How Jenny Brocious Makes $4k/Month on a Travel Blog She Only Works on 6 Months Per Year
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Jenny Brocious wasn’t initially interested in travel and didn’t get her passport until she was 25. But a chance trip to Greece with some girlfriends completely changed her view. She was hooked.
She started traveling here and there, but then a newspaper article she saw changed her life and she decided she wanted to travel the whole world.
She launched her blog, Round the World in 30 Days, in 2006. The path to success has not been linear for Jenny, and she’s faced many learning curves and obstacles along the way.
Today she only works on her blog about 6 months of the year and is earning $4k/month. And she continues to grow.
Keep reading to find out:
- How she juggles her day job and blogging
- What happened on her trip to Greece
- How she approached travel initially
- What newspaper article changed her life
- How her approach to travel evolved
- What book she wrote
- Where her income comes from
- How much traffic she's getting
- Her main marketing strategies
- Her approach to keyword research
- Her favorite resources and tools
- Her greatest challenge
- Her main accomplishment
- Her biggest mistake
- The advice she offers other entrepreneurs
- Meet Jenny Brocious
- Why She Created Her Website
- How Much She’s Earning
- Jenny’s Traffic
- Her Main Marketing Strategy
- Jenny’s Content Creation Process
- Her Email List
- Her Favorite Resources
- Her Go-To Tools
- Her Greatest Challenge
- Her Main Accomplishment
- What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
- Her Biggest Mistake
- Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Meet Jenny Brocious
I’m Jenny Brocious and I currently live between Honolulu, Hawaii, and Punta Gorda, Florida with my husband, Dave.
I’m originally from southwest Florida but lived in Atlanta for most of my life until moving back in 2021. My husband is an Army veteran and recently took a military-related civilian position in Hawaii (hence the current dual home situation).
After college, I went into the event management field and worked for two large event facilities before starting my own business in 2000. I’d been in business for exactly a year when 9/11 happened and the event industry dried up overnight.
Thanks to a friend who worked in TV at the time, I transitioned my skill set into television production and began working seasonally as a production manager for a major sports network.
Thankfully, the event business quickly recovered and I’ve now been successfully juggling both careers for more than 20 years. I added blogging to the mix in 2006.
I’m proud to say that I haven’t worked in an office or for anyone else (full-time) since 2000 and I wouldn’t trade that freedom for anything. Both careers are fairly seasonal, so I have a lot of time off between projects for my true passion: world travel.
While I work remotely (mostly from home), I do travel extensively for business. Over the years I’ve racked up millions of miles and hotel points that I’ve used to fund a lot of galavanting around the globe.
My motto is, “If you can work from home, you can work from Rome.”
Or Thailand, or Tahiti, or pretty much anywhere with solid wifi.
If there was a tiny silver lining to the Covid pandemic, it’s that so many more people are able to work remotely now and fulfill their travel dreams at the same time.
Why She Created Her Website
I didn’t get my first passport until I was 25 years old. I was completely focused on my career at that age and had neither the vacation time nor the extra money for travel.
One day, two friends at my office invited me to tag along on a girls’ trip to Greece. The trip was an affordable package deal and I was due some vacation days, so I took them up on it.
That trip sparked a wanderlust that is still going strong today. All I wanted to do was travel.
And when I started my business a few years later, I finally had the time to do it. For the next few years, I took a few trips to Europe and South America but nothing too extraordinary. I did most of those trips solo. I was used to traveling solo for business and most of my friends still had limited vacation time.
Then, on New Year’s Day of 2005, a random newspaper article changed my life.
I was in Miami on business when I stumbled across a local feature about a guy who had sold all of his belongings, bought a round-the-world (RTW) airline ticket, and traveled the world for a year.
Now, I know that kind of thing is more common these days, but at the time I’d never heard of anyone doing anything like that. And I was instantly obsessed with the idea.
A quick Google search revealed that, yes, you could purchase a RTW ticket with miles. And I had a LOT of miles. But I also had a career. And I knew that traveling around the world for a year was out of the question if I wanted a business to come home to.
