The Power of Meow: How Bucketlist Bri Turned Her Travel Lifestyle Into Her Full-Time Gig

Anastasia Kampov-Polevoi Anastasia Kampov-Polevoi
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Meet Bucketlist Bri, the adventurous nomad, blog coach, and photographer who has been living abroad and slow traveling full-time for over ten years. Her story began after moving to France in 2013, where she harnessed her love of writing to document her travels. She has since grown her blogging hobby into a full-time endeavor—with a six-figure annual salary to boot! Read as Bri shares her secrets to making money, scaling success, and building a life around your passion.

I Couldn’t Have Done It Without Yoda

The first money I ever made from blogging came from my cat blog, The Fluffy Kitty. My partner and I started that blog after adopting Yoda – our adventure kitty who traveled and lived abroad with us for 10 years in 9 different countries around the world.

In January 2024, our sweet boy took his last adventure across the rainbow bridge. We never grew the blog beyond 75,000 monthly sessions, but even so, we made a comfortable monthly income from commissions and ad revenue. 

But what I am most proud of with that blog is its legacy. We created a community that supported us through Yoda’s cancer before and after he became a tripod. Even now, in his afterlife, we see how our guides help so many readers begin to travel with their cats and also feel supported in their own cat cancer journeys. 

I will always be grateful for our humble beginnings as “cat bloggers” (something I used to feel shy to tell people) because it is from that blog that I learned affiliate marketing, SEO, backlinking, networking, brand collaborations, and much more. More than that, it paved the way to a passionate and adventurous life that I’d later embrace as “Bucketlist Bri.” 

Becoming Bucketlist Bri

I started Bucketlistbri.com (formerly Bits of Bri) in 2015, when I was living in Kathmandu, Nepal. Back then, I published mostly journal-style content. But after 2019, I began to take blogging seriously and that’s when I truly stepped into my travel blogging era.  

Now, it’s more than just a blog that I monetize; it’s my very own digital guidebook, containing many cherished memories and experiences from living around the world.  I feel that a personal touch is invaluable when it comes to blogging, which means that I have a very hard time putting on my business hat and delegating work/outsourcing. But I know that, eventually, I’ll need to loosen my grip if I wish to grow beyond my current output and retain sustainable growth in every area of my business.

How I Boost My Blog

My traffic has been slightly over 100k monthly pageviews for the last two years—I hope to grow it to 200k monthly visitors this year. Unfortunately, I was unable to publish much in 2023 because it was a hectic year for me professionally and personally, so I’m now focused on updating old posts from 2021 that I neglected. Whenever I do publish, however, I rank quickly, and I think it’s due to my site’s stability over the last few years. “No shortcuts, no bs,” is my strategy. 

Growth is slow but gradual with a steady baseline, but the times when I’ve done “blogging challenges,” in which I aim to publish—say, 25 times in 30 days—is when I always see huge jumps in traffic. Everyone talks about Google’s updates changing all the time. While I agree that it is beyond frustrating, I’ve found that what Google really wants—has always wanted—hasn’t changed all that much: quality, intentional, and original content, published and updated frequently. Mostly, I’ve learned that where your focus goes, growth follows. 

Organic search is my main driver of traffic, followed by Pinterest

Since my blog is fairly established, I don’t do much brand awareness. Instead, I try to nurture the audience I already have, so I’ll link to blog posts in my Instagram Stories, turn my blog posts into Reels, or send out periodic newsletters to my subscribers, who always engage with me by email and on my blog. I deleted TikTok but kept Facebook, and I stopped chasing YouTube years ago.

Now, there’s only Google search, Pinterest, and a bit of social media left. Good SEO/organic rankings are my priority since those drive long-term growth to the blog. 

Overcoming Challenges

Seeing those first commissions trickle in was amazing, and it became clear that blogging was becoming more than a hobby. And yet, it took me another four years of living abroad in multiple countries and finishing my education in humanitarian aid to finally pursue travel blogging full-time.

My journey was not without its challenges, however. The biggest difficulty I had to overcome was allowing myself to show up and get out of my own way. I had the knowledge, the tools, and the experience, and yet, I felt like I needed someone to give me permission. There wasn’t any “one thing” that solved my doubts. Rather, I pushed forward by focusing on the process rather than the result and what felt good. And I know that when I write, I feel good. Sometimes it’s as simple as that. 

Even now, as a successful six-figure annual income blogger, I still face difficulties and need to overcome self-doubt. I think that’s pretty normal in this industry, where you are quite literally creating your own job and using your identity as the heart of your business/brand – and the pressures and expectations that inherently come with that.

More About the Content

I take my own experiences as inspiration. Everything I write comes from a personal experience of some sort. There are posts that I published that were written because of their attractiveness as a good keyword, but I quickly lost my purpose in writing those. Instead, I use my travels and then find keywords that best suit my experience. This way, I’m writing with intention and not for SEO/ranking only.

