Traveling the world is on most people’s bucket lists. But it can get expensive and is treated more as a luxury than a given. That is, of course, until the Expert Vagabond turned traveling the world into a full-time job. Now he has traveled the world for over ten years.
In this travel site case study, it’s essential to know their backstory and how Matt Karsten thrives today. Starting a travel blog is one thing. Continuing to make a living is entirely different.
Becoming The Vagabond Expert
Mathew Karsten, who goes by Matt, is the first person to share all his traveling tips. He is a completely open book, from saving money to inspiring photography. It’s notable that he takes the word vagabond seriously. It’s not just one trip here and there. This nomad has traveled to over 50 countries and is based (rarely) in Utah with his wife and two kids. Let’s not forget their cat Poofy either, who frequents the trips as well.
The lifestyle started out of Matt’s curiosity to see the world. His old job of freelancing the night scene as an event photographer got old. Instead of watching other people’s adventures through film, he wanted to start his own. And that’s when a one-way ticket to Guatemala in 2010 was bought.
Starting Up The Expert Vagabond
Matt took just what he could fit in his backpack. Ironically, what little he had was no more as the airline lost it. The Expert Vagabond was born and filming the adventures from jungles, South American markets, and more was a big hit with people wondering about the world. In April 2012 the official website went up.
Today, Matt makes money through multiple sources because of his following from the travel blog. But Matt needed some money to get started. He quit the extras like car insurance, Netflix, and gym memberships. Eating just pasta and rice and becoming an absolute minimalist, Karsten was able to save $7,000 from his two jobs which made him about $30,000 a year.
Before travel started The Expert Vagabond learned how to sell digital guides and a small side hustle from writing about nightlife. And then it was off to Guatemala.
Matt’s story is different. It is more realistic and relatable to everyone. While luxury travel is interesting, the Vagabond shows you how you can travel with no money. He came from a lower-middle class family and found a way to start a travel blog.
A good travel site example from his website is his Budget Travel Resource Guide. You can get info on things from packing tips and even health advice. With these kinds of posts it separates him slightly from the rest.
How Much Traffic Does Expert Vagabond Receive?
According to an article published by Matt on his website, Expert Vagabond gets over 500,000 page views per month.
Now we are not sure of the exact number, but SEMRUSH has the site at over 303,000 visitors per month which may equate to close to 500,000 page views. Ubersuggest on the other hand shows the site at over 1.1 million visitors a month. From what we can tell SEMRUSH is closer to the actual number.
Needless to say the site does get an incredible amount of traffic which will be a factor in how much money the website generates a month. With this kind of traffic properly monetized the figures as to how much Expert Vagabond earns should be quite high.
What Type Of Business Is Expert Vagabond?
The Expert Vagabond is in the travel niche. It is a travel blog and makes money from affiliate marketing, display ads, and several other sources as is outlined below.
How Does Expert Vagabond Make Money?
Through the early years Matt made some money, around $1,000 to $2,000 a month selling several how to guides. He also made money from Google Adsense.
Doing Influencer Marketing
This changed over the years and today influencer marketing is how this niche travel site thrives today. With the amazing amount of traffic the site gets, it’s no wonder travel brands want to work with Matt.
These brands pay him from $4,000 to $20,000 for each deal which all depends on what the deal entails.
As stated above, in the earlier years of his journey building Expert Vagabond he used Google Adsense to monetize the site with display ads. However, as the site grew and traffic increased, he was able to monetize with a more profitable ad network which is Mediavine.
Mediavine can pay from $2 to more than $40 for every thousand views. From an article Matt posted in 2022, the site makes between $12,000 to $18,000 per month from display ads. If we take the larger figure of $18,000 and 500,000 page views a month, Expert Vagabond’s RPM may be close to $36.
This type of income is very passive. You earn when someone visits your site and allows Matt the freedom to travel the world and create content for his website.
The Expert Vagabond also earns money for affiliate marketing. They’re affiliate partners with many different brands from Amazon, Discover Cars, Backcountry, Get Your Guide Tours, Airbnb, and quite a few others.
Popular brands like American Eagle love taking advantage of Expert Vagabond’s large audience that follows his journey.
If a reader clicks on a link and purchases a product or service on the Expert Vagabond website, Matt gets a portion of the profit through referral.
