Bret & Mary Toasting To GGT’s Success in Panama

How We Quadrupled Our Blog Traffic In 6 Months


“How did you do it?!”


It’s a question we’ve heard a lot lately (asked not only of us, but of veteran bloggers we respect), and it’s clear people want specific details. We believe that helping other bloggers to grow can only help the entire community to grow, so what follows is a fairly exhaustive explanation of the steps we’ve taken to increase Green Global Travel’s traffic, improve Google Page Rank, and radically build up our social media following over the past 6 months. It’s not necessarily how YOU should do it– every site is different– but these tactics have worked for us.


Though we launched the website in November 2010, for the first year I was freelancing full-time and we were also running a profitable improv comedy company on the side. But once we folded that company and landed a major press trip to the Galapagos Islands last October, we began focusing all our spare time on building our dream.


How much have we grown in that time? In November 2011, when we switched the site from Joomla over to WordPress, we were averaging 5000 page views a month, ranked #877,000 on Alexa, with a Google PR 3 and a Klout score of 37. Now, we’re averaging 20,000+ page views a month, rank #62,000 on Alexa, with a Google PR 4 and a Klout score of 57. Slowly, steadily, those numbers keep climbing, with a 3-month growth rate of 160%. Here’s how we did it:


The 1st GGT Planning Meeting, August 2010


• BLAZE YOUR OWN TRAIL– There are 10 gazillion people launching blogs, with seemingly half of those focused on travel. For months, we had discussions of what we wanted the site to be and how it should be structured. We had a well-defined mission statement and a distinctive brand identity very different from anything else we’d seen, and we never veered from that vision in search of traffic. Even though our numbers weren’t high, in the first year we had companies such as World Wildlife Fund, Sustainable Travel International, Ecoventura and International Galapagos Tour Operators Association seeking us out to work with us. Build a brand you’re proud of, and protect its integrity with everything you have. It’s your single most valuable asset, so make it YOURS, not what you think others want it to be.


• CONTENT IS KING– OK, I know bloggers say this all the time, but it’s especially true for us. In the four months it took for us to get the site exactly the way we wanted it, design-wise, we uploaded nearly 100 stories so that there would be depth and quality to our archives from the very first day we launched. In the last few months, we’ve begun posting a story every single day. While each one may not initially garner much traffic, over time our SEO work and social media marketing gradually gained traction. Now, our best new posts may get a 100 or more views a day, but many of our archived posts are getting 3-5 hits per day from organic search traffic… which adds up quicker than you think.


• INVEST IN YOURSELF- If you’re serious about blogging as a business, you need to invest in your business. We spent $1000 in the design stages, because we wanted our site to look more like a magazine than a typical blog, with our archives easily accessible. We won a few blogging contests after we launched, then invested our $500 winnings in Facebook ads to draw attention to our page, which built our numbers up quickly in the early stages. We spent $400 last November to move the site to WordPress and upgrade our SEO (we use All-In-One-SEO), which was the single best move we ever made. Even now, we’re considering investing in an SEO audit to help us improve our site’s performance and increase search traffic.


GGT Senior Editor DeMarco Williams Started Working With Bret As An Intern 10+ Years Ago!


• INTERNS ARE YOUR FRIENDS– Due to our lack of spare time, our social media efforts were always lacking until January, when we started enlisting interns to help out with simple tasks. It’s easy to sign up with local colleges and place ads, and many college students are eager to get experience in social media marketing. We have folks who help with following new people on Twitter, posting to Tumblr, stumbling on SU, submitting GGT to blog directories, and researching info for our PR/marketing press lists. As a result, our social media statistics have grown by leaps and bounds and had a MAJOR impact on our traffic, and our interns have gotten great work experience and recommendations for helping our business grow.


• SET CONCRETE GOALS– This one holds true for us as well as the interns, as we like to quantify everything we do. Mary and I work together to Stumble/RT everything our friends send us on SU. I comment on new sites (i.e. non-travel blogs) every day to get more links. We have one person who follows  new niche-targeted people on Twitter every day. We have another who Stumbles non-travel blog pages on SU every day, RTing only the best stuff. We have another who finds ways to link our stories to Wikipedia entries. Mary gets reports from each of these people once a week in order to chart their progress, and the numbers don’t lie: In the last 6 months we’ve increased Twitter followers by nearly 2500, incoming links by over 300, and our SU traffic has gone from 20-30 hits a day to over 100 hits a day. Mary works very hands-on with the interns, constantly tweaking our system based on the results of these efforts.


• TAKE ADVICE WITH A PINCH OF SALT–  Blogging as a profession is like the wild, wild West, and anybody who tells you there are “rules” you must follow to be successful has their own agenda. What worked for them 3-5 years ago when they first started out may not apply in today’s blog-crazy climate, and what works for GGT may not work for a different kind of website. Veteran bloggers have told us “Readers won’t follow a blog with multiple writers,” “The blog needs to focus on your personality to be successful,” “You need to narrow your editorial focus,” etc. You want my advice? Work your butt off, write constantly, and follow your passion wherever it may lead you. Nobody else knows your path as well as you.


Our buddy Jeff Muller of WWF, with Ribeñeros Kids in the Peruvian Amazon


• MAKE NEW FRIENDS (BUT KEEP THE OLD)– The blogging community is great, but it’s very incestuous and can be clique-ish at times. Though we’ve made a point of reading/commenting on hundreds of blogs in recent months, very few veteran bloggers reciprocate (and we treasure the ones that do!). We’re VERY loyal to the people who frequent our site, but we also constantly seeking out new connections. We share our Global Cuisine recipes with cooking sites, our Eco News stories with environmental sites, our Go Green Tips with sustainable living sites, and our Ecotourism stories with nature/wildlife conservation sites. And we share their stories with our readers as well.


• SHARING IS CARING– Because GGT isn’t all about us, we strive to create AND curate the best content for our readers. If our friends write a post on StumbleUpon that we think our readers will enjoy, we’ll like it, comment on it and share it on Facebook/Twitter simultaneously. It costs us nothing, takes literally 2 minutes and helps them grow. When we see people who reciprocate for us, we take note of it, and gradually we’re building a supportive community of people whose work we admire and whose sites we hope to see grow right alongside ours, for everyone’s mutual benefit.


