How This Broke Backpacker Blogged His Way to a 7-Figure Brand


  • 00:00 🌍 Will Hatton’s journey as a broke traveler in India and the start of The Broke Backpacker website.
  • Started the email list with 30 subscribers and launched the website in 2013.
  • Aimed to provide information on budget travel and the hippie style of traveling.
  • 04:49 🤝 Introduction to the niche Pursuit Podcast with Will Hatton.
  • Will Hatton is the founder of The Broke Backpacker.
  • The podcast aims to interview entrepreneurs and share their stories and insights.
  • 05:06 💡 Will Hatton’s backstory and entrepreneurial journey.
  • I spent two and a half years in India on a budget of $10 a day.
  • Started by selling items between India and England and funding travel that way.
  • 07:25 📈 The growth of The Broke Backpacker website.
  • Started with an email list of 30 people and grew to 1.5 million unique monthly users.
  • Aimed to provide information on budget travel and the hippie style of traveling.
  • 08:07 😔 The impact of COVID-19 on the Broke Backpacker business.
  • The pandemic wiped out the income and left the company with 20 employees to pay.
  • We are currently experiencing a decrease in traffic due to changes in Google’s display of information.
  • 09:01 🌎 Traveling to remote and less touristy destinations.
  • The value of making connections with local people in remote countries.
  • Exploring beautiful and less explored places like Iran, Pakistan, Venezuela, and Myanmar.
  • 08:47 ✈️ Traveling to remote and less touristy destinations.
  • Importance of exploring remote countries and making connections with locals.
  • Mention visiting unique places like Pakistan, Iran, Venezuela, and Myanmar.
  • 09:01 🌍 Initial success and challenges of The Broke Backpacker.
  • The early success of the website was due to a lack of coverage in certain countries.
  • Impact of COVID-19 on the business, leading to income loss and traffic decrease.
  • 10:23 📚 The evolution of The Broke Backpacker blog into a website.
  • Transition from an email list to a website to share travel content.
  • Importance of having a platform to direct people to read the content.
  • 13:11 📈 Factors contributing to the early success of the blog.
  • Traveling to places with limited existing content.
  • Generating a loyal following through raw and honest storytelling.
  • Aggressively pitching media publications for exposure and links.
  • 15:13 📰 Building high-profile backlinks through pitching strategies.
  • Creating a spreadsheet of editors and consistently pitching them.
  • Viral stories and collaborations with publications to earn high-profile links
  • 16:37 💰 Initial success and growth strategies of The Broke Backpacker.
  • Importance of unique content and raw storytelling.
  • Early success through sponsored posts and cash injections from tours and affiliate marketing.
  • 20:17 💼 Scaling the business and building a team.
  • Hiring team members based on personal connections and strong pitches.
  • Scaling content production and affiliate marketing success.
  • Building a brand before the website and leveraging a pre-existing following.
  • 22:40 🚀 Cultivating a loyal audience and community.
  • Focusing on building a community of “True Believers” through raw and relatable content.
  • Leveraging the pre-existing following to attract tour participants and team members.
  • Importance of building an audience before focusing on SEO and website ranking.
  • 24:17 📹 Creating viral content and successful affiliate marketing strategies.
  • Unique content went viral: road-style dispatches, getting a tattoo from a 102-year-old master tattoo artist, and showcasing Venezuela’s inflation.
  • Affiliate marketing success through backpacking Mega guides and various content series on gear, accommodation, and insurance.
  • Successful renegotiation of commission structures and achieving high conversions.
  • 28:26 🧰 Diversifying revenue streams and the challenges faced.
  • Initial success with physical products, but faced challenges with increased shipping costs and competition from Amazon Basics.
  • Long-term goal of opening a hostel for entrepreneurs and digital nomads.
  • Creating content to support future projects and transitioning away from reliance on affiliates.
  • 29:59 🚢 Transitioning to brick-and-mortar business and personal growth.
  • Excitement about learning a different side of making money through a physical business.
  • Exploring the opportunity to open a hostel and experiencing personal growth.
  • Desire to apply previous offline work experience to online ventures.
  • 30:15 💼 Sponsored message from Rank IQ on keyword research for Google traffic gains.
  • Testimonial from a blogger using Rank IQ’s keyword library to target low competition keywords and increase Google traffic.
  • 32:47 🔮 Navigating challenges during COVID-19 and the impact on travel bloggers.
  • Shared experiences of travel bloggers seeing significant decrease in income during the pandemic.
  • Not needing a crystal ball to predict the impact on travel-related businesses.
  • Teasing upcoming discussion on current status and success.
  • 33:01 🔮 Impact of COVID-19 on travel bloggers and revenue streams.
