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How to Start a Travel Blog and Make Money

Reading Time: 10 minutes Some links may be affiliate links. The author will receive a small commission for your clicks/purchases.

There’s plenty of ways to go about beginning a blog, writing a blog, and sharing a blog, so why wouldn’t there also be a variety of ways to make money from your travel blog?

Blogging provides you with an opportunity to share your story and your voice, all while supplementing your income. Travel blogging takes it a step further and offers working vacations to destinations right next door or around the world.

But free trips and products aren’t necessarily enough. You have bills to pay. If you are starting your blog to make money, you may want to guess again. It takes time to build your blog, grow a following, and get to the point where you can consistently generate revenue.

Knowing this, the tips below can help you better plan ahead for how you want to make money blogging.

How to Make Money Blogging

make money travel blogging using your skills
What kind of skills do you already possess that are a great match for travel blogging? Make money travel blogging by combining the skills you already have with the audience you are building. Image by Ryan McGuire.

How you earn a couple bucks from your blog will depend on a number of factors: how saturated your particular travel market is with related blogs, its user-friendliness, your likability and trustworthiness, and your professionalism.

There are other factors that will affect your ability to make money from your site, like how connected you are, your community involvement, your self-promotion savvy, and timing.

Surprisingly, the number of readers you can boast may not matter to potential clients as much as you think. Most clients want to reach a certain type of customer. They have a well-developed buyer persona and know how to market for this target customer. These brands may be looking for people of a certain age, within a certain region, and sharing interests similar to what your blog covers.

If your site happens to bring in readers that fit a client’s target, they may be interested in working with you—and that’s why it’s important to have a “Contact Me” page on your blog right from the start. Even so, you will make money easier from your blog if you have a social media following, a nice email list for your newsletter and blog subscribers, and a steady, ever-growing stream of traffic.

Here are a few of the ways people just like you consistently make money from their travel blog.

Making Money from Travel Blogging

Network Banner Ads
If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you are already familiar with network, banner, or display ads, even though you may be unfamiliar with the term. These ads can display in the sidebar, footer, above, below, and even within blog articles. Google Adsense is the most recognizable. It’s another form of passive income that doesn’t require much in the way of setup but you shouldn’t expect much of a payout either. Some niches will naturally perform better than others. Too many ads will slow down your site and are a distraction. After all, ads are a kind of call-to-action as well. What would you prefer, make less than a penny on an ad click for every 1,000 people who visit your site or to keep readers engaging with your content?

Site Advertising
Offering advertising space on your own website is a step above displaying a network ad in your sidebar, footer, and so on. You are no longer relying on an ad network for your income. You have the control. You can set your own payments, sizes, and whatever extras you want to offer to entice others to advertise on your site. You will need to be highly organized to juggle multiple accounts, keep tabs on start and end dates, and respond when an advertiser has a question. There’s no easier way to monetize your blog than to start with your blog.

Sponsored Blog Posts
Any content that you write for a client pushing their product or service is a sponsored post. Sponsored posts can also appear as product or app reviews. Those with an active social media following may snag sponsored social media posts in part because of their connections. As with any of these sponsored deals, pick and choose what brands most closely align with your standards. Some travel sites turn into nothing more than sponsored posts and sidebar adverts. While it can be tempting to accept any and every product pitch that comes your way, you have worked hard to earn the respect and trust of your readers.

Unlike print media, TV commercials, and billboards, blogging fosters a more personal relationship. Whatever brand you associate with your brand will affect how your readers view your blog. Visitors to your site become used to your style, your tone, and your face. It’s a personal connection. Ethically and legally, you must always disclose when you receive a product or payment and you post about it. It isn’t about posting a positive review unless the product genuinely warrants a positive review. If there are negative aspects to something you’ve agreed to review, reach out to your rep first to learn his or her response. You may then include it within your post.

Remember: the brand wants exposure from your site. Consider setting a minimum item cost limit, and charge a fee for any item that doesn’t meet your requirement. A free item is great, but you have bills to pay too. It took you time to reach the point where a brand would want to work with you, so consider it a form of delayed payment for those early blogging years of learning and growing a fan base.

Competition
While a competition can drive traffic your way and increase your social network followers, it won’t happen without your help promoting it. Again, consider setting a product limit value. If a product doesn’t exceed the value, thus making it less valuable in the eyes of your readers, and could require more work to promote to achieve the desired end result, then you might want to charge for your service. Gleam.io, Wishpond, and Woobox are different tools you can use to manage your competitions and contests while maintaining your sanity.

Paid Campaigns and Ambassadorships
You may have paid travel campaigns, where you are not only traveling on the client’s dime, perhaps receiving a stipend for travel expenses and your time. Hotels, tour companies, state tourism boards, and other large travel-related brands may sponsor these trips. While it isn’t exactly a free vacation, to the outside looking in, it’s a pretty sweet deal.Some bloggers gain an ambassadorship.

More than a fling, these are long-term partnerships where a blogger will represent a brand for a specified length of time in exchange for a fee. These ambassadorships could equate to periodically posting content regarding the brand, appearing at branded events, and sharing social media updates regarding the client. When you write a sponsored post, and you link directly to the sponsor or their content, you must tag the link as “no follow” or you risk a penalty from Google.

Products
Some bloggers sell t-shirts that highlight their brand while others offer accessories or other physical items. You’ll have to set up an eCommerce shop, like WooCommerce.com or Jigoshop.com, or use an established marketplace, like Etsy.com in addition to storing physical product, sending items out in a timely manner, and dealing with customer returns or complaints. If there is a product idea that aligns with your blog, it could be an interesting way to meet your readers’ needs in a different way.