Making New Friends in the Galapagos, Including Blogger Barbara Weibel


• BE A GIVER, NOT A TAKER-  For every helpful veteran blogger (see: Dave & Deb of The Planet D, Melvin of Traveldudes, Caz & Craig of yTravel Blog and Barbara of Hole In The Donut), there are many others who’ve ignored us completely. It’s like they’re trying to protect their piece of some imaginary blogging pie. But we believe that the growth of the community will benefit everyone in it, and we’ve launched several initiatives to encourage more of it. We started the  Travel Bloggers Give Back Facebook group in November to encourage bloggers to share posts on charitable initiatives. We launched the Ecotourism & Adventure Travel Writers Association to bring together those of us who cover environmental concerns regularly. We launched a Bloggers In Residence mentorship program, to help bloggers aspiring to make it as freelance writers. By giving back, we hope to benefit the entire business.


• DON’T GET BOGGED DOWN IN NUMBERS– This may sound counter-intuitive, but one of the best moves we ever made was to stop looking at Google Analytics data regularly. Comparing ourselves to “the big boys” left us depressed, sapping our drive and creative energy. But as we noticed the growth building gradually, and realized the inherent peaks and valleys that come with running a website, we began to focus more on the big picture, which enabled us to fine tune strategies instead of worrying about the day to day minutiae. We still have bad days– this weekend was the first time in months when we got less than 500 page views in a day– but we know that the next big traffic spike is just around the corner.


It’s impossible for us to sum up everything we’ve done to increase GGT’s profile in one post, but hopefully this has given you some ideas you can try to see if they work for you and your blog. If you have any questions, post them in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to respond to everyone asap. And, as always, we greatly appreciate shares/stumbles/RTs!  ­–Bret Love

178 Responses to How We Quadrupled Our Blog Traffic In 6 Months

  • Thank you so much for this very inspiring article. I have still a long way to go to reach your numbers, but I think you are absolutely right about sharing. (Thanks, Melvin, for your support and help 🙂 ). I have really started doing this about half a year ago and since then my visitors, twitter followers and Interactions with other bloggers have increased significantly. It is a step by step process, but if you keep on doing it you are on the right track. And reading your success story just makes me continue on my path.

    • Bret Love says:

      You’re welcome, Monika. Sustainable business growth definitely takes some time, but our results show that it CAN be done, even in today’s increasingly crowded marketplace. Glad that our story could help inspire you, and hopefully yours will eventually inspire someone else!

  • Bret,
    Thanks for taking the time to create this very helpful post. Keep up the great work!

    • Bret Love says:

      No problem, Lillie. It was actually the questions from some of the folks on the Education Bloggers FB page that inspired us to write it, so perhaps we should be thanking you!

  • Red Hunt says:

    Great post, love what you guys have been doing…successfully! I’ll admit my time for staying up to date with SU and commenting on other posts comes in waves…so kudos to having the intern team. I fully agree with being yourself, doing your own thing. I let my site grow for a year without caring about numbers or what others thought…now it’s time to look at it more seriously and see what needs to be tweaked. You’ve given me some food for thought…thanks for sharing!

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks for the compliments, Red! It is a well-documented fact that keeping up with social media takes a TON of time away from other things. But even with the interns, there are still many social media tasks we do not feel comfortable farming out to other people, such as commenting on fellow bloggers’ pages, replying to our friends on Twitter and replying to comments here on the site. It still eats up a good bit of our time/energy every day, but having interns allows us to do things that might normally slip through the cracks, like adding new Twitter followers or Stumbling random stuff on SU. Those little things can make a world of difference.

  • Kit Whelan says:

    Amazingly informative & inspiring article! I’ve still got a long way to go, but you’ve given me a lot of great tips to think about! Thanks 🙂

  • Cole @ Four Jandals says:

    As always you guys have the best advice! Have been watching you grow rapidly over the last few months and been very impressed. Hoping that we will be joining ranks up there as well. We have seen our traffic double in the past 3 months but still wish we had more time (and money) to invest in our blog. After our next trip, which is 2 months around Italy and Spain, I will be going full-time and seeing what results we can get.
    Will keep sharing all your stuff as usual Bret and Mary (and the rest of the team)!

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Cole! You’re definitely one of the members of that supportive community we talked about. It’s funny how some of the most supportive people are also the ones doing some of the best work, crafting great stories and forging their own path through the blogosphere. We’re going to do a post very soon highlighting some of our favorite blogs that deserve more attention…

  • Excellent post, never thought of Interns or the tasks you give them, that is so next on my list.

    Don’t sweat this weekend, it was mother’s day. Barely anyone was online 😉

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Marina! We always hate to see our numbers drop, especially when our growth rate has been so steady for so long. But I suppose it’s just the nature of the beast. Luckily, this post has given our traffic this week quite the boost!

  • Jo says:

    You are an inspiration to us newbies with what you’ve done.

    It is great to know that my instincts and what I’ve learned myself so far seem to be what you’ve worked out too (although I agree we do need to blaze our own paths).

    I found your website from a Twitter RT, so your system works!!

    Thanks for adding one of my recent posts to your site – much appreciated. 🙂

  • nicoleisthenewblack says:

    Ah the advice…in one day you hear 4 different ways to do the same thing. It really can do your head in. I also wanted to enlist interns to handle a few of my social media obligation. Not sure what is stopping me from taking the leap. Thanks for the push!

    • Bret Love says:

      You’re welcome, Nicole! I know what you mean about all the advice. Ultimately each person has to listen to their inner voice to figure out what’s right for them. That’s why we said that this post isn’t trying to tell you what’s right for you, but what has worked for us. Hopefully people can glean some wisdom from it.

  • Jools Stone says:

    Great stuff Bret, some really useful tips. Some I do, some I’ve yet to get around to. properly I badly needed to read this today. Been getting down about a few ‘old school’ cos in my niche who just aren’t interested in working with blogs, it#’s newspaper commission or nothing to get on their trips. But you’re still a regular, jobbing freelance writer like me right, so how the hell do you manage to do all this stuff too?! Are the interns the way forward then?

