It’s never been easier to start a blog and make money traveling. With so many online resources available, and with travel being more accessible than ever, working online is something anyone can do.
These days, it’s hard to go on social media without seeing someone with a laptop at the beach, and while there are a lot of spammy “influencers” out there, there are also lots of legitimate bloggers making an honest living.
And with some hard work, you can be one of them.
I started my blog over 10 years ago after a trip to Thailand showed me that long-term travel was possible. I wanted to travel the world, and while I had some savings I knew that if I wanted to travel indefinitely I would need to build an income.
After teaching overseas, I started my blog and slowing attracted an audience. Through trial and error, I learned what it takes to run a successful business. While I made many mistakes, I also learned tons of valuable lessons when it comes to making money as a travel blogger. My advice has been featured in publications around the globe, such as CNN, The New York Times, National Geographic, and tons of others.
Because it works.
I’m not here to show you how to be an influencer or how to create a spammy website, get rich quick. I’m here to show you how to build a sustainable online business that will give you the freedom to travel the world. It won’t get you rich quick, but it will give you financial freedom if you put in the work.
While making money with your blog is simple that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Blogging is a lot of hard work. When you start a career in travel, it’s just like starting any other business. You need to work hard, learn the right skills, and set yourself on a path to success.
But how do you actually make money?
That’s one of the most common questions I get when it comes t blogging. To shed some light on the topic, here are the top 6 ways you can make money traveling.
6 Ways to Make Money with Your Travel Blog
Click on a link to jump to that section, or just scroll down to read them all!
- Making Money with Ads
- Affiliate Marketing
- Sponsorship Opportunities
- Building Brand Ambassadorships
- Running Tours
- Creating Products
Making Money with Ads
Putting ads on your website via a service like AdSense (or if you have enough traffic, Mediavine) is an easy way to start making a passive income with your blog. This is usually the first idea people have when it comes to monetizing their travel blog.
While it is easy to do, I usually caution people against using ads when you’re just starting out. Not only does it make your website look a bit spammy, but the money you make (at least when you’re starting out) is extremely low.
Having ugly ads on your site at the beginning likely does more harm than good, so I would suggest you don’t run ads on your website when you’re starting out. I don’t run ads on my website because I think they decrease the attractiveness and ease-of-use of a website. But that’s just me. If you want to run ads, you can definitely go down that route. I would just suggest you wait until you have enough traffic to justify it.
Becoming an affiliate for a website or service is a great way to build a passive income. Chances are you’ve seen affiliates as you’ve surfed the web, usually in the form of Amazon links. Amazon is the easiest platform to become an affiliate for.
By promoting their products on your site, you can get paid a small percentage of the sales. Joining affiliate programs for products and services related to your niche is a simple, unobtrusive way to build your passive income and make money traveling.
When it comes to using affiliates, you want to make sure you aren’t heavy-handed with your promotions and that you only promote products/services that relate to your niche and that your audience will actually use.
Sponsored posts are sort of like ads, but a bit more in-depth and nuanced. This is when a company, tourism board, or service compensates you to write a blog post about their product/destination. In exchange for money or a free trip/free product, you’ll create content on your blog and/or on social media that promotes them. When you think of a “social media influencer” this is what will come to mind.
While there is a lot of money here (I’ve been offered tens of thousands of dollars just for a single post!), it is also a slippery slope. It’s very easy to start off promoting relevant products and destinations, but when people start offering you a lot of money for unrelated products in can be very hard to say no. That’s why you see a lot of “travel bloggers” promoting things like Pepsi or Walmart. Are those companies related to their niche? Nope! But will they pay you to promote them? They will! So this can be a slippery slope that I’d caution you about, because once you lose your integrity it can be very hard to get it back.
And while getting free trips can be fun (I’ve done them in the past), it’s not a sustainable business model. Free trips don’t pay the bills, so I would only take advantage of these offers if it makes sense for you in the long run. When it comes to monetizing your blog, always focus on the long-term!
Building Brand Ambassadorships
This is a much better route when it comes to working with brands. A brand ambassadorship is when you build a long-term partnership with a related company. For example, if you are a travel photographer then working with a camera company would be a create partnership. In exchange for free products as well as financial compensation, you’ll be required to create a certain amount of content for the brand and represent them online and at events. When you can work with a brand you personally use and enjoy, this can be a very profitable arrangement and one that your audience finds useful. They can take time to build, but are a reliable way to boost your travel blogging income and brand awareness.
As you travel around the globe, chances are there will be areas of the world you become familiar with or types of travel you become an expert in. This will open the door to running tours. For example, if you travel around India regularly and develop an expertise there then running tours in India might be a way for you to monetize your blog and build your brand. Or, if camping and traveling off the grid is your area of expertise then leading trips on camping adventures might be your route. If you have an area of expertise, chances are you can monetize it with a tour.
Organizing tours is something most successful travel bloggers have done at one point or another. While they are time consuming and energy intensive, they are a great way to make money and connect directly with your audience.
There are 2 main ways to organize tours: individually or with a tour company. Working with a tour company will help you offload a lot of the logistics and paper work, but it will also diminish your profit. Handling everything yourself is, understandably, a lot more work but you also get to take home all of the money. Either way, tours are a fun way to boost your business, connect with your audience, and monetize your blog.
This is by far and away the best way to make money as a blogger. Why? Because you own them! Ad companies and affiliates can cancel your account, sponsored posts and brand ambassadorships can disappear. But your own products? They last. You get to manage them. You get to reap all the rewards.
One of the main reasons I’ve been able to grow as a blogger is because I made my own products. Books, guides, courses, merch, tours, consulting — I’ve done it all. Not all of it was a success, but I’ve learned as I’ve gone along and figured out the formula that works for me and my audience.
If you want to make money traveling and succeed as a travel blogger then you will need to create your own products. While you don’t need to do that from day one, it is something you’ll want to have in the back of your mind. You’re a business after all, and businesses sell things. What are you going to sell?
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to make money blogging. While some are more sustainable (and more profitable) than others, you’ll want to spend time considering each option and seeing what works for you. Chances are you’ll dabble in many of these before you find that winning combination. But it will take time. You won’t be getting rich overnight, so make sure you’re prepared for the long-term.
After all, blogging is a marathon, not a sprint.
At the end of the day, you don’t monetize a blog but rather you monetize an audience. So what are you waiting for?
Go find your audience!