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So you want to travel the world, be your own boss and work from your computer? Travel blogging is one way to do that. Running a travel blog takes a lot of dedication and hard work but the payoff is that you can live life on your own terms and not have to answer to anybody.
There are multiple ways to monetize a travel blog, which I’ll cover in this post. When I first started blogging some of these income streams didn’t exist yet so if you’re starting out it’s certainly a lot easier to make money blogging now than it was back then.
Here are some of the ways travel bloggers make money, from display advertising and affiliate marketing to brand partnerships and e-courses. It’s always best not to limit yourself to just one income stream but you also don’t want to spread yourself too thinly and try to do everything at once. Choose a couple of revenue streams and then focus on doing those well.
When I started blogging Google Adsense was the only real option for monetizing a travel blog with display advertising. Unfortunately, since Adsense uses a pay-per-click model, it’s really difficult to make much income with Google Adsense, even with thousands of pageviews.
These days though there are several options. Most bloggers start out with an ad network such as Ezoic, then they shift to Mediavine when they get around 50,000 sessions per month on their blog. If you’re interested, I’ve written a full review of Mediavine here.
Mediavine offers some of the highest RPMs (revenue per mille) in the industry, so you can expect to earn around $15.25 per thousand sessions on your website. So if your website has a decent amount of traffic – say 100,000 sessions – you can expect to earn around $1525 per month just from Mediavine alone.
That income is passive and it’s sent as a direct deposit into your bank account at the end of each month. Display advertising requires the least amount of effort as everything is managed for you, so it’s the easiest way to monetize a travel blog.
The most difficult part is building enough traffic to actually get approved for Mediavine. You’ll need to write long, detailed posts and post regularly.
Another great ad network is AdThrive. Often people switch to AdThrive when they reach the minimum entry requirement of 100,000 sessions on their blog.
Affiliate marketing involves inserting tracked links to recommended companies into your blog posts. When a user clicks on the link and purchases something from that company, you make a commission on the sale.
Many bloggers dabble in affiliate marketing, realize it’s time consuming and never really implement it properly. Yet affiliate marketing can earn you thousands of dollars in passive income so you’re essentially making money while you sleep!
The key is to pick several brands that you know and can personally recommend. I use Booking.com to book hotels so I feature tracked links to specific hotels on this site. I also insert map widgets so people can see a map of hotels within my posts.
Other booking sites you could link to include Kayak, TripAdvisor, Citypass, Hostelworld and Viator. All these companies run affiliate programs that you can sign up to.
Aside from travel sites you could also write articles about blogging and include links to hosting providers, VPNs and keyword tools such as Keysearch. I also recommend companies like Canva for creating pretty Pinterest graphics.
It always helps if you use the product yourself because your links will appear genuine. If the brand mention sticks out like a sore thumb then it will turn your readers off immediately. So stick to companies you know and love.
Dedicated reviews are also a great way to implement affiliate marketing. You could write a dedicated hotel review and link to the hotel booking page, or write a review of a travel insurance company and include a link to sign up. When a visitor reads a review it means they’re already searching for that company and wondering whether to make a purchase. Your review will give them that extra nudge!
Another way bloggers make money is by selling sponsored posts. A travel company or brand will pay the blogger a one-time fee to write a post and insert a mention to that company within the text. The brand gets promotion and also a link back to their website.
Sponsored posts come in various forms. You may be asked to write a dedicated review of a travel product, such as a suitcase, backpack or travel credit card. Or you may be asked to write a piece about a destination and include a brief mention to the company within the post.
Prices for sponsored posts vary wildly depending on your blog metrics such as DA and traffic. I’d say most bloggers charge in the range of $60-$300 per sponsored post.
If you have a big blog though with lots and lots of traffic you could charge brands $500+ for a sponsored post. You’ll obviously want to adjust your rate depending on how much work is involved in creating the post.
Social Media Campaigns
Personally I think if you’re starting out as a new blogger then you should focus on your blog and SEO and not so much on social media. But if you develop a decent social media following you can also make money with things like sponsored Instagram posts, stories, TikTok videos, tweets or Facebook posts.
As an example, Christine of Tour de Lust creates some really entertaining reels and often works with brands on paid partnerships. To stand out on Instagram and grow your following you really need to be creating a mix of engaging content, including short videos and beautiful images.
Sometimes tourism boards will reach out to travel bloggers to promote their destination. You might be invited on a sponsored trip where the tourism board pays for your travel costs, hotel and expenses.
In the past tourism boards/PR companies didn’t typically pay bloggers to visit their destination – they just covered expenses. Nowadays though it’s a different story and if you get good blog traffic then you may be able to charge for the coverage you’ll produce.
In this instance you’ll likely have a discussion with the tourism board about how much content you’ll be expected to produce during/after the trip. You’ll probably be asked for a mixture of blog posts, social media posts and possibly video content if you’re popular on YouTube.
Once you’ve agreed on your deliverables and negotiated a fee, you’ll sign a contract with the tourism board or PR company. When it comes to fees you could charge a day rate for your time on the trip but it’s usually best to charge a flat fee per item so the client knows exactly what they’re paying for. So for example if you promised to deliver 2 blog posts, 6 Instagram posts, 20 stories and one YouTube video you would provide itemized costs for each of these things.
