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I’m asked all the time so here are my best tips on how to make money travel blogging. Blogging funds our life, 2 adults, 2 kids now almost grown, full-time travel. Travel blogging and running this travel blog allowed us to see the world. We’re 100% legitimate and the money comes from the blog, not selling courses. We genuinely love travel and sharing the world with our readers, we’re going to continue to be travel bloggers not course sellers. So here are some pointers and tips to help you make an income from your blog or website.
How much travel bloggers earn varies enormously. New travel bloggers will earn nothing. In your first year you could make a useful amount of money, but you’d need another income to support you. Once a travel blog is earning well, let’s say in two years plus, travel bloggers can earn a living wage. My travel blog earns enough to support a family. I don’t publish income reports, but in a good month it can make five figures. The amount of money a travel blogger earns is affected by time of year, business model, the blogger’s expertise, and how hard they work. Their audience will affect income too. Travel bloggers make the most money from a US audience or the other rich western, English-speaking countries.
These tips aren’t in any particular order and not in huge detail because I’m not writing a book here, but I hope you find them useful.
Our story is simple, we travelled for 1 year on savings, tasted freedom, and didn’t want to go home, so we worked like crazy to make our lifestyle financially sustainable. It was a lot of work, but we got there. You can read about it in our eBook, The Seven Year Ditch.
Throughout this period we kept travelling, with some longer stays (what they call slow travel ) to focus on work, kids and sports. My husband is a competing Ironman triathlete, our children were home educated and are wonderful teenagers now completing the high school years in an online international school.
We’ve been to every continent bar Antarctica, spent months living in Vietnam, Romania, England, Wales, Australia, we’ve been to Everest Base Camp and to Tibet and it has all been wonderful.
But this website is the heart of our mission. Our travels are often planned with the information we need to get on here in mind and all our spare time we sank into creating this travel resource, for you to use. Welcome to our site, it’s the 5 th member of the family. You’ll find a video below, it’s not related to this post, but watch it, turn the sound on, get to know us and what we do.
We were on the road for almost 6 years without once going “home”. We will continue to travel and will eventually, we hope, buy homes in the UK, Romania and Australia. But this post is about the travel blog.
You’ll find more on how to make money travel blogging in the blogging section of this website. Please remember that no two bloggers make a living in the same way, there are many ways.
I just know that my way works.
How Do Travel Bloggers Make Money?
I am so sick of reading that making money from a travel blog is hard, it’s not, it’s actually pretty easy if you know what you’re doing. The problem is, most people don’t have a clue how it’s done and repeatedly bash their heads against a brick wall before giving up in a huff.
It’s not about writing, it’s not about stories, it’s about understanding the internet and how it works.
I’m not saying it doesn’t take a lot of work, you will put hours and hours into creating your income, it’s just not difficult and anyone can do it if they have the dedication and the time.
I have been known to say that once you know how it’s done you can basically print your own money. I stand by that, but you will need to put a lot of time and effort in. This is no get rich quick scheme.
Be Genuine and Love What You Do
I hate fakes and I’m sure you do too. Don’t be one. They’re too easy to spot and you’ll turn people off. You have to love this game, it’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s addictive. If you find it a chore you’ll never put the hours in.
Be an Expert on Travel
If you’re going to write a complete guide to a destination then you’d better have spent several months there. Nothing is worse than bloggers who don’t know their topic.
People do write posts about places they’ve never been, it’s common and it’s easy, but who wants to read that?
Plan your travels to give you the knowledge you need to write your posts.
Specialise in a particular place, know your facts and be a reliable source of information. Write all the posts anybody could ever need on that destination, be a respected source.
Specialising like this is good for your site’s SEO and Google ranking, not just good for your readers.
Forget Niche and Audience, They’re Dead
Let me qualify that because that’s a strange thing to say. Niche isn’t dead, of course, just don’t worry quite so much about it.
My niche is travel. Not travel with kids. That’s a very broad niche. I also cover blogging, worldschooling, food, and homeschooling on this site. So long as everything hangs together and your site structure makes sense it all seems to work just fine. Know that general travel sites like mine are a huge amount of work, a narrow niche site is easier to get off the ground.
People talk about “their audience” this whole concept is rubbish. Through the power of the internet and good SEO you can reach anyone, anywhere. It’s not about followers at all for us. I don’t know of many people who make a living through followers, some do.
Your Facebook audience or your subscriber list are another matter, they like you to be a bit consistent, but Google search allows you to reach anyone, anywhere. If you do it right. Facebook and followers probably account for less than 5% of my traffic.
A 40 year old single male Himalayan trekker is as likely to visit my site as a young mum wanting to go on holiday in Thailand with her kids. Write the posts, be the authority, get the authority and they will come.
