This is an interview with Jacob and Esther from Local Adventurer.
Hey, guys. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi, we’re Esther and Jacob. Together we run Local Adventurer, one the largest travel blogs in the world.
For the past 6 years, we’ve been moving to a new city every year to explore it like a local. Although we travel all over the world, we’re passionate about encouraging people to explore their greater backyard and do most of our travel within the US.
How long have you been blogging and how was the Local Adventurer born?
When we left Atlanta to move to LA, Esther decided to shut down her wedding photography business. Although I was helping her at the time, I decided to pursue YouTube with my brother (we ran a music based channel).
During that time, she was looking for something new and since we both loved to travel, she decided to finally edit some of our travel photos from the archive and post them up on a personal blog.
One thing we realized when we left Atlanta is how much we took our own city for granted. When you live somewhere long enough, you tend to get into a routine and rarely deviate from that.
Since we were only committing on being in LA for a year, we vowed we wouldn’t do the same and took every chance we had to explore the city.
As Esther continued to blog, she realized that people were blogging as a full-time gig.
She started to treat it more like a business and made strategic decisions on the type of content she was building. Traffic continued to grow and more opportunities came her way.
I continued to do YouTube for 2 years, while spending my downtime helping Esther. At the end of the second year, we were only breaking even on YouTube and the blog continued to grow, so I decided to transition to helping her full time focusing on the business side of things.
How many page views does the blog get per month and what percentage of your traffic comes from Pinterest?
We average 490,000+ page views a month on our site with anywhere from 20-25% of that coming from Pinterest.
How did you build that traffic when you were first starting out?
We focused on creating quality content that was useful to readers. We initially used Google Trends to help us do research on the type of content that does well.
Early on, we also reached out to other similar sized sites to guest post and cross promote. Besides cross promoting, it also really helped to just have other people to talk to that were struggling with similar problems.
We were able to talk shop, learn from each other’s mistakes, and hear about what was working well so we could try it as well. It was a nice community to have.
We also spent time writing for larger publications, like BuzzFeed . This brought traffic back to our site and also gave us some legitimacy as we reached out to potential partners.
What are your top Pinterest marketing tips for bloggers?
Esther handles all of our Pinterest, so I’m going to let her chime in here.
I love photography and I’m a visual learner, so most of our posts are photo heavy.
My top tips would be to give people plenty of Pinterest photos to choose from. Also, take a look at the types of photos, designs, colors, and titles that have already done well on Pinterest and continue creating more content like that.
What’s the size of your email list and what role do your subscribers play in your business?
Unfortunately, we haven’t been great with using an email list. This is something that we always tell ourselves we need to be better at, but with so many responsibilities, this one tends to fall by the wayside.
We do have some locked freebie content on our site where people need to subscribe to our newsletter to get printouts etc, and that’s how we’ve slowly grown our list.
Have you taken any particular courses on blogging, Pinterest or else in order to grow your business?
We have not. We’ve learned a lot through doing research online, trial and error, and talking to other blogger friends in our community.
In terms of growing the business, I used a lot of my previous experience in sales and account managing and tweaked it to apply to the travel blogging space.
How did you first start making money from the blog?
We made a little bit of money early on, but nothing significant until the blog was a few years old.
The first few years was spent focused on building a deep catalogue of content and growing our audience base.
How are you currently monetizing your blog and how much do you earn per month?
The first and largest is sponsored content.
Since my background is in sales and account managing, this is what I naturally gravitate towards. It’s relationship building, negotiating, reaching out to potential clients, cold calls, and more.
Secondly, we make money off ads on our site.
For the longest time, we resisted putting ads on our site because Esther wanted to keep the look and experience clean. But 2 years ago, we decided to try it out and haven’t turned back. We can still control how many and what type of ads are on the site, but now have a steady monthly revenue.
Lastly, we make money through affiliate sales.
We initially made most our income through this channel, but now it makes up less than 10% of our income. We still love talking about the gear we use and places we stay, so it will always be a part of our site.
In 2018, we made over 248k.
Last summer, we started sharing monthly income reports to help other aspiring bloggers see a breakdown of how we make our money.
We also recently put together an e-course on how to work with brands.
This course teaches you our process of finding the right contact, how to reach out to them, preparing for a phone call, and even negotiation techniques that have worked well for us. Check it out here.
How do you find brands to partner with?
We have brands reach out to us, I contact them directly when we have projects that are aligned with them, and I continue to foster our relationship with different PR companies.
It takes a little bit of detective work and persistence to find the right person.
Do you think every blogger can earn from sponsored content?
Yes, if you are building quality content, then you can earn money from sponsored content.
You don’t need to wait till you grow a large audience. Even if you have a small, dedicated following, you can earn money from sponsored content by knowing how to reach out to the right people and having good business practices.
Why do you think many new travel blogs don’t last, and what makes yours stand out?
Most people start blogging in the Travel niche with the idea that it will be an endless vacation when in fact, that is quite the opposite.
If you eventually want to do this for a living, then you need to treat it like a job. You have to put in the hours to build your site, create quality content, and learn how to work with brands.
It takes a certain amount of persistence and willingness to push through setbacks.
If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
We were hesitant to work with brands and put ads on our site early on, but looking back at it now, we could have started all of that way earlier.
I believe that no matter what size your audience, you have an audience and readership that you can leverage to brands that you love.
Where can people find you?