ILLUMINATION
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ILLUMINATION

How I made my first $250 from a travel blog without traveling

Credits to the pandemic

My last visit to a beach in Indonesia before the pandemic hit
Picture taken by my dad

Before I disappoint you on the fact that the title may be a clickbait, it’s technically true. I did make that amount — however in the span of a whole year.

This isn’t a guide to make money from a blog, or even an inspirational piece for that matter. It’s a story of my travel blog I started 3 years ago when I was 17.

Perhaps it’s also a proof that blogging does pay. But at what cost? Well, that reminds me of this article being a bit about my future too.

Deep into writing myself, I wouldn’t call blogging a struggle at all. No, it’s rather more of a wild uncertain journey.

I’ll not get into the technicalities of keeping the site updated, creating content, oh, and the ever-lasting SEO stuff. That stuff, you can find guides for them on millions of pages out there floating on the internet.

This shall be a simple story. Let’s begin where it all started — 2020:

Already deep into blogging back then, there wasn’t any revenue. Not much, at least. With ads here and there on my site, I was roughly making 3 to 4 dollars a month.

With the scenario of many people blogging as a hobby around me, I assumed that’s where one would get with it. I’d heard of huge full-time bloggers, but that’s where they were — worlds away from mine.

As the pandemic hit India a few months into the year, the meagre revenue of my tiny site dropped further. No one wanted to read travel guides if they couldn’t travel themselves.

That’s where my never-implemented ideas began to reap.

The first $100

With so much time in my hands, I decided to do what most people resided to doing at the beginning of the lockdown; binge-watching seasons after seasons of various Netflix series day and night.

That came out of nowhere, didn’t it? Well, it’s true. However, it did get boring, pushing me back to reality.

That’s when I started focusing back on my blog. I’d to do something. I saw some sites that said I could work on creating huge amounts of content and be ready to shoot once the pandemic lifted.

I’d only one problem with that idea — I hadn’t traveled to that many places yet. I’d written about all of the ones I had been to already.

That’s when I opened up another niche — Writing. I began publishing long site reviews, reviews on writing tools, short story writing guides at a rate of 2 posts a week. Within a couple of months, with the search optimizations, the ad revenue started hitting $20 per month.

That’s when I got my first payout of $100 dollars towards the end of December, 2020.

Yet, something felt missing. Ironically, my writing articles had made most of that revenue from a travel blog. So I had to change things up a little bit. I’d to push back my site to travel.

The second $125

With the travel niche back in my mind, I updated my travel posts with COVID-19 information, things to keep in mind while traveling. I encouraged more guest posts on travel.

I hired an intern to write travel articles about places that she had been to.

With so much running on the site, I shuddered at the thought of it being more on travel experiences of others than mine. After all, it was my blog. I didn’t want it turn into every Tom, Dick, and Harry site with random travel posts.

So after a couple of months, I let the intern go and started focusing more on my travel posts (along with the writing niche).

The lockdown fortunately lifted for a few months now. However, the only place I could travel to was back to my University in Bangalore for offline examinations.

I did visit a few places in Bangalore. But that was it. The second wave hit hard in India again. Everyone went back home while I stayed back on my Uni’s campus. In fact, I’m sitting here right now in my University’s hostel room.

It’s been four months (and still running) I’ve been isolated in this campus with no students or offline classes, and again with a lot of time. This time, I made better plans for my blog. I hired an intern again. But not for writing. The intern would handle the social media reach for the site.

As for the content, I decided to dig deeper into my past. Rummaging through my memories of travels to Singapore, Indonesia, and Malaysia I asked my parents for more pictures of our visits there.

Pressing in hard on my memories when I was a child, I began writing detailed guides on these places. My desperation led to blog posts with pictures of me as a kid (some even 8–10 years old) visiting Singapore along with information updated to a decade later!

While the combination does sound odd, these articles made great impressions on Pinterest.

While the writing niche again made a lot of ad revenue again, my travel posts didn’t do too bad themselves.

With the help of the intern handling social media accounts and deeper posts on travel, I made a good $125 from ad revenue by June 2021.

As the blog’s still growing, I’ve been trying to expand its reach with affiliates and brand partnership.

Making $60 with affiliates

With the $125 I made in June, I decided to invest in some basics for the blog. I paid for a premium theme and brought in change to the layout in pursuit of enhancing reader experience.

With that, I expanded the revenue doors for affiliates. I’d already been working on affiliates before, however not strategically.

I’d sprinkled some links here and there that no one clicked. So I began to focus on its placements and better phrases.

While I make it sound like a simple delicious cooking recipe, this trial-and-error of mine is over a span of one whole year. Most sales have been made from the writing niche with writing courses and tools.

Not long ago, with the lockdown lifting up in India after its post second-lockdown, someone booked a stay through my links for the first time!

As of today, July 2021, I’m expecting my payout of $60 on the writing courses sponsors through Rakuten.

Tailpiece

That sums up my article on making $250 from my travel blog without actually traveling. Not a clickbait as I promised :)

Of course, technically I made over $285, but I figured that wouldn’t make very good of a title.

Anyway, to end this tailpiece, here’s what I have to say: While some days of the lockdown have been peaceful, its been a hell too. I’ve been looking forward to buying a regular bicycle soon so that I can tour in and around here in Bangalore.

Thinking of traveling for a living one day is something I’ve always dreamt of. I do hope the pandemic resides. And that we can all see and travel the world like the old days.

Oh, and here’s my blog link if you’re keen to know about what I was talking of this whole time: Madman’s Journey Travel Blog

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Manas Patil

Manas Patil

Turning 20 this year. A Computer Science undergrad currently stuck at home with a blog. If not working on a blog post, I’ll be busy editing a book.

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