  • Struggles during COVID-19, with significant decrease in income.
  • Challenges of high running costs and delayed payments from affiliate partners.
  • Transitioning from profitable months to experiencing losses.
  • 36:16 📈 Post-COVID strategies and current successes.
  • Rebounding from the impact of COVID-19 with a “rebirth” in 2022.
  • Focusing on content resonating with the, including unique travel experiences and tips for traveling on a budget.
  • Emphasizing the need for online income to sustain long-term travel and sharing valuable insights without charging the audience.
  • 38:07 💰 Generating revenue through targeted keywords and content.
  • Importance of search queries for buying keywords to drive revenue.
  • Creating high-quality content that answers specific travel-related questions.
  • Leveraging link building efforts to expand into new areas and generate income.
  • 39:57 🧠 Balancing revenue-generating content with personal passion.
  • Difference between revenue-generating content and passion-driven travel stories.
  • Content like “best places to stay in Ireland” includes additional information about the country’s history and culture.
  • Using photos taken by team members who have actually visited the destinations to add authenticity to the content.
  • 41:18 🔎 Factors contributing to content ranking on Google.
  • Importance of using original photos instead of stock images.
  • The use of unique elements like hand-drawn maps to enhance content.
  • Avoiding the use of chat GPT and focusing on leveraging personal experiences to create a unique twist.
  • 43:26 💰 Maximizing monetization strategies on money pages.
  • Low reliance on ad income and focus on affiliate links and promoting products/services.
  • Experimentation with monetizing content related to activities through activity providers, though challenging.
  • Effectiveness of renegotiating commission structures and building real relationships with affiliates.
  • 46:23 👥 Managing and organizing a team efficiently.
  • Having a management team and clear responsibilities.
  • Utilizing project management tools like Asana and Trello.
  • Employing a cost-effective Filipino VA team for various tasks, such as fixing site issues and handling visual elements.
  • 48:56 💡 Optimizing resource utilization through effective content creation process.
  • Utilizing experts at different stages of content creation to maximize value.
  • Employing a hierarchical process involving well-paid English-speaking editors, junior editors, and VA team members.
  • Maximizing efficiency and cost-effectiveness in the content creation process.
  • 49:37 🔎 Content updating and keeping it fresh.
  • Focus on updating old content instead of creating new content.
  • Tracking software to update outdated information and correct errors.
  • In-country assignments for team members to verify the accuracy of recommendations.
  • 51:12 💡 Importance of updating old content.
  • Emphasis on accuracy and relevance of recommendations to ensure value for readers.
  • Building brand loyalty and awareness through new content related to the Backpacker lifestyle.
  • Discovery of occasional valuable content opportunities like Christmas cabins.
  • 52:33 🔄 Adapting to changes in Google’s algorithm.
  • Ensuring team members use chat GPT as a planning tool, not for copying and pasting.
  • Addressing challenges of dishonesty with work hours and outsourced content.
  • Noting changes in Google’s SERPs, with more content appearing above the fold.
  • 55:04 🔍 Exploring future directions and strategies.
  • Focus on email newsletters and launching a new lead magnet.
  • Effective management of social media platforms by team members.
  • Upcoming podcast launch to generate more awareness and practice public speaking.
  • 56:27 🏢 Expanding into co-working hostels and online entrepreneurship.
  • Development of co-working hostels for digital nomads and online entrepreneurs.
  • Focus on scaling and building a strong community.
  • Plans to expand to more units and potentially organize events.
  • 57:22 📢 Continuing to build the brand and exploring new channels.
  • Importance of having a podcast and an email newsletter for marketing.
  • Personal aversion to social media accessibility.
  • Nurturing passion and finding excitement in different aspects of the job.
  • 58:29 🔥 Nurturing passion and staying motivated.
  • The importance of nurturing passion and finding purpose in the work.
  • Mentioning the perks of the job and opportunities for personal growth.
  • Focusing on providing useful information to the audience.
  • 58:58 🌍 Connecting with digital nomads and promoting the hostel.
  • Encouraging listeners to visit the co-working hostel in Bali called “Tribal.”
  • Mentioning the opportunity for a free coffee by beating the host in a game of pool or chess.
  • Welcoming interactions from the Niche Pursuits audience


The Secrets of Building a Successful Travel Blog: Insights from The Broke Backpacker

Are you dreaming of traveling the world, exploring far-flung destinations, and documenting your adventures? Well, you are not alone. Travel blogging has become a popular aspiration for many wanderlust-filled individuals who want to share their experiences and tips with the world.

