I have been meaning to write a post about how to make money from travel blogging for a while. Other than “what do you do all day” (asked with a tone of “I bet nothing”) and questions about coming to Goa, another question I get asked from soon to be bloggers or readers, is how do you make money from travel blogging? how do you get paid to travel? and how can I make money traveling?
- 14 ways to make money while you travel (only one is travel blogging!)
Although, I could live in India off my blog alone, I couldn’t afford to live in say, Hawaii. Last year I also made spending money from ISLA candles and thai yoga massage, but blogging is my main source of income. Lots of people ask if I do my taxes (why they ask I don’t know…), but yes I do taxes! Bloggers from the US that live abroad still have to pay dollas to the US. I do mine with H&R Block India who specialize in expat taxes.
So, I wrote last year on my ONE year blogging anniversary (eww that sounds so lame) what it was like blogging and gave a few tips, but really just rambled per usual.
Now, it’s been TWO years I’ve had this crazy blog. So, this year I wanted to share the answers of how I make money. Basically, if you weren’t reading this, I wouldn’t make money at all! So thank you! I love writing this blog but it’s a lot of work, so I hope you don’t hate me for wanting to cash out sometimes.
How to get paid to travel… it’s not so easy!
There are SO many good posts to explain how to make money travel blogging, and they’ll probably be way more organized than mine and make less spelling errors, but since I get asked about this- I’m going to answer. Bear with me! and THANK YOU for reading (some of you for the whole two years, crazy!!) I’ll link to some other bloggers articles below.
how to make money from travel blogging
The first thing to know is that it can’t happen overnight, but it CAN happen if you work really hard at it. Blogs that make money have usually built up quality content over a year before they start making money, sometimes 6 months if they are working extra hard. Another thing to know is that in general travel blogging makes way less money than fashion or beauty bloggers, so if you want to make money blogging but don’t care about what type of blogging, maybe choose another thing you love.
A few things the blog needs to succeed:
1) engaged readers who trust you… you already knew that I’m sure ;) I find that just talking on my blog the way I do in person works best and the articles where I *attempt to be funny usually get the most reads. I don’t consider myself a great writer, so just try to type like I’m talking to a friend. You have to find what works for you.
2) self hosted site. I used to use godaddy and it was terrible. I switched to siteground and love it. My site started running faster, it was cheaper, and they back everything up for me fo free. I have renewed with them for the next two years.
3) a niche, brand, and unique blog name… know “something” well. For me that is travel to India, Goa, luxury/girly travel. You might fall into a niche later you weren’t even expecting.
4) social media followers… you can’t avoid SM as a blogger. People have written hundreds of posts on this, so I’m not going to go into it. But just google social media for travel bloggers and you’ll see.
5) Unique, fun content uploaded at a regular schedule. I started out posting 6x a week, then took it down to 5x but wish I was only posting 3x per week. I just have too much content that piles up.
6. A site that is easy to look at. I think this is more important than people want to think. A pretty site makes people want to stay on it. A messy site will have people clicking away. My blog is built on the Avada theme.
7) a media kit (blogging resume) to show off how great your blog is.
Another thing to note is that some bloggers post 1x a MONTH, promote like crazy, and make the same amount of money as someone who posts daily. Some people get all their traffic from Pinterest, and some people kick ass at SEO and get theirs organically from Google even though they don’t understand SEO (aka me). Some people make money just off social media, and some people with huge numbers of followers make hardly any money. Some people make nothing on affiliates, while others make 200 bucks a day. It’s different for everyone and learning the in’s and out’s of making money blogging really just takes trial and error. There are loads of articles about how other bloggers make money.
- How we make money travel blogging by YTravel
- So you want to be a travel blogger by Young Adventuress
- This is how I get paid to travel the world by Expert Vegabond
- How to find success & make money from a travel blog by BreatheDreamGo
Does traffic matter?
