How This 29-Year-Old’s Adventure Travel Blog Earns Up to $15k/Month From SEO

Olly Gaspar and his partner Haylea have always been passionate about exploring new places, and they decided that nomadic life was for them.

After a few unsuccessful online businesses, he finally found a way to fund their shoestring adventure travel lifestyle.

He launched his blog, We Seek Travel

, in 2018 as a place to share his photography and unique travel experiences.

He worked tirelessly to grow the site, and they’ve been able to be on the road for the last five years, documenting their adventures as they travel the globe. Today, We Seek Travel has almost 700 travel guides—written solely by Olly—and is earning $15k per month.

Keep reading to find out:

  • How his childhood set him up for a life of travel
  • Why he created his site
  • How he initially tried to fund his travel
  • How he eventually started to fund his travel
  • Where his income comes from
  • His thoughts on SEO and traffic diversification
  • His approaches to keyword research and link building
  • How he creates content
  • How he grows his email list
  • His favorite resources and tools
  • His biggest challenge
  • His greatest accomplishment
  • His main mistake
  • His advice to other entrepreneurs

Meet Olly Gaspar

I’m Olly, a travel photographer and adventure travel blogger. I have been traveling globally non-stop since 2018 with my partner Haylea and have published close to 700 travel guides on my blog, We Seek Travel.

I originally founded We Seek Travel to help get my travel photography out there and to chronicle our adventures around the world. 

At first, this was a passion project where I shared unique hiking trails, hidden waterfalls, and off-beat travel experiences, but this has now grown into a full-scale adventure tourism business, which kind of blows me away.

Born in Sweden, I traveled around a lot during my childhood but eventually settled in Australia, where I finished school and met my partner, Haylea.

Together we’ve fully embraced the digital nomad way of life since 2018, traveling non-stop around the world while living out of our bags and chasing adventure. 

For the past few years, we’ve been living in temporary accommodations worldwide,  mostly hotels, hostels, and AirBnBs, while running We Seek Travel.

I like to think that I was born into the nomadic, traveling lifestyle, or at least so in part. I was born in a small town in rural Sweden called Växjö, a town probably nobody has ever heard of. At the age of seven, my parents immigrated with me and my sister to New South Wales, Australia on student visas.

Over the next few years, we moved around a lot. By the time I was 10, I’d been enrolled in four schools and had now learned to speak fluent English. Looking back, I’d say this perpetual movement at a young age had a big impact on my passion for travel and new experiences.

Why He Created His Site

I’ve always been passionate about photography, the outdoors, and discovering new places. My goal for as long as I can remember was to build a lifestyle that allows me the freedom to travel indefinitely.

After graduating with a business degree in 2016, I worked several short-term jobs while saving every penny to put towards long backpacking trips through Europe and Southeast Asia, a solo cycling adventure across New Zealand, and multiple trips to Thailand for Muay Thai camps.

After realizing the rinse-and-repeat saving and travel cycle wasn’t sustainable, I explored various options to work while traveling. 

This included launching an e-commerce store and a digital piracy takedown agency, but I quickly realized my lack of passion was the reason for these ultimately failing.

I then turned to low-paying remote jobs including online English teaching and SEO writing for a digital marketing agency so that I could keep the adventures going and work on my travel photography.

The income wasn’t great, but it was enough to fund the perpetual shoestring adventure travel lifestyle we’d been longing for. 

In 2018, I started my adventure travel blog We Seek Travel, initially as a way to share my photography and off-beat travel experiences.

But, having picked up a few SEO skills from my remote jobs and seeing my blog posts about random topics I wrote for the agency rank on Google, I saw the light and began turning my travel blog project into a business.

I thought, if I could earn a passive income of $50 per day from my blog, this would be enough to support Haylea’s and my modest backpacking lifestyle. Staying in hostels and favoring free activities like hikes and waterfalls, we didn’t need much to sustain our travels.

Fast forward to 2023 and my business earned $15,000 in monthly income for the first time. 

I’m still traveling full-time publishing detailed destination guides, adventure, accommodation, and travel photography resources, all based off of my own experiences.

However these days, my travel blog is also a key driver for various business opportunities and has organically secured me countless adventure travel photography assignments. 

This includes collaborations with clients from reputable photography brands like Lowepro and Manfrotto to local and large-scale tour operators as well as prominent tourism brands like Marriott Hotels.

My travel blog has also helped me land opportunities with regional and national tourism boards, including Seychelles Tourism and Visit Malta, to develop adventure tourism in those regions and build visual travel marketing campaigns.

