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How To Make Money With a Travel Blog

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We have been travel blogging for over fourteen years now and we’re very fortunate to be able to make money with our travel blog and earn a living from it.

Whenever we meet people and we tell them what we do, we’re always met with “wait a minute, you can make money travel blogging?”

When we started blogging, not many people though blogging was a viable career option. To be honest, we didn’t realize the full profit potential when we started – we started because we love traveling and sharing our adventures and tips, but we soon saw an opportunity to make it our business.

JOY in Cedar Key

And why not? There are many ways you can make money travel blogging; from sponsorships, partnerships, affiliate programs and advertising – as well as so much more.

So the next time I get asked “wow you can make money travel blogging” I now have this guide to share with them.

It’s time to address the biggest question we regularly get asked:

How Do You Make Money Travel Blogging?

woman taking selfie at Lake McDonald, Glacier National Park, Montana

Let’s face it, most people who see our travel lifestyle, and desire to get paid to travel. When I tell people we make money writing about our travel adventures, I’m always met with amazed faces, jaws dropping to the floor, and gasps of “wow you can do that!?”

In 2020, we started a local nice niche site on living in Raleigh (Our now permanent home) Since we had years of experience, we had quick success, and now earn a sustainable income through that site and in the same ways as our travel site (plus a few additional ways not relevant to travel blogging).

So, what’s the best way to make money travel blogging? Here are some ways you can make money from a travel blog…

Start With The Right Mindset

caz looking over at lake louise
Lake Louise, Canada

Before you jump the gun and start signing up for affiliate programs and reaching out to tourism boards, you got to start with the right mindset.

That is to say, go in with the mindset that your blog is an extension of your experience and expertise, not a tool for monetization.

The thing you must understand is you will not make much money OFF your travel blog (you can but you need super high traffic numbers) but BECAUSE of your travel blog.

Blogging can open up many doors for you, but they won’t open until you’re established as an authority figure and have a strong readership base.

If you want this to be a long-term lifestyle then treat it as such. I see far too many travel bloggers getting into this game just to get free trips so they can travel. That might be all that you want and that’s fine if you do it in an ethical and credible way, but it’s not a viable long-term business plan.

If you want to make money as a travel blogger, you need a long-term business plan, not a free ride.

Ok, so now you’ve got my two cents on this topic, here’s how we make money travel blogging.

CAVAET: Take it from someone who travelled for 12 years before starting a travel blog (and then getting free trips and getting paid to travel) Free press trips are the WORST way to travel. If you just want to travel the world for free, and you have no higher purpose for starting a travel blog, then don’t start one! It’s too much time and effort.

Selling Your Own Products

woman and child swimming in wakulla springs
A wonderful life

Man, it took us 3 years too long to dive into selling our own products as an income stream. I had the book 2/3 written before we even started the travel blog. It was my damn insecurities and fears that got in the way.

Creating your own products or services is a stable way to earn an income off your travel blog, that’s also separate from the blog. The things actually on your blog that make you money, like ads and affiliates, are dependent on traffic which can be volatile (more on this later), so it’s important to think outside your blog first.

B-School really helped me to get clear on the product launching process, and because of it, we now have three eBooks published; How to create the travel life you love, Step into Sacredness: 12 principles for creating the life your soul yearns for, and 30 days to Money Mindfulness – helping you develop a better relationship with the stuff that will help you travel more!

I also have my premium training course “How to move from Blog to Business” and I have collaborated on a course with my business coach and his wife called Confidence Igniter.

It’s all about gaining confidence and control in your life – essentials for success and happiness in any aspect of your life.

So when you write that business plan of yours for your travel blog, start investigating the different products you can create and the value you can provide through them. (Be creative, there’s so much you can do).

They don’t have to be digital products either, you can create merchandise as well. Some people have their own branded backpacks and hoodies, others have physical maps or photo books.

Paid Marketing Campaigns With Brands and Tourism Boards

family wearing mardi gras costumes
A paid campaign to Mardi Gras with kids

I know what we do looks like a lot of fun, and it is, but we also do a lot of work behind the scenes promoting destinations for brands and tourism boards.

We work with destinations to promote their experiences via our travel blog and social media platforms, such as Instagram and Pinterest.

We work with them to choose activities, experiences, and destinations that we know we’ll enjoy and also what our readers will want.

We only pick brand promotions if we know it will be high quality and we know our readers will be interested in it, otherwise we risk damaging our reputation.

We don’t participate in campaigns that don’t fit with our brand or readers, it’s that simple. We very rarely go on group campaigns with other bloggers or media, because they usually don’t fit with our audience.

We just don’t think that it best fits with our travel story and we just like to do our own thing.

