A lot of successful travel bloggers make a fairly decent income from their blogs. Some even manage to travel 365 days a year, where blogging and online projects enable them to make money while travelling. So does this mean that writing a travel blog can give you free vacations and fund your globe trotting adventures?
No, it doesn’t. Yes, you can make money by writing a travel related blog, but the key question is how much.
It Can But Will It?
Of course it is theoretically possible to pen a successful blog that earns enough to pay for a holiday or covers your tightly budgeted backpacking journey across the world. But that requires a great deal of ability, dedication and effort to get the blog popular first.
A well-written travel blog that has been nurtured for some time to build a decent readership can certainly cover most of the costs of a short getaway, or help to supplement a backpacker’s income, but to think that you can start a blog in order to give you free flights, hotels and spending money is a little far fetched.
Blog for the Right Reason
To get a blog off the ground and into the realms of being a top travel blog, a lot of passion is needed to fill it with awesome content, as well as to love, engage and connect with readers. If you think it’s an easy way to make money, you’ll find it hard to persevere when you only earn a few dollars a month.
But if you do it because you love to write, share stories, help people discover things, or to meet new people online to exchange travel experiences and knowledge, you’ll be starting your blog on a firmer foundation for success. As the saying goes, “Do It for the Right Reason”, and “The Money Will Follow”.
Ironically, the person who starts a blog to make money will normally fail at it and have a miserable time doing so. In contrast, someone who blogs because they love to create content and share their travel findings, will do it more naturally, have fun doing it, and may end up making more money along the way.
Passion before Money
So, while it is possible, try not to base your travel blog’s goal around money. Income may be one of the secondary reasons to motivate you to blog, but it shouldn’t be the primary objective, especially at the start anyway.
And even if you have your eye on the financial benefits of travel blogging, you shouldn’t set such lofty aspirations as to have it pay for all your travel expenses. You’ll only end up being disappointed.
Investment & Expectations
However, all this depends on how much you are willing to invest into your blog in the first place. For example, if you have additional help (such as paid writers) to assist in content generation, or a sizeable budget for advertising and promotions, you’ll be able to grow your blog more quickly than someone who is doing it all themselves.
At the same time, a lot also depends on the scope of your travel itinerary, and what you mean by “pay for your travel”. For instance, some backpackers try to stay with friends for free, where most of their daily costs are quite meagre. In this scenario, it may be possible for a blog’s income to cover simple food and living expenses. But if your travel costs include hotel accommodation, then it’s a totally different picture.
Unlikely but Possible
All in all, it’s probably fair to say that the answer to the question of whether a travel blog’s income can pay for your trips, is no, it definitely can’t pay for all of it, but it depends on how much you invest into the blog in the first place, your competence in writing and Internet Marketing, what your travel preferences and requirements are, and how long you intend to publish the blog before expecting it to fund your travels.
Indeed, there are many stories and examples of people who do manage to live off their blog, but they are the outliers and what you may not know is that they’ve put a lot of effort into honing their skills as a writer and invested hundreds or even thousands of hours into their blog for it to produce a decent income.
A friend of mine said she earns a few hundred bucks a month from her blog that she only updates once or twice a month. Sometimes even none at all.
Seems to me this is a few thousand a year without much effort. If she was more dedicated to it, it seems that 5 or 10k may not be out if the question and that could pay for a fairly decent vacation.
Can anyone share whether this is a realistic assessment or is there something I’m missing?
Good question 2Monkeys. Here are some things you may want to consider:
1) How long has your friend’s blog been around for? How much effort did she invest to get things going? Was she only posting once or twice a week before as well, or did she post more consistently before?
2) How is she earning her revenue? Is it from regular methods like Google Adsense and/or affiliate links, or does she have an information product such as an eBook that she is selling?
It’s not impossible to make 5-10k a year by writing a blog, but it’s certainly not easy, so don’t underestimate it. And you may not earn that in the first year, even if you put in a lot of time to publish a lot of posts.
Depending on your existing skills, you may have to learn how to write well, pick up plenty of Internet marketing abilities and become comfortable with the basic design and technical aspects of being a blogger.
I really don’t think you should base your assumptions on making a few hundred dollars a month just by “posting once or twice a month”.
Although that may be possible for a well established blog that has gained a great deal of authority already, it is not realistic for a new blog at all.
You will only end up bring disappointed if you think you can do $10k a year.
Of course, as pointed out in the article, it depends how much time and money you put into it, as well as your writing and Internet marketing skills.
But on the whole, it’s not wise to start off with such high expectations.
Wise words Samui Sam.
When you’re starting a blog, I think it is natural and okay to shoot for the stars but …
1) Be prepared for a lot of hard work, it’s not easy
2) Double or even triple the amount of time you think it will take
3) Instead of one huge goal, set lots of little mini-goals
4) Take each phase of the blog one step at a time – traffic, revenue, content generation, marketing etc
5) Grow together with the blog, be nimble and flexible. There are too many things you can’t predict at the outset
6) Under project & over deliver. It’s a lot better for morale this way instead of constantly being disappointed about missing your targets
It appears the general message is not to be driven by money when writing a blog.
But surely a lot if successful blogs were started with the intention of generating an income, which may have begun small and passive, but with the eventual goal of being sizeable and allowing the blogger to pursue blogging full time.
Granted, many of them did not begin with these goals. They may have been written for fun. Or as some famous travel bloggers have shared – their blogs were a means to update family members of what they were up to.
For lots of people, money is a key motivator, so what’s the best way to think about starting a travel blog in the right way?
If it can generate a reasonable income, I could be a lot more passionate about it. Clearly it takes a lot of time and dedication. I’m all up for putting in the effort if there’s a reward at the end. But the advice seems to be not to focus on the reward?
That’s a really good question Issa.
I’ve touched on some related points in my reply to SamuiSam’s comment above.
Ultimately, i think the majority of the top travel blogs are profit driven, and having good income streams has probably enabled the bloggers to continually invest more into making the blog better and better.
Yes, a lot of them mention they started with no intention to be a highly traffic’d site. They were merely basic travel journals to share updates with friends and family.
But, it’s fair to say that a lot of them were started with the purpose of making money to help fund the blogger’s travels.
Getting back to your question – “It appears the general message is not to be driven by money when writing a blog.” …
Perhaps it would be more accurate to sum it up as:
1) Don’t be purely driven by money when starting a travel blog.
2) Knowledge, Experience and Passion for the topic you’re writing about should be the prerequisites.
3) In addition, be prepared for a lot of hard work and get ready to learn everything from copywriting, web design, internet marketing and how to use social media to market your blog.
4) Have a great deal of dedication and motivation, as it may take months or even a year to see some encouraging results. Plenty of people with poor planning or unrealistic expectations end up quitting. Don’t be one of them if you want to succeed.
5) Take all your traffic and revenue projections, and halve them. In fact, halve that again, and ask yourself whether you are still keen to invest the time and effort to make it work.
6) Take all your costs and expenses projected (most of which will be your personal time), and double it. Depending on your abilities, you may need to double it again.
At the end of the day, it all depends on your mindset when approaching your travel blog. If you’re reasonably realistic about your expectations already, then you may not need to be so harsh on your projections.
So, it’s okay to be driven by the potential commercial rewards of travel blogging. Just have your feet on the ground and your mind in the right place when doing so.