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