How Olly Gaspar Grew His Adventure Travel Blog to 250K Monthly Page Views

This is an interview with Olly Gaspar of We Seek Travel.

Hey, Olly. Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.

Hey, my name is Olly Gaspar and I’m a travel photographer and adventure travel blogger. I’ve been traveling full-time now since 2018, living out of my bags while chasing adventure around the world and writing about it on my adventure travel blog We Seek Travel.

What came first, the photography or the blogging?

I picked up a camera for the first time during my first long backpacking trip across Europe in 2015. For the trip, I bought a Canon 550D and a cheap kit lens which was one of the cheapest entry-level DSLRs available at the time.

I started playing around with it, taking photos on hikes, waterfalls, viewpoints and other typical tourist shots across the European cities I was traveling to. While some of my first photos were terrible, I really liked the process and the steep learning curve.

I didn’t start travel blogging until 2018, which was a couple of years after I started traveling quite a lot. By this point, photography was quite a serious hobby for me but was never earning me any money.

Since when have you been traveling full-time and how did you sustain your travel life in the beginning?

I’ve been living as a “Digital Nomad” now since 2018. In the beginning, I felt really lost about the prospect of pursuing a regular 9-5 career. I knew all I wanted to do was to travel and take photos and would do anything to make that happen. To start with I secured some low-paying online english teaching and SEO blog writing jobs. 

This didn’t pay a lot but immediately gave me the location independence I was craving. I mostly stuck to cheap, shoestring travel and preferred free adventure activities like hiking and trekking, so I was able to sustain that lifestyle off just $50 per day for quite a long time.

These days while my business has grown a lot, my lifestyle has remained similar and I still prefer cheap, backpacker-style travel.

When and why did you start your blog?

I initially started my adventure travel blog We Seek Travel in 2018 as a way to get my photography out there and to share some of the unique adventures myself and my partner Haylea had been on over the past years.

I thought it would be a good platform to hopefully land some tourism clients in the adventure niche.

While I knew it was possible to make money from travel blogging, I didn’t see it as the huge business opportunity it would become.

Initially, I thought that starting a travel blog would maybe help me get some free tours or hotels in exchange for photo work so I could keep practicing and growing my portfolio.

Looking back, what I really wanted was to quit teaching English and writing for other brands. I had a dream back then to make $50 a day from my passion of travel and photography and I didn’t care what came after that.

What made you choose the adventure travel niche and what’s different about it compared to other travel categories?

I write adventure travel blogs because that’s primarily what I’ve been doing for the past 5 years. I’m a firm believer that travel blogs and itinerary guides should be written by travelers who have actually visited the destination and can share some unique insights and ideas to help other people.

Unfortunately these days I see a lot of other travel bloggers publishing rehashed listicles and sharing AI content that doesn’t add any new or unique value to readers who are actively planning their trip.

Since I do a lot of hiking and adventure activities while traveling, I naturally write about that and my goal is to inspire travelers to explore more at every destination they visit.

Also read: What is a Blog Category and How to Pick The Right Blog Categories 

How long did it take your blog to get some traction?

It took me quite a while to get traction. After a year of blogging almost full-time, I was only seeing about 30,000 sessions coming in. I think this slow growth is due to the fact that I was primarily writing about off-beat travel experiences and destinations that many people weren’t actively searching on Google.

My goal is and always has been to share unique travel experiences. 

Naturally, there wasn’t much organic search volume for the keywords that I was targeting but enjoyed writing about them and wanted to share the experiences, so I did it anyway. This resulted in growth that was quite slow. But, it was attracting attention from some media outlets who were interested in my stories, which I think helped build links early on.

Have you been into SEO and optimizing your content from day 1?

I was lucky to learn the basics of on-page SEO from one of my first remote jobs so I had a basic understanding from the start. 

I was optimizing for the keywords I was targeting. However, my keyword research was quite bad and I ended up spending a lot of time writing travel blog posts that didn’t have much search volume.

Eventually, I saw the success that other travel bloggers were having with writing huge pillar posts linked to all of their smaller travel guides and adopted a similar strategy. These pillar posts were massive, often 10,000+ word travel guides that covered almost every aspect of a destination that I’ve been writing about.

After doing this, I saw consistent growth in traffic and best of all, it was able to direct readers into the more “off-beat” and “hidden gem” type travel attractions that I was most excited about sharing.

How long after that did you see real results in terms of traffic?

After implementing this strategy I saw consistent growth month on month for the next year until the pandemic hit in early 2020. It was just a few weeks after I’d finally hit my goal of earning $50 per day from my adventure travel blog and I finally was able to quit teaching and focus purely on my passions. 

Unfortunately, traffic dropped to almost zero as the world went into lockdown. But, I doubled down and recovered 10x the traffic now since before the pandemic.

Read also: How to Get Paid to Travel and Earn a Full-Time Income as a Travel Blogger

What are your top traffic sources?

Google is by far the largest source of traffic for my blog. I’ve neglected email marketing and social media but I’m working on that in 2024.

However, I believe that around 10% of my traffic comes from direct sources, which is fairly high for an adventure travel blog. I’m pretty proud of this since it means that many travelers must like my guides and rely on it directly to plan their trips and find unique attractions, hotels, accommodations, and adventure inspiration.

What contributed the most to reaching 250K monthly page views?

I think when it comes to blogging, or building any passive income, consistency is key. While I go off-grid sometimes for long treks and climbs in the Himalayas, I always tend to my blog and regularly publish new content. 

Also, I think the success I’ve seen with Google specifically comes down to the fact that I’m writing about unique travel experiences. 

I’ve noticed trends, especially lately whereby Google tends to rank new, interesting opinions and ideas quite well. I think this is great for the travel niche because it will diversify the travel experiences that people have when visiting specific destinations so that not everyone follows the same generic itinerary and “things to do” lists.

