Time flies when you’re having fun, doesn’t it? I’ve been thinking a lot about how much I enjoy working on different sites, and using that as part of how I decide what to work on going forward. One site that’s high on the list whenever I look at old photos and think about future trips? Jordan Traveler, my travel blog dedicated to helping people visit the country of Jordan.
I started Jordan Traveler two years ago in May 2021, and most recently visited Jordan in March 2022. The site is small but mighty: it doesn’t have many articles, but it gets decent traffic. And despite that modest traffic, it earns pretty well too. Oh, and I enjoy working on it – an essential part of the formula!
In this post, I’m sharing the latest case study update for Jordan Traveler, so you can learn from my process so far. If you’re curious about this site in the two years since I launched it, what I’ve learned from running a “country-level niche destination site,” and my plans for the future, read on.
🎧 Want to listen instead? Check out the audio version on the Site School podcast!
What are these Case Studies?
As a reminder, I do case studies for almost every site I’ve created, at the 6-month, 9-month, and 12-month marks. Then I switch to every six months for the next year; you can expect reports at 18 months and 24 months. If a site reaches its two-year mark and I plan to continue writing, I’ll switch to annual reports. Here are the ages of each site and its current status:
- Valerie & Valise – 9 years – annual w/ monthly recaps
- Space Tourism Guide – 5 years – annual
- Discover Sausalito – 3 years – annual
- Follow the Butterflies – 3 years – annual
- London on My Mind – 2 years – annual
- Great Plains Travel Guide – 2 years – semiannual
- Soup Whoop – 2 years – annual
- Jordan Traveler – 2 years (this post!) – semi-annual
- Eat Like Bourdain – 23 months – semi-annual
- D&D Community – 3 months – quarterly (more on this one soon!!)
(Links will take you to the full list of reports about that site!)
Here’s a quick glance at the stats for Jordan Traveler at the two-year mark.
|Date First Published||May 7, 2021|
|Articles Live (as of 5/1/23)||67|
|Monthly Pageviews (last month)||46,527 (Apr 2023)|
|Highest Pageviews (30 day max)||57,018 (Jan 2023)|
|Google Traffic||89.4% (last 12 months)|
|Monetization/Amount Earned (total)||$5,901 (29% from ads)|
How do I keep track of all these stats? I’ve got an organizational system!
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History & Status of Jordan Traveler
As a reminder, I did not launch Jordan Traveler with a 10/10/10 strategy two years ago; instead, I launched with weekly posts, the first four of which came originally from Valerie & Valise. After 10 posts, I dropped down to biweekly; at the 18-month mark, I had published an average of 3 posts every month. At that point, I decided to take a publishing break for a few months.
Starting in January 2023, I began publishing new posts and updating old ones at a rate of 3-4 every month (usually one week off depending on the length of the month).
As part of these updates, I like to sit down and condense my learnings into lessons you can hopefully take away without having to learn it first-hand too. Here’s what JT has taught me in the last six months.
Niches Can Be Small and Mighty
I think there’s this general concern that you can choose a niche that’s too small – and I suppose that is possible. But within travel, using good keyword research, you should be able to get a sense of whether a niche is large or small enough to support you and achieve whatever goals you have for your site.
(For example, I started Discover Sausalito back when the Mediavine requirement was 10,000 sessions per month for second sites – it would absolutely have made it into Mediavine back then, but now will probably never get in… I wouldn’t start that site today based on the same research and keywords.)
With Jordan Traveler, I’ve oscillated: I started the site because I saw an opportunity, and it has certainly done well at times… but also not at others. It’s definitely never going to be as big of a site as, well, any of the other sites I plan to hold in my portfolio long-term (V&V, STG, LOMM, or ELB). It earns well though, so it’s meeting the goals and expectations I have and I’m happy to keep working on it.
Don’t Sleep on Affiliates
I’ve heard a lot of interviews lately with creators who are still seeing big wins in the affiliate marketing space – even as Google cracks down on affiliate-heavy sites. I think, based on what I’ve heard others say and my own experience, you can absolutely dominate in affiliate marketing as long as you keep it locked tight on your niche. You still want your EEAT to work with whatever you’re recommending.
So because Jordan Traveler is all about Jordan travel, it scoops up those “best glamping in Wadi Rum” type keywords in a way that other sites might not.
If you can find that same opportunity in your niche, you can really cash in on that part of your monetization strategy.
At the 18-month mark, I set the following areas of focus for Jordan Traveler:
- The Full Email Monty – I completely ignored email for the past six months, in part because of focusing on creating content – and in part because I was focused on other sites.
- Affiliate Content Push – Given that I was on hiatus for half of the last six months for this site, I won’t say that we specifically focused on creating content for affiliate marketing – but it is on my strategy going forward.
And here’s what I’m thinking about in the coming year.
Comprehensive & Self-Sustaining Content
Over the past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what to do with all of these sites that I’ve built – even two years later, I’m still focused on eight of the original 12 sites I was running in 2021. That’s hard to do in the long term – which is why I was taking breaks from my sites last year (on this site, as well as FTB and GPTG).
It’s clear that Jordan Traveler is a pretty good site: it ranks well, gets decent traffic, and earns more efficiently than many of my sites. But it will only continue to do that if I keep adding content – so that’s what we’re doing this year after taking that break. I came up with a reasonable plan that required about 24 new, shorter pieces of content, plus some longer and more competitive content that helped fill in gaps here on the site.
The goal is to build a healthy, comprehensive niche site that is more self-sustaining with updates than always needing new content. By this time next year, I’d love to see it moving in that direction where it’s more about updating old content with occasional new articles (maybe switching from 75% new to 75% updated in any given month).
Build Off-Google Traffic Sources
At this point, Jordan Traveler relies on Google for nearly 90% of its traffic – that’s a very vulnerable position as the AI-pocalypse looms.
As I mentioned, one of the big areas I’ve been working to improve for JT is in email; I finally set up Mediavine Grow’s Spotlight Subscribe to start collecting emails – and got 28 emails in the first month. That might not sound like much, but it’s a start. And we gotta start somewhere.
Similarly, my JT Instagram account (@jordan.traveler) continues to gain followers even though I never publish content there. It seems like there might be opportunities to grow and potentially gain traffic that isn’t solely from Google.
Basically, JT has been a stool with one leg, and I need to build out a few others to provide some stability. That’s a good area of focus for the next year.
Now that Jordan Traveler has reached the two-year mark, I’ll only be updating my case studies every year. Do you have any other questions about this recap for Jordan Traveler? Let me know in the comments; I’m happy to share anything that I forgot to include!