How Do Travel Bloggers Make Money?
Travel blogging is a relatively new career that has sparked the interest of many. I mean, getting paid to travel the world doesn’t exactly sound like a boring gig, right? When I tell people what I do, the very next question is how do you make money? Strange because in any other field you wouldn’t ask that question to someone so directly but I guess it’s an everyday thing for bloggers. So I’ve decided to outline it in a bit more detail here to answer the common question.
When I was getting started, I had no idea how to actually make money as a travel blogger. I just couldn’t understand how some people could spend their days writing about their travels and earn a living out of it. I loved traveling and it just came naturally to write about it so I started sharing tips with my squad. It turns out that getting paid to market hotels and destinations is just one of the many ways to make money as a blogger. I began digging in, taking courses, and lo and behold: my blog grew, and so did my income!
I do want to note that I’ve been blogging for 7 years. It’s not always easy. Most people want a quick fix and ask, how do I make money now. Well, there is no shortcut. Think of starting a blog like a start-up or an entry-level position. You don’t just start at a corporate company and become the CEO. You have to work your way to the top. Blogging is the same way.
I’ve never shared an income report on my blog before but I will tell you that in my last job I was making 270k/year and the last year I made 375k, so I could never say that it was an easy decision to leave Corporate America or that I made the right call and replaced my income my first year. That just wasn’t true for me. It’s been hard. I’ve been hustling to make anywhere close to six figures for years and it’s a steep learning curve. Granted I was still working and this was years ago when the deal size was much smaller, but my first year blogging I made 11k and took deals for $100. I left my corporate job in 2017 so I’ve been full time now for almost 3 years and I’ve FINALLY replaced my income! So trust me when I say, it’s a slow burn but if you don’t quit, keep learning, and give it all you have to expand into different revenue streams you can do it!
So how the hell do travel bloggers make money, you ask?
Travel bloggers and bloggers, in general, are creative people. Not just creative with the content they produce but with the ways they’re able to make money.
There are tons of ways and methods, you just have to be willing to try a few different things until you find out what you enjoy doing the most. One of the coolest parts of being a travel blogger (or any type of blogger) is the fact that you’ll get to earn passive income (aside from, of course, getting paid to travel to cool places all over the world).
As a travel blogger, you’re invited on press trips, which are group trips to explore a destination or hotel. But they don’t always pay. Your travel, activities, food and beverage, and your stay are always paid for but most of the time you don’t get paid. As in no check, no cash, barter only. Which is great for traveling but no way to make a living. Therefore, you have to get creative and find a way to make money.
Here are just a few creative ways to make money as a travel blogger:
Working directly with a destination or hotel. A tourism board can hire you to promote their city or a hotel can hire you to promote their new renovation. You can charge a flat-rate package that will include your deliverables for the entire stay or you can charge a per-day fee. These are few and far between and it all depends on where. If you’re trying to go to a private island and stay at an over-water villa you’re much less likely to be paid versus visiting Mississippi (no offense Mississippi – you’re great!)
Affiliate marketing is when you recommend a product and earn commissions when someone makes a purchase through your blog. It comes at no extra cost to your readers as the commission you’ll get is already calculated in the marketing costs of the product. This is one of the best ways to earn money as a travel blogger as all you have to do is recommend products you already use and love to your readers in your blog posts. Just add an affiliate link to it, and you’ll keep earning money from that link for years to come.
You can become an affiliate for almost any brand or product these days, here are a few of our favorite networks that are easy to get started with:
RewardStyle is also a great place for fashion bloggers! You get a commission on linking your favorite outfits. If you want an invite from me, feel free to message me and I’ll refer you. ShopStyle is another great commission-based fashion site. So when you’re traveling link what you’re wearing to earn a commission from purchases. It’s not that much but it can add up. Every retailer has a different commission percentage they offer.
It’s like when your credit card gives you cash back or you get paid to shop using one of those sites like Rakuten. Same concept.
I never really jumped on this like I should have. I’ve heard of bloggers making 5-6 figures on affiliate marketing alone. It’s just not my thing. I do it enough to make some money though and I’m actively getting better at it.
Direct Hotel Bookings
You can also negotiate commission on bookings through the hotel you’re working with if people book through your site. Sometimes they’ll give you an affiliate link or create a landing page. You can also negotiate perks as well. For example, if you get 10 bookings the hotel agrees to host you again for another free vacation.
Something I do quite a bit. Lots of hotels hire agencies to work with influencers because they don’t know who to trust. So offer your recommendations. Help the hotel and help the bloggers in your space. You can negotiate payment or commission.
Placing ads is another great way to earn passive income from your travel blog. Ad revenue is based on traffic so although it might sound silly to add it in the beginning, you never know if a post is going to go viral or get a lot of traffic so it’s best to add it right away! SEO is a huge component to posts as well as pins on Pinterest so it’s always smart to have ads on your blog so you can capitalize on that traffic. Even if it’s $50/month starting out… it’s still something. It counts!
There are hundreds of ad networks out there, but one of the best ones to get started out with is Google Adsense. Joining is easy for beginner bloggers. Once you hit a certain amount of visits a month, you can join more exclusive networks like Mediavine (50k sessions/mo), Ad Thrive, or Ezoic (10k sessions/mo) which pay a lot more. Typically you can expect $1,000 for every 100,000 views.
