One of the frequently asked questions that travel bloggers come across is how do they make money travel blogging, and it is only natural for someone to ask so. I mean travelling is an expensive hobby. You have a week-long holiday inGoa and you end up spending a couple of thousand Rupees — at the very least.
But if you dedicatedly work on your blog, you eventually start reaping the benefits. Most bloggers who quit their job to travel and blog full-time start making money during the first year of their blogging-stint. Though of course, the money generated is often not enough, and bloggers always have to rely on other sources of income (for example, I rely on freelance writing heavily — Read: How I Make Money Travel Blogging) there are still enough ways of generating revenues from your blog.
Different bloggers moreover use different ways of making money. But before I disclose all the ways I know of (or have tried in the past) let me put a word of warning first. If your goal of starting a travel blog is making money — don’t even bother starting! Because there are far easier ways of making money online than blogging. I would only recommend travel blogging if your goal is to travel, write about your journeys, photography or social media (or preferably all of the above) — and you only want to live that goal.
Tip: Because of low payouts, for Indian travel bloggers, full-time blogging is often only possible by combining two things: 1) finding sponsors for their blog and thus not investing personal money in travelling, and 2) making (whatever possible) money from blogging and thus sustaining the lifestyle. Read: How To Find Sponsors & Travel The World For Free.
So if you still want to be a full-time travel blogger, these are the different ways to cash in on your hobby.
Placing banner ads on your blog is perhaps the most traditional and ineffective way of monetizing. Ineffective because you need the website traffic of at least a few thousand readers every day to be making any money at all.
There are quite a few ad-networks that pay on Cost Per Click & Cost Per Impression basis (meaning everytime someone clicks or sees an ad on your website you earn money) but I’ve personally been using Google Adsense and recommend it — if you still decided to go for banner ads. But as I said earlier, if the daily traffic on your website is less than 1000 visitors don’t even bother, because, you’re not going to make much money and only end up spoiling the user experience.
Affiliate marketing is wherein you place a special affiliate tracking link on your website to a merchant’s website, and when someone buys a product after getting redirected from your website, you receive a commission. Again, the success of affiliate marketing depends on the traffic you’re getting on articles including affiliate link. But how smartly have you embedded the link is also likely to play a role.
For travel bloggers, websites including Amazon.com, Booking.com, WorldNomads.com, Skyscanner.com, are most useful, but please read the terms and conditions before you apply for their affiliate program. I’ve been currently using and getting most of my affiliate revenue from Amazon and Booking.com. Here’s a good example of one of my pages full of affiliate links: Travel Gear I Use.
Also known as text-link advertising, link selling is when companies would pay just for giving a do-follow backlink to their website in one of your already published posts, or provide a full pre-written “guest post” with one or two do-follow backlinks. Why? Because it helps their website increase its search engine results, sending more people to their website from search engines and thus growing their business. (Tip: Google to know more about a no-follow and a do-follow backlink).
The practice is however frowned upon and is strictly against Google’s guidelines. And if you’re caught by Google, it can backfire, so I don’t recommend it. Yet many bloggers still make money this way — so I thought I’d mention it.
Because you can influence your audience’s behaviour and buying habits, whether you’re a beauty blogger, food blogger, or travel blogger, product companies are actively looking for you to review their products on your blog — with some companies wanting to compensate you monetarily, with others, compensate by offering free products.
Once you have an established blog, you do not need to hunt for such activities because companies start contacting you directly, however, during the initial days of blogging, influencer platforms like Blogmint, Socialbeat and influencer.in are a few good ones to find product reviewing campaigns.
Getting Commissions From Hotels & Tour Operators
Some bloggers also work as an intermediator for connecting travellers with hotels and tour operators and earn a commission in between. The idea is simple — you write an article about an offbeat destination or a property that isn’t listed on any hotel booking site. Now people read your article and write to you asking for contact details about the property. You connect the two parties and earn a commission.
I tried making money this way during the initial six months of blogging, but the problem is it takes a lot of time converting leads and you only end up making a little money — usually less than 20% of the total sellout.
Selling Pictures On Stock-Image Websites
If you’re good at photography, consider investing some time and building a portfolio on various stock-image websites. Websites like 500px, Shutterstock, Alamy and Getty Images (there are over a dozen others) allow photographers to list their pictures, place a bid and monetize per sale.
Paid Media/Fam Trips
Though most of the FAM trip (or familiarization/media trips) only bear your cost of travelling, experiences and stay, some of them pay as well — depending upon your market credibility as a travel journalist, or of the publications, you write for.
I’ve attended nearly 20 FAM trips so far since I’ve started travel blogging and was paid only twice, and it happened recently after my blog was featured in two leading national newspapers in India The Economic Times & The Statesman in August 2017. Moreover, other than increasing page views on my blog, I now offer 70,000+ fan base on my different social media networks — which certainly act as another driving factor for sponsors taking me on a free media tour to pay me as well.
FAM trips are mostly organised by the tourism boards.
Running Group Tours
One of the benefits of working as an independent blogger and not just a travel-writer with any travel publication is that over time it helps you build your reader base and position yourself as a travel influencer. Now, you can use this reader base (or the people following you as their choice of travel influencer) for selling group tours and monetize.
This is one of the ways I’ve recently started monetizing — using Footloosedev Facebook page, create events and run group tours in the Himalayas.
Blogging Workshops or Online Courses
Teaching your fans about the art of travel blog and charging for it is another way of monetizing — and almost all successful travel bloggers do it, though some do it by organising events and in person (as I do) whereas others create online courses and sell them.
Last but not the least, freelancing is another (common) way many bloggers rely on for an additional source of income — including me. And I believe this is because of the fact that once you start blogging and gain a bit of experience in writing, it becomes fairly easier to write for other publications, and moreover gain their trust as a freelance writer at first place.
During my initial days of blogging, I relied on freelancing platforms like Upwork and Freelancer for finding any travel writing or photography related work. With increasing credibility as a travel blogger, I now write for a couple of print magazines and an in-flight magazine.
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