How Kimmie’s Blog Supports Her Dream Life of Travel

How Kimmie's blog supports her dream life of travel

Sometimes the freedom created by an online business is more important than the money it generates. In her early 20s, Kimmie Conner knew that she wanted to travel, and traditional careers didn’t appeal to her. Today, her travel blog allows her to work and travel on her own terms. In this interview, she shares how she grew the blogging business to become her ideal job.

👇 Key Takeaways

  • Kimmie’s blog benefits from diversified revenue streams
  • She went full-time with her blog after a bad experience at her full-time job (4 years after starting the blog)
  • Kimmie uses social media for community and engagement more than for driving traffic to her site
  • An SEO audit led to major traffic growth after she made the necessary changes


Business Name: Adventures & Sunsets Blog
Website URL:
Founder: Kimmie Conner
Business Location: USA
Year Started: 2015
Number of Employees/Contractors/Freelancers: 2

How much revenue does the business generate?

$5,000-10,000 per month 

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I was born and raised in California to parents who were a pilot and a flight attendant, so I always say that travel was in my blood! I majored in communications at UCLA and was a heptathlete on the track & field team there.

As I worked through my years of school, I realized that I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I just knew I wanted to travel. After studying abroad and another trip to Europe in my senior year, I decided that jumping into a full-time job sounded awful and that I would move to London instead! 

I’m half British (with a passport, luckily), so I started adulthood by moving to London alone—at least if I were working different jobs, it would all be a new adventure because it was a new city and a new country! This is when I started my travel blog—little did I know it would end up funding my lifestyle and becoming my job and passion for the next decade and more!

But, it was not immediately that way. In fact, I had no idea what I was doing for a few years and was randomly sharing stories and adventures on it. When I eventually signed up for more courses and conferences, I slowly learned the power of SEO, how to strategize with affiliate marketing, and how to open up more income streams too.

I only went full-time in 2019, but before then, I worked as a waitress, in sales, in promo, in hospitality staffing, as a tour guide in multiple forms, an event photographer, and so much more! It has been a colorful life that enabled me to keep traveling and keep working on my blog until I could get it right. 

Kimmie Conner at the Grand Canyon
Photo courtesy of Kimmie Conner

How does your business make money?

Adventures & Sunsets makes most of its money passively, and other ways are more active. Here are the main ways:

  1. Ads: I am on Mediavine, a great ad network for blogs that allows you to monetize quite well. Your RPM depends on your traffic location, how long they stay on your page, and more. But generally, the more traffic I get, the more money I make. I get this traffic by optimizing my whole blog and each post for SEO.
  2. Affiliate marketing: I recommend products, hotels, tours, travel insurance, and more on my blog. I will make a commission if someone decides to buy through my blog. Affiliate marketing is all about having a proper strategy.
  3. Sponsored posts and brand ambassadorship: Sometimes a business or product will want to be featured in my content (whether blog or social media). They may pay me a fee to recommend their product or client on my site or create content about them on social media. 
  4. Product photography/UGC: I am a photographer with some great camera gear and also a love for creating videos on my phone, too. Sometimes, brands will pay me to shoot content of their product, venue, or destination for their use on their platforms. 
  5. Press trips: now that I have an established blog with lots of traffic and also multiple decently sized social media platforms, I am able to work with tourism boards on paid press trips. In a press trip, a destination (or brand or hotel, depending) will pay me for a full package including articles on my blog, posts and videos across my social media platforms, and edited photo and video content. These are my favorite as I can put all my skills to use, and when I use all platforms to promote a destination, the reach can be very high.

What was your inspiration for starting the blog?

I actually started a blog on Tumblr when I was in college, where I would play on Photoshop and make quote graphics (please do not look for it, hahaha). I started hearing about travel bloggers for the first time in college, and it sounded so intriguing to me. I wanted to upgrade from my Tumblr and start the real thing (although I had no idea what that was quite yet).  

