How do you make money travel blogging? It's the number one question asked immediately after the words "I'm a travel blogger" are spoken. Sometimes we just say we are writers, because the truth is travel blogging can be difficult to explain, and the income earned is completely unique for everyone.
Forbes says people trust people, so fundamentally, we are influencers. We are content creators, writers, photographers, and in my case, eater of lots of food.
I've called it a game before, and it really is - except there's no rulebook and you're only rewarded if and when you play well enough. The name of the game is "Mastering Multiple Streams of Income", so get comfortable with being uncomfortable and you're golden.
Some months you'll earn less, some you'll earn more, and you'll never really be able to accurately predict your income, but that risk of uncertainty is the price you pay for the freedom from bills, a boss, a job, or anything else that sucks.
Since this is the most common question I get asked, here's an explanation of some of the top ways that work for both myself and other successful travel bloggers.
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."
As website owners, travel bloggers can charge for advertising in many different forms, from links to ads. These partnerships are directly negotiated with brands. Fees are usually charged per link, ad or mention, and can range anywhere from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on where it goes and for how long.
Bloggers can also use monetizing platforms that have comprehensive advertising networks already established, which serve ads automatically adjusted to a content or audience.
These passive income money makers earn according to views and/or clicks so it's fairly easy to generate a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars a month without any work at all.
"If you don't value your time, neither will others. Stop giving away your time and talents - start charging for it."
Sponsored content on the bloggers's website can be an original article that a blogger is commissioned to write about a brand or a topic wherein a company's link is placed, or it can be entirely pre-written articles, submitted by the brand's staff writers, that the blogger simply posts on their website.
Often, publishers will contact the bloggers directly to commission them to produce and publish the content. There's also a more proactive approach - by joining an influencer marketing platform, bloggers can pick and choose which brand to work with, and what content to create, whenever they want.
The prices for sponsored content are usually based on the amount of work required from the blogger, as well as the page views and/or reach of the account, and can easily soar into the high hundreds or thousands.
It's important to know your worth and choose a fair price that reflects the value of the service you are providing.
“I’d rather hustle 24/7 than slave 9 to 5.”
Sponsored content can also be done solely though a social media profile, such as instagram or twitter. Bloggers can receive payments for a post to advertise the brand's product or service to their own followers. This can be quite lucrative on instagram, where influencers often earn several hundred, and sometimes up to $9K, per post.
Bloggers can enter into brand ambassadorships, bespoke contracts, with certain brands that can last from a few months to a year. The blogger agrees to advertise the brand for a set amount of time, most often in the absence of major competitors, and with a specified amount of advertising, social media exposure, and dedicated content. These are often several thousand dollar deals, with top influencers earning up to a cool $20K.
"If plan A fails, remember there are 25 more letters."
Bloggers can earn commission through affiliate links placed on their website. These work when purchases are made through the links, and at no additional cost to the buyer.
Affiliate programs work best for bloggers if they're consistent with the blogger's niche, so they make sense to refer to readers, and likewise provide a relevant, and worthy, product or service.
Affiliate programs generally work two ways. You can sign up directly through the companies' own affiliate program and manage everything on a dedicated dashboard. A great example is my website provider, Jimdo, who also have their own affiliate program that I use to refer you to so that you can also create your own travel blog.
Alternatively, you can use a marketplace, which matches influencers with brands to make connections. Affiliates can easily provide a passive monthly income of several hundred bucks or more.
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
Thomas A. Edison
Referral credits or rewards can be as valuable as money if they are from companies that you already use, since they can save you from paying out of pocket. I use referral programs of sites that I use and like. I'm happy to recommend them, and the credit earned saves me money, so it's a no brainer. Credits like these earn me free housesitting accommodation, free bookings in private homes and hotel rooms.
Don't underestimate the value of credit. It's just as good as money if it saves you yours. They may be small potatoes, but they're free potatoes, and who doesn't like free potatoes? They're where fries come from.
"Fortune sides with him who dares."
Bloggers can earn income from writing review articles about their personal experience with products or services. These can be paid, or can be simply in exchange for said product or service, or both.
Personally, I tend to do quite a lot of food reviews, since I love to eat, and I also like sharing just how easy it is to eat vegan food anywhere in the world.
I also do reviews for other travel brands such as gear, hotels, apparel, transportation, and attractions. Reviews can earn anywhere from several hundred to several thousand in product, value, and payment.
"There's no such thing as a free lunch."
Bloggers can crowdsource their income by receiving donations through their websites. More common than you'd think, this explains why there are so many donate buttons in bloggers' navigation bars.
This may be more frequent for international housesitters like myself who often receive money for expenses and tips, but even big guns like the Minimalists have a donate button on their site, so they definitely can work if your content is good and your audience is motivated.
Try out some or all these methods, see what works for you, and tweak as needed. The most important thing is to first get started travel blogging.