Sponsored Posts

woman walking on duck beach nc

Yes, we do sponsored posts on occasion, which is when a brand wants us to promote their product or experience for any particular reason.

Again, we choose carefully based upon the criteria I mentioned above.

We’ll share products or services we understand, believe in, would use ourselves and we think is valuable to share to our audience.

We always disclose if we have been paid to create quality content for a brand, and so must you. If you don’t, trust me you’ll get called out and will lose credibility.

Sponsored posts are basically like an advertisement that is written by us, but we always include our own ideas, opinions and expert knowledge.

Sometimes these may come in the form of a sponsored social media update as well.

Public Speaking

woman on stage presenting at TBEX
TBEX presentation

Something I’m really enjoying lately as an income stream is public speaking.

I was a teacher for 15 years, so have no problem getting up on stage to share my thoughts and experiences. It’s definitely something I want to do more of and am really digging into to sharpen my abilities in this area.

Over the years, I had presented at conferences organized by tourist boards, and have spoken at several blogging and social media conferences such as TBEX, Problogger and SoMeT and TBEX.

Some speaking gigs are paid while others aren’t, but even the unpaid ones are worth doing as you can network with others in the industry.

I decide if it’s worth it on a case by case basis, depending on the packages offered. It has to be a pretty awesome package for me to leave the family if they want me to speak without any compensation.

I also speak at events in Raleigh for our other site This is Raleigh, some of which has been paid.

Mentoring and Coaching

We have a private mentoring group that is connected to B-School. This technically falls under the affiliate stream of income, but I actually offer a mentoring bonus instead of just taking the affiliate commission and sending them on their way to fend for themselves.

So it’s a fair amount of work that we put into it.

We offer coaching calls where we share our tips and insights, and we have an active Facebook group where we answer questions from the Dreamer Fools and help guide and support them. (They are such a cool group btw!)

Affiliate Marketing

person on lap top

Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to make money from your travel blog because you only set it up once, and the income keeps coming in forever more. It’s passive income and is where you find your true freedom.

Affiliate marketing is where you promote other people’s products and services and receive a commission every time someone books through your link. It doesn’t cost the reader (most of the time) as you are paid a commission by the company.

To actually make money from affiliate marketing, you need to be knowledgeable on what your audience are looking for, how to place affiliate links, and how to generate enough traffic to convert.

There is a lot of work required and you do need to have decent traffic (though surprisingly not a lot, if you know what you’re doing) and an audience who trusts you.

You want to be honest with your affiliate marketing campaign to maintain that trust – don’t go recommending scenic flights because they are expensive, but recommend tours, hotels or attractions you’ve experienced and would recommend, and you’re more likely to convert.

We only recommend products or services that we personally use, like and trust. There might be the odd few that we haven’t had personal experience with, but we know the source as a highly trusted and reputable one.

We have affiliate partnerships with Booking.com, and Discover Cars.com, who we mostly promote as we feel they are the best and use them all the time ourselves.

We don’t want to be shoving 13 different accommodation booking sites in your face just so we can make money. We’d rather give our readers fewer options from a trustworthy and valuable provider.

If you want to learn how to make money with your travel blog through affiliate marketing our friend Michelle’s course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, is the best out there.

Learn how she went from $0 to over $50,000 a month in affiliate income. That’s freedom. We’ve done the course and loved it and learned a lot! I wish we had it when we first started as we’d be making a LOT more passive affiliate income now.

And if there is one income earning strategy I recommend you implement straight away, it’s affiliate marketing. You won’t get immediate results, but it will pay off i n the long term. Six years later you won’t be like us, face palming yourself as you realize the thousands of dollars you’ve left on the table and have to spend the next year going back through hundreds of posts to implement the strategies.

Click here to get started with the affiliate marketing course!

Freelance Content Creation

woman working at table in hotel

As well as sponsored content, we also have various freelance content creation gigs running in the background. These are essentially travel guides, guest posts, and articles we have written for other publications, as opposed to publishing on our own blog.

I wrote for the Kidspot Going Places campaign sponsored by Nissan for 2 years. Kidspot is the largest parenting website in Australia and I wrote a column on family travel.

Craig also writes two articles a month for HomeAway and also wrote blog posts for the Destination NSW blog and for the flight comparison site, Skyscanner.

We’ve created videos for tourist boards and often do some ad hoc freelance writing gigs here and there, including some print.

Consulting

lake with snowy mountains in the background
Many Glacier area

There’s a huge market here for us to be able to help DMO’s and tourism companies with their social media and blogging strategy.

If you’ve been blogging for a while, and you’ve picked up some tips and tricks on how you’ve been getting traffic, there are people out there who would love to hear your insights!

