Part 6 - How to Make Money from Your Travel Blog

How to Make Money from Your Travel Blog is the sixth segment in our How to Build a Successful Travel Blog workshop. Take a look at the previous segments first:

This article contains affiliate links, though we only advocate for businesses and brands that we know and trust. Affiliate income helps us continue bringing readers high quality travel content for free.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of how to make money from your travel blog. We covered working with the travel industry in the previous section, so it’s best to look over that first.

A caveat before we get started: don’t get start a travel blog solely as a means to make money. It’ll be painfully obvious to any perspective readers and customers. The bottom line: if people don’t feel invested in what you’re saying, they’re going to click away faster than you can say —.

How to Make Money from Your Travel Blog


One of the first ways travel bloggers make money is from ads, which remain a dominant strategy for many top sites. Google Adwords (add others) makes it super easy to incorporate ads on your site, which are automatically pulled based on your readers’ traffic history or your content. The issue for many travel bloggers is that the overall value from ads isn’t sufficient enough to sustain a blog.

Also, there’s a delicate balance between the number of ads to feature and maintaining a good user experience. The most prominent spaces on your blog have the highest ad value including banner ads above your header and ads within the text – though these are arguably the spots that interrupt (and annoy) your readers. Bringing in video ads will also generate more money for you, but they can be frustrating for visitors.

We have a few strategic ad placements on Departful that generate enough money to cover for our annual hosting, domain renewals, and a few of handy tools. Since launching Prostly, we’ve experimented with eliminating auto generated ads entirely and we only use direct ads with companies that we’re working with.

Many successful blogs sign up for Mediavine once they hit the minimum traffic threshold of 30,000 visitors. Mediavine tends to drive higher ad rates than other systems, meaning more passive income for you. They’re also super helpful, responsive and transparent – making you feel as though you’re working with humans rather than systems.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored posts are paid collaborations between your travel blog and companies within your niche. You use your publication or social networks to showcase a business that’s looking to appeal to your reader demographic. You’ll get many pitches for sponsored content as your site grows, but not all will be legit or appropriate. You’ll want to work with companies that you’ve tried and respect, otherwise you’re doing your readers a disservice and it won’t come off as genuine.

There are several networks that you can join to access sponsored campaigns such as Izea and Tribe. In my experience though, approaching companies that you’ve previously written about or ones that you’ve networked with (either on or offline) works best. This way you’re engaging with businesses that truly align with your travel blog and readers, which is most likely to lead to success for the advertiser.

When pitching companies, ensure that your media kit is well designed, data-driven, and accurate. Provide case studies as examples to demonstrate results from other sponsored content if possible. Have sponsored content as an option on your ‘Work with Me’ page so that companies who find your travel blog are aware.

At the end of the day, sponsored content is a form of advertising. You’re required to be upfront with your readers that you’re receiving financial contribution for this article or social media post.

Freelance Opportunities

Many travel writers use their blogs to generate freelance opportunities. This can involve writing articles for travel companies, generating content for other blogs, selling photography or videos, and managing social media accounts. Don’t minimize your rates to drum up business – you set a precedent that’s difficult to rectify later on, and you hurt the community of freelancers that charge a higher rate based on their experience and expertise.

If you’re interested in freelance work, make it clear what projects you accept. Reach out to large publications to offer your content, making sure to send your best examples that showcase your work. Guest post for a few major publications to increase awareness – and make sure you do a great job as this can lead to paying gigs in the future. Ultimately, be strategic with your blog’s content to bring in leads for your more lucrative contract work.

Affiliate Marketing for Travel Blogs

What is Affiliate Marketing:

If you’re not already familiar with affiliate marketing, allow me to fill you in. Affiliate marketing is an arrangement where a publisher (you) is paid by an advertiser (a company) for driving traffic or sales their way. Content producers are typically paid a small commission every time a reader purchases something from that company after being directed by their content.

Typically bloggers use affiliate text links to drive readers to purchase, but you can also use creative banners and ads that are designed by the advertiser. Affiliate marketing is one of the most effective ways to make money from your travel blog in a passive manner.

