The number one question I get asked when I say I’m a full-time travel blogger is how do I make money from travel blogging. I don’t think people are nosey, they’re just fascinated, but even when I try to explain how to make money travel blogging, they still look confused. So, I thought I’d explain exactly how I make my money as a travel blogger, where I make it, clear up a few questions I get sent regularly and set out a few ideas on what I plan to do for the future to keep the cash rolling in.
I write for a few travel companies about the topics they give me. Some of this is incredibly well paid, others not so much. Thanks to my blog and how long I’ve been doing it, I’ve managed to get this work though them approaching me, rather than me having to go out and look for work. It’s important to keep as many clients as you can cope with when you’re freelance, as one client could drop you at any time and it helps to have a back up (it happens).
Create a ‘work with me‘ section on your blog to make sure people know that you’re in the market for work, and treat every unsolicited email you get in your inbox as a work opportunity. You need to keep your eye on the ball to jump on the opportunities that open up to you in this way. Once you have an email address, you have an in.
2. Freelance writing
Opportunities to earn some money freelance writing come along regularly and depending on my time and the pay, I’ll decide whether to take them up. I write for a number of websites on a range of topics and enjoy the diversity of writing for a different audience. It’s a great idea to use your blog as a portfolio for more work – this is one of the most common ways for travel bloggers to make money.
- For example: 12 People Who’ve Taken Festival Fashion Too Far on the Outlandian.com
3. Sponsored content
Sometimes companies will pay me to write about them or their campaign – just like the way magazines and newspapers write around the advertising they manage to get in their publications. This is necessary for me to to keep on travelling and it can be quite good money.
This can be a pretty sketchy topic for over sensitive bloggers, by the book SEOs and those who live in fear, thanks to the Google guidelines on sponsored content. My advice would be to only work with travel companies you like and trust and not to do it too often. I know a travel blogger who’s entire site got delisted in Google because she accepted too many, and probably took them from dodgy gambling sites too. It’s up to you whether you want to take the risk. Most travel bloggers do, whether they admit it or not.
- For example: How to Earn Money on Anything
Now and again I’ll be paid to feature a competition on vickyflipfloptravels.com. I do this because I love competitions – thanks to travel competitions I’ve been to Sharm el Sheikh, Amsterdam and Zanzibar – they can help you travel when you don’t have the money. And because it’s a less intrusive way of making a bit of cash from companies who can afford it. I fully support the competitions I feature but in agreeing to have them on site, I know I can’t win. But you can – so the odds are even better.
- For example: Win a Two-Week Tour of New Zealand, With Flights (closed now)
5. Affiliate links
I write about travel and festivals. This provides a nice little income through affiliates thanks to the products I’ve tried and tested on Amazon. One of the most popular posts on my blog is Awesome Ways to Sneak Alcohol into Festivals. I’ve recommended a few products on here to help you smuggle booze and every time someone clicks on these posts and buys the item I earn a few pennies. It’s not much individually, but over time, especially during the summer, it adds up to a few hundred a month without me having to do anything. Here’s an example of the Amazon dashboard so you can see how
much little you can make off an item.
One of the tricks I’ve learnt is to sell some really cheap things, like the ponchos, to boost your quantity so you can move up to the next earnings bracket. Then sell some more expensive things too to bring your overall earnings up.
I’m also signed up to the HostelBookers.com affiliate scheme, although I haven’t made much money of this at all. I don’t recommend that many hostels on here so of course, I won’t have many bookings.
I don’t create my posts with these affiliate links in especially to have links, but if I’m recommending a product or a hostel I may as well earn a little to pay for my next one right?
I’ve looked at other affiliate schemes but none so far have appealed. The amount you earn is so little you have to ask if it’s worth getting involved. Look for affiliate schemes that are really complementary to your blog or the sales will be so small, it won’t be worth it. Have a look around and see if there are any to suit your blog and niche – I know some people, like Darren Rowse, earn a small fortune.
- For example: The Best Presents for Festival Lovers (Amazon)
- And: Awesome Itinerary for Two Weeks in Vietnam (HostelBookers)
6. Working for gapyear.com
I still work for my old company gapyear.com on an hourly contract doing various things. I worked there for 18 months as Content and Social Media Manager until I left to go travelling so I know the company inside out. If you’re thinking of leaving a job you should always leave on good terms, and if you’ve identified a gap in their workings while you’ve been there pitch an idea to them to fill it. It’s great to still be working for them, and I got to go to the Christmas party too.
- For example: my blogs on gapyear.com
7. Easy Social Media for Hostels eCourse
I launched the Easy Social Media for Hostels eCourse a few months ago and so far the response has been great. I genuinely wanted to help hostels to be better on social media and to show them how to do it step by step. It’s something that’s been at the back of mind for a while since seeing all the shoddy online profiles during my work at HostelBookers.com and I’m glad I finally managed to finish the ebook and get it out there.
I have plans for more ebooks, based on the most popular topics from my blog. This can be a nice little earner if you find a unique topic that’s not been written about before and you can passionately create some valuable content around it that goes above and beyond the usual content you’ll find on your blog.
- For example: Easy Social Media for Hostels eCourse
More ideas to making money travel blogging
There are a lot more ways to make money from travel blogging, but the seven above are the ones I’ve had the most success with. They’ve helped me to keep travelling for the past few months.
This year I’d like to think about earning a bit more, and here’s how I’ll do it.
Public speaking – I’ve had quite a few requests over the last months but haven’t been able to do any as I’m out the country. I’d definitely be interested in helping more people and companies with their blogging skills, so it’s something to look at in the next few months.
Ads – I’ve not found an ads method that suits me yet. Some bloggers have Google Adsense, PPC ads and CPM ads all over their site, but I think you’d have to be a really huge blog before you did that to make it worth it. I get approached weekly by some native advertising company telling me it will change my life, but I just don’t want to clog my blog. I’ll keep my eyes open for less intrusive options.
Higher value affiliate deals – one of my favourite money-making authorities, Pat Flynn, earns an absolute fortune from commissions just advertising BlueHost and selling high value affiliate deals. This is maybe something to look at when you have high numbers, and if you’re a niche site. I definitely want to do more with my affiliates, but as I said above, it’s a case of finding the right product.
Guest posts – I really need to start writing for other people to get backlinks to improve my blog, and to make a bit of cash. Take a look at this list from Caroline in the City for some good paying gigs for your words.
Newspapers and magazines – I used to work in the magazine industry, for some of the biggest titles. In 2015 I plan to use that knowledge and history to get my work in more print publications. Last year I managed Wanderlust, twice, but that’s it. This year I’m going for an article in The Guardian. I’ll let you know as and when it happens.
Travel blogger bitching
Just to note, there can be quite a lot of negativity around travel bloggers making money in the industry.
- “Ewww, they just bash out eBooks, they should give that away for free”
- “Ewww, they just saved up loads from working in finance, it’s easy for them”
- “Ewww, they do sponsored content”
- “Ewww, they have adverts”
- “Ewww, they sold out and work for blah blah”
So, how exactly are you expected to pay for the travels you write about for free?
I say pick your revenue(s), do it well, and go for it.
Making money travel blogging
There are lots of ways to make money travel blogging – all requiring lots of hard work, some imagination and a touch of creativity – you’ve just got to get out there, find the jobs and create the opportunities. You can do it!