    • Bret Love says:

      Yep, I’m still a freelancer, but to be honest the amount of time I spend on my money-making ventures has taken a huge hit as we focus more and more on the site. Interns are a big help, but Mary and I still work LOTS of 10-12 hour days trying to get it all done. And, of course, it NEVER all gets done. But we keep plugging away, knowing that the payoff will come soon enough.

  • Thanks for the tips Bret! I like the one about giving back. For me, I may never be the biggest blogger out there but I love being a resource for helping people. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I love being able to connect a person with someone I know who does have the answer. I am not intimidated by those who get more traffic than me or are bigger. I think we all have our own niche and audience who enjoys what we do.

    In the end, karma will come back to you. So build your brand but don’t be afraid to help others as well. On the flip side, I do need to stop watching my numbers so match 🙂

    • Bret Love says:

      We agree, Jeremy! To quote one of my favorite bands, the Beastie Boys, “What goes around comes around.” Since we desperately want for positive energy to come back to us, we try to put out as much positive energy as possible. So far, it seems to be working pretty well…

  • You have certainly put in a lot of work, and it is great that you are seeing the rewards of it. Appreciate the details about your strategy and also find your comments about the travel blogging community amusing.

    • Bret Love says:

      HA! Thanks, Stephanie. We have an interesting relationship with the blogging community, because we love most of the people in it but we also clearly recognize the problems that plague it and want to do our part to help improve it for the next generation of bloggers who are coming up now.

  • Nice job with the post. I enjoy the work you guys do and applaud the diligence. There’s really no replacement for putting the time in and staying positive throughout the growth process. I agree whole-heartedly with not watching stats on a daily basis as it can drive you a bit crazy.

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Anthony! Some days it’s difficult to stay positive all the time, but we do strive for it.

  • Jollycolours says:

    Thank you so much for taking the effort to put up this inspiring article (and all the other articles). 🙂 I really enjoy reading your blog posts, please keep them coming. ^___^ I’m touched that share blog posts of other bloggers, indeed there are bloggers who aren’t that generous, fearing that their readers might shift their interest (which isn’t the case if you ask me, because if the contents are great, I’ll be back from more)

    Keep it up! 😀

    • Bret Love says:

      We believe in the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. We let that philosophy guide us in everything that we do. We want other people to share our stuff, so we share theirs as generously as possible. And we believe that our stories are strong enough that our readers will want to keep coming back, even after we send them to see our equally talented blogger friends.

  • Thank you for this! We can totally relate with “Make new friends (but keep the old). We’ve found a lot of bloggers are very supportive and others will take all the RTs they can get and never acknowledge those doing the RTing. Sad but so true.

    • Bret Love says:

      It is sad, but we quickly learned our lesson. If somebody doesn’t share our stuff after we share theirs multiple times, we stop following them. We’re big believers in reciprocity!

  • Hey Guys, nice post.

    I just want to point out that if you are keen on Pagerank/SEO etc then you may want to change the plugin you use for related pages.

    You currently use Linkwithin, which redirects to another page on your site but via a redirect. Unfortunately the redirect doesn’t pass pagerank or anchor text. If you click a related post you will see it redirects through LinkWithin’s site, giving them the benefit.

    An alternative plugin like YARPP (a few others are available too) will may sure related posts go direct, and not redirected via another site. This should increase the pagerank/rankings throughout your site.

    All the best,

  • doris says:

    Hi, I also want to say thank you so much for your sharing and giving. I just started a month ago with a german blog about sustainable travels and all of this sounds like an illusion to me, but I still feel motivated and encouraged by your words. Thank you for your work! Doris

  • Angela says:

    Great tips, I do almost all the same except for the interns point.. The last point you make is so important, I used to be obsessed by stats at the beginning, then I saw it was just time-consuming and now I look at them really when I have the time!

    • Bret Love says:

      Yeah, constantly checking stats is something I think a LOT of bloggers struggle with. For us, the less we check Google Analytics the more time we have for writing posts and curating great content.

  • Great post Bret! You guys are doing an awesome job. Outsourcing is something Craig and I really want/need to do. I have been thinking about interns but am worried as to whether it will just mean more work. You’ve motivated me to look more into it at least.
    Keep sharing and helping and thanks for the shout out!

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Caz! You guys have been such an inspiration to us, in particular your positive, helpful attitude in everything you do. If you guys decide to go the intern route, let us know and we’ll be happy to share more tips on how we make it work.

  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family says:

    Hi Bret,

    This is an incredibly helpful post. Much more positive than the “if you’re thinking about starting a travel blog, don’t!” articles I’ve been seeing a lot of lately.

    It’s so good to know that it can be done, it’s not all about who was here first and who you’re already friends with.



    • Bret Love says:

      Bethaney, I understand precisely what you mean. We’ve seen the cynical, pessimistic articles you’re referring to, and in fact they were a huge motivating factor for me writing this post. A successful totally CAN be done, it just requires different strategies in today’s competitive market than it did 3-5 years ago when the field wasn’t quite so crowded. Honestly, I think niche blogs have an easier time standing out these days than the traditional “follow me on my round-the-world adventures” blogs, so maybe the fact that our approach is so left-of-center has proven quite a blessing.

      • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family says:

        I thought about writing a shirty response so someone in particular but didn’t want to burn any bridges further down the track!

        Thanks for your refreshing approach (and for replying to EVERY comment on this post!).

  • Very useful tips – I have to do everything myself and it can get quite overwhelming. I’ll have to think about finding an intern…

    • Bret Love says:

      Interns are great, and with the dawn of the Internet Age they can be in a different city or state (or province, in your case). There is a slight learning curve when teaching them how to use various social media tools, but by assigning each one a very specific set of tasks and writing a “New User’s Guide” for each form of social media, we’ve streamlined the process considerably. It DEFINITELY makes our jobs easier, and they get vital social media skills that make them more marketable as prospective employees.

  • Wanderplex says:

    Thanks for sharing such an informative and inspiring post! It’s wonderful to see hard work paying off and it certainly sounds like you guys have been putting in a lot of hard work! I (like a lot of other people in the comments) have not gone the intern route yet because it seems like it would actually ADD to my workload (teaching, organizing, delegating etc) – how do you balance this? Or do your interns come to you already knowing the ropes?