Obviously Google likes you to be an expert on a particular topic, but if that topic is say, Sri Lanka, you can reach anybody with an interest in that destination. I’d recommend focusing on one topic, covering it fully (multiple keywords, multiple posts), and then moving on to another to cover in-depth. Add more from time to time to that original “basket” of content and keep updating, but be a serial specialist not a forever generalist.
If you don’t have kids of course you shouldn’t be writing about family travel (although obviously, you could take guest posts from parent bloggers) but there’s nothing to stop you targeting any audience you like. Of course if you want to be niche you can be, no problem at all, but remember you’re limiting your audience.
Super niche sites often gain recognition and work with brands within that narrow sector when they are still relatively small. They can also build great authority and therefore good rankings on their field of expertise, fast. You can do it that way but it’s not my way, I want to cover the whole world and every style of travel. We have a few ” niche” sites too, none of them do as well as this one.
I make my money from the website not through brand promotions. Niche sales sites (but that’s not what I’m talking about here) were hit by the last Google update, I don’t have data, but that was partly its intent. Plenty seem to still be doing well, I actually own a few niche sites but my travel niche site on Romania never took off. I moved all that Romania content to this big site where it does much better.
Multiple Income Streams are Essential
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, create multiple income streams and get them set up as early as possible. Install Adsense, join all the affiliate schemes you need, get some Amazon sales pages set up, get stuck in to earning, early!
How you make money travel blogging largely depends on how you want to do it. I rely on advertising and affiliate sales, other travel bloggers prefer to be paid to promote destinations, hotels, attractions and so on.
Some bloggers sell articles to magazines or other publications and some sell e-books and courses. The choice is yours but I prefer to earn the money to pay for the travel I want to do.
I find sponsored stays too much work and too much hassle.
I love my freedom, so I conjure my income out of pixels rather than by actually working for somebody else.
My income is what people call ” passive”. It’s not truly passive, websites need maintenance, updating and content adding frequently, but at least while we’re travelling I’m able to relax and not be on duty at all, sometimes.
Which Affiliate Schemes Make Money?
In no particular order, these are some of the affiliate schemes that make us money:
- Amazon (books, travel gear and more)
- Hotels Combined
- Travel Insurance
- 12Go Asia
- Tattoo Package
- Get Your Guide
- Longtail Pro and/ or Keysearch
- Board Booster and/or Tailwind
If you don’t recommend or use a product genuinely, don’t try to sell it. You will not sell any of these things without understanding SEO and getting a targeted audience to your site.
I would strongly recommend not putting all of your eggs in the Amazon basket. They have slashed their affiliate payment rates recently and this could continue. Be sure to check what percentage each type of product on Amazon will pay. In some areas, affiliate commission has been reduced more than others.
Diversify, find other routes to affiliate revenue. We found joining Awin was very helpful in that they have so many companies and products on their books.
Another way to monitize that we’re testing right now on two of our sites is Sovrn /VigLink . What happens here is every outgoing link on your site can potentially be converted into an affiliate link through this third party. It looks promising, but take a good look at the setting on this one. We’ll update you on this more once we’ve run it for a few months.
Knowing SEO and KWR Before You Start is Essential and Things Have Changed
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Keyword Research (KWR) are probably the best ways to get eyes and credit cards onto your website. Social media and email subscriber lists work too, but your Google search traffic is vital and you’ll only get that with good SEO, good KWR and targetting.
Don’t write a post until you understand the purpose of that post in terms of either pleasing and attracting subscribers (getting people reading), giving solid information to build your reputation and authority, making money or attracting people ready to spend. There is a post on SEO for beginners here.
Recently there has been a huge shift in how Google search results work. Google Rank Brain has blown it all out of the water (this is the best in-depth post I’ve seen on this). Don’t focus solely on backlinks, DA and meta descriptions, it’s all about quality content and user satisfaction now. Rank brain has been great for me, it’s more human, write for humans.
A Quality Site is Fast and Slick
Your site needs to be fast, mobile-friendly and have great SEO. This tends to come with good hosting, a premium theme, and good (often paid) plugins and tools. You have to spend a little money to make more money. Don’t worry about looks, just make your site fast, efficient, and clear.
People want information and they want to find it quickly and easily.
I would highly recommend investing in good hosting and a good, fast, secure theme. Your theme needs to be mobile responsive and you DO need an SSL certificate. If you can’t tick all of these boxes you are sabotaging your own Google ranking.
Affiliate Income is About Targetted Traffic
How to make money from affiliate schemes?
It’s 99% pointless to put some random affiliate links into posts or into your sidebar. The people reading those posts aren’t looking to buy whatever you want them to buy.
The skill lies in getting the people on the point of purchasing onto your pages. Get them there via Google search (SEO and KWR) or from social media.
Just Get Them to Amazon
Amazon knows how to get people to buy. If you can get your reader to Amazon, you fought half the battle and won.