But building a successful travel blog is no easy feat. However, there are pioneers who have paved the way and achieved remarkable success, and one such trailblazer is Will Hatton, the founder of The Broke Backpacker.

From $10 a Day Budget to a Thriving Online Business

Will Hatton is no stranger to the challenges of budget travel. He spent two and a half years in India, surviving on just $10 a day. It was during this time that he realized the need for a platform that provides valuable information and resources for travelers on a shoestring budget. And so, The Broke Backpacker was born.

Starting as an email list with only 30 people, the website quickly gained traction and was officially launched in 2013. Will understood the importance of building a brand before focusing on the website itself.

By immersing himself in the world of travel, connecting with locals, and writing about his experiences, he started to carve a unique niche in the travel blogging industry.

Going Off the Beaten Path: Gaining Traction with Unique Content

What made The Broke Backpacker stand out from the crowd was its focus on destinations that had little to no coverage in search engines.

Will’s dedication to covering lesser-known places attracted the attention of prominent sources such as The Guardian,, The Huffington Post, USA Today, and The Telegraph. The website’s reputation grew through high-quality backlinks and collaborations.

But it wasn’t just the destinations that caught people’s attention; it was the raw and honest stories that Will shared.

From hitchhiking across Iran to exploring the lesser-known corners of Pakistan, his content was adventurous, unfiltered, and captivating. These stories generated a loyal following that craved authentic and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

Monetizing the Backpacking Lifestyle

Building a successful travel blog wouldn’t be possible without generating income. Will’s journey to monetization was a strategic one. After a year and a half, The Broke Backpacker started earning money primarily through sponsored posts.

The real game-changer was when Will organized a tour to Pakistan, which brought in a significant amount of money. He wisely reinvested these earnings into hiring writers and scaling content production.

Affiliate marketing also played a crucial role in monetization. Will focused on partnering with companies in the travel industry, such as gear, accommodation, and insurance providers. By negotiating favorable commission structures with affiliate partners, he maximized his income potential.

Scaling the Business: Challenges and Adaptation

Scaling a travel blog requires more than just great content; it demands effective management and strategy. Will started recruiting team members he met while traveling or those who made compelling pitches.

Building a strong brand presence was a priority, and the unique content, stamped with The Broke Backpacker’s markers like hitchhiking on top of a bus, helped the website go viral.

But challenges are inevitable, especially within the ever-evolving landscape of Google’s search algorithms. Will, like many other travel bloggers, faced a significant decrease in income due to changes in Google’s search result layout. More integrated maps and booking platforms emerged, making it tougher to rank and secure traffic.

The COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated the challenges. The Broke Backpacker lost its income overnight, leaving Will with a dwindling revenue stream and the need to adapt rapidly. During this time, he doubled down on content creation while dipping into his savings to cover losses. Website redesign was also on the agenda to align with Google’s changes and user preferences.

The Future of The Broke Backpacker

Despite the setbacks, the Broke Backpacker team managed to weather the storm and is currently making good money. Their focus is on providing content that resonates with the audience, delivering unique travel experiences, and offering invaluable tips for traveling on a budget.

The income primarily comes from content that ranks for buying keywords related to travel products and accommodations.

To stay ahead of the game, the Broke Backpacker team keeps a keen eye on quality. They emphasize personal experiences, original photos, and unique features like hand-drawn maps. However, they steer clear of using chat GPT on their site, valuing the authenticity and credibility of their content.

Looking ahead, Will Hatton has ambitious plans for expansion. He aims to open a second co-working hostel in Indonesia, catering specifically to the online entrepreneurship community. The focus is on scaling the business, hosting events, and nurturing a vibrant community of digital nomads.

Embrace Your Passion for Travel Blogging

Will Hatton’s journey with The Broke Backpacker demonstrates that building a successful travel blog is a labor of love. It requires authentic storytelling, unique content, effective monetization strategies, and adaptability in the face of challenges.

By leveraging personal experiences, establishing meaningful connections, and staying true to your passion, you can create a thriving online business that not only supports your travel dreams but also inspires others to embark on their own adventures.