my site
  5. Update #2: Exactly what I did during the first three months of  building my site
  6. Update #3: All the fundamental tasks to do in first 6 months
  7. Update #4: Growing your site for more readers and income in months 6 – 9
  8. Update #5: Affiliate testing, getting more content and income in months 9-12 of my new site
  9. Update #6: Big plans and big moves for 2020 for my case study site
  10. Update #7: Coronavirus Pandemic Update July 2020
  11. Update #8: Coronavirus Pandemic Update November 2020
  12. Update #9: Dealing With Prolonged Border Closures In February 2022
  13. And more…

1. Why I am doing this

There are many reasons why I am doing this.

The main ones are:

  1. To show people who keep making excuses about how building a successful blog isn’t possible that it is. That it’s not too competitive. That you don’t need to work so hard. You just have to work smart.
  2. To show that the strategies I talk about on this site and channels are repeatable. Having blogging success isn’t about luck; it’s being strategic.
  3. To keep my hands dirty. I never want to be someone who just talks about how to have blogging and SEO success. The only way to be good at these strategies is to keep working on them.
  4. Because I have realised I want to build a site that truly mirrors my passions that I will enjoy building that also has a huge scope for monetisation but is also one that I can manage from a distance – that basically meets all the reasons why I built an online business in the first place. More about this in the first update below.
  5. So you’ll be able to see all the steps I take to build up a site and mirror them if you want to learn how to have a successful blog.
  6. Because I want to do things I have not done before and I have found that publishing what I am doing on this site keeps me accountable and pushing forward 🙂

I talk more about this in the first update below.

I really hope this case study leads to fewer excuses and more success for everyone.

2. How you can get case study updates and what to expect

I am doing this case study different from my previous ones. Instead of all updates being on this blog, they will be on Facebook instead. You can watch them live on either the Digital Nomad Wannabe Facebook page or via the DNW Facebook group. Make sure you join both to catch the lives by clicking on the links.

I am doing this because:

  1. I love how interactive Facebook lives are. I hope to have a real conversation with you about how I am doing this by answering your questions in real time
  2. I’m time poor and I find it easier to make it happen if I am committed to a Facebook live rather than writing a post

If you can’t catch them live, they are always left in Facebook for you to view later. I also upload them to YouTube (you can subscribe to my channel here) and will publish them to this page.

Updates occur approximately monthly. At the moment, I am talking about the site in the past as I started it in October 2018 and only started publishing updates in June 2019. I see these updates being in real time soon.

3. Information about my new site

My new site is a destination site on Malaysia. It’s called Dive Into Malaysia, and it focuses on travel in Malaysia.

The strategies and techniques I discuss in this update are generally applicable across any niche – don’t think they only apply to destination sites and travel blogs. I have applied the same strategies on my lifestyle blog, my personal finance blog and my parenting niche sites.

Being a travel site, this case study did take an unexpected turn with the pandemic. For just over two years, Malaysia shut its national border and for much of this time, the country was under strict movement orders. This obviously had a huge impact on this site which you’ll see in the updates below.

4. Update #1: How to decide when to start a new blog versus working on your existing and the strategy behind my site

In my first update, you will learn:

  • The questions to ask yourself when working out whether to start a new blog or to keep working on your existing one
  • Why I started a new blog
  • Why you should align your goals for your blog with your life goals and how I have done this
  • My overall strategy for my new site

I highly recommend you watch the above update before anything else as it will give you a context for everything else I talk about.

If you are interested in  more details on what I do to start a new site, including picking a niche, listen to my podcast episode on this topic here.

5. Update #2: Exactly what I did during the first three months of  building my site

In my second update, you will learn:

  • How to come up with a domain name
  • What posts to put up first
  • How much effort to put into the look of the site and theme
  • What to put in a menu
  • What to do about social media accounts
  • What link building to do
  • How much content to put up and what it should be
  • How to start monetising

Click here to download my checklist for SEO success on a new site that follows the steps discussed here.

6. Update #3: All the fundamental tasks to do in first 6 months

In my third update, you will learn:

  • What content tasks to do in months 3 – 6
  • What link building to do
  • What to do on social media
  • When traffic started taking off and how much traffic I got
  • How much money I made each month
  • Basically, what to do to ensure you have the best site possible to build on at the 6 month mark

You can take a look at my traffic growth in the following image. The site started mid October.


