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Vagabond Newsletter 011 – March 5, 2014 post image

Vagabond Newsletter 011 – March 5, 2014

This month’s action report.

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This past month at Vagabond Journey has been a good one. The blogging team for 2014 has pulled itself together, and is starting to cranked out the posts, and I don’t think I’ve seen the outside of my room in 30 days.

I’m shoulder deep in my ghost cities book, but the end is in sight. I have two or three more weeks to finish, and that’s it. There are still so many questions to ask, people to talk to, things to write about . . . but this is always going to be the case with such a big project. The best projects are those that seem like deep, dark pits. You fall down deep into it and then spend the next 3 to 6 months clawing your way back out. The top always seems impossibly far away and each time you climb up a little you fall back down to the bottom. It seems as if the end will never come throughout, but you keep at it. Eventually, you climb out — or so you hope. For me here, I still can’t see the light, but I know it’s out there somewhere, so I keep clawing . . . typing.

New authors

We’ve had a couple new authors on Vagabond Journey since the last newsletter. Shivaji Das and Izaak Diggs have submitted some articles this past month. Keep on the lookout for weekly posts from Shivaji about Kawah Ijen, a volcano where miners risk their lives to extract sulfur and costume photography in China and Huxian farmer paintings.

Gar’s story

Gar Williams, the Senior Vagabond, has uploaded his entire personal blog to Vagabond Journey. This is a big event, as there are a lot of good stories in there about what brought him to start traveling, where he comes from, his approach on life, and what he’s after. Essential reading. Read them all in Gar’s archive.

Send to Amazon button

You can now send each article on Vagabond Journey to your Kindle for free. Just click on the “send to Kindle” button at the top of each post and it will send the content with photos over. If you’d rather, you can subscribe by Kindle and get each post sent to your Kindle reader automatically for $.99 per month. Subscribe by Kindle.

Email newsletter

After letting the email newsletter go for far too long, I’ve started tightening it up a few days ago. It should now look and function a lot better. If you have any suggestions for it, let me know. If you haven’t already, you can subscribe here for free.


Horrible. Business as usual. I was invited into the Chitika Gold advertising program — the highest level they have available — and I will share the results just because they’re so hilarious and show the economic side of web publishing pretty clearly:

Views | Clicks | CTR | CPM | Earnings
34,993 | 126 | 0.36% | $0.07  | $2.38

Over a short span of time I showed their ads on my pages over 34k times, sent their advertisers 126 clicks, and only made $2.38! That is so low I have to laugh. There is no worst advertising program out there that I know of. A respectable ad program will pay an average of $.50 per click. So I sent this company’s clients over $60 worth of traffic for $2.38! Needless to say, I removed their ads fast.

Don’t become a blogger to make money. Just don’t do it.

I’m still running other ad programs that pay more, but this has never been a very lucrative occupation. Though there is a threshold of roughly 50k page views per day that if a site can cross an entire spectrum of advertising options will open up. The goal here is to cross that threshold and be able to completely fund the travels of a dozen or so writers. Though, like most business endeavors, it’s hard to get over the hump without an initial financial boost. I’ve sort of been hoping that I could find a 50G start up fund in a basement somewhere these past couple of years, but it’s not looking like this is going to happen haha. That said, after my book is finished I will start putting a few other strategies into play to earn more money so I can justify investing more into the site.


  • Lawrence Hamilton travels each weekend around Australia. He’s going to Sri Lanka soon.
  • Shivaji Das is currently in India but is going to South Korea this week.
  • Gar Williams is in Ecuador.
  • Michael Britton is in India.
  • Apol Danganan is in Manila.
  • I’m in China.

Look for stories coming soon from all the places mentioned above.

Publication format

I’m making it a goal to publish a travel story and a travel tutorial per day, five days per week, and a long read on Sunday mornings. We’re kicking out the travel stories pretty good, but I need some help on the tips front. If anybody out there has a lot of travel experience and wants to write some tutorials, get in touch.

Still searching

Having travelers offering to contribute stories really makes my day, but if I were to get an email from a desk jockey looking for an internship I’d probably croak from excitement. At the end of the day publishing happens in front of a computers, and while it’s difficult to find good travel writers, it’s almost impossible to find a solid journalistic grunt — especially for what I can pay, which is nothing right now (though I hope to change this again soon).

I’m looking for someone to do a daily column on world culture and expedition news who can also write high quality and entertaining lists (a very valuable art that’s surprisingly difficult to master). The position would consist of interview people going on big scientific or sporting expeditions (swimmers, mountaineers, scientists), researching interesting aspects of cultures of their choice, and doing a good, informative list per week. I don’t have much to trade this person other than advice and the potentiality that I hope to make more money again soon so I can go back to paying writers. Honestly, I don’t have much to bargain with right now.

Site redesign

The life of a professional webmaster is a life of tweaking code and doing site redesigns. You always think it’s going to end and you’ll come up with a design that lasts, but the alterations just keep coming. When I need a break from the endless procession of ticking out words I do a little design work. So if you have any advice or have seen something cool on another site that you’d like to see here, please let me know.

Guinea pigs

I’m also looking for some guinea pigs to test some ideas and to gather information on a few topics. More on this soon.

Facebook page

My wife, Hannah, has taken over our Facebook page, and it has really picked up momentum. There are daily challenges, so go and test your travel knowledge . . . and “like” it while you’re there. Vagabond Journey on Facebook.

Coming this month

The ghost cities book should be finished this month, and the first thing I’m probably going to do after it’s done is something ridiculous like start writing another book on Chinese youth/ counter-culture. I hope our other writers have a little more sanity and go off and have some crazy adventures to share.

That’s it for now. If anyone has any questions, advice, wants to submit some articles, please get in touch.

Thanks for everything,



Filed under: Vagabond Journey Updates

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3691 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: Trenton, Maine

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