Making Money Online: How To Monetize a Travel Blog

You’re eager to live the travel-blogger life and get paid to explore the world. Is it possible or a pipedream?

Here’s the good news: Many people earn a great living by documenting their travels. Here’s the unavoidable reality: It won’t happen overnight. Making it work takes time and loads of hard work. But if you lean in, one day you, too, could be pulling in $20,000 a month to travel the globe.

Build an SEO-Friendly, Engaging Site

The first thing you’ll need to do is build an attractive, SEO-friendly website. Thankfully, it’s not 1995; so setting up a professional-looking online platform is simple. All it takes is a few clicks, a few hundred dollars, some imagination, and lots of hard work.

When developing your site, think long and hard about your niche. What demographic are you trying to reach? Young travelers? Older adventurers? Civic-minded globe hoppers? Don’t try to be everything to every traveler. The way to build an audience is to find a lane and stay in it.

Monetizing A Travel Blog

Once you’ve built a website and attracted a small following or reached monthly traffic goals, it’s time to start thinking about monetizing your travel blog.

Affiliate Networks

Affiliate links are one of the most popular and lucrative ways to monetize a travel blog.

In the simplest terms, affiliate links are sales links that garner a commission. Some brands have their own affiliate sales programs with which you can work directly. Affiliate networks, on the other hand, are marketplaces where you can sign up with multiple companies and manage them through a single interface.

There are hundreds of affiliate networks. Here’s an incomplete list of the top options.

  • Commission Junction

  • ClixGalore

  • Share A Sale

  • Amazon

  • eBay Enterprise

  • Commission Factory

  • Skimlinks

  • Rakuten

Other travel platforms run their own affiliate programs for travel bloggers. Popular options include:

  • World Nomads

  • Hostelbookers

  • AirtreksAwin

  • Booking.com

  • Discover Car Hire

  • RewardStyle

Display Advertising

You may assume that traditional banner advertising is no longer lucrative, thanks to the advent of ad-blockers and people’s unwillingness to click through. But believe it or not, they still work for many travel bloggers. The key is placing them in the right places. Avoid sidebars; instead, make room for a 300 X 200 ad in the upper left corner of the page.

But temper your expectations when it comes to display advertising. Incorporate them whenever you feel comfortable, however, don’t expect them to be fruitful until you have about 100,000 monthly hits.

Sponsored Posts / Brand Marketing

Sponsored posts and brand marketing can be exceptionally lucrative. Not only will companies pick up travel expenses, but if you have the right audience, they’ll also fork over stipends and writing fees. Some travel bloggers earn tens of thousands of dollars for a single piece!

And believe it or not, you don’t need millions of followers to secure a sponsor. If you attract a coveted demographic, and your audience is highly engaged, a mere 10,000 followers may do the trick. Moreover, you don’t have to do all the footwork and pitching yourself. Influencer and marketing companies that serve as “agents” are a great way to find lucrative partnerships. Companies in this industry include:

  • Izea

  • Cooperatize

  • Blog Meets Brand

  • Activate RPM

  • Mediavine

  • Ezoic

  • Chikita

Sell Links

Let me start by saying that selling links is a controversial monetization method, and search engines, like Google, prohibit the practice. That established, also understand that link-sale enforcement is a challenging endeavor. As such, many people still indulge, and some earn an incredible amount of money doing it.

Link sales can garner anywhere between $5 and $50,000 a link. It all depends on traffic, niche, and purpose. However, if Google catches you, the company will penalize your site by either lowering the domain authority or removing it from the index altogether, which could prove catastrophic.

Create Products

An increasingly popular way to monetize travel blogs is to create products. Online courses, merch (i.e., T-shirts, mugs, stickers, etc.), and speciality tours are popular in the travel arena.

Freelance Writing

Many travel bloggers also write for other publications. Not only does it build their brands, but it creates backlinks to their websites, which helps boost search engine rankings. (The more quality links pointing to your website, the higher it will appear in search query results.)

The key to carving out an effective freelance path rests in knowing which offers to accept and which ones to reject. If a piece will take you days to write and you’ll receive a pittance in pay, think long and hard if the exposure outweighs the drawbacks.

Content Licensing

Content licensing is when you let other people use the content you’ve already created. It could be blog posts, vlogs, articles, pictures, or video footage. When making licensing deals, it’s essential to read the contract carefully. You don’t want to get stuck in a situation where you must remove a high performing post because the licensing agreement gives the buyer exclusive rights.

For pictures and video, start with platforms like Shutterstock.com and 123RF.com. When you establish a name, airlines and hotels may come knocking.

Members-Only Subscription

Due to our collective shift to a la carte media consumption, members-only subscriptions are increasingly becoming a profitable way to monetize blogs and websites. Due to the recurring nature of the payments, it also affords greater stability. (Although, profits can fluctuate because people may drop their memberships without warning, or their credit cards may not go through some months.)

Patreon is a great, easy way to manage members-only content. Various plugins are also available for WordPress, including Learndash, s2Member, Memberpress, and Ultimate Membership Pro.

Ask for Donations

Nearly all of the monetization tactics we’ve explored above require at least 5,000 unique monthly visitors. But one thing you can do right away is throw up a donation link. Who knows, the fifth person to visit your site may love it so much they throw you a few bucks. And if that generous person happens to be a multi-millionaire, who knows how much they’ll give!

Conclusion

Don’t be discouraged by the number of travel bloggers on the scene. No rule says travel enthusiasts must follow only one at a time! These days, following several people in the same niche is the norm, not the exception.

Don’t expect it to happen overnight. It could take years. But if you put the time and effort into creating a user-friendly blog and consistently write engaging posts, your audience will find you. Happy travel blogging!