7. Update #4: Growing your site for more readers and income in months 6 – 9

In my fourth update, you will learn:

  • What content and link building tasks to do in months 6-9
  • Traffic my site got after leaving the Google sandbox
  • How the June Google update affected my site
  • Exactly how much money I made each month from what
  • What I did to maximise my affiliate and ad earnings going forward

8. Update #5: Affiliate testing, getting more content and income in months 9-12 of my new site

In my fifth update, you will learn:

  • What content tasks to do in months 9-12
  • Traffic I got during this time
  • What I did to test which affiliates to use on this site and what the results were
  • How much money I made each month
  • How I planned a work trip to maximise content and knowledge gaps

9. Update #6: Big plans and big moves for 2020 for my case study site Feb 2020

In my sixth update, you will learn:

  • What planning I did for growth in 2020
  • My new processes for getting more content on the site
  • My new hires
  • How much money I made each month
  • My traffic growth over this time

10. Update #7: Coronavirus Pandemic Update July 2020

In my seventh update, you will learn:

  • What I have done since February to grow this site
  • My current traffic and income for this site and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic
  • How I am using my team to get new content up
  • My goals for the future

This update is a bit different as it’s on my podcast, Make Money Blogging With Digital Nomad Wannabe, instead of a Facebook live video.

11. Update #8: Coronavirus Pandemic Update November 2020

In my eighth update, you will learn:

  • What I have done since June to grow this site
  • My current traffic and income for this site and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as Malaysia experiences a third wave
  • Details about my digital product that I launched in October
  • My goals and plans for the future

You can listen to this update on my podcast, Make Money Blogging With Digital Nomad Wannabe, instead of a Facebook live video.

12. Update #9: Dealing With Prolonged Border Closures In February 2022

In my ninth update, you will learn:

  • What I have done since November 2020 on this site
  • How prolonged border closures are affecting this site
  • My latest traffic and income (thankfully Malaysians can still travel and use my site).
  • My goals and plans for the future

You can listen to it in my podcast episode below. As a summary, here are my traffic and earning details from January 2022:

Traffic: 46,600 page views, 33,600 users

Income: $395

This is made up of:

  • Agoda direct program (hotel bookings): $178 (this is an estimate)
  • Ezoic (advertising): $152
  • Klook direct program: $58
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $7

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $11.75 or 1.18 cents per users on my site

Since travel is only really open to Malaysians (and they make up the vast majority of my traffic), my RPM is honestly terrible at the moment. I aim for at least 10 cents per user on my sites. I can’t see this improving until national borders open.

With this sort of RPM, I cannot justify the time to write more content or to outsource it.

13. Update #10: February 2022 Figures And Border Re-Opening

This is not a full update but shares my figures from February 2022 for those following along. Of course, February was a shorter month than January which has an impact but if you look at how much traffic I got per day, it’s slightly higher in February than January

Traffic: 46,397 page views, 32,991

Income: $332 (down $63)

This is made up of:

  • Agoda direct program (hotel bookings): $122 (this is an estimate)
  • Ezoic (advertising): $147
  • Klook direct program: $22
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $16
  • Digital Product: $25

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $10.06 or 1 cents per users on my site

Unfortunately, this is less than in January but I feel unable to do much until borders open.

The good news is that BORDERS ARE OPENING APRIL 1!!! 🎉🥳 So hopefully, some good things to come in this case study soon.

Also my best performing content is about destinations which are seasonal and open up around this time, so lots of reasons to think these numbers will go up soon.

14. Update #11: March 2022 Figures And Border Opening

In my eleventh update, you will learn:

  • My latest traffic and income now that the border is opening soon
  • My goals and plans for the future

You can listen to it in my podcast episode below. As a summary, here are my traffic and earning details from March 2022. It’s been great to see it increase!

Traffic: 69,000 page views, 48,500 users (up 23,000 page views)

Income: $683  (up $332)

This is made up of:

  • Agoda via Travelpayouts (hotel bookings): $285 (this is an estimate – up $163)
  • Ezoic (advertising): $276 (up $129)
  • Klook via Travelpayouts: $19 (down $3)
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $53 (up $37)
  • Digital Product: $50 (up $25)

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $14.08 or 1.4 cents per users on my site (up from $10.06)

It’s good to see my RPM go up, but it’s still bad.

