Travel blogging sounds like the dream job — from jetsetting around the world to experiencing different cultures firsthand — it looks like a permanent vacation. But how do you bridge the gap between your ardor for wanderlust and actually earning a living?
If you’re passionate about storytelling and exploration, and are interested in a career that can take you all over the world, travel blogging could be an ideal fit for you. But the career is an immense amount of work, and one that requires you to have several skillsets — ranging from creativity for content creation to social media campaigns, marketing, branding, tech management, a sharp business mindset and more.
The travel blogging space has become crowded, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t still plenty of room. Part of the beauty of the travel blogging space is that anyone can start a travel blog today, and anyone can grow a community of followers with their blog.
When it comes to getting paid as a travel blogger, though, there’s a lot more work involved. Here are some things you should know going in:
It Takes Time To Make Money
You may have to blog for some time before you start seeing a return on that investment. Most successful bloggers will agree that you have to love what you’re doing, because the money doesn’t just start rolling in. The rates you charge will be based on your following, quality of work and the confidence you have in pitching yourself.
Travel blogging is fun, really fun. But I’d be lying if I told you it was all sunshine, mojitos and beach selfies. If you want to build a strong following that leads to a profitable blog, you’ll need to be blogging consistently — even when you’re tired, sick or just don’t feel like it. Know that for every day you spend traveling, you’ll probably spend an equal amount of time (if not more) behind a computer. Set yourself up for success by creating an editorial schedule, develop a strong idea of what your brand is, and give yourself time to learn the basics like WordPress, hosting and SEO (get started by reading my post on how to successfully start a travel blog).
You Must Differentiate Yourself
What will set you apart from the dozens of already-established travel bloggers out there? While you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, it is important to stand out and offer something that isn’t already being offered, or offer it in a different way.
How can you do this? Take time to brainstorm what you’re most passionate about, and then check out other popular travel blogs and identify what’s missing. Finding a niche that isn’t saturated is one of the best ways for you to carve out a space for yourself in a busy blogosphere.
How to Earn Money as a Travel Blogger
Of course, there are a myriad of ways to earn money as a travel blogger — the trick is finding a system that works well for you. Most travel bloggers, especially freelancers, have multiple ways that they earn income so that they can balance the ebbs and flows of an entrepreneurial budget.
Multiple Streams Of Income Are Always A Good Idea
Ask anyone with an internet business (and your travel blog IS a business) and they’ll tell you that relying on one income source is a recipe for disaster. Advertising on your blog is a great way to make money, but it’s a mistake to count on that as your only source of income.Diversifying your income helps insure you are still bringing in money in the event that one income source slows down or dries up. In other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Some other ways to make money with your travel blog business may include:
- Freelance projects: This can range anywhere from a media kit to a commissioned article — essentially anything that you charge a project-based fee for with a client. Ideas and examples include: guest content on a client’s site (ghost-writing and written in your own voice), submissions to magazines, copy editing, photography/media kits, social media campaigns and more. I always recommend creating pricing packages and give your clients options to select which services are best for their needs.
- Sponsored posts: Strictly speaking, this is another form of a freelance project, but I have chosen to create a separate category for it because I think it’s worth noting that you can host sponsored content on your own site for a fee. Remember that you should always include a disclaimer in your post if you were paid to write it (I include this at the bottom of my posts). Develop your rates by determining the amount of time it takes you to create a post from start to finish, and then multiply that by your ideal hourly rate.
- Passive income: Especially once you start gaining momentum and traction on your blog, passive income can be a great way to make more money. This can include anything from ads (such as a banner ad or YouTube ads) that you receive a commission per click, affiliate marketing (like Amazon Associates), as well as classes, ebooks or courses that you create (either hosted on your own or through a platform like Skillshare). If you’re a photographer, it’s a great idea to look into selling stock images as well.
- Blog to brand programs: As the professional blogging world grows, so do opportunities to make money. There are more and more companies popping up that connect bloggers with brands, essentially an online agency. Most sites are easy to sign up for, and all you have to do is connect your blog, Google Analytics account and social media platforms, and you’ll start to receive opportunities periodically in your inbox. One of my personal favorites is Blog Meets Brand. It’s a great idea to also connect with PR agencies — while not all of them will have paid opportunities, they can be the bridge to connect you with brands and eventually get paid work.
- Retainer clients: It’s my personal belief that one of the biggest keys to success as a freelancer is working with clients on a long-term basis. Not only will you develop a more personal relationship with these clients (which your readers will likely notice and appreciate your authentic connection with the brand), but you’ll also be able to create a budget for yourself based off of charging clients a set fee every month for repeat services. This can include, but are not limited to, brand ambassador programs, social media campaigns, sponsored content and more. Retainer clients can give you the peace of mind for paying basic expenses every month, and also serve as an incubator to grow your business — which in turn, will allow you to be more creative.
Make it easy for clients to find you by sharing the type of work that you do. Develop a media kit, include a “Work with Me” page on your site, and make sure it’s easy to reach you via email or a contact form. Get feedback from your friends and family on the usability for these features — if a brand wants to work with you but can’t quickly figure out how to contact you, they could easily slip through the cracks.
In your desire to create an income from your blog, you may be tempted to grab every opportunity to make money, but this can hurt the integrity of your business. For example, affiliate marketing is a great way to make money, but be selective in choosing the products and services you promote. Ideally, you’ll choose affiliate products that you yourself use, or at least choose affiliate opportunities that you know will offer tremendous value for your audience.
The same goes for ads, sponsored trips and brand ambassador opportunities. As your blog grows in popularity and readership, you’ll find that offers and opportunities start to be more frequent. It’s tempting to jump at every opportunity that comes your way, but remember that every you say yes to one experience, you are saying no to everything else. Invest your time, energy and resources into the opportunities that have the greatest payoff, whether financially or for your own sake of sanity and health.
As you develop content over time, consider creating your own products. Some examples may include travel guides, how-to books, online courses, tours and travel services. Many travel bloggers make additional income from offering their own products, and these become easy to make by combining already-existing content after you have been blogging for some time.
Focus On Quality And Consistency
When it comes to blogging, you have to be consistent. This is tough sometimes. The initial excitement of traveling and blogging doesn’t necessarily wear off, but it does become tiring. Traveling from place to place, dealing with spotty internet and constantly creating content for your readers isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s important to create a work/life balance early on, and it’s important to come up with a system that works for you to ensure that you are able to deliver to your readers on a regular basis.