Luckily, the seasonal aspect of my career allowed me a nice chunk of time every January/February so I settled on the idea of a 30-day trip around the world.
I spent the entire rest of the year planning it. I bought a giant fold-out map of the world and plotted out the itinerary - the Pyramids, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall, and as many destinations as I could realistically squeeze in between them.
In January of 2006, I set off solo. To keep in touch with my family and friends along the way I used a site called My Trip Journal (which still exists!) to journal my trip. That was the beginning of “Round the World in 30 Days.”
That RTW trip was intended to be a “once in a lifetime” trip, but even before it was over I knew I would do it again. It wasn’t that hard to plan, it wasn’t expensive (thanks in part to miles and points), and most importantly, it was the most incredible thing I’d ever done.
For the next 8 years, RTW #2 - #9 followed every January with new destinations and new adventures. Before departing on RTW #2 in 2007, I transitioned the MyTripJournal site to a WordPress blog and RTWin30days.com was officially born.
I did those first 9 RTW trips as a solo traveler. But in 2014, I met my husband and RTW #10 naturally evolved into an epic 3-month honeymoon around the world.
To date, I’ve visited and written about more than 175 countries on all 7 continents.
For those first 10 years, the site was really just a travel journal. Through social media, I developed a partnership with Starwood Hotels (now Marriott) and did a number of fabulous sponsored destinations (the Maldives, Tibet, Bali, and more) with them starting with RTW #7 in 2012. I was even featured on their in-room TV channel around the world for several years.
At the time, I thought the definition of success for a travel blog was sponsored trips and free travel. I had no idea you could actually monetize a travel blog and I never tried to.
In 2012, I signed with a New York literary agency after somehow successfully pitching them a book idea. But after 6 months of trying, my agent wasn’t able to sell the book. She believed in it, though, and suggested I self-publish through Amazon, so I did, and I couldn’t believe how easy it was.)
I wrote The Grown-Up’s Guide to Globetrotting as a resource to help aspiring nomads plan RTW trips of their own. It’s not a major source of revenue, but it’s a great place to refer readers with in-depth questions (for example, about booking round-the-world tickets).
I updated it every other year but I gave up during the pandemic. Travel rules were just changing too quickly! I’m back at it now though and working on a 5th edition update for January 2024.
How Much She’s Earning
Like everyone else, during the pandemic I was home for months with nothing to do and nowhere to go for the first time in my adult life.
By this time, thanks to my brother-in-law (who runs a massively successful niche site called SantoriniDave.com), I had learned that I was missing a huge opportunity by not monetizing my site with hotel affiliates.
I knew if I was going to make RTWin30days a profitable business, it was now or never.
So I dove into SEO courses and began churning out new content and updating old posts using what I’d learned. With a 14-year-old, established site, it didn’t take long to see progress.
By the summer of 2021, my traffic was up to about 25k sessions per month and hotel commissions alone were paying the mortgage.
But it still wasn’t “quit your job” kind of money and I enjoyed my career so I kept juggling both. I continued trying to grow traffic and monetize with more affiliates like tours and rental cars.
And by now I also understood that Mediavine was the ultimate goal if I wanted to replace my “real job” income with blogging.
By the summer of 2022, I got there.
I applied to Mediavine in June of 2022 and in my first full month with them (July), I was thrilled to make $2,500.
For the rest of the summer, my monthly income streams were approximately:
Booking.com - $2,000
Mediavine - $2,500
GetYourGuide/Viator (tours) - $700
Other affiliates (ferries, cars, etc) - $250
Amazon (products & book sales) - $150
My site has always been seasonal and my most popular posts are primarily summer destinations. So my traffic and income decreased by about 20% going into the fall and I fully expected it to rebound and come back even stronger in the spring/summer of 2023.
But it didn’t. And I know why.
Instead of spending January-April of 2023 writing new content and updating old posts as I’d done the previous two winters, I took a too-good-to-pass-up TV production job on a new docu-series. It consumed all of my time from January to June and I wrote just 3 new posts on the site the entire year.
And then in June, we moved to Hawaii and I got shiny object syndrome and launched a brand new niche site, Next Stop Hawaii.
