There’s a big difference between having a ‘popular’ vs. a ‘profitable’ blog. You can be a very popular blogger but you might not be monetizing your site properly, or you may be a blogger who doesn’t have a huge audience but still earns a decent amount of money with a well-optimized, niche website.
There are still many out there who think travel bloggerz just a hobby, rather than a ‘real job,’ or a ‘real business.’ This may be true for some, but there are many bloggers out there for whom their travel blogs are a serious business, entirely supporting themselves and even their families, not just their travels and a few beers!
To demonstrate this, we found 30 travel bloggers who were willing to share with us how much they earn and how they do it!
In this article, we’re going to talk about the various ways that travel bloggers make money, including the self-submitted Income Profiles of 30 travel bloggers earning more than $5000 USD per month, topics include:
- PART 1 – Surveyed Travel Bloggers and How Much They Earn
- PART 2 – Travel Bloggerz Expenses – What are we Paying For?
- PART 3 – How do Travel Bloggers Earn Money – Travel Bloggers Income Reports!
- PART 4 – Tips for Newbie Bloggers – What Should You Do To Monetize Your Travel Blog?
(Please note that this article does contain some links to affiliated companies)
SURVEYED TRAVEL BLOGGERS AND HOW MUCH THEY EARN
*All figures in USD. All income information is based on data supplied by each blogger excluding all travel expenses (unless stated otherwise). For a detailed breakdown of each bloggers income check the bottom of the post.
- Matt Kepnes of Nomadic Matt (more than 50,000 USD per month)
- Johnny Ward of OneStep4Ward.com ($20,000 to $25,000 p/m)
- Dave & Deb of The Planet D ($15,000 to $20,000 per month)
- Earl of WanderingEarl.com ($12,000 per month)
- Monica of The Travel Hack ($10,000 per month)
- Nick & Dariece Goats On The Road ($10,000 to $12,000 per month)
- Sharon of Where’s Sharon Family Travel Blog ($10,000 per month)
- Milou of Explorista.net ($10,000 per month)
- Jon & Kach of Two Monkeys Travel Group ($10,000 to $15,000 p/m)
- James of Mantripping ($4000 to $6000 per month)
- Tim Leffel of Cheapest Destinations Blog ($6500 to $9000 p/m)
- Brett of Green Global Travel ($5000 to $7000 per month)
- Yoshke & Vins of The Poor Traveler ($4000 to $6000 per month)
- Kristin Addis of Be My Travel Muse ($4000 to $5000 per month)
- Jacob & Esther of Local Adventurer ($6000 per month)
- Stephanie of TravelBreak ($5000 to $15,000 per month)
- Christy of Ordinary Traveler ($5000 to $7000 per month)
- DJ Yabis of Dream Euro Trip ($7000 to $9000 per month)
- Samantha & Yeison of Mytanfeet ($5000 to $8000 per month)
- Bethaney of Flashpacker Family ($5000 to $10,000 per month)
- Jarryd & Alesha of NOMADasaurus ($3500 to $6000 per month)
- Cory of You Could Travel ($5000 to $8000 per month)
- Flavio of Guiajando.com ($6000 to $14,000 per month)
- Bethany of Flashpacker Family ($5000 to $10,000 per month)
- Sher of SherSheGoes.com ($7000 to $8000 per month)
- Amanda of MarocMama.com ($6000 to $10,000 per month)
- Brian of The Travel Vlogger ($5000 to $8000 per month)
- Rachel of www.RachelTravels.com ($5000 per month)
- Eileen of www.crookedflight.com ($3000 to $6000 per month)
- Yulia of Misstourist.com ($4000 to $5500 per month)
- Nora of The Professional Hobo ($3000 +)
THE BUSINESS OF TRAVEL BLOGGING – EXPENSES
It would be great if travel blogging were all about income, but as with any business, the reality is that there are expenses (and huge taxes!). And just like in any other business, growth and increased income often come with greater expenses! If you’re not a blogger and wanted to be one, here’s my article on how you can start a travel blog.
According to our travel blogger income survey, those travel bloggers who earn more, also invest more into their business.
