How to Miss Out on Tons of Blog Revenue (aka. Admitting my Mistakes)

If I have any regrets about how I’ve grown this site over the years, it would be that I haven’t shared enough of my mistakes (and downright failures) with you all.

It’s not that I haven’t done it on here before, but I haven’t done it as much as I’d like. Of course, I had my reasons. (Everyone has their reasons.) For one thing, I wanted to keep this site a purely inspiring, uplifting place. What I had overlooked (and have since embraced more and more) is that inspiration, and indeed joy and laughter, can also come from sharing our mistakes. Especially publicly.

So it is with a strange mixture of embarrassment and delight that I share with you a huge mistake that I’ve made here regarding growing this website as a business. A mistake that has been downright chronic.

The Mistake

About 95% of all of the links to products I’ve recommended were formatted wrong. This has huge ramifications.

If you’re not already aware, often when writers recommend a product they like, they use an “affiliate link” when they recommend it. This is a win/win/win situation, because if the reader ends up buying something, the affiliate link tells the commerce site who referred them. The commerce site will often then give the writer a little slice of the profits.

This does some cool things.

  1. It gives readers an easy way to support blogs they love by using an affiliate link. (The price is the same with or without the link. And if it’s a blog they love, it’s likely they were going to buy the product eventually, anyway.)
  2. It gives writers an incentive to create lists of products that have positively affected them, thereby driving traffic to the site selling the product. This also encourages writers to make easy links to buy the products instead of being afraid that off-site links will drive too many eyeballs away from their site.
  3. On a decent-sized blog, it can provided much-needed supplemental income for writers who might not even have health insurance. (Just sayin’.)

The practical upshot to all of this is that I am a Capital-G goon.

There, I said it. I’m a Goon, or at least I was for not double-checking my research. I won’t bore you with hyperlink semantics, but let’s just say that, when linking to an Amazon product, do not just throw /yourname-20/ into any old place in the link. (You’ve gotta add ?tag=yourname-20 to the link.) But noooo; I thought I was smart. I thought I’d make a short, pretty link. Pretty useless, more like.

I’ll stop. I said I wasn’t going to bore you with semantics.

Here’s the short version: because I went ahead and trusted some frakking inaccurate site roughly four years ago, about 95% of the affiliate links on Byteful Travel were half-broken and haven’t given me credit at all for recommending products that have truly changed my life, such as the book Getting Things Done, The Master Cleanse, Personal Development for Smart People, or even my own book.

The Upshot

Because I didn’t double-check my research, I missed out on a sizable amount of revenue from this site over the last four years. Revenue that goes to support future journeys and better equipment (not to mention little things like food).

To be completely clear, I’m not complaining about this. I really have no idea how much revenue I missed out on, and I’m honestly not attached to the notional idea of the past. I’ve corrected all of the links now, and I’m simply offering this as a cautionary tale.

“It all makes sense now!” I thought. “No wonder the statistics have been so bad. My links just don’t give me any credit!”

Short version

Always double-check your research, and for the love of ‘zon make sure you format your affiliate links correctly. If I’m doing this, I can’t imagine how many other people may be formatting theirs wrong. Who knows how much extra revenue this small correction might bring in!

Byteful Travel Blog Carnival 15 – 2012 Nov

“FIFTEEN carnivals? He is the one.”


All I.T. Crowd jokes aside, I’m grateful to share with you seventeen excellent travel articles for the 15th Byteful Travel Carnival, featuring many of my favorite travel writers, as well as some newcomers that I’m pleased to show off today.

Many thanks to all who submitted their articles. By participating, you make the travel writing world a more connected and cozier place. 🙂

Once again, I had to be circumspect about which articles I included, careful to only include those that I felt would benefit my readers in their continued growth. So if you submitted something and weren’t included, you probably didn’t read the submission guidelines. (Feel free to contact me if you’re confused.) As usual, some great writing rose to the top, and I’m happy to present it now:

The Best of BTBC #15

If you’re new to blog carnivals, they’re a smart way to discover new writers that you wouldn’t normally come across. And each time I publish a new edition of BTBC, I highlight three articles that stand out from the crowd, the gems. Here are my favorite articles from this edition:

  1. Blue Lagoon, Iceland Guide: How to Get There and What to Do by Kimberly Sanberg is such a fun (and photo-filled) dive into the world of the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. It has lots of practical advice on how to get the most of your visit, and actually made me excited about visiting Iceland. (One of the marks of a good article.)
  2. Velo en Provence: Cycling in the Cote Du Rhone Region of Provence by Shanna Schultz has that wonderful quality of actually feeling like it was written right after it happened. I felt like I was flying down the path to Entrechaux on a bike right alongside Shanna. And she even includes some great photos and wise tips for those of you who are planning your own cycling adventures in Cote Du Rhone, France.
  3. The Big Parade Los Angeles by Foxy is a photo-rich journey into a yearly event in LA that shows off the wealth of walking routes in LA that most people just don’t know about. Foxy stumbles across some surprising views along the way, providing us with a funny and throughly enjoyable read. 🙂

A Reminder & A Win-Win-Win

One last thing: if one of your articles is in this month’s edition, I would really appreciate it if you would tweet, stumble, or “Like” this carnival on Facebook. Better yet, do all three! Remember, spreading the word multiplies the reach of this blog carnival which in turn helps more people discover your article and site, as well.

