In this awesome episode of the Niche Pursuits podcast, Jim Campbell shares with host Jared the strategies he’s using to grow a successful brand in the honeymoon industry.
With a background in entrepreneurship and marketing, Jim saw an opportunity in the market and started honeymoongoals.com in 2019 – right before Covid hit!
And despite the impacts of Covid on the travel niche, Jim remained bullish and continued creating valuable content and building authority for the website throughout the pandemic.
He used templates to create destination and resort recommendations, ensuring that honeymooners had tailored information at their fingertips. And hired writers who were carefully vetted for their ability to conduct quality research and convey findings in an engaging way.
The investment finally paid off when travel restrictions eased, anyd people started booking honeymoons again.
The travel niche, especially for honeymoons, relies heavily on bookings and partnerships to monetize. And Jim has found success with affiliate programs like Expedia, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor’s program on Commission Junction.
He also sees potential in direct advertising with resorts.
He finds that analyzing customer buying patterns and adjusting content accordingly can improve conversion rates. And he emphasizes the importance of understanding customer needs to drive conversions and revenue.
Building a legitimate business with a reputable brand also helps him establish authority and gain valuable backlinks.
As a result, he recently acquired the site honeymoons.com, expanding his portfolio in the niche with plans to build a larger authority site with such a premium domain.
The convo also covers AI writing and Jim acknowledges its potential threat but believes that the human touch and expertise are still crucial in creating high-quality content.
He also highlights the importance of secondary strategies like social media, particularly Pinterest, video content, and author expertise for improving the website.
His ultimate goal is to create a more established business and explore opportunities such as a travel agency, YouTube channel, and expanding monetization of his sites with his own booking engine.
In short, Jim’s story is the quintessential Niche Pursuit and his strategies are highly valuable for any niche site owner to take notes on.
Hope you enjoy!
Watch The Interview
Topics Jim Campbell Covers
His journey with niche sites
Starting his honeymoon site
Building a portfolio vs big site
Creating content templates
Travel’s evergreen conent
Prioritizing what converts
SEO benefits of a legitimate business
Expanding content sites into product offerings
Scaling a team
Links & Resources
All right. Welcome back to the niche pursuits podcast. My name is Jared Bauman. And today we are joined by Jim Campbell with camp media. com. Jim. Welcome.
Jim: Thanks. Thanks for having me. Fan of the fan of the podcast fan of the show. So happy to be here. Love it. When we
Jared: get to interview someone who, uh, who, who’s heard of the niche pursuits podcast before, and, um, you know, you have a, you know, Spencer, so I’m sure you have a little bit of a history with what we do here and you’ve got a cool story, so this is going to be a fun one, uh, near and dear to my heart.
I, my first career was a wedding photographer. And we’re going to be talking all about honeymoons today and the websites, plural, and the brands that you own in this, in this space. So hopefully we’ll have a lot of. Things we can share and banter about. Um, before we get into all that, like, tell us about yourself, give us some backstory, maybe before you got into the things you’re doing now.
Jim: Yeah, absolutely. And hopefully I don’t go on too long, because I’ve been building websites for quite a while. Um, yeah, I started building websites back in high school. Um, if you remember, or if anyone remembers, I was building them on like, AngelFire. Oh, yeah. Oh yeah, it was great. So, was doing that, did one for like, video games, then did one…
When I was in high school for like just humor, media, even like before YouTube and just doing that. Um, and kind of saw that, okay, I’m getting a lot of traffic to this, to these websites. This is pretty cool putting stuff out there and people are actually watching it and, and responding to it. So, uh, kind of caught the entrepreneurial and website bug pretty early.
And then in college, I didn’t study anything related to this, but. I did do, I went to Boston College, I did the, um, entrepreneurial, um, competition there with a mobile app. Everyone was building mobile apps at the time. And that kind of led me, that kind of opened the door for me to open my world to VC startups and everything.
So coming out of college, I wanted to work for a VC backed startup and that led me to an angel group and I actually ended up, um, starting a business, an e commerce business. Um, so I did that for a little bit, um, you know, didn’t go anywhere, failed pretty badly, but learned a lot as when I was young. And then I worked for, um, got into more of a, uh, software route, worked in marketing at a couple of different, um, software startups, SaaS startups.
Uh, that was really, that was great. But like I said, I didn’t study any of this in, in college, so I always wanted to go back to. Business school. So I did that, um, about four years ago, went back to business school and did a really tech focused, entrepreneurial focused, um, MBA program that was fantastic. And then coming out of that, I still didn’t know what I wanted to do.
So I joined, um, a rotational program at another SaaS startup in marketing. Always related to marketing, always related to building technology and getting, getting users to that technology and selling it. Um, but while I was doing all that, I was still building websites on the side for small businesses for myself.
Um, in 2009 I started one, the first one really for myself in a long time, and that was honeymoon goals.com. And I was getting married, I was planning my own honeymoon and really just didn’t see a honeymoon website out there. There really, there’s some big wedding websites like no Love the Knot Wedding Wire.
Um, Zola, not Nola. Um, but there weren’t really like honeymoon specific one. So I just, when I was doing my own research, I just started putting it on the website. Um, and then that, uh, was right before COVID hit and then travel went to zero. Um, but then. As travel came back, the site really took off, it was kind of like pent up demand for a year.
So that site took off, and, um, just from an SEO perspective, was getting a lot of traffic. Because I had been working on it for a year, year and a half. And, kind of planted the idea, like, hey, why don’t I just do this with multiple websites. I was looking, um, on a bunch of different marketplaces to buy up websites, like Empire Flippers, and FE International, and Flippa.
