Starting a blog in 2020 is easier than ever. The blogging tools available to you today are exponentially better than even 5 years ago. Want to know the most important details on how to start a successful travel blog? If you enjoy travel and writing about your experiences, you’ve already solved the problem that many blogs suffer from, lack of content. But the easy barrier to entry has made the competition more intense. Everyone wants a piece of the travel blog pie. It’s hard work getting more than just friends and family to read about your travels but it’s possible to build a blog that helps thousands, if not millions of people. Start a travel blog the right way and enjoy the experience.
What you will learn
- How to start a travel blog
- How to do travel blog SEO
- How to find the best blog names
- How to choose a travel niche
- How to configure WordPress – Step By Step
- How to use video and images in your content
- How to monetize your travel blog
- How much travel bloggers make
Bloggers are more sophisticated these days. Gone are the days of posting your travel photos and a short blurb on Blogspot or a free blogging site from time to time. If you want to get ahead in blogging, travel the world and write about it, you need to give yourself the best chance of success. That begins with a great blog framework and the right tools for the job.
How to Get Started Travel Blogging
In this article, I’ll teach you how to create a travel blog that will put you ahead of 90% of the others from the start. Content and backlinks are the magic sauce that will help generate traffic. But a solid blog platform, hosting, and website design are the building blocks to a successful travel and lifestyle website. I’ll also show you how to make your site look amazing, monitor visitor traffic, and how to earn money as a travel blogger
Setup shouldn’t take longer than an hour (apart from choosing a domain name). I’ve installed hundreds of blogs on different content management systems and hosting platforms. I’ve worked with clients from more than twenty industries and written thousands of blog posts. This is how I set up 99% of blogs for my own websites and those of my clients. Nomad Flag was built in the same way. Let’s jump in!
Travel Blog Names
Finding good names for travel blogs is a lot harder than it was ten years ago. You’ll need to be creative with the title. Two-word domain names with the word travel in them are scarce. My advice is to pick a brand name rather than a keyword-match domain. Brand names are easier to find and you can pick anything you like. Having ‘Travel” in the title used to be important but Google ignores it these days. Catchy travel blog names are easier to to remember.
Exact Match or Keyword-based examples of travel titles for blogs
Brand name examples
Of course, you could still use a name like nomadflag.com and ignore the advice above. The original name of this blog was LifestyleTravelKit. It’s quite a long name but it uses the words travel and lifestyle. I made the decision to use these particular words because I like the name, despite it being a bit unwieldy. It sounds good to me, and that’s an important point. If you don’t like saying the name of your website, the name might hinder your progress. If you can’t easily communicate your blog name to someone over the telephone, then it might be time to pick another.
Pick a domain name that is easy to pronounce, understandable, and most importantly, one that you like saying. When you’re starting a travel blog the most important thing is to start. Do something! Branding can change later.
Keep Your Options Open!
If you plan to talk about worldwide travel, don’t name your blog EuropeanTraveller.com or something similar. This is another reason for using a brand name. A very specific niche-related name can be awesome but you’ll find it harder to branch out into other areas once you’ve outgrown the niche.
Tools to Generate Travel Blog Name Ideas
It’s time to find a name for your blog. Naming a travel blog shouldn’t be an afterthought. Your brand name can often play a big part in the success of your blog. Use these tools to get travel blog name suggestions.
I like to use Lean Domain Search to find lots of different domain name suggestions based on a single keyword. You can filter the results to show your keyword at the start of the domain or at the end.
DomainsBot provides suggestions for lots of other Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as .net, and .info. I recommend sticking with .com until you find the one you want. DomainsBot shows available domains and also domains for sale and the asking price.
NameMesh finds literally thousands of variations with options such as SEO (for keyword matching) and Similar (thesaurus based searches).
Check the Domain Name for Spam
The final step before buying the domain is to check that the domain hasn’t been used before as a spam site. Domains change hands regularly. Some expire, some are used by spammers. Others are penalised by Google for old school SEO tactics. If you buy a domain that has been penalised or used as a spam domain recently (within the last couple of years) then the negative SEO value will still be attached to the domain. Many beginners buy domains without checking them thoroughly and end up with a website that Google is suspicious of. This is not a good way to start your blogging journey. You’ll need all the help you can get, especially from the search engines.