Amazingly, though traffic didn’t see the expected summer rebound, my income didn’t tank (thanks mostly to a healthy RPM with Mediavine).
For the past 5 months, RTWin30days has earned around $3,000/month, primarily a split between Mediavine and Booking.com.
I’m convinced now that the site has amazing income potential. But the hardest part for me is cutting the cord from a sure-thing income and making the leap to blogging full-time.
As for how much time I spend on my site, it depends on the time of year.
The season for my “real” job is August-December. During those months I rarely create any new content for the site.
But starting in January every year, I turn my attention to writing new posts, updating existing content, and expanding my general blogging knowledge by taking any new courses that interest me.
When I applied to Mediavine in June 2022, I had 75k users and 90k+ sessions per month. That was the site’s best month ever.
Right now (thanks mostly to a ridiculous lack of effort), I’m only averaging 30k sessions per month. But I’m confident I can get back to those 2022 numbers and exceed them with enough time and effort.
I’m also still trying to sort out Google’s recent Helpful Content Update.
I experienced approximately a 40% traffic drop during that time but it also coincided with my typical end-of-summer drop of 20-25%. I need to do a deep dive into my analytics to get to the bottom of that.
Thankfully, as my traffic has decreased, my Mediavine RPMs have increased (go figure) so my income has remained relatively steady despite the gradual traffic loss.
Her Main Marketing Strategy
SEO is #1 for me. Pinterest is #2, but it’s inconsistent as a traffic driver. I have a decent social media following but honestly, other than the occasional Facebook spike, it doesn’t drive much traffic either.
So, my limited time is better spent writing new content and updating existing content that already performs well.
Now that I finally understand how SEO works (after all these years), I realize how essential it is. I’m diving into my keyword rankings in Google Search Console and creating more content around the topics that I already rank for.
I’m also focused on updating content that once ranked well and dropped for one reason or another. If Google found it relevant once, chances are I can get it to rank again with a quality update.
Keyword research used to always be an afterthought for me. I would take a trip, write a post, and then maybe think about keyword research when I did an update a year later.
Now, when I plan a trip, I do keyword research before I go so I don’t miss any hotels, places, or things to do that people search for in that destination.
I also do this so I can get my own images of everything I want to include in the post. I don’t use stock images, so every image on my site is my own.
Keyword research is crucial to ensuring I cover the most common questions about a place to make my post as helpful as possible.
Ideally, a reader should be able to plan a visit to that destination from start to finish—why to go, how to get there, where to stay, what to eat, see, etc.—just by reading my post.
This is probably going to be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t do link building.
It’s one of those things that fall through the cracks when you stretch yourself too thin. I feel like my time is better spent creating good content that helps my readers.
I have never written a guest post and I stopped doing HARO a while ago because I just didn’t have time to read and respond to the daily emails.
That said, my site has over 14k backlinks (something I only recently discovered when I started using Ahrefs). I didn’t work to build a single one of those.
Of course, most of them are probably junk, but there are quite a few high DA backlinks among them. And I got those organically.
However, for my new Hawaii site, I’m definitely considering link building. But it’s too soon for that; content creation is the focus right now.
Jenny’s Content Creation Process
RTWin30days has 300+ published posts.
Of those, 145 are de-indexed because they’re more journal entry-type posts from older RTW trips. They don’t provide any value to travelers visiting those destinations today and I don’t want them popping up in Google search results.
If readers are interested in those, they’re all still available on my site under “Round the World Trips.”
Next Stop Hawaii has just 10 posts right now but building up that site is one of my top priorities going into 2024.
Her Email List
I don’t have an email list.
Like link building, I just don’t have the bandwidth for it at the moment. Plus, I don’t personally like receiving a bunch of emails and I don’t want to be in the business of asking readers for their email addresses.
There are some bloggers who are pros with their email lists.
NicheSiteLady is a great example. I look forward to her emails and have learned a lot from them.
If I ever felt like I could offer that kind of value with a weekly or monthly email to subscribers, I’d start a list. Until then, I prefer to focus on my strengths.
