An Interview with Matt Kepnes

Nomadic Matt

 Matt Kepnes is Nomadic Matt – writer and owner of the popular travel blog of the same name. After a RTW trip in 2004, he decided to build a budget travel blog that would help other travelers save money and build their itineraries. In our interview, Matt talks to me about the difference between being a “businessman” and having a “business.” Enjoy!

First, let’s talk about Nomadic Matt, your travel blog. What makes your site different from other travel blogs out there?

Well, this question opens up a can of worms, doesn’t it? Let’s go right for the jugular! Well, all blogs are different. That’s what makes them unique and worth reading. However, I suspect you’re really asking me “why is my site so much bigger than everyone else?” and the reason for that comes down to the fact I treat my blog as a media company not a personal journal. As Jay Z said, “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man.” I don’t think enough bloggers think that way which is a shame because some have a real lot to offer.

Are you doing anything differently now than five years ago in terms of bringing in traffic? If so, what are you doing and what would you recommend to people in the industry who are just now starting out?

The best thing you can do is to network, network, network. Meet people. Talk to other bloggers. Attend conferences.  Branch out beyond travel. Make partnerships. Blogs don’t exist in a bubble and if you don’t network, you won’t succeed.

When and how did you realize that a trip abroad could become a real business? What Nomadic Matt bookdid you do from there?

Well, I’m accidental blogger. My real goal was to do freelance writing and publish guidebooks. The blog just sort of happened to take off and one day I realized I might be able to make this into a full time job.

How did your MBA inform your business model for travel blogging? What advice would you give to new travel bloggers?

My MBA hasn’t done anything for me. Everything I learn I learn from doing, trail and error, and following the best practices of other bigger bloggers.

If a new travel blogger approached you and asked you how she/he could make money doing this, what would you tell them?

I’d say “I have no idea.” How much can a business make? It depends on how good your business is.  There’s no real answer to this question. It depends on the idea. 

In terms of the advancements in digital media, how do you see your income stream changing in the next 5 years?

I can’t predict that far in advance. All I can say is that I always strive to diversify my income stream in order to ensure that I’m never dependent on too few. This year I plan to create a few new ebooks, blogging courses, and start running tours.

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 Matthew Kepnes runs the award winning budget travel site, Nomadic Matt. He is a native of Boston, Mass but he calls the world his home. He got the travel bug after a trip to Costa Rica in 2004 and after a trip to Thailand the following year, Matt decided to quit his job, finish his MBA and head off into the world. His original trip was supposed to last a year. Over six years later, he is still out exploring and roaming the world. He’s scuba dived in Fiji, was a poker player in Amsterdam, taught English in Thailand, got lost in a jungle in Central America and broke down in the middle of Australia’s outback.

Interview conducted in April, 2013 by Kristin Mock.

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