My Very Own Thailand Road Map

Talen has finally flown the nest and migrated to a land full of smiles. In a few days time Toronto International Airport will hear the loudest woohoooo ever, when Siam Rick boards his flight to South East Asia and a long extended stay in a country brimming with exotic fruits and aromatic spices. Steve, Golf and their young daughter are planning to take flight next year to start a new life in a hot and humid country formerly called Siam. Everybody’s going to Thailand and I’m getting left behind.

Back in June Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva unveiled his five point road map to national reconciliation in an effort to bridge the social and economic divide which has split the nation in two. Two months later I laid out my own personal road map to Thailand as I mentally made plans to leave the UK for a new life in Thailand on August 12th 2012.

Prime Minister Abhisit’s road is a long and twisting one with many mountain passes but his route will be chauffeur driven in a sleek black limousine. My clapped out tuk tuk has a pot holed mountain road glazed with black ice to climb and conquer. My tortoise will need a trail of cocaine to snort and a rocket on its shell if it’s to beat the hare of Khun Abhisit.

I launched Beyond The Mango Juice in August 2008 as a part time hobby. It took a long time before it regularly clocked 30 visitors a day but last month the site had over 4,500 hits and 7,000 pageloads throughout August. That explains why my tuk tuk is clapped out, the road has been a long one so far. Those figures aren’t fantastic but the Mango has grown into a fruit packed solid with Juice. It’s not one of the big league Thai blog players but it is now an established second tier Thai site. I’m quite proud of that when you consider 95% of the blog’s content is written in a small bedroom 6,000 miles away from its target source.

Beyond The Mango Juice followed the course of most blogs by adding Google AdSense to its pages in the hope of gaining a small degree of revenue for the considerable amount of effort put into the blog. Google AdSense works, but in my case I’m never going to get rich from it. My plan was to develop a chain of blogs which might one day earn enough money each month to supplement my savings and allow my dream of moving to Thailand full time come true.

Last year I added Photo Caption to my chain and earlier this year a sports blog called Round Ball Passion. Two weeks ago I added a fourth, Six Two Four, which is a sports gambling blog. The latter is a theme which can generate big earnings in the form of affiliate programs but of course you need readers first. Readers are the mountain my tuk tuk must climb.

I have now added affiliate programs to all four blogs and carefully chosen each program to hopefully suit each site’s theme. On Beyond The Mango Juice I have a Thai dating site called ThaiLoveLines and two hotel booking services. Hotels Combined is a hotel search engine that combines all hotel deals, from all major travel websites into one free, quick and easy search. My second hotel choice is ido24 whose company is authorized by both the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT licence no. 14/00232) and Association of Thai Travel Agents (ATTA licence no. 02970). Ido24 provide a wide range of discounted hotels throughout Thailand.

My research on affiliate programs revealed that things don’t just happen overnight. They take time to attract hits and custom, and invariably those hits come from random search engine readers. I’m interested to hear from fellow bloggers (not just Thai themed) who have added affiliate programs to their sites. I’ve a few questions for you.

  • Do affiliate programs generate reasonable earnings for you.
  • Are these programs ‘old hat’ or the way forward in earning revenue from blogging.
  • Do you think they are off putting for readers.
  • Have you had any bad experience (non payment etc) from affiliate programs yourself.

I realise four blog sites will never generate my target earnings of 500 euros (20,000 baht) a month but I have intentions of adding a further six sites to my armoury. Maybe that’s not enough, but like my present four, each would have to hold a theme which has a big interest to me.

My time has come to try and climb my mountain, I just hope a sleek black limousine doesn’t shove me off the road and send me spiralling downwards along the way.


I'm a sixty-year-old Englishman living in the town of Swindon in rural Wiltshire and I have a real deep desire to retire in Thailand one day. If you don't have a dream then you won't have a dream come true.

