This article is actually the third part of a series called “How to become a professional travel blogger” published in the Vietnamese version of my travel blog. However, I found it’s more interesting (and easier) to convert this little one to English than the other two.
I’ve googled this topic in English to see what people do with their websites/personal blogs so that they can make money. I mean real money, not just some extra cash to cover their website maintenance fees.
It turned out that most of them are either not suitable or too advanced to be applied to my blog. I’m just somewhere between newbies and professionals. How can I get paid to travel if I only have roughly 3.000 likes on Facebook, and I even cannot make it 600 followers on Instagram?
Anyway, after two years travel blogging, I finally manage to earn money from it.
So you have a travel blog, and think you can make money travel blogging, both full-time (like I used to be) and part-time (like I’m now)?
The bad news is that making money is never easy, in any sense. The good news is I’ve learn some easy ways to actually make money travel blogging!
How I make money travel blogging
(the easiest ways)
In this article I’ll mention 08 ways to make money travel blogging. 06 out of 08 have been applied in this blog, but one failed for an unexpected reason.
The other two are more advanced in the moment, but they’re my goals to achieve in my blogging career.
Before you start scrolling down, please keep in mind that if you have a blog ONLY to make money, then get out and find a 9-to-5 job and get paid monthly. It’s faster and more secured.
But if you’ve made it all the way to build up your blog just for the sake of blogging, I’m more than grateful to share my ways of making money travel blogging with you. Just for the sake of sharing 😉
1. Run ads with Google AdSense
Run ads with Google AdSense is the easiest, simplest, and most basic way of monetising your blog.
I started using Google AdSense since day one of this blog. By that time, there was a plug-in designed to place ads by Google AdSense in your website, which made it easy to place the ads wherever you want.
After creating an account, installing and doing other stuffs as directed, you just have to wait for people to click on the ads so that you can get money. That’s why it’s called “passive income”.
Pro: Easy to set up. You don’t have to do anything after that.
Con: It takes a long time until you can see money running into your account. For me it was 2 years until I earned my first US$ 60!
2. Display ads with Mediavine
Mediavine is basically like Google AdSense – it helps display ads on your website, and you’ll get paid when people SEE those ads (Google AdSense requires people to click on ads so that you can get paid).
I reached their requirements (monthly page views, visitors, etc.), then I applied to be their partner. And I failed. For an unexpected reason:
Most of my readers are currently living in Vietnam, which is at the moment NOT their target market. I therefore was not qualified to join. It was a pity, of course, but the reason was really out of my control. What else can I do?
So, the conclusion is that if you reach all of their strict traffic requirements AND your readers are mainly from one of their target markets, you can nail it!
Pro: People don’t necessarily have to click on the ads so that you can get paid (actually, nobody clicks on ads nowadays, unless they are into the ads content). Mediavine pays you per views, let’s say $10 – $15 for every 1.000 page views.
Con: Unlike Google AdSense, you have to satisfy their traffic requirements in order to join Mediavine. But it does make sense, as the more page views you have (per month), the more you can earn. Win-win!
3. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is a favourite amongst bloggers. By signing up to affiliate networks you can link to products you already use and love and make a small commission (at no added cost to your readers) when someone makes purchase or make a booking through your links.
The most popular sites I can recommend (and I actually am using) are Amazon and Ebay. Of course there are other sites that have place for bloggers to become affiliates, but I’ve only tried those 2 so far. For travel bloggers, Booking.com, Agoda.com, and so on.
I personally found this way both easy and difficult. It’s easy because the only thing you have to do is… waiting (after signing up to affiliate networks, writing posts on your site, putting links on them). But how to write a post with links that people DO click on – that’s the difficult part.
Pro: It’s easy in a way, as I’ve just written right above. After finishing all the necessary steps, you only have to wait for people to click on the links, make purchases, and see money rolling in your account. Sounds easy?
Con: It’s not as easy as it may sound. Either you have to use the products to write true reviews and influence people buy it, or you must master the art of writing reviews so that nobody can resist clicking and buying things.
I’ve been freelancing since 2012, even before I started my own travel blog. Until now it’s still the best way for me to make money travel blogging.
I must admit I have an advantage here: I used to be a travel editor for Sun Flower Media, one of the biggest women magazines publishers in Vietnam. My networks came mainly from this company.
And even when somebody I know moved to a new company, they both introduced me to the new ones for that position and took their people with them, meaning I will gain both “slots”! YES!!!!
