June 25 96

How to Monetize a Travel Blog (Website) — Best 7 Ideas

Ask yourself a question whether you want your blog to be just popular or profitable. The blog can be very popular but without a proper monetizing strategy you’ll have no income from it to cover your travel or even hosting expenses. On the flip side, there are travel blogs and websites that provide their owners with enough income for living, traveling, and more. Traveling might be your lifestyle and hobby, so why not make it a “real business” and source of income.

Successful travel blogs don’t appear overnight. Blogs demand loads of investment, particularly in terms of knowledge and time. This is not about travel blogs only, but blogging in general. “Building a blog is like building any other business: success takes time, patience, and dedication. Blogging takes persistence,” —Nomadic Matt, one of the highest-paid travel bloggers.


How Much Can You Earn With a Travel Blog or a Website

Below you’ll find the list of travel bloggers and their income (revealed and published online):

Unfortunately, you can’t calculate in advance how much you’ll earn from your travel website. And traffic isn’t the only parameter to make your blog/website profitable. Some sources suggest that the income may vary from $3 to $15 for every 1 000 visitors. The travel sector, language, and even seasons can also affect your earnings. A travel blog focused on Bali or Goa has a narrower audience than a blog specialized on budget traveling around the world. While choosing a strategy to monetize a travel blog you have to keep in mind this factor too.

As the experience of successful travel bloggers shows there multiple ways of making money from your travel blog. Many beginners wonder how much time it takes to earn money from your travel blog. Definitely, you’ve read bloggers who say that it can take up to one year or more to begin earning. In fact, if to begin monetizing a blog from its early days, you can get more than $1 000 per month after three-four months (Two Monkeys Travel is the best example.) But you’ll have to work a lot during these months.


Affiliate Marketing

One of the best methods to monetize a blog, which can be used from day one. Affiliate marketing is a business model when you recommend a product, service, or brand and receive a commission if your readers click on the ads or purchase something. You may work with a brand/company directly or through an affiliate network. In the case of direct cooperation, you select a company (advertiser) and apply for its affiliate program. For example, a reputable hotel chain Hilton has its own Affiliate Program; Booking.com has a great affiliate program, which is better than working with it via affiliate networks. 

Another great option is Amazon Associates.  An affiliate network is an intermediary between advertisers and publishers (bloggers and marketers who promote products). The comfort of affiliate networks is that on a single platform you can find numerous products and brands to promote. If to name just several time-proven affiliate networks, there are Rakuten, ClickBank, ShareASale, CJ Affiliate, etc. Every affiliate network has its pros and cons in terms of the number of advertisers, requirements to publishers, payment options, the payout schedule, reporting instruments, and promotional materials.

Not to get lost in the ocean of offers and networks, you can search for suitable offers on OfferVault. The platform allows searching and filtering results based on networks, verticals, countries, and offer types. As a travel blogger you’ll probably look for hotels, airlines, and car rentals; however, do not forget about small things related to traveling and vacations. People are more prone to purchase less expensive items at the spur of the moment (ex., suitcases, power banks, chargers, etc.) Optimized correctly, affiliate marketing is the best way of monetizing a travel blog – it works even when you sleep.


Benefits of Monetizing a Travel Blog Through Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is one of the main ways to monetize your travel blog because:

  • It is easy-to-use (affiliate links and banners do not require advanced skills to be implemented);
  • There are tons of products to choose from; personal recommendations are in demand, so if you have a loyal audience that trusts you, people are likely to follow your advice towards specific products and services.

Which products to promote:

  • Travel insurance: Allianz Travel Insurance (worldwide; $25 per sale), Travel Insurance Services (the US, $17 per referral), World Nomads Partner Program (worldwide).  
  • Flights and accommodation: Booking.com (25%-40% per sale), Skyscanner, TripAdvisor (50% per sale and $2.5 per lead), Agoda (5% per sale).
  • Travel Items and luggage: Amazon Associates (all sorts of items, 4-12% per sale),  All Outdoor (6% on sales), Luggage Pros (8% on sales).
  • Additionally, you may consider cruises, tours, car rentals, etc.
Have you used affiliate links to monetize a travel blog?
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Google AdSense and Ad Networks

There is a dubious attitude to GoogleAdSense and similar ad networks. Some bloggers consider it a great source of earning money, while others think that banner ads are almost useless as a source of income and don't look nice on a website/blog. To really benefit from this type of ads you need to have decent traffic (let's say, from 50 000 unique visitors).