And was basically looking at these multiples and saying, Hey, I could go, you know, raise money, buy up a bunch of these websites, start my own, and just have a portfolio. And that actually, I built a deck, I was shopping it around, just kind of putting out feelers, and that led me to a company called Thrasio.
They’re a huge, uh, Amazon aggregator. Um, and they had a team that was, had the same idea. Wasn’t, it really isn’t, you know, that unique of an idea. But they had the same idea, and what they were doing was actually way smarter. Because they actually owned a bunch of, uh, Amazon products. So instead of getting the 4 percent commission from Amazon Associates, they, you know, own the product and were getting the margins plus the associate commission.
So, I went there and joined that team. And that was a really good experience, um, for just, you know, learning how to manage a portfolio. We had like 10 websites. We were promoting our own products. Uh, met some great people in the space. Um, but at that time, my site, honeymoongoals. com, was really taking off, um, and it kind of became, uh, more important for me to focus my time on that site, and so it kind of led me to quit my job there, and so I started Camp Media.
where it’s honeymoon goals, and I started a couple other websites, um, mostly in the travel space and the wedding space, because I figured all the partnerships I was getting through honeymoon goals, all the traffic, all the keywords, backlinks, everything that I was doing for honeymoon goals, I could, you know, duplicate, replicate websites and kind of double dip on all these things that I was doing.
Um, so I did that about a year ago now, started full time on my own sites. And then, uh, about a year and a half ago, I’d reached out to, uh, the owners of Honeymoons. com. Just make an introduction, see what they were doing, seeing if we could work together. Um, and they kind of told me they had started this when they retired in 2008.
So, I was like, kind of doing the math, like you did the, in 2008 you started this and you retired. They had tremendous careers in the bridal and honeymoon industries. And they retired from that. They had owned the, they owned the domain name. They were their original registrars and they were just doing it, um, you know, as a business, but they were in their eighties and nineties.
And so a couple of months ago, uh, they called me back and said, you know, we’re ready to sell. And I said, great, I’m ready to buy it. So closed on that, uh, two months ago, last month, July. So I’m currently running honeymoons. com and kind of switching from, Running more of a portfolio to really focusing on, you know, this opportunity to build like a bigger, a bigger website on Honeymoon.
So really, you know, I think a lot of what my journey to, from, um, niche websites has been to look at like a portfolio. I was doing that at Thrasio, I was doing that for myself, and as, you know, it kind of builds up and you get bigger opportunities. Um, to really focus on those bigger opportunities because I think it makes everything that goes into it, um, a little bit easier, honestly.
So that’s, that’s been my journey. It’s been a strange one, but now honeymoon salesman. You,
Jared: you have a resume that I think would take up pages and pages. And I know I would kind of kill to have any one of those line items in my resume. I was just writing things down as you, as you went. Mobile apps, e com, SaaS, business school.
Uh, Amazon aggregator, niche website owner, uh, media company owner now. So you’ve got all this experience. I mean, before we get into how you built kind of the websites, cause that what most people are going to want to knuckle down and learn from you on before we get into that, what, um, what, what about all the experiences that you’ve had has been perhaps the most influential or helped you the most in the website
Jim: building space?
Yeah, I think um, every company I’ve worked for, especially the software companies, at the end of the day they were sales companies. I had multiple CEOs tell me that, you know, and just as they’re running their companies and you know they have They were really, you know, product companies, new products, but at the end of the day, they were really just, you know, focusing on sales.
And I think that’s been, um, something that I really took to heart in, especially with building out these, these honeymoon, uh, businesses it’s, you know, while it’s fun to get the, the page views, get the rankings, get the social media followers, you know, really figuring out that final piece of, you know, what, what’s going to make someone buy, what’s resonating with people.
Um, and how to, how to focus on that, um, is something that, you know, I think about a lot. And maybe I just think about it more because it’s, uh, my full time job and that’s where all the money comes from. But, um, yeah, I think about that quite a bit and, you know, I talk to some other website owners and who, who do this full time and.
You know, it’s really comes down to that. You know, what are the best partnerships? You know, great. You get a lot of page views, but what are the ones that actually convert? Like, what do people, what do people like? What are the partnerships that matter? Um, so really focusing on that and figuring out how to like productize what you have and drive sales.
Jared: Perfect transition. Let’s let me ask you. I love asking this because it gives people perspective on where things are at, whatever you’re comfortable with sharing with these websites. I mean, we have honeymoon goals. We have honeymoons. But like what kind of, and I’m also curious, you know, what kind of, uh, perhaps revenue or profit you can share along the way as you made decisions to leave your, you know, your, your full time job to start camp media and that sort of stuff.
So maybe where are the brands at right now to give people perspective? Yeah,
Jim: for sure. And I think it actually just made me realize, I think I left out an important piece in kind of my transition too. So during the pandemic, I just started the honeymoon website. and was talking to a friend from business school and, uh, the pandemic hit.
So then we’re just We’re stuck at home, we’re sitting there, we’re talking about this honeymoon business, and he was like, why don’t we start one together? And I was telling him all about, you know, the content site, how it works, how you just make content, get links, make content, get links, work on partnerships and grow it.
And he’s like, well, that sounds easy enough. Like, why don’t, why don’t we do one? And at the time, work from home was the major trend. And we both thought it was going to be, you know, huge, kind of life changing, huge black swan event that’s going to change the way that people work forever. So, we started a site in the work from home space and we did that for about two years and then we sold it last year.
Um, and we sold it last year for like low six figures. It was, it was very much an affiliate website. It got hit very hard by that product review update because it was a product review website. It was like the. The, uh, poster boy for product review sites and, but it was fun to build. We had a great time. And then when things kind of got back to normal, we kind of got back to our jobs and other things.