When I started blogging I actually just intended to use the blog as a portfolio to showcase my writing. I hoped to get travel writing work with Lonely Planet or Matador or some daily newspaper. Little did I know, my blog would end up being my main business.
For extra income though you can definitely reach out to publications and submit a proposal for an article or blog post to their site. Some companies will perhaps even hire you to be a regular contributor or blogger for them.
Create E-courses & Books
Many bloggers go down the route of creating their own e-courses or ebooks. Nomadic Matt for instance created several books, including “How to Travel The World on $50 a Day” and “The Ultimate Guide to Travel Hacking”. He also launched his own blog school called Superstar Blogging and is one of the highest earning travel bloggers out there.
You could write an ebook about how to be a successful blogger or about how to take better photos. Or, you could write a destination guide to a specific country or place. Once you’re written it up, you could then sell it on Amazon or choose to sell it directly from your website as a digital download. The key is to expand on a topic you know well and provide extra detailed information that can’t be found in your blog posts.
A popular way to make money blogging these days is by selling Lightroom Presets. Take The Blonde Abroad, for example. She sells her own set of Lightroom Presets that you can use to make your photos pop.
You could also sell other products on your site, such as luggage or your own branded clothing. For instance The Travel Hack designed her own luggage with luggage brand Cabin Max.
Some ideas for physical products to sell:
- Travel themed gifts
- Luggage & backpacks
- Scarves & clothing
- Yoga leggings
Work as a virtual assistant
Some new bloggers start out by working as a virtual assistant for more established bloggers. If you’re a fan of a particular blog you could reach out to the owner via email to ask if they’re looking to hire. You can also join travel blogger Facebook groups to offer your services as a virtual assistant.
If you’re not making much money with your travel blog yet then it’s a great way to make some income while learning the ropes and gaining valuable knowledge from a top blogger.
If you’re fairly confident at talking in front of large groups of people then you could offer public speaking services.
There are tons of travel conferences that you could speak at, including TBEX, Travelcon, WTM London and ITB Berlin. Outside of travel conferences you could also speak at conferences geared towards entrepreneurs or marketing experts.
Public speaking can be intimidating and scary but it’s also a great way to build confidence and authority. Attendees may share extracts of your speech on social media and they’re likely to continue following you long after the event. Public speaking is great publicity for you and your blog.
When crafting a proposal for a conference, try to think of an angle that hasn’t been covered before and isn’t already being covered by somebody else. Also try to stick to your area of expertise. For example if you’re big on Instagram then you’d be better off talking about how to build an Instagram following than discussing SEO. Stick to what you know!
Some bloggers run group tours as a way to make cash on the side. Larissa of The Blonde Gypsy runs group tours of the Balkans, while Johnny of OneStep4Ward occasionally runs adventure trips to places your mother told you not to visit. Meanwhile Kiersten from The Blonde Abroad runs all female tours called TBA Escapes.
If you like meeting new people and hosting then running a group tour could be up your alley. However, if you’re the type of person who’d rather not have to socialize with strangers then a group tour may not be for you. Personally the thought of running a group tour is too stressful for me but if you enjoy hosting and showing people around then this could be a great income stream.
Lastly, you could also offer services on your blog. For example you could offer consulting services or photography services. You might decide to offer social media services where you manage a company’s social media pages such as Pinterest, Twitter and Facebook.
Or if you’re handy with tech you could offer web design services or graphic design services for other bloggers. Lots of newbie bloggers need help with web design or creating a new logo.
How much do travel bloggers make?
This figure varies wildly depending on how long a blogger has been in the business and how popular their blog is.
If you understand SEO well and write a lot of great content then you could possibly get to 50,000 sessions within the first 6-12 months. That would qualify you for Mediavine and then you could be earning around $750 per month in ad income. I’m being optimistic there though as most bloggers tend to start out quite slowly and struggle to find the time to write blog posts. It takes a while to build links to your website and start ranking well in Google, but it’s possible.
Once you’re more established, you can expect to earn around $3,000 per month on the low end and $10,000 on the higher end if you’re running display ads, affiliate links and sponsored posts. You’d have to stick at it and be persistent but within a couple of years you can be achieving those figures.
However, there really is no limit to how much you can make. If you’re offering consulting services or selling programs and e-courses, you could make a lot more. I suggest Googling “travel blog income reports” to get more of a feel for what travel bloggers can earn with their travel blogs.
Lia from Practical Wanderlust made $22,000 in her first full year of travel blogging.
Two Wandering Soles made $74,367 in 3 months in 2019.
Living the Dream RTW made $12,714 in November 2021.
Johnny Ward from OneStep4Ward made $1 million in 3 years.
A final word…
The list above pretty much covers all the ways to monetize a travel blog. If you’re new to blogging then I’d suggest focusing on growing your traffic first and then sign up to a display network as soon as you can. It’s also worth focusing on affiliate marketing so you can make passive income from affiliate links.
Some bloggers aim to partner with big brands on sponsored content and campaigns but in all honesty, this type of revenue stream requires the most amount of work. There’s often a lot of back and forth before anything can get signed off and you’ll sometimes receive multiple requests for edits and revisions.
Working on brand collaborations can be very time consuming so the $$ needs to be worth it for the time spent.