Some will say it doesn’t… but in my experience, as traffic goes up so do opportunities which means, so does money. Of course this blog isn’t all about making money, but if you’re going into travel blogging as a possible career, you’ll want to have monetizing on the brain. At about a year in, I had 65,000 page views monthly and now at year 2 (ah, I’ve had this blog 2 years!) I have about 130,000 page views. Hippie in Heels was in the top 50 travel blogs in the world, but has dropped off in the last quarter (hoping to get back on the list).
Some top bloggers (as in very well-known) have less than 20,000 page views but make WAY more money than I do, so it doesn’t necessarily matter.
Where the traffic comes from matters. My blog is about “glamorous travel” (which I completely made up) or travel in India but my readers are mostly American by a long shot, then Indian, UK, and AUS. If I had only Indian readers because I write about India, that would limit brands targeting foreigners coming to India. It’s important to have a business mindset and keep balance on a site with a smaller niche.
Ok so…. how I make money travel blogging
1. Traveling (press trips/campaigns)
This is the best way to make money blogging but will not happen first, it will most likely be the last type of income you get. This is where you are paid a per diem for going on a press trip. Often times, press trips take 20 bloggers at once, don’t pay and you get your airfare, hotels, and food (well everything) included in exchange for coverage of the trip on your blog. You have the freedom to write anything you want. But, if you are going on a trip within your niche and have a loyal readership, you should be paid a fair rate and discuss how to personalize the trip for your readers. To be transparent, an example of this is my trip with Bandung tourism where I was paid a per diem + the trip for 4 days covered and in return I was meant to write 2 articles. I wrote 3 because Bandung was amazing & I still continue to share about it on social media.
2. Sponsored posts/reviews
If a company contacts me asking if I will tell you guys (readers) about their amazing product, I check out the product and see if it’s cool. Usually, they send it to me and I try it out then decide if I’ll write about it. 90% of emails asking for reviews or mentions of their company go in the trash folder (I mean, do you want me to review swimming goggles, because that was today’s lol) but some are amazing so I share about them. An example of this would be Pinrose or GlobeIn. Usually when a company asks me to do a review, I ask them to give the product to a reader as well. It doesn’t cost them too much to do that, and it is a present for you guys!
I would guess over 90% (maybe even 95%) of my posts are just written by me, promoting no companies, and just giving travel tips. I only work with companies I love and I always say I was paid by them for the post. It’s fun to work with companies like a tour I’ve taken or fashion designers I love and am happy to share with you guys. In fact, most companies I work with, I have reached out to myself and asked them.
This is my second favorite way after travel to make money on the blog. This is where I work with a company I love (usually I’ve pitched and asked them to work with me) and we set up ways to promote for a specified fee. Usually on my end that means an article about them, a sidebar ad, and x amount of social media posts. Recently, I did a big campaign with Trover. Clinique has yet to get back to me about working together ;) haha. It’s important to be honest when you do a review.
After I worked with goMowgli last year, I wrote a review where I said the Pro’s and Con’s. I loved the company but wanted to share about it like I would to a friend and even when you love something there can be “cons”. They are my favorite company here in India, and after going on a trip with them last year, than invited me back this year (as well as any of my readers at cost value aka they make no money on it) which is great because you’re building a relationship with a company you really trust and feel good about promoting. Then, it’s not work.
4. Social media
Some people don’t even have blogs but are “social media stars” and make a killing on Instagram! I met some on my trip to Bandung actually. With my twitter, Instragram, and Facebook combined I have over 40,000 followers. This number is good for blogging, but actually not that good compared to the big shots. It means I can promote companies through social media, and sometimes not even mention them on my blog. This can work for a product where they want me to photograph it and link to their page. I charge less for this, so it’s good for companies that don’t have a large budget & I love doing fun shots for Instagram.
Below is a collage I made for an article on beachy things I love & and the images are from those companies websites. Whether they sell sunscreen or shampoo, they know what works on Instagram (which includes pineapples & bums more often than not). You have to figure out what works for yours. Usually an IG has a theme. By the way, I wasn’t paid by those companies just loved their stuff in Hawaii so wrote about it.
