In 2015, I became a full-time travel blogger, and yes, it pays the bills. In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to become a travel blogger and make money.
If you want to learn how to become a travel blogger and make money, then I’m about to tell you how from my six years of experience.
Before we begin, I’d like to introduce myself.
Hi, I’m Sarah Chetrit. I used to be a Certified Public Accountant, which didn’t align with my goal to travel as often as possible. I also got a chronic illness while at corporate so I really had to change careers to one that would better suit my health.
As a result, I started a travel blog, which has not only been able to pay the bills, but has gotten me sponsored collaborations with places like Los Angeles, USA; Champagne, France; Calgary, Canada; Aruba and more.
In this post, you’ll learn exactly how to become a travel blogger and make money through my personal experience.
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How to Become a Travel Blogger
If you want to learn how to become a travel blogger and make money, you need to start off with the basics, which is actually starting the travel blog.
Be Aware You Are Starting Blogging Business
One of the biggest mistakes a travel blogger can make before starting a travel blog is to treat it like a hobby instead of a business. Hobbies are for fun and you work on it when you want but a blogging business involves being consistent with blogging even when you don’t want to.
Like with starting any business, there are start up costs. Although the investment of blogging is pretty minimal compared to traditional businesses.
Also like with other businesses, your blog will take time to grow. Give yourself one to two years of consistently working on it before you are feeling happy or more at ease with where it is.
There are too many bloggers out there who make it sound all nice and fun, but it’s a lot of work.
Put it into perspective with your current job. Did you go to college? How many years have you been on it? How long did it take you to become an expert?
Blogging is like a regular job in the fact that you will most likely not gain overnight success. Instead, it will be a business (of passion) that you will work on every week in order for it to grow and flourish.
Start a Travel Blog
There are a few steps in actually starting a travel blog, which include but are not limited to:
- Picking a name
- Choosing your hosting provider
- Setting up your WordPress blog
- Picking an SEO friendly theme and setting it up
- Writing your About pages and legal pages
- Getting ideas on what to write
- Writing your first blog post
- Promoting your blog posts on social media
To get a super detailed, free blogging course, which covers all of the above, sign up here.
Write SEO Blog Posts for Traffic
The #1 mistake that all my blogger friends and I have made when we first started was not learning how to search engine optimization (SEO for short) our websites from the start.
SEO is the process of optimizing your blog posts so they rank on Google. This is important because over 60% of website traffic comes from search engines so we want to get our readers from where they hang out on the internet the most.
My favorite things about SEO is that traffic is more sustainable and passive meaning if you take days off from blogging or social media marketing, you can still get traffic, and traffic is extremely targeted meaning you can make money from affiliate marketing even with less traffic.
Promote Your Blog Posts on Social Media
Even though you can get traffic from search engines, when you are brand new, it’s probably quicker to get traffic from social media. That being said, always learn SEO first, then promote on social media or promote on social while you are learning SEO. Do not skip out on learning SEO from the start.
The most popular social media site that bloggers promote on is Pinterest, but lately, I’ve been having a lot of luck with TikTok! It’s been so helpful.
You can read about SEO, Pinterest and TikTok in my post about how to get traffic to a new blog.
Monetize Your Blog
Once you start getting a decent amount of traffic, you can start to monetize your blog in all different ways.
You can learn how to make money as a travel blogger in the next section. I cover ways I personally make money as a travel blogger.
How to Make Money as a Travel Blogger
In learning how to become a travel blogger and make money, you’ll need to know the best sources of income for travel bloggers.
What’s great about being a travel blogger is that there are so many different ways to make money as a travel blogger.
In fact, you should focus on 2-3 different income sources as a travel blogger, which include but are not limited to:
- Press Trips
- Affiliate Marketing
- Content Creation
- Travel Writing
- Social Media Strategy
- Travel Photography
- Referral Codes
A sponsored post is when a brand pays you to publish a post on your blog or social media. Generally, I write and create sponsored posts myself, but every so often, a company will give me content created by them for me to edit and place on my site.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Accepting Sponsored Content
Will the brand align with my site?
This is by far the most important question to ask yourself because you are not just a blogger, you are a brand. You want to create a consistent, and ideally, genuine image that’ll reach out and speak to your followers aka your tribe! Saying no is hard especially when there’s good money involved, but think about the long-term game, and the empire you’re trying to build.
My blog is focused mainly on traveling and certain lifestyle related subjects such as food, music, and home decor so when companies reach out to me to place an article about gambling or sports on my site, it is 100% a no.
Is this something I genuinely care about?
Even if the brand aligns with your site, if you don’t care about the company’s product or services, then it’s going to be hard to write a post. Forcing your way through a sponsored post might come off as fake and hurt your blog in the long-run as readers start to recognize your money-driven goals and aren’t able to tell whether your suggestions are genuine or not.