But, uh, so we sold that for low six figures and, but it kind of made me realize like, Hey, you know, I did this part time. There’s. a way to exit these, you know, and make significant amounts of money, um, and that definitely opened my eyes quite a bit to the process of building and selling, because I had never sold a website before.
Um, so currently, and at the, when I, the decision, To leave my job, uh, which was, you know, in your question, it was exceeding, you know, my W 2 income was, I, I was watching, the way that, um, the way that honeymoons work and how any travel commission based, uh, business works is, you don’t get paid the commission until people travel.
So, obviously, the… Pandemic made this very difficult, uh, because people aren’t traveling. So, uh, I was watching, you know, people book, and, but I wasn’t seeing any commissions come in. So, my whole time, the whole time I was saying, if these, if these people actually travel, you know, I, I’m gonna be able, this is, this is more money than I make at my job.
Um, so, Then people finally started traveling and that was, that was great. So when I left my job, um, it, the site may, it was making like mid six figures, um, last year. And this year it’s going to be just under, um, just under a million.
Jared: Wow. That’s quick growth. That’s amazing. A lot of pent up demand. You know, we talked to travel site owners, uh, who all have that defining pandemic story of You know, Oh my goodness, like whether it’s traffic, whether it’s travel itself.
So affiliate commissions, monetization, everything kind of comes to a grinding halt. And then these stories of growth that kind of came on the back of it. So, um, well, that’s, that’s a great story. So obviously we’re talking about a site that is doing significantly well. And then, uh, let’s, um, I don’t know, where do we go?
Do we, do we talk about how you’re buying multiple honeymoon or how you have multiple honeymoon sites and start there? Or should we talk about how you grew, um, honeymoon goals, uh, off and got that off the ground. And again, I’m really actually asking which one do you think is the better way to go?
Jim: Yeah, I think, um, I think what is interesting to me is like a website builder is definitely like starting honeymoon goals.
Um, and then I think we can kind of get into like the reasons I overpaid for honeymoons. com and what I’m going to do next. Oh, good.
Jared: You’re a bit of teasing. You’re doing my job for me. You’re keeping these listeners engaged. They’re going to have to stay around to hear about that story. Well, good. I mean, you started honeymoon goals in 2019.
Um, you know, just maybe a classic, classic question is what sort of focus did you have on this? Um, where, where did you look to grow the site? What worked in the beginning and kind of what got
Jim: you your first traction? Yeah. Um, so the, the story of getting into it is, is pretty easy. I was planning my honeymoon, right?
And I was looking around and I was just, Saying there’s no real honeymoon sites, you know, there are obviously some sites dedicated to honeymoons But there’s no huge ones and I just thought it was very interesting And I figured that there’s a couple really good things for honeymoons, you know Everyone knows what it is.
It’s fun to talk about It’s one of the best trips of your life the destinations and the resorts and everything are all amazing so in terms of like building content for this One, people are going to look for it, people are going to pay a lot of money for it, and it’s fun to write about. You know, it’s, I, I’ve played around with a bunch of, uh, different sites.
Like, I had one in the ceiling fan space. Um, it’s hard to write your hundredth article about ceiling fans, where, you know, writing your hundredth… I’d be back for that story, man. Yeah. Yeah, I, I am not. I, I learned. Um, but… It’s, uh, Honeymoons is, is fun. It’s always fun. Uh, people always want to talk about it.
You can talk to someone 20 years after they take their honeymoon. They still want to talk about it, um, usually. And, so, it, it was a fun area to go into. And I think that helped a lot, where I didn’t get bored of it. It was a, I was planning my own. It’s all really interesting destinations. So, was, I was a WordPress, you know, site builder.
So starting, starting the website was kind of the easy part for me. Um, but then the harder parts, um, were, you know, how do I get content? How do I get authority? Um, and like I said, I was looking at kind of buying up some of these websites to start. And so I had probably 50 different prospectuses and analyses of these websites.
And there were just two comments, there were two inputs to every, every website, content, content and links basically. Right. And so I said, all right, I need content and I need links to build the authority. So, um, I started, you know, writing the content myself, kind of figuring out the template, which I think is, you know, what, what everyone does.
And I think that’s a really important part. You know, what do people actually want to know about honeymoons and what. And so, then figuring out what templates match that. So, with Honeymoons, uh, the main thing is, Where do I want to go? And then, like, what, um, destination? And then, the second question is, What resort should I stay at?
So, answering those two questions, and kind of framing templated content around those, uh, kind of became the strategy. Which, again, for Honeymoons, was excellent. Uh, and you can’t really find that in ceiling fans. Um, you know, make a destination template, uh, or make like a best of destinations, best honeymoon destinations to visit in January, best honeymoon destinations to visit in Europe, in the world, best honeymoon destinations with overwater bungalows, you know, you can pick.
There are a lot of different topics with that template. And then the second one would be, you know, what, what are the best places to stay in Jamaica, Jamaica honeymoon, top 10 resorts. So I have this huge list of. Of content that needed to be created. Yeah. Um, and then I just started, uh, finding writers and outsourcing it.
And since I was, you know, bootstrapping it at the time, did it, did it pretty slowly, did it pretty cheaply, which, you know, I’m sure, uh, a lot of people, um, can attest to, it’s not always the best option to hire cheap writers. Um, whether it was. It’s poorly written AI content or copied content, but you find your good ones and then you just rinse and repeat.