Becoming a freelancer is not difficult. There are many platforms that allow you to search for clients, or promoting yourself as a freelancer. It’s really nice having your own network, but even if you don’t have any now, you can always start building yours buy contacting people and ask. It doesn’t hurt nor cost you anything just asking!
Pro: It’s an effective source of income, especially if you freelance on a monthly basis.
Con: It takes time to build up your network, maintain it, write and deliver your works on time, etc. So it may make you feel like you’re back to a 9-to-5 job again!
5. Sponsored blog posts/PR articles
This way, if you’re lucky, can guarantee a good source of income in a month, but it always come with two sides. In this post, I can only mention how it works in Vietnamese market.
I’m often reached by two type of companies: The one that wants to have a full article promoting their products / service on my site, which is quite relevant to what I’m blogging about (visa service, tour agencies… you get the point); and the other one that only wants me to put their links on wherever in my web, and they cannot care less if their sites and contents fit mine and vice versa!
In my opinion, it can be a dead trap to your blog. Why? Because earning money is very tempting, duh! Especially for newbies, or bloggers with no secured and sustainable income source.
Of course, I’m not saying I’m the one with secured and sustainable ones, but the idea of making (easy) money can make some bloggers forget their niches!
I’ve seen many (Vietnamese) bloggers started their travel blog as motorbike travel, frugal travel, and ended up writing sponsored posts about luxurious yacht experience. They lost their uniqueness without even realising.
Pro: Once you’re reached out by brands, chances are that other brands will also do. It can help expand your networks, and of course your income. BTW, if you haven’t had anything to post for a while and suddenly comes a sponsored post, it can help you have something to shake your site up.
Con: Unsustainable income, yet can be very tempting! Always keep in mind why you start writing your travel blog, and what niche brought you so far!
6. Referral links
(Those referral links DO work. Click on them, book your accommodation, claim your money back, and everybody is happy!)
This is a WIN-WIN way of making money travel blogging.
Pro: You get the money. I get the money. Everybody is happy.
Con: It can take a long time until somebody clicks on your links and makes a booking. Also some campaign limits the amount of money you can earn, let’s say the “get 15€ cash reward” from Booking.com. You can only earn up to 150€ and no more than that!
So here are 06 ways I make money travel blogging. Well, 05 minus the Mediavine one. They are ways I actually tried, tested, and now keep them for my travel blog.
Maybe they are not the best fit for some bloggers, but for those who have just begun their travel blogging career and wondering how to monetise their blog in a fast yet safe way, they work!
Now I’m gonna write about the other 02 ways, which I think better fit bloggers who already are famous. They can be travel bloggers with a certain amount of followers (often 10K plus), and they themselves KOLs (Key opinion leaders).
Maybe they’re not hanging around here to read this blog post, but if you’re a travel blogger and have some concrete targets to reach, here they are:
7. Sell products/services
Not the affiliates thing! By this way you really sell YOUR stuffs.
Let’s say a beauty blogger can either have an online shop or a store selling cosmetics. With their fame gained by being a beauty blogger, it can guarantee customers to their business from day one. They can either sell products from different manufacturers (just like any drug store), or at a certain level, they can have their own products with their name on. Think Michelle Phan!
You can also think about selling a service, like coaching, trip planning, or e-books, e-courses, or whatever you are good at and can offer with a certain price.
Just make sure you sell something relevant, and your business is legit!
8. Get paid to travel
Wow, it sounds great, fancy, fabulous, cool, … [fill in the blank]!
The way people name it is straight forward: You get paid to travel. Sounds clear enough? But it’s also the hardest way to make money travel blogging, in my opinion.
Because nobody will pay you for something unless they get something else back. C’mon, it’s business. Money doesn’t grow from trees, does it?
The only way I can see to get paid to travel is that you have to be a kind of KOLs that is so famous. Like worldwide famous, with hundreds of, or even millions of followers engaging to every single bit of your contents. For each Instagram picture you post, you can easily hit 1K likes within 10 minutes, for example.
And you know, there’s no shortcut to that level except for working hard, really hard, in the field you’ve chosen. For me, it’s a goal I want to reach.
Travel blogging and making money travel blogging is not and will never be an easy job. It’s a long journey of hard-working, spending time and money travelling so that you can write about what you blog, writing and editing blog posts so that people can easily find them on SoMe or search engines (it’s tough!), and building your own tribe that always support your work. It’s not easy. Not at all!
The key to success? Never give up!
Even when you’re disappointed because nobody reads your posts, or you make no money after half a year setting up all your afflinks, never give up!
Because maybe, just maybe, tomorrow will be the day 🙂