THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO.
I love to share stories of members of the DNW community that are making money from blogging. These stories share the blogger’s journey and tips about exactly how they make money and get traffic to their blogs. I hope you find these interviews inspiring and helpful in your own journey. This month, we are featuring David Leiter who is a Travel Blogger from The World Travel Guy.
1. Introduce yourself!
Hi, I’m David! I’m an American world traveler that is usually based in Bali, Indonesia, where I met my wife Intan (who’s a Bali local), and now we travel the world together and try to document the most scenic destinations by creating articles, photos, videos, and guides for other travelers. You can see this on our travel blog.
2. Describe your blog
My blog is a travel blog, and if it fits in any niche then I would basically describe it as an adventure travel blog. I often go to places that may be rough, dangerous, or at least uncomfortable, and I explain on my blog how to visit these places and enjoy the best sights and experiences without running into problems.
Another sub niche on my blog is drone photography. I take drone pictures almost every place I go, and incorporate them into my travel guides. I’m probably not the first blog to do that, but I think it’s a little bit unusual, and the drone gives a nicely different perspective sometimes while hopefully beefing up the visual aspect of what I write.
In the past, I’ve mostly written about Bali and other destinations in Asia, but my website audience is mostly Americans, followed by Europeans. Lately I’ve been trying to branch out and add new destinations on my blog to give it more variety. We just visited Zakynthos Island in Greece, for example, and I wrote a complete travel guide for that place, with loads of photos and details on how to visit the famous Navagio Beach and other amazing sights.
Even though my wife and I prefer to travel in tropical Asian countries, and even though I think it’s smart to focus on a special niche, I also think it’s a good idea to have a wider range of content so your blog will be interesting for a bigger audience around the world.
3. When did you start blogging and why did you start?
I started my travel blog in 2019 to document my own world travels and to try to help others explore foreign countries on a budget.
If I could change anything, I would go back in time and start my blog much sooner, because the internet is starting to get very saturated with travel blogs and the field is becoming more competitive for us every day! Travel bloggers who started their websites 10 or 15 years ago had a much easier job because there wasn’t as much competition.
Note from editor: I can’t say I agree with this. People were saying the exact same thing 10 years ago. 15 years ago, you couldn’t even work out how to monetise as the info was lacking 🙂
4. What is the most rewarding part of blogging for you?
I really enjoy the photography I do for my blog, and many of my photos are special to me because of the memories they bring back to me from our travels. The web design aspect can be fun too.
I also love hearing from fellow travelers around the world and helping them enjoy some of the same places I’ve gone in my travels. That’s rewarding for me.
5. What do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging thing for me is the amount of writing I do for my blog. It can be a real slog sometimes. I would much rather be outside traveling than writing about it, you know?
But I think this is necessary to build an effective blog, at least early on, so it’s kind of unavoidable. Just remember to pace yourself and spend plenty of time away from the keyboard so you can keep your thoughts fresh.
6. How much did you earn in the last month and how?
Last month I earned about $3,000 from advertising, and $1000 from affiliates such as hotel partners and tour companies. This varies from month to month, of course.
During Covid, I didn’t earn anything at all. I hadn’t monetized my site yet, and almost no one was traveling anyway, so traffic was lower than ever at that time, and there wasn’t much of a travel market to monetize.
Instead, I focused on building traffic during that time, because I knew it would pay off later on when the travel market rebounded and everyone started searching Google for travel related tips. I’m happy to report that that approach has finally started to pay off!
7. What tips do you have for bloggers trying to monetise their blogs?
You definitely want affiliate programs to cover every type of service that your readers might need, such as hotels, tours, transport, etc, plus some others.
We’ve also been approached by some small companies who wanted to work with us as affiliates, and those have been surprisingly profitable. You might think the bigger companies will always pay more than the small ones, but that’s not necessarily the case.
8. How much traffic did your blog have in the last month and where does it come from?
My travel blog is getting more than 200,000 monthly page views now according to Google Analytics. That number is steadily going up as I write more content. Website traffic is closely tied to monetization, because it means more people will see ads on your website and click on them.
Currently my site traffic is mainly organic traffic from Google searches, although there’s a little bit of social media traffic mixed in there. A lot of travel bloggers also seem to swear by Pinterest integration and other social media referral traffic. We haven’t really worked on that too much yet, but it’s something we’re hoping to look into later.
We run a mailing list on our site if readers want to opt in, so that’s been slowly building a mailing list over time, which we hope to utilize later on.
9. What tasks do you do that have the biggest impact on your traffic?
Slow and steady wins the race. I honestly get tired of writing so many blog posts every month, but it’s the main thing that pays off for generating traffic in the long run.
10. What has helped you the most when it comes to getting search traffic?
One thing that gave me an advantage early on was dabbling in other travel related things like drone videos and photos, which have occasionally gone viral for me and brought my website extra traffic and some valuable leads. This has been a fun connection that happened naturally.
Focus on things that will make your blog stand out from the rest. You don’t necessarily need to have the best photography, the best website design, the best social media accounts, or the best writing out of all the travel blogs on the internet, but if you can excel in at least one of these categories that really helps.
11. What are your main goals for your blog?
One of my main goals for my blog is to be self-sustaining for my travels. In other words, I want to be able to keep traveling and seeing the world without hurting my bank account. Also, since my wife and I are often living in Bali as our second home, it’s important for us to be able to travel back and forth between the US and Bali regularly to visit family (which is not cheap).
That’s really the main thing we hope to gain from the blog, is a bit of extra income. I don’t need to be super rich, and we’re not really trying to get rich, although I do understand there are some very rich travel bloggers out there, so it’s certainly possible to achieve that if you put your mind to it!
Aside from that, we also really enjoy hearing from other travelers and helping them with advice from our own experiences. Even though there’s a lot of work involved, that part of the blog almost feels like a hobby for us sometimes.
12. What are you doing to work towards your main goals? How do you work out where to prioritise your time?
This is tough for me, because there are so many blogging related tasks that I do on a daily basis.
Some of my regular tasks include:
- Writing new blog content
- Writing & responding to emails
- Working on my website design, layout, or bug fixes
- Search engine optimization (SEO) for my website
- Researching new places to travel
- Brainstorming new blog topics
- Photo dumping & editing
- Video dumping & editing
- Honing my camera skills
- Making social media posts
And of course, there’s the traveling aspect too! We spend most of the year traveling, so it can be challenging to find time for all of this blogging work. I’m definitely sleeping less now that I have a blog to manage. I often stay up late working.
However, I’ve learned to prioritize more time on writing, SEO, and photos. These seem to be some of the most important aspects of the blog. Having a flashy website design is nice, but that can wait. I’m also a little burnt out on making videos, so that’s on the backburner now.
13. What three biggest tips/pieces of advice do you have for other bloggers?
Blogging is a lot of work. If I had to shorten it down to just three big tips for success, it would be these:
- Focus on a topic you really enjoy
- Do lots of writing
- Find a niche skill that makes you stand out
As long as you follow these pieces of advice, and stick with it long enough, I think your blog will generate traffic and eventually become successful.
14. Where can we find you online?