So it really just took probably a year to get, um, that content to where, where I wanted it to be. And then for building authority, it was really trying all, all the same tactics that everyone uses, you know, listening to this podcast, listening to other podcasts for any new strategies and really just trying them all, um, to basically.
build up the authority in that site. And so that all worked. And then the pandemic, um, when the pandemic was slowing down, I think I had just this huge tailwind that really helped to kind of, to boost it. Um, cause I’d been working on it when a lot of other people in the travel industry weren’t able to, you know, I feel bad now cause I was like calling travel agents at the time, trying to figure out what they were doing.
And they were like, we don’t. They don’t make money until people travel, so they had no business, and I, you know, was figuring out the landscape, so, um, they were re a lot of people really went to zero in 2020, um, and I was able to just keep kind of picking away at it. So, coming out of it, I had this, this fully built out website that I had been working on, and it kind of just took off.
Jared: True story. I honeymooned in Hawaii, and, uh, I’d like to say this is not this is a long time ago, by the way, um, but Um, before I was quite the SEO knowledge base that I am now. And long story short, we took a quiz on which island was the best island for our personality. And then one of the, probably one website, probably like yours.
Great for lead gen. Uh, don’t know if I ended up booking our honeymoon through them or just got the idea, but we, I think we literally chose the island in Hawaii based on frankly, the result from that quiz.
Jim: You’re going to have to build one of those. You should. Honeymoon. com slash personality quiz. Yeah.
Jared: Yeah. It’s um. Uh, well, we could talk about it all day, but, you know, we were reading all these articles about what the best island is, but we were like, well, I don’t know if that’s the best island for us, you know, so anyways.
Jim: Yeah, what island was it? Kauai. We ended up in Kauai.
Jared: Nice. Which, we’ve been back many times to different islands, and you know what, the quiz was pretty accurate, I’ll have to say.
Yeah, yeah. Um, so, speaking of that, that topic there, like, um, I was looking at your website, you have, I mean, roughly, from what I can tell, like a thousand articles or so, so clearly, In that three to four year time period, you’ve invested a lot of time and energy into publishing a lot of content. What is, um, does topical authority play a role?
Like, do you end up specializing in a certain area? Uh, is that something you focus on? Or is it really, um, the greater topic of Honeymoons? And I’m just going to write everything about Honeymoons and just kind of see where the chips fall.
Jim: Yeah, I think it’s more about Honeymoons. And I think that, um, you know, listening to a lot of things on topical authority, um, I think getting that initial chunk of content done for Honeymoons was when it really took off and, you know, I, I think I was lucky to find, uh, a space that wasn’t super competitive, so once I had a hundred articles of every different destination, um, it, uh, it started ranking and I think, I think it’s kind of proven in that, like I was saying about the templates, you know, coming up with that destination template and then rinsing and repeating for The most popular countries and areas of the world The post that really kind of was I think about 40 percent 40 50 percent of the traffic for that site for a while Was just best honeymoon destinations.
I’ve since lost that ranking to US News or something but that was kind of the post that was driving just a ton of traffic for 2022 and I think that’s because I was, you know, really fu Honeymoon Destinations was what I was writing about. So I, I really had a ton of, and still do, have a lot of topical authority on, on Honeymoon Destinations.
But, um, to your point, I think that what’s, again, exciting about the space and the travel space is that, you know, what are the opportunities to now build up some authority in just all inclusive, you know, best all inclusive resorts. Um, I think there’s a lot of different areas you could go. Uh, currently not, you know, doing, doing well in anything but honeymoons, but in just the general travel space.
Um, there’s a lot of different areas, but yeah. It’s, uh, Topical Authority in honeymoons absolutely was a, was a huge, a huge thing. And I really actually don’t see a lot of traffic coming from non honeymoon queries, yet. Yet,
Jared: I hope to get some right. You’re right. What about the idea that, I’m gonna guess with a thousand articles, I didn’t deep dive each of ’em, but you probably haven’t been to all the locations.
Yeah. Uh, you probably haven’t gone on a thousand honeymoons, uh, , you talked about hiring writers, but how did you solve any issues or any challenges with making sure that the content. Was as reflective of what it needed to be for someone to make a decision, a big decision, a large purchasing decision about an area that you as the kind of the director here haven’t been to.
Jim: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I wish I had, and it’s funny, just another kind of tidbit on that. I wish I had started this website 10 years ago because, um, I, uh, I have a travel agency now, and that, you know, just opens up some doors and gets me into some different programs. But when you do bookings through a travel agency, a lot of the resorts will give you points.
And you can use those points to travel. And so I have hundreds of nights at, you know, adult only locations. You know, a lot of them in the Caribbean, but I have, I have two small kids and I’m like, um, okay, I’m never going to go, but, um, yeah, if it was 10 years, if it was five years ago, I would have, uh, I would have, this call would have been from the Caribbean, but
Jared: we would have been looking out the back at one of these over water bungalows right
Um, but no, I’m in New Hampshire, so it’s all good. Um, for, uh, that, I think again, the travel space is, is, uh, very interesting. Yeah. in this aspect, because there’s so much information about different destinations online from other sources, from primary sources, people that have been there, that you can, um, put together, you know, I think a valuable resource for Honeymooning in Jamaica and the Caribbean, wherever.
Um, and back to like finding writers that really do this, you know, definitely vetting the writers pretty heavily. To figure out who’s actually doing their research or who’s just kind of using some, you know, boilerplate generic language about the destination You have one writer who she goes too deep on specific things I think and this is again another benefit of the honeymoons people love researching this stuff, you know It’s beautiful destinations beautiful resorts fun thing fun romantic things to do It beats figuring out, like, how many blades are on the ceiling fan, you know, so.
