Sometimes, I use affiliate/sponsored links with my recommendations, which if bought through might earn me a few pennies at absolutely no extra cost to you. This helps with the cost of keeping this site alive so I can continue to guide you on your travels. Please remember that I would never ever ever recommend anything I don’t or wouldn’t use myself. Big thanks to each and every one of you who have trusted my recommendations so far! Lozzy x
Take a step into the curious world of travel blogging! There’s a common misconception that having a travel blog is a near-instant, completely passive cash-cow, but for the vast majority of bloggers this is very far from the truth. Travel blogging takes a huge amount of work, and I believe it has to first begin with a passion, otherwise you’ll find it difficult to persevere during times when progress feels slow, or even goes backwards.
It took me about a year to realise this was something I could actually push to make some revenue out of. Before that, it was just a hobby of mine; I liked guiding people on their travels!
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And hey, even if people don’t think of their blog as a business, I see it as imperative that travel bloggers make money just to cover the costs of managing their blog. Taking the time it requires to build, write, promote and optimise out of it (passive income, my arse), things like paying for the very basics of a domain, hosting, CDN, malware protection and keyword research racks up to about $5-600 per year.
Then there’s the cost of photography equipment and editing software, more hours to learn how to use them, plus the cost of actually travelling to places to be able to write about them in the first place. It’s a pricey game to get into, and it typically takes a long time until travel bloggers make money doing it. So, how do travel bloggers make money, anyway?
How travel bloggers make money: 7 common income sources
1. Ad networks
Let’s start with the one everyone knows about! Most ad networks will give you revenue just for impressions/views, and more for clicks/conversions. Having things like video and pop-up ads will earn you more because you have a captive audience; no surprises there. I personally click out of blogs that are too overwhelmed by ads, so I try and keep a balance!
People tend to assume that all travel bloggers make money using Google Ads, but the higher traffic you have coming to your blog, the better the ad network you can get accepted into, and the higher you’ll earn. Google Ads is the bottom of the pile, with ad networks like Mediavine offering some of the biggest potential for travel bloggers to make money (blogs accepted onto Mediavine need at least 50,000 sessions a month, so they’re bringing in the big bucks!).
Travel bloggers don’t have a say on what is advertised in these ads units as they’re usually customised to the interests of the individual reader. However, we are able to opt out of certain industries, such as tobacco or gambling.
If you’re reading this because you want to find out how travel bloggers make money in order to monetise your own blog, take my advice and do not spend any time with Google Ads. Their ad revenue is an insult. You might need to be approved with them to get onto other ad networks, but once you are, use that space within your content for affiliate ads from Awin or CJ instead, until you have enough traffic to apply for better ad networks like Ezoic or She Media. Which sort of leads me to my next point on how travel bloggers make money…
2. Affiliate links
This is how travel bloggers make money from recommending products, accommodation and tours. There aren’t usually very high requirements to join affiliate programs, so it’s a way for small travel bloggers to make money from the start. Networks like Awin or CJ who bring hundreds of brands together in one place make it really easy to find, apply to and use affiliate programs.
Affiliate links can be found in the form of in-text hyperlinks, widgets, maps, hyperlinked images; anything that encourages readers to move to the brand’s website.
The way it works is that the travel blogger inserts affiliate links into their posts, then when the reader clicks on a link and buys something through it, the travel blogger makes money by receiving a (tiny) percentage of the brand’s revenue. It’s important to note that almost never do these affiliate links put any of the cost to pay travel bloggers onto the customer, at least none of the ones I would ever use.
This means that buying through an affiliate link will not give you a higher price than if you went directly to the store, but it’s like a little thank you from the reader to the travel blogger for all their work creating and managing a blog, and also from the brand to the travel blogger for promoting their product, accommodation or tour.
I do see a handful of travel bloggers getting kind of cheeky with the wildly high-ticket things they recommend, but if they have the audience for it, then fine. I know my audience tends to consist of backpackers and glampackers who appreciate a good balance of quality and bargain, so I try to cater to that with the affiliate links I use.
I couldn’t bear to think that I spoilt any part of your travels with a shitty recommendation that got me loads of cash, so I spend a lot of time deciding what to recommend, and quite often you’ll see me suggesting cheaper choices if I know that price or brand won’t necessarily mean higher quality for a certain item. I’d much rather earn a few pennies and be able to sleep at night than smash the big bucks but feel guilty every time I read my own posts.