You can sign up for sites like socialpubli to earn money by tweeting and Instagramming things they want promoted. So far, I have done just 3 projects but it was easy cash.
I am signed up for Amazon Affiliates and when I talk about my favorite new makeup or what travel products I use, I often link to Amazon. If someone wants to buy the product, I get a small commission at no extra cost to them. This isn’t a huge income, but is a little cushion each month. I also have affiliates though commission junction for flights and hotel bookings, and while these make me almost nothing (because I don’t know how to best utilize them), they make some people huge amounts each day.
Update: I recently signed up for Affiliate Window and am making decent affiliates from their Etsy and Agoda programs. So, will probably try to switch everything over to here.
I’m a siteground affiliate, so that link up there was a commission link. The SocialPubli link was also an affiliate link! Normally, I would state that at the bottom of the post, but I’m saying it now so won’t.
I take side bar ads for companies I like and actually charge less for ad space for a month than a sponsored post. I also use ads from google adsense and Sovrn; there are two in my side bar and one at the bottom of the page. Similar to the affiliates, these are a passive income. Some bloggers are really good about reaching out and selling ad space, but I am not one of them.
7. Travel planning
I love travel planning for India! If you email me asking a questions and 90% of the time I just answer it. But if you ask every single question known to man about India and want help booking, I will tell you I charge for travel planning. I talk with people over Skype, get an idea of what they want, and send them an itinerary.
8. Freelance writing
Writing for other websites is a fun way to make extra cash. If I had more patience I would email pitches to travel websites, but I really only do freelance if the company reaches out to me. Recent partners are Bindi and Jeans & Happy Trips. My newest job is writing for a TV channel, but I don’t want to say which one and jinx it! I try to share these in my Friday Roundups before the “This is India” stories.
9. Related text links (sort of)
This used to be the #1 way to make money blogging and was so easy (just add a random link to the blog post, even if it has nothing to do with the post). Then Google said it was illegal and bloggers stopped doing it. You can do it now and it’s legal if they are “nofollow” as in they won’t be tracked by Google (I know, it sounds confusing). I might do one of these 3x a year if they offer a lot of money and I always say at the bottom that there’s a link in the post to __ company and I was paid for it. It’s really too easy of money to pass up on and when you write 5 posts a week for free, it’s nice to make a little cash for a link.
I help companies who are new and unsure how to utilize social media get started. I do this mostly in Goa, in person, and teach them how to use social media. I also may help with content creation for their websites, or even run their IG and FB pages.
I want to get started on Fiverr making Pinterest images for people and such, but haven’t yet. I do buy things on there from people and love it. There are so many talented graphic designers on there. I’m also getting in SEO and would love to take some classes on it and start helping people with that.
So, that’s it! Blogging doesn’t seem like a real job to a lot of people, but it does bring in the cash and could be a viable option for you. Just know, it’s a LOT of work and you will work hard for maybe a year or more before you start making money.
It also costs money to pay for hosting (I recently switched because my site was getting too much traffic for my old host to handle) and other things that will pop up, for example I just paid someone to optimize my site to run faster so people can read it easier. I also just bought a Mac book Pro with extra RAM, space, and processing speed which is not something I would have spent money on if I wasn’t blogging.
There are more ways to make money on blogging and ebooks seem to be a great way to make money passively. I’d love to write one about Goa as I know it inside and out, but you’ll see once you start blogging that you’ll have a list a mile long of things you know you should do but just can’t find the time.
I answer about 60 emails a day. That takes a lot of time, and it’s time you aren’t paid for… just like writing and editing photos… but you are building a relationship with your readers which is why companies will want to work with you. You have to keep your readers as the #1 priority and that means always telling them when you’re getting paid to share about something, even if you love the company. I would never say it’s too hard to start a blog, but I will say if you’re thinking about it, do it now and do lots of research before so you get it right the first time!
So, these are some of the ways to make money from travel blogging, or “how to get paid to travel”. Do you want to start a blog? Do you have one and have more tips to share? Tell us!
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