Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Page Ranks, SEOs and How To Make Money With Your Travel Blog

Apparently, I’m a basket case and I never will. I just read Nomadic Matt’s book “How to Make Money With Your Travel Blog” and can clearly see there’s no hope for me.

But let’s start at the beginning.

Matt makes a nice bundle of cash from his sites (yeah, he has more than one) and decided to write an e-book to tell the great unwashed how he does it. In his book he says openly that he makes around 3,000 a month (yes, that’s in US dollars) but in a recent NYTimes interview, the figure came up to 80,000 a year. That’s a lot of dough and I feel great that I managed to contribute my 27 dollars to the grand total. Yes, that’s how much the e-book costs – 27 bucks. Which, if you ask me, for 40 pages is quite much. Too much. Maybe that’s why Matt throws another e-book as a freebie. Whatever.

True, the book is full of interesting info, but still, is it worth 27 bucks? That is something you will have to decide for yourself.

The problem is that his book should be titled “How to Make Money With Your Wordpress Travel Blog”, but I suppose, if Wordpress is what Matt knows, that’s what he writes about.

My blog is not on Wordpress. Strike one against me.

It also seems that what Matt describes is not so much a straight-up travel blog, but a travel site with a blog component, similar what he has going on.

My blog is an old school blog. Strike two against me.

What else did I learn? SEO is really important. I suppose it is, if you are really determined to make money.

On my blog I just write what I want, how I want it. SEOs can go and perform a sexual act with a goat and a pogo stick, for all I care. Strike three against me.

Page rank. I had no clue what it was, or even how to check it until this morning. And it turns out that I’m a lowly PR4. Which is a dime a dozen, apparently. Even my very mediocre photo blog – Utsunomiya Daily is a PR4 site.

So, my page rank sucks. Strike four against me.

Alexa rating. Like, whatever.

See what I had to say about SEO. Strike five against me.

The importance of links. Yeah, I know links are important, but nobody ever links to me, because blogs like mine are a dime a dozen.

I'm too uncool for links. Strike six (or is it seven?) against me.

Social networking. I’m too much of a misanthrope for that. You can find me on social networks, but they’re just background noise in the great scheme of things, at least in my life.

I don't hang out with the popular crowd. Strike eight against me.

Finding your travel niche. This is all fine and dandy if your travel niche is somewhat broad. And all this “the smaller your niche, the easier it is to be the expert in that area” while certainly very true, is also very misleading.

Moka girls x500

Yeah, just make sure you don't outniche yourself with this "small niche" business, because really, how many people want to read about street events in Tochigi, huh?

Why? Let’s say, you’re an expert on Tochigi prefecture. How many people want to read about Tochigi prefecture in English? Maybe twelve. OK, twenty. And I can just see advertisers falling over themselves to stick an ad on a top blog read by a handful of people. Not!

On the other hand, if your niche is broad, like backpacking on a budget, then you’re safe. Thousands of people want to read about backpacking on a budget. And such a broad and trendy niche also attracts advertisers. So, the advice in Matt’s book should have read – "find your niche, but make sure that niche not too small and not too obscure".

And what about me? I don't even have a niche. Strike whatever number we’re on now against me.

In conclusion, I’ll never make any money off of my blog. And that’s fine by me. I’d rather write what I want how I want than worry about how to attract more traffic, how to SEOize my site and where to get links. I’m just not that ambitious.

So, should you buy Matt’s book? Only if you’re really serious about turning your blog into a money-making operation. If not, you’ll end up 27 bucks poorer and feeling like a totally incompetent idiot that you are. In retrospect, I should have gone to the movies instead.

PS. DISCLAIMER: To avoid any potential confusion, which is normal when reading my reviews, let me clarify: this is a mostly positive review.


  1. so glad I found and read this post. I have been feeling the same way about all the SEO and page rank etc. I am so clueless when it comes to all that. I am sure it is useful for many people out there but since we are not looking to make $$ from our blog we tend to shy away from books like that. we bought a domain but we haven't even used that..
    Always glad to discover a new blog.. it's a good day! :-)

  2. After reading this post I'm glad I was hesitant about buying his book. I don't think I'm at that level yet, I just set up my site a month ago. I did however find a local Walden's Bookstore going out of business and purchase a few books (one from and the others have 'For Dummies' in the title - which reflect my level). The SEO seems over my head and daunting in trying to compete with bigger sites but I do my best in order to gain more readers. In other words, I'm ok with taking baby steps first.

  3. Great post!!! It's good to hear another opinion. I was going to buy the Ebook but basically i'm a cheapskate and there are enough free resources and free Ebooks on the net with really good info. I'm totally into the whole SEO thing just because i figure it's good to share what you have learned and people have to be able to find it to gain anything!!! But i never got into this whole thing to make money and the whole advertising thing goes way over my head. At these stage i'm just happy to donate my advertising space to a good causes, i would much rather be spreading the word about important causes than spreading the word about all these products that make enough money and have enough advertising as it is!!!

  4. I think PR4 is a good page rank?! At least that's what I'm told.

  5. Anna, you are already in possession of a niche- humour. its important and much better to see pretentious "SEO experts". i had a good read and most certainly wont be throwing my 27 US in- thanks ;)


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