25 Responses

  1. Paul says:

    Hi Martyn, I can’t really offer you any practical advice on affiliate programmes. What I will say is that if you keep on pushing you will get to where you want to go. I do believe that we can all achieve our dreams, but we have to keep pushing even if we seem to be going nowhere sometimes. I don’t know if you have ever seen the ‘last lecture’ by Randy Pausch? He suggested that the road to any type of success is hard but that this is not to stop us reaching the goal; it is only to stop does who don’t really want it – I’m convinced this is true.

    I only launched my new website a couple of months ago. I decided not to monetize it or have any type of donate button. The original purpose of this website was to help promote my book ‘Dead Drunk’ and as a venue to talk about my life in recovery from addiction. Of course the fact that I live in Thailand means that I’m going to be talking about that as well. I decided that if people wanted to support the website they can buy the book; not directly from me though. The site is slowly pulling in more visitors each week and maybe one day I’ll regret not monetizing it – at the moment though it just feels like the right thing to do.

    I really do hope that these websites work out for you. You do sound like you know what you are doing. Keep the faith and start packing for 2012.

  2. Hoo Don says:

    Paul I’ll quote you from your comment:

    “You do sound like you know what you are doing. Keep the faith and start packing for 2012.”

    I hit the publish button for this post about 30 minutes ago and since then most of my post dashboard tools have disappeared. I’ve even reinstalled my latest WordPress version and I still can’t get them back. I haven’t a clue what I’m doing and just bumble from one crisis to another. The backend of my blogs are not a place you’d want to visit after dark.

    Thanks for the words of encouragement and if Randy Pausch is right then I’ll get there because I am determined to do it.

    Sorry for being a bit inactive commenting wise this week but I’ve been working and have had a heavy cold as well. It left me feeling a bit uuugh. I’ve now got three days off and I’m feeling much better. I’ll have a few beers lunchtime then read all the blogs tonight.

    I reckon one of your five minute Muay Thai rounds would do me in.


  3. Talen says:

    Martyn, Beyond the Mango Juice is definitely not a second tier Thai blog….it is a very solid first tier blog in my mind.

    As for affiliate programs…they may work well in other niches but I have yet to have one work well in the Thailand niche. If you only wrote about hotels then you might stand a chance but we all write about every aspect of Thailand and it doesn’t really lend itself to affiliate programs well.

    I had Agoda on my site for a long time just so I could get the minimum payout. Once I had that in hand I dropped them.Since then I have concentrated on direct advertising and tweaking my adsense positions.

    You might want to test your adsense positions and try different sized ads. The 468×60 ads you are currently using are the least effective whereas the larger ads garner more clicks. The ad positions also work better higher on the page. I know it’s a balancing act as you don’t want to upset readers. That’s why I use the Why Do Work Adsense plugin which not only injects the ads where I want them but keeps them from being displayed for a few days so regular visitors don’t get annoyed with ads on new posts. It’s the search engine folk who regularly click them anyway.

  4. Hoo Don says:

    Talen thanks for your comment, it’s packed solid with the kind of information I need. You’ve just given me some snow ploughs for my tuk tuk.

    I’ll stick with the hotel affiliations for a while but yes I can see you are probably right about them.

    The larger ads are a problem for me because the Juice has only got one sidebar and not very wide at that. I can’t put anything too big or wide into it.

    I’ll definitely change over to the Why Do Work Adsense plugin this afternoon and try to place a larger advert or two somewhere on the site where it won’t offend readers.

    Direct advertising….do you approach them or do they contact you? Is there a site where they advertise for possible blog slots.

    Thanks for a most helpful comment.

  5. Talen says:

    Martyn, place the largest adsense ads in your post …just let the plugin make them go live when you want. You can have a new post adsense free for 7 days or 40 days before the adsense appears in it.

    All the direct advertisers have contacted me and I have set up 1 year deals with most of them. There are a few sites where you can get listed as looking for advertisers but honestly they aren’t worth the effort for the traffic the niche does and the money on offer.

  6. Hoo Don says:

    Talen thanks again for the information. I couldn’t find the adsense plugin via my dashboard but I have located it on the net and will upload it to my files.