  • Thanks for posting and sharing your thoughts. I came across this in the new posts section on Travel Bloggers Unite. I think your experiences and approach are very clear – and motivating.

    I think one of the most key is being clear about what is unique and distinctive about one’s blog – so it is clear what you are about and people seeking that will soon come.

    • Bret Love says:

      Agreed, Gary. We took a LOT of time/energy to plan out what our site would be, define its identity, design logos and site graphics that would clearly represent our brand, and craft stories that would help reinforce that identity before we ever made it visible to the public. Perhaps more importantly, we believed in that identity not to listen to people who suggested that our approach might not work. So the fact that it actually DOES seem to be connecting with people is extremely gratifying.

  • Thanks so much for your transparency and tips. For those of us newer to blogging, it’s good to know that dogged determination can have results and that there is a community of support.

    I’m struggling a bit with my different desires to be a travel blogger versus a writer who travels, and what that means for how I run my site and set my goals.

    Glad to have found you through another travel blogger on Twitter!

    • Bret Love says:

      We firmly believe that a little more transparency from those who’ve experienced success is the best way to ensure the growth of the entire blogging industry. We’ve had several veteran bloggers who’ve offered us incredible advice along the way, so it’s our intention to keep paying that good energy forward. As for your struggle, we were working on GGT over a year before we realized it was something we wanted to dedicate our entire lives to, so give yourself time to find your own blogging path and I’m sure it will reveal itself.

  • Shweta says:

    Thank you for the tips! Greatly appreciated.

  • Cam @ Traveling Canucks says:

    Congrats guys! Great to see your commitment and dedication paying off 😉

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Cam! We’ve been putting in a lot of work, so seeing the payoff so quickly is extremely rewarding.

  • Caitlyn says:

    Wow, fantastic post. I’ve come over to your site via a comment on mine, so good job guys! 😛 Also, you’ve now made me insanely interested in the Galapagos Islands, many hours playing with Skyscanner will now follow…

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Caitlyn! If you’re interested in the Galapagos, do a quick search on our site. We’ve got nearly a dozen stories, photo galleries and videos on the subject. And feel free to reach out if you have any questions!

  • great post

  • Adam Costa says:


    This is a shockingly good post, and you’ve gone above and beyond to deliver clear, actionable advice mixed with high-level strategy.

    Now I gotta go find me some interns 😉

  • Christy says:

    Great tips! I’ve looked into interns in the past and got discouraged with all of the red tape regarding workmans comp and paid/unpaid rules. It looks like having interns help with social media may be the way to go.

    • Bret Love says:

      We’ve contacted all the local Georgia colleges directly via their Career Center and never had a problem. They usually follow up with a phone call to ask if there’s training involved and what the interns get out of it, but once we explain the nature of the position we’ve never had a problem. We often get more applicants than we need, and 90% of the ones we’ve used have been great. We wish we had the $$$ to hire a few of them full-time!

  • Barbara Bunce says:

    Thanks for the honest and comprehensive advice. It is a rare thing to get the nitty gritty on the how-to’s.
    One question: how much travel can one do in any given year?! It limits how much one can blog. Any ideas?


    • Bret Love says:

      Hey Barbara, we’re actually going to do a post on that topic in the near future, dispelling the myth that you have to be a full-time, round-the-world traveler in order to run a successful travel site. Mary I have a house, two cars, a daughter with us half the time and a dog, so we have all the normal responsibilities of a traditional family. We travel once a month on average, but occasionally more if I have several freelance assignments (as I did in April, when we traveled to Bermuda and Panama back to back). We do try to do some work on the blog while we travel, when we have WiFi access, but it’s certainly easier to keep up with when we’re at home.

      • Dalene says:

        Hey Bret, have really enjoyed this article and the comments as well. Just wanted to add to this one here…

        I am beginning to believe that traveling full time is actually detrimental to running a successful travel blog! Ironic, totally, but I think it is true. Thankfully we have a few long housesitting stretches where we can keep up on the work, but when we are on the road (like we will be for the next few weeks), it is near impossible to keep up, and all our numbers start to lag. Not that I would stop for the sake of the blog (travel comes FIRST for us!), but it becomes very difficult at times.

        • Bret Love says:

          I actually agree with you, Dalene. Mary and I have talked about this quite a bit lately, and I don’t know that we’ll ever want to be perpetual travelers. Not just for the sake of the blog, but also because we both like having a home to come back to, where we can hang out with my daughter and our dog, spend lazy days on the lake, and have a chance to recharge before heading off on the next adventure. We’re traveling an average of one week per month now, and I’m pretty happy with that balance.

          • I have to agree with both of you.
            About the blogging: it’s strange that the thing that drives our blog – our travels – is also the thing that often ‘prohibits’ us from blogging. Up until now I’ve never blogged ‘live’. I’ve sent out tweets from on location and have been active on other SM, but really finishing and publishing posts about a trip happens afterwards, back home.
            About the perpetual travel: I like to have a homebase as well. Also because I simply enjoy planning a trip, looking forward to it, doing the countdown. I’d love to do a looooong trip some day, but I don’t now if perpetual travel is for me.

  • Awesome post Bret! Thank you so much for sharing. I especially like your ideas around interns. Just having a fresh set of eyes on your site and the social networks seems beneficial in so many ways. Wishing you much success and if there’s anyway I can help, just let me know.

  • Sherry Ott says:

    Lovely to share all of your hard work and success – congrats! Know that sometimes veteran bloggers aren’t ignoring you or trying to keep our piece of the pie – but simply haven’t been as smart as you to hire out (get interns) for all of the work required and therefore just run out of time to answer sometimes! 🙂 Keep up the great work!

    • Bret Love says:

      Sherry, we don’t actually “hire out” for all the work required: Mary and I each spend 8-10 hours a day working on the site ourselves. But having interns help with simple tasks (researching new people to follow, tracking down PR information, etc) leaves us time for the truly social side of social media, including visiting other websites, commenting, Stumbling and RTing. We see that interaction being just as important as the myriad other things involved in writing, photography, video, posting stories and curating the best content from elsewhere in our editorial fields.