The decision to move to London really put things in motion. I figured it would be great to have a place to share my experiences of moving abroad, and I loved writing. I had done all the research while still in college, chosen a domain name, settled on WordPress, and even chose my blog’s name around two things that you can enjoy no matter what corner of the earth you are in – Adventures & Sunsets 🙂

As I mentioned, I didn’t know how to monetize for a while, but when I finally got serious about it and understood the vast amount of work it takes to actually make a living from travel blogging, I kicked myself into gear and worked on it more than full time until I started seeing the money rolling in. And, I haven’t stopped since then! 

Kimmie Conner in a snowy location
Photo courtesy of Kimmie Conner

How and when did you launch the business?

I launched it the day I arrived in London to document my experiences moving abroad alone at 22! It wasn’t much of a launch, rather than pushing the website live and making some posts about it on Instagram and Facebook (where I also shared each subsequent post too)! 

How much money did you invest to start the business?

I had a bit of money saved up from working through college to buy the domain name and a WordPress theme, but for a blog, it’s much more of a time investment than a money investment unless you are hiring writers, designers, and hoping to launch and monetize fast. That was not the case (or possible) for me!

I truly did everything myself. I didn’t hire a designer; I made everything in Photoshop and learned how to use the page builder to design my first site. My boyfriend at the time helped me make a logo. I didn’t know how to monetize right away.

However, to TRULY start the business, I did invest some money in attending travel conferences and in taking online courses. I should have done this right away and I recommend this to any bloggers starting out! 

What was your first year in business like?

Since my first year blogging was not really a business, I’ll talk more about blogging as a business in general! 

My income has always fluctuated a lot from when I was making a couple hundred per month to making multiple thousands. Blogging is a rollercoaster by nature, and some posts can generate a lot of traffic and income seasonally while others are quite steady. Search trends also fluctuate, and people may be searching fo things more one year than the next. 

But the biggest thing that can make or break you is Google. As many bloggers do, I get most of my traffic from organic search (people typing queries into Google). Google often does updates that try to refine the search engine, but often cause more damage than good in the process or accidentally decimate legitimate independent content creators. At the beginning I shared my income range, which is large! 

Due to a recent Google update, my traffic and blog income are about half what they were last month. But I have been through a lot of Google updates in my blogging life, and I can only hope that, as it always has in the past, it will balance out eventually! This is why it’s important to diversify income streams as a blogger. 

What strategies did you use to grow the business?

The single most important thing to grow a blog is to master SEO! Learning how to research the keywords people use and how to optimize articles for the intent of the searcher is the best way to get more traffic, fast. It’s also important to understand other traffic mediums that may work in your niche. Pinterest used to be great for travel blogs! 

Next, honing in on a niche is a great way to increase income. Some niche blogs don’t have too much traffic, but they have lots of affiliate conversions due to their specific topic and expertise in the niche.

It’s great to have social media as a blogger also, to be able to offer promotion across web and social media to make more money on brand collaborations. 

Kimmie Conner overlooking a city
Photo courtesy of Kimmie Conner

Tell us about your team.

Right now, I have two people working with me, which is awesome! One started out as a writer but now helps me with so many different types of duties, she is really more of an assistant, which is so helpful to have and so worth slowly training her in different areas.

The other is a writer I pay for research and article writing. Both are fully remote. It took me so long to decide to outsource (which is another thing I recommend highly to bloggers starting out) 

What are your future plans for the business?

I hope to diversify my income streams even more in the future! I have yet to fully break into the digital product space, which is one of the best ways I have seen others make money online. I have an email list which I often ignore, but I would love to learn more about sales funnels on email and using digital products and opt-ins to grow this list and make sales. 

I would love to look into creating another course (I have a Lightroom photo editing course already) and, ideally, collaborate with more brands and destinations for more paid press trips and brand deals. I would love for this to be a higher percentage of my income and work with brands and destinations that I love. 

I have always dabbled with the thought of having an itinerary planning service or helping consult with people on their trips. After traveling to almost 80 countries, I would love to share and monetize that knowledge in more ways! 

How do you market your business? 

As I have mentioned, SEO is EVERYTHING for bloggers! SEO allows you to target people who are already looking for what you provide, or tips you have shared.

