If you’ve read my 2018 in review, this is a continuation of 2018 in blog terms. I’m especially excited because it is my first year becoming self-employed and managing my earnings all on my own.

Since being a full-time travel blogger from June 2018, I’ve been diligently documenting my progress in detail, so that I am maximizing my efforts.

Also because I’m constantly learning and testing strategies out on my blog, I’ve found that it helps to keep a record of everything I do or implement on the blog, so that I can put a probable explanation to spikes, dips or anomalies in my blog traffic when you look back down the road.

Disclaimer: Before you go on with this post, this is quite a technical post specifically talking about the blog’s nitty gritty. Some terms can only be understood by fellow bloggers in the field so if you still decide to brave on, good on you!

2018 in a Nutshell

reception, yotel singapore hotel review

YOTEL reception

This year, I’ve reduced the number of hotel collaborations in Singapore to 4 from 9 hotels last year. Then again, I never stayed longer than 3 weeks in Singapore.

In Q3, I focused on earning more on the blog, prioritizing short-term, one-off collaborations and active-income work.

My main sources of income came from sponsored posting and representing brands to do blog outreach for SEO.

In Q4, I’ve been more selective with brands and partnerships that approach me, choosing to focus more on long-term strategies that don’t necessarily pay off right away. Because they are so time-consuming, I’ve been putting off since forever.

Email list

I’ve been busting my ass off writing email newsletters in a bid to revive my email list so that my subscribers don’t think I’ve fallen off this earth.


allas sea pool helsinki, finland

I’ve also begun re-optimizing SEO on my old posts (mostly Europe content). I’d written about my Europe trips back when SEO is a foreign term to me in 2015.

Most of these posts are short, not informative and not interlinked to other related posts. While they still get picked up by Google and clicked by searchers once in a while, they have a WHOLE LOT of potential to rank higher on Google.


I started looking into how I can include affiliate links better in a non-promotional yet helpful way. This includes affiliate link placements and coming up with more posts that have buyer’s intent, while using SEO to maximize its reach organically.

Evidently, I now embrace SEO to a T!

As a fervent believer of free knowledge, I didn’t succumb to paid e-books, tutorials or webinars that most bloggers would promote the heck of. Instead, I stuck to my roots, learned from the players in the field, and with a little trial and error, grew this blog to what it is today.

For that, it makes me especially thrilled at how far this blog has come.

new zealand lupins

New Zealand mountain and lupins

Tools I use (and swear by)

I did, however, begin to invest in tools to facilitate the functioning of the blog’s growth. I do really extensive research before investing in tools for the blog since I’ve always had the notion that this blog is just a “side project” which doesn’t constitute my income and hence, doesn’t deserve to be splurged on.

Of course, the mindset has now changed, since the blog is now the main driver of my income.

While I’ve tried to keep my blog expenses to a minimum, I’ve subscribed to the following blog tools:

  • Keysearch – Keysearch is pivotal in helping me with keyword research. (Get 20% off with promo code KSDISC)
  • Tailwind – I wouldn’t be able to save tons of time on Pinterest if not for this scheduling tool!

2018 Blog Achievements

bicycle cycling otago central rail trail, new zealand

Since turning this personal blog into a professional-looking one in 2016 amidst studying and working full-time, I enjoy celebrating the little achievements that it has accomplished.

This year, we:

1. Expanded tourism board collaborations beyond Southeast Asia – Scotland, Helsinki

2. Began my first collaborations with airline partners – Air New Zealand, Norwegian Air

3. Got my first pay check from an accommodation affiliate

4. Took a photographer on a press trip

5. Reduced bounce rate by 6.5%:

  • Bounce Rate in 2017: 79.17%
  • Bounce Rate in 2018: 72.72% (6.5% decrease)

6. Increased monthly page views by 165%:

  • Monthly page views in 2017: 12,911
  • Monthly page views in 2018: 34,178 (165% increase)

7. Grew my monthly income by 111% from 2017!

My freelance + blog income then was a mere USD1464 a month – that’s not too bad considering I still had a full-time job to sustain me.