15. Update #12: April 2022 Figures And Border Opening

In my twelth update, you will learn:

  • My latest traffic and income for the first month after the border reopened
  • My goals and plans for the future

You can listen to it in my podcast episode below. As a summary, here are my traffic and earning details from April 2022. By far, the best month ever.

Traffic: 114,000 page views, 77,000 users (up from 69,000 page views)

Income: $2,186  (up from $683)

This is made up of:

  • Agoda via Travelpayouts (hotel bookings): $747 (this is an estimate – up from $285)
  • Ezoic (advertising): $932 (up from $276)
  • Klook via Travelpayouts: $180 (up from $19)
  • Viator via Travelpayouts: $5 (up from 0)
  • Rentalcars via Travelpayouts: $35 (up from 0)
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $262 (up from $53)
  • Digital Product: $25 (down from $50)

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $28.39 or 2.8 cents per users on my site (up from $ 14.08 )

I’m especially happy to see the RPM go up, but I’m hoping it will keep going up as it’s still not great.

16. Update #13: May 2022 Figures

In my thirteenth update, you will learn:

  • My latest traffic and income for May (second month after borders reopened)
  • My goals and plans for the future

You can listen to it in my podcast episode below. As a summary, here are my traffic and earning details from May 2022. My new best month!

Traffic: 132,000 page views, 88,000 users (up from 114,000 page views)

Income: $2,954 (up from $2,186)

This is made up of:

  • Agoda via Travelpayouts (hotel bookings): $1141 (this is an estimate – up from $747)
  • Ezoic (advertising) and AdSense: $1035 (up from $932)
  • Klook via Travelpayouts: $477* (up from $180)
  • Viator via Travelpayouts: $0 (down from $5)
  • Rentalcars via Travelpayouts: $0 (down from $35)
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $262 (exactly the same)
  • Digital Product: $39 (up from $25)

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $33.60 or 3.36 cents per users on my site (up from $28.39)

*Note that the Klook earnings include some money that was earned in previous months that didn’t show up in my tracking until May.

17. Update #14: June 2022 Figures

In my fourteenth update, I keep it super short as I’m enjoying a well earned break in Italy at the time of publishing these figures.

For this reason, you’ll just find a summary this month of my traffic and earning details from June 2022.

Unfortunately, things dropped. While a few posts dropped a little in rankings, mostly I think this must be seasonal/less people searching for the information this site provides. It’s so hard to judge when there are no good previous years to compare to and the aviation industry is getting so much bad press at the moment.

Traffic: 113,000 page views, 76,000 users (down from 132,000 page views)

Income: $2,457 (down from $ 2,954 )

This is made up of:

  • Agoda via Travelpayouts (hotel bookings): $596 (this is an estimate – down from $1141)
  • Ezoic (advertising) and AdSense: $986 (down from $1035)
  • Klook via Travelpayouts: $321 (down from $477 – but this included some amounts from previous months)
  • Viator via Travelpayouts: $122 (up from $0)
  • Rentalcars via Travelpayouts: $22 (up from $0)
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $371 (up from $262)
  • Digital Product: $39 (same)

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $32.11 or 3.21 cents per users on my site (down from $33.60)

18. Update #15: July 2022 Figures

In my fifteenth update, I’m still enjoying Europe, currently in Budapest.

For this reason, you’ll just find a summary this month of my traffic and earning details from July 2022.

It’s not a great update and part of me wanted to skip this month as I want to enjoy my trip and not worry about it right now. The numbers dropped again.

I did take a quick look during July and I couldn’t see any evidence of my drop in traffic being seasonal (I used Google trends to check main keywords for some of the articles that had drops), so it does seem to be my rankings dropping a little 🙁

It’s frustrating not having previous years to compare to so I can have clarity on this though thanks to the pandemic.

Just one more month until I concentrate on this site again, ready for ITB Singapore!

