You may have heard about the wonderous world of travel blogging. Thousands of people being flown around the world for free by big companies, staying in luxury hotels, taking tours and basically living a dream life all for writing about their story. While this sort of lifestyle is completely possible, it doesn’t come all that easy! But guaranteed, if you stay with your blog and put in the time and effort, you’ll one day make a sufficient income from your online writing and photography.
As full-time bloggers, we’re often asked questions like: “How does your blog actually generate and income?”, “How much can you really make from blogging”, and “how do I start my own blog and build it to be a travel sustaining occupation?”. In this article we’ll answer some of these questions and many more, hopefully giving you an idea of what blogging is like, and if it’s the right job for you.
How Do You Start A Blog?
Let’s start at the beginning. If you want to one day make money from your website, then you’re going to have to buy a domain and get familiar with WordPress. There are other open-source tools for creating websites, but WordPress is the most popular among bloggers.
To buy your domain, head to GoDaddy.com and type a domain name in the empty field (ie: www.yourblog.com). If the domain is available, then you can purchase it. Some domains are slightly more expensive than others, but if you’re not trying to land a sought after name like Travel.com, you should be able to get it for under $10 / yr.
Once you’ve got your domain, you’ll have to pay for a hosting account. This is basically a company with really fast servers that will keep all of your site data loaded so that your site will be able to be viewed around the world. We recommend SiteGround as a solid, fast and reliable hosting company. Their prices start at under $4 / month.
Once you’ve got your hosting account paid for, open up the cPanel and install WordPress. Then open the WordPress admin, change the site theme and start blogging! Of course this is a very basic description of how to actually start a blog, but it’ll get you in the door. Once you’ve started blogging and creating content, you’ll have to read articles and watch tutorials on how to write good titles, design a good site etc. But the learning part is fun and now that you’ve got your baby, you can nurse it into a healthy, money-making machine!
For more on how to start a blog, Click Here.
How Does a Travel Blog Earn Money?
Basically a travel blog earns money through a few different sources. Some bloggers have become very creative in their approach and have a diversified set of income sources, but most will have started out with the three we’ve listed below. We’ll cover each one briefly so that you have a good idea about how your blog can generate an income and help you to travel the world.
Displaying Ads: These are those little square pictures you see on the side of some websites. They are small commercials for certain brands, products and services and they generally pay on a CPM basis (Cost per Thousand Clicks). But you can also work directly with companies that are sometimes willing to pay a flat monthly fee for this space. Depending on your amount of traffic, you can charge upwards of $500 / month for these ads. But don’t get too excited hearing that number because that would require an insane amount of monthly hits.
After you’ve been blogging for a year, you may be able to make about $50 – $100 / small-sized ad. You can fit four of these ads into an unobtrusive square on the sidebar and you’ll be making around $400 / month from this method alone. You may also be able to work out a deal where you receive affiliate commissions for the ad as well (more about this below). Now your dollars can start adding up.
Affiliate Marketing: Basically this is when you make a commission from a sale made through your site. For example, if you’re a part of Expedia’s affiliate program and one of your readers clicks a link from your site and goes to Expedia and purchases a flight or hotel, then you’ll get a small cut. Big sites like Amazon and Expedia, typically have pretty poor rates of return so again, you’ll need to build up your traffic.
Content Creation: You can make money by allowing companies to create content on your site, or by writing content for other websites (aka “Ghost Writing” & “freelancing”). Once you’ve grown your blog a little bit, you’ll start getting emails from companies who want to advertise on your site. They will ask if they can write an article and post it on your site with a link back to their domain. Just make sure they’re relevant to your travel niche and you can make some pretty good money this way.
You’ll want to read over every article they send and be sure you only publish high quality posts. Also, check the link and make sure it is NoFollow, as Google penalizes bloggers for publishing DoFollow links for payment. This is a SPAMMY way to manipulate the search engine rankings and Google is the internet God, so you don’t want to get on his bad side.
Another great way to make money from content creation is to work for another website, magazine or newspaper. Writing content for them can be a good way to earn a living and you can land some jobs that pay upwards of $1 / word! That means that a post like this one you’re reading now would be worth around $1,200!
For more about freelancing / ghost writing, check out our article: How Freelancing Can Support Your Travels.
How Do Travel Bloggers Get Free Stuff?
When your blog starts to grow and you’re getting 10,000 – 100,000 visitors / month, companies are going to start to see the value in your traffic. Social media profiles are also important because big travel companies will want to see you tweeting, sharing and liking articles and having engagement with your readers. For them to pay for this kind of reach with more conventional methods would be very expensive. But paying for you to go on a trip, or giving you a free hotel room for a few nights is relatively cheap for them.
Once you build your blog to a certain level, you’ll have products, brands, companies and hotels contacting you on a weekly basis. One of the great things about blogging is the opportunity to meet other companies in the travel business and learn from their marketing methods and overall approach.
It may take a long time before companies start reaching out to you and offering you free travel. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get it. When you’ve built up a bit of traffic with your site, start calling, emailing and popping into the companies that you’d like to work with. You may be surprised at how many are willing to collaborate with you, even in the earlier stages of blogging. Just make sure that you have some reach and that you do everything you can to satisfy the companies you work with.
How Much Money Can You Really Make From a Travel Blog?
This entirely depends on your hustle! To make a really good living from travel blogging, you’ll have to put in a lot of time, but there are plenty of travel blogs out there that are generating over $100,000 / year, although these bloggers are usually making money from more than one source. If you work really hard and keep putting out great content, then you could expect to make around $3,000 / month after 2 years of blogging. This is a very vague number and will depend on your work ethic and your hard work, but it is entirely possible.
The great thing is that $3,000 goes a long way when you’re not paying for accommodation, travel and tours. It may not seem like a lot of money at first, but when you’re living in cheaper destinations around the world, that $3,000 can feel like $30,000, especially when tour companies and travel boards are paying your way.
A blog also tends to make a significant amount of passive income, meaning that you’re making money from ads and affiliates while you’re sleeping. You may be making $3,000 – $5,000 / month, but only working 15 – 20 hours / week!
A few years ago, it was easy to build a blog and grow a solid following because not that many people were travel blogging. These days, there are literally hundreds of thousands of travel blogs on the web, but there are also a growing number of companies who are looking to work with bloggers. It’s never been more difficult to make a name for yourself as a blogger, but it’s also never been as easy to get paid.
If you’re looking for a great way to earn money on the road to support your travels, consider starting a blog today. Document your trip and take lots of photos and video. Put time into your new hobby each week and one day… it will turn into a career.
For more about making money on the road and travelling forever, check out our blog, GoatsOnTheRoad.com.