Think about what skills you have learned through blogging and how could you then empower other businesses to do the same and improve their visibility?

Blogger Brand Campaign Relationships

group of people standing on a rusted pick up
Fun with my fellow blogging fiends in Jordan

If we had the time we could easily organize and manage blogger brand campaigns. We know how to make them work best.

Essentially, it’s where you collaborate with other bloggers to build a series of content around a brand in order to promote it across all your streams; be it social media or on the blog.

There are plenty of these groups popping up now that manage these types of relationships for travel bloggers, but we just don’t have time for them.

Create A Travel Agency

There are plenty of mobile travel agencies these days, but you can also run your blog like a travel agency and offer itinerary planning services, or partner with tour companies to tailor experiences directly for your readers.

This is a lot of work, so it’s not a stream we want to go down, but it’s an option for those who want to develop a close relationship with their readers.

Become A Tour Company

caz and Christina McEvoy at Moraine Lake
With Chrstina on her Banff group trip

Similar to being an online travel agent, you could also turn your blog into a tour company.

You could become your own tour guide and organize your own trips, where you take your readers on adventures with you.

Wandering Earl offers group tours around the world. As a seasoned traveller, he is more than experienced in showing people how to have similar experiences to what he does.

My good friend, Christina McEvoy has had huge success with running her own tours as have our other good friends, Dave and Lina Stock from Divergent Travelers.

Again, this is something that we’ve considered too much work for us, since we have two daughters, but other travel bloggers have had success in this area.

TV Travel Show

with jen and clint adams form places we go tv show
Our feature on Places We Go

Ok, so this is a bit of a pipe dream for most, but I would love to fulfill my dreams of being on Getaway.

I’d love to have my own film crew following me around so I could just enjoy the adventure and relax!! Our friends from Places We Go in Australia (we’ve been featured on her show) do this as does Samantha Brown with her Places to Love TV Show.

Youtube & Podcasts

If you are confident in your video creation abilities, why not set up a YouTube channel?

You can make money through advertising on YouTube and you don’t need a huge audience to generate income (although it will be small to start).

Advertising

caz with aperol spritz enjoying view of verona arena
Views from Hotel Milan and Spa in Verona

I leave advertising to the end because it’s a stream of income, but it’s lucrative and unreliable – so you shouldn’t start a travel blog with the intention of making money through advertising.

Let me explain.

You earn money every time someone clicks on your ads, and so your ad revenue is dependant on your traffic – more traffic, more likelihood of clicks.

Traffic is dependent on how much of an audience you have, your SEO skills, and your streams of driving traffic to your blog – such as your social media presence or how high you rank on search engines.

You need a fair amount of traffic to be able to make decent money through advertising, so it’s not something you want to be your onwly focus. As many travel bloggers have found out, once Google changes their algorithm and you get dropped, you use a vast majority of your income overnight.

Some ad networks are better than others as well. Most people with low traffic put Google Adsense on their site, which generates pennies, and slows down your site.

Once you hit 50,000 sessions per month, you can look at ad networks like Mediavine, and when you hit 100,000 sessions a month, you can consider Raptive (formerly AdThrive).

FAQs About Making Money As Travel Bloggers

Can you make good money travel blogging?

caz and girls on bikes in front of versailles palace
Cycling around Versaille

Absolutely you can make good money off a travel blog. You can make money off almost anything, either directly or indirectly.

It’s incredible the doors that you can open once you build an audience around something, and it’s amazing the number of people I’ve met who make money off their passions.

The best way to earn an income travel blogging is by doing something you love and are good at. That being said, you’ve got to earn it and you’ve got to be honest. People who go into a travel blog with the mindset of “I just want to make money” almost always fail, because they are forgetting about their audience and what they want.

You’ve got to build a foundation, a brand, an understanding of your audience, and a product or service they want.

It’s important you get your foundation in place first. By that I mean things like:

  • Your brand and messaging
  • Solid content
  • List of email subscribers
  • Functional and professional website
  • Tools and resources
  • Social media communities
  • Your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Network of contacts
  • Media kit
  • Testimonials

You can’t build a skyscraper on a one-inch slab of concrete. Build your foundation!

Is it easy to make money as a travel blogger?

people on an air boat
Don’t stop the adventure

No, it’s not easy to make money as a travel blogger. It takes at least a year to start earning money from your successful travel blog, I would say, but it could be easier if you learn how to create a business and make money travel blogging from the start.

There’s a learning curve and it takes an investment of time and commitment like any business. It involves a lot of smarts and learning from the right people.

We’ve made huge mistakes, but over years have figured out how to do it the best way for us, and there will be a best way for everyone and a different business model for you depending on your skills, time commitment, goals, location, travel experience, and demographic.