  • dana says:

    congratulations! I think you guys really deserve it. Your website is very attractive. The contents are very interesting and diverse. My favorite parts of your website are the Eco News and Eco Tips. Thanks for sharing the reasons behind your success. More power!

  • Heidi19 says:

    Great post Bret! Providing us with these very helpful tips is really a big deal. I know that a lot of people will benefit from this and I will surely follow all the advice that you’ve shared with us here. Thanks for sharing this with us, and keep up the good work.

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Heidi. We hope it will help newer bloggers to avoid some of the trial and error we went through before we found our path.

  • Great post Bret and certainly good tips to keep on board. I am in agreement that one’s blog design and SEO / keyword / content focus needs to be high priority. This would involve some financial spending and surely that will come back in time. Your post’s certainly make readers aware of initiatives / campaigns and programs happening in wildlife conservation & ecotourism. Thanks for sharing and keep up your good work as always :).

    • Bret Love says:

      Even now, we’re still trying to improve SEO and such. The technical side of running a website is clearly our weakness, but we try to seek out advice from those who know better than us. We just got some great advice from our new friend Adam of Travel Blogger Academy (who has an SEO/marketing background), so we’re looking forward to implementing the changes he suggested.

  • Congrats Bret! That’s fabulous news! Thanks for sharing what you did – sounds like a lot of dedicated, consistent effort.

  • Congrats on your rapid success 🙂 I launched my site last summer and I’ve been fumbling along learning things along the way. I realized how quickly you were achieving traffic and it was why I started tracking your blog on my top 100 list without you even submiting. I’m quite sure you’ll be rising up the ranks. Keep working hard and doing what you love. Best of luck!

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Samuel! But we’ve seen YOUR ALexa rankings and I’m not sure I’d classify you as “stumbling along.” You’ve done amazingly well in a very short time, and serve as an inspiration to lots of bloggers for what is possible if you really devote yourself to the craft and the business side of what we do. Hopefully we’ll both keep rising up the ranks together!

      • Samuel’s right: you guys really are an inspiration. I started blogging last summer as well and although I know I’m combining it with my travels and a full time job, I’d still like to see better numbers for myself.
        On the other hand: I love how I just keep on learning on the way and I know that I could automate some SM things I’m doing manually now, but I just like to be in ‘real’ contact with the people that follow me.

        • Thanks, Sofie! We combine full-time jobs, blogging, traveling and family life, so we understand what a difficult juggling act it can all be at times. It took a LOT of sacrifices to get our numbers where they are now, and we still sacrifice much of our social lives in order to focus on building our dream. But ultimately it’s worth it, helping us achieve the lives we’ve always wanted. Just stay driven and passionate, write about the things that move your soul and spirit, and be kind along the way. Good things will come!

  • Tiffany says:

    This is a GREAT post and I’m glad someone suggested it to me! It’s really hard to keep motivated when you know you’re writing great content and you’re just really not getting the traffic you think you should be getting. I haven’t started my own blog yet due to all my indecisive ideas haha but this post will definitely be bookmarked so I can view it in the near future 🙂

    • Bret Love says:

      We can totally relate, Tiffany. People say “Content is king,” but when they don’t tell you is that if you don’t market and promote your content, NOBODY will know it exists. Unfortunately, blogging has become a business, and approaching it from a business person’s perspective is the only way to develop solid growth strategies. Hope our tips can help you in your journey!

  • AvaApollo says:

    I’m glad I found you guys through Facebook and happened to find this article! I’ve been trying to come up with ways to increase traffic (though, my blog is only a month old, just had its birthday yesterday), so I’m accepting of the slow rate. Thanks again, for sharing your piece of the “blogging pie”

  • I’m very inspired by the way your strategy is shaped around a commitment to do good, where the emphasis is on community. Similar ideas have shaped my blog’s trajectory, and we are now fortunate to claim similar stats, but even luckier to see an emerging community of like-minded learners and travelers. And still, I have a lot to learn. Thank you for sharing your experience, I picked up some great ideas.

  • Donna Hull says:

    What a valuable and generous post for the travel blogging community. My biggest issue is being overwhelmed with all there is to do. The first thing that goes by the wayside – reciprocating with others who’ve promoted me. Not a good thing. I’m constantly playing catchup. I’m a big believer in good karma. You’re obviously racking up quite a bit!

    Thanks for specifically detailing some of your strategies. Now to find an intern. Heck, I’d go for a virtual assistant and pay them, if I only had the time to conduct a search.

    • Bret Love says:

      Thank you, Donna. As I said on the GBN page, it’s my belief that only by elevating the professionalism of the blogging industry on the whole can we as individual bloggers achieve the level of success we dream of. From quality writing and marketing strategies to SEO and other technical elements, I believe collaboration and unified efforts will lead to greater long-term growth for all.

      But we know what you mean about being overwhelmed: Even with nearly a half-dozen interns helping us out, there always seems to be LOTS more to do. We’ve got our content, social media and blogger reciprocation wheel churning in full gear, but now we’re looking to improve our SEO, particularly on the year’s worth of archived material that lost all keywords/tags when we switched from Joomla to WP. That should keep us busy for quite a while…

  • I love this post and I’ve been so impressed with how rapidly this site has grown. I can see how having a really cool niche has helped you out.

    I’m glad you mentioned the benefits of helping other bloggers. It’s disappointing when bloggers take the attitude that they’re “in competition” with others. I believe there’s an endless supply of eyeballs out there for everybody. It’s also true that nobody has all the answers and there’s no set path to success that will work for everyone.

  • Laurence says:

    Awesome tips Bret. Not being bogged down in numbers is a great one – it’s an easy trap to fall into! I think deciding what you want your blog to be is important too. You guys have an awesome site with a clear direction, and it’s always a pleasure to read your posts. Keep up the great work!

  • Sabina says:

    I think this is great advice, and I really appreciate you sharing it. My traffic has actually dropped since my first year, although I am constantly networking and posting regularly. I realize I need to do something different and will be employing at least some of your suggestions. 🙂

  • Traveling Ted says:

    Great tips and congrats on the rapid success!

  • Love the honesty….

  • Marlys says:

    I finally got the time to read this through. And I must congratulate you for making exude such positive aura in every way. If only I had half of your jaw-dropping energy and dedication to building up your blog to where it is now. Wishing you more success.

