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How Nomadic Matt Grew a Travel Blog to 15 Million Visitors

Most people DREAM of traveling for a living. Nomadic Matt turned those dreams into a reality.

Matt is a New York Times bestselling author and founder of the popular travel blog

He’s been to the best places on earth, his blog has 1 million visitors per month… and he makes a living writing about travel. 😲 🌴

If you’re a 9-5er who dreams of a better life, Matt started his blog on the side — while working an entry-level desk job he hated.

Today, Nomadic Matt shares how he got his start, grew his site, recommendations on how to make money blogging, and tons more.

In today’s post and podcast, you’ll learn 3 key things:

  1. How Matt started and grew his blog on the side (while working a full-time job)
  2. What Matt discovered about positioning… that made his travel blog successful versus the thousands that failed
  3. The exact breakdown of how Matt makes money — if you’re a blogger, copy his formula

If you’ve ever wondered “how do bloggers get paid?” or “how much money can you make blogging?” you’ll LOVE this post. 🤗

BONUS: How Neville turned a blog post into $100,000+

How Matt started his blog on the side

Matt fell in love with travel in during a trip to Thailand in 2005. 🇹🇭 ✈️

At the time, he was working a boring desk job he hated for a local hospital.

When he came back from Thailand to his disappointing 9-5 life, he felt it was time to make a change.

I really just wanted something that would keep me on the road. So I started my blog as a way to have an online résumé.

At nights, during the weekends, and even during his day job while no one was looking, Matt learned about blogging, HTML, and SEO.

Matt grinded for eight months. There were lots of ups-and-downs, mistakes, and learnings.

But eight months later, he had done just enough to earn his first paycheck from the blog. He sold a group of text links to an advertiser for $1,000. 💰

The first paycheck came because he stayed persistent creating new content and experimenting with new ideas.

There’s a lesson here for all you wannabe bloggers…

Persist, experiment, try new things. Everything else will follow. 👈

Matt also began to build up complementary skill sets to stand out from the crowd:

  • Marketing: How to position his website to be different than other ravel blogs
  • PR: Looking out for opportunities to be featured in The New York Times (and more)
  • SEO: Outranking other travel sites in Google for free search traffic

As part of his PR efforts, Matt began to follow a bunch of journalists and travel blogs on Twitter to keep his eyes on any opportunities.

This paid off in 2009 when he got free PR in the New York Times “Frugal Traveler” section.

Luck + preparation = success, which is how Matt was able to find and reply to a tweet from a journalist searching for people who made a living blogging about travel:

Matt’s audience continued to grow and plenty more journalists began to share his story.

Best of all, he was making enough money from selling text links on his website that he ran his blog full-time and wrote his first book (today, he’s up to a few books including “How to Travel the World on $50 a Day”).

As his site got more media attention, Matt had to figure out how to continue to grow his audience and revenue.

Growing outside of your niche

At Sumo, we’ve grown an 8-figure company by building complementary products:

Matt has taken a similar approach to growing his readers and making money blogging by finding complementary audiences.

He could have guest posted on every travel blog, appeared on travel podcasts, and keept showing up in the New York Times’ “Frugal Traveler” section…

But that was what every other travel blogger was doing.

Part of being successful is thinking differently.

So Matt started to guest post on different types of blogs and podcasts. For example:

  1. People who read finance blogs also like to save for travel, so he’d pitch finance bloggers on guest posts
  2. Joining podcasts in the entrepreneurship space — like Noah Kagan Presents — gives him the chance to share how he’s been able to grow a business from his blog
  3. Focusing on posting on sites millennial frequent, who really like to travel, allows him to find new readers

Matt’s goal was to become known as the “travel guy” among all his friends in different industries.

This is why he why he worked his butt off to make a post for Ramit Sethi’s personal finance blog and Tim Ferriss’ life hacking blog.

He would have NEVER reached all these audiences by staying in his niche.