Travel Destinations

Mayan Story TabletShanna Schultz presents:
Velo en Provence: Cycling in the Cote Du Rhone Region of Provence posted at There and Back Again: Tales of a Travel Addict, saying,

“Bicycling in the Cote du Rhone Region of France (in Provence) was one of my all time favorite travel highs. Tag along as I go way too fast without a helmet, past some of the most beautiful scenery that you can imagine.”

Henry presents:
72 Hours in Panama’s Stunning San Blas Islands posted at Finding Freedom, saying,

“In August 2012, I sailed through Panama’s unspoiled, largely undeveloped San Blas Islands. If you could imagine your “perfect island” with its crystal clear water and dark green jungle, and then tried to paint it, you’d paint the San Blas Islands…all 380 of them. This article covers my first day sailing through the area and links to advice on how to organize your own trip the Islands.”

Cerise presents:
5 Things to Do in Beijing (That You Probably Don’t Know) posted at The Beijing Apartment Blog, saying,

“Steal away from the tourist traps for a day and get to know a side of Beijing most travelers — and even most residents — don’t ever see. A ruined palace, a hidden (and great) roast duck restaurant, and three more things to do and see that will make your next trip to this enormous and swiftly changing city truly an unforgettable one.”

Mary Jo Manzanares presents:
Tokyo: 12 Things I Didn’t Know Until I Got There posted at Traveling with MJ, saying,

“I prepared, research, and was sure I was ready for Tokyo. I was wrong. You can never really know a place until you’re there.”

e.e. musings presents:
Truly remarkable: Heli-Snowshoeing in Queenstown posted at Musings of an Abstract Aucklander.

Kimberly Sanberg presents:
Blue Lagoon, Iceland Guide: How to Get There and What to Do posted at Go Green Travel Green.

Coco presents:
Venice posted at Miss Coco Marie.

Travel Photography

Zhu presents:
Nantes’ Non-Tourist Spots posted at Correr Es Mi Destino, saying,

“After a few days as a tourist in my hometown, I usually enjoy getting off the beaten track and finding new places to explore, no matter how far and how gritty they can be. Basically, I need some non-tourist spots.”

David Leonhardt presents:
Stowe Vermont in Pictures posted at World Vacations Travel Blog, saying,

“Following his trip to Stowe, Vermont, David Leonhardt shares some slightly quirky photos of his visit to the region.”

destinationeu presents:
Day Trip to Piran posted at Rear View Mirror, saying,

“Photos from a day trip to Piran from Ljubljana in Slovenia.”

Foxy presents:
The Big Parade Los Angeles posted at

Travel Tips

Laura presents:
Little Children + Wild Dogs = Mommy Nervous Breakdown posted at Laura Dennis Blog, saying,

“After a year living in Serbia, I didn’t even realize I was changing from an anxious mommy into a relaxed (slightly more) fun one.”

Adam Groffman presents:
How to order coffee in Rome without looking like a fool (a How-to guide to Italian coffee) posted at Eating Italy Food Tours in Rome, saying,

“This how to guide for ordering Italian coffee features some of the best cafes & coffee shops in Rome, in addition to a step-by-step guide on *how* to order your coffee. If you’ve been to Italy, you know how stressful it can be!”

Adam Groffman presents:
Searching for Rome’s best pizza restaurant posted at Travels of Adam, saying,

“My short story about trying to find the best pizza restaurant in Rome. I found it near the university and thanks to a tip from a local food guide!”

Kimberly Sanberg presents:
Is Travel Insurance Worth It? 5 Questions to Ask Before You Buy posted at Go Green Travel Green.

Femke Rosiers presents:
Do you Kulula? posted at Lightworking.

Hi. Let me ask you a question. You got BC?

If you write well (and have written something travel-related), and you haven’t submitted to the BTBC before, can I ask you a question? What are you waiting for? Blog Carnivals are free and powerful way to get more exposure to your work. (And to those of you who continue to submit month after month: you have my deepest thanks.) By doing so, you reach multitudes, many of which have never even seen your site before, so it’s a real win-win-win situation.

I know this from firsthand experience because blog carnivals have been helpful in spreading the word about Byteful Travel. So if you’re a writer, and you’ve written something that relates to travel, submit a piece you’re proud of to the next BTBC by going to the submission form. Just remember to read the simple ground rules.

Again, I am still considering discontinuing the Byteful Travel Weekly Recap. If you have no idea what it is, or never read it, could you please leave a note letting me know in the comments? It’s basically an auto-generated periodical from writers I’ve hand-picked from around the web, but lately I’ve been questioning it’s true usefulness. Should I kill it?

Also, in the event that the world continues to exist after December 21, 2012, I’m looking for a new person to host the next edition on their site in January 2013. It tends to be a big traffic draw, so let me know if you’re interested in the comments.

Until next time, may your travels spark your soul to even greater heights. 🙂