Why use Affiliate Marketing in your travel blog:

Some people feel uncomfortable implementing an affiliate strategy. I get it, it can feel disingenuous at first to add something to you site and receive money for promoting it. But this is a classic sales model – think of sales reps getting commission for landing a deal or travel agents receiving commission for sending clients to a resort.

As long as you have good intentions – meaning that you only promote things that you truly support – then affiliate marketing is a way to continue producing content for your readers while getting a small share when they purchase something you’ve recommended. You’ve provided content for free that’s intended to help your fellow travellers out. And I’ve found that readers are quite happy to know that we receive part of a commission when we’ve provided them with stellar content.

That being said – don’t throw affiliate links around like confetti. Your readers will know you’re just trying to make a buck and you’ll end up earning less in the long run. Earn your readers’ trust –  it’s the key to affiliate success.

Starting out with Affiliate Marketing:

Register for free with affiliate networks to start out. Most brands and companies that you’ll want to partner with are managed by large affiliate networks. You can join any and all of them for free, and then apply for any specific advertisers you want to include in your affiliate strategy.

A few of the larger affiliate sites that you should consider joining:

Once approved, browse advertisers (you can narrow down by category) and apply to programs you’re interested in. If you’re approved – great! If not, don’t take it personally. If you’re really bummed that you didn’t make the cut, you can always reach out and provide additional information on your content marketing strategies and how you can benefit their brand.

Don’t apply to every single travel related affiliate program – you won’t use most of them. And if you do, your strategy will be weak. The most successful affiliate marketers focus on a handful of partners that are strongly aligned to their audience. They plan a content strategy (features, interviews, reviews, social media, and email campaigns) for those partners that’s consistent and engaging, while using the affiliate teams from those companies to help them reach new levels of success.

All of the affiliate networks have detailed tutorials on how to incorporate links and creative materials, tips on how to boost your income, and user-friendly reporting so that you can track your affiliate sales in real time. Take advantage of these resources and learn how you can become a more effective affiliate publisher.

And last but not least – you must disclose affiliate relationships in your content. These rules are constantly evolving as affiliate marketing continues to grow. Make sure you meet the minimum standards, though I recommend being very upfront about your usage of affiliate links so that you’re not dinged for non-conformance.

More about Affiliate Marketing:

I’ve only brushed the surface of affiliate marketing for travel blogs. If you’re interested in going deeper and learning successful strategies, I strongly recommend the online course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. It’s taught by Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of the uber popular blog, Making Sense of Cents (her monthly income reports are equally awe-inspiring and failure-feeling-inducing). She makes over $50,000 per month in affiliate marketing (I mean, come on) and offers up her full strategy in the course. There’s a 30-day money back guarantee so you’re protected if you’re not happy (but I know you will be). I’ve done the course and am an affiliate for it (practice what you preach!), so feel free to ask me any questions about whether it’s right for you.

Custom Travel Planning

This is an emerging trend for travel bloggers and entrepreneurs. People are increasingly looking for expertise to help plan their travels, and who better than a source they trust – you! It does take a considerable amount of work, particularly in the beginning as you build an arsenal of travel partners to work with. We launched travel planning and booking services recently and it’s been a popular feature. If you have the opportunity to join a travel network, travel planning can be a terrific way to make money from your travel blog – you already have the experience and a platform to market your services.

It’s important to know what the laws are where you’re based so that you don’t break any rules. For example, Ontario (where we’re based) is regulated by TICO – and it’s illegal to plan or recommend travel without being licensed. If you want to get into travel planning, you’ll like have to join an agency (for a fee) or you could work with an already established company (like us) to help facilitate the actual bookings.

Hosting Trips:

Travel bloggers curating and/or hosting trips is a rising trend. It’s an interesting option that allows travel bloggers to capitalize on the engagement they’ve forged with their audience. But these types of trips will only be successful if a travel blogger has amassed a loyal following and have a clearly defined niche. There are travel companies and agencies (again, like us) that you can partner with who will manage the logistics allowing you to focus on promoting your trips to your readers. We’re currently in the process of creating beer focused trips under our beer & travel publication Prostly.

How to Make Money from Your Travel Blog photo courtesy of Unsplash