Sometimes, I don’t earn anything at all if I know the best/easiest/cheapest option is to buy a tour in person at the destination itself (such as Rainbow Mountain). Similarly, Airbnb doesn’t have an affiliate program anymore, but I’ll still link to an Airbnb if it’s the nicest accommodation in that area. I’m here for you, boo!
Wherever I can, I recommend items I’ve used, places I’ve stayed or tours I’ve taken, but if that’s not possible I’ll go by friends’ recommendations and trawling through reviews and guides to save you the hassle. I see it as my job to take this stressful step off your shoulders!
3. Sponsored posts
Sponsored posts are written when brands pay travel bloggers to essentially dedicate a whole post to them. These are generally reserved for travel bloggers who have large audiences and thousands upon thousands of views a month (even day).
Sponsored posts can be reviews of products that brands send bloggers (beware of the bloggers who use a product at home for a day or two and then review it without actually having travelled with it), hotels bloggers were asked to stay in or tours that bloggers took part in, or they can simply be announcement-style posts that tell you a lot of information about something to convince you to visit the brand’s website and take the plunge.
The amount of money earnt from a sponsored post depends entirely on the viewership and conversion stats of the travel blog, and the negotiating skills of the travel blogger. It’s really hard in this world to know your worth as a travel blogger, and there aren’t really any set rates for sponsored posts across the industry.
These earnings obviously get far more lucrative with the more channels a travel blogger has on offer. Travel bloggers also make money from cross-posting about sponsors on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Facebook, but only if they can prove to brands in their media kit that their audiences on those channels are engaged. It’s not about followers anymore, it’s about interactions.
4. Guest posting
Guest posting is all about creating content for other travel blogs. It’s not as high-earning as some of the other ways that travel bloggers make money, and quite often other blogs will just expect you to contribute for free in return for backlinks. However, there are some paid content contribution opportunities out there for travel bloggers who have interesting points of view or expert knowledge.
5. Link selling
This one is contentious, as it’s something that goes against Google’s policies (and as a travel blogger you do not want to piss Google off). However, it’s still true that some travel bloggers make money by charging brands to have their link mentioned somewhere in their blog content.
There are right ways to do this to appease the Google gods, like tagging the link as sponsored in the html, but lots of brands don’t want to pay for a tagged link as they lose the authority when it comes to SEO, and that’s the whole point in them doing it. It’s a bit of a risky business!
6. Selling their own products
If you have a platform that thousands of people visit to learn about a specific subject, you may as well capitalise on your knowledge and creativity in that subject!
Some travel bloggers make money from designing their own products and selling prints on sites like Society6, and some create products or services to sell to other travel bloggers, such as Lightroom presets and blogging courses. The possibilities are fairly endless as long as you can prove your expertise/right to play in the topic space.
7. Photography and videography
Well, it’s difficult to make a success of a travel blog these days without decent imagery. This means that camera skills are something that come with the territory, and many travel bloggers make money using their talents. Our whole worlds are about creating content, so why not sell it to other businesses?
Whether photography or videography, there are plenty of ways that travel bloggers make money using their camera – hotel interiors, social media content, product promo shots, documenting tours and plenty more. A travel blog is a way to showcase your skills. For me, photography has always been a way to sweeten the deal when negotiating stays with hotels whilst travelling.
So those are the 7 most likely answers for how travel bloggers make money! Of course, every travel blogger has their own talent and niche to work with, so I’m sure there are plenty more ingenious ways that some travel bloggers make money on top of these most common sources of income.
I want to reiterate that although it seems as though travel bloggers make money by just twirling around the world, being gifted products and staying in places for free, in reality this is really hard graft and a huge learning curve for most. The majority of blogs will never break even in terms of start-up costs, maintenance costs and time investment. I’ve definitely put thousands of hours into learning, building and honing Cuppa to Copa Travels over the last 3 years, and you’ll be happy to know I might just break even this year. Huzzah!
Anyhoo, hopefully that’s cleared up some of your curiosity, and if you’re a travel blogger yourself, explained how you can monetise your work to start making money, too.
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