  7. Mike says:

    Martyn the plugin Talen mentions is very good, he put me onto it too. I have also got some code so you can insert and fold text around ads in the post. Will email it to you with instructions.

  8. Hoo Don says:

    Mike thanks I appreciate your help and will endeavour to unravel the instructions when they arrive. Me and instructions have a long and chequered past.

  9. Jon says:

    Hi Martyn,

    I’m intrigued by the road map, certainly seems more feasible that a lot of Mr Abhisit’s.

    I’d also agree with Talen that you’re a TPL blogger – those stats are very impressive and far outweigh my modest effort with JF.

    Personally, like Paul, I’ve never monetised my blog and instead used it (or more my social media site) to generate paid work for others in line with my work as a journalist. But, like you, I have considered creating an affiliate blog for a while and will watch your efforts with interest.

    For now, I’ll stay with the amateur JF and my Asian Correspondent blog. Get you with your burgeoning blogosphere properties

  10. Emm says:

    Second tier my ass. Don’t ever put your own blog down, especially with those impressive stats. The only thing I could suggest from you lovely Thailand bloggers is that one of you start posting about quick, easy and cheap Thai itineraries for us lazy travellers.

    “Two months later I laid out my own personal road map to Thailand as I mentally made plans to leave the UK for a new life in Thailand on August 12th 2012”. This made me gleeful. I love it when someone puts their dreams into action. One of these days I will put my own dream into action, even if the action means that I realise once and for all that it is not going to happen.

  11. Emm says:

    Oh no! Now my other comment has appeared. Please just ignore me and delete one of them. Head forehead.

  12. Catherine says:

    Martyn, quite a few bloggers are coming to Thailand this year. And as most are learning Thai it’s quite exciting. And now I know when you are tentatively arriving too. Great fun.

    Ditto on your blog being a fine read. It’s like a comfy sofa with friends gathered all around. You’ve done well.

    I’m afraid I don’t know much about affiliates or ads. I have both, but they’ve contacted me. Problem is, I have to watch what I have on my sidebar. So if I don’t feel that the product is worthwhile for whatever reasons, then I turn them away.

  13. Steve says:

    Hey Martyn,

    Don’t feel badly as Golf and I have been navigating the winding roads on our journey to return to Thailand in an old songthaew that sometimes seems driven by a yaba fueled taxi tout. Ours too has been quite a journey and it’s not over yet so there’s no telling what kind of ugly monster might rear its head during the final months of our trip. Don’t get discouraged as IM income can be difficult to come by, but once established tends to be pretty stable (IMHO). Golf and I had a 5 year plan to return to the LOS so your own 2 year plan seems a lark in comparison :>)

    Regarding the affiliate programs I have found that pretty much anything in the Thailand niche is low paying and low converting. Like Talen I also had Agoda on TM for almost 2 years before having enough commissions to get paid. And that payment took them 3 months and repeated emails to get right.

    Talen gives very good info about tweaking your Adsense positions. Besides positioning you can also play with the colors and fonts which can sometimes have an impact on the CTR.

    Let me close out by joining in to say that Beyond the Mango Juice is definitely not a second tier Thai blog.

  14. Hoo Don says:

    Emm thanks for your comments, three has now become two. There’s a saying in there somewhere.

    I don’t know about cheap but Mike recently put out a post about a two week itinerary for Thailand, here’s the link:

    I have a dream but will it come true. I’m determined to make it happen but I don’t think that is enough. I think you also need a large slice of luck.


  15. Hoo Don says:

    Catherine thanks for the kind words about the Juice but unfortunately the sofa is a two seater and not three with two large accompanying chairs. One day maybe.

    You’re lucky in having advertisers contact you but then again all the hard work you put into your blog is evident for all to see. WLT is a fine catch for advertisers.

    I’ll give the affiliate programs a go but I haven’t got much hope of them pulling in much revenue. My gambling one should have good earnings prospects but I’ve got to get the readers there first.