Um, and then, yeah, it’s not, since it’s travel, it’s not, um, like, product review stuff. So, it’s not changing very frequently. You know, there’s, how, what’s the best beach in Jamaica? Does that change every year? Probably not. It’s probably gonna be, be the best beach in Jamaica for a couple decades. And you can, you know, do your research on, on the beach, and how crowded it is, what resorts are there, how accessible it is.
You can do all that research. So I think it’s more about, um, finding people who are going to do the research, um, to really, and then tailor that research towards honeymooners, I think is where, where the value comes in. You know, I, I, again, would still love to visit these places, but.
Jared: No, it makes sense. The, um, let me ask you about monetization.
And with a site like this, maybe help people understand, I mean, you’re not sending people to Amazon, right? It’s not that kind of a, a monetization method. Um, and, uh, I also would imagine it’s probably most of your income is in top of, you know, ads or that sort of thing. So, when it comes to the ways you’re monetizing, kind of help us understand a little bit more about how travel works with affiliate revenue and that sort of, that sort of topic
Yeah, so it took me a while to kind of figure this out. I, I had a bunch of sites, like I said, doing Amazon affiliate and that was very, you know, straightforward. Send people to Amazon, get all the basket items for 24 hours. Um, with Travel, um, I’ve found, and specifically for honeymoons, that the money is in the bookings and the resorts.
Um, for example, like Jamaica honeymoon, um, there are a lot of resorts in Jamaica, right? And there’s a lot of different places that you could go, and they’re going to spend a lot of money. So, those, you know, resorts are willing to Um, provide a pretty good commission for bookings and that is through, you can do it directly with the resorts or you can do it with, um, some of the OTAs like Expedia, Booking.
com. Um, I work with, with both of them and do, um, direct, uh, with hotels quite a bit, but it’s 90 percent of the revenue is from, uh, commissions through bookings. And there are a couple other ways, uh, if anyone else is in the travel industry, I’m sure you know about these. Like, TripAdvisor has, um, a pretty big affiliate program on, um, Commission Junction.
I use them for a bunch of stuff. They don’t do bookings. They pay you, um, kind of on a PPC, semi PPC, um, but, you know, that’s, that’s honestly pennies compared to dollars for bookings. That’s again, kind of like what I said at the beginning, kind of really driving towards sales. I’ve really… Um, doubled down on the partners that are working well where I think honeymooners actually want to stay and actually want to book and really promoting those to the top because, you know, people are kind of voting with their dollars of saying, Hey, I want to stay here.
I want to stay at this destination. Um, so booking commissions are about 90%. And then on top of that, it’s, um, I do some display ads. Um, but I think, honestly, a huge area that I’m doing pretty poorly in is direct advertising as well. Um, like I said, there are a lot of, uh, resorts that would want to be, you know, promoted and put in front of people.
Um, and whether I did that on the website or through the email list. You know, that’s something where I think there could be quite a bit of, um, of opportunity because there aren’t, resorts typically don’t have like huge IT teams that are going to be able to figure out, you know, the affiliate program, figure out all the technical stuff for actually implementing the affiliate program on their website.
So it’s, I’ve found, I’ve contacted a lot of resorts about affiliate programs or figuring out how I can refer traffic to them, um, but not a lot of them have programs set up. With
Jared: 90 percent of your revenue coming from, like you said, getting a booking, that’s a little bit different for everybody listening who has a website that say goes to Amazon.
And the reason I say that is once you really learn about how Amazon affiliate works, you learn that it’s really just about getting people to Amazon and then they’ll just buy stuff. And because of the way their cookie window works and because of the fact that you get commissions on everything they buy in that order timeframe, it really on your website just becomes like.
Just go to Amazon, just like click here to see the, you know, you use this, this kind of copy. It’s called action. That is just go to Amazon. That doesn’t work. I’m gonna guess at necessarily for you. It’s all about the conversion for you. Like what are some tips you can give people listening to have better sales copy or better conversion focused copy on their websites, especially those who are just used to getting people to Amazon.
It just doesn’t work for you.
Jim: Yeah, definitely. And that’s something where it took me https: otter. ai
Uh, affiliate on commission junction and I’ve been through all of them and tried them all and really figured out like, all right, here’s, you know, where, where people want to stay. And so I think that really came down to just looking at like the data of who was converting. Um, and it was drastic, like some, some resorts, um, convert literally a hundred times better than others and whether the tracking just wasn’t working on the other ones.
I don’t know. Um, but yeah, I actually saw a hundred times better conversion rates, um, like with my, with my top partner. So, um, you know, people, whether, and it might just be a much better, uh, resort where people want to stay, but for optimizing Amazon. Uh, sales, actually what, what we were doing at Thrasio, um, was really analyzing on like a daily basis, like what people were actually buying, um, which I assume a lot of people do anyways, but you can get that, you know, report, um, of the actual items sold.
And we would look at that every day to see, um, and compare it to if you have a product review page with, you know, the 10 best, um, electric toothbrushes, uh, maybe you might be promoting one very heavily. But the number three is actually selling and that might be because there’s a deal it might be because they lowered the price might be Because you know the the one that you had at number one actually had some bad ratings or you know could be anything So yeah, I really think looking at like looking at what the customers actually end up buying was was the guiding principle for a lot of like Because it, it feels a little weird because right, it’s not like your review.
You’re not saying like this is the best, but we also do have to take into account like what customers think are the best and that, then that adds value to all your new customers.
Jared: I feel like TripAdvisor that I see that frequently on TripAdvisor. It’s always like, well, this is the one that everybody likes.
Jim: right. Yeah. Just go here.