Sometimes I accept sponsored posts about places I haven’t been to and haven’t even thought about ever visiting. Before accepting the post or not, I’ll do some research as if I’m trip planning and think about what I would do in that place. Then I reach out to locals in that area to get their input, and if I feel like I can make a genuine post, I’ll accept the sponsored post. This is exactly what I did with my Nashville post on my travel blog.
Is the money worth it?
As you might already know, writing a blog post can take a really long time between writing, editing, photography, social media marketing and more. Your time is valuable! Don’t take anything less than you deserve.
Of course, we all have to start out somewhere so you may offer a lower price than you want until your blog becomes more established. Whatever you offer, stick with it. Getting what you deserve for a high-quality post not only benefits you but also your readers and the brand.
Personally, if the money isn’t worth it, I’d rather spend my time writing a post that my readers will value and love like this one*. This in turn will bring me more traffic and better opportunities in the future.
*If you’re curious, I’ve spent about eight hours so far on this post from writing it, collecting resources, and marketing it. I plan on updating it and continuously marketing it since I know it’ll be a post that’ll help bloggers like yourself time and time again. Please feel free to share this wealth of information!
Are they ok with me disclosing sponsored posts?
Per FTC guidelines, bloggers must disclose sponsored posts. Read the full FTC guidelines here.
How to Get Sponsored Posts
So here’s what you really want to know– how to get sponsored posts. There are many ways to do it, but here are a few:
Influencer sites connect bloggers with brands that want to raise their brand awareness. The main site I use for sponsored content is Copypress. I’ve written posts for brands like InterContinental Hotels Group and Go Euro. To be honest, Copypress takes so long to pay (about 3-4 months after writing a post) that I’m at a point where I’m not quite sure if working with them long-term is sustainable or not. If you’re just getting started with sponsored posts though, this is a helpful resource.
I’ve had some good offers on Cooperatize and Linqia too but because of timing, I had to pass on those posts. A few blogger friends of mine have received work through these sites though so I know they’re legit!
Other notable influencer sites with ongoing campaigns:
Networking is key in any industry, and blogging is no exception. I get around 50% of my sponsored work from other bloggers. Often, when a brand works with one blogger, they’ll look for other bloggers to work with, and ask that blogger for referrals. If you are close with that blogger or if that blogger trusts you as a professional, then most likely he or she will refer you!
For example, Natasha from Live Learn Venture and Jo from Wander With Jo are some blogging buddies I met through Facebook travel blogging groups. Not only do we refer each other to brands we work with, but we help each other out with general blogging work. Natasha and I have even met up in person and created a Twitter course together. Even though blogging seems like solo work, there’s a lot of opportunities for collaborations.
To network with like-minded bloggers, search in Facebook “travel bloggers” or “[whatever industry you’re in] + bloggers” to find your tribe.
Want to connect with as a travel blogger on Instagram? Follow @sarchetrit on Instagram! DM me and let me know you came from this post. If you are in the travel niche, I will follow you back!
Pitching to Companies
If you don’t like playing the waiting game with these influencer sites or getting referrals from other bloggers, you can be proactive by pitching to companies. In short, here’s how to do it:
- Start out with a list of brands you trust and would love to promote.
- Do some research on them so you can get a better idea of how you collaborating with them would be beneficial.
- Figure out the best person to contact.
- Craft a genuine email explaining who you are, why you’re reaching out, how your collaboration could be mutually beneficial, and exactly what you’re looking for in return. Be clear and concise on what you want!
- Follow up on the email if you haven’t heard back in a few days.
If you feel like you’ve exhausted the list of brands you trust, then research other brands you would engage with but haven’t gotten around to actually buying something from them. Whoever you choose, make sure you vibe with them!
Advertising agencies and media companies reach out to bloggers on behalf of brands they work with for sponsored posts. The ones I’ve worked with emailed me first to collaborate, but if you want to get started with some now, you can google advertising agencies with a travel niche in your area and introduce yourself to them.
No matter how you get your sponsorship, make sure to protect your time and money with an influencer contract template, which works for bloggers too.
Like these tips? Get real-time blogging help from my free Facebook blogging community.
Affiliate links are when you place links to products or services that your readers can potentially buy from within your post. When they buy from your link, or with some companies, simply click on your link, you get a small commission from their purchase.
This is by far one of my favorite ways to make money from my blog! Once I’ve put in the hard work of writing a blog post, it brings in money months and months after without me doing anything. The posts that do the best with affiliate links are informative ones with lots of information.
Affiliate Programs I Make Money From
- ShareASale – ShareASale has over 3,900 affiliate programs ranging from fashion to travel companies so there are many ways to earn commission off products or services you like. If the company you want to promote isn’t on ShareASale, then it’s probably on ImpactRadius.
- Booking.com – Booking.com is a great hotel program for travel bloggers. You make a small percentage every time someone books a hotel through your link. I generally make about $20-40 a booking.
- Pro Tip: You’ll want to promote whichever hotel site that your audience uses the most (i.e. Hotels.com, Booking.com, Agoda). You find this out by emailing them a survey!