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Marlys! As I said in the Business of Blogging Facebook forum today, I firmly believe in self-fulfilling prophecies, and the power of the spirit and mindset to accomplish amazing things. If we stay positive and firmly believe we will succeed, I think that reality has a MUCH better chance of coming to fruition than if we run around plagued by fear and doubt.

      As for my jaw-dropping energy, I’m completely exhausted all the time, but we’re trying to get to a place where we can earn a decent living off the site, and I know that doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. It’s amazing to see all our efforts really starting to pay off!

  • Thanks for the great advice. I could have used an intern or two myself this weekend.
    I’m going to put a few of your suggestions into practice. Tomorrow! Just kidding.


    • Bret Love says:

      I can’t imagine any business owner who couldn’t use a little help from time to time. Internships are a great win-win arrangement for everyone!

  • Congrats on your accomplishments, Bret. It’s great to hear how you did it. Lots of food for thought.
    The most important take-away for me is knowing what my blog’s about and determining my ‘differential advantage.’ I have lots of homework to do but it’s come at a good time as I’ve been poking around at the back end to make improvements.
    Good points about interns. I’ve used them before for other projects but hadn’t thought about them for blogging — not sure why.
    I’ll be bookmarking and sharing this.
    Thanks again!

  • Britany says:

    Some really great advice in here. I feel like a lot of “travel blogging advice” articles have leaned towards the, “I don’t believe you really want to do this and/or understand how much work is involved,” attitude but this was encouraging and informative. I’ve been gaining modest traffic with my blog but have had trouble getting readers to comment. It seems like once you get the ball rolling and readers see other comments, they’re more likely to jump into the conversation. But how to get the ball rollng is the hard part! any specfic advice on encouraging comments? Other than , which I’ve done. 🙂

    thank you for being so encouraging of newbie bloggers!

  • Steph - says:

    Wow!! Looks like I have my work cut out for me! Thanks for taking the time to post this for the benefit of others!

    I just recently started using SU…not really sure how to use it to my advantage yet but will keep researching!

    Our blog is still very new, although we’ve had it for a few months now, we’ve only really had time to start posting the last few weeks!

    We also stopped checking Google Analytics and now only do it every Sunday…if even! Has saved us so much time to concentrate on other projects and blogging! 🙂

  • Thanks a lot for your openness and advice. Even the all in one SEO pack was news to me:)

    • Bret Love says:

      Well, looks like people are recommending Yoast’s SEO plug-in now as being even better than All-In-One, so we’ll be switching to that one soon!

  • Linda @EcoTraveller says:

    Hi Bret and the gang

    Thanks so much for divulging your internal workings 🙂 You are doing so well. It really is inspiring.

    I think being able to work full-time on a site must make all the difference. I have so many ideas and plans that never quite come to fruition because of time constraints… it’s frustrating to say the least! Interns are a great way to go, but with very limited time already managing a few more people may be more of a hindrance than a help. Might give it a go and see though. Can’t hurt to try, eh?

    And from one eco freak to another, it’s great to see that ecotourism *can* make a good dent in the blogging world.
    Love it 🙂

  • Laurel says:

    Very informative and thoughtful post, thank you. I always appreciate bloggers who are willing to share how they do what they do and reciprocate stumbleupons, tweets, etc, which you guys do. Thank you!

  • andBerlin says:

    An inspiring and very helpful post. Thank you for sharing your experiences for the good of others. I know it’s easy to say as a relative newcomer but I can’t agree more with your philosophy regarding sharing content – co-operation over competition is the way forward. And a dose of good manners goes a long way too. I wish you continued success!

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks very much. I know a lot of people prefer to keep trade secrets close to their chest, but we feel like our strategies can help benefit others, so why not share? I think there are enough readers to go around, and the more professional the blogging industry becomes the more I think good bloggers will benefit. At least we hope that’s how it works…

  • Thanks so much guys for sharing this. Really nice to see bloggers sharing helpful tips — and doing so for free! I really enjoy reading your blog and appreciate your distinctive brand. You are doing a great job and it’s great to see your hard work paying off.

    We’re preparing for some exciting changes to our site, too. We’ve always planned on implementing these changes, but wanted to build up our content first and engage travel lovers through social media and engaging posts. We’ve got a new logo designed, which will debut when we launch our new WordPress theme in a few weeks. Like you guys, we wanted to have something that looked different from a traditional blog, so that’s where we’re headed!

    • Bret Love says:

      That’s awesome, Ellen! Can’t wait to see the new TCT look. Thanks very much for the compliments. We’ve been intent on kind of forging our own path from the start and weren’t sure how people would respond to it, so the rapid growth and positive response from folks like you has been extremely rewarding. We may not be the biggest or the best, but we certainly do work hard. So great to see those efforts paying off.

  • Awesome! Congrats on all your success! I really need to consider hiring help with social media stuff… especially when I am travelling! I think I will do that for my next major trip.

    • Bret Love says:

      Thanks, Jade! Having interns definitely changed the way we approach our business, and allows us a LOT more time for creating content and the social side of social media.

  • Michael says:

    Hey Bret, your success is well deserved and I thanks for sharing your success as well as how you go about it. I’m sure many will find it a great resource to learn from and appreciate your insight. One thing you mentioned that got me wondering was when you said “We have another who finds ways to link our stories to Wikipedia entries.” I never even thought about that, it seems really time consuming and difficult to pursue but honestly, not having ever tried I wouldn’t actually know. Has it been worth the invested time?

  • What’s that noise? That’s the sound a brainstsorm makes…Your talk of interns has sparked a great idea, Bret: We’re very, very appreciative of our fans, friends, followers and blog readers from predominantly English speaking countries (looking at you US and Canada) but we’re a bit frustrated that we haven’t cracked the bilingual Latin American market. We believe we could and should develop more of a following among natives of Mexico, Central America and South America who are bilingual and more than able to read our English-language blog and site when they’re planning regional trips within Latin America. Ditto re bilingual expats hankering to read about home while living outside the Latin American region. They just don’t know we’re out there. Now we’re thinking bilingual interns from said Latin American countries helping to seed us in Spanish among social media networks might be the answer….Thanks!