HERE ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF THE KINDS OF EXPENSES THAT TRAVEL BLOGGERS PAY OUT FOR:
1. VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS + FREELANCE WRITERS
Some bloggers have expanded and hired more people, like we have, to create great content for their websites. Hiring a writer is perfect for creating the type of content that doesn’t need to be personally written by you, but provides a different type of value to your readers.
As well as content writers, another way to grow your blogging business is to hire a team to support you with work that distracts you from what you do best. I have three full time, freelance virtual assistants working for me, focusing on graphic design, social media management, article submissions, and marketing. Outsourcing costs money, but done correctly it allows you to focus on what you do best (and the things that directly increase your income!)
2. HOSTING, DOMAIN, PLUGINS + THEMES, WEB DEVELOPMENT, SECURITY…
Any blogger at any level of income has to pay for at least some of these, and if you want to grow, then you’ll find that you definitely usually get what you pay for. When you’re just getting started, it makes sense to start with cheaper packages, but if your traffic is growing and you’re starting to earn money, then it pays to invest in a higher standard of hosting and technical support.
We started Two Monkeys Travel with Bluehost (because it was the cheapest), then we moved to Siteground (amazing support team), before finally moving over to Performance Foundry when we realized we needed a fully managed service so we could focus on running and growing the business. This is a perfect example of investing in growth – pay experts to do what they do best so that you can do the same!
Budget Hosting Companies:
- Bluehost – Mixed reviews, but from $3 per month you get what you pay for!
- Hostgator – another cheap hosting and same owners as Bluehost
Hosting for higher traffic sites or simply more support:
- Performance Foundry – Managed WordPress Hosting that we use for Two Monkeys Travel. As well as the hosting, they have a great technical support, they monitor the site, check plugins, improve site speed and keep it secure as well. Highly recommended!
- Siteground – A good range of options. More expensive than the budget options and still self-managed, but they have an amazing support team 24 hours. They won’t do it all for you, but they’re very good at hand holding!
- WPEngine – No personal experience, but we’ve heard good things about them
3. AUTOMATION & MANAGEMENT TOOLS
Outsourcing is one way to take time-consuming tasks off your hands, but another option is automation. In blogging, especially when starting from the bottom, the list of repetitive tasks just seems to get longer and longer, sucking up your valuable time and draining your motivation to do what you loved about blogging in the first place. Social media is usually the biggest culprit! The good news is that for every new repetitive task, there is always someone who will design a program or an app to do it for you. Some are great, while many are utterly shit, so read reviews and take advice from blogger groups and forums! Here are some automation tools that are popular with bloggers and which we use on Two Monkeys Travel. This is only a limited selection; there are dozens out there!
- Tailwind – To automate Pinterest
- Convert a Kit – Newsletter management
- Grammarly – For automated proofreading/grammar checking
- VPN (Virtual Private Network) – To use certain automation programs and improve security
Blogging is the same as any other business – You need to tell people that you exist! Just because you build it, doesn’t mean they will come. The internet is a big place; it’s hard to get seen, and the big players like Facebook know it. We all know how it feels when Facebook decides to suddenly stop showing your posts to you followers. Basically, they want you to pay to boost your posts, so they’ll show them to more people. This can be a very effective way to get traffic when done correctly, but done incorrectly is just a big fat waste of money! It seems that every platform wants us to pay these days – Instagram Promotions; Google Adwords; Twitter Ads; there are probably more. We can’t tell you how to do this, or even if you should bother. Do some research and expect lots of trial and error…Good luck!
(Please note that travel expenses like hotels, flights, food and other things are not included in the listed expenses above! This can be where most of the expenses go, unless your trips are sponsored! For taxes, it depends on the country where the business is registered, on our case, we pay it in the United Kingdom.)
HOW DO TRAVEL BLOGGERS EARN MONEY FROM THEIR BLOGS?
According to our personal experience and from the blogger income survey, there are at least ten different ways you can earn money from travel blogging if you really want to dig into it. Here we’ll explain all the different ways our surveyed bloggers earn money with their blogs. (You can also read my article here on how we started monetizing our blog during our first year blogging)
BUT FIRST… HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO START EARNING MONEY FROM TRAVEL BLOGGING?
