How to make money from a travel blog

how to make money from a travel blog
It ain’t all glamour

We are asked how to make money from a travel blog so often from other bloggers, family and friends that I thought it’s best I answer it in a post.

I totally understand why making money travel blogging is confusing to those who didn’t even know what blogging meant until we started. My brother continues to ask me every time we speak,

“I think it’s awesome what you guys have managed to achieve. But, I’m so sorry for asking I just don’t quite get it. How do you make money travel blogging again?”

Most people are really curious, some-like other travel bloggers– want to know so they can replicate (great questions); others want to know so they can try and tear you down (NEXT!)

The reality of travel blogging

Travel blogging is a challenging and very time-consuming way to make money. Truly.

It might look glamorous from the outside looking in, but what people see is the fun stuff, they don’t see what goes on underneath. It is bloody hard work.

We present the travel side of what we do on our blog; it would be boring if we showed Craig regularly up until 2am tapping on the keyboard, and myself up at 4:30am.

Who would care to hear of the difficulties we have solving tech problems, marketing, editing photos, connecting on various social networks over four time-zones, writing proposals, attending conferences, networking, or having our noses buried in online courses we spent hundreds on, so we could learn how to be better?

Gold Coast Dec 2011 205

It took 2 years of working at least 60 hours a week before we even saw the possibility of travel blogging become a viable lifestyle. Could you imagine working that hard at a job before you saw real monetory gain? And we still are only making enough money because our expenses are reasonably low.

It wasn’t just the work that went into the blog itself, but the hours that went into travelling and building relationships.

We stuck with the demands of travel blogging despite a financial ruin, an international relocation, a miscarriage, a pregnancy, a birth, a busted back, too many personal issues, and four surgeries to fix a health issue (still not fixed!).

I remember being at meetings and events when Savannah was a few weeks old, and when I was 5 months pregnant out networking till 2am. Some may call it stupid, and 18 months later I say no, because my girl is happy and healthy and things are moving well for us. I say this to emphasize the reality and to squash the words of those who like to say that we are lucky.

Lucky is when opportunity meets preparation.

The sad reality is that most people want the lifestyle we have, but aren’t prepared to put that amount of effort into making it a reality.

Carnival Cruise SD 307

And that is perfectly okay.

It is not for everyone. Sometimes I truly think I’m mad, but I would never change it because I LOVE what I do. The passion I feel for it fuels the dedication I need to succeed.

I want to be really clear for those thinking of travel blogging; it does take a lot of effort, but the rewards are worth it, if you love it and are committed to it.

How to make money because of your blog, not from it

It’s not all about how you can make money from your travel blog, but how you can make money because of your travel blog.

You’ll never be able to make money blogging until you become a trusted expert in your field. This makes sense. Anyone who makes money does because they are experts.

It takes time to build your experience, your credibility, and the trust of your readers. Once you have that in place, there are multiple avenues for making money because your passion.

It does not all happen on your travel blog.

You’d be mad to think you can make a full-time income from advertising off your blog. You can make a bit, at least to cover your costs. But to make a full time income blogging, your traffic levels need to be out of this stratosphere. This is a small business you are running.

You have to think creatively.

How can I use my skills to make money elsewhere? How can I use my blog’s platform to bring in other forms of income?

The trick is to diversify–set up multiple streams of income so that if one dries up you are covered by the other ones.

How to make money from a travel blog?

Let’s talk shall we:

Advertising on our travel blog

We try to keep our blog as clean from advertising as we can. But, having said that, we love what we do and want to continue doing it. We also believe we offer a ton of value to those who read our blog; we deserve to make money from our efforts. On our blog you will see the odd banner ad appear.

We also do sponsored posts. Some of you are asking what does this mean. Awesome!

Basically it means we are paid to write advertorial content–that is content that will be in relation to a brand or company. It could come in the form of a review or just generally talking about a topic that fits that brand’s niche. We don’t take on anything unless it is relevant and will benefit our readers. You’ll know if it is sponsored as we will disclose it.

Whatever we write, we aim to make it valuable. We want you to walk away with something, no matter who is sponsoring it.

If it is related to a product we try, we always do our best to also give away that product for a reader to win. As a result, we have given away a Premium Economy Return Flight with Cathay Pacific from Sydney to Hong Kong, a Samsung Galaxy 3, a Go Pro Hero 3, $600 Flight Centre vouchers, 4x $300 Ziera shoes vouchers plus much more.