My “X-day” itineraries always perform well, and I think it’s because of the personal tips and recommendations I weave throughout them. Readers want to do what I do, and itineraries are perfect for nurturing that trust.

While it’s hard for me to pick favorites, these five posts have always always popular:

  1. Things to do in Tulum, Mexico
  2. San Pancho, Mexico (A complete guide)
  3. Things to do in Aix-en-Provence, France
  4. Lisbon’s LX factory (Portugal)
  5. Things to do in San Pedro, Guatemala

I think these all stay popular because I actually lived in each of these locations long-term – from three months up to two years. Naturally, the guides are extra-packed with experiential insight and value. I’m not surprised, but interestingly, that’s what they all have in common! 

Blogging Is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

Beyond my blog, I earn from my signature blog course, Bootstrap Blogging, and private 1:1 coaching. I don’t have a store (yet!), but I am currently creating more digital products for my audience that will help them level up in specific areas in which I have the most expertise. 

Aside from that, tourism boards and brand sponsorships are my next source of income. I also have a podcast, Slomad Stories, but I’m not interested in monetizing it now as I’d prefer not to capitalize on all my passion projects. 

Before I took travel blogging full-time, I was a freelance writer. I always advise folks who are interested in getting into writing or blog content writing to start there (if starting their own blog isn’t an option) – and from there, to follow where their intuition takes them. I once got paid to author a digital nomad book for Macmillan Publishers, which excited me about the publishing world. I even ended up penning creative poetry and social media posts for the Princess of Saudi Arabia! 

Next, I’m interested in writing books, offering group trips focusing on local and adventurous travel, and possibly speaking at travel conferences. There’s so much I’d love to experience and create! 

Where I Make My Money

Last year, I finally cracked five figures monthly from my blog. There will be a month or two where it dips below that, but that’s just the nature of having multiple different income streams! In percentages, that breaks down to:

  1. Ads (Mediavine) – 35% 
  2. Affiliate programs and platforms – 30%
  3. Course sales and private coaching – 25%
  4. Paid partnerships – 10%

I started dabbling in affiliate marketing in 2015, long before I used it for my travel blog. Booking.com was the first affiliate program I began making money from my blog. Even today, it’s one of my top earners. Now, I have simplified (thanks to Travelpayouts!) and focused on a select few. 

I actually wish I had known about Travelpayouts sooner because I could have scaled my affiliate earnings faster. And I greatly appreciate the diverse programs Travelpayouts offers. For example, as a traveler, I use Klook, Airalo, and Discover Cars, so finding these programs and quickly creating affiliate links from them as a blogger without having to apply to each separately is such a game changer! 

In my opinion, there are no other travel-focused affiliate programs like Travelpayouts. Just looking at the Travelpayouts dashboard makes me want to optimize old posts to boost affiliate conversions. 

So, if you’re looking for a reliable affiliate platform, I wholeheartedly recommend Travelpayouts. As a blog coach, I’ve seen what’s out there, and Travelpayouts is simply the travel partnership platform you can count on – and get real results from. 

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My Tricks of the Trade

I want to leave you with a few recommendations that have become invaluable to me as a travel creator.

Use Affiliate Tools Intentionally

In sales/marketing, they say it takes “seeing an offer an average of 7 times” before conversion occurs. For me, the real answer is not any number but whatever the content needs. 

Instead of linking left and right in hopes of converting, I link intentionally and strategically by creating more engaging copy around the affiliate link – leading up to it and after it. If someone scrolls over your affiliate link in the beginning, it’s important to reintroduce it later down the post.  I’m also a visual learner, so I always combine text links with visual widgets to create a different angle and make it more interesting for the reader. 

But how can you do this while staying on-topic and intentional? For me, the secret lies in what you say, not how you present the link. Placement is important, but what you say while placing it is even more important. I’ve tested my strategy in my guides repeatedly by numbering links in the order in which they appear to see at which point the conversion takes place. You’d be surprised how the “unoptimized” link or widget naturally placed or buried in/around a well-written paragraph can be the winning ticket.

Stay Curious & Keep Learning

First and foremost, find a blogger doing what you want to do down to a T – someone who oozes your vibe and REACH OUT to them! I have helped fellow creators reach Mediavine just by giving them (free) tips in my DMs without ever pressuring them to buy my course. So, reach out to a friend. Blogging can be a lonely pursuit, but it doesn’t have to be. 

Second, don’t be afraid to invest in yourself and, most importantly, give yourself permission to show up in this space! If I had listened to myself sooner, I would’ve, could’ve, done many things better, maybe faster. But there’s no good in waiting until you’re ready or until you know it all. Just start where you are; it’s good enough already. 

Lastly, read The Practice by Seth Godin, War of Art by Steven Pressfield, Atomic Habits by James Clear, Big Magic by Liz Gilbert, and You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero.

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