Her Favorite Resources
There are two courses that really moved the needle for me when I buckled down and got serious during Covid.
Kelly Holmes’ Sticky Blogging & Sticky SEO courses and Mike Futia’s Stupid Simple SEO course.
Kelly’s course drastically improved my blog writing skills (which is a different thing from other types of writing) and taught me how to keep readers coming back.
Her SEO course was really an introduction to SEO for me, but gave me some quick wins for some of my more popular posts.
But Mike’s Stupid Simple SEO course was the catalyst that really transformed my site. It was the first time I realized that my site’s longevity was a huge asset.
I took his course in 2021 and at the time my site was 15 years old with a DA in the low 40s and about 10k page views per month.
Now that I’ve started a brand new Hawaii site (hello, DA = 1!), I realize just how valuable that longevity was. Now my site is a DA 50 and I’m able to leverage that to rank faster on new topics.
Her Go-To Tools
Google Search Console is my #1 tool.
Before taking SEO courses, I never understood what a terrific resource it is. It literally tells you what Google thinks of your site.
For example, I’ve written about 100+ destinations but (based on the keywords I rank for) Google only thinks I’m an expert on about 20 of those. So I’m trying to capitalize on that by writing more content for those places.
I’ve only recently started using RankIQ, but I love it and I’m looking forward to using it to write a lot of new posts in the coming months.
I also use Canva to create Pinterest pins and other graphics for my sites.
I like ChatGPT, and I use it for research, outlining posts, and combating writer’s block. But I would never use it to write an entire post.
Mostly because it’s usually wrong when it comes to specific, current destination information.
Her Greatest Challenge
Hands down, it’s time management between the blog and my career.
The second biggest challenge is my unwillingness to outsource anything because I’m a bit of a control freak. I write every single post on my site.
I know a lot of blogs with a team of writers, but that’s just not me. And as a result, I have to settle for slower growth (like, painfully slow). My sites reflect me as a writer and a traveler, and that’s just not something I can outsource.
Her Main Accomplishment
Qualifying for Mediavine last year was a huge accomplishment for me.
For the first time, my site is making a steady monthly income without me doing a single thing. It’s completely hands-off and it’s amazing.
As I mentioned, I wrote only 3 posts the entire year yet Mediavine has paid my mortgage every single month, and then some.
Also, I love incorporating marathons into my travels. I’ve run 17 marathons (including 2 during 30-day RTW trips) on 4 continents.
My first race and all-time favorite to run is the Honolulu Marathon. I’ve run that one 11 times and will be doing it again next month. There’s no better way to get to know a place than to run 26.2 miles around it!
I like to think of blogging as a marathon, not a sprint. And for me, it’s been the longest marathon course ever!
What She Wishes She Knew When She Started
Oh boy, so many things!
But the importance of topical authority is a big one.
For so many years I would travel someplace, write one big post about it, and then move on to the next destination. Now that I understand SEO, I realize that I must have confused the heck out of Google.
Her Biggest Mistake
Overlooking affiliate marketing entirely until just a few years ago would be my main mistake. I’ve been writing about hotels and tours for a decade but never realized I could monetize that.
Her Advice for Other Entrepreneurs
Take ALL the courses and learn from the experts.
You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are a lot of people out there killing it with sites across every niche you can dream up.
If they can do it, you can do it.
Be patient and trust the process. Write quality content on topics that people search for and the traffic will come.
I have to keep reminding myself to be patient when it comes to my new site. It’s 5 months old and has just 10 posts. But they’re good posts. In-depth, helpful posts.
Last month the site broke 1000 visits for the first time. And that was exciting for me! Mostly because it probably took me 5 years to get there on RTWin30days.
Imagine the potential when I get it to 100 posts!
Also, be sure to choose a niche you’re passionate about or blogging will quickly become a job like any other job. Luckily, I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of writing about travel.
But niche travel sites? That’s where the money is. And that’s exactly why I started a new site when I moved to Hawaii instead of just adding another silo to RTWin30days.
I’ve challenged myself to get Next Stop Hawaii into Mediavine in less than a year, we’ll see how I do!
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