In the world of travel blogging, there’s a name everyone knows – “Nomadic Matt”. Matthew N Kepnes, the man behind Nomadic Matt, started blogging in 2008 and has since then grown his website into a full-fledged business that doesn’t only provide travel tips, but also has its own forum, sells books and runs tours. He’s become so successful that he has a proper team of 10 people that help him out.
Aside from the things mentioned above, Matt also has his own media school which currently offers four different courses. There’s a photography course, a writing course, a videography course and The Business of Travel Blogging Course, put together by Matt himself.
As some of you know, I’ve been a happy member of another travel blogging course, Travel Blog Success, for years now. So why talk about Superstar Blogging?
First of all, because Matt is brilliant at what he does and without a doubt, the most successful travel blogger out there, not just in terms of reader numbers but also financially. And secondly because meeting him a couple of times has confirmed tis and made me realize even more that it wouldn’t hurt to have a look inside his head 🙂
Superstar Blogging is that look.
But enough with the intro. Let’s see what his course has to offer.
Full disclosure: I paid for TBS several years ago when I became a member and was given access to Matt’s course for free so that I could review it. Neither party was guaranteed a positive review.
- Course lessons with homework assignments
- A recommended reading list
- Interviews with experts
- A blog
- A Facebook group
- Tech support
Course lessons with homework assignments
The course lessons focus on 9 different topics broken down into 28 separate lessons. The topics are:
- Product Creation
- Social Media
- Newsletter Marketing
- Setting Up Your Blog
- Working with Brands and PR
These 28 lessons are divided over 12 weeks, you have your blog set up with a plan on where to take it and how to get there.
The lessons primarily consist of text with screenshots, but also have video (especially to show how to set up your site), written-out case studies, audio interviews and recommended reading lists.
Every lesson ends with one or more assignments to make sure you make progress as you move through the course.
My thoughts on the course lessons
Matt’s lessons are full of information and you’ll need to read some a couple of times to really get all the juice out of them. When it comes to technical aspects, like getting hosting and installing plugins, you can simply follow the video instructions and have everything done at the end of the lesson.
Other lessons contain much more information than it looks like they do on first sight (or so I found) and while they tell you the “how”, they don’t show it as much.
For example, when talking about Instagram, the course tells you what makes a great Instagram account visually and shows you examples of some, but you’ll have to tie the dots and analyze how each of those accounts showcases the key elements talked about. It’s a bit harder than having it all laid out for you, but it does make you think about how you can apply things to your own brand more.
I think that’s the biggest strength of Matt’s course. Besides going over “do this like that”, Matt constantly throws in anecdotes of how he handled certain situations and why his tactics worked. When you get to a point like that in the course it’s important to stop for a minute and imagine how you could get in that same situation or how you could apply the anecdote to your own blog.
He also goes into why he thinks you should follow a certain route and not the other and explains the consequences of both. I think this is really valuable because it forces you to think about how you want to build your blog as you’re turning it into a proper business.
Make notes, write down ideas and come back to these lessons even after you’ve finished the course. I went through the course two times to write this post, with a few months in between, and I noticed that there still were many things I should take (better) action on.
This brings me to something I did miss in this course, and that was some kind of conclusion or “what to do next”. The last lesson is “How to work with tourism boards” and after that, there’s no guidance on how to best proceed now that you’ve gone through the course or how you can keep using it as you grow your blog.
Matt does explain how best to use this course when you start it, but a closing note like that would make me (and I think other’s as well) more confident in applying everything I’ve just learned.
The recommended reading list and expert interviews
It’s a bit confusing as both this list and the expert interviews are part of week 1’s lesson material, so if you want to come back to them, you need to remember they’re part of week one and not on a separate page like the webinars are.
I love the recommended reading list because it’s full of books on marketing and entrepreneurship in general. That’s good because the people behind them know what they’re talking about on all levels, they don’t just focus on what works in travel blogging or even in blogging so that you can learn to look at your own business field with a much more diversified and broader perspective.
The same goes for the expert interviews. Matt doesn’t talk with travel bloggers who do well with SEO or affiliate marketing, he talks with the top players in their fields regardless of blog niche.
The only thing I regret a bit is that these interviews were done when Matt launched his course, which means that they don’t really talk about the current state of things. For some things, like copywriting, that isn’t such a big deal, but for something as SEO it would be nice to hear Rand’s (yes, theRand Fishkin of Moz) perspective on SEO now.
I think the reason why Matt has left these interviews alone is that they’re all with people who, like I said, are at the total top of their game and so I’m sure it’s not that easy to ask them for a second interview. A good way to solve this could be to have a few other experts talk about the same topics but really with a focus on the state of things now.
The webinars tackle specific aspects of blogging, like building your newsletter and growing your audience. Members can follow them live or read the transcript/see the video/listen to the audio recording afterward. All webinars stay up on the course platform, so there’s no need to worry if you can’t attend them live. However, sometimes Matt does his webinars in the form of a Q&A and then it’s always good when you can be there to ask him questions.
My thoughts on the webinars
I’m pretty old school in that I much prefer to read information than to listen to it. So for me it’s definitely a plus that there are transcripts of the webinars as I never attend them live (Sorry, Matt :-)).