Create your own products
Is there something you love doing that you could potentially sell to your readers? This could be a book, a guidebook to a country you know extensively well, a membership, podcasts, or anything else you can think of.
Create a clothing line or product or collaborate on one to start. I bought an athletic apparel company my first year going full time, invested in a product, and designed my own merch. Plus, I also wrote a children’s book with another blogger called Her Body Can!
You see bloggers coming out with handbags, clothing lines, or sunglasses in collaboration with a big brand. It’s a good way to get an idea of how it all works. You also see bloggers starting their own clothing companies and coming out with their own swimsuit lines or sunglass lines. I know the money it takes and the work involved and that’s super impressive.
The possibilities are endless. It just depends on what you’re passionate about.
You can create your own presets to sell and teach people how to edit photos. You can launch a course on blogging or really anything that will teach people something.
Social Media Jobs / Consulting
Try consulting for small businesses or other influencers. There are a ton of social media jobs available or you can create your own. I know bloggers that are hired to post monthly for restaurants and local businesses. When I left my corporate ad sales job, I launched Social Gold the same night at 5am. I help small businesses expand their Instagram presence and teach them best practices. I charge $150-350/mo for consulting and $2,000-2500/mo to create content and post. The response was amazing. I got about 100 inquires and landed 15 clients in the first month. It really kept me afloat. I even started a referral program. But it all depends on your living expenses and what you need each month. For example, if you have 3 clients at $2500/mo that’s $7500/month and $90,000/year. Boom.
Sell your pictures
Photography is a huge part of being a travel blogger. I mean, a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Learn your way around the camera, practice, and you’ll get better and better at it.
Small businesses, travel destinations, and hotels all need high-quality photos. You can get some local photography jobs where restaurants, surgeons, med spas, and other local small businesses will hire you each month to take photos.
You can also post your photos on stock websites to sell. Everyone is looking for great images for their websites.
But the main thing I do is take a lot of photos on my trips. Then when I get back I edit them, reach out to the tourism board, hotels, local businesses, or even the person that hired me to visit, and try to sell them back. This works almost every time. My packages for photos start at $700 or you can buy individual photos starting at $150 each. Those are just landscape photos. Photos with me in them cost more because of my “likeness”.
Say a brand hired you for an Instagram post but while you’re there just take a few extra shots. Make sure to take product shots as well. Think Instagram worthy. You can look at the brand’s feed ahead of time to get an idea of their aesthetic and what they would like. Then try to sell those photos to the brand.
It’s not uncommon for brands to reach out to travel bloggers to purchase images they find on their blog posts or social media. Not only is this a great way to get your work out there, but it’s also an easy way to make some extra cash!
Travel with a group of people. Get a group of people to travel with you and plan every detail or plan a destination trip and include teaching a class while there. I know Alyssa from My Lifes a Travel Movie and Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad do this regularly! TBA has made it her career along with travel blogging and made $1 Million dollars last year. I’ve been on both trips so feel free to ask away! If you apply for either make sure to mention my name! It’s a great way to make new friends in the space and explore a new destination hassle-free.
Brands don’t always want to foot the bill to shoot in a tropical location nor do they have your creative eye. So while you’re on your free or paid press trip or travel gig get some sponsorships! Swimsuits, luggage, beauty products, sunscreen, jewelry, sunglasses, and shoes are a great place to start!
For example, I got to travel in a private jet one time to a destination so it obviously wasn’t paid for. I reached out to a luggage company and pitched them a great shot with their suitcase in front of a private jet and landed the deal. Always try to take a brand with you and create content to get paid.
I know a lot of people aren’t comfortable cold pitching and don’t even know where to begin. But don’t worry, I’ll teach you! Sign up below.
You can also start working with brands by signing up with some networks. On my blog, I have a free list of 150 networks you can sign up with!
Traveling the world and visiting destinations will give you a lot to talk about. Take notes while you’re out exploring new cities because you can sell those stories to other magazines and online publications. One of my blog friends does this and makes a few thousand dollars a month.
You’re traveling and writing travel guides for your readers anyway so you might as well be booking and earn a commission! I’ve had a few followers reach out and want me to plan their entire vacation for them. Some people just don’t care about travel guides. They want their vacation planned out. This is where you can come in!
There are tons of other jobs you can do like graphic design work, virtual assistant work, marketing for bloggers, and more. Just get creative and leverage the skills you already have!
As you can see from my post, bloggers are hustling. There is not just one revenue stream. Imagine keeping up with all of it and chasing down late payments. It’s a chore. But our job is truly amazing and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
One of the most important things to keep in mind when starting a travel blog is that it takes a ton of upfront work. My advice?
Find some like-minded people to have in your corner. Network with other bloggers. Continue learning. Be kind and not clicky. If you’re on social media, be social.
Learn how to promote your blog posts. One of my favorite ways to get people to read my work is via Pinterest marketing and search engine optimization. You can create the most amazing content but if you can’t get people to find your blog, you probably won’t see much return. Focus on writing authentic content and learning how to get it out there and you’ll slowly but surely start earning money as a travel blogger.
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How do you make money blogging? Did you learn something from this article or did I forget something? Let me know on Instagram or in the comments below. And as always, please pin and share this post!