Traffic: 101,000 page views, 67,000 users (down from 113,000 page views)

Income: $1,939 (down from $2,457 )

This is made up of:

  • Agoda via Travelpayouts (hotel bookings): $405 (this is an estimate – down from $596)
  • Ezoic (advertising) and AdSense: $826 (down from $986)
  • Klook via Travelpayouts: $198 (down from $321)
  • Viator via Travelpayouts: $0 (down from $122)
  • Rentalcars via Travelpayouts: $27 (up from $22)
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $483 (up from $371)
  • Digital Product: $0 (down from $39)

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $28.96 or 2.90 cents per users on my site (down from $32.11)

18. Update #16: August 2022 Figures

In my sixteenth update, I’ve just returned home from Europe. You will learn:

  • My latest traffic and income for August
  • My goals and plans for the future that I’m starting work on today!

You can listen to it in my podcast episode below. As a summary, here are my traffic and earning details from August 2022.

This site is finally going to become my focus again and I look forward to seeing how it grows over the next six months.

Traffic: 105,000 page views, 74,000 users (up from 101,000 page views and 67,000 users)

Income: $1,843 (down from $1,939)

This is made up of:

  • Agoda via Travelpayouts (hotel bookings) and direct: $315 (this is an estimate – down from $405)
  • Ezoic (advertising) and AdSense: $676 (down from $826)
  • Klook via Travelpayouts: $289 (up from $198)
  • Rentalcars via Travelpayouts: $0 (down from $27)
  • Easybook and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $450 (down from $483)
  • Digital Product: $113 (up from $0)

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $24.90 or 2.49 cents per users on my site (down from $28.96)

18. Update #17: September 2022 Figures

In my seventeeth update, I’m back at work and focusing hard on building partnerships for this site with Malaysian travel brands. I have so many big ideas. I hope it will work out. I spend about two days a week on this site. I wish it could be more, but I have many projects.

I also started playing with video ads which pushed my EPMV (amount I make per thousand users through Ezoic) above US$10 at the end of month which is fantastic when my traffic is 70+% Asian.

If you are an Ezoic user (or thinking about it), make sure you set up Humix, their new video tool, as soon as you get access to it this month. It’s so awesome! I also discuss this a little in podcast episode 38 which is about to come out.

I decided not to do a full podcast update this month as I’m really just doing exactly what I said in the last podcast update. I do find doing something in a completely new area for me – like I am at the moment – quite anxiety-producing so I’d rather just keep working on it than talk about it. For now, anyway 🙂

However, you can still see my traffic and earning details from September 2022 below.

Traffic: 87,000 page views, 62,000 users (up from 105,000 page views and 74,000 users)

Income: $2,158 (up from $1,843)

This is made up of:

  • Agoda via Travelpayouts (hotel bookings) and direct: $685 (this is an estimate – up from $315)
  • Ezoic (advertising) and AdSense: $806 (up from $676)
  • Klook via Travelpayouts: $294 (up from $289)
  • Rentalcars via Travelpayouts: $0 (same)
  • Easybook, 12go and BusonlineTicket (transport ticket sellers): $309 (down from $450)
  • Digital Product: $64 (down from $113)

RPM (how much I earn per 1,000 users on the site): $34.81 or 3.48 cents per users on my site (up from $24.90)

It was disappointing to see the traffic drop. I’m trying not to stress about it because I know traditionally September has been a slow month across my business. The frustrating part is that I don’t have data to compare it to as this site was still new pre-covid September and the last two years, Malaysia had shut borders.

I do get a lot of pages view to content on places that shut down now until March because of monsoon weather so it makes sense that page views would go backwards. I just wish it wasn’t as much!

There is some new content to come though as I finally head back to Malaysia in two weeks. It’s been three years and I can’t wait.

Final Words

This case study article will be updated regularly. Make sure you bookmark this page and sign up for the DNW newsletter so you get notified of new updates.

I also highly recommend you like the Digital Nomad Wannabe Facebook page  and join the DNW Facebook group so you join the case study lives and ask any questions you have. You can also ask questions in the comments below or share your own experiences – I’d love to read them.

If you are starting your own site, make sure you click here and download my checklist for SEO success on a new site.

You can find more posts on making money from blogging here.

About the Author

Sharon is passionate about working online and helping others to follow in her footsteps. She left Australia with her young family at the end of 2014 determined to grow an online business. She succeeded and now supports her family of 5 to live their dream lifestyle.

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