Whenever I tell someone that my job is my blog, by far the most immediate reaction I get is: “How do you make money travel blogging?” And while I can’t imagine any other career path where someone asks you how much money you make as soon as you meet them, I totally get it!
I mean, if I weren’t a blogger myself, I would definitely wonder how people make money from their little (and sometimes incredibly large) corners of the internet! So today I want to lift the lid a little on a somewhat taboo subject when it comes to blogging and discuss how to monetise your travel blog.
However, before we jump right in, I think it’s first important to bear in mind that before you can monetise your blog, you first have to build a dedicated audience and create a network around your little corner of the internet. What this entails is months, and often years, of dedication, sleepless nights, and lots of hard work with little to no pay! For more information about building your blog, I wrote a full post about how to become a full-time blogger.
Once you have some traffic on your blog (I don’t think there’s much point in monetising your blog via ads until you have around 35,000 page views per month), it’s worth adding display ads to your website. These are normally banners, snippets of text, etc. that are shown to your readers as they browse your website.
The great things about placing display ads on your site is that they create passive income for you. That is to say, once you’ve set up the ads on your site, they bring you steady income (depending on your traffic) month on month. This means that you have to do little else to make money, leaving you plenty of time to spend working on other projects.
Many bloggers don’t like using display ads on their site as they don’t like the user experience this creates and will openly tell you so. However, with that being said, all of the news sites I read have display ads and as a user, I don’t really mind them.
After all, they’re a great way of monetising articles that would otherwise be hard to make money from, thus leaving you with a lot more creative freedom to create the content your readers will want to see and you’ll enjoy writing! There are plenty of ad provider services available, and I’ve personally been using Mediavine for well over two years!
Many people often confuse affiliate links with display ads. However, they’re two entirely different ways of monetising your blog. While with display ads you get paid per 1000 sessions/ page views on your site, affiliate links are when you get a small commission of the purchase price when someone clicks through to the website in question and purchases something.
Typically, bloggers will only get paid in the instance of affiliate links if someone purchases something by clicking on the unique affiliate link which is found on the blogger’s website. While some companies also pay a few cents for generating a ‘lead,’ most don’t Some popular affiliate programmes among bloggers include Booking.com, Amazon, rewardStyle, ShareASale (sign up here) and GetYourGuide.
If you have a good eye for photography, then brands, companies, and even other bloggers will often approach you asking to purchase the rights to use your images. When selling images, be sure to determine the usage of the photo (as this will change how much you should charge), as well as how long the photo will be used for.
For example, how many people will your image(s) be distributed to? Are they for a small blog post, or will they be used as the front cover of an advertising campaign? In order to get an idea of how much to charge, there are plenty of resources available online.
Paid Press Trips
There are several different types of press trips that bloggers can take. These are sometimes referred to as FAM trips (familiarisation trips) or media visits and are created by DMOs (Destination Marketing Organisations) or Tourism Boards in order to promote a specific destination or event.
Other times, press trips can also be organised by companies who want to increase brand awareness; i.e. a fashion brand who wants to promote their new line in a far-off destination, a camera brand who wants to create a campaign involving their new range equipment, or a company such as a cruise line or travel company.
Most press trips are ‘unpaid’ in that the organiser typically offers the blogger expenses (meals, activities, flights… Pretty much everything!) in exchange for social media coverage and content to be posted on the blogger’s own website. Sometimes, the company will also ask for specific deliverables such as mentions of a certain place or destination.
Paid press trips are often seen as the peak of blogging as bloggers will get paid to travel and create content about their experience. While some bloggers charge a daily rate for attending trips (anything upwards of $50 to in the hundreds or even thousands), others will charge for deliverables following the trip.
For example, on one paid press trip I attended, I was expected to create a post for my own blog, a post for the DMO’s blog, and provide 5 photos to be used for content marketing following the trip. In saying this, on both paid and unpaid trips, I make it clear that I retain editorial control over my content as I would never want to say/ promote something to my readers that I don’t believe in!
Once upon a time (okay, only around a decade ago), a popular way of making money travel blogging was to sell do-follow links. This meant that a company would pay to have some link juice from your blog to theirs as a do-follow link would tell search engines that the other website was worth crawling.
Today, selling do-follow links is against SEO guidelines and can incur a search engine penalty on Google. I have personally never sold a link as I’m generally a risk-averse person and don’t believe that the risk of being penalised by search engines is worth the cash or my brand! I also never accept ‘Guest Posts’ or post infographics on my blog as I want my reader experience to be the best it can possibly be.
Sponsored articles, when done correctly, should be a win-win for everyone involves. This is where a company will reach out to the blogger (either via social media or by email) and asks the blogger to talk about their product in an article in the form of a review, etc. All sponsored posts should be clearly marked as sponsored and the links to the company should be no-follow.
Sponsored Social Media Posts
I’ve placed sponsored social media posts in an entirely different category than sponsored posts on the blog as it’s a whole different kettle of fish. After all, nowadays (and since the rise of micro-blogging platforms such as Instagram), many people don’t have a website and instead make all of their money through promoting products and brands on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter.
Creating promotional posts on Social Media typically involves retaining creative control while producing content which will showcase a photograph or text-based image to promote the brand or company in question. For travel bloggers, this can be anything from advertising the suitcase you bring on holiday to the hotel you stay in.
Consultancy work is relatively new to me in comparison with some of the other ways I monetise my blog…However, I have to say that I’m absolutely loving it so far! As a blogger, you develop a lot of skills, such as SEO (search engine optimisation), branding, curating and growing social media accounts… You get the picture! I now offer consulting services for Pinterest & SEO. For more information, email me [firstname.lastname@example.org].
While this way of making money blogging isn’t strictly linked to having a travel blog, it can be a great way to make money travel blogging and build your portfolio while you’re building your own website. When I first started out, I began to create other content for other travel bloggers. This not only gave me experience in blogging and increased my online presence but also increased examples of previous work I could showcase to others.
Whether it be an organised trip, a course, or an e-book, there are a million and one products you could create and sell via your blog. The list is quite literally endless. Examples of travel bloggers selling products include destination retreats, selling courses on creating and monetising a blog, and creating destination guides.
These contracts are typically different from sponsored content or affiliates as they’re long-term partnerships which are meant to help both the blogger and the brand. Typically, the blogger will be paid a monthly retainer and create content for the brand on an on-going basis. This can either be by continuously promoting the company or product on their own blog, creating deliverables for the brand, or a mixture of the two.
So, as you can see, there are a million and one ways to make money travel blogging and how to get paid to travel! Some methods are straightforward, others you have to get more creative with and work harder at. However, I truly believe that with a little time, patience, a lot of hard work, and a whole load of passion, it’s totally possible to turn a travel blog into your job.
Finally, in time I learnt that if you want to truly make something of blogging, then you’ll need to invest a small amount. This is especially true of little things like going for self-hosted from the get-go. If you’re just starting out, then I recommend Siteground Hosting. Once your blog is a little bigger, then you’ll want a more managed solution (an extra pair of hands, as it were). I use Performance Foundry.
If you’re really looking to take your website to the next level, I also recommend investing in some professional camera equipment. For a full rundown on what I use, check out this guide to the best of travel photography gear.