Additionally, in 2023, I began working closely with a local tour operator in Indonesia that I’d met in 2019 to run island hopping trips between Lombok and the Komodo Islands.

How Much He’s Earning

Currently, my travel blog is directly and indirectly earning me $15,000 per month.

This direct income is coming passively from display advertising via Mediavine and affiliate marketing networks like GetYourGuide, Viator, Stay22, and Amazon Associates, among others.

My travel blog also indirectly sources organic leads for adventure photography and tourism development clients. In 2023, these jobs totaled around $30,000 in additional revenue.

Our tour operations in Lombok are also doing really well, with 160 confirmed trips over the first season of operation, earning us an additional $17,000 in revenue.

How Much Traffic His Site Gets

We Seek Travel has seen consistent traffic growth since its launch in 2018, leveling out at around 250,000 MPV in 2023, followed by a slight drop in Q4 after Google’s algorithm changes. 

While I wasn’t hit nearly as hard as other travel publishers, I did see a drop in traffic of around 30% in October 2023.

I’m the sole author on We Seek Travel and I write all travel guides. These are based on my experience and adventures and only feature places I personally visit. I believe this is why I’ve hit a slight plateau in 2023 after a sea of competitors’ generic AI blog posts have flooded the SERPs.

Regardless, I’m holding course with confidence that travelers are going to favor travel blogs written by real people who have actually traveled to the destinations we write about.

Olly’s Top Marketing Strategy

My main strategy is SEO. 

I believe my success with Google comes down to covering a region extensively rather than only going for big search volume keywords and rehashed listicles. 

I publish many in-depth travel guides to experiences and adventures including specific hiking trails, natural attractions, waterfalls, tours, and accommodations. 

These posts are usually targeting medium-high traffic long-tail keywords and I always aim to share as much helpful information as possible with unique insights based on my experiences.

However, sometimes I publish posts targeting keywords without any existing search volume. These posts are typically about attractions that are not well known and it’s something I don’t see many other travel bloggers doing. 

My readers seem to love these “hidden gems” when they eventually find them linked from other posts. I think Google finds these posts helpful and unique too, and sometimes they rank for terms I wasn’t even considering.

Regardless, I always create a long pillar post or two for each destination and link between all the individual posts for that region with the help of Link Whisper.

That being said, I think I’ve put too many eggs in Google’s basket. October 2023 was the first time my travel blog has been hit by a Google update and it’s made me realize the need to diversify my marketing strategy.

I’ve started working with a Pinterest management team and Haylea is now helping me full-time to grow my mailing list and social platforms–things that I’ve neglected in the past.

Keyword Research

I try to stay away from writing blog posts based on keywords only. I’ve made the mistake of only writing to rank in the past and I lose passion and burn out quickly.

My goal is to provide the most comprehensive travel guides that really go in-depth into a destination and help travelers plan real, authentic experiences. To do that, I have to sometimes write posts that don’t do that well on their own.

However, I believe that they do contribute to the overall authority and comprehensiveness of my related content. For large pillar posts and to ensure I’m targeting the right search terms for smaller posts, I use KeySearch. 

In 2021, I started using RankIQ to help make sure I’m covering all the important topics for each post and to help me find additional long-tail keywords.

Link Building

I’ve always read that link building is very important. I’ve never gone after any questionable link building strategies, but have written two or three guest posts.

Most of the backlinks to We Seek Travel are secured organically and are mostly linked to blog posts about specific travel experiences, hiking trails, mountains, islands, and itineraries since they are unique and not many travel bloggers have written about them. 

This has been another clear benefit of writing blog posts on travel content I want to share, even if there is no search volume for those keywords.

Internal linking is much more important to me because I can control it and I do my best to add as many links into every blog post as I can. 

I don’t have any SOPs or fixed number of links to add. I just try to include anything and everything that’s relevant. This seems to work for me.

His Content Creation Process

These days, the first thing I do when I arrive at a new destination is to research well-known attractions and things to do, and speak to locals and tour operators about other hidden gems.

I then seek them out, take photos, and publish individual blog posts about each hike, waterfall, island, mountain, viewpoint, or attraction. I only include my own photography in these posts.

I usually spend at least a month or so in each location to really go in-depth and explore. This is how Haylea and I prefer to travel and it also helps me grow destination topical authority on my travel blog.

I then make sure to write huge in-depth travel guides to each region. These typically turn out to be listicles and I don’t always love writing them since they’re just short summaries of each specific place. 

