THIS ARTICLE MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO.
Each month, we share the story of a member of the DNW community that is 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 Kevin Mercier who is a Travel Blogger from Kevmrc Travel.
1. Introduce yourself!
Hello I’m Kevin Mercier, a travel blogger from Paris, France. I have a full-time job, and I work as a Project Manager in Big Data for one of the main car manufacturers in the world, PSA (Peugeot-Citroën-DS). I use my free time to work on my blog, Kevmrc.com, which is usually every weekday night from 7pm to 2am, and around 6h per day during the weekend.
I originally started traveling and documenting my travels through photos, and my main channel was Instagram; I slowly grew on the platform during 3 years, to reach around 120,000 followers.
I’ve been blogging for the past 2 years, and in the recent months I’ve faced the fact that Instagram wasn’t bringing me enough value compared to the time I spent there; I thus switched all of my energy to my blog.
2. Describe your blog
Because I started as a travel photographer, my blog is heavily focused on high-quality images, and storytelling through my photos.
I write about the places I’ve visited and the things I’ve seen, and I always try my hardest to document my experiences through photographs. These photos help my readers immerse themselves in the destination, and it’s often the final push that makes them book their trip.
The blog is definitely aimed at travel photographers, who want to see as much as they can of a place when they get there, and also at people with a full-time job with limited vacation time, just like me.
Here is an example of a highly visual travel guide: Cinque Terre Travel Guide
3. When did you start blogging and why did you start?
I started the blog in January 2017, 3 years ago. Initially, I created my site to be my photography portfolio, a place where I could have my photos to sell them online.
For the first months, no one came on the site. I didn’t sell a single picture. I started to question the purpose of the website. And I saw online mentions of travel blogs, and how you could write about your travels & attract readers to your site.
So I tried it out. I wrote a couple of posts about my time in Tasmania. Then I wrote a few more about Instagram & how to grow on Instagram.
But I still wasn’t sure this would work, and my Instagram page was growing at the time and I was focusing on that side of things.
Then, after a few months (actually a full year), I checked the site and saw it was actually getting traffic! This was the motivation I needed, and I dove right in.
4. What is the most rewarding part of blogging for you?
The most rewarding part of blogging is without a doubt the feedback I get from people! I just love when I get a new comment on the blog from someone saying “Thanks so much for the guide and the awesome recommendations, we had a fantastic time in X thanks to you!”
5. What do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging part is balancing my time. Especially since I work full-time.
There are so many things you can do, and it’s easy to get trapped in the “I need to do everything” mentality.
Here’s all of the things to do that cross my mind at some point:
- Redesign the site
- Improve site speed
- Write new travel guides
- Improve old articles
- Post on Facebook
- Post on Instagram
- Send out a newsletter
- Add affiliate links in old posts
- Get backlinks to the site
You get the point. So many things to do, yet so little time. It’s always a challenge getting to work, and focusing on one task at a time.
6. How much did you earn in the last month and how?
Last month I earned $807 in total: that’s $505 from ads, and $302 from affiliates.
The main source of income is display ads: I’m part of an ad network (Mediavine) that places ads on my site, and I get paid based on how many people see & interact with the ads.
I’ve been growing the affiliate commissions lately, and it’s nice to have a secondary source of income on the blog.
I love display ads because I don’t need to focus on them: I simply focus on increasing my traffic, and my revenue increases.
For the first year and a half, the blog didn’t generate any revenue. I was focusing on growing my traffic, and I didn’t have any ads on the site at the time.
Then in September 2019 I reached 25,000 unique sessions in the last 30 days, which made me eligible to join Mediavine, the ad network. I’ve had ads on my site since then, and the revenue from ads has been increasing ever since, along with my traffic.
The blog took a big hit in March with Covid. I didn’t change anything, just kept doing what I was doing, and eventually things started to get better.
Here’s a breakdown of the ad revenue for 2020:
7. What tips do you have for bloggers trying to monetise their blogs?
It might seem counterintuitive, but my main tip for bloggers trying to monetise their blogs is to focus on traffic first.
It’s easier to monetize the traffic you already have than it is to actually get traffic.
Once you have the traffic, the first step is to put ads on your site, to earn ad income. You can set up the ads yourself by using Google AdSense, or you can join an ad network like Ezoic or Mediavine.
On top of the ads, one of the best ways to earn some money from your blog is via affiliate programs. You recommend a product to your readers, and if they buy after clicking on your link, you earn a commission on the sale. Look in your industry for affiliate programs, by simply searching in Google for the main vendors in the industry (eg: Walmart affiliate program).