Different doors can open whether you’re a family travel blogger, couple or solo. Whether you’re based in Australia, Europe, North America or elsewhere. Whether you’re strong at travel photography, or writing, or creating video content.

There are many variables at play.

We’re always innovating and growing and adding different passive income streams to our travel blog and using our data to evaluate how we’re making money travel blogging, what’s working, and what needs to change.

Experience, and having the right teachers helps immensely.

I want to be upfront with you – travel blogging takes a lot of time and energy and other blogging niches appear to provide a better income. We started our travel blog because travel is our passion, so it made sense.

It also takes an investment of money – but much smaller than if you were building a brick and mortar business – but still you’re going to have costs.

If you treat it like a business from the get-go, and that means investing in education, tools, and resources, then you’ll get paid as a business, not as a hobby.

How much money can you earn as a travel blogger?

silhouette of lady watching orange outer banks sunrise
Outer banks sunrise

There is no simple answer to how much you can earn; too many variables are at play. It’s totally up to the ways in which you generate income and the audience you build around your brand.

There are travel bloggers who can earn anywhere from $500 per month as passive income to bloggers who are making five figures a month and managing huge teams of staff – all from their blog (that’s the dream, right!?).

I suggest you set big goals and then work towards them step by step. I think the higher your goals the more you’ll grow and the more you’ll eventually earn. Some people like to set more realistic goals.

You know the saying, shoot for the moon and land amongst the stars!

What are your financial independence goals?

Hang Gliding at Jockey's Ridge State Park, Outer Banks, NC
It’s a family affair!

The majority of travel bloggers can earn enough money for them to live well in developing countries. This is a very worthy goal.

As long as you are happy and living a good life, then it doesn’t matter where you live or how high your income can grow.

If you can reach that state of happy financial independence by living in a country where your travel expenses are much lower, then that could be a raging success.

But for me, especially with our kids, I didn’t want to have to live in a developing country to hit financial independence.

I wanted to be able to earn enough, no matter where I lived. That was the whole point to us starting a travel blog in the first place – to have time freedom, to be location independent.

We wanted the freedom to live wherever we choose. That involves being able to survive, as a family, in a place as expensive as our current one – Australia. And we have reached that level now.

family posing in front of the Twelve Apostles -
Great Ocean Road, Australia

We earn six figures because of our travel blog. This is not normal, it’s the top tier level – BUT, and this is one of my life’s mantras – if we can do it, so can you.

Adopt this as your mantra too.

If someone else has done it, it’s evidence you can too. Now all you have to do is learn and carve out your own path AND why not try and do even better?

It’s exactly why we share this information on our travel blog. We want you to believe you can do it and we want you to go out and do it too!

You can achieve a full-time income from your travel blog when you focus on longevity, establishing your authority and credibility first, and building a loyal following that you give a lot of value to.

You’ve got to help your peeps believe in their own dreams and help give them what they need to do it too

Before You Get Too Excited…

woman wearing beduoin scarf in desert smiling at camera
Happy in Jordan

Every time I watched another TV episode of Getaway or the Great Outdoors, I wanted to make travel my business, not just my lifestyle.

I was shocked when I’d hear behind the scenes tales of just how unglamorous and exhausting getting paid to travel was. “Yeah right!” I thought, “You’re living the dream – stop complaining.”

It turns out travel blogging is exhausting, and they were not lying about there being challenges. It’s really not very lucrative, especially in the early years of building an online travel business, just like most businesses.

For me, it didn’t matter how exhausting it sounded, I knew that was the life for me. Getting paid to travel was more attractive than teaching – ha! you want to know exhausting!?

BUT, it IS a lot of work and it does wear you down. It wouldn’t be fair of me to paint a picture of this business and life that we live as all roses and sunshine.

caz sitting in front of the Parthenon in Athens
Amazing life

I would still take this life over teaching and I love it.

I’ve never worked longer hours and I’ve been ejected so far out of my comfort zone that I no longer recognize the planet I’m on, nor the body I’m in. Travel blogging is a wild ride and I’d do it all over again – famous last words!

You can’t come into travel blogging and expect to be partnering with brands on paid campaigns or getting comped trips after two months of blogging. Getting paid to travel is not that easy

It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

It took us two years of intense work before money started flowing into our travel blogging business, and even then it was a while before we saw a healthy profit.

The best way to make money travel blogging depends on what skills and value you can bring to the table –  play to your strengths.

Be creative. Be different. Explore many different income avenues.

More Travel Blogging Tips

Looking to start your own travel blog? Here are some other helpful resources about travel blogging…

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