Social media is also huge for me. It’s more of a completely separate income stream than a way to market my main business (my blog), but they go hand in hand. 

What is your social media strategy? 

I post every other day on Instagram, every day on TikTok, and share stories nearly constantly. I also have a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, Twitter, Threads, Pinterest, and basically all of the things (as bloggers need to have). 

I don’t use social media to drive traffic to my site very much, but rather to generate a community and engagement that I can leverage for press trips and brand deals. I am ways getting creative sharing my travels and sharing relatable, informational, and inspirational travel content. 

Do you use email marketing? 

I have an email list and a few opt-ins, but this is something I let go by the wayside far more than I should! If I had physical or digital products to sell, I would likely put more time into my email list. Hopefully soon! 

How did you make the transition from side hustle to full-time?

The biggest transition point for me happened when I was actually working full-time in Melbourne for a tour company, both in marketing and as a tour guide. The job ended up being not what I expected. I would be told at the last minute to lead a tour or come into the office, and never knowing what was next made me extra anxious. After a few more negative  interactions with my boss, I ended up quitting.

Luckily, at this point, I had some savings, and I had been working on my blog on the side for four years as I worked different jobs in different countries. This really was my moment to take it full time because it was no longer an option. My visa was ending in Australia, and I was already making some money at that point, so it was time to go all in.

I switched my full-time job to full-time blogging, and was able to churn out so much content and spend more time strategizing, researching for SEO, and gaining a better understanding of what it takes to blog full time. By early 2020, I was well on my way to making more than I had made in that mentally taxing job! (Let’s not talk about after COVID hit, though… that’s a story for another article!!)

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

The biggest challenge I had to overcome was after COVID when my site was quite stagnant, and I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I hired a few people to do some audits, and one SEO audit really changed my perspective and, unfortunately, showed me that I was actually strategizing quite wrong in a lot of my articles by targeting TOO MANY keywords instead of just one and sticking to it.

This was a really tough thing to learn, but I knew that if I wanted to get my traffic back and properly make money as a professional travel blogger, I would have to do a huge overhaul of my website. 

I essentially had to rewrite a lot of my content, break posts up into multiple posts, and ruthlessly cut some content from my blog or repurpose it entirely. This included a lot of the journal-style content from moving abroad for the first time! 

This took me 6 months to a year, but it helped more than I can even articulate. Within a year and a half, my site had surpassed the amount of traffic that the person who did my audit said it might possibly be able to get one day… and it kept going! 

Kimmie Conner
Photo courtesy of Kimmie Conner

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?

  1. COMMIT – choose a hustle and dive into the deep end. Consume any and all information you can on the subject, take courses, go to conferences, and fully decide that you’re going to make it your living because if you’re only halfway in, it will never work. There’s nothing as sweet as showing yourself and others that you CAN do it.
  2. OUTSOURCE – I wish I had outsourced SO MUCH sooner. Don’t be afraid to hire people for time-consuming and less important tasks. 
  3. NETWORK – Attend events and conferences in your niche and meet people who do what you’re doing. Whether you’re going to talks or just chatting with other people who do something similar to you, there’s so much inspiration in networking.

What tools do you use and recommend?

  1. Lightroom – Amazing for editing photos with so many capabilities!
  2. InShot – This is the app I use on my phone to edit reels and TikToks. I love it! 
  3. Keysearch – The most affordable keyword research tool for SEO for anyone starting out. 
  4. Semrush – A more advanced all-around SEO tool.
  5. SEOTesting – A tool I use to keep track of my traffic and keywords.
  6. Stay22 – An incredible platform that helps manage all hotel affiliates in one place and has great technology to increase sales. 
  7. Trello – How I keep track of articles in the works, pitching, sponsored posts, and my niche sites. 

What motivates you to keep moving forward?

Being the example I wish to see in the world! I wish more people would follow their dreams by creating the life they want and making money online. I know so many people dream of traveling and working remotely but don’t know how to start. And I want to be the person to say – DO IT!

Look, I did it and so can you. You don’t have to stay stuck. You can live the life you want to live!

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