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. With so much opportunity to make money from web links, you want to make sure your website is always running smoothly. Be sure to find the best web host for your country.
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 used to use a video advertising network called Taggled which paid on CPM basis (£5-25 for every 1,000 impressions). *Since writing this post Taggled has been shut down and I am currently on the look out for another ad network that offers something similar to this.
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 🙂
I have two queries if you can help me with – how much approximately do expedia pays to write an article that you wrote?
Also, how much do magazine pays for free lance travel articles?
I am a newbie in this field so have no idea at all.
Loved reading this article, thank you.
Louise Haughey says
Great piece Jessica, thank you, it’s inspirational and informative! Louise
Thanks so much Louise! Really pleased you found it helpful xxx
Anastasia (@Natbeesfashion) says
What a brilliant and honest post Jess!
I have posted something similar last year because that’s the only question fellow bloggers ask me at events (along with the ‘how people find you to invite you to press trips’ which sometimes sounds bitter).
Even though blogging is not my main source of income I think it is really nice when I can make a few extra money whistl working with brands, despite the fact that most of them are trying to take advantage of Natbee’s for their own sake and do not care about my time invested to build the platform.
I am definitely having a look at the platforms/apps you have suggested too. Brilliant read, thank you for taking the time to post about all this!
Hey Anastasia, thanks for your lovely comment! I am going to look for your similar post now. Brands will take advantage so just be picky about who you work with and stand your ground about how much you think your time and your content is worth. Hope the apps come in handy for you! xxx
Hayley Rubery says
LOVE this post girl, think it’s so important to be honest and open about how we earn money as bloggers! Completely agree that it is a taboo subject but it’s something that needs to be broken down and spoken about freely. Also, I’d never heard of Whalar and have just signed up so thank you 🙂
Hey Hayley, thanks for this comment. From the response I’ve had to this post, it just shows honesty is key. I think people have enjoyed reading about a side of blogging that is rarely spoken about! Whalar would be great for you so hope you signed up 🙂 xx
Kirsty Marrins says
Such a great post, full of brilliant tips. I’m not sure yet if blogging full time is something I’d like to pursue but am bookmarking this just in case 🙂 Thanks!
Hey Kirsty, thanks for your comment! Blogging doesn’t have to be a full time thing, and not everyone needs to strive towards this. But if this post can help you spin a little extra money on the side for all your hard work then that wouldn’t be a bad thing 🙂 xx
Travel Dreambook says
Greatly appreciate your insights and honesty. As I’ve commented on your instagram, hope to see more behind- the-scenes posts. I would love to read more of your tips on writing process, SEO, or pitching your blog to brands. I especially would love how you handle the consistency of your blog at the beginning, when you were juggling other duties (full time job,…). If you create an e-book or short course on how you build your blog, I would definitely buy it. Keep up the fantastic work!
Ella from http://traveldreambook.com/
Hi Ella! Thank you for leaving a comment. I really appreciate what you’ve said and actually am considering writing an e-book. Based on the response to this post I can see that people have a hunger for this type of content! Definitely will take your feedback on board and hope you visit the blog again soon xxx
This was a great post! I’d love to know more about how you became an established travel blogger. How did you grow your audience and engagement?
Hey Lucie, thanks for your comment! I am going to try and do some more advice posts like this as there seems to be a lot of interest in it. Growing your audience organically on social media really does take time, but I would say that engagement starts from engaging with other bloggers and other people relevant to your niche e.g. travel. The fastest way to grow your audience is also to create high quality beautiful content that people want to share and engage with. Be a real person and show your personality, so people can feel like they’re getting to know you. Hope that helps x
Great to find a lot of new ways that you have mentioned here. I’m trying to look at opportunities, and your post gives me the pointers on some new ways. Thanks 🙂
Hi Reshma! Thanks for your comment, you’re very welcome and hope the tips come in handy for you x
Fantastic post Jess and really insightful for someone who has made no effort to monetize their blog and really should get clued up! 🙂 Love AP xo
Hey Andrea! Thanks for your comment. I learnt all of this over the process of 4 years so anyone starting out reading this post will have a massive head start 🙂 xx
Great post as usual! I’m in the beginning stages of trying to make my own travel blog pay for the travel expenses and I’ve found this article so useful. I just wanted to comment to say thank you and I love your website.
All the best,
Suus | 1st day of Summer
Hi Suus, so glad this post has come in useful! I will try and put together some more advice posts like this as they always do so well. Hope you come back soon! Jess xx
Explore With Ed says
This was really useful and reaffirmed a lot of things for me. One to bookmark for sure!
Thank you, Jess! 🙂
Hi Ed, thanks for your comment and so pleased to make it into your bookmarks! The platforms I use could be really useful for you 🙂
Planes & Champagne (@planeschampagne) says
This post is such a revelation Jess! My blog has just hit the one year mark and my confidence and writing style has come on in leaps and bounds since I started. In the future I would love to work on campaigns and sponsored content but only once I feel I’m ready and it’s the right fit for my blog xx
Ah wow thank you SO much Maggie, this really means a lot! I’m so glad that your confidence has developed. I would say, focus on nailing your tone of voice and content style and when it is strong and consistent you will be in a good position to negotiate with brands. But don’t rush the process! You should blog for enjoyment first and foremost 🙂
Angie Silver (@SilverSpoonLDN) says
This post is so so useful to new and experienced bloggers alike!! I’ll definitely be looking into some of the platforms that you’ve mentioned. I actually think the more we’re vocal about sponsored content the better, it’ll help to break that taboo.
Thanks for your comment Angie! I totally agree that we should be more vocal about sponsored content to break the taboo. As bloggers we should be proud of the great brands that want to work with us! It’s an achievement not something that should be hidden 🙂
Andi Eaton says
Great read Jess. Thanks for sharing. We should feel confident to talk about this, truly, it’s our living and I for one, am so proud that we get to do this sort of thing! Cheers!
Andi of ouiwegirl.com
Hey Andi! So pleased you enjoyed this. I think pride is an important thing here… I do feel proud of how I have monetised my site and the big brands I work with, I think all bloggers should be super proud of their sponsored content, not try to hide it! So glad you can relate xx
Great post and very helpful. I’ve turned down a few sponsored post opportunities where I feel they just aren’t relevant enough to my blog x
Hi LuxeStyle! I think you were totally right to turn down the spon opportunities if you don’t think they were a good fit for your blog – I do this all the time! Protect your credibility and stay picky with who you work with x
Rebecca Chu says
Thanks for the post, I am really enjoying these types of posts as I don’t think enough bloggers really open up about it and it can be quite secretive.
It is really good to know what the options are out there for new bloggers. thanks xx
Hey Rebecca! Thanks for the comment, I’m really pleased you have found it useful. I want to be really transparent and loved seeing other bloggers start to talk about the ways to make money so thought others would be interested! Best of luck with your blog x
A very interesting post, Jess and the ad network that you mention certainly sounds handy for the ability to select what yo want to appear
Thanks Suze! It’s definitely worth checking out Taggled, I’ve found it the best paying type of display advertising x
Such a fantastic post! We’re all too bashful and British about money, so it’s refreshing to read a really honest post about the ways you can make money from blogging!
Hey Amy, thanks for the comment! I agree we are so reserved when it comes to discussing money so glad you found this a refreshing read! The more we talk about it the more we can lift the taboo x
Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says
Jess, this is a truly valuable and insightful post. Thank you for the tips that will be extremely helpful for me as a more or less newbie blogger (blogging over a year now). The question that I cannot find an answer to is how many page views should you have to be considered a reputable blog? Is there a rough minimum? I’d love to reach out to brands and scout out some opportunities, but I don’t have confidence because I don’t know how my 10K would compete with someone else’s 100K. Any feedback on this respect would be greatly appreciated. xoxo, nano | http://www.travelwithnanob.com
Hi Nano! Thanks so much for your lovely comment, I am really pleased this has come in handy for you. In terms of page views, it’s impossible for me to put a number on this. Each brand will have their own qualifying factors when it comes to working with a blogger. Some may be more interested in page views and traffic, others will be more interested in social media and community. If you are getting 10k page views per month I would say that’s amazing especially as you’re only 1 year in. If you want to increase traffic make sure your posts are SEO optimised using Yoast plug in. This way you can get traffic from your community as well as search. Also remember when speaking to brands be sure to share your total monthly page views and unique monthly users. x
Nano @ Travel With Nano B. says
Jess, again, I couldn’t thank you enough for your feedback and advice. It is hard to find similar information as most bloggers are very protective of their “strategies.” I started using Google’s keyword planner, but shall definitely look into Yoast! After asking this question I also read the post you linked about Macro Influencers, and it gave me a tiny boost of confidence. I do keep reminding myself though, that comparison is a thief of joy and I should work hard, continue doing what I love with patience and the rest will come with experience. Again, bunch of thanks. Look forward to more insightful posts 🙂 xoxo, nano
Fabio Virgi says
Great post Jess! I agree that the whole “how you make money” question is taboo – especially here in U.K. – but it’s so helpful to have successful bloggers like you opening up and sharing some tips.
My travel blog is still quite young so I haven’t been able to monetise so much, just free hotel stays and upgrades really, but my better established tech blog has managed to land some complete sponsorship packages like the first one you mentioned. It’s about finding what’s best for your blog based on time/growth isn’t it?
Hey Fabio, thanks for your comment! I’m really glad you found this useful. If your blog is fairly young then don’t worry too much about the monetisation side. If you’re starting to get press stays etc then that is a great start, but all of this stuff is definitely something to aim for and hopefully should be a good motivator! Totally agree, focus on your own blog and take the jobs that are a good fit.