Jared: Hey, last, last question that I have on honeymoon goals and I want to get into all this other stuff. I mean, you bought. A big brand, you started your own travel agency. I mean, we’re only scratching the surface here, but how much of a role did non review content play in Honeymoon Goals and it’s growth?
Like, did you write informational content, um, is there, you know, how not to get divorced on your honeymoon? Or, like, do you write these articles or is it really very review focused and because of the nature of the review topics, it doesn’t necessitate some of these informational topics that might, that might present themselves.
Jim: Yeah, it’s funny. It’s not like the standard, um, like review informational, right? It’s kind of always a mix. That’s what I was thinking. Yeah, but, but honestly, I would, I would say the vast majority of my content isn’t monetized. You know, it’s monetized through display ads. Um, it’s monetized through maybe a partnership, you know, that isn’t, isn’t great.
Um, but even like I was saying, the best, um, kind of the first question people have with Honeymoons if they have no clue where, what they want to do is. You know, where do I want to go? Um, and that’s just general destinations. Like I was saying, the best honeymoon destinations for January. Um, that doesn’t, that won’t lead me to any, um, bookings.
It’ll be, I’ll be like, you should go in January. It’s good to go to Jamaica. I should probably look up what I actually recommend. But, you know, I have recommendations. Um, and… You know, then, you know, I have a link to that, that, that page where on Jamaica I have the best resorts and on that page I can monetize that page.
But, um, I think it was more about, you know, back to kind of topical authority. Like, what are people actually searching? What’s their journey through it? Um, I don’t have a ton of like, you know, just general, you know, fun honeymoon type content. Um, that would be considered, like, purely informational. I do, um, probably the only things there that I really kind of invested into were, like, I did a research study for, um, honeymooners, and that was, but that was more of a, you know, backlink, um, acquisition, uh, thing.
I think, I think, I think it works, because I think if you search honeymoon stats, I think honeymoon goals is number one, so. Um, hasn’t interviewed
Jared: somebody else in the travel space that that talked about that at length and how their research study just worked wonderfully for
Jim: hundreds of backlinks. Yeah, I wish I didn’t get that result.
I wish more people needed to link to honeymoon statistics, but unfortunately it’s not a huge, uh, not a ton of writers about that, but hopefully, hopefully some more. Maybe people will listen to this and want to do some, some studies on honeymoons. Well, I
Jared: mean, I have, I have so many other questions and I’m sure a lot of listeners are like, Jared, ask him about social media and backlinks and a lot of stuff.
Maybe we’ll have time to come back to it, but I do want to hear about the acquisition of honeymoons. com. So with, I know we’re leaving a few topics open, but I want to make sure we have time for that because this is an interesting play. Um, and it’s, it’s a play that I want to hear not only how it happened, but then your future plans for it because…
It’s interesting to watch brands roll other brands up and then to see what they do with it. So, you know, you reached out on a whim to the owners of honeymoons. com. You told us that story. Maybe just talk us through from just a very high level that the acquisition and how you structured it and You know just how that played itself out because it sounds very new and fresh.
Jim: Yeah. Yeah, very new I’m happy to be on the other side of it as I think most people with acquisitions are but Yeah, so I reached out to them, they had this, you know, great looking website, um, but honestly I was, you know, in Ahrefs, I was, uh, doing about 10x what they were doing, so I kind of looked at it and always had the idea like, hey, you know, maybe they’re doing something else, that was what, kind of why I reached out, I was like, maybe they’re doing something else that I’m not doing, you know, that is working way better, um, than just doing SEO, but Um, yeah, I reached out to them.
They were, they were great people. Um, the guy who was operating it was actually based in New Hampshire where I’m based, um, which is pretty rare. So I hit it off and talk to him. He called me back a couple of months ago, said he had received some offers to buy the website and they were, they were willing to buy it or willing to sell it.
Um, so I looked at, um, you know, the revenue that they were doing and. They were doing, you know, like 50, 50 K in revenue. And so, you know, based on how you would buy, you know, a business like, like ours, um, you know, three, four times annual profits, they weren’t doing, you know, it was a little bit less than that in profits.
But obviously with the domain name, you cut, you have to add an X factor and that’s where the big, the big question came in, um, where it was like, all right, is this going to be a million dollar purchase? Cause. My pockets aren’t that deep. Um, so just worked with them, you know, a lot of back and forth, um, on figuring out the best deal structure and I just ended up paying all cash for it.
Um, they didn’t want, uh, you know, like an extended, I tried to do seller financing. Um, But, uh, I think, when you’re, when you’ve been retired for 15 years, I don’t really think you have a whole lot of patience. Um, but they were great, you know. So, ended up buying it, um, you know, overpaid for it, um, and for the X Factor, the domain name.
But, I think the, the more interesting thing is like the reasons for buying it. And, I think, you know, the real reasons I wanted to do it was obviously it’s a great domain name. I love the honeymoon space. Um, but a lot of the things that I’ve kind of learned in, in running websites and, you know, working at Thrasio, running a bunch of websites there, and now, you know, running a bunch of my own is that in terms of like building authority, building content, trust, everything gets a lot easier when you When it’s a more legitimate business.
I don’t know how else to really say that, but having run great ceiling fans and never having bought a ceiling fan, I know
Jared: reference your ceiling fan brand. Yeah. Yeah. Like, I
Jim: mean, that didn’t go anywhere and it shouldn’t have, right. Because I didn’t know anything about ceiling fans. You know, I was just trying the strategy of, all right, can I just write content about ceiling fans and then put it on the internet and get back links to it?