Before we get into this next part, we know a lot of new bloggers are asking this question…
On average, most of our surveyed bloggers took 1 to 2 years before they started monetizing their website, but in reality, if you started blogging already knowing everything, then you could start earning a lot faster. But who starts out already knowing everything, right?! There are exceptions to this, however, like us – We had our first $1000+ month with Two Monkeys Travel after just three months, but that came out of working 12 to 16 hour days on the laptop for those first three months. We don’t have to do that now, but you definitely get out what you put in!
1. AFFILIATE MARKETING
This is the best passive income model you can use for yourself and your blog, so please start this right from day 1! In short, affiliate marketing is recommending a brand, product or service to your readers, so that when they go to that website and buy something you are rewarded with a small share of the profits. There’s a lot more to it than that; like a supermarket putting the powdered milk next to the beer, if you’re doing it wrong you’re not gonna sell much-powdered milk!
If you want to learn more about Affiliate marketing and how to do it right, I suggest enrolling in the Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing Course. The creator is not a travel blogger, but a Finance blogger who is earning almost 100,000 USD per month! We make $5000 to $6000 USD per month through affiliate marketing, and this course taught me a lot (some of them I already knew!)!
Amazon Associates is a great affiliate program for selling products, but there are many brands that register with an affiliate marketing network to handle their affiliates for them. There are a few good ones, some bad ones and new ones popping all the time. It’s worth joining a few of these to cover a range of brands. Here are the ones we work with (and one we don’t!)
- Affiliate Window – One of the best and 1/3 of our Affiliate earnings are from here! You can also create a customized campaign with the advertisers listed on their platform. They do ask for a credit card when you sign up, so they can charge $5 as an anti-fraud measure, then it is immediately refunded. If you would like to try to avoid this, email me directly and I can try to assist with a referral, but this is at their discretion. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org with subject: Affiliate Window Invitation Code.
- CJ.com – Marmite – some love it & some hate it! Lots of brands, clunky and time-consuming to use but they have a Content Certified group where you can get sponsored campaigns.
- Share a Sale – Lots of smaller brands and companies on here, also very good. I think we make around $1,000 to $ 2,000 USD per month from this platform.
- Rakuten – Lots of options here, decent platform.
Other affiliate programs that are well worth joining for travel bloggers are anything to do with accommodation (Direct with Booking.com/ Agoda / Hostelworld/ Hotels.com and a lot more), tours, transportation, equipment. Just think about what you would spend money on to go traveling, find a company you would be happy to recommend to your grandmother, then check their website for a Partners or Affiliates section! As an example, we chose to join the World Nomads Insurance affiliate program because we use it ourselves.
2. BRAND CAMPAIGNS
When you have an audience and a following, companies will approach you to promote their products and services to them. If those products and services are appropriate to your audience and you would be happy to use them yourself, then you can promote them through sponsored posts, social media campaigns, ad banners on your website and more. You can join these websites to help you find brands looking to work with bloggers:
- The Blogger Programme – if you are from the UK or Europe based!
- Tap Influence – the sponsored campaigns that we get here are usually around $800 to $ 4,000 USD! We once run a campaign that paid us $3,000 for a blog article + Facebook post.
Again, more are popping up every day, so keep an eye on the blogging groups to see what’s being said about them.
3. BRAND AMBASSADORSHIP
What’s the difference from Brand Campaigns vs. Brand Ambassadorship?
In a Brand Ambassadorship, you’ll be promoting brands in the same way as you would for a brand campaign, but on a longer term basis. It’s far more beneficial to both parties to form a long-term brand partnership, providing greater exposure for their brand and demonstrating a higher level of trust in their products. Of course, this also means that you’re securing a longer term, more reliable income. You need to be picky here, though because you’re choosing to become a supporter and spokesperson for that brand. Make sure the brand, its practices, and its values are aligned with yours and those of your audience.
Remember when Dennis Rodman became a public supporter and practically a spokesperson for North Korea? Remember how bad that was? Don’t be a brand ambassador for North Korea!
4. PAID PRESS TRIPS
Ah, the mythical golden paid press trips at the end of the blogging rainbow! Not at all mythical, you just need to be able to prove you’re worth what you’re charging and be on the right PR lists! The latter is a question of time and networking; it takes practice.
When you have those two things pretty much sorted, then you need to be very clear what you will provide in exchange for your fee. Put a lot of effort into this and design something that looks great. If you just type it out as an email, it implies that you might just make up your fees and deliverables on the spot. Of course, there is nothing wrong with free press trips, they’re great to build up your portfolio and network.
