Entrepreneur: Chris Mitchell

Biz: Traveling Mitch

Tilt: Personal travel advice

Primary Channel: Blog, newsletter (2K)

Other Channels: Instagram (17.1K), X (21.9K), TikTok (5.9K),  Ultimate Ontario (4K), We Explore Canada (1K), This Week in Blogging (2K) 

Time to First Dollar: 24 months

Rev Streams: Ad networks, affiliate sales, partner campaigns, consulting, speaking

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Take a chance: Chris Mitchell launched his travel blog because he was sick of repeating his travel stories to friends and families. His content, though, also attracted search engines that delivered traffic to his site.
  • Make a plan: Chris and his wife Bri decided she would work a full-time job so the family had a stable income while he went full time as a content entrepreneur.
  • Start a newsletter: Though blogging is the primary channel, Chris started a newsletter as soon as possible to reach his audience even if traffic slowed because Google changed its algorithm.
  • Know the difference between being for hire and for sale: When you are growing in this industry, it is easy to sell your audience to the highest bidder. Don’t sell your content or brand short. Always be for hire, not for sale.

The Story of Chris Mitchell

Chris Mitchell’s journey began in Oslo, Norway, in 2010. While studying abroad for the year, he traveled quite a bit throughout Europe but quickly grew tired of retelling the same stories to friends and family over Skype. So he wrote them and pointed everyone to read about his trips on the blog. As Chris chronicled his adventures – and talked about where world events were occurring – the content was ranking well in search results. 

Chris returned to Canada to finish his fourth year of university, and after graduation, Chris and his wife Bri moved to South Korea to teach English, and he continued the blog. One evening, while out for drinks, a friend suggested he should apply to be a World Korea blogger. Chris didn’t know the program, and when he looked it up that night, he found the deadline had passed. He threw his name in any way.

Chris was named one of 30 World Korea bloggers, a program where other bloggers promoted his content through valuable backlinks. The additional traffic to his site boosted his confidence.

“I just thought this was a fun hobby before I got on with real life, but then I thought, what if this can be real life,” he tells The Tilt.

I just thought travel blogging was a fun hobby before I got on with real life. Then I thought, "What if this can be real life?" @TravelingMitch via @MarcMaxhimer. #ContentEntrepreneur Click To Tweet

Chris and Bri returned to Toronto to get their education degrees and then shipped off to teach in Istanbul in 2014. During political unrest in the city, Chris shared opinions on his travel blog about the current climate. He appeared on CNN to describe his experience at a wedding party where a bombing happened not far away. The blog gained more traffic. 

Switch to full-time entrepreneur 

Before Chris left Istanbul, he attended the TBEX blogging conference in Jerusalem and realized he was further ahead than he thought with his blog. When they moved back to Toronto in 2017, Chris went full time with content creation and the blog. Bri taught to provide a stable income for the family and allow Chris the time to turn Traveling Mitch into a content business. 

He focused on optimizing his content for search to get the top rankings that provided the traffic to generate revenue through affiliate sales, ad networks, and campaigns with tourism boards. Chris also created the Traveling Mitch newsletter, providing an initial download with recommendations and links for basic travel apps and services. It helped establish Chris as an expert and gave immediate value to the new subscriber.

Chris wanted a sense of community but couldn’t find other creators in the Toronto area. After attending a meetup organized by Travel Massive in 2018, Chris met other bloggers who shared his desire. They banded together and founded the Toronto Bloggers Collective, which is going strong today with over 700 members.

Creating a media company

After the success of the Toronto Blogger Collective, Chris and his colleague, Kevin Wagar, began to look for other niche areas to fill in the blogger travel space and realized no website existed for travel in and around Ontario. They started Ultimate Ontario in 2019, which became the largest Ontario travel site (other than the government website). The duo soon added a newsletter to the offerings on Ultimate Ontario and began to monetize via ad networks and affiliate sales. Being recognized as a leading expert in the Ontario travel space, they added paid campaigns with ad partners to increase their revenue.

@TravelingMitch and his business partner realized Ontario, Canada, didn't have a non-government travel site, so they created it and added a newsletter. Via @MarcMaxhimer #ContentBusiness Click To Tweet

Continuing to grow their new media company, the duo founded We Explore Canada in 2021 after the success of Ultimate Ontario. They followed the same formula, filling a need in the Canadian travel blog space and monetizing using ad networks, affiliate sales, and partner campaigns. The wider range of partners allowed Chris to include contests and giveaways via deals that also generated revenue for the site. Again, knowing the benefit of direct access to their audience, Chris and Kevin added a newsletter to their content offerings for We Explore Canada. Both sites accept guest blogging articles and contract with outside contributors.

Becoming the expert

Despite running a media company with four properties, Chris still wanted on a larger scale to help other creators perfect their craft. 

In 2020, Chris and fellow blogger Jeremy Jones of Living the Dream created an advice site called This Week in Blogging. The newsletter provides best practices, expert advice, and other blogging news. The duo recently published the 175th edition. 

Chris is proud of the low unsubscribe rate for This Week in Blogging, as well as his average reader engagement across all his newsletters – 46.7% open rate and 7% click rate. 

Chris says the engaged audiences allow him to pitch campaigns to potential partners because he can guarantee their content and offers will be seen. It’s not uncommon for his email lists to generate 1.5K entries in a partner giveaway. To accomplish this, Chris regularly prunes his email lists. He sends re-engagement emails to cull non-engaged subscribers.

Chris has parlayed his success as a blogger and travel expert into other streams of revenue. He is a speaker and consultant who helps other bloggers learn and fine-tune their content business. Chris also recently landed the new position of TBEX North America Conference director.

Advice for content entrepreneurs

Chris says bloggers should create a newsletter right away. “I want to know that even if Google is being spastic, my true fans are just an email away,” he says. Deliver content that shows subscribers you value gaining permission to come into their inbox.

Though SEO has evolved since Chris started, it remains a must for bloggers today. Be more strategic in the content’s headers and add proper meta descriptions. Also, look for the untapped keywords. 

Start a newsletter when you launch your blog so you don't have to rely on Google for long-term access to your audience, says #Entrepreneur @TravelingMitch. Click To Tweet

For example, Chris knows his content can’t compete with the top results of “things to do in Miami.” However, with a little research, Chris realized he could rank in the top results for “how to spend four days in Miami” or “how to spend one week in Miami.” The phrases likely don’t have the same search volume, but your content will be more visible to those who do search.

About the author

Marc Maxhimer is the director of growth and partnerships at The Tilt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics education and a master’s degree in educational administration.  He previously taught middle school for 16 years.  Marc lives in (and loves all things) Cleveland with his wife, two daughters, and dog.