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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 Melissa Kiely who is a Family Travel Blogger from Thrifty Family Travels.
1. Introduce yourself!
Hi!! I’m Melissa, I’m 42 and the creator behind Thrifty Family Travels which I run with my partner Andy and 8 year old daughter Myla.
I’ve lived my entire life in Brisbane (I still do) and went on my first overseas trip at the old age of 23 – ever since then I’ve travelled every chance I get.
After many decades of working in the corporate world, I started blogging on the side. After about 6 months in, I decided to leave my long term secure employment and give working online a go full time – which I’ve done now for almost three years.
2. Describe your blog(s)
Thrifty Family Travels is a family travel blog that provides information on family friendly destinations across the globe. We focus on affordable family travel; not necessarily the cheapest travel but rather provide tips on how families can spend their travel dollar wisely, without ever compromising on experience.
We like to inspire families to explore adventurous destinations as well as the more traditional family friendly destinations. Many parents think once they have kids, every trip is all about places like Disneyland, but we show people that kids love getting off the beaten track just as much as they love theme parks.
Our audience is mainly women with children around the age of 25-44, who are planning a family holiday. Most of our audience comes from Australia, but also USA, UK and parts of South East Asia.
3. When did you start blogging and why did you start?
I started my blog in October 2016, basically because I wanted to find a way to make an income that provided me with the flexibility to travel whenever I wanted and to be there for my daughter whenever she needed me to be.
My daughter had a few issues when she started school and was later diagnosed with ADHD, SPD and anxiety. To get to the diagnosis required a lot of doctors appointments and many visits to the school. I was having a lot of guilt at work taking time off to attend these things, and then having mother guilt when I was at work and couldn’t be there to take care of my daughter.
In addition to this, I was hating being restricted to when I could take leave from work to travel. I wanted to be able to travel whenever I wanted. In 2012, I had uterine cancer and so had started to see life in a different way and wanted to live my life to its fullest without any regrets. I found work was getting in my way and so I knew something had to change in my life.
I quite literally one day sat down and wrote a list of the things I loved to do and what was I good at. I kept coming back to travel and so I decided to try my hand at travel blogging and 3.5 years later I’m still doing it.
4. What is the most rewarding part of blogging for you?
I guess one of the most rewarding parts of blogging, is to think I did this, I created this income stream for myself. It took a lot of bloody hard work to get here. In fact it still takes a lot of bloody hard work, but I have created what I set out to do.
I now have a job which is completely flexible, that allows me to work anywhere in the world and whenever I want. I have complete flexibility to be there for my daughter, take her to all her doctor appointments and be there whenever she needs me at school.
5. What do you find the most challenging?
Unlike working for someone else, there is no IT department, no finance department – it is just me. So when something goes wrong I need to figure out how to fix it or deal with it.
It can also be a challenge at times to keep the money coming in, but I’ve been creative over the years and found other ways to make money online, not necessarily related to the blog. For example, I do a lot of ghostwriting for other bloggers and also have just started a new job as a part-time editor for a business that runs several successful websites (Sharon: this business actually!).
6. How much did you earn in the last month and how?
Last month I earned $3300 USD. Only $700 was directly through Thrifty Family Travels, which was made up of $350 from affiliates and $350 through advertising. The remaining $2600 was from writing for other bloggers and editing work – while this work isn’t related to my blog, it is work that I have been able to do since becoming a blogger due to the new skill set I’ve learned and other bloggers I’ve met over the years.
7. What tips do you have for bloggers trying to monetise their blogs?
I recommend having a monetisation strategy from day one. Add affiliate links to your articles and get into an ad network as soon as you can. After that, I’d focus on producing good quality content for your audience which is search engine optimised.
But even before you start your blog, I’d take some time to really understand what you’re doing. Find an excellent course to do (like SEO Fast Track), join some great Facebook groups (like DNW), network with other bloggers. All of these things really combine to help you be successful in your blog and in turn, make money.
But don’t take too long to start, or you never will!!! Even after 3.5 years, I think I don’t know what I’m doing half the time! But that’s where the Facebook groups and friends you make along the way come in handy. Unlike other industries, I have found the blogging community to be extremely supportive and people are more than happy to help you when you have questions.
8. How much traffic did your blog have in the last month and where does it come from?
My blog had 31,568 page views last month – with 62% coming from search traffic, 21% from Pinterest (I’ve been working at increasing this traffic over the past 6 months or so), 8% from Facebook and the rest from Twitter, Instagram, my email newsletter and through links on other websites.
9. What tasks do you do that have the biggest impact on your traffic?
I think there are a few things that impact my traffic. Probably the number one thing is writing good quality in-depth content that is actually beneficial to my audience as well as being written to keywords. But also understanding how Google sees my website – there are just some topics I’m never going to rank for, but other topics I can, even if it appears to be far too competitive.
I’ve also spent a lot of time over the past few months working on my Pinterest traffic. Just like Google, I’ve had to spend time finding out what content works well on Pinterest and what doesn’t.
10. What has helped you the most when it comes to getting search traffic?
I’ve touched on Google traffic above, but in addition to the above, I also go back and “nurture” articles. Writing content that ranks is unfortunately not “set and forget”. I spend time updating articles ensuring that content is correct, adding or changing keywords depending on what Google “likes me” for and playing around with affiliates to see what converts well. I also spend time on link building whether that be through guest posts, link swaps and collabs.
11. What are your main goals for your blog?
My goal for my blog is for it to eventually provide an income that can support my family without either my partner or I having to work elsewhere. I’m not sure how long it will take to achieve this, but I feel it’s well on its way.
In the meantime, I’m so happy that I have created an income working online, even if it is supporting others with their blogs, as well as working on my own blog.
12. What are you doing to work towards your main goals? How do you work out where to prioritise your time?
I am very much a planner, so I have my goals written out and broken down into individual tasks. I then have a spreadsheet with different tabs for each month of the year. Each month has the days listed out to which I then allocate the individual tasks.
I do change tasks often if I don’t think they are actually working towards my main goal. Sometimes I think we get sucked into doing things just because we always have done them. I’m so guilty of this – so I have to really make myself think a lot of the time whether or not the task is worth completing.
If I’m super stuck for time, I think which task is closer aligned to my goals and ditch the remaining tasks or move them to another day. Excel makes this easy as I can just move tasks around as needed.
13. What three biggest tips/pieces of advice do you have for other bloggers?
- Take your time – quality content that ranks takes time to create.
- Network – the blogging community is very supportive and there is always someone out there willing to answer a question for you.
- Don’t compare – Every blogger is at a different stage in their blog, as well as having different goals or different life situations. Definitely run your own race.
14. Where can we find you online?
If you want to check out Thrifty Family Travels you can follow me on Facebook and Pinterest. I also have a Facebook page set up for anyone who wants to get in contact with regards to my SEO writing business.