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Starting a travel blog is easy, and anyone can do it. There are many avenues to do it, whether it is a personal blog on Medium or WordPress, or even beautify it using other services such as Wix. But the simple question you need to ask yourself is whether you want it for personal joy, or you want to monetize the blog and make some money out of it.
For example, Everything-everywhere, a blog started 11 years ago that is still going strong. Started by Gary Arndt who sold his house to move around the world and pursue his profession as a photographer at the same time. According to his blog, he has visited the 7 continents, covered all 50 states and has been to more than 190 countries. Gary Arndt paid for everything for the first 5 years of his blogging. It was only later that he started getting money from the different countries that he visited and also from his website. Arndt has about 100,000 monthly readers and earns thousands of dollars in revenue.
But Arndt’s story is slightly different because before starting off as a travel blogger, he had a very strong business background and took the marketing of his website very seriously.
Yet there are others like Practical Wanderlust who met with little or moderate success when they started off. According to their blog, they earned a mere $65 in the first six months of their blogging career, but instead of being bogged down, they pushed along and made close to $22,000 last year, and hope to double it in 2018. Most bloggers warn that while the money will start coming in, no one should expect to make anything in the first year. Even though some of them have contracts with travel companies and agencies, most of the money is not regular, it is sometimes more than enough, or not nearly enough at times. It’s also pointed out that to make money, just a single site is nearly not enough and while some people do manage to do that, they are few in number.
Nearly all the bloggers that we researched were unanimous in one thing — if you are only starting a travel blog to make money, don’t bother! Unless and until you don’t have an actual love for blogging and have an interest in photography, interacting with people and social media. Almost all the bloggers will tell you that since travel blogging is a business like any other, you will need to chip in money like any other venture. This means you would have to consider these monthly expenses:
- Email and web hosting
- Domain names
- Graphic and podcast hosting
- SEO monitoring
- Graphic design
- Subscriptions for webinars (if applicable)
Another aspect to this business is the outsourcing you will have to do when you are out traveling. This is also for tasks that you yourself may not be adept at, such as managing your social media accounts, or say a little bit of programming if you need it. There will be other expenses, such as travel expenses (which form the major chunk), equipment (cameras or, if you can afford them, drones). Once you have taken all this into consideration, you will need to sit down and consider how you will monetize your account.
In the heydays of blogging, advertisement revenue was a major source of a blogger’s income, especially a travel blog. But since supply is much greater than the demand, the advertisement rates have dropped. Lately, the major revenue sources for bloggers is this great ecosystem that consists of social media marketing campaigns, brand ambassadorships and affiliate marketing. Some bloggers such as Ytravelblog and Timleffel earn in upto six figures through their excellent blogs and other affiliate websites.
How do these bloggers make so much money when the market is literally clogged with thousands upon thousands of blogs? The answer, as many bloggers will tell you, is to pick a niche and stand apart from the crowd, because there is enough money and enough sponsors for everyone to go around. The general sentiment that seems to be running is that if your blog is good and engaging, and you have a loyal readership, you are good to rock and roll! Let’s take a look at how travel bloggers attempt to monetize their blogs:
These posts form an important revenue source for any travel blogger. Normally, a company will approach a travel blogger and pay them a certain amount to write or mention about them in the post and add a link back to their website. These posts can be a long post on your blog, or on one (or all) of your social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. There are also some platforms that can link the bloggers and the companies that are willing to pay these bloggers to promote their content on the product.
You will have to be transparent about these promotions to your readers/followers though and tag them accordingly so that they know that you are being paid for a particular promotion. The promotions can fetch anything between $150-$800 to a blogger.
This is one of the most exciting aspects of travel blogging. A lot of bloggers are invited by tour companies or the tourism board of a particular country/region to tour around and write about your experience. Be mindful that these jobs will come to you if you have a large following (the blog or your social media) — you will be expected to write positive things and showcase their country/region. You may also be expected to fulfill certain requirements such as taking flattering pictures (of the place) and post them several times on your social media timeline.
The whole deal usually includes your airfare, hotel stay, food, entertainment and transport for the entire duration. On top of this, well-known travel bloggers have been known to charge for their services anything from $250 a day, or a lump sum for the entire trip. Overall, one could earn as much as $2,500 or more from such trips. But do remember that these trips come once in a while and bloggers usually don’t rely on them as a source of income.
These are a great source for passive income. The principle is simple — if while reading a certain blogger’s post who has extorted the virtues of a certain hotel in Cape Town, a reader lands on the hotel website to make a booking through a link, the hotel people will pay the blogger a small percentage of that amount. Other examples for this are travel gear, apparel, flights or even restaurants. Affiliate links are a favorite with fashion bloggers because their readers land up there knowing the blogger will showcase a new fashion line or a range.
The payouts for many bloggers in the United States range from anything between $1,500-$3,500.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Companies and specific brands will approach you and invite you to write on their blogs. And, this is your chance to associate with high-value brands, make some money and be noticed. This works mutually, because the brand approached you for your social media following and hence the chance of getting them new followers. On the other hand, you gain by associating with a large brand in the form of affiliate links.
Payments for these vary from blogger to blogger and will depend on the number of your followers, the length of the content and the research involved. Overall, one single post can fetch you anything between $100-$650 or more, depending on the brand.
As you gain popularity, companies will approach you to take over their social media platforms for a limited period, sometimes for an entire day. Needless to say, you will have to be really good at this because they will be handing you complete control of their platforms. These are marketing gimmicks companies perform in a bid to attract more followers to their platforms. A blogger’s takeaway? Anything between $300-$400, or more if they have a large number of followers.
There is always room for improvement when it comes to monetizing your blog, and the key to being a really successful travel blogger is to be creative. There are many many ways to make more out of your blog, most of which have not been discovered yet. Some of the other ideas that exist but haven’t been listed here are Twitter chats, selling e-books and product sales, public speaking arrangements and brand ambassadorship. Also, as a professional travel blogger one needs to network both offline and online and always deliver on time when promised, or let the client know as soon as possible if you cannot.
Most of all, a travel blogger always needs to be tuned in. For some, it may just remain a pipe dream. Yet, for others, they might be dismayed at seeing their passion being turned into a commodity.