Fiverr called me “one of [their] most successful affiliates”.
Fiverr called me one of their most successful affiliates and I share how you can make passive income from your blog through my SEO course that helps you blog strategically and also make money from your blog.
Indirectly Related to Blogging
When I first started blogging, I thought all I’d have to do is gather my photos, make them look pretty, write some stuff about the places I went, then publish it online. I quickly realized that there is much more to blogging than photography and writing. Blogging also includes design, social media marketing, and other skills.
Readers, which includes travelers, companies, and bloggers, liked what I was doing on my blog and started to reach out to me for specific skills. Now I offer these services in addition to blogging, and I love it!
Travel writing is exactly what it sounds like– writing about travel! The only difference is that instead of writing about it on your own blog, you write for it on a company’s blog.
The writing gigs I’ve gotten have been through companies reaching out to me because of the strong writing skills they’ve seen on my blog, but I know other bloggers pitch to companies they want to write for in order to get travel writing jobs.
My advice to you here is to always edit your posts (something I need to get better at) and let your writing skills shine through. Then you can use your blog as a portfolio when pitching to companies.
Social Media Strategy
When you learn how to become a travel blogger and make money, you also become a pro at social media, which is why a lot of bloggers will also do social media strategy in the beginning while their blogs grow.
Social media strategy is helping a company devise a marketing plan that involves their social media. Because of my quick growth in followers and page views from my blog, companies have reached out to me for help with their own social media. I personally specialize in Pinterest and SEO.
If you are great with social media, then start reaching out to companies that you connect with and see could use your help! Your way of handling social media from your blog shows that you’re credible to handle other people’s social media.
Different Ways I’ve Made Money in the Past
As you now know, this month I’ve made money with sponsored posts, affiliate links, travel writing, and social media strategy, but how I make money changes month to month. In the past, I’ve made money through:
Some companies allow you earn cash if you refer your friends. This isn’t always technically cash, but I include it in my monthly income if it’s related to services I use often.
Sites I use often are:
- Airbnb is for booking accommodation in someone’s home. It’s great for getting a local or unique experience, and most often, saving money compared to a hotel. To get credit, someone has to sign up through your referral code, and book a trip, so sign up through my link so you can get your referral link. They change the amount often but most of the time, you’ll get $20-30 of credit a referral.
- Uber is a taxi or car sharing service that you call via an app on your phone. I use it in whichever city has Uber. For every person that signs up to the app, you get about $5. Sign up through my link to get your referral code.
- Ebates is a good one to help people gain rewards from places they already shop at. You get $25 a person that signs up through you so sign up through my link, get $10 for free towards shopping, and start inviting people to use the site through your link.
- Transferwise is the cheapest way I’ve found to transfer money to another country. The fees are so low compared to a bank, and the exchange rate is very competitive. When three friends sign up through your link, you’ll get £50 so sign up through my link, then invite friends to sign up through your link. This is great for expats, digital nomads, and even doing business with people in other countries so you can avoid bank wire transfer fees.
As a note, if you sign up through my links, I’ll really, really appreciate it! This little bit of money that comes out of the company’s pocket, not yours, helps pay for the time it takes to write posts like these, so thank you for supporting me! As a fair estimate, it took me around seven to eight hours to write this post and market it!
I’m sure when you travel, like me, you take tons of photos. Well, you can sell these photos to companies in whatever location you were at. One way to do this is through Instagram takeovers. Companies will pay you money to post your photos and personal experiences on their Instagram!
Non-Monetary Benefits of Travel Blogging
One of the biggest perks in learning how to become a travel blogger and make money is not just the money itself; it’s all the benefits that it comes with.
The main reason I started this blog was to share my firsthand experiences with friends and family to better help them travel so there’s that, but if you want to talk about the good stuff.
A travel blog will fund your passion– traveling!
As your blog begins to grow, hotels, tours, and brands in the travel industry will want to work with you and get you to try out their products and services in exchange for marketing on your blog. I hate saying that it’s “free” because you have to still work for it, but you’ll be shelling out your own time for new travel experiences, not cash, and experiencing things you might’ve never been able to experience without a blog.
Since starting this travel blog, I’ve been invited to stay at a villa in Italy, take a cooking class in France, and try out travel-related products. I don’t always accept, but it’s nice to get something back for the hard work I’ve put into the blog and be able to continue my love for traveling at a greater pace.
A travel blog will increase your networking opportunities.
Since starting this travel blog, more people know that I exist. As my blog gets bigger, people want to collaborate and work with me. As you can see above, this includes working with companies on sponsored posts, collaborating with other bloggers, or even taking my readers on a local tour of Amsterdam. The possibilities are truly endless.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blogging
If you found this post on how to become a travel blogger and make money to be helpful, check out my Blogging FAQs post, which covers all the questions people have when they’re first starting. Through my experience, you can gain insight for your own blog.
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