We get so excited by some of these sponsored posts as we often discover amazing things for our readers, like the recent ING DIRECT wave and save card that gives you 5% cash back on what your everyday expenses, like groceries!! (post coming up). Seriously, this is one of the best things we’ve found in years and we are super excited about it.

Affiliate Links

This is my least preferred way to make money. Too much work, little reward. Need huge, targeted traffic.

You may find every now and then a product we recommend has an affiliate link attached to it. Basically that means if you buy the product we will earn a small percentage.

Our promise to you is that we will NEVER recommend a product we don’t feel is beneficial or worthwhile, and rarely will it be something we have never used.

For example, we recommend the Travel Blog Success course as a fantastic resource to learn how to make money from a travel blog. (Affliliate link! Yes, I have done the travel blogging course and it was very worthwhile-and still is.)

Ambassadorships / Sponsorships

I wish I could say this is our major income stream, but it is not, YET. This has always been our long-term vision and we do believe it will happen, SOON.

Basically that is when we have one or two brands who we become an ambassador for- similar to what celebrities do, except we’d be relevant. You can read more about that on my post Bloggers, Brand and PR relationships- a new blogging manifesto.

(Unfortunately we have had to do a lot of Ambassador type stuff for free initially in building our travel blog. Many brands are taking advantage of bloggers in this way. We’ve put our foot down and said no more are you getting our time and expertise for free. It sucks actually how much they take advantage of people).

Freelance content creation

This is where the majority of our income comes from. We create content for other sites or companies who pay us for our expertise.

We love this income stream, because we feel we share our knowledge and earn money, but not bombard our own readers too much. I have been writing for Kidspot for the past 8 months about family travel and now education. I LOVE it!  I am passionate and knowledgeable about both topics and I get paid. So cool!

Craig also writes weekly for Aussie Experiences, and we have the odd freelance article job offered to us.

We have also created video content for our local tourist board and social media content for Hooroo.

Out creating content for Central Coast Tourism
Out creating content for Central Coast Tourism

Having said that, if you are interested in hiring us, click here.

Press Trips

tips for press trips
Making press trips valuable for all

Yes we have taken several of these the past year. It has been great in helping us get a massive amount of content for our blog, without worrying about the travel expense. This is the way the traditional media has always run things for journalists. You can read my post here offering 3 tips for press trips.

Honestly, I think it is the worst way to travel, goes against our typical style of travel, and anyone who starts a travel blog because they want to go on free trips, is bloody crazy. I mean seriously. This is not good travel. It is full on busy and you are on someone else’s schedule. This is NOT what you want your travel around the world experience to be.

PLUS, if this is all you can give to your readers, it is not really relevant to them.

You have to be able to live the culture of travel first to become the expert of it. Press trips don’t really allow you to go deep. Craig and I have felt comfortable doing them because we’ve had 15 years of travel experience previously. So we know we are the travel culture and can offer so much authentic and relevant advice and experiences for our readers.

This year we are slowing down the amount of press trips we do, because we realized it was not floating our boat and we want to do things more our own way as a family. We will only attend a press trip if we think it is extraordinary and fits with our overall vision, and will be good for our readers.

Can you imagine stopping work for a week to go on these trips? Do you understand how far behind your work you get? Plus, when you are away you don’t earn any income and your sole purpose for being away is to promote the destination for them for free.

We can’t do this anymore. Our time has become far too valuable.

Our own products

We fail miserably at creating our own products. It’s mostly been a confidence and time thing. But, as we outlined in our 2013: Where are we headed? this is the year to tap into this stream.  I am receiving signs from the Universe to just bloody do it! My inbox is flooded at the moment with readers asking me the same questions about travel. We are putting together resources so we can answer those questions.

Yes, there will be ebooks and guides you can purchase. I don’t have hours to sit and answer hundreds of questions and plan people’s trips for them. I would LOVE to, but then who would food and bathe my children and how would I sleep?

The products that we sell will involve a small price for a valuable reward.

And we are currently in the process of creating our very first app. The plans are in and it should be launching in a couple of  months. Depending on how that goes, it could launch us into an app series. So very exciting!

Speaking and book deals

Again this is an income stream waiting to be tapped into. We have spoken at several events over the past couple of years.  These do not pay. It’s for experience and exposure.