We know from the post Matt did in April 2022 that the website earns between $10,000 to $15,000 per month through affiliate marketing alone.
An amazing part of being a successful travel blogger is when you get paid to travel places! This is yet another way Expert Vagabond earns revenue.
There are times when a country will contact Matt and ask him to write about his experience and document his travel through their country.
A typical campaign often generates social media postings, a variety of blog pieces, photos, and videos.
Matt earns around $10,000 for each project.
Public Speaking Engagements
While this does not make up a large portion of Expert Vagbond’s revenue, because Matt is a successful travel blogger he will get paid from time to time to speak at conferences and events.
Speaking can be quite lucrative and according to Matt he can earn as much as $3,000 per speaking engagement.
Selling travel photography makes up a small fraction of the total income for Expert Vagabond but it is yet another way to create income as a travel blogger.
Selling Digital Books And Courses
Matt no longer sells ebooks and courses even though this is how he originally was able to fund his early years of travel.
However, it seems that he has future plans to add this into his income portfolio since he now has so much he can share from his travels over the years.
How Much Does Expert Vagabond And Matt Karsten Earn?
Now that we can see how Expert Vagabond makes money and approximately how much is made from each monetization stream, let’s put everything together and see how they really earn.
Influencer Marketing: This can make between $4,000 to $20,000 per project deal. We don’t know however how many deals Matt does in a year. We can estimate this at 5 deals a year which means this would make $20,000 to $100,000 per year.
Display Advertising: We have clear cut answers on these figures as Matt himself stated that Expert Vagabond makes between $12,000 to $18,000 per month from advertising which equates to $144,000 to $216,000 per year in revenue.
Affiliate Marketing: Here we again have a very clear picture as to the type of revenue generated by the brand because Matt stated that they make between $10,000 to $15,000 per month from affiliate marketing. This equals $120,000 to $180,000 per year.
Destination Marketing: We do know that Matt gets paid around $10,000 per project to do destination marketing. What we don’t know is how many projects they do per year. An uneducated guess would be three projects per year which would add another $30,000 to their bottom line.
Public Speaking: We have no way of knowing how many speaking engagements Matt does a year but we do know he makes up to $3,000 per event. This could be an extra $6,000 a year in revenue.
As we compile the above figure we can see that Expert Vagabond earns approximately $320,000 to $532,000 per year.
In one of Matt’s articles in 2018 he said he made $250,000. That was four years ago so it’s safe to say that the revenue of Expert Vagabond has risen considerably over these years.
What Would The Expert Vagabond Sell For?
Taking our figures we list above, Expert Vagabond is earning $320,000 to $532,000 per year, which is $26,666 to $44,333 per month in revenue. Now this is monthly revenue as we have no way of knowing their net profit.
Many experts say that a website is worth 24 to 36 times its average monthly net profit.
If Expert Vagabond has an average monthly net profit of $35,000 per month which is quite possible, this means that if Expert Vagabond was placed on the market today it could sell for over $1.2 million.
Again, we don’t know exact figures so these are all estimates. However, from what we can see about this brand, as long as they continue on an upward trend, we believe that this website should be worth quite a bit more than that.
With all that, Expert Vagabond could sell for more than $2 million but that all depends on average monthly net profit and future trends.
Many people wonder why anyone would sell a business like Expert Vagabond if you can make over $400,000 per year just keeping the business.
There are many reasons to sell a business like this.
First, it takes time to create content and to build a successful blog like Expert Vagabond. So if a break is needed, it may be a great time to cash out and take the large cash win and relax for a few years.
Second, it’s always best to sell a business when it peaks. If a downward trend happens, the business will be worth much less. It’s important to understand this as some hold on to their business for way too long and miss the large payout that can come with selling their business.
Key Takeaways From Expert Vagabond
What can we learn from the journey of Matt Karsten as he built the Expert Vagabond into what it is today?
First, he didn’t reinvent the wheel. There are many travel bloggers online doing similar information. The key is that Matt focused on providing his readers with great engaging content and this kept them coming back for more.
Second, Matt was willing to sacrifice his previous life to get to the one he has now. He scrimped and saved to make his dream come true. If you’re looking to start any business venture, even a blog, you need to be willing to practice delayed gratification and invest in your future.
Your Next Steps
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