Many bloggers work with Mediavine, an ad network that works pretty similar to Google AdSense but pays out more. (Note, that Mediavine has recently changed its requirements: to join this network you should have 50+ unique visitors per month, not 25k). Another important reminder: not to let your blog look spammy with ads, try to place them in a natural, subtle way. The good thing about contextual ads is that you don’t need to look for an advertiser — you just use the code and a network places ads on the selected place and calculates your revenue by itself.

The rates for display ads depend on several factors, such as ads placement (it affects the visibility, number of impressions, and, hence, your income); GEO of visitors (tier 1 countries are higher rated); the number of advertisers (the higher the competition for the ad place - the higher the cost for a click); season (during some seasons visitors’ activity can be higher or lower; for example, many bloggers noted that after Christmas and the New Year their earnings drop significantly).


Sponsored content

Travel bloggers with an audience of 30 000-50 000+ (unique visitors) are paid $500+ for a blog post. Normally, it can be a product review (and a blogger receives this product for free!), a guest post, an ad in a newsletter, or a sidebar link. In other words, a sponsored post is a part of blog content that you provide “on behalf of a sponsor”. However, make sure that sponsored content matches your main specialization (if you are focused on budget traveling with a backpack, your reviews of a 5-star deluxe hotel would seem at least strange) and gives value to your readers. Otherwise, your audience might lose interest and trust; what is worse, your blog can be ranked lower in Google.

If a company (a hotel or resort, an attraction, a brand, or a service provider) is interested to cooperate with a travel blogger, they arrange a sponsored package. The package includes the required content, payment agreements, and additional deals (for example, dates of travel). The sponsored package isn’t about a single paid article. The blogger visits the destination, takes photos and videos. The target is to create authentic content about the personal experience at a specific destination.

Travel bloggers with an established audience and a huge number of followers on social media are paid for such sponsored content, while new travel bloggers are usually offered services and products in exchange for content. For example,  Cate from Sweet and Simple Life made a sponsored feature for a beach resort. As she revealed in her blog, she didn’t get cash payment for the feature, but her whole family "was hosted for two full days and nights in that beautiful place, for free". She commented also, "what would have costed us over $600 ended up being a completely free weekend trip for my family".


Brand Campaigns

Well, this option suits blogs with established audiences. When you’re already known as an influencer in your field, some brands and companies will contact you to promote their products and services. If you’re still in the beginning of your blogging journey, you can search for sponsors on Webfluental, TapInfluence (for instance, TwoMonkeyTravel get here campaigns that pay from $800 up to $4 000; a single campaign that included a blog article and a Facebook post topped up their account with $3 000), Izea (works well for social media channels: some bloggers earn from $200 up to $3 000 per month with the help of this platform), and The Blogger Programme (for the UK and Europe-based bloggers). The list is not limited to these platforms, there are many others, keep an eye on new resources via bloggers groups or marketing forums.


Paid Press Trips

Paid trips are the dream of all new travel bloggers. However, usually, companies approach well-known travel bloggers with such offers to get high-quality content visible to a wide audience. Paid marketing campaigns (also called destination projects) are arranged by invitations from hotels, travel companies, or tourism boards. Unfortunately for beginners, as long as you’re not yet known these trips are not paid, but if you arrange such a trip and provide great original content, next time you might be invited for a paid trip. The more established your blog is, the more you’re paid for the trip.


Selling Your Own Products (Tutorials, E-books, Travel E-guides, etc.)

This is another income stream for your business. Create an e-book and an audio book based on your content with added exclusive information. You can sell it or offer it as a bonus to an e-mail subscription (for e-mail monetization in the future). Nomadic Matt and Wandering Earl sell their e-books and/or blogging courses. Add here photos and videos. If you are a skilled photographer, you may sell photos and videos not only on stock platforms but via your own blog. The Travel Vlogger and The Travel Break make a significant part of their income on their photo and video materials.  

If you don’t know what to offer, ask your readers about the questions they want to be answered. Make your next product or service to match the requirements of your audience. For example, Nomadic Matt asked his audience and discovered that people were interested in ‘travel hacking’ (the art of using points and miles to get free flights). He realized that this was an underserved topic. As a result, he wrote an ebook How to Travel the World on $50 a Day, and during the first week, he sold 1 000 copies. He met his readers’ needs.


