Time for another monthly recap and blogging income report. This is where I share what’s new in the world of Desk to Dirtbag over the past month and offer a bit of transparency behind the life of a travel blogger.
On to this month’s report…
Celebrating Andrea’s Birthday
Her birthday fell on a workday for her, so we weren’t able to do anything major, but it was still nice that we were able to go out on the town, grab dinner together, and I was able to get her something nice and unexpected for her birthday (usually we miss the gift giving thing when we are traveling together in foreign countries since it is hard to break away and buy anything secretly).
I guess it wasn’t as fun or extravagant as the time we went to Fairbanks, Alaska for her birthday or like last year when we were hanging out in El Calafate in the heart of Argentinean Patagonia, but it was fun nonetheless… Except, boo for work days! 😀
After not being very good at publishing new content last year due to travel, it feels pretty good to be making some BIG strides and writing about those places… As a result, I’ve really seen a lot of excellent growth in the business in the first few months of the year.
Yeah, it isn’t as exciting as actively traveling, but that’s the life of a travel blogger… Balancing the travel (research phase) with the writing and publication phase.
As a result, I’ve already knocked off a few big goals for the year… One of which was meeting my income goal (this month), so read more about that below… 😀
Off the Beaten Path Medellin
So many people who come to Medellin never really leave the gringo bubble of El Poblado… I saw exactly this with a few prominent travel bloggers that came through recently, and then who go and blog about the same old, same old.
I take a bit of pleasure in introducing travelers to parts of Medellin that most of these people never go to, even if it is just a simple place like the humble yet entertaining Water Museum… I’ve been before, but why not go again?
Lack of Travel
Besides writing about and sharing old journeys, I haven’t been doing anything too exciting really. Enjoying life in Medellin, Colombia and at least a bit of what it has to offer. It is a cool place, for sure, and part of my goal is to update old content and publish even more comprehensive information about traveling to Colombia to make it one of the best resources on the web.
I’m happy to say though that the travel dought will be coming to an end in April with a trip to a new destination, which should line me up for a busy summer.
Most Popular New Article of the Month
How to Travel, Work, and Live Anywhere in the World – This whole idea of creating independence is so powerful, I think, and resonates with so many of my readers… The idea that you don’t have to be chained to a certain job, life, or even physical location.
The once a year Paradise Pack is launching later this month (from April 23rd to 29th) and is only available for sale during that time period… It is a huge bundle of resources about creating a location independent life as I have and is quite simply the best deal if you are looking to get started.
It offers $4,000 worth of courses and materials at a huge discount. Check it out!
Other New Articles
- A Free Vacation in 2019 with No Scams, Timeshares, or Sweepstakes
- What is Backpacker Travel Insurance and Do You Need It?
- How to Plan Your Great American Road Trip
- 6 Myths About Central America Travel and the Reality
- Where to Stay in Medellin: The Best Neighborhoods for Every Type of Traveler
- 10 Best Cartagena Hostels for Every Type of Traveler
- The 9 Best Bogota Tours for New Visitors
- 7 Best Cartagena Tours You Shouldn’t Miss
- 8 Things You Should Know When Visiting Mexico City
- Do You Really Need Travel Insurance for Mexico?
- The 12 Coolest Puerto Vallarta Tours & Activities for a Fun Trip
That makes for 12 articles published during the month of March, which is pretty darn good! That brings the total for Quarter 1 up to like 26 articles, almost what I published during all of 2018, hah.
2019 is the year for massive growth here at Desk to Dirtbag!
Most Popular Instagram Photo
This old favorite of mine from the outstanding Arches National Park was easily the most popular shot of the month… I’m rehashing some of these oldies but goodies. I’d love to have you follow along with my adventures on IG — I’m so close to breaking past the 10,000 follower point!!
Be sure to follow me on Instagram for more photos of my adventures.
What I Read
Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman is a phenomenal business read with plenty of actionable advice about how to implement a business systems process. It is quite prescriptive and compared to other books which can be sort of rah-rah without any meat.
One of the key takeaways for me in this book was implementing a weekly scorecard to track some of the key metrics or indicators of my blogging business, the kinds that drive growth and revenue.
I’d give this one 5/5 stars.
The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller is a great read that basically boils down to trying to find the one thing (get it?!) that you should concentrate on in order to take your business, or anything really, to the next level.
“What’s the ONE Thing I can do to (GOAL) in (TIME FRAME) such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
He basically takes Pareto’s Principle which says that 80 percent of our results come from 20 percent of our inputs/actions/etc, and then says to boil that down even further…
Basically, you are trying to find that one thing that you can concentrate on that will act as a lever to increase your output.
I can’t say that I’ve fully identified my one thing, but it has provided important food for thought. Given my income goals and focus for the year, I’ve been thinking that my question should be “What’s the ONE Thing I can do to double website traffic in 2019 such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”
The best answer I can find is to keep putting out epic and helpful content but on a more consistent basis than I’ve ever managed to do in the past. In this case, more traffic to the blog would result in more income via Mediavine (which is 80% of my income now) and would result in the biggest wins.
I’d give the book 4/5 stars because it can be somewhat generic or wishy-washy, whereas Traction was very actionable.
What I Watched
I guess I am out of touch sometimes because I only just found out about Season 2 of Making a Murderer this month (I watched Season One, years ago, of course). This season was just as enthralling and rage inducing as the first…
It’s hard to fathom being entertained by 20 hours worth of a documentary, but this series manages to do just that.
