The Pretraveller travel blog has had a big year in 2018, so we wanted to share the highlights of the year and also share what to look forward to in 2019.
Pretraveller Travel Blog Background
As background, I first started the Pretraveller travel blog 8 1/2 years ago – which is amazing to realise that much time has passed so far since I nervously pressed ‘Publish’ on that first article! When I first started I quickly realised that I had a lot to learn about travel blogging, and in particular to find my voice and my best ‘fit’ as a travel blogger – there are so many different ways that travel bloggers work that it can be challenging to focus on the options which will suit you best.
Turning the Pretraveller Blog from a Hobby into a Business
For many years the Pretraveller blog has been a hobby, but over 2017 and 2018 it has definitely transformed into a business – I had to pay my first income tax on the blog this year! And the great thing is that after many years observing me working on my blog, my husband Tony decided back in February 2018 to start to get involved once he could see the potential of the income that we could earn as a business. He has now written many of our top performing articles and has learnt a lot, and it is great to be working on the business together.
The main method that we have used to turn the blog into a business is to develop our affiliate sales income – where we refer readers to various affiliate programs where we earn a small commission on each sale made. We are now working with quite a diverse set of companies, and are able to provide good information to our readers on how to pre-book their various tickets and activities.
Our main focus destination is Japan, however we are now also developing a similar destination focus for South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore.
This time last year I commented that we were doing well in developing our Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – back then we had reached 1,400 members after being in operation for six months – well I can now report that we have grown that group to over 31,000 members in the space of 12 months – that was totally unexpected! But has definitely contributed to the growth of our blog.
How Much Effort Does it Take to Run our Facebook Groups?
If you are a member of these groups you may not realise the amount of work which goes on behind the scenes to manage Facebook Groups of this nature. We process around 100-200 new member applications per day, vetting for spammers as well as adding people to our email list where they have provided this information. We also do regular spam checks of the group, as regardless of our vetting some still get through. We also need to ensure that group members are complying with the group rules.
We transitioned from using Buffer to SmarterQueue to manage the content which we share into the groups – SQ is a much more expensive tool to use, however has the benefit of auto recycling our content – so a bit of work to set up, but overall less work for us to manage our content sharing. We would not be capable of running the number of groups that we manage without this tool if we had to do all of this work manually. I still regularly look for new content to share to the groups and progressively update the content being shared.
A key point here is that we do not think we would do the work to run and manage the groups if this was only a hobby – we do the work daily to run them because it helps us to earn an income from our blog.
Overall we love having the groups – it is great to see the group members helping each other to plan their trips to Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong, and there is a real community spirit which I think creates a really positive vibe with the members and in terms of expectations set for everyone’s trips. It all comes back to our original goal to help people to travel with confidence, which we think is definitely being achieved with the groups!
Travel for 2018 and 2019
Naples and Turin in Italy for 2018
I have done a lot of travel in 2018. For work I have completed two overseas trips to Italy where I have visited Naples and Turin in February and July, and had a little bit of time to explore on my rest days. Here are a few of my favourite photos.
Hong Kong and South Korea in 2018
As a family, we travelled to Hong Kong and South Korea in October 2018 – and had an awesome trip! We are still developing our content for these destinations, and you can check out what we have so far at these links for Hong Kong and South Korea. I think one of my favourite experiences was walking along the old fortress wall around Seoul – it was a lovely way to see the city from a different perspective.
Queensland Christmas 2018
To wrap up the year we are currently visiting our family in south east Queensland – and enjoying the lovely surf beaches on both the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast.
Singapore and Japan in 2019
For 2019, we are booked in to visit Singapore and Japan in April, and are looking forward to seeing the cherry blossoms as well as the ice walls on the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, plus many more experiences. Many of you will be travelling to Japan at the same time so perhaps we will see some of you over there 🙂 !
Pretraveller Goals for 2019
We have a lot more work ahead of us in 2019 – we have a very large list of new content to develop for Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as further growing our groups and helping people plan their trips to these destinations.
We are also close to launching our first digital products – planning calendars for Japan to really help people have all of the information in one place when they decide on their dates of travel to Japan as well as when they are putting together their itinerary. We are really looking forward to seeing how these products perform! And also have some ideas for subsequent products to develop…
We have plans in place to further grow our income from the business, and it will be exciting to see how this develops.
We hope you have all had a great 2018 and wish you all the best for 2019!
Thanks Anne and Tony.