Amazon is a great affiliate for most industries, and it’s highly likely that you will convert readers to sales because Amazon is so efficient at selling products on their platform.
8. How much traffic did your blog have in the last month and where does it come from?
Last month the blog had 83,000 pageviews. This comes mainly from organic search, but there is a small part from Pinterest, too.
Here’s the traffic source breakdown:
9. What tasks do you do that have the biggest impact on your traffic?
The single task that has the most impact on traffic is publishing new content.
As organic traffic is my main source of traffic, this is the one on which I focus the most.
There are 3 main ways to increase search traffic:
- Publish more content
- Update old posts
- Build backlinks
Out of the 3, I focus 95% of my efforts on the first one, publishing more content. The 5% left are on building backlinks. I haven’t updated old posts yet, but it’s definitely something that I’ll do in the future as I see the kind of results it can yield from Sharon’s post.
10. What has helped you the most when it comes to getting search traffic?
While I said above that the task that has the biggest impact on my traffic is publishing more content, there’s a slight twist to it.
You see, publishing content on its own doesn’t mean you will have more traffic. You can have a ton of posts on your blog, yet none of them will rank in Google.
To get search traffic, you need to make sure you’re optimising your posts correctly based on your keyword research.
Most of my efforts are in the pre-writing part, the keyword research.
I’ll start from a destination, and I’ll use tools like Keysearch or Keywords Everywhere to find great keywords (keywords with low difficulty scores).
Once I have found a great keyword, I’ll check the results on the first page of Google for the keyword, and see if there are other blogs or small sites ranking. If so, then great! It means I can easily rank on the first page too.
I learned a lot from Sharon’s posts on Digital Nomad Wannabe, and I applied the keyword research method she outlined.
11. What are your main goals for your blog?
The main goal for my blog is to be able to do it full time. Right now the money from the blog isn’t quite enough yet to pay for my monthly expenses, so I stick to my full-time job and work on the blog on the side, patiently waiting for the income to grow to a point where I can dedicate myself fully to it.
Being able to work for myself, and to manage my time how I want is, to me, the ultimate freedom.
My goal is to reach that ultimate freedom in 2 years.
12. What are you doing to work towards your main goals? How do you work out where to prioritise your time?
Because the site is already making money, it’s proof that it works.
Now I just need to do the exact same things I’ve been doing, and replicate them.
No magic formula. No shortcuts. Just plain hard work, and patience.
I have limited time each month to work on the blog, so it’s highly important that I prioritize what I will work on.
As I laid out above, I’ve identified 3 main tasks that will improve my search traffic: publish new content, update old posts and build backlinks.
To be productive, I work in batches. I plan out in advance the content I want to publish (for example 20 posts about Lisbon, with the keyword I will target for all 20 posts). Then, I write the content & publish it.
Once the content push is done, I spend some time focusing on building backlinks to my site for a few days: it helps switch things up a bit, and it gets me ready for the next content push.
13. What three biggest tips/pieces of advice do you have for other bloggers?
If I were to start today, here are the 3 tips I would have loved to receive:
1. Stop learning, start doing.
There is a wealth of information on the Internet, and there’s always something new to learn. It’s easy to fall into the trap of endless research, where you keep on trying to learn new things, and prepare for the perfect launch.
Spoiler alert: you won’t get anything done with research alone.
You know enough.
Now get to it.
Apply everything you’ve learned, and go publish content.
It won’t be perfect. But you’ll have content out there in the world, that will start to rank for keywords, and you will learn so much more in the process that you would have learned from others.
2. There is no magic formula.
No really, there isn’t any.
It boils down to finding great keywords (low competition), and publishing quality content targeting these keywords.
That’s it. Just do this, over and over, and you will see results.
As soon as you see the first bit of traffic from Google, you’ll know your approach works. This is the crucial part: don’t look everywhere for new ideas to generate traffic and new things to try.
Instead, double down on what you’ve been doing, because you have proof it works.
3. Start small.
And finally my last advice is to start small.
When you launch your site, there is no point in trying to rank for keywords with massive search volume: the competition for these is usually insanely fierce, and you won’t rank.
What’s good is a 100,000 monthly searches keyword if you can’t rank for it? You won’t get any traffic from it.
Instead, focus on low volume keywords with low competition. This can be as low as 10 monthly searches with a low difficulty. Search volume is only an estimation, and you’ll find that an article targeting a 10 monthly searches keyword will rank for many more long-tail keywords, resulting in more traffic than the original volume you saw.
14. Where can we find you online?
If you want to learn more about me & what I do, you can find me at kevmrc.com. This is the best place to find me, and I always reply to comments.