However, these comprehensive travel guides help grow my traffic and funnel readers into the unique experiences and adventures that I’m passionate about sharing.

His Email List

I’ve finally started growing an email list in 2023. I know that I should have started this earlier, but better late than never, right? 

Currently, I’m using inline content prompts and a pop-up offering my free travel photography Lightroom Presets using Mediavine’s Grow. 

I currently have around 1500 email subscribers, which isn’t a lot but it’s growing.

How Much Time He Spends Woking

I spend almost every waking hour working on my business in some form or another. 

That’s because my business is so closely tied to my lifestyle. I don’t really consider hiking, photography, island hopping, or adventuring “work,” but they are essential to my business. 

If we’re talking laptop time, I’d say about 30 hours per week. 

However, sometimes I go on long trekking and mountaineering expeditions in Nepal and don’t touch my laptop for weeks (sometimes over a month).

On the other side, sometimes I spend 12-14 hours a day on my laptop catching up on photo editing and writing travel blogs.

His Favorite Resources

As a photographer, the work of Jimmy Chin, Chris Burkard, and Paul Nicklen inspires me a lot. 

Although social media should be a big part of my business, I don’t feel a passion for posting regularly. However, I do often use Instagram as inspiration and to admire other photographers’ work.

For blogging, the DNW, Travel Affiliates, and Mediavine Publisher Facebook groups are great for practical information. I sometimes read boring articles on SEO Journal and Search Engine Land. 

Spencer’s Niche Pursuits and Brandon Gaille’s the Blogging Millionaire podcasts offer a lot of golden nuggets as well.

I really enjoy books that challenge status quo ideologies, especially regarding ways to live. It’s kind of cliché, but Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist inspired me to prioritize a life of passion over working jobs to meet an end.

His Go-To Tools

Photography is the cornerstone of my business. My camera and drone are key to my success and are what gave a purpose to my adventure travel from the start. I have always used Lightroom to edit my photos and I couldn’t live without it.

Additionally, I couldn’t run my business without productivity tools from Google like Gmail and Google Drive. 

I also use TickTick to schedule tasks and keep myself accountable to focus. 

His Biggest Challenge

As a travel blogger, the pandemic was the biggest challenge by far. COVID hit just a few weeks after I quit my online English teaching and SEO writing jobs, just after I finally started earning $50 per day from We Seek Travel.

My income dropped to 0 overnight and I really felt like it was a huge setback. However, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

We flew to Cairns for a brief period, and while in lockdown I had the opportunity to really double down, and I published over 100 new travel blogs from a huge backlog of adventures from that year. 

Many of these posts make up a huge portion of my traffic even today.

Later in the pandemic we converted a van into a camper and traveled around Tasmania for several months. 

I documented the whole process and wrote a huge blog post about it, which has now been read over 100,000 times—that’s a lot of vans!

His Greatest Accomplishment

My greatest achievement is that I’ve been able to help and inspire millions of like-minded travelers around the world to embrace authentic travel experiences and discover something new, all while not having to resort to becoming another manufactured influencer to do so.

I’m also proud that I’ve been able to help many local tour operators in developing countries, including Indonesia and Nepal, grow their own adventure tourism businesses through exposure on my blog and by providing tourism marketing opportunities.

Additionally, my long blog post about climbing Island Peak is one I’m particularly proud of and includes some of my favorite photos from the Himalayas.

I often find myself scrolling through it to relive the memories from one of my favorite regions on earth.

What He Wishes He Knew When He Started

I wish I had known that I don’t have to learn all the technical elements of blogging by myself. I can’t count how many hours of research and trial and error I’ve gone through trying to learn CSS, page speed optimization, and UX. 

If I could go back, I should have focused on what I’m good at, travel writing and photography.

It would have been great to meet Ralph Cope earlier on, who has helped me a lot in all technical elements of my website from SEO to building my WordPress child theme.

His Main Mistake

I regret not starting my travel blog way back in 2014 when I first started traveling a lot. 

This would have helped me get a huge head start in the industry and several more years of travel blogging and photography practice under my belt.

While I don’t regret going to university, I think I would be doing much better if I had dropped out of my business degree and pursued travel blogging earlier on.

His Advice to Other Entrepreneurs

Focus on what you’re truly passionate about, not the success aspect. 

I’ve learned through experience that when a primary goal is profit, success is much harder to achieve. Pursue what you love, and it won’t feel like work. Best of all, the end result is usually a business that you can really be proud of.

If that something is travel blogging or adventure photography, then launch your WordPress blog and start sharing your photography now. The best way to learn is by doing.

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