  • Great post, and thanks for sharing your path to blogging success. Your site is now an inspiration to many others just starting out on this blogging adventure. We look forward to reading more of your articles in the coming years!

  • Larissa @ Changes In Longitude says:


    Thanks so much for sharing what has been working for you, it’s truly inspiring. First came across your wonderful blog while reviewing it for The Business of Blogging on FB.


    Larissa Milne

  • Jeremy says:

    This is my first time over here at GGT, and I give you much respect for what you’ve done! This is an inspiring story with some very worthwhile (and apparently quantifiable) advice! I like your organic approach to blogging and running a business. I never, in a thousand years, would have considered bringing interns on board. Genius!

    I look forward to hearing what else you have to say! Cheers!

  • Nailah says:

    Another Newbie just stopping by to say “thanks” for the helpful tips. I may be a bit far off from hiring interns, but I do like the advice about Blazing your own Trail and Investing in Yourself. While I’m on the road, its also a great time to invest in getting my blog into better shape. Thanks again!

  • JPM says:

    Thanks for the advice and inspiration! I’ve started blogging over 15 years ago (started out in 1995 doing pure HTML stuff!) but it’s only recently that I’ve really gotten into the integration with social media / networks and linking it all together with a more concise brand and product in mine. (a vegan cookbook series richly laced with art and world travel stories).

    It’s very reassuring to read that following others’ dogmatic advice and being obsessed with the stats and numbers aren’t always the best path! Instead, I really like what you’re saying about following your passion and putting in the effort and dedication and being an active, sharing part of an ever-expanding network.

    If all goes well I hope to hire a summer intern for PR research/writing and proofreading.

    Thanks Bret and GGT!


  • andrew says:

    thanks for the post, very helpful information.

  • Johanna says:

    Fabulous post. Thanks! Seems like working one’s butt off is really the only way to blogging success. I thought I was working hard, but reading about your efforts makes me go weak at the knees! Well done, you deserve success 🙂

  • Allison says:

    Thank you so much for sharing your experience. As a newer blogger, I appreciate those who are willing to leave footprints for me to follow. Thanks for being a veteran blogger who gives back.

    • You’re welcome, Allison. There were some great veteran bloggers who helped us along the way, like Dave & Deb of The Planet D and Barbara Wiebel of Hole In The Donut, so this is our way of trying to pay it forward.

  • Mike says:

    As a new blogger, I really enjoyed this post! Thanks!

  • These are some fantastic tips. I remember first reading about you guys as a, “new blog to watch” on Nomadic Samuel’s site, and then watched you blow up (in the good way, of course). You’re completely right about investing in yourself – I’m finally investing in a redesign and shall move over to WordPress next month, so my blog will look more polished and have more functionality and user-friendliness.

    You’re so right about not getting bogged down in numbers, too. Sometimes I’ll have fantastic days, but every now and again (thankfully more rare these days) I’ll have a day that dips under 400 page views. However, I won’t beat myself up about it. Instead, I’ll work hard, create more content, and things balance out.

    p.s. glad you shouted out to the veterans who help out! I’ve found ever single blogger you’ve listed there to be nothing but kind, engaging and helpful. There are more of course, and it always makes me feel grateful to be a part of such a supportive community.

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  • Kyle says:

    The one thing I really love about travel bloggers is how incredibly helpful (most) of them are. I got into travel blogging without really knowing anything about the community outside of me and when I reached out for help or guidance everyone has been so willing to help a fellow blogger/traveler out. I think we all just want to share our message and get as many people to see the world with us and share the joy it brings. Thanks for being a part of the community and congrats on your growth. Hope to reach your level someday

  • Fidel says:

    Great, realistic advice GGT. It’s great to see people actually share advice that doesn’t include asking us for money. Good tips, bookmarking and sharing this post.

  • 30Traveler says:

    You guys have done a fantastic job of blazing your own trail. I like how you reached out to travel celebs like Rick Steves, Anthony Bourdain etc. for interviews. It’s amazing what people can pull off when they aim high! 🙂

  • I keep finding new gems at this site. For a beginner bloger this is helpful and inspiring. Thank you guys.

    • Glad we can help, David! You may also want to join the Business of Blogging group on Facebook. If you send me (Bret Love) a Friend request I can add you. LOTS of helpful info for new bloggers there.

  • Thank you so much for being so giving with your advice! I have too found that it has been difficult to find out information on how to grow traffic. Thanks for the great advice again, I really appreciate it!

  • Inma says:

    Thanks for sharing your ideas!
    Though I believe in a “no rules” blogging experience; things that work do it for some reason.. 🙂
    keep it uP!

  • Vicky says:

    Wow, very interesting. Thanks for being so open and sharing these tactics. Definitely something to bookmark for the future…

  • Wow thanks so much for these awesome tips! Just started my blog about 4 months ago and am trying to figure out a way to increase traffic. Your tips are very helpful, so thank you! Congrats on all your success! You highly deserve it! Gorgeous blog- it is evident how passionate you are!

  • Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I just set up two travelblogs and realize, there will be a looong way to go 🙂 ! Congratulations on your success and keep up the work (and sharing!)

  • Great post. I’m so sharing this;)
    And I was wondering if you could elaborate some more on the linking to wikipedia articles?

  • This article was like a big hug – with a side of brownies! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this fantastic dose of both practical advice and confidence boosting power. I feel like this one article has helped me gain so much knowledge, but it also aligns closely with my own philosophies to believe in myself, invest in myself, but also build a community and help others. Thank you.

    • You’re welcome, Vanessa. Very glad to proved to be so helpful, and affirmed your own beliefs. Follow your heart and gut: They’ll lead you down the right blogging path for you in time.

  • Thanks for sharing these tips. Very helpful and inspiring. I have to agree, when you check your numbers too much you can depressed. I think I’ll limit my number checking to once a week. =)

    • Good idea, Elaine. We almost never check Google Analytics anymore. We get a basic idea of daily stats via WordPress, but other than that we just stay focused on our goals. Our numbers have suffered a little bit as a result, but we’re also MUCH happier and less stressed.