Run the domain name through Majestic.com or SEMrush.com to check the backlink profile. If the site has lots of links coming from dodgy sounding websites, then that’s a good sign the domain has a problem. Majestic shows a metric called Trust Flow. If Trust Flow is low (under 15) and Citation Flow is high (above 20) it’s a bad sign.
Check the domain on archive.org. Go through each snapshot and verify that the domain hasn’t been used as a link portal, or a gambling site, or anything that looks suspicious.
Choose A Travel Blog Niche
Pick a niche. Don’t just write about “travel” unless you’re prepared for a very long and expensive journey into blogging success. The keyword “travel” is very difficult to rank for and most of the big named sites like CNN Travel, Lonely Planet and the like, have this broad topic covered. Nobody’s getting near them unless they have deep pockets.
I should listen to my own advice as my website covers rather broad topics. But hey, do as I say, not as I do!
Picking a niche like “Surfing South America”, “Perth travel blog” or “backpacking in Vietnam” are all niche topics that are much easier to rank in Google for. Remember that this has nothing to do with the domain name. Don’t pick a domain like backpackinginvietnam.com unless you are sure you won’t branch out from this niche ever.
If you focus your efforts on producing content around a particular niche, you’ll have a much better chance of getting organic traffic from the search engines.
By the way, the three keyword topics I mentioned above are all fairly easy to rank for and have decent search volumes. You can steal those ideas if you like. People are using those search keywords on Google. If you produce a website that answers their questions then you’ll be successful. And you’re not going up against Condé Nast and Travel & Leisure in this case.
How do I find easy to rank keywords and topics? With keyword research tools.
Choose Your Blogging Platform
Install WordPress. You can hand-code a website yourself using just HTML and CSS and that will work fine. But unless you’re a pro coder, you’ll spend weeks reinventing the wheel. You’ll repeat tasks that a Content Management System like WordPress will do for you automatically.
Joomla and Drupal are two other popular CMSs but WordPress has stormed ahead in popularity recently. As a result, there’s a huge network of support groups, developers, and plugins that help save you time and money. WordPress powers almost 30% of the entire World Wide Web so it’s clear that people have confidence in the platform.
Why WordPress is the best platform to choose for starting your blog
- Easy to install
- A great platform for travel blogging beginners with no blogging or coding experience
- A large network of online support groups (WordPress forums, Facebook groups, and websites)
- Amazing plugins that can turn a vanilla WordPress website into a powerhouse of functionality
- WordPress is Free
Before you go any further, familiarise yourself with WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This can be a little confusing. Hint: you need the latter.
The .com version is a free (and paid) platform hosted on the WordPress parent company’s servers. You don’t have to pay for hosting (see below). But your blog will not be very customisable, you will never ‘own’ it, and it could be difficult to monetize. WordPress.org is the repository for the free self-hosted software that you can download and configure to your heart’s content. Once you’ve downloaded the CMS software, it’s yours to do as you please. Upload it to any hosting in the world and change anything you like (if you know how).
There are many million-dollar websites out there that run purely on WordPress.
Choose Your Blog Hosting Platform
Website hosting can be a complicated service to buy. There are so many options that it’s easy for beginner bloggers to either overspend and get a lot of features and services they don’t need or get poor quality WordPress hosting that doesn’t deliver what they need.
Now I hate to talk bad about businesses on the Internet but in this case, I have to make an exception. I don’t recommend Bluehost. It’s not that the company has wronged me but that I can’t find anything good about the service.
The control panel (where you configure the hosting platform) is literally a minefield of confusion and ‘upsells’. It feels like Bluehost’s admin back end exists purely to trick you into buying services you don’t need. The real information is obscured, it’s hard to navigate, and you’ll just waste hours trying to find what you’re looking for. Not to mention all the dismissing of banners, pop-ups, and upgrade notices.