Do you use any SEO tools?

I use Keysearch and have been using RankIQ for quite a while to help me write my pillar posts. RankIQ has been really useful for finding topics to cover but I typically don’t use it as a set framework for my content.

What has helped you get backlinks from reputable sites?

The way that I think about it is if I focus on creating interesting content, people will want to share it. 

I’ve never done any shady or questionable link building and all my backlinks come from organic sources or from interviews like this one. While I’ve written 2 or 3 guest posts early on, I don’t seek them out.

My goal is to share interesting and unique travel content and since I write many blog posts that don’t have any existing competition (since nobody really seems to search or visit these attractions). I often get links to these articles from other travel bloggers and publications looking to link to unique ideas.

How do you decide what new content to create?

Everything I write about comes from my own travel experiences. I usually plan my travels around the things that I want to see and do and don’t travel purely for content. I’ve fallen into this trap in the past and I find that I quickly lose motivation.

Before and when I reach a destination, I usually reach out to locals, tour operators, hostel owners, and other travelers to find travel ideas, hidden gems, and some must-see attractions.

I then read other travel blogs to find other ideas and begin building lists of adventures and attractions I want to visit during my time there. These often include tours like hiking, adrenaline activities, or boat trips. On occasion, I’ll reach out to these companies to see if I can work with them.

I’ve gotten pretty good at planning unique trips now after doing this full-time for the past 5 years.

From there, I usually write a travel guide to each specific attraction which includes all of my photos from my trip. After I spend more time writing a piece of pillar content, which often ends up being listicle-type articles rounding up hikes, waterfalls, viewpoints, attractions, accommodations, and things to do.

What are your top performing articles?

My top performing articles are usually the larger pillar posts because they are really comprehensive and are internally linked from all posts within that category. This is new and old content. 

How long does it take you to create a new blog post, from idea to publication?

That depends, I can usually write a blog post about a hike or a specific waterfall in around an hour or so because the information is usually really fresh. The longer posts can take a few days to write, especially if there are many photos that I’m editing.

How do you promote a blog post after publishing it?

Usually, I just let it work its way up in the SERPs. I figure the people who want to see it most are the people who are actively searching for it. If it’s a really unique adventure or something I’m particularly proud of, I’ll share it on my Instagram.

Haylea also helps me by sharing every post on Pinterest which is good for additional traffic.

How have you grown your Pinterest account over the years?

Haylea has helped me build a Pinterest profile over the past 5 years. It’s doing pretty well with just over a million monthly impressions at the moment. 

In what ways are you monetizing your adventure travel blog?

I use Mediavine for display advertizing and I have some affiliate partnerships with brands like GetYourGuide, Stay22, and Viator. These are a really good source of income and I’m proud to partner with them because I use them personally a lot and are helpful for booking experiences and accommodations.

Since all the photos on my blog are mine, I also get some income when brands and publications want to license my images. It also acts as an organic funnel for sourcing tourism development work, photography jobs, and marketing campaigns with tourism boards, tour companies, and travel brands. 

What’s your favorite blog income stream and why?

My favorite income stream is affiliate marketing because it performs much better than display advertizing in the travel niche. I also like this more than display advertizing as I have complete control over the travel recommendations people are finding on We Seek Travel.

I take a lot of pride in my recommendations and authority as a travel expert. Having the opportunity to help travelers by offering real, useful, and helpful tour, accommodation, and travel gear recommendations while making a living out of it is something that I cherish. 

passive income blog boss graphic

How has the travel blogging industry changed since you’ve been in it?

The pandemic really shook things up and I noticed some large blogs closing down. Lately, with AI content, things are getting interesting as well. 

While I’m starting to see more and more generic AI travel blogs begin ranking for search terms that the publisher has clearly no first-hand experience on, I think Google will catch on. If Google wants to prioritize “helpful” content, then what can be more helpful than advice, opinions, and recommendations from travelers who have actually been there?

That’s my view and I’ll continue to follow this strategy because I think it’s best for my readers.

Read also: How to Turn Your Travel Blogging Hobby into a Business

How do you promote yourself as an adventure travel photographer? And what role does your blog play in this?

My blog is a good source of organic promotion. I also use social media channels like Instagram to share some of my travel photos. 

A lot of my travel photography work comes from working directly with adventure tour companies, hotels, and tourism boards. A lot of the time these companies contact me because they’ve seen my blog. Sometimes I also reach out to the companies before I arrive at a destination to offer my services.

In developing countries, especially in South East Asia, I’ll often work as a photographer for free because I love being able to help small tourism providers, especially when they are passionate about what they do. 

This also helps me because I can meet great people, grow my network, get unique insights and ideas from locals to share on my blog. On many occasions where I really connect with a tour operator, I end up building affiliate partnerships with them to promote their experiences. 

I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve helped many small tour operators around the world from trekking companies in Nepal to boat operators in Indonesia grow their business and support their communities through my blog.

What are your travel plans for the new year?

I’m heading back to Lombok in January to develop my partnership with a local tour company there. I started working with them this year to organize boat trips between Lombok and Komodo and this has been quite successful for the both of us. 

Any big goals for your business or changes you’d like to make to your lifestyle?

I’m really happy with the nomadic lifestyle I’ve been able to build over the past few years. This journey was always about securing location independence so that I could continue seeking new experiences and work on my passions. 

Looking forward my biggest goal is to continue growing We Seek Travel in an authentic way and continue helping people make the most out of every trip.

Where can people find you?

My adventure travel blog: We Seek Travel, on Instagram as @ollygaspar, and on YouTube as WeSeekTravel.

Check out the story of Olly Gaspar who started an adventure travel blog and turned it into his career as a blogger and photographer: