As I’m not travelling this month, I’ve decided to spend time writing a few more ‘behind the scenes’ style posts about how I run my blog. My 5 Ways to Up Your Instagram Game post was a hit, so I’m going to experiment with a few more. In the past few months I’ve noticed bloggers becoming more vocal about sponsored content and how they monetise their blogs. It made me feel like I wanted to have my say too, focusing on how to make money as a travel blogger in particular. Sponsored content shouldn’t be a taboo subject so in this post I am going to answer the question I get asked the most as a full time travel blogger:
“How do you make money?”
In our reserved British society, asking people how much they earn and how they earn it isn’t a very frequent question, but in the realms of blogging it seems to be totally acceptable. I’m not offended when people ask, and I am happy to share it with you too. Before I go into the different ways to make money as a travel blogger, I want to just be really clear that these methods only apply to established and reputable travel blogs. By ‘established’ I mean blogs that have have high organic traffic, good quality content and an engaged readership / following. Without these things it would be difficult to make money as any type of blogger, and building up these things takes time, patience and passion. You can’t cheat the system.
I also want to state that whilst paid collaborations are a great way to monetise a professional blog, it’s important to remember that impartial, honest and non-branded content should always come first. If a blog just becomes one big advert, the blogger will loose credibility with their readers altogether. But just like magazines rely on advertising to survive, full time bloggers rely on paid collaborations (I always use the magazine business model as an example when explaining this face-to-face and it seems to help people understand).
So now that’s all cleared up, I am ready to tell you how to make money as a travel blogger. My monthly income is generated by everything listed below but each month the combination is different.
A content campaign is when a blogger is paid by a brand to create and deliver a specific combination of content. This content could include blog posts, photography, video and social media posts. The combination is often part of a larger brand campaign and would depend on the brand’s requirements. The blogger’s expertise or niche may also influence the type of content that is created. For example, if the blogger also had a strong YouTube channel, creating a video would be a likely part of the campaign.
For travel bloggers, content campaigns usually involve some form of an experience or trip. Brands that are interested in content campaigns will most likely reach out to the blogger first, but I’ve found that it’s also possible to convert unpaid press trips into paid campaigns if the brand has very specific content requirements. In my experience, I have found that content campaigns are the highest-paying type of collaboration because the brand is purchasing a bespoke combination of content. Compared to how much brands would have to pay a photographer or videographer, they’re getting incredible value for money and an additional element of exposure.
If you want to try and land a paid content campaign it is essential to have a professional media kit to send to brands. This media kit should have insights into your previous collaborations, your blog demographics, your social stats and examples of your influence. Videos have now become a focal part of content campaigns now so it’s definitely worth working on your YouTube channel and video editing skills. If content has been paid for, always remember to include a disclaimer and use nofollow links (if you don’t know what a nofollow link is then you MUST read the last section of this post before clicking off).
2. Sponsored Blog Posts
Sponsored blog posts are a good way for travel bloggers to make money without actually having to travel anywhere. Sometimes, they may involve writing about a destination that a blogger has already travelled to, or a destination that they’d like to go in the future. I only agree to sponsored posts if the brand is a good fit and if I can write the post myself. I still want my sponsored posts to be a resource for my readers with genuine tips and advice.
For example, I wrote a sponsored post for Expedia called 8 Essential Things to know about El Nido, Philippines. This post featured my own photography and was based on my own experiences in El Nido. As Expedia had sponsored it they received a mention and a nofollow link in the blog post. I was approached by Expedia about a sponsored post and then I suggested the title idea to them. It’s always best to come up with the title or angle on your own as you know what type of post will fit well on your blog.
I used Expedia for bookings all the time, so this is an example of a relevant travel brand that is well-aligned to me and my blog. I independently use their service and was happy to affiliate with them. It’s really important to only collaborate with brands that are relevant to your blog niche and readership. Even if a brand is willing to pay, turn down the opportunity if you think it could damage the credibility of your blog. Most of the time brands will approach me about sponsored posts but I am also signed up to TAP Influence and Considerable Influence where I can keep an eye out for additional jobs.
3. Writing articles for other websites or magazines
Travel bloggers can also earn money by contributing to media platforms other than their own. Established travel bloggers are regarded as experts in the travel field so some travel companies may be interested to host a blogger’s writing on their own website or blog. Similarly, magazines like to stick a finger in the digital pie by commissioning articles written by bloggers.
I was commissioned to write an article in the Thomson Holidays inflight magazine, which also led to additional paid articles on their blog. I am also writing a 4-part series of travel style posts for Accessorize, which I am supplying photography for too. None of this content is actually be going on my blog, but it’s all paid work because of my reputation as an established travel blogger.
4. Sponsored Social Media Posts
This is one of the most obvious ways all bloggers can make money. You don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of followers to be paid for a social media post, but you do have to have great engagement and a visible community behind your channels (queue the rise of the micro-influencer, which Josie from Fashion Mumblr wrote a great post about here).
As with my previous points, endorsing the right type of brands is so important for your credibility. Whilst bloggers may be following a brief, they shoot their own photos so ultimately have creative control of the ad. This is to ensure the ad fits with the aesthetic of their channels, which is particularly important on Instagram. I think it’s great to see bloggers experimenting with sponsored posts as it means that more and more brands are seeing the value in it. I always try to like posts that feature #ad on my newsfeed to show support to other influencers.
There are some great apps and websites that bloggers can sign up to for paid Instagram campaigns. Takumi is a popular app and offers paid campaigns to accounts with over 1,000 followers, but my favourite is Whalar. This is an invitation-only web platform for Instagrammers, but anyone can apply to the platform.
Blogger giveaways can provide valuable exposure to brands and their specific products. Giveaways usually involve a fair bit of social media promotion as well as a blog post to host the finer details. Bloggers can add value to a giveaway campaign by shooting unique photos of the prize and adding a nofollow link back to the item’s product page. The various elements of the giveaway can be agreed in advance when discussing the fee. For an example, check out my sponsored giveaway with Kiss The Moon.
6. Affiliate Links
Like a sales assistant might earn commission if they sold something in a shop, bloggers can earn commission if someone buys a product via their blog. They do this by joining an affiliate network and formatting their own affiliate links. Fashion bloggers are the pros in the world of affiliates as they can link to every item of clothing they wear. The most popular affiliate network for fashion influencers is the invitation-only Reward Style, which I have recently been accepted on to. Shop Style is a good alternative and isn’t invitation only.
But aside from clothes, travel bloggers could earn affiliate income by linking to hotels, airlines, price comparison sites, travel accessories and technology e.g. their favourite camera. All of the big travel booking sites have competitive affiliate schemes which are great for travel bloggers. For a one-stop-shop affiliate platform that is easy to use, I highly recommend using Skimlinks as it has over 21,000 retailers within its network. You can easily format affiliate links within the platform, search for retailers and check on your commission progress.
7. Display Advertising
Display advertising is the basic banners and squares of advertising you see on a blog and is a great form of ‘passive’ income for bloggers. This passive income is usually generated either through CPC (cost per click) or CPA (cost per action) or CPM (cost per thousand). It’s good for bloggers to experiment with the different options of display advertising but the general idea is the more traffic you have, the more you can earn from display advertising.
I use a video advertising network called Taggled which pays on CPM basis (£5-25 for every 1,000 impressions). Taggled is a good option for travel bloggers because you can filter the types of ad served down to a travel niche. This means relevant ads are served from great brands like Skyscanner, Thomson, Discover New Zealand and Visit Hawaii.
The Importance of Follow and NoFollow Links
If you’re a blogger and this post has got you thinking more about paid collaborations, it’s absolutely essential that you understand the difference between follow and nofollow links. Without getting into the nitty gritty SEO details, Google advises that any links within a paid-for collaboration should be nofollow. This is to stop websites from buying their way into the top ranking spot on Google (Google wants all rankings to be as organic as possible). If you don’t comply with Google’s best practise then your own blog’s web rankings could be damaged and hidden from organic search. Check out this helpful post from Wordstream for more info.
I’ve never really talked about the commercial aspects of my blog before, so I really hope you found this post honest and interesting. With no stock to buy, no office to rent and no staff to pay, being a professional blogger can come with very few overheads. This means that the money we make is almost 100% profitable, before tax of course. Essentially we are selling our imagination and creativity, which is one thing I love about blogging.
I hope that fellow bloggers might feel inspired by the options available to them and that the sceptics out there finally understand how pivotal bloggers are becoming in the world of digital marketing. Whether you’re a blogger too or simply just enjoy reading blogs, I hope this post will make you feel a little more supportive of sponsored content. It’s such an exciting time for bloggers as more and more brands are beginning to see the value in what we (so passionately) do.
What did you think of this post about How to Make Money as a Travel Blogger? Has this post inspired you to try something new or are you a blogger with your different monetisation techniques? I’d love to spark a conversation here, so please leave me a comment in the box below!
Photos in this post were shot at Brew & Brownie; one of my favourite coffee shops in the centre of York, where I am a paying customer 🙂