Before quitting my “proper” job, I was earning an average fresh graduate pay. That was not bad, but I had little control over how much I earned, I was working long and unproductive hours, and I felt stuck.

kabukicho Shinjuku shopping night lights tokyo

Kabukicho, Shinjuku, Tokyo

Since taking this travel blogger job, my main sources of income came from:


Signing up with Mediavine was my blog’s turning point.

Are you a blogger looking to earn from sponsored posts? Fill in your particulars!

Blog outreach

I help connect brands looking to improve SEO with blogs.


I’ve struggled the most with affiliates ever since integrating them on my blog. Things became better when I was able to strategize the posts I put up through SEO efforts and seeing the traffic come. It also involved lots of A/B testing on how posts and links are structured..

Affiliates occupy a small percentage of what my total income as I’m not earning steadily from them yet.

Of the affiliates I’ve used, I’m earning the most from accommodation affiliates.

I still struggle with Amazon, although that is a big focus for 2019.


I do a bunch of freelance gigs, ranging from freelance writing, public relations to social media management and SEO for various clients.

Require assistance for any of the above? Seek my opinion!

I have to say that it is only because I started working on the blog full-time that I was able to devote my efforts to growing my blog income exponentially and improve my traffic numbers.

I’m not saying that you can’t do it if you’re working full-time and blogging part-time, but the effort is proportionate.

Blog Goals for 2019

amsterdam bridge reflection summer, Red light district, amsterdam famous for, Visiting Amsterdam for the First Time, amsterdam weather

Amsterdam, Netherlands

1. Increase the number of personal posts I write

Also, have a more unique personal voice projected through this blog.

2. Streamline the blog’s mission/ purpose

3. Build a more engaged audience so that you’ll want to stick around. 🙂

(I really don’t bite)

4. Improve email marketing and conversions

5. Increase my monthly page views to 100,000

6. Increase my overall income by 125%.

Yup I calculated it right and have a solid plan towards achieving that!💪

7. Increase my passive income from 15% to 29% of blog income

8.  Secure more collaborations on my own accord

And not through freelance writing.

9. Expand BATW’s international presence by working with international tourism boards.

10. Expand the BATW team!

I’ve already released a callout to recruit more writer contributors, and I may outsource more work in time to come by hiring a VA.

11. Meet more travel bloggers and players in my field.

Even if that means attending more conferences around the world!

Dresden Neustadt Kunsthofpassage pipe music, Things to Do in Dresden, Germany

Dresden, Germany

While I’ve had some queries about how to improve blogging and make money from blogging from time to time, I’ve never really thought of myself being an authority in my field, choosing instead to focus my energy and efforts wholly on creating the best travel content for you.

However, if you’re a travel blogger and would like to find out more blogging and growth, you can put fill in this form so that we can see how best to get you out of your rut!

Did you find this post useful? Would you like to see more of these behind-the-scenes post? Please leave a comment – I’d love to hear your thoughts! x

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Isabel Leong

Isabel Leong

An explorer at heart, the world is Isabel's playground. She enjoys seizing every moment exploring every hideout and doing the unimaginable, like bungee jumping in Phuket and couchsurfing in Europe. If she had wings, she’d definitely be soaring right now. Also a fitness trainer, if she’s not at the gym, you can find her doing yoga or rock climbing! Read more about her on belaroundtheworld.com/about.


  • Alyson Long says:

    Well done! Same here, HUGE year. I’m on 200,000 PV and I have a feeling January will be a lot higher than that. We’re so lucky to do the job we do, I still pinch myself! Shame we can’t collaborate on Bhutan, that would be cool. But this year I’ll get there. Tibet and Everest Base Camp were the huge ones for us last year. Bhutan and K2 this year. Life is good!

    • Thanks for checking this post out Alyson! Always love your transparency. <3 You go girl! Not easy hustling being a full-time mum! Heading to Bhutan tomorrow - will keep you updated on social media! ;) Tibet and EBC sounds so cool - I'm also targeting Nepal this year. Hope to collaborate with you sometime soon! P.S. Planning an Aus trip - maybe we can catch each other after all. :)

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