We have a post on making Amazon sales pages here. Because Amazon drops a cookie, anything your reader buys from Amazon for some time afterwards, will give you commission.
Content and Maximising Adsense Revenue
There is a skill to making as much money as possible from Google Adsense and it involves keeping eyes on pages longer and putting ads where eyes linger.
I had Adsense performing well. I’m with Mediavine now, which gives me an insanely good income, but you can’t join a premium advertising agency like that until you’ve got good traffic. Beginners have to start with Adsense.
Keep people looking at your Adsense ads longer and draw their eyes and their time, to the places the ads are. Pictures, captions, videos, charts, tables, text boxes, anything mixed media that draws attention will keep eyes on the spot. Work those features. Keep content long to allow more ads to display.
A super handy tip is to increase your font size. The longer the post, the more ads display.
Know that “above the fold” is premium ad space. It’s not rocket science. Aim to get your traffic up above 50K Sessions per month so that you can join Mediavine fast. It’s an income game changer. I jumped from around $600 per month to $1500 within weeks of changing.
Of course, keeping eyes on pages longer isn’t just good for your ad revenue, it’s also good for your Google ranking and your user satisfaction. If your readers are staying on page because of the useful and engaging content you are providing, everyone is happy.
Climb the Google Search Results as Fast as Possible
Grow your DA through legitimate link building, create quality, long, information-packed content, keep your readers on each page as long as possible, keep them on your site as long as possible, get plenty of social shares and get your on-site, technical, and on-page SEO right.
All these things will tell Google that your site is one they should be showing high in their search results.
Also, don’t target keywords you don’t have a chance of ranking for, try to find something a little obscure when you’re just starting out. Remember that your DA is NOT in any way related to how highly Google will rank you, Google does not even consider your DA. DA seemed to be the holy grail of SEO a couple of years ago but Google is way too smart for the fake backlink merchants now.
You can easily beat somebody with a higher DA than you if your content is better. DA is purely a measure of how many backlinks you have, it’s an indicator, but not something to pay much attention to. Keep an eye on your rankings in Search Console instead, if you’re climbing, all is well.
Do not get involved in spammy sharing groups, link farms and link exchanges and assume that will make your site a success. It will come back to bite you in the bum, as they say. Be genuine, be real, don’t try and cheat the system. Link building is a thing, obviously, a huge industry and it can lift a new site off the ground way faster. People pay a lot of money for backlinks. What I’m saying is, if your content isn’t good, if people don’t like it, no amount of backlinks will help you stay on top. The Google ranking reflect human reaction to your post.
If your content doesn’t satisfy users, it will never perform well under Google.
Improve Your Old Content (How?)
Your old content will decrease your site’s overall SERP rankings if it’s bad. Get it fixed, if it’s really bad and beyond redemption, remove it and re-purpose it under a better url. This is a last resort move but some of my old stuff was useless and embarrassing, it had to go. Don’t worry about 404s and sometimes, only sometimes, redirect. Another option is to tell Google not to index it.
But how to make money travel blogging? What are these income streams exactly?
More on that in this post on how to start a blog and make money, and this one on affiliate sales. That’s it for now, a quick 10-minute response because somebody asked the question. This is our truth about blogging and no 2 bloggers do it in exactly the same way. I think the reality of the blogging industry is probably quite surprising to people who read blogs, they often assume it’s all about followers.
How to Become a Travel Blogger
You become a travel blogger by starting a travel blog. Anyone can start a travel blog, it’s cheap and fairly easy, no prior skills are really necessary. Your domain (your travel blog name) should cost you about $10, your hosting, a similar monthly amount at basic level. It doesn’t cost much to become a travel blogger. You don’t even need to have travelled extensively, you can become a travel blogger by researching travel online and creating content as you would an essay. You don’t even need your own photos to become a travel blogger, many travel blogs use free or bought stock images. Ofcourse, this isn’t the best way to begin. The best way is to travel and to have a passion for travel, but if you haven’t even left the country yet, yes, you could start right now. Read up on some of the basic skills of writing for SEO before you start, that’s the single most important tip for any new travel blogger.
If you found this post useful go to our eBooks listings. There you will find a couple of eBooks that could be helpful to you. The Seven Year Ditch explains how we managed to travel for seven years off the back of a travel blog, the other, The New Blogger’s Checklist, could be just the thing you need if you’re a very new to lower intermediate blogger wondering how to kick start your traffic and income. (Currently not available, sorry)
I’ll add more tips on making money blogging as I think of them this post is genuine and, I hope, helpful. We used to offer coaching and support in a private, personal group, we don’t anymore, sorry. There is a formula, blogging – which is actually website creation – is a science, not an art. I hope I can help you with that. Leave me a comment if you have questions or head back to the World Travel Family home page to check out the sort of content we produce.