  16. Hoo Don says:

    Steve I was hoping you’d drop by. You’re a bit of an expert in this field, blog revenue I’m talking about. Your 2,000 dollars a month earnings are fantastic, I’d be happy with a quarter of that. I take my hat off (if I had one) to you, those figures are awesome and an inspiration to me to try that much harder.

    Good luck with your own plans on the move to Thailand, with your writing ability and blog expertise you are going to be earning big bucks for many years to come. I meant what I said, you are an inspiration to me.

  17. Steve says:

    I don’t know how much of an expert I am since I seem to always feel as if I’m floundering about trying to figure what will work :>)

    I guess the main thing is I keep learning and keep working. 14 months until the move and the goal is to double those earnings. Not sure I will make it, but I sure as heck will try. Love to have you along for the ride, email sent in that vein.

  18. Hoo Don says:

    Steve thanks for your speedy response. I’ve just read your email and will contact you tomorrow, I appreciate the contents.

    A big thanks.

  19. Snap says:

    Hi Martyn

    Is it feasible to focus one of your blogs/websites on what North Eastern Thailand has to offer, a travel centre if you will? I imagine most local businesses do not have the budget for online advertising, but larger hotels, car hire and such might.

    If you write reviews about the lesser known local attractions, cafes, hidden treasures of the area etc. you could create a site that draws in tourists, and where larger businesses would want to advertise.

    I do believe you need to find a niche, unless you pay big time to compete with already established business sites.

    Although I don’t have third party advertisers on one of my business sites, it generates a good income by bringing in work, with little effort. It’s a niche market, therefore I don’t have to try very hard. I get good results in google searches without concentrating too much on Adwords etc. I also utilise every free advertising directory I can find.

    Just a thought! I maybe way off?

  20. Hoo Don says:

    Snap I hadn’t thought about an Udon Thani travel site. It’s a good idea and one I may take up if I ever am lucky enough to pack my carpet slippers into my suitcase for good. I’ll file that idea in my memory chip.

    I don’t think the affiliate programs will work on BTMJ but I’ll try them out for a couple of months. I’m a lot more hopeful of them eventually working on my gambling site.

  21. Siam.Rick says:

    Don’t feel so bad, Martyn, with my, oh, $15 in AdSense earnings, it will be maybe a year or two before I reach the “payout” threshold. I’ve actually been thinking about dumping the ads because I generally don’t like the look of them, they take up space, but mostly I’m too lazy to research and work on the “back end” of the blog site to optimize revenue sources. I may change my mind if I can see a time when I might need some $$$, though.

    I am impressed you’ve started a bunch of sites and are planning to add more. Good on you, mate! BTW, I have no idea what 6-2-4 means. I’m not a gambler, in fact, I have one rule: never, ever gamble.

    I have a plan for a site that will be more along what Talen talks about. It is also my area of expertise, although the Asian market will be, well, let’s say an educational experience.

    Also BTW, no one writing here in this comments column is anything but first tier. Period. (or Full Stop, as you Brits would say.)

  22. Siam.Rick says:

    Whoops, Martyn, is this the first time you’ve written about your 2012 plan? If so, everything starts with a good plan and so I wish you all the best on that. If not, please post a link here. Remember, I’m lazy.

  23. Hoo Don says:

    Rick your AdSense earnings are about the same as mine, although I did actually get £2.57 in one day on Friday. Maybe Talen’s AdSense tips (see his comment) have started to kick in. I think working on the back end of a blog is very important, it’s just that I don’t really know what I’m doing.

    624 translates to a betting term of 6/4 (6 to 4). I’ve always been a gambler especially on football, nothing to heavy, just small fun bets. That’s one of the things I miss when I’m in Thailand (football betting) although in Pattaya there were a few bars that took bets, probably still do.

    Best of luck if you take up your new site venture and have a good trip to Thailand.

  24. Kirk says:

    Wish you all the best in Thailand and a great success in networking.

  25. Hoo Don says:

    Kirk thanks for your kind words. I hope you’ll pop back to the Juice sometime in the near future.

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