Even with all the details here, viewers are never going to get all the details or crucial elements of a case. The documentary has prompted me to read a fair bit about the “other side” online and everything I’ve seen still really demonstrates that he was falsely imprisoned. So much so that it is hard for me to fathom how people can be so adamant that he is definitely guilty…
Here is another one that has already created wildly divergent opinions… This is a documentary featuring two supposed victims of Michael Jackson’s sexual abuse of children. Some people (MJ’s fans) claim these guys are fakers trying to destroy Michael Jackson’s legacy and others claim they are brave for coming forward about this.
Regardless of whether MJ abused these two specific individuals, he was undoubtedly a pretty disturbed and twisted person, regardless of his songwriting ability and celebrity status. Again, all his other actions and details of his life make it pretty hard to believe that he didn’t abuse children, even if you want to claim that he didn’t abuse these two particular people.
I gotta give the h/t to Adventurous Kate for bringing my attention to this one… This short documentary left me scratching my head, absolutely baffled and puzzled that a story like this could actually happen.
I don’t want to give away too much about this one, and I’d encourage you not to read any more about it, just watch it on Netflix when you have 90 minutes. This. Is. Crazy.
(Guess I watched a lot of true crime docs this month, hah. Along with the Confession Tapes, as well)
March 2019 Income Report
I know many of you are just curious about how much I’m making and how I do it, but first, here’s a quick rundown of my story:
I used to be a desk jockey working in Washington DC but then lost my job when my boss retired, so I set out to travel the USA and live in my truck. I started this blog to simply hold myself accountable with my travel dreams. I had NO idea what I was doing at the beginning and had no intention of turning this into a business.
And yet, here I am. I now run a pretty awesome online business and basically have found my passion in life.
A lot of you have wanted to start your own blogs after seeing the success that I’ve had, and I highly recommend it. If I hadn’t taken a shot with D2D, I would most definitely have returned to a similar sort of desk job and be stuck doing work I didn’t really enjoy very much.
First of all, fair warning – travel blogging (or any online business for that matter) isn’t easy in any way or for the faint of heart. It is definitely not something you should immediately quit your day job for. Making a living with a blog is a long slow road, but it is also incredibly rewarding.
Take a look at my free guide about how to start a travel blog: you’ll have your own blog set up in just 10-15 minutes, and will receive some pretty sweet discounts since you’re a D2D reader when you use my exclusive link.
Have you taken my free blogging course yet?
Even if you are just thinking about starting a blog or want to figure out how to get more traffic to the one you already have, this will be useful for you.
Basically, if you want to learn the foundational elements of how I went from a desk jockey drop out to a dirtbag living in his truck to a now “successful” blogger earning enough to travel all over the place – you’ll want to check this out:
Onto this month’s income report breakdown…
- $67.37 – Big Travel, Small Budget book sales
- $281.00 – Amazon Affiliate Sales
- $65.91 – REI Affiliate Sales
- $24.20 – World Nomads Travel Insurance
- $14.49 – D2D Apparel, Stickers, Etc
- $196.06 – Get Your Guide Tours
- $3,392.31 – Mediavine Display Ads
- $40.00 – DoorDash
- $4.00 – Trusted House Sitters
- $28.50 – Survey Junkie
- $30.16 – YouTube Videos
- $9.59 – Skimlinks
TOTAL = $4,153.59
GOAL = $3,750 per month
111% of goal covered
Woohoo! Finally, I was able to blow past my most recent goal and by quite a pretty healthy margin too! Last month I said I was pretty confident that I’d be able to reach the goal within the next six months, I just didn’t realize it would be quite so soon.
March marks a whole 35% jump in income over February and shaking off that beginning of the year lull.
While I’m happy to be able to reach this new milestone, I’m going to set my sights a little higher and shoot for $6,000 in revenue per month before the end of the year… Doing so will position the blogging business in a good place for expenses (and investing back into it) while providing me with a decent income after those expenses which is basically equal to my after-tax income back when I worked in DC (which would be pretty crazy, no?).
The main contributing factor was the massive growth in revenue from Mediavine and my efforts to try and increase the visibility of the site. Now it is time to double down on those efforts!
Note: The above figures are for revenue earned during the month but are often not paid until 30 or 60 days later. The numbers do not include income from freelance writing which is another significant source of income and my primary side hustle.
Don’t Forget: If you’ve got any upcoming travel, please book your flights, cheap accommodations, and so forth through my Travel Resources page. I will earn a small commission at no cost to you.
I know many of you have enjoyed my periodic expense reports, so I thought I might try to more regularly incorporate them here… These are only my personal expenses and do not include any business-related expenses — I actually take a salary from the business income.
I’m living on the cheap here in Medellin at the moment and trying to keep expenses below $1,200 per month.
I had some pretty large expenses this month, including filing my personal taxes with my CPA, Andrea’s birthday gift, and most notably, plane tickets for our next trip coming up in April! I know, normally I don’t pay cash for flights since I much prefer travel hacking, but these round trip flights were so cheap that it was definitely better to buy them outright and save the points for something more expensive.
Stay tuned for April’s destination — I’m excited to get traveling again after a few months buckling down and working on the business here in Medellin.
A few notes: The uncategorized section is cash that I’ve withdrawn for things here in Medellin so they don’t get categorized neatly like my credit card transactions. I also may use any cash left over from previous months during this month.
I track my spending with Mint.com and highly recommend it to anyone who wants to get a grip on their overall financial picture, and which is a crucial part of how I manage my money while traveling.
Read More: Get Your Financial House in Order
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That’s all I got for you this month. Are you following along on Instagram or Facebook? Be sure to do so, if you want to get the latest. As always questions, comments, and feedback are extremely welcome.
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Congratulations Ryan you are killing it! Keep up the hard work, it nearly always pays off. Looking forward to some more travel stories though, and those amazing pictures.
Thanks for sharing Ryan,