Make money with your travel blog is a short but highly informative ebook written by Matthew Kepnes. In the first few paragraphs “Nomadic Matt” lays out his credentials and the time and effort it took him to start generating money from his websites. In the next thirty pages he lays out a strategy for doing the same:

I started as a blogger over a year ago. My goal was to be wildly successful and a hugely popular blogger who, like ProBlogger, makes a ton of money talking about what he loves. I think most people who start a blog do that. Six months into it I was putting in a lot of hours and not making any money. I was making lots of friends in the blogging world but no money. I thought if I got traffic I would get money. People would click on my ads and poof! I can quit my day job. But it doesn’t work that way.

I have a healthy scepticism of most “make money” books and of all “make money” ebooks. I’ve been publishing online since the late ’90s and, there was a serious phase in the early 2000’s when I devoured everything I could find on the matter. I feel this book offers value for money and gives concrete strategies but, at times, downplays the fanatic amount of hours it takes to launch a site and nurse it to a profitable state.

Matt now claims to be making US$3,000 a month from his travel websites, with his blog as the leading standard. By email, I probed Matt further to discover how much time this took — and how much of that income was profit. Apparently less than 20 hours a week goes into site work and maintenance, with further time spent socialising on networking sites like Twitter. One should also note the $3,000 is gross income, that is, it doesn’t including running costs or expenses.

The skinny

This book is a good primer for a beginner who is interested in the technical side of personal publishing online. While it comprehensively outlines concrete strategies for starting a site, standard search engine optimisation and internet marketing techniques, it misses many of the traditional skills of branding, audience research and marketing.

To my mind, this ebook does a very good job as a guide to setting up a professional looking blog and then generating traffic through search engines and social media traffic. It would be of interest to an enthusiast looking for a clear way to start an excellent travel blog or someone considering this as a business model.

Is it right for you?

If you’re a typical Indie Travel Podcast reader, you’re dreaming of, planning, or part-way through an extensive overseas trip. If you hit the road for six months and market well during that time, you might build up an extensive audience. When you stop travelling, your audience will probably disappear. This book isn’t going to help you make money during your trip: stay non-commercial and love your audience.

girl in cafe
If you’re looking to blog for a long time — more than a year — and consider it as a job rather than a travelogue, Matt’s ebook will condense and clarify much of the information available online and help you target it to a travel blog. If you’re interested in setting up a blog for fun or profit, but you don’t have time to search the web to compare free information, this book is also perfect. A current travel blogger could also find it useful to improve their SEO strategies and transition their site for long-term sustainability and possible profit.

How to make money from your travel blog by Matthew Kepnes, 2009, was supplied for review by the author. Self-published, it’s available for US$27.00.

Your thoughts on "REVIEW: Make money with your travel blog by Matthew Kepnes"

  • Very even-handed review. Thanks for the info!

    on June 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm Reply
  • Craig, I'd say not emphasising the amount of time and effort to build up a successful travel blog is a pretty serious omission. Selling a "how to" book at $27 could be an good revenue generation tool.

    on June 15, 2009 at 4:56 pm Reply
  • Thanks Colin. Just checked out your site and it looks brilliant. We'll be back.

    on June 15, 2009 at 1:09 pm Reply
  • Well written review. I agree with Kare about the importance of emphasizing the time required, at least in the beginning. Thinking back to 2007, my lifestyle was akin to that of a cloistered monk as I built my first blog in advance of my trip around the world.

    on June 16, 2009 at 12:55 am Reply
  • I agree on the time front completely. Between us, Linda and I spend about 30 hours a week on Indie Travel Podcast. Sometimes that's hard when we're in a place with bad wifi or great sites. We try to not let it get in the way of travel, but I think people should know building a profitable site is work and takes time. I think Matt does a fair job of explaining that in the book, but it's a lot of money to spend if you don't know the time-costs first.

    on June 16, 2009 at 6:16 am Reply
  • Good review. I do agree though with some of the comments above that not emphasising the amount of work required to "make a site successful" is a bit of an omission. Also, I'd say claiming to "earn $3,000" a month when that is just the gross figure, brings others like John Chow to mind -- and not in a positive way! NM would have been better served (IMO) to have gone with a lower figure and added the word "profit" into his marketing of the ebook. Sidenote to C&L: You get away with just 30 hours a week on this site? Nice work -- I look forward to buying your book on "100 ways to improve productivity"! :-)

    on June 18, 2009 at 2:58 pm Reply
  • @Kare and Dave: In the book, I DO emphasize the time it takes. I write about it over and over again that this is not a get rich quick scheme. I say that if you cannot make at least a 6 month commitment to 0 revenue, then this is not for you. Also, Kare- The 3,000 is not including money made from the book! @Stuart: I never see you around my blog! :( On a note related to your comment, I actually net more than 3k lately. However, expenses for this are actually very low. I could get by on about $200 a month in expenses. However, I'm a lazy guy who doesn't like to write so I outsource much of my SEO writing to a friend. Overall, I spend about $600 a month.

    on June 18, 2009 at 11:51 pm Reply
  • If only we could find time to write that! :) We have got away with only 30 hours by ignoring "vital" tasks like external SEO for more social-media efforts. If we spent time doing "marketing for machines" we could probably draw a lot more search engine traffic. We are spending more time on site-related work at the moment, because we're trying to grow things a bit.

    on June 18, 2009 at 3:05 pm Reply
  • I agree with what was stated on a previous post. Blogging does take commitent and at least six months of not making money. Its all about good reliable content and that takes time.

    on July 6, 2009 at 1:10 am Reply
  • I do agree though with some of the comments above that not emphasising the amount of work required to "make a site successful" is a bit of an omission.Thanks for sharing lots of information with us.

    on September 29, 2009 at 9:47 pm Reply
  • Recently, there has been a good deal of inquiries by the US Federal trade comission against blogs and website developers for not stating their advertising income, or potential connections with advertising agencies. What are your personal ideas about how this could hurt the blogging world?

    on November 5, 2009 at 6:38 am Reply
  • @serPeddydeeft We don't think it should make any changes to most blogger's MOs. It will hopefully shake some dodgy dealers out of the woodwork and give readers more confidence in online writing. From our side, it hasn't made any change at all; Indie Travel Podcast has always been clear with naming our sponsors and being transparent with our audience. That's the core of a trusting environment: talking clearly.

    on November 5, 2009 at 10:00 am Reply

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