The secret of Bluehost’s success is the huge commission payouts they offer to bloggers and websites that promote their hosting services. Even one of the biggest names in the blogging world, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, promotes the hell out of this hosting company’s service. In fact, Pat makes most of his passive income from Bluehost affiliate sales. But his own site doesn’t even use that platform. Go figure!
My recommended hosting platform is Siteground. I have two of the top level hosting packages (one in the US and one in Europe) and they never fail me. The support team is amazing, the back end is simple to navigate, and the quality of service is one of the best I’ve experienced in over ten years hosting websites.
A Note About HTTPS
A very important point to remember. You should have an SSL on your site. What’s SSL? It stands for Secure Sockets Layer. All you need to know is that your site is deemed more secure for visitors with this layer and Google will reward your website with more favourable rankings (hopefully). Back in the day, installing and configuring an SSL layer was difficult and expensive. Today, some hosting companies still charge a lot of money (over $100) for a basic SSL. SiteGround have implemented free SSLs from LetsEncrypt.org for everyone. And just recently they started installing the SSL layers automatically so you don’t even have to make the 3-click install yourself.
With an SSL you will be able to sell products on your site without fear of hackers intercepting credit card or password details.
You can tell a website has an SSL installed by looking at the text prefixing the domain name. Look for the s after HTTP. If you see https:// the site is secure.
Setting Up A Blog on Web Hosting
If you’re reading this post, you probably already have this part taken care of. What you want to know is how to get your blog from the basic WordPress installation on SiteGround to a fully functioning, traffic-generating travel blog.
If you haven’t yet got somewhere to park your website, here’s a step-by-step guide to getting a new travel blog running on SiteGround.
If you’ve just bought your web hosting package and installed WordPress, your new blog will be accessible to anyone on the internet but it’s going to look a little boring. So let’s get it ready for stardom.
Configure WordPress and Install a Professional Travel Blog Theme
Your blog needs to stand out from the crowd. Successful travel blogs look good. Free templates and badly designed WordPress themes make your site look amateurish. You can, of course, run a minimalistic website without spending a penny. But that’s not what people expect from modern travel related sites.
To make your blog look professional, buy a quality WordPress theme that comes with the developer’s support and guaranteed updates. Free themes might do the trick, at a pinch, but who supports them when the WordPress codebase is updated? What about security holes in free Website themes? The reality is that you didn’t pay for the theme so nobody owes you a security fix.
Which theme to choose? If you don’t have time to shop around, here’s my recommendation: Use the beautiful, versatile, high performance and security-focused Astra Theme. It’s the fastest-growing WordPress them for a reason.
For a full list of themes check out the top WordPress Travel Themes for your blog.
The documentation for any of these themes is excellent and explains everything better than I ever could. Once you’ve configured your theme according to the recommended settings you can rest assured that you have a secure, fast, and SEO optimised website.
Install the following plugins to make your website even more powerful and productive
Yoast SEO – The best search engine optimisation plugin available. Enable the advanced settings pages (SEO > Dashboard > Features > Advanced Settings Pages). This will give you lot more control over the on-page SEO.
Yoast is not a magic search engine ranking tool, as many people think. For Google to send you search traffic you need to produce amazing content or get lots of links from other sites. But Yoast can show you where you’ve made errors in formatting, tagging, and structure. It can also help automate tasks for improving the site’s search engine visibility
Social Warfare: A free tool for adding sharing buttons to the top and bottom (or anywhere really) of your posts. Social Warfare makes it easier for people to share your content on social media platforms. Another option is the excellent Scriptless Social Sharing plugin for WordPress.
ConvertFul: Add mailing list pop-ups, calls-to-action, and notification bars to your site with ease. ConvertFul’s main function is getting new subscribers to your email list. But it can be used for a bunch of other interesting things. Check out the bottom of this post for an example of an email subscriber box.
Table Of Contents Plus: Helps you make a stylish list of headings automatically for every post. You can see this in action at the top of this post, right before the first heading.
Pretty Link Pro: Link shorteners offer two main benefits
- Long, cumbersome URLs look ugly on social media posts. And in the case of Twitter (and some other
platforms)long URLs eat into the character limit. Use a link shortener to tidy them up.
- If you plan on monetizing your site using affiliate links then Pretty Link is a great option for not only managing these links but for keeping on the good side of Google. Pretty links can also be used for branding and sharing content. For example, I could share the following URL: nomadflag.com/digital-nomad-tools. Or use a shorter version like nomadflag.com/tools which redirects to the first URL. I can change the original URL at any time in Pretty Link Pro and the short URL will point to this new link.
Thirsty Affiliates is an alternative to Pretty Link and help you track clicks on links. Great to see what’s working and what’s getting ignored.
EWWW image optimizer: Travel websites are often image-heavy. This can slow a website down thanks to the large file size of most images. Ideally, you’ll want to scale your images down to fit your blog width and reduce the image quality. But a plugin like EWWW image optimizer can take it a step further and automatically reduce the image size on all media, without compromising on quality. If you want to improve your images further and have better control over how they are displayed, try ShortPixel. It’s the image optimization plugin I use on every website.
Anti-Spam: Be sure to activate the Spam filter plugin called Anti-spam. Best to let software deal with the flood of garbage comments and links you will inevitably get. Many people use Akismet but the full version (that one that actually works) is a “paid” product for commercial websites.
Website Images and Video
Your professional WP theme will give you all the design flair you need. However, you might need a couple of design tools to really make the blog shine. For promoting on social media, try different images, font sizes and layouts for graphics to see what works. Testing is the best way to find out what your audience responds to.
Photoshop is an amazing product. But it can take some time to put great graphics together thanks to the complexity of the software. This is especially true for newbies. If you plan on creating lots of images for social media then a large portion of your time will be spent on design.
Use Canva, or Stencil to knock out images for Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google and more in minutes. You can literally build a great looking header for Facebook and in seconds convert it into a twitter header, advertisement, Pinterest pin, YouTube header, featured image, and more. A huge time saver and one of the best tools for beginning bloggers.
Adobe Lightroom is another tool that gurus in the travel photography niche rave about. It’s an awesome product and one that also takes some dedication in time and energy. But knowing how to make your photos sparkle is a great skill to have. Rawtherapee is free software that works like Lightroom and is highly rated by photographers.
For video production, keep it simple. Free apps like Wave.video from Animatron help you create fast videos for Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook with no technical skills.
Tracking and Monitoring Traffic
How will you know if your blog is popular? How can you measure the traffic to your blog? What are your visitors interested in?
- What keywords people use to find your site
- Your blog’s most popular pages
- Which sites are linking to your blog
- What Google recommends you to improve for higher ranking
- Where the majority of your visitors come from
- How long people spend browsing your pages
And a lot more besides. Google Analytics and Search Cinsole are must-haves for any serious entrepreneur or blogger.
Create an About Page & Contact Page
Both your visitors and Google want to know who you are and where to contact you. It’s important to create some kind of about page showing that you’re a real person and that you know what you’re talking about. You don’t have to a travel expert (who is?) but people want to know that there’s someone real behind the scenes. If you’re like me (publicity-shy & kind of introverted), the about page doesn’t have to give your life story. Some simple details and a description of how the site will help the user (important) will suffice.
Google is clamping down on fake news and fake websites. If it suspects that your travel website is just churned out for the sake of capturing affiliate clicks or generating ad traffic, it will, let’s say, look unfavourably upon your creation.
Add a contact page to the site and make it easy for people to get in touch. Don’t have them jump through hoops to get to you. Because they won’t bother. Adding a phone number shows that there’s a genuine person behind the website. But it’s a bad idea if you value your free time and privacy. Especially as the blog grows.
Travel Blog SEO – Create The Web’s Best Content
Marketing a travel brand or blog is a lot like marketing any online business. The difference is in the message – how do you want your clients or readers to perceive your business and what value are you offering to them.
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is a skill that, once learned, can mean the difference between content that languishes at the bottom of the search results and content that brings thousands of visits to your site. To do proper SEO for travel websites, a plan is essential. And you need people that can execute on the plan. The travel niche is competitive – isn’t everyone a traveller blogger these days?
Crafting Content and Website Copy
Looking at the trending articles on social media, one might think that short, listicle-type, controversial articles are the way to go. But does that suit your blog personality? Maybe not. In that case, avoid listicles. Try to be unique. Your blog will stand out in the long term and Google will reward your site with organic traffic for years to come. Ask yourself if you want to be a mini-Buzzfeed for travel or a site that people trust?
So what’s Google looking for?
Well, Google is telling you what it thinks should rank in the top 10 positions (and beyond). Do a search for the keywords you are going to write about and examine the results. See what kind of post is ranking (list post, YouTube video, round-up post, 8000-word articles, short quizzes). The SERPs (search engine results pages) will give you the answers. Then look at where your content is lacking compared to the top 10 pages.
A quicker way to do all of the above is to use the excellent Surfer SEO tool, which analyzes all of your competitors and tells you exactly what keywords, phrases to use. It also highlights issues with keyword density and advises on article length. There’s a lot more besides. Grab a 7-day trial (with full features) for $1.
Content writing for travel blogs and services should focus on providing answers and value.
One way to find out what your audience needs is to survey your clients (or readers) and try to elicit questions. The more problems they can tell you about, the better. Make a list of every single question, problem, and pain point.
Turn their questions and doubts into answers. Make your customers a source of content.
Businesses that offer package tours, for example, should write detailed descriptions of their products, right down to the exact locations visited, the food clients might try, and the experiences they can have. Make the boring tour guide brochure into an ultimate location guide to the location – a great lead generation trick.
Hire writers that produce high-quality content. It’s one of the best investments you can make. Good writing always wins. Low-quality, thin, copied content signals Google that your website and brand is not a quality product worthy of front page results in search.
Use copywriters (or trusted content writers) to create compelling headlines, calls-to-action, sales pages, and emails. Skilled copywriters can grab people’s attention without making the message sound spammy.
Don’t forget to create click-worthy meta description tags. This is often overlooked. Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress automatically pull text from your content to use as a description but you should create your own. Short, snappy, attention-grabbing descriptions should draw a potential reader in. Google ignores Meta tags in the search algorithm but this text appears in the search engine results pages. The meta description should tell potential readers what your post is about and what value you hope to deliver to them.
Stay Up To Date With Google Updates
In August 2018, a major Google update caused a drop in rankings and traffic for some major websites in the health niche. Many of these sites are household names. Nobody knows for sure why their websites received penalties but there’s a good possibility that Google considers the content quality to be of low quality.
The travel niche differs from the health niche but the same principles should apply:
- Write about what you know or are qualified to write about. If ‘writing’ is not your thing, hire someone with credentials and amazing research skills to help.
- Don’t make claims you can’t back up.
- If you quote statistics or facts, be sure to do thorough research. “Fake news” will get your website penalised.
Build Relationships With Bloggers
Connect with influencers. Use an influencer marketplace (we know a few) or manually reach out to people in your niche. Building relationships through conversation is still the best way to progress.
Keyword Research for Travel Niches
Perform in-depth keyword research to find out what your potential customers are looking for. Understand where you can outperform your competitors. If you’re just starting off, looking for long tail keywords to help your website to rank in Google.
High-competition keywords like “Travel Japan” are well out of reach of startups, beginner bloggers, and boutique travel agencies. Try to find less competitive keywords like “Bangkok travel for over 40s”. (Try to make this relevant to your niche). You won’t get as many clicks but some clicks are better than none when you’re building your business.
How to do Keyword Research for Travel
This is a huge topic. There’s a lot of traffic at stake and a lot of money to up for grabs to those that get it right.
Many SEOs still recommend Google Keyword Planner for research. Don’t go there. The metrics are inaccurate and ridiculously broad. The competition for Google Ad ranks has little to do with the competition in Google organic search. The search volume is always incorrect too because Keyword Planner does not offer exact volumes, only ranges.
Keysearch is better. In fact, Keysearch is a game-changer. I’ve been using it for all my sites for over 3 years.
Keysearch lets you find low competition keywords that people are searching for. It also shows the top ten results based on any location in the world. When you search for anything in your browser the results you see are determined on your previous search history, your location, and a few other things. Keyword tools strip this personalised result data out and present the ‘real’ results.
Keep in mind that SEO tools use algorithms and best-guess methods for finding keyword competition. So they’re not perfect. Don’t take the results as the definitive answer (there is no final/gospel/authority word on keywords). But there are other ways to find juicy content phrases.
Use Google’s related searches to find out what people are actually searching for around a topic.
After searching for a topic, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for “Searches related to…”
These search terms might spark your imagination and give you ideas for blog content.
A Chrome plugin called Keywords Everywhere is great for getting enable search volumes and pay-per-click cost estimates beside the related terms. This is great for getting a quick idea of the competition and the search volumes.
Use Quora and Reddit to find topics that people are asking about.
If you find a relevant question in the travel niches, check to see how many times it has been answered and the number of views for each answer.
Reddit can be a bit of a minefield of etiquette and crazy behaviour, but it’s a great source of ideas. People ask and discuss questions on Reddit in specific sub-niche sections called subreddits. To get ideas, read the questions and answers or search for specific topics. You can even ask questions that might help you with writing content.
Test Variations Of Headlines and Keywords
Run “split tests” on your most important page
Split tests, also called A/B tests are part of what marketer’s call Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). CRO for travel businesses isn’t any different than with tech or health, for example.
You perform A/B tests by creating a special version of a web page or section of a web page and changing something on the new version. It could be the entire text of the page or a design change. It could even be something as simple as the colour of a button or one word on the page.
A simple change in button colour can have a big impact on your conversion rate.
Maybe readers don’t notice the call to action because the background colour of the button isn’t striking enough.
Knowing which version of the page performs better is the beauty of split testing. By sending some visitors to your original page and other visitors (usually 50% of the total ) to the page with ‘changes’, you can compare the conversion results. Make the best-converting page be the permanent one.
Google Optimize is a free tool that will get you started with optimization tests. It takes a bit of learning, but it’s worth the effort.
Another way to do this is to run Facebook Ads with different headlines for the same article link. After a while, you’ll see which headline grabs the most attention. You can then use this as the SEO title of your blog post.
Make sure your website looks great on a mobile phone. But don’t obsess over mobile conversion. Many people still browse and evaluate services and products on mobile phones but make their purchases on desktop computers. Tracking user journeys across devices is a tricky thing to do but Google (and other tech firms) is getting better at helping us through it.
If your mobile website offers a bad user experience, don’t expect your business to shine in the search results. The site should look good but it should also be easy to navigate, buttons must be easy to press (with thick thumbs), and pages should download fast.
Test your mobile speed and performance here.
Every travel industry website has to compete with millions of travel blogs on the internet. There’s a lot of content out there to compete with for keywords. SEO-savvy travel bloggers, agencies, and services have the advantage that they can laser-target specific keywords that their potential clients are searching for.
As people wake up to the fact that travel blogs can be lucrative, the competition gets stronger. But you can stay ahead of the game by doing what most people don’t, creating a marketing plan. Treat your blog like a business.
Be different, be original, be better than the usual stuff and rise to the top. Good content is subjective, of course, but just take a look at the writing of the top in the world for inspiration. Give more than just travel tips!
How to Monetize your travel blog
So how do travel content creators generate income?
Getting paid to travel write about your adventures and post pictures of amazing locations is not easy. Otherwise, we’d all be doing it. Some people make a nice living doing just that but there are other ways of making money from a travel blog too. But your success will depend on how much quality content and value you can offer. Having a solid blog puts you ahead of most wannabe bloggers too. You’re halfway to blogging success if you’ve followed this tutorial to this point.
Travel bloggers earn money through any of the following methods
- Affiliate marketing. Bloggers recommend products like travel gear and services like hotel reservation websites all the time. Why not make some money from the company that benefits from the traffic you send them? The customer or client (in most cases) doesn’t pay any extra for clicking the link on the travel blog, but the owner of the site will get a commission if the customer spends money. Sign up with Awin (ex-Affiliate Window) or ShareASale and get access to hundreds of affiliate opportunities. Amazon is one of the biggest networks for affiliates. Million-dollar businesses have been built on the strength of commissions from recommendations to Amazon products. It’s a huge industry and one that almost anyone can join. Do yourself a favour and grab a plugin like Amalinks Pro, a WordPress plugin for Amazon Affiliates that lets you easily add links to your posts.
- Sponsorship. Brands pay bloggers to try products and write about them, travel to destinations, stay in
hotels,and use their services. Honest bloggers will only write positive reviews of products they genuinely like and/or use. Don’t be tempted to write positive reviews in return for money for products you don’t love. The Internet community has a collective sixth sense for fakers
- Advertising. If you’ve got a lot of traffic, then advertising can be lucrative
- Freelance writing. You can make money on Upwork and Fiverr with almost any skills you can think of. I supplement my income by freelancing on both of these sites but the better your writing and the more exposure you get, the more opportunities for travel writing pay will come your way. Use your blog as a showcase for great writing
- Sponsored Posts. You might have seen these kinds of posts on sites with a statement saying something like “This post is sponsored by blah blah”. Sometimes the blogger writes the post, with a positive spin on a company’s product, and sometimes the company writes the whole thing. It’s not something I’m a fan of and when I see that an article is sponsored, I immediately ignore it. It’s an option but make sure you don’t abuse the trust of your audience. Like with affiliate disclosures, let your audience know that the post is sponsored
- Products, courses, and e-books. Do you have extensive experience of one aspect of travel? Would people pay for a course or product which contained a distilled version of your knowledge? If you have the time and you’re dedicated, producing a product can be lucrative. The best part is that you can advertise the product to your audience for free via your blog.
How much money do travel bloggers make?
Now for a more detailed look at how travel bloggers make money and how much they “get paid to travel”.
Can You Make Money With a Blog?
The answer is Yes, you can. There are thousands of blogs on every topic imaginable making lots of money right now. How much money they make essentially comes down to two things:
- The traffic to your site
- The focus of your content
- The behaviour of your visitors
The “theme”, niche, or focus of your Website’s Content is a crucial factor. For example, a website about minimalism will be difficult to monetise for obvious reasons.
Blogs about luxury goods will probably make a lot of money with good traffic levels. People that buy luxury items are more likely to purchase on a whim and shop around less than the rest of us.
Visitors arriving on your site to get information and then leaving again are less likely to buy your services or click on your affiliate links than more engaged readers. This is why monitoring Visitor Behaviour is important. The most profitable blogs are the ones that have repeat visits, a community, or engaged readers.
How Much Does the Average Blogger Make?
Pat Flynn, the Smart Passive Income blogger makes $100,000 or more every single month. Yep, that’s monthly. Most of that income comes from affiliate sale commissions. Pat’s secret: starting early, blogging consistently, and being open about everything. People trust the man and happily use the products he recommends.
Michelle from Making Sense of Cents is like the Oprah Winfrey of blogging. In 2017 she made over $1.5 million from her blog. Michelle keeps nothing from her readers either. The whole process and how she makes money is detailed in her income reports. https://www.makingsenseofcents.com/2018/01/how-i-made-money-online-2017.html
The bloggers above are the top earners but here are some ideas about how much a blogger can make depending on traffic
- 10,000 visits a month: $1000
- 100,000 visits a month: $8,000
- 1,000,000 visits a month: $40,000
- 2,000,000 visits a month: $100,000
Note: These are very rough figures based on browsing hundreds of income reports, chatting with bloggers and my own research. Don’t quote me, shout at me, or hate me. You can, however, correct me if you have some genuine statistics on the subject. It’s love to hear it.
What about Travel Bloggers?
Bloggers in the travel niche are no different from other types of content creators. Some of the top bloggers in the world are in the travel niche.
Matt from Nomadic Matt is one of the best-known travel bloggers and digital nomads. His super popular website generates over$50,000 a month.
The guys over at the excellent Goats on the Road talk about how they got their blog to a six-figure online business.
My neighbour in Bangkok, Johnny Ward from One Step 4 Ward made over $1.5 million from his blogging and website empire. It all started with a simple travel blog that now gets over 30,000 visitors a month. He also visited every country on earth while building his brand.
The Poor Traveller website focuses on budget travel but that doesn’t stop them from pulling in the big dollars. The site makes a reported $6000 a month from affiliate and advertising revenue.
One thing is certain, travel bloggers make money by diversifying their income streams. Unlike, say, affiliate-based niche websites that focus on Amazon affiliates entirely, travel bloggers spread the income channels.
Here are some of the ways in which you can make money from a blog focused on travel
- Amazon affiliate commissions – Adding links to your content to Amazon products and getting paid for commissions if people spend money on the site within 24 hours.
- Product sales – Your own products such as eBooks, online courses, and apps give you the best margin on sales but this kind of monetisation takes the most work (after writing content). You can also leverage the power of affiliate marketing. Setting up your own affiliate program is easy. Give a good enough commission and bloggers will sell your products for you. Works especially well with digital products.
- Advertisements – Adsense, fixed ads, Mediavine, Media.net, AdThrive. Put ads on your website and get paid for impressions and clicks. There are many players in the ad network area but Mediavine is the new hot kid in town. I know lots of bloggers that have switched or are switching from Google Adsense (the biggest network) to Mediavine. Those that saw no value in Adsense are putting Mediavine on their websites and making money right away. I don’t have any experience with the platform (this site is under the 25,000 views a month threshold) but by all accounts, people are very happy with it.
- Affiliate sales – Non-Amazon affiliate commissions. These commissions could be directly from a product or service owner or through an affiliate network like Awin, CJ.com, or Clickbank.
- Social sponsorship – As a blogger, you’ll likely have a social media presence for promoting content, connecting with like-minded individuals, and prospecting. Companies pay bloggers for shout-outs on social media. Sponsored Instagram posts, tweets, Facebook reviews or product placement and many other types of social media promotion can be lucrative.
- Sponsored content – This is where a company pays you to add content to your site. This content will either promote the companies product directly or indirectly with some links to their website or sales page.
- Press trips – This is where you really do get paid to travel. Hotels, travel companies, and tourism boards often sponsor travel bloggers in return for a write-up and social media campaign to promote their products.
How Much Money Do You Need?
That’s another big question and can only be answered if you look at your spending habits and travelling style. I’ve met people travelling around Asia with less than $700 a month. I don’t recommend this style of travel. It’s tiring and you’re constantly looking for the cheap option. Opportunities are missed and lots of time is spent looking for the cheaper alternative to accommodation, food, travel, and entertainment.
$1500 a month in many parts of Southeast Asia (Singapore excluded) is quite possible. Thailand is one of the best places to both live cheaply and have amazing travel experiences. In some parts of Eastern Europe and South America, this figure will also be enough to live and travel on. Once your blog takes off you will have the opportunity to receive sponsorship for travel. This might be in the form of free hotel stays or free transport. This helps reduce costs even further.
So if your question is “how to become a blogger and get free stuff?” then you might want to reconsider your career path. Travel blogging is something you do because you enjoy writing about travel. Many bloggers don’t accept freebies, sponsored posts, or anything else that will influence their content. They like to let things happen organically. The free stuff will come but it won’t come if you focus solely on getting it.
Travel blogging is a viable business but it takes time, patience, and lots of work. Don’t expect to make money straight away. If you need to supplement your income while you build your travel blog try selling your skills on Upwork. This will help you support yourself until your blog is big enough to pay al the bills.
Good luck with your blogging journey. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything else you would like to know.