And does it rank? Um. No, you know, you should provide a little bit, you obviously can do that, you know, there’s plenty of ways to do that, um, but it’s a lot easier when you have, you know, a reputable brand. It’s a lot easier to, you know, get real high quality backlinks when you have, uh, a high quality brand.
Um, you know, most, a lot of brands don’t even think about getting backlinks, they just get them, right? Because they have a big enough, a big enough brand, a big enough website, a recognizable name. Right? Um, so I always thought that there’s an opportunity if you actually build out, you know, a real business.
And it sounds kind of silly because if you say this to people who run real businesses, they’re like, what are you talking about? Of course, you would just build a real business. But you know, when you build websites like this, sometimes, you know, you, you have to start without, you know, I started Honeymoon Goals writing recommendations for why you should go to, um, Turks and Caicos.
And I hadn’t been to Turks and Caicos since I was 10 years old. So, uh, I think running, building it into like a legitimate business and the opportunities to do that, um, we’re much, much higher. And then that obviously helps, you know, I’m an SEO. So doing that will significantly help, um, my SEO. So, it’s a exciting, exciting thing to have such a premium domain name and then, you know, working on building up a much more, you know, established business on top of that to help the SEO.
Jared: So the burning question is, are you going to blend and merge the domains or are you going to keep the brands
Jim: separate? Yeah, I’ll keep them separate, um, for now. I don’t think there’s… The domain, uh, honeymoons. com came with like 300 posts and then, um, they had a bunch of resort reviews as well. So they had some content on there.
I’m working on optimizing that content. Um, I think that it’s, you know, I can, I think it’s better to have two, uh, results in the SERPs than one, um, and maybe even three. Like I have, uh, another website and that’s focused on the Caribbean and, you know, do a lot of Caribbean content there. So, yeah, keeping them separate for now and just using the traffic, um, but the kind of next step that I’m working on right now, again, kind of thinking about how do you go from, you know, a content website, how do you, how do you level that up into something else?
Because I see people You know, selling, selling products, whether you’re selling, you know, uh, internal linking WordPress plugins or whether you’re, um, selling informational products, like having something that you own and sell on top of just a content website where you’re selling other people’s stuff, I think is super interesting ’cause the traffic, um, becomes exceptionally more valuable.
So I’m currently working on building out a booking engine on honeymoons.com. Um, so instead of. Referring, uh, people to other websites to make bookings, I can collect the bookings, um, because as most people running, uh, these types of sites know, you lose so much attribution, um, when you just, you know, you send people to Amazon, they end up buying, you know, a basket of items, you have your tracking IDs, but actually figuring out, you know, Who is that customer?
How did they come in? What items did they buy? Is always so difficult, um, where if I can keep that all in house and can capture emails and have people make accounts on honeymoons. com Um, it kind of opens, opens that up, um, to being a, you know, a bigger, a bigger business. So I think that’s where the really exciting thing is.
Is this a
Jared: travel agency or is this the, the, the beginnings of the travel agency you
Jim: started? Yeah, so the travel agency, um, that’s, that’s a whole nother kind of avenue where you could take it, um, where, you know, hey, you just put a phone number, call us, we’ll book your honeymoon. Um, it’s something that I’m actively exploring.
I’ve actually, I actually wanted to hire a travel agent this year, um, but just haven’t been able to put all the pieces together. Um, but it’s more of, um, you can think of it like Expedia. com for honeymoons. You know, just you book it’s curated list of hotels that are just, you know, I live in New Hampshire, you know some people honeymoon here for sure, but where I live we get zero honeymooners a year So I don’t need hotels, you know in my town where?
the Bahamas, you know all the four or five stars the all inclusives Put all those on the website. People can actually go there and book. And I think building out like a honeymoon specific actual booking engine that has all the pieces that people actually want to, to book for their honeymoon. Like there’s, you know, do you want super family friendly resorts?
Probably not. You’re probably not going with your family. Um, and so I think you can really, I can really curate it to be a honeymoon specific booking engine. Let me
Jared: ask you about the role. that AI plays. A lot of people say that the travel niche is well insulated from AI. And I use air quotes a bit because, you know, no industry is truly insulated from where AI will, will, will go.
But, um, uh, you know, you and I had talked before this interview about your perspectives on AI and how, how you’re focused on building something that is a little bit AI proof. And I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so let me just kick it over to you and… Share your thoughts on AI as it relates to the, the businesses that you’re working on right now as it relates to this travel space.
Jim: sure. Um, I think this is another, is another area where having a bigger, a bigger site, a bigger brand will help you. You know, it’s, it’s a little bit of a moat to, you know, as everyone who does this knows, you know, it’s pretty easy to spin up a website. It’s pretty easy to, you can use. Any of the copywriting, AI generated copywriting servers to spit out a hundred articles and you have a website about honeymoons and, you know, a week, um, where having a bigger brand, I think is.
Very helpful to do this. Having a premium domain name is very helpful to protect against that. Um, and then yeah, I think AI writing, it’s, it’s so interesting. Uh, it’s so funny how just what we do in writing content and putting it online to rank in search engine seems to be like the first thing that, um, that AIs It’s very easy to, to replace.
So I think travel, I think specifically for honeymoons too, um, for AI writing, I mean you could definitely ask chatGBT to write you an article. Um, it’s actually very good at it. Um, and I think where I, I would. Almost argue it’s like more susceptible to competitors coming in and being able to write content because of kind of what I was saying before because things don’t change like, you know, it’s, I don’t know what the model is trained on now.
I think it’s up to like 2021. But I would guess this the, or I know the reasons to go to Jamaica, um, for your honeymoon are the same as they were in 2021 as they are now, where if you were to ask it, If you had a review website for toothbrushes, um, there’s new models that it doesn’t know about. There’s new, you know, there, there are things there that, um, it can’t actually do where you can ask it to write, um, an article about why Jamaica is a great honeymoon destination and it would spit out, you know, a decent article, right?