  • Stefanie says:

    Watching the stats feels like being on a drug right now :(, but as an ispiring travel (precisely), Italy-blogger, I see it as part of my intensive learning process! I will get off asap! I admire your work and dedication. Have come across your blog during the process of branding mine, in the direction of sustainability. Thank you for sharing your experiences!!

    • Thanks for introducing yourself, Stefanie. I think everyone gets bogged down in stats at the beginning, because we’re so desperate to see our little blogs grow. But at some point you realize that obsessing over them takes time away from more valuable initiatives, and stop worrying about it so much. Like many bloggers, our growth has stalled a bit due to the changes Google made earlier this year, but hopefully as continue to add more and more great stories we’ll be rewarded with more loyal readers who will make Google’s changes irrelevant.

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  • Ed Graham says:

    Nice article, very inspiring. I especially like the part about not being focused on numbers. When I started my own site, I did it with one thing in mind: that I would stick with it even if no one else ever saw it.

    Why? Because I’m passionate about what I photograph and write about, and following your passion is always rewarding. But the cool thing is many of us have the same passions, and there’s always someone out there who cares just as much as you do.

    • I think having that “sticktoitiveness” is what separates bloggers who are successful in the long-term from those who make a splash and then disappear. Blogging is rewarding, but it’s not easy, so you’ve got to really love traveling and storytelling and inspiring others if you’re going to stick around in this business. Thanks for the kind words!

  • Thanks for a great post. It gives a lot of encouragement that it is still possible to build traffic in despite so much competition.
    Your results are very impressive – especially achieving such a high alexa rank.
    A couple of questions:
    – You chose to go for FBook ads but not Google Adwords? Do you think the investment in Fbook ads was worthwhile?
    – And where are you getting the majority of your visitors from now? Search?
    Thanks again – was great to read.

    • Yes, we chose FB ads because 1) they were cheaper, and 2) it allowed us to build up a long-term sustainable following fairly quickly by promoting our stories through one extremely popular social media channel. We don’t get a lot of traffic from search engines, unfortunately. Most of our traffic comes from our subscribers, both on social media and on the blog itself.

  • Tiana Kai says:

    I think this is my first time to your site and I love these tips, but especially your philosophy! I read a lot of blogs 50%travel and 50%marketing/design/tech. When the article intrigues me I always leave a comment, so I’m commenting a lot! But as you mentioned I never feel the love from anyone in return.

    First, this reflects on my content, my blog is still a hobby that I need to redesign this summer. My content started talking about one thing, then turned into something else. I try to relate things to culture, so will write funny posts or posts about trip/food experiences.

    Second people are lazy. I tweet most articles I read and every article I comment on. I get a smile going when someone does the same, which is rare.

    I feel like blogs are like advertising, if it looks good and there are comments people can get swept away by that more than the content sometimes. I’ve read some incredible posts this week, so I’m happy that I am discovering more interesting writers rather than blogs with fluff and a million comments of fluffery.

    I’m looking forward to more of your articles! -Tiana

    • Thanks, Tiana! The blogosphere is like listening to the radio: You can find some REALLY good stuff, but it takes some time to do enough digging to get past all the meaningless fluff. Some of the best travel writers I know are also bloggers, but they’re not always the most high-profile sites because they’re not writing about “Living the dream on your gap year around the world nomadic adventure!!!”

  • Wow. Wow. Great post. It’s really tough as a beginner travel blogger (especially with no previous blogging experience) to get solid information about improving rankings, SEO, etc. Sometimes it feels like you’re in a black hole and all the other travel blogs around you know something you don’t. It’s great to read a post like this, it gives us inspiration to keep going. Glad I found your site. We will be following.

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  • Oh man! Now you have my mind spinning away! ( a good thing, by the way) We are really trying to grow as well and the social media is such a time eater.. brilliant INTERNS ARE YOUR FRIENDS! I am going to have to try and figure this one out. How exactly do you work with them? when you post do they share or do they have access to your accounts? any tidbits would be lovely as far as the work that goes their way. Thanks!

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  • Davide - Nomad Travellers says:

    Interesting to see how much you were positively affected by moving from Joomla to WordPress. I’m always thinking that was an initial mistake we did too, maybe I will follow your steps first or later

  • Great advice, glad I found it. I’m having a rough start to my blog, not knowing how to grow numbers etc. so it’s nice to hear that I should just concentrate on working hard at it right now and not worry so much about numbers. I just want to share my experiences with the world!

    Thanks for being so transparent in what worked for you!

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  • Bishnu Subedi says:

    I like your suggestion, i would surely help me to increase quality visitor in my site.

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  • Helen says:

    Great blog post glad to have found it. Just started a travel blog in anticipation of my upcoming RTW trip (I leave Oct 2014) and always looking for ways to boost visitors. Especially like the advise about being nice.
    Helen recently posted..Travel Memory of the Week – New York CityMy Profile

  • Meck says:

    We just started our travel blog and this post definitely an inspiration from us. Hope you can vist us and drop some comments on our first post. Much appreciated. Thank you again!
    Meck recently posted..New Zealand: 1 week South Island TripMy Profile

    • Glad we could inspire you! Best of luck in your new endeavor: Hope you’ll join the Business of Blogging group we started on FB, where newbies can get FREE advice from veteran bloggers to help them grow.

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  • Thanks for this post. I have been looking for ways to promote my outdoor adventure blog and I can’t way to try a few of these.
    Thomas Burton recently posted..Lower Calf Creek FallsMy Profile

  • Ale says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips Bret!! I print this post and read it carefully every morning … expecially the last bullet about analytics figures!!!
    It was such a pleasure to meet you in TBEX!
    Ale recently posted..Cronistoria di un weekend in barca a vela – 1′ parteMy Profile

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  • Maria says:

    Such great tips! I love the idea of not to be selfish, to give more than you take and appreciate other bloggers’ work and content. Everyone has a place on the web and appreciating it is far more valuable than thinking only for yourself.

    Apparently the good plan and strategy is the key. I believe writing your media plan with goals for the next 3, 6 or 9 months is going to help a lot. Good luck to everyone and thanks for your tips 🙂
    Maria recently posted..Skydiving in Empuriabrava: To Jump Or Not To Jump (+ Video)My Profile

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