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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 Jiayi Wang who is a Travel Blogger from The Diary Of A Nomad.
1. Introduce yourself!
Hi! I’m Jiayi, and I’m a travel blogger and photographer from Rome, but currently based in London. I’ve had a passion for travel and photography since I was very young; my family and I moved from China to Italy when I was only 6, and growing up in Rome with Asian parents really made me appreciate multicultural environments. It’s what inspired me to keep wandering and to see the rest of the world.
2. Describe your blog
The Diary of a Nomad is a travel and photography blog with a special love for less-visited destinations, particularly countries that are often deemed unsafe or portrayed negatively by the media. My mission with my blog is to debunk these negative misconceptions and to share just how remarkable, safe, friendly and accessible these countries actually are.
Photography has always been a big passion of mine, so I use my photos to tell the story and to draw readers in. I also share lots of photography tips to help others capture their trips too. I’d say my audience definitely has an interest in travel photography as well as exploring the hidden gems of the world.
An example of my travel guides: 36 Most Beautiful Places in Iran
3. When did you start blogging and why did you start?
I started my blog a year ago. My journey into blogging actually started entirely with Instagram. Way before I started my blog, I created an Instagram page just for fun to share my travel photography. I did not expect my Instagram to take off, but it did, and soon I began collaborating with tourism boards and travel brands while working full-time in a 9-5 job.
Once my content creation gigs on Instagram grew substantially, I was essentially juggling two jobs and it was getting overwhelming. So I decided to quit my 9-5 job and pursue content creation full-time. It was going well for about 6 months… until Covid hit and all my travel plans and collaborations were canceled. That’s when I truly realized I could not rely on social media alone to make a living and began to look into blogging.
I was mostly drawn to blogging because I wanted to find a way to make passive income so that I can continue to travel the world without having to stress about when my next content creation gig would be. Plus, I liked the idea of being able to share even more of my photography and travel tips on my blog, and provide even more value for my audience.
4. What is the most rewarding part of blogging for you?
Because I blog a lot about the lesser-visited destinations, for me, it’s knowing that I can help shine a positive light on these places which definitely don’t get half the attention they deserve.
Countries like Iran, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan often get really negative representation in the media, and I love having the opportunity to give them some positive representation for a change. They’re truly some of the friendliest and safest places I’ve ever traveled to, and it makes me really happy to know that I can change even just one person’s perception about them.
5. What do you find the most challenging?
Getting content out at a good pace.
I’m a big perfectionist — meaning it takes me at least one whole week to write and publish just one post (while working full-time on it). I just simply cannot be happy or proud of my work until I’ve made it as detailed, accurate, and comprehensive as possible. Which often leads to articles that are 7k words long and that take me a whole day to just proofread and make better.
It’s a blessing and a curse. I would love to churn out more content in a shorter amount of time so that I can grow my traffic quicker, but I’m beginning to accept that my perfectionism has its benefits, so I’m learning to be more patient with myself.
6. How much did you earn in the last month and how?
In the last 30 days, I earned $1,483 USD from my blog — entirely from affiliate marketing.
I don’t have ads on my site because I’m only getting around 18k pageviews a month, and the small amount I’d be earning from ads just isn’t worth the worsened user experience for me. I’ve decided to wait until my traffic is much higher to apply for ad networks.
With that said, traffic is not my main focus. My affiliate earnings have actually tripled in the last month despite only incremental growth in traffic, and I know I can continue growing my earnings regardless of whether or not I reach a certain number of sessions/pageviews.
7. What tips do you have for bloggers trying to monetise their blogs?
Develop an affiliate marketing strategy right off the bat. Before I started blogging, I used to think that I needed to qualify for an ad network in order to start earning, or that I needed to reach a certain number of pageviews before I could earn from affiliates. Oh how wrong I was!
You don’t need to have super high traffic at all to monetize your blog. You can start even if you have less than a hundred views a month. You also don’t even need to “post consistently” — I have less than 30 articles on my site and have been blogging for a whole year.
The key isn’t traffic per say; it’s creating SEO-optimized content with buyers’ intent in mind. Think of products or services that you have great knowledge on based on your authority, expertise, and niche. For example, this could be camping gear if you’re an avid hiker/backpacker. Look for affiliate programs for these topics (in this case, it could be REI, Patagonia, and Amazon), and write SEO-optimized posts that specifically target people looking for these products or services.
Using this kind of strategy, I didn’t need to reach a certain level of traffic first in order to start earning — my earnings grew with my traffic. In fact, they’re actually growing at a much faster rate than my traffic is which is why I don’t even worry that much about traffic anymore.
8. How much traffic did your blog have in the last month and where does it come from?
In the last month, I had roughly 18,500 pageviews and 14,700 sessions. About 75% of my traffic came from Google, and the remaining 25% is mostly from Pinterest, with just trinkles of clicks from Facebook and Instagram.
Bear in mind, I did not work on promoting my blog on Facebook and Instagram at all in the past few months. I also only promoted my posts on Pinterest a few times in the last month. I simply couldn’t find the time for social media because I was prioritizing Google/SEO.
In fact, I don’t think you need social media to monetize your blog at all, although it definitely can help. From my personal experience, though, while social media may have gotten me a bit more traffic, it really hasn’t been essential at all in helping me monetize.
9. What tasks do you do that have the biggest impact on your traffic?
I massively cut down time I spent on social media (particularly Instagram) and redirected all that energy and attention to learning as much as I could about SEO and creating SEO-optimized posts that would give me passive traffic and income.
I noticed that whenever I promoted my posts on Instagram, while I would get a huge spike in traffic for 48 hours, it was only temporary traffic. Until I promoted my posts there again — meaning more time and more work on my part — my traffic would go back down. It wasn’t a sustainable nor reliable way to drive traffic.
But once I redirected that time and energy on SEO, my traffic became a lot more consistent and stable, without me having to actively work for each daily increase.
Pinterest has also helped, but I don’t spend too much time on it as I find traffic from Google to be a lot more reliable. If you do Pinterest right, though, you can definitely see some amazing success. I find that using high-quality, captivating images, easy-to-read fonts, and joining Pinterest groups on Facebook bring great results.
10. What has helped you the most when it comes to getting search traffic?
I learned almost everything I know about SEO from the DNW website and from Sharon’s Build Blog Freedom course. In fact, I owe a whole lot of my blog’s traffic and income to her tips.
In general, I do keyword research, and then make it a goal to write the most detailed and comprehensive SEO-optimized post on that topic. Most of my posts are usually 6,000 – 10,000 words long, and I’ve found that going in depth has helped me a lot in ranking high and getting traffic from Google.
That’s not to say that a post needs to be that long in order to get traffic. You can definitely rank very well by writing posts that are much, much shorter of course — length is not a necessity. But being comprehensive definitely pays off, at least from my experience.
I also work hard on link-building by writing guest posts and participating in collabs with other bloggers. I prioritize building links to posts that directly help me monetize, and this has paid off too.
11. What are your main goals for your blog?
- Continue to grow my affiliate earnings by writing more SEO-optimized posts with buyers’ intent in mind.
- Diversify my income stream by launching my own products. I definitely don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket.
- Continue to create more SEO-optimized content so that I can keep growing my traffic and benefit from ads as well.
- Learn and master email marketing, as I’m still quite clueless about how to make the most of my email list.
12. What are you doing to work towards your main goals? How do you work out where to prioritise your time?
I use the app Todoist (it’s basically another version of Trello) to map out and divide my tasks by month, week, and day. Being able to see all my tasks on one board and figuring out what needs to be done immediately vs. in the next 2 months (for example), has really helped me prioritize better.
At the top of my priority list are tasks that directly help me make money, such as creating content that target buyers. I also have a list of posts I plan to optimize for SEO, in order of importance (based on how much traffic they’re getting).
In between those priorities, I also make sure to do something that makes me feel truly fulfilled, such as writing an article I’m passionate about even if I can’t find a good keyword for it. I’ve realized that it’s important to balance out tasks I find mundane with tasks that make me truly excited about what I do — it really helps drive me forward.
13. What three biggest tips/pieces of advice do you have for other bloggers?
1) Don’t focus your time on things that aren’t making you money. I used to spend hours promoting my posts on social media, and while it did help me get a bit more traffic, I wasn’t earning anything from it. I’d have to keep posting Instagram Stories for god-knows-how-long before it would get me enough traffic to monetize from.
But affiliate marketing with the right SEO approach? Once I redirected my time and energy on that, it was a game changer. Now I’m earning more and more by the day without spending any time promoting my posts.
2) Start working on affiliate marketing right away. Don’t wait. Some affiliate programs let you join with less than 3,000 monthly pageviews and others even with 0 pageviews. You can start monetizing right from the start even without traffic — you just need the right SEO strategy.
3) Focus on SEO. Sharon’s tips on her DNW site are amazing resources, and I personally studied them to a T. Her Build Blog Freedom course has also been a real game changer for me — it was there where I learned all about how to use affiliate marketing to monetize even without large traffic, and I owe pretty much all my current progress to her course and to SEO.
14. Where can we find you online?