Affiliate Marketing
Make money while you sleep with affiliate marketing. At least, the potential is there. This passive income involves linking to products or services that you personally use and recommend. Include these links in a post and, whenever someone clicks on it and buys one, you receive a commission. There is no cost to the reader. The more views your blog receives and the more dedicated your fans, the better your affiliate marketing tactics will work. As with sponsored content, you do need to be transparent about your links. State they are affiliate links and you earn a small percentage from every sale. Popular affiliate networks include Amazon Associates, the eBay Partner Network, or LinkShare.

Selling images
Sometimes a brand needs to outsource for images of a destination. If you’ve covered a destination they are interested in, they may reach out to see if they can buy some of them. High-quality images of places, people, brands, lodging, and attractions are always in demand. Offer a fixed image package, where you will include five or ten images, royalty free. This will allow the brand to use the items you provide however they want, without having to pay you anything extra for more than one use. That said, you will want to be sure to charge enough to cover your costs. After all, this photo didn’t take itself. You traveled there, you built up a blog so you could even be found online, and you should be compensated accordingly. Don’t sell yourself short.

Courses
Do you have something to teach others? A course may include hands-on elements, videos, worksheets, and other downloadable content. There are different types of software you can use to make your own courses like Thinkific, Udemy, Pathwright, Opensesame or LifterLMS, a WordPress plugin to allows you to create and sell your own courses.

make money travel blogging with a book
Can you make money travel blogging by creating an eBook or a book from your experiences?

Write and Publish a Book
Whether you go the self-published route or via traditional publishing channels, authoring a book probably won’t make you wealthy, but it can greatly increase your brand exposure. Your long-term fans will enjoy seeing your work in a different format. It can open doors and create new opportunities. It will, however, involve mass amounts of chocolate.

eBooks
Develop your own products, like eBooks, to make money on the side. An eBook should teach someone everything they need to know to succeed at whatever it is you are selling. Your book should be comprehensive enough to take away the guesswork, leaving actionable, easy-to-follow advice with a clear path. You can find eBook templates online with a simple search.

Newspaper Columns or TV Appearances
If you are offered a newspaper column or a chance to host a TV segment relevant to your blog, take it. This is the kind of opportunity that won’t happen to everyone. Build your brand, stay true to your message, and you just never know. Anything can happen. Publisher and TV producers read blogs. They may stumble onto yours. If you are consistently writing that “A” content, they may like what they see enough to figure out a way that involves what you do.


 

Freelancing Writing
If you aren’t ready to write a book, maybe you can instead write about your experiences for newspaper, magazines, websites, or blogs? There are many outlets interested in what you have to say. Follow each site or company’s guidelines and requirements, go through the proper channels, and pitch your topic. You’d be surprised how many places are looking for a writer with your very same skills. Whenever you speak about your blog and what you do, always mention that you also do freelance travel writing on the side.

Tours and Trips
Become your own travel consultant. Set your rates, hours, and decide how you want to help people. Slap a banner on your site, advertise, and send out emails to let your readers know you are available for more than travel information but that you can also help them plan their trips one-on-one.

Membership Sites
Whether you team up with a blogging pal or two or go it alone, some bloggers set up special members-only sites. Premium content is locked behind a gateway for paying members only. These sites may include members-only forums, video, and content that help its readers.

Presentations  
Do you have a gift for gab? Use it. Express your interest in speaking to groups and you may gain more than an all-expenses paid trip. The key to gaining presenting opportunities is to include that you have an interest in public speaking or that you already do speak publicly about your blog topic. Make sure you have a working “contact me” page and check your Facebook messages regularly. Gig Masters and Gig Salad are two sites you can use to spread the word about your speaking experience in addition to the usual channels.

Make Money Blogging Your Way

Make Money Travel Blogging
Make money travel blogging your way, on your terms. The options listed above a great way to get thinking about how you can use your blog to earn a nice side income or go full-time. Image by Ryan McGuire.

What other skills do you possess? How do they translate in the “real world?” Perhaps you can sell your photos, videos, or content to other sites. Maybe you can find long-term freelance work with other companies. You can pitch magazines using content from your travels. These jobs typically allow you to work from home, so you may set your own hours and pay rate thus earning you even more money.

It is possible to make money and make a living from travel blogging. It begins and ends with hard work.

Once you start to turn a profit from blogging, every penny you make blogging needs to roll right back into your blog. Buy that marketing tool or spring for advertising. Whatever it is, make sure it relates to your blog, aligns with the goals you have set in your blog business plan, and makes sense for where you are in your blogging journey right now. Any blog that is begun with the sole intention of making money is destined for failure.

 

It must begin with a passion for your topic.

Diversify your income streams. Never rely on only one method to earn money from your site. For all of those people that relied on Google’s affiliate program, one change in SEO knocked their business flat. Some never recovered. You can learn from that mistake.

If you don’t respond to emails in a timely manner, if you don’t follow through with what you promise, and if you lack an attention to detail, your potential earnings will suffer for it.

Weigh your options, start small, and scale up from there. Don’t take on more than you can handle so you don’t alienate your sponsors, advertisers, or PR reps.

Do you make money blogging? What are some successful ways (and not so successful) that you have pulled in a few bucks from your blog? 

About Jessica Nunemaker

Writer. Award-winning author. PBS Host. Newspaper columnist. It all began with Little Indiana. If it happened to me, it can happen to you. Use the resources on "Travel is a Blog" to successfully grow your own travel blog.

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