Publisher Interview: Yaya & Lloyd of Hand Luggage Only

yaya and lloyd sitting on a boat

As we approach 5,000 publishers (holy cow!?), one of the coolest things for us is seeing how Mediavine has expanded across the globe.

The majority of our publishers are based in the USA (where we’re also headquartered), but many Mediavine influencers dot the map, like Dan Western of Wealthy Gorilla who runs his site from Bali or Andrzej Ejmont of Wanderlust Storytellers who lives in Australia. And then when you add all the MVP travel bloggers to the mix, Mediavine is really, truly everywhere!

We love introducing you to our publishers in our Publisher Interview series and telling you more about them, like where they’re from and how they approach blogging.

Today we’re excited to be interviewing Yaya and Lloyd of the blog Hand Luggage Only. Based in the U.K., they’re a fantastic set of travel publishers who are busy conquering the world and helping Mediavine look great.

Thanks so much for joining us, Yaya and Lloyd!

Yaya and Lloyd of Hand Luggage Only

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, and your everyday life.

We are Yaya and Lloyd and we run our travel blog Hand Luggage Only. We’re based in London but as travel bloggers we are often in other places around the world. We don’t have any pets (although the idea of getting a dog sounds amazing).

How did you get started blogging?

We started blogging whilst at Cambridge University where we had a break in assignments and decided to share some of our photos and advice from our travels. We wanted to meet like-minded travellers that loved to explore and visit new places.

Hand Luggage Only logo

How long have you been a Mediavine publisher? How did you first hear about us? What drew you to Mediavine as a partner for display advertising?

We’ve been a Mediavine publisher for two years now. We heard about it at the time through another Mediavine publisher and decided to find out more about it from Mediavine directly.

One of the best things we liked about Mediavine was that the ads were very well aligned with travel. Equally, Mediavine allows us the flexibility to choose what amount of display ads are good for us.

Describe your experience with Mediavine. What do you love about working with us?

Mediavine is always so responsive and they’re a team that’s always helped us find the right way to not just work with display ads but to actually optimise our website as a whole. It feels like a fantastic partnership and they catch things that sometimes even the publishers don’t know about.

How has your Mediavine ad revenue changed your life for the better?

The extra revenue stream opened up to us by Mediavine has allowed us to properly focus on our work on the website and on being even more selective with the partners we work with and projects we work on. It’s empowered us as publishers which in turn has allowed us to strengthen the quality of our work.

A screen capture of Hand Luggage Only's website, showing a post for "How to Beat Jet Lag in 5 Easy Ways".

How do you think the blogging industry has changed since you started your website?

Quite a lot, actually. There’s many more bloggers nowadays (which can only be a good thing) and also many more ways to make this a living. When we started, blogging was much more of a hobby and making money off a blog was something that came a bit more as a surprise rather than as a norm.

What are the best and worst parts of blogging for you?

One of the best things we love about blogging is being able to chat, share and connect with other like-minded travellers all across the globe. The internet has totally changed how we’re able to make friends and share our experiences…for the better.

Worst part isn’t really a ‘worst part’ per se. I guess if I had to pick something, it would be the fact that doing something you’re so passionate about and enjoying it so much means there’s very little distinction between work and pleasure which could see you working around the clock.

What has been your biggest success as an influencer?

For us, it’s being able to help fellow travellers in finding new destinations and experiences (and also learning from them too). That’s the most important thing to us and the one thing that keeps resonating with us.

It’s always so lovely (and such a huge high) to hear from people who’ve taken our advice and planned their travel around it and always nice to talk to other like-minded travellers about our and their travel experiences.

A top down view of Yaya and Lloyd enjoying a sunny day on a sand bar.

Who are your FAVORITE bloggers. Who inspires you? Why do you like them?

Ha! I can’t name favourites — there are quite a few bloggers out there (and not just travel bloggers) that we absolutely love. Some we know personally, some we’ve never met but all of whom add something interesting to the conversation around travel and I guess, just generally keep things interesting.

What are the most popular 3 posts on your blog?

This is so seasonal and varies based on which destination we’re in that it’s hard to name 3. I guess the most popular ones are the ones that make people curious — either because it’s a place not many people have visited or because it’s a different perspective on a popular place.

What are your 3 personal favorite posts on your blog?

Gosh, this is hard to choose as it changes every other day. The personal posts tends to be our favourites as we pour our heart and soul into the experiences which then spills over into the story-telling. The personal stuff is always the stuff that I love to read back too as it’s like looking through an old photo album so it’s our favourite!

Yaya walking through the halls of Herrenchiemsee Palace in Germany.

What tools and resources do you use to manage your blog? What could you not live without? Why?

Our phones! I know we should probably say some app or something like that but to be honest, the apps are pretty regular stuff (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest…etc). The real game changer is being able to take this on the road with us (which is why we always look for the biggest screens and largest memory size possible so we can do so much more with our phones.)

What is your biggest traffic source? What strategies have you used to make that your top traffic source?

Pinterest. To be honest, none really. As a hobbyist, we never proactively looked to grow traffic (we were just blogging for fun), things just happened organically, which now makes me even more excited because I realise there’s so much more room for growth with such amazing advice out there now on how to properly use SEO and even to properly optimise Pinterest and Facebook.

Do you have any advice for bloggers on how to grow their traffic?

Write for human beings. Always.

Anything else you’d like to add to help other bloggers grow?

Be original. It’s far more interesting to just be you and will keep people around for much longer.

Yaya and Lloyd sitting at a dining table atop a boat.

What’s the one thing on any restaurant menu you MUST order?

Créme Brûlée.

What actor would play you in a movie based on your life and career?

Haha! No idea but we would have to insist that they have a 6-pack as we both have never had this and would like to do this vicariously through them.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Anything I can sing very loudly and very out of tune! (Long notes are a must!)

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