5. FREELANCE WRITING
This is not directly making money from your blog, but it is leveraging your blog to get paid work writing for other websites and publications who then link back to your blog to expand your audience, so it’s all connected. Prices vary massively but you can get more tips from Goats on the Road or The Professional Hobo who get a good chunk of their income from freelance writing.
6. SELLING OWN PRODUCTS – EBOOKS / BOOKS / TSHIRTS
Selling products are a great way to add new income streams to your blogging business. Ebooks can be made from repurposed blog content and photography. Audio books can be made to up-sell the Ebooks. You can make themed merchandise like mugs and t-shirts using online companies. If you know a lot about a certain subject, including blogging, then you can design a course to teach others. You can check out Nomadic Matt who sells his book + blogging course while Wandering Earl has his best-selling e-book on cruise ship jobs.
7. PROVIDING SERVICES FROM YOUR WEBSITE
Some travel bloggers have built such an audience and become such an authority on a subject that people are willing to pay them for their expertise. Some of our surveyed bloggers offer food tours, trip planning and even one-on-one travel and life coaching! You can check DreamEuroTrip who provides travel planning in Europe and some other bloggers have their Media Agency who does social media management + content creation services.
8. PHOTOGRAPHY AND VIDEOGRAPHY
Not the easiest way to make money, but if you have the skills, then there are many ways to sell your photos and videos. As well as the obvious method of selling photos through portals like Flickr, you could sell prints from your own site and sell your services directly to brands and hotel properties. The Travel Break, Nomadasaurusand The Travel Vlogger all make big chunk of their income from their photography/ videos.
9. BANNER ADVERTISING (GOOGLE ADSENSE + AD NETWORKS)
There are not many bloggers who choose this route as a main means of income as the returns are low and the banners don’t look great on the site. Having said that, a limited number of Google Adsense or Ad Networks banners can be a nice supplemental income. Alternatively, some brands will pay directly to have banners on a website, but this is becoming less and less common.
10. SEO SPONSORED POSTS
There will always be mixed opinions on this one. Brands, or their PR companies, will approach bloggers asking to have an article published on their blog mentioning their name and linking back to their site. Can be a good way to make money, just be careful about who you link to and how. Most of OneStep4Ward’s income is through this monetization strategy.
TIPS FOR NEWBIE BLOGGERS – WHAT SHOULD YOU DO TO MONETIZE YOUR TRAVEL BLOG?
1. KNOW YOUR GOALS AND HAVE A BUSINESS PLAN
The fundamental difference between being a ‘hobby blogger’ and a professional blogger is that the aim of the blog is to make money. It sounds obvious, and it is, but so many bloggers have conflicting ideas about blogging and money, even to the point of feeling guilty about earning money from their website and audience. Unless you get over that, then every decision you make thereafter is going to be conflicted as well. Creating a business plan can help to focus your goals and help you keep direction and motivation.
2. PLAN YOUR CONTENT AND HOW YOU CAN OPTIMIZE AND MONETIZE IT
Once you have your business plan, you can use it to make decisions about the kind of content you want to include on your blog and how to monetize it.
3. ATTEND NETWORKING EVENTS TO BE ADDED ON PR LIST
Networking events and travel trade shows are an important way to start getting your name out there in the industry, especially with tourism boards and PR companies. The events below are a great start:
- ITB Asia – http://www.itb-asia.com/
- New York Times Show – http://nyttravelshow.com/
- ITB Berlin, Germany – http://www.itb-berlin.de/en/
- WTM London – http://wtmlondon.com/
4. GET A COACH! ENROLL ON TRAVEL BLOGGING AND BUSINESS COURSES
If you do everything by trial and error, then you’re going to take a very long time to progress. It makes sense to learn from people who have already learned the hard way and made a success out of what they do. Here are some good ones to get you started:
5. FOCUS ON WHAT YOU’RE GOOD AT – OPTIMISE WHAT YOU HAVE!
Social Media is great but don’t put all your effort into growing your numbers for the sake of it! Some of the bloggers above are not huge on some platforms on social media, but they are earning a lot of money from campaigns and from the traffic they do have. They know where to focus their efforts, and they have a very engaged audience!