Travel blogging is one way to make money while you travel.
Building a blog, and more importantly a mass of loyal followers or random visitors, allows you to monetize your adventures through a variety of potential income streams, including advertising, product sales, affiliate sales, services sales, and more.
However, becoming a successful travel blogger often means lots of long and lonely nights hunched over your laptop.
Not to mention, travel blogging with the intention of earning money is a pretty competitive space.
For certain, there are adventure travel bloggers earning six figure incomes.
However, even popular adventure travel blogs can earn a meager income.
So be prepared for lots of hard work and the modest financial return on time invested.
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However, travel blogging isn’t all about making money.
I’m not talking about the value in cataloging your trips for posterity.
Travel blogging may not only make you some spending money, but also it can reduce your travel costs, thus slowing the burn by both increasing income and decreasing expenses.
With regards to money savings, I’m talking about the opportunity for popular travel bloggers to get swag and discounts from brands, destinations, and potential sponsors that want to associate with you and reach your audience.
These perks can mean big savings.
If you think you’ve got a knack for travel blogging and the passion to give it a go, here are some steps to get rolling.
Start the Travel Blog Now
As soon as you finish reading this article, set up your blog and start writing.
If you don’t know anything about blogging, head over to WordPress.org, setup a free account, and start dabbling in the WordPress authoring interface.
Find a basic theme that will work for you. Keep it simple to start, but make sure that the theme is a responsive design, meaning it will cleanly accommodate desktop, tablet, and mobile device screen size.
There’s no need for a self-hosted blog yet. You can always migrated to a self hosted option.
Just start getting used to the interface and publish your first article.
Publish an article on anything. It doesn’t matter. Yes, it will probably be a throw away, but you need to start building some writing momentum.
Blogs aren’t built overnight.
You will need to start understanding your content, writing process and style, site design, and nascent audience.
There is a lot to learn, and the best way will be to start writing and start reading articles all over the web about travel blogging.
It won’t hurt to learn some front-end programming languages. A heck of a lot can be done to a website with some minimal HTML and CSS skills, especially if you are just modifying an existing blog theme or hacking some content in the Rich Text Editor.
Find Your Adventure Travel Niche
There are a lot of travel bloggers out there, and a lot of them post general information that tries to cater to everyone who may come across the site.
This may seem like a good idea, but it’s way too easy for these blogs to get lost amidst all the other blogs that put out really similar and perhaps better content.
For your blog, try to break the mold and put out content related to a specific niche.
Are you a traveler on a mission to visit every castle in Europe? A father bringing his whole family on cross-country RV trip to visit every US state? Do you want to experience the nightlife of every country in Asia?
Don’t be general, develop a niche and stay focused.
Write for the niche audience and build trust with the reader.
The followers will come, probably slowly but surely if you keep at it.
The other benefit of the niche is that it provides more targeted opportunities for monetization.
Remember, fewer visitors will not necessarily mean less money through monetization efforts.
If you visitors are highly targeted and highly valuable to some set of businesses, you can earn a lot from a small, targeted, valuable niche.
Commit to Social Media to Publicize Your Adventures
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest are great options for low cost opportunities to get the word out about your blog.
In the early days, you’ll probably have to use your existing friend networks to leverage some social lift.
Don’t expect viral posts and massive engagement in the early days, but keep it going.
Attempt to build loyal readers who will regularly check in on your content or give you their email address to receive updates.
You’ll want to start building relationships with other bloggers or websites in your niche or a related niche who can share your content on social, expanding your reach.
Be sure to reciprocate any requests you make for social shares. Blogging is very much a world of give and take.
Also, be sure you are using pictures with your blogs and social posts.
Images increase social media engagement. Check the facts through some of my social media marketing research.
Explore Different Monetization Efforts, and Dial in What Works
While your primary motivation in the early days should be to write great content and build reader trust, you should start exploring some opportunities for monetization.
I would suggest you delay plastering adds all over your website.
Display ads through Google Adwords or other services can send a negative message to readers, especially if display ads are irrelevant or dominant.
However, there may be options to display relevant ads and links through affiliate marketing platforms, like AvantLink.com.
Affiliate marketing links, in which you get paid commission for sending a user to a website who then makes a purchase, require little effort to set up and are minimally intrusive to the user.
Affiliate marketing is rarely a method by which to make a substantial income, especially on a low traffic, early stage blog.
However, if you see a few dollars trickle into your bank account, then you will likely have greater motivation to keep writing.
Explore other monetization paths as appropriate, starting with those that require less upfront effort from you, such as selling drop shipped products or selling other people’s digital products.
Several adventure travel bloggers I’ve met appear to do well selling services, such as coaching services to would be adventurers, soliciting for paid speaking engagements, or providing website design and development services.
Services require little upfront effort, aside from creating some marketing copy and a webpage to advertise the service.
Try advertising, if you’d like, through an ad network like Google Adwords.
If you’re a salesperson, try to directly sell a sponsor on an advertising package.
Explore lots of monetization options, and start to realize which ones will work for you.
For those options that work, develop them into offerings that are more valuable for customers and more profitable to you..
For those that don’t work, set them aside for the time being, but always revisit them as your adventure travel blog develops and your audiences changes.
Be Patient. Adventure Travel Blogging Success Takes Time.
This is arguably the most important tip.
It’s also the primary reason that, for those adventures who need to make money right away to support their travel, we don’t encourage them to pursue travel blogging.
Don’t expect success to happen overnight. You have to work hard, write well, and market well for a while in order to build your audience.
Then, you have to work hard to monetize, especially if you’re building relationships with potential advertisers and sponsors.
However, if you want it, stick with it. Hone your writing and sharpen your niche, build the audience, make money.
At some point, depending on your lifestyle and adventure travel burn rate, you may be able to cover your adventure travel lifestyle through travel blogging.