Jackie of Jou Jou Travels Reveals Secrets to 5-Figure Blogging Income

Anastasia Kampov-Polevoi Anastasia Kampov-Polevoi
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Meet Jackie, the creator, owner, and writer of Jou Jou Travels, as well as a Travelpayouts partner. She’s sharing her unique blogging journey, including how she went from being a full-time digital analyst at big-name companies to making five figures as a travel blogger. Learn the techniques she used to propel her blog, supplement her income, and become a successful travel affiliate.

Jackie of Jou Jou Travels Reveals Secrets to 5-Figure Blogging Income

How SEO Changed My Life (and My Bank Account)

Before I started blogging full-time, I was the head of digital analytics at various companies, including CNN, Cartoon Network, Samsung, and The Weather Channel. Since I loved to travel and create valuable tips for others, I thought, “Why not start my own blog?” I started out for fun during the pandemic and just grew my Instagram tremendously. 

Screenshot of the Jou Jou Travels homepage
The Jou Jou Travels homepage

At first, I knew nothing about SEO. My blog received little traffic, and I didn’t know where or how to start monetizing. Also at this time I started to feel burned out from my 9 to 5 so I wanted to take things seriously and  invested in a course called Blogging Fast Lane to take my blog to the next level. 

And wouldn’t you know it, the course helped me tremendously! Before, I wrote for fun and definitely not for SEO — I embarrassingly wrote cute blog titles like “Soaring Through the Sky in Cappadocia”. After the course, I updated all my old content for SEO and wrote new posts with the help of keyword research so I could rank on the first page of Google.

These new strategies resulted in immediate growth. SEO is a long game, but after fixing old posts, I boosted my traffic five times in five months. And now, nearly four years later, I’ve gone from 2,000 page views a month to up to 50K page views.

I did everything from scratch, setting up a WordPress site with a customized Kadence theme. It’s a lot of work, but I really love it.

Optimizing Your Blog

Trial and error is the best way to learn how to get the most out of your blog. I’d recommend starting with SEO, which is the primary method I use (Google is 75% of my traffic). Here are some other handy tricks I’ve picked up on my blogging journey: 

Keyword Research 

Use keyword research to figure out what people search in relation to your blog topics – I use KeySearch and RankIQ to research low-competition and high-volume terms.

Once you’ve got the keywords, it’s all about creating great content people want to read. Good content not only keeps readers coming back for more but also helps blogs rank higher in search results. I’d also make sure to use the keywords in titles, headings, and naturally throughout your content.

Diversify Your Platforms

Social media is key to spreading the word, but it doesn’t generate nearly as much traffic as Google. I share my posts on platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

I’ve also built up my email list, sending newsletters or updates whenever I drop a new post. 

It’s All About Data

Luckily, my former life as a digital analyst gave me a good foundation for my blogging journey — namely, how to better track my stats and understand my analytics. So I know the value of keeping an eye on your stats. 

Tools like Google Analytics have helped me monitor my blog’s performance, and they can be invaluable in helping you see what’s working and what’s not so that you can tweak your strategy accordingly. 

Using Keywords to Boost Your Content

After traveling to a place, I’ll go to KeySearch to search for terms associated with that place with low competition and high volume. This means I pick specific topics like “Best Lake Como Hotels with a Lake View” rather than something like “best hotels Lake Como”, which is too broad and highly competitive.

These are the Top 5 articles that get the most traffic:

  1. A Solo Female Travelers guide to traveling Italy Alone
  2. The Only 2 Week Bali Itinerary You Need for First-timers
  3. Things to do in Vietri sul Mare, the hidden gem of the Amalfi Coast
  4. 7 Amazingly Cheap Places to Visit in Italy in 2024
  5. Perfect Weekend Trip: How to Spend 2 days in Budapest

If you write a lot about one topic, Google will favor you over someone who’s written little about it. That’s why three of my top posts are about Italy – I’ve built topic authority on it.

Screenshot showing the preview of article about Italy hidden gems on Jou Jou Travels

The other posts center around fairly low-competition keywords. Vietri sul Mare, for example, is a hidden gem in Italy, so fewer people wrote about it.

Pro tip

Write for user intent. A person browsing “hotels in Egypt with a view” is more likely to generate hotel bookings than a post called “Egypt Itinerary”. That’s because someone researching “Egypt Itinerary” has likely already figured out accommodation and is now planning the trip’s details. These informational posts are still great drivers of traffic and engagement and will still result in sales — but not nearly as many as with buying guides. Still, it’s good to have a mix of content to remain authentic.

My Start With Affiliate Marketing  

Travelpayouts has made it easy for me to partner with companies like Booking.com and GetYourGuide to promote tours or hotels in my blog posts. For example, I get the most hotel bookings from my buying guides, such as the 10 best trullo hotels and masserie in Puglia.

Screenshot showing description of the hotel with affiliate link in the article on Jou Jou Travels

And unlike individual platforms, which are cumbersome and confusing, Travelpayouts is easier to navigate and more sleek in design. I used to work directly with Booking.com, but when I realized I could switch to Travelpayouts using the LinkSwitcher tool, I did so immediately. The tool is great as it switched everything over with one simple code. 

Would I recommend Travelpayouts to travel bloggers? Definitely! It’s super easy to get set up, links are easier to create with the toolbar, tracking is simple with one dashboard, and you get paid faster.

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Where My Money Comes From

I don’t only depend on my blog for income. Right now my sources of income include:

  1. Affiliate marketing (blog) – I make about $1,000 a month from affiliate marketing. I started using it right away because it’s the easiest way to earn even when your blog is small! 
  2. Ads (blog) – I’m currently on SHE Media and earn $300 a month from ads. I hope to increase this when I hit Mediavine. 
  3. Paid sponsorships with tourism boards. 
  4. Sponsored ads on Instagram
  5. Social media for other brands – Sometimes companies pay me to write about their products or experiences. I keep it authentic and only partner with brands I genuinely believe in and think my audience will love.
  6. Digital products – I have e-books on my site as well as digital templates for social media. 

If there’s one thing I want you to walk away with, it’s this: anything is possible if you don’t give up. At the start of my blogging journey, I struggled to manage my time and work a full-time job. But I dedicated all my free time to blogging and monetizing so that I could turn my passion into my job. It was a long process, as you need dedication and a love of writing, but I stuck through it. And now, I earn five figures in affiliate marketing and ad revenue. 

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