Offering Services (Coaching, Consulting)

If you have enough expertise in a specific field, coaching and consulting can become an additional source of income. People are in need of information and ready to pay someone, who is capable to help them. Some travel bloggers offer trip planning services, food tours, and even travel and life coaching. Some travel bloggers offer services for media management and content creation. Small websites or recently opened blogs need high-quality content, so quite often they offer payment for professional travel-related content.

Reputable and well-known publications like Daily Mail and BBC offer bloggers to become contributors. The rates for freelance writing vary from $50 up to $1 000 based on the word count, specialization, depth of required research, photos, etc. Newer bloggers can try boosting their blogs using big publications like Huffington Post (they do not pay writers, but have an extensive audience). This might make your name more recognizable.


How Travel Bloggers Earn Money (Besides Monetizing a Blog)

  • Bloggers with a large audience are paid for sponsored posts on their social media. For example, a travel blogger with 20k followers on Instagram was invited by a restaurant to attend an event and paid for an Instagram post around $800. Add here $200+ for sharing the company's Instagram stories.
  • Many travel bloggers would not agree to visit a specific destination (by request) and post the articles unless they’re paid $1000+ in return.
  • Invitations to conferences, workshops, presentations. Well, established bloggers with names are paid very decent amounts to attend events.        


Things to Do to Earn More Money on Your Travel Blog

In order to start making money from your blog, you need to constantly develop it. Below we have listed the main principles of blog development.

  • Invest. Invest some time, effort, and passion more into your blog. Sounds unbelievable, but people feel when something is done thoroughly with love.  Invest in your knowledge and improve your skills (writing, photography, video-making, etc.) Maybe one day you will have a team working for you, but at the beginning of your journey, you have to make a lot by yourself. This is a long-run that pays off.
  • Open up and stand out. It means doing something really cool. No one wants to waste time on a standard guide to London, search for your own way of viewing places, and telling about them.
  • Make a course. Original and unique, it should be authentic. Besides earning on selling the course, you promote your personal brand (name). If people find your course valuable and useful they will recommend it to others. This way you benefit even more.  
  • Think like a marketer. Creativity and a unique approach aren’t enough to become a successful travel blogger. If you want to make money with a travel blog, you need to see it from the commercial point of view (see business prospects, develop and apply a marketing strategy.)
  • Participate in networking events. Travel trade shows and events are a great way to make new contacts in the industry. More than that, many bloggers are paid for attending industry-related events.


Case Study

Anna, the owner of  Anna Everywhere: Chic Adventure Travel, started her travel blog in March 2014 after 7 years of traveling. She confessed that in the very beginning she had no idea that she could make any money out of it. "Travel with Purpose — Chic Adventure Travel". Anna’s articles were published on News.au and Hectic Travels.

Here is Anna’s income report (a random month in 2018 — due to non-disclosure agreements)

  • Destination campaigns — $7 700 (she notes that this varies greatly because “some months she doesn’t do any, others she can do three”).
  • Display marketing — $3 524 (she uses Mediavine; the income varies every month, though).
  •  Social media promotion — $150 (a single Facebook post).
  • Instagram promotion — $1 800.
  • Own products — $200 (Anna has an e-book and presets, but she doesn’t promote it actively).
  • Affiliate income — $1 483 (she mentioned that “it’s not yet impressive, it’s definitely growing every month”).
  • Branded Content — $1600 (“Some months are good, some months are bad. Some months you just don’t want to work for anyone other than yourself”).

Total: $16 457.

Despite quite attractive numbers displayed in the report, Anna says that the income “isn’t guaranteed for the next month and it could be double, triple, or bring her very little money instead.


Useful Resources

Sometimes you’re so inspired and energetic, but there are days when you feel down and depressed because something went wrong (or not the way you expected). This is so normal. Join the industry-specific forums to read about the experience of other bloggers and marketers, learn about new marketing instruments and tools, read reviews about affiliate networks, etc. AffiliateFix, BlackHatWorld, and WarriorForum are just some of the useful platforms for fellow marketers and webmasters.


Conclusion

As you see, there are many ideas on how to monetize a travel blog or a website, try different strategies to discover which will work best for your blog.

If you decide to go with affiliate marketing, make sure that you promote products and services that your readers might be interested in and that this product is indeed useful. The most valuable asset in blogging is your audience, so do not risk in a race for a quick buck. This approach will be paid off in the long run. Remember, you must always disclose that you use affiliate links not to face any legal issues.

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