 I like to think that there is an intern period for everything you do, before you are valuable enough to be paid.

I’m still interning on the speaking circuit.

I’m of course waiting for that book publisher to contact me ;)

Here is our ultimate list of resources for travel blogging success!

What do you think?

Want to be a travel blogger?

Do you have any other suggestions on how to make money from a travel blog?

 

 

Caz
Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

49 Comments on “How to make money from a travel blog”

  1. Hey Caz and Craig – the new site looks great. This post was great too, not that I’m travel blogging. Have a great time in Thailand.

    Reply
  2. It’s bloody hard work this travel blogging but it’s still seen as glamorous. You two going full out seem to be making a stab at it though I’m surprised your not doing speaking gigs for big bucks. You have the experience. Or photography tours – also decent dollars there. I make money doing most of the same things you do (can’t be bothered w affiliate sales) but I find over time I’m not ready to lower my prices or compromise my standards in any way shape or form and 95% of the companies respect that. My next big project is a book – which is taking up any spare time I had – 100 Quintessential Outdoor Adventures in Canada. I may not make much but I am going after discounts on anything that requires a guide with the caveat that they will be acknowledged in the book, in blog posts and as a tour operator where appropriate. I have had an excellent response from companies I have contacted. I will travel to remote, wonderful, wild parts of Canada on my own terms and that means the world to me. But I still don’t know how it’s all going to work time wise especially when I’m out of WiFi range for a week at a time. I wish you great success and a great year on the money front. Have fun in Thailand.

    Reply
    • Your plans sound awesome LEigh! There are so many creative things you can do with blogging– love it.

      The wi-fi thing can be such a headache I hate been so dependent on it, but it’s part of having a digital business.

      Just schedule as much as you can and do all your work offline so its ready to go when you return

      Reply
  3. More great advice. Love your honesty. I need to diversify, if I can find the time.

    “It’s not all about how you can make money from your travel blog, but how you can make money because of your travel blog.” I think this says it best.

    You’re on the way to go further.

    Reply
  4. “The sad reality is that most people want the lifestyle we have, but aren’t prepared to put that amount of effort into making it a reality.”

    This isn’t specific to travel blogging. Every industry has this dynamic…everyone wants to be on top, while putting in minimal work. It just doesn’t work…which is good for those of us willing to work our ass off :)

    Reply
    • You are so right! Hard work goes a long way, as you say it puts you out in front of so many others right from the start.

      I was talking about this problem with a small business owner recently who said he cannot find anyone decent to work for him. He was complaining about how so many young people now have developed this celebrity type mentality where they don’t have to do anything, but expect to have all the perks. They don’t get the concept that hard work will always equal rewards. Kinda scary the laziness society is raising.

      Reply
  5. Great tips as always guys! I think you’re doing a fantastic job :-)

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  6. Your post is written as if you were inside my mind!! My income comes because of my blog, not from it. At times, I have been tempted to press the delete button because of the pressure. Having said that, the benefits are worth it.

    Reply
    • The pressure can be quite intense! I’m so glad you have not pressed delete. The benefits are so worth it

      Reply
  7. I agree with what you wrote, and thanks for the honesty :) I am not a full-time travel blogger, and I would not like to be that, BUT I love to travel, write and take pictures, and I dream that people will see the value in it :)

    Reply
    • I think as long as you love it , people will catch your enthusiasm and will get lots of value from it. Every one has to be true to their own vision and game plan.

      Reply
  8. A lot of work? NO KIDDING! After 15 years, I recently sold my business, one which required me to be at computers A LOT. So, cool, the business is gone, I obtained some freedom, right? Right! I took my free time and began to travel. And then “just for fun” (ha!) — I start a travel blog.

    What a fool! I soon found myself doing all the dumb, STUPID, I.T. troubleshooting I had so earnestly desired to get myself away from! No more! I am committed to ENJOYING my travels!

    All of this says that I sympathize and highly respect your very hard work. :-)

    Reply
    • Oh no!! I couldn’t imagine taking on a travel blog for fun, as you’ve found out, it takes too much time to be just about FUN!!
      The IT stuff is the worst. I am useless at it!!

      Reply
  9. We’ve been meaning to write a similar post because we get this question a lot too.
    For us, we’ve found that travel blogging alone cannot support the lifestyle we want. It makes us money and it opens up a lot of travel opportunities, but it simply cannot support our financial needs. As such, we both have flexible day jobs that bring home the bacon. The key is balance, like most things in life.

