Maybe some of you are old enough to remember that annoying neighbor who made you watch slide projector shows of their vacation photos. You were likely bored to tears after about the 5th picture and desperate to find an escape route.
But do you know what happen to that annoying neighbor and others like them? The Internet happened, and travel blogging was born. Now travelers can reach huge audiences who appreciate their photos and passion for adventure.
In fact, many travel bloggers are able to make enough money from their blogs to cover their travel expenses. Some even make a full-time income while traveling the world. Imagine getting paid to explore the world! It doesn't get much cooler than that.
In this post, I'm going to show you exactly how to make money with a travel blog and why it's easier than you might think. Yet, it's not as simple as slapping together a quick blog and advertisers immediately start hurling free trips at you.
First, you'll need to create a blog if you don't already have one. This process is relatively easy on free blogging platforms like Blogger, WordPress or TypePad. And many attractive blog designs are available for free and easy for beginners to install.
Since travel is an image-driven topic, make sure your blog design has plenty of space for photos. Additionally, although you may be primarily documenting your personal adventures, make your blog a bit broader than just a travel diary.
In other words, be sure to include general categories for useful information like destinations, hotel reviews, costs, travel tips, attractions, food and culture, etc. This will help attract a larger variety of advertisers.
Most importantly, you will need to produce some excellent content for your blog. The more, the merrier; but only quality will keep a loyal audience. As your blog gains a respectable level of traffic and backlinks, you'll be primed for a nice income.
Now let's get down to the nitty gritty.
How Travel Bloggers Make Money
Travel blogs don't need tons of traffic to make a significant income as they don't make money the same way most blogs do.
Most blogs make money from pay-per-click ads, affiliate ads, CPM ads, or direct advertisers. Travel bloggers may use those too, but they must generate a lot of traffic to convert those ads into income.
Travel blogs make most of their income by writing and hosting sponsored posts on their blog. This is a form of direct advertising where the advertiser is looking to place a text link into new, original, and relevant articles on a genuine blog.
These advertisers want to get their link in front of a targeted audience, but they mostly desire the search engine benefit the link gives them. As such, most of the advertisers are actually SEO marketing companies who place links for clients like major hotel or flight booking companies.
Because the travel industry is so competitive, these links are extremely valuable. In fact, some blogs make $500 or more to write a single sponsored post with only one link. It is simply one of the best ways low-traffic blogs can make a nice income and it allows travel bloggers to gallivant around the world.
Since sponsored post advertisers are less concerned with how the link performs (gets clicks), blog traffic is not the key factor in making money with this form of advertising. However, advertisers still prefer a busy blog with quality content and a decent social media following.
The key requirements for a blog to attract sponsored post advertisers are its Google PageRank and Site Authority score. Both of these indicators are a basic measurements of the blog's search engine importance which factors in age, content, backlinks and other characteristics.
Travel bloggers will begin to make money from sponsored posts when their blogs reach a minimum PageRank of 2, and a Site Authority score of 40 or more. The higher your ranking in these areas, the more you can charge per sponsored post. You can check your Google PR here and your Site Authority here.
You can naturally increase your rankings by consistently adding new content and by building backlinks to your blog. But don't expect them to climb quickly as it takes time to produce quality material and generate genuine backlinks.
The Process for Sponsored Posts
Typically, either advertisers will solicit you through your contact form or they are referred to you from other travel bloggers. They'll usually pitch you with an overview of their current campaign to see if you're interested.
Most of them will want you to write a new sponsored post about a specific topic and include a link placed naturally into the content. Others may provide a guest post for you with links already embedded to host at your blog, or want a link placed into an article that's already live on your site.
It is common for bloggers to charge per link, not per post. So if one post has two links in it, then advertisers are charged for two links. However, discounts are usually offered for a multi-link campaign from one advertiser. Links are usually hosted for a specific amount of time like one year, but some bloggers offer permanent links. Again, discounts may be offered for multi-year links.
Once you agree to the basic terms and price of the campaign, you should plan on completing the sponsored post within 72 hours or so. Advertisers tend to be on strict monthly budgets and will service the first ones to complete their assignments. Plus, it's just more professional to get them done soon after you agree to terms.
Write the article to include as much useful information as possible and don't be afraid to inject your personality into it. Just because you're getting paid to write it doesn't mean it should be boring and bland. Spice it up with photos (your own or Creative Commons images) or even related videos pulled from Youtube. Remember to always give your readers value even in sponsored posts.
When the article is ready to go live, it's best to send it to the advertiser for approval prior to publishing it in case they want any changes made. Once it's published you can expect payment to be made within 24 hours after their clients approve the article.
Payment is usually made via Paypal which makes it convenient and easy for both parties. Confirm the payment when it lands in your Paypal account, thank the advertiser for their business and let them know that you're interested in working together again in the future. You should always be professional in dealing with them even if you're not interested in their offer as they may have campaigns more suited to you in the future.
Finally, it is required by FTC regulations to identify a sponsored post as such. This is especially important for guest posts that were not written by you. The best way to do this that is most agreeable to advertisers is to create an image that says something to that effect, but isn't tagged with the words "sponsored" as to be picked up by search engine bots.
What to Charge Link Advertisers
First, to make the negotiation go much smoother it's best to put together a rate card for your blog. This is generally a one-page mini media kit that includes your basic stats, a brief description of your blog, and what your prices are for various text link or banner ad options. You should attach your rate card to potential advertisers on the first email correspondence so they have an idea of what you charge upfront.
There is no exact industry standard on what to charge for link placements and every blogger will value their content differently. However, some have tried to compile guidelines for rates based on various metrics. Annabel Candy of SuccessfulBlogging.com has put together a great article about what to charge for sponsored posts which included this pricing chart:
These prices are typically for one year of hosting one link. Again, advertisers will appreciate discounts for multiple links, multiple years, or multiple sites.
How to Make a Full Time Income from Travel Blogging
There are basically three ways to make a full-time income from travel blogging.
First, you can focus on building up one massively popular travel site that can draw premium prices for a single link. This is the strategy used by Annabel outlined above. It will allow you to only post 2-3 sponsored posts a month to make a comfortable income.
Next, you can set your prices a bit lower than your competitors and pump out several sponsored posts per month to reach your desired income. This can be a lot of work each month and requires soliciting many advertisers month in and month out to maintain the same level of income.
And, finally, the way most travel bloggers achieve a full time income is by having more than one travel blog. Advertisers love working with bloggers who have multiple sites because they can fill their campaign needs faster and with less hassle. Some bloggers maintain a personal travel blog along with a few others that may be more specific to a certain niche.
There you have it. The secrets to getting paid to travel the world. So if you're a passionate adventurer with dreams of making money while traveling, use this as a blueprint to make your dreams come true.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions.
J.P. Hicks is an info-activist, digital nomad, pro blogger, editor of Blog Tips and author of a book about blogging. Follow @ Twitter, or like on Facebook and get the FREE ebook SEO For Bloggers.
This article is offered under Creative Commons license. It's okay to republish it anywhere as long as attribution bio is included and links remain intact.
Airplane Image: Wikimedia Commons.
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