How to generate revenue from a blog in 2018

Online business moves fast.

Matt was making money from selling text links in 2009. Today, that strategy is dead.

So Matt evolved his business.

Today, he has three main revenue streams:

  1. Ebooks: 8 destination-specific guidebooks and 3 general guides on travel advice
  2. Affiliates: Money from linking to travel reward credit cards, flight sites, hotel sites, and more partner links.
  3. Travel media school: Matt produces courses to help other bloggers and travelers create awesome content

All of these revenue sources make up Matt’s financial model… but not everything is created equal.

Here’s a breakdown of how Matt’s revenue is split across the three streams:

60% of of Matt’s income is generated by products he’s created from scratch.

The data shows product creation is the #1 way to make money for bloggers in 2018. 💰 🚀

This is the reason Matt’s so into creating his own products:

You don’t want to be at the mercy of anybody else.

You can’t always rely on an outside source of income. For example, if Matt still relied on sponsored text links he’d be broke today.

Everything works until it doesn’t.

Even influencer marketing, which is super hot right now, will eventually dry up (and so will content marketing and sponsored posts).

If you’re wondering how to make money blogging, Matt’s blueprint is great one to follow.

Get to work! 💪

Want more blog advice? How to turn a blog post into a 6-figure business

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14 responses to “How Nomadic Matt Grew a Travel Blog to 15 Million Visitors”

Hannah Carim
March 6, 2019 at 11:55 pm

best blog ever thanks for posting

finance guest post
January 22, 2019 at 11:41 pm

great thought

November 8, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Nice interview. Insightful questions on the practical stuff that matters in travel blogging. Thanks Noah!

Shane Pollard
February 18, 2018 at 5:46 am

Loved this interview Noah. Travel blogging and making money NOT working is a pretty darn nice way to spend your days.

February 11, 2018 at 2:28 am

Amazing. Matt has definitely helped me in my pursuing my dream of traveling with my daughter while working for myself. His work inspired me to start building my own websites.

Robert Malone
January 22, 2018 at 11:10 pm

Great post

January 5, 2018 at 9:25 am

Great article Noah! I’m a huge fan of Matt’s and am taking his Super Star Blogging course. I I just bought my website .

I hope you don’t mind, I found a small typo in your article “60% of of Matt’s income is generated by products he’s created from scratch.” It should be he has, not he’s (he is).

Thanks for writing a great article! Best, Lu

May 10, 2018 at 11:58 pm

Hi Lu,

‘He’s’ functions as a contraction of both ‘he is’ or ‘he has’, so he’s used it correctly in the article 🙂

Kirsty - Traveller at Heart
November 21, 2017 at 7:11 am

What a great and inspirational post. I want nothing more than to leave my 9-5 and travel the world just like Matt does. Currently working on my niche now (at work) but shhhh!!

Lawrence Neal
November 8, 2017 at 9:26 am

This interview was gold. So good I listened to it twice. Found it very useful and relevant to where I am in my business. Encouraged me to be more proactive in creating my own products.

Felix Dragoi
October 29, 2017 at 3:54 pm

Just posting as a sign of support, don’t always have the necessary time to put into writing a more in-depth review of the podcast. Good one but it’s hard to squeeze out the necessary quality in such a short time. More time would allow for some more good questions and definitely some good answers.


Kaustav Majumdar
October 29, 2017 at 9:54 am

This is fabulous… I think the time is coming for me… one of these days… just will have to be brave enough I guess 🙂

October 27, 2017 at 9:29 am

I appreciate you Noah. There are so many goobers that share the same nonsense about #hustle and social media and you seem to the one of the few who shares tangible methods and not just “advice.” Thanks player.

Will Chou
October 26, 2017 at 3:52 pm

Keep doing what you’re doing Kagan. The selection of interviewees with Kong and now Matt is getting better and better. I do believe the traffic will sky rocket if you keep this up

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