    Reply
  10. Thanks for the great post, guys! It’s always a pleasure reading your blog. Last year, I decided to make travel blogging a way of life, and you’re right, it’s much more difficult (and time consuming) than I ever thought, but just like you, Caz, I love what I’m doing and don’t even think to quit. I’m also a freelancer and I do write for other websites, but for now, neither of these allows me to travel the world like I would like to.

    Reply
  11. A really helpful read. Thanks for putting it all out there for us!

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  12. Fantastic post! We’ve been actively posting to our blog for the last 7 years, but just recently decided to make it more of an official travel blog.
    This post comes at a perfect time for us, so thank you! :)

    Reply
    • Pleasure Mindy! Hope it is going well for you. I think it is so great to build your site for awhile first before focusing on making money from it

      Reply
  13. Great post! From now on when I’ll get this question again I’ll just refer them to this post :)

    Reply
  14. Great post Caz, honest and forthright which is something we can always expect from you (and it’s refreshing).

    The amount of time it takes to write up a decent post with edited photos, relevant facts and that is also interesting to read is phenomenal…not to mention SEO implications and social sharing once the post is live. Hard work? You betcha!

    I’m hoping for a decent side income from our travel blog (eventually) – but am more focused on an independent lifestyle – a balance – as Cam says above then straight out full-time travel blogging.

    Good write-up Caz and a great reference point for new bloggers!

    Reply
    • Thank you Tom! and sorry for my huge delayed reply. I’ve only just noticed a stream of comments on this post.

      Travel blogging is hard work! I think if you are clearly focused on why you are doing this and what you want to achieve you will get that.

      Reply
  15. Thank you for your honestly; not too many people would disclose so much “insider” information. I’m starting a blog, but not planning to make money off it.. yet… it’s just a hobby for now.

    Reply
  16. Great post, Caz. Scott and I have decided to slow down on the press trips as well. We don’t feel as inspired to write about most of the trips that are packed full of things we wouldn’t normally do.

    I’m realizing the advertising will soon dry up for travel blogs very soon and we are working hard at creating other forms of income. We have decided to focus on photography and a bit of consulting.

    I’m glad you guys have found a few places that you love writing for and it provides a constant income!

    Reply
    • Yeah, it is a dodgy way to make an income. Far too many variables. Unfortunately the abundance of travel blogs means the further the advertising money is spread and for less. When bloggers accept lowball amounts it reduces the effectiveness of the ads. Therefore advertisers feel like it doesn’t work. The more creative campaigns that are done by companies with companies that are tailor made and useful make the difference.
      Consulting is a good path to go down.

      Reply
      • How, then, should bloggers just starting to get advertisement offers determine which offers are reasonable and which are “lowball”?

        Reply
        • A lot of it depends on what you value yourself as Aileen. How much are you willing to accept? What’s your lowest offer? This has to take into account the value of the blog and your reach as well. We all might think we are worth thousands of dollars but if we don’t have a strong readership we can’t really offer that value to a potential advertiser.

          Here is a post that outlines some good guidelines on what to charge in relation to your blog’s traffic http://blogadvertisingrates.com/2011/09/09/what-is-a-sponsored-post/

          Reply
  17. [...] to know about making money as a blogger from the ProBlogger website and read this article about how to make money blogging [...]

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  18. [...] How to make money from a travel blog [...]

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  19. Hi,
    I really enjoy reading you travel blog looking for hints and tips. This will never be a career for me but I really enjoy it as a hobby. I find reading other people’s blogs so useful for planning places to go and things to see so wanted to share some of my experiences and give something back but I have great admiration for those who can do it as their job, you really help me with my travel planning. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Awesome Emma! Thank you. It’s so great that you have it very clear in your mind how you want your blog to be. So very important. And there is nothing wrong in wanting to keep your blog more as a hobby.

      Reply
  20. Thanks a lot for this post! I have a family travel blog (nearly 2 years old) and I am wondering if I can get some income from it, so far I have just done a couple of sponsored posts. So I can learn a lot from you!

    My blog is in Spanish, but I will implement a translation tool, I have no time to translate it myself. By the way I have an entry about Australia (http://www.mipequenogulliver.com/australia/) a country that I love.
    Cheers!

    Reply
    • Thanks for sharing your Australia post Ester! So glad you love our country.

