Want to get blogging tips from bloggers with a proven track record? Blogging Success Stories is an interview series to introduce you to other successful bloggers, motivate you to keep blogging and send you away with actionable blogging tips.
To that end I've been grilling alpha travel blogger Mathew Kepnes aka Nomadic Matt.
Matt's been blogging away for four years now while traveling the world, funding his nomadic lifestyle from his writing and blog. Matt writes mainly about budget travel and has also written four eBooks including How to Travel the World on $50 USD per day and How to Make Money With Your Travel Blog.
Here's more about Nomadic Matt's blogging success story along with some handy blogging tips.
Let's get personal! Where do you live? Are you single/married/with kids….
As a nomad, I live nowhere though I am currently in Sweden for the next couple of months to relax and get some work done. I'm single.
That sounds like fun. What's your blog about? Who reads Nomadic Matt? How long have you been blogging?
I've blogged since April 2008. My blog is about budget and long-term travel. I show people you don't need to be rich to travel. My tagline is that I will help you travel cheaper, better, and longer. It's read by a variety of people who want to save money on travel. Most of my readers are between the ages of 25-40.
How often do you update your blog and how many unique readers does Nomadic Matt have each month?
If I am productive and on top of things, I update my blog two to three times per week. I have about 200,000+ unique visitors per month.
Where do most of the Nomadic Matt readers come from? Google search, other sites, guest posts, social media outposts?
My breakdown is 50% search, 30% social, 20% direct traffic.
You get a lot of search traffic to Nomadic Matt – can you tell us a few popular key words or phrases you rank well for or is that something we bloggers should keep secret?
I rank well for “tropical islands”, “backpacking Europe”, “how to find a cheap flight”, “things to do in Iceland” and many, many more.
Do you have a big email list too?
I would like to think so. I mean I have the most out of any travel blogger but I am sure it's small compared to other large blogs.
Tell us about your blogging successes so far. What kind of good things have come to you from blogging?
Blogging has changed my life. I've met some amazing people through it. That's been the best part of blogging – being able to meet so many epic people. More than that, blogging has allowed me to become my own boss, live on my own terms, and achieve a success I never imagined.
Do you make a full-time living from blogging? You seem to be quite open about your income so please share that here if you don't mind.
I make a full-time living from my blog. The Nomadic Matt site is the sole source of my income. I won't give an exact number but I make just over six figures per year with my job.
How exactly do you earn money from your blog? Affiliate sales, products, services, advertising or other? If it's a combination of things please break it down roughly into percentages.
I make most of my money through my ebooks as well as my sponsorships. They account for roughly 50% of my income. The rest comes from a mix of affiliate sales, consulting work, and Adsense sales.
Can you tell me a bit more about how the sponsorships work?
The ads on my blog sidebar are all official sponsors of my site and pay me a flat fee per month to be that sponsor. I do not do sponsored posts. I only work with brands I use in my travels. We do partnerships that include ads, social media, giveaways, and cross promotion.
That sounds great. Now, let's move on to your blogging tips. What are your recommendations for other bloggers who want to monetize their blogs?
You don't monetize a blog, you monetize an audience. If you don't have an audience, you can't make any money. Focus on building your audience before you focus on making money. If you primary goal is to make money, you won't succeed as a blogger.
Blogging is all about the soft sell and if you are solely seen as only being interested in money, you'll turn people off.
Do you think the travel blogging niche is over-crowded now? Is it harder to get a big audience for new travel bloggers today than it was four years ago or easier because there are more readers and more social networks? Is it possible for small bloggers to overtake the big boys or will blogging always be something of a pyramid scheme?
There are many successful new websites that have come online in the last year. It's not impossible to “overtake the big boys.” You just need a good design, good writing, and to do something different from everyone else.
If you are trying to make yet another budget travel website, you'll fail. But if you go narrow and deep, you'll succeed.
Tell us your best blogging tip for new bloggers
Network, network, network. The best way to get known so to work with other people who are. You can have the best content in the world but if no one reads it, then what's the point?
The one piece of advice I give to people is to network. It's the single best thing you can do to grow your blog. It has led me to interviews, guest posts, and speaking gigs.
Have you got any writing tips?
Get an editor and write blog posts well in advance. I look over my early work and I just smack my head at how I thought it was good. In fact, I am constantly trying to go back and rewrite old posts. The more you write, the better you get but it still helps to have another set of eyes reading your posts to catch any mistakes you make. Additionally, write blog posts in advance so you can set them aside and come back to them with fresh eyes, further catching mistakes and improving your posts.
How about productivity tips?
Turn off Facebook and Twitter!
Gosh, I feel like you've spied on me! Thank you so much for taking the time to tell us your blogging success story, answer these questions and share your blogging tips so generously. We really appreciate that. It's fabulous to meet a happy, successful blogger, especially in the travel niche which is my first love as those of you who hang out on my travel blog Get In the Hot Spot know.
Be sure to check out Matt's travel stories and tips at Nomadic Matt or connect with him on Facebook, or Twitter. And if you're serious about travel blogging don't forget to check out his ebook How to Make Money With Your Travel Blog where you can glean more of his blogging smarts.
What are your big take aways from Nomadic Matt's blogging story and tips? Did I miss any juicy questions? What would you most like to ask him?