Um, so I think it actually, I think there’s so much content out there about, um, travel and traveling. I think that writing content. With about the travel industry is pretty easy actually with those things I think where I try to get my writers Pointed is like what I was saying earlier like really digging in on the research.
Why is this place, you know Such a good honeymoon destination. Why is this resort such a good honeymoon destination? And I think that human touch of digging in and the expertise that they have, you know, having written dozens hundreds of articles What they look for and how they put it together and how you structure it on a website is still more important.
Jared: This will dovetail nicely and I teased it earlier so I’m glad I have time to ask you. How important are, we’ll call it, secondary or maybe intangible things to your website? Uh, social media, you know, do you put an effort in social media? Uh, unique custom images from these destinations? Uh, video, you know, is video something that is important to your strategy?
Uh, even like author expertise, having them published elsewhere, having them… Be, you know, hey, I know about Jamaica because I travel there versus like, no, I’m a travel agent that does it. So, I just hit a lot, I threw a lot of stuff at you. Feel free to run with it. But I’m just curious, these secondary things that we talk about are intangibles.
There’s, there’s a lot of hunch that they, they can help with AI. So it dovetails off that, but into your strategies that it relates to those topics.
Jim: Yeah, I think, uh, those are all extremely high on my list for how to improve honeymoons. com. Um, I think the social media, I’ve found that, um, it’s, it’s tricky because honeymoons is people pay a lot of money for them, um, and so they’re usually, I, I do some paid advertising and only bid for, uh, desktops.
So if you, most people use social media on their phones, you’re probably not gonna book a 10, 000 honeymoon on your phone, right? And like, with the cookies and everything, if I cookie you on your phone and then you move to your desktop, I’m gonna, you know, it’s, it’s kind of a waste. I’ve found that, um, honeymoons, again, are great.
They’re so visual that… You know, it’s, it’s a great, it’s a great thing to promote, um, but I found that Pinterest is really the only place where I was, um, able to get results with honeymoon goals. Um, so I have like 35, 000 followers on Pinterest on honeymoon goals and that’s just posting, you know, beautiful pictures of destinations and people want to pin those and save those.
And I love Pinterest because it actually, you can use, you can click out to the website where if you’re on Instagram, um, you know, you can’t. Tick tock, it’s very hard, you know, link in bio, and then it’s a mobile phone click. So I love Pinterest, um, and we’ll definitely double down there. And then for videos, that one is huge on my list.
I’m currently trying to figure out ways to actually send people to destinations and make videos. That’s… I’ll, I’ll, just sign me up, it’s fine. Yeah, yeah, you want to go? Um… You
Jared: mentioned some of those places. They’re on my list,
Jim: so I’ll go. Yeah, yeah. Um, yeah, so I’m looking, I’m currently looking at, you know, part, either partnering with influencers, trying to, trying to work with some brands to get them to pay for it, right?
You know, figure something, figure out a partnership there. But, as I look at… Um, people, some of the smartest people I know in SEO have in the past two years created some pretty big YouTube channels, um, so they’re probably onto something, you know, that’s where a lot of eyeballs are going, that’s where a lot of searches are going, and again honeymoons are a great topic, a great thing to search and look for, um, they’re very visual, but without having that, that content, uh, they’re hard to create.
So I do have some honeymoon content, but It’s not really the quality. I’d like it to be so that’s huge and then you also mentioned author expertise And I think that’s a really important one and again going back to like how do you build actual? actual authority instead of Kind of this pretend authority that you have to start with.
Um, and so I’m currently hiring, uh, editors and writers from, you know, the people that I find that are the top, um, contributors to some popular websites. I’m also looking at having travel agents. come in and, you know, if you’re a travel agent who is an expert at Caribbean honeymoons, I’m currently looking at hiring some of them to come in and edit my content.
So I’m creating this, uh, I guess editorial layer that will be, they’ll be given, you know, attribution for editing, uh, the content, and you can do the author bios and do the, you know, scene here, link out to their socials. And, so I have a couple people who I’m actually gonna start. Uh, probably next month. So, I think that’s, I’m really excited about that.
One, to make the content better, right? And then, you know, thinking with my SEO hat on, it’s, it’s fun to think about how that’s gonna have an impact. You have a lot of work ahead of you. Yeah.
Jared: Um, hey, uh, Jim, this was, this was really, really great. I, uh, really appreciate you coming on board. It’s, uh, uh, like I said, your resume alone speaks for itself, but just getting into the details on the Honeymoon websites and journey you’ve had is…
Uh, has been really interesting, um, I’ve taken a lot away from it, so thank you for joining us. And where can people follow along with what you’re doing and, uh, you know, reach out if they have any,
Jim: anything they need to. Yeah, I’m on, I, to reach out to me personally, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn.
Um, and then campmedia. com has an email sign up. Um, and if you want to book a honeymoon, go to honeymoons. com. There, there you
Jared: go. Yeah, that’s right. And if you want to be an influencer. And, uh, video. You’ll have to get in line after I apply, so.
Jim: But seriously, if, uh, if you have a travel follow, if you have a big following and, um, can edit videos and you want to travel to some interesting places I’m currently trying to figure that out.
Jared: Yeah, seriously. Well, you never know. I’m sure there’s a lot of people who have travel, uh, interests on this, uh, on this podcast listening, so. Jim, thanks so much, and until we catch up again, appreciate it.
Jim: Alright, thanks Jared. Appreciate it.