      It’s a great idea to implement a translation tool. It will open up your pool of readers and opportunities.

      Reply
  21. For several years I have been a successful tech blogger but I am about to change my life. I wanna travel and start exploring the travel blogging industry. Thank god I know WordPress and stuff but what I do not know is how the travel industry works online…because I was in a separate niche altogether. I planned to do the following.

    1. Start by sharing tips from my local areas.
    2. Compile all my knowledge of past trips and write valuable content for them.
    3. Use Social Media to connect with others.
    4. Capitalize Youtube (I am a partner).

    What do you think?

    Just one question I have… for starters what do you suggest for post frequency..once a week or once a month…cause it’s not possible for me to do a article every day when I am starting out.

    Thanks,
    Rahul

    Reply
    • Sounds like a great plan. As for how often you post, it is totally up to you. Do whatever you can manage but just make it consistent. You can always change it as you grow

      Reply
  22. Great post. I’m scouting now for ideas on the next blog (prepper information is great to share but doesn’t generate a lot of income). Not sure exactly what it’ll be though. I’d really like to get into the content creation thing though since I haven’t done that yet.

    Reply
  23. Great post and well this can happen by use Social Media to connect with others.

    Reply
  24. I really appreciated your candid article. My wife and I are world travelers too, and plan to live in Thailand next year doing humanitarian work. We decided to start a blog about Thailand and your tips were so awesome. Thank you for the insight. Your hard work really reflects the quality of your site. Inspiring, fun, and just awesome. Keep at it!

    Reply
  25. This is an amazing post and a hell of valuable information. I just started blogging 8 months ago and this really helps me a lot to understand how the whole business is working. I always thought if I would get on press trips, it would be amazing… But on the other side, you’re right, it’s too much work and not even paid. It’s a long way to monetize a blog and I really hope I have the strength to keep going and not giving up too early. At least I love what I do :)

    Thank you Caz for all these great tips!
    Sab recently posted..I WANT TO TRAVEL FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE – 15 TRAVEL BLOGGERS TELL HOW TO DO IT
    Sab recently posted..I WANT TO TRAVEL FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE – 15 TRAVEL BLOGGERS TELL HOW TO DO IT

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  26. I am very impressed at your post and realize that it must be helpful for me. I am trying to decide on a career move and this has helped me with one aspect. Thank you so much.
    Srimanta recently posted..Kharchi Puja, The famous festival of Tripura
    Srimanta recently posted..Kharchi Puja, The famous festival of Tripura

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  27. I have just come across your travel blog and think I may just have to follow it. My partner Shane and I are into our 5th month of our 12 month Aussie Adventure and loving it. Your blog has made me see a whole new viewpoint about this great lifestyle. I may just have to delve deaper. Thanks for the great info.

    Reply
  28. i just came across your travel blog and i think its awesome

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  29. These are great tips Caz!! Thanks so much. I am running a travel blog as a compliment to our airport transportation search engine and I’m surfing the web for valuable advise on travel blogs. We have already started receiving traffic from aggregators, even though this is not converting traffic but we are getting our brand out there. Thanks for your tips, maybe we can make money on the blog as well!! :)
    Alex Saad recently posted..Hack Your Airfare to Asia: Taiwan Edition
    Alex Saad recently posted..Hack Your Airfare to Asia: Taiwan Edition

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  30. Hi Caz and Craig,

    Firstly – love the site. Your stories are fab, and I really find the fact that you travel with your kids awesome! Makes me realise it won’t be Game Over for me turning 30 next year!

    I’ve recently handed in my notice at work (I’m an English teacher in the UK) so my boyfriend and I can head off into the Great Unknown overseas in September – scary, but mega-exciting as well!

    We’ve started our own travel blog (Team Nomad) kind of inspired by yours and several others we’ve seen recently. (We’ve added you in our Top Travel Blogs section – hope that’s OK?)

    Anyway, thanks for the inspiration. All the best, Becky x
    Becky Nomad recently posted..Essential Accessories & Gadgets For Your Next Campervan Holiday
    Becky Nomad recently posted..Essential Accessories & Gadgets For Your Next Campervan Holiday

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  31. Great summary of ways to make money on the blog. We are looking at new ways and how to grow our blog. We’ve been on the road 1 year and have tons of content to write but no time. Thinking we need to sit down and catch up, and make some money too!

    Reply
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