The webinars don’t really bring on new topics but go more into detail into topics that are also addressed in the course. They elaborate on them or look at them from different angles. For me they are most valuable when Matt addresses something a specific member is struggling with and then breaks that down and helps them (and us) think about their problem in a different way to eventually come to a solution.
Blog and interviews
I list interviews separately here, but actually, the interviews Matt does with other travel bloggers go up on the travel blog, alongside general articles on how to run a travel blog and weekly round-ups with interesting reads found elsewhere on the web.
The weekly roundups are great if you don’t want to subscribe to a ton of newsletters as Matt gives you the best articles he read that week on the business of blogging. They are the most frequently published posts on the blog, alongside the interviews with other travel bloggers.
The interviews with other travel bloggers ask them both about their travel experiences, likes and dislikes and about their blogging experiences.
The posts about blogging, lastly, tackle anything from being more productive to growing your social media channels. They appear less frequently than the interviews and the round-ups.
My thoughts on the blog
I love going through the round-ups to see if there’s anything in there about a topic I’m working on at the moment or something that could give me new ideas. The blogging articles always contain good info but they’re often pretty short and don’t go into detail. I think it’s better to check the round-ups to find websites that really focus on specific topics like affiliate marketing and SEO.
The interviews, lastly, I find hard to judge. I would prefer if they’d focus solely on how the bloggers run their business as that is, after all, what the course is about, but I can see how other people might find it interesting to also read about their travel experience as we are, after all, also all traveler.
The Facebook Group is the one bit of the course that disappointed me somewhat. I think that partially has to do because the bloggers active in there are mainly true beginners and I’m not anymore. There are little intriguing questions for people who are a bit further down the line, but I guess that’s normal as the course is geared to people who are starting out, so this is more of a personal thing than anything else.
I do feel like the group could need a bit more rules in regards to sharing blog posts, asking for website feedback and sharing collaboration opportunities. I know a lot of bloggers love these things, but I find that there are already so many Facebook groups out there that do these things that Matt’s Facebook group would stand out more if it really just focused on questions and advice around the business of blogging.
The tech support
Chris Richardson, the WordPress tech master behind RTWLabs, is also Matt’s tech guy. And he offers free tech support for members of this course.
I actually already worked with Chris before I took the course, so I don’t really know how it works when you’re part of the course but I think it’s definitely a bonus that you have someone like him to help you out when something refuses to work.
You can join The Business of Blogging for a one-time payment of $267 or three payments of $99. Given the quality and amount of content, the access to Matt and the tech support you get, I think this is a fair price.
The Business of Blogging vs Travel Blog Success: which one to choose?
A different approach
BoB is really told from Matt’s perspective and experience, while TBS approaches the course material in a less personal way. A consequence of that is that TBS caters to anyone who wants to start a travel blog – be it as a hobby, to get “free” travel opportunities or to grow a business – while Matt really focuses on growing your blog as a business and even discourages people from accepting lots of “free” travel (I use ” ” as you’ll always have to work for it) or doing a lot of sponsored work as that makes you financially dependent on that kind of work.
As I’m someone who works with tourism boards a lot to showcase destinations, you might think that would make me advise you not to take Matt’s course, but that’s not the case. I grew into doing what I do now because it’s what I love to do, what I’m good at and what I genuinely believe helps me bring more value to you. But I also follow Matt’s reasoning and think that if you’re starting from scratch, it’s important to take into consideration his take on things and maybe even follow a different path from mine.
Another consequence of the different approaches is that you’ll find examples listed in both courses, but only BoB has personal anecdotes from Matt.
What they offer
I’m not going to list all of the different lessons as you can easily find those on The Business of Blogging sales page and the Travel blog success sales page. What I wanted to focus on is who offers what and the general way in which they present things.
So who should you choose
If I’m completely honest, I’m happy I’m a member of both as they both have a different approach, but I would not sign up for both at once if I were only a beginning blogger. Not just for financial reasons but also because both courses offer you the fundamentals you need to start your blog.
For what concerns getting started with your blog, I feel like TBS offers more detailed, step-by-step information on how to set things up, the different options you can choose from while creating your blog as well as how to get started writing and running your social media channels.
For what concerns the “how to make money” part of both courses, there’s a massive difference in that TBS focuses on going after partnerships with brands and destinations in all kinds of ways (selling to business clients), while Matt focuses on creating your own products and generating affiliate sales (selling to your audience).
TBS does also mention creating e-books, for example, but I feel that because TBS lists and covers “all” blog monetization techniques (of which most involve working with business clients), it is less detailed when it comes to the business side of things than BoB.
I’m hesitant to make this recommendation as I think both courses have something different to offer, but I would say:
- If you still need to start your blog and want a course that teaches you how to set everything up step-by-step while also showing you a multitude of directions you can lead your blog in, in terms of the kind of content you’ll create, whether you’ll run your blog as a hobby, a side-gig or a full-time job and in terms of monetization strategies, I’d suggest signing up for Travel Blog Success.
- If you’re starting your blog with the clear goal of turning it into a full-time business independent of brand collaborations, I suggest signing up for The Business of Blogging.
If you’ve found this review and comparison useful and you’d like to sign up for one of these courses, I’d appreciate it if you would use one of my links:
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