Starting a travel blog can be an intimidating prospect. But if you've always wanted to bring your passion for travel to the world, the experience can be hugely rewarding. Here are tips on how to start a travel blog and get it off the ground!
Starting a blog in 2021 is easier than ever. The blogging tools available to you today are exponentially better than even 5 years ago. Want to know the most important details on how to start a successful travel blog? If you enjoy travel and writing about your experiences, you’ve already solved the problem that many blogs suffer from, lack of content. But the easy barrier to entry has made the competition more intense. Everyone wants a piece of the travel blog pie. It’s hard work getting more than just friends and family to read about your travels but it’s possible to build a blog that helps thousands, if not millions of people. This step by step guide will show you how to start a travel blog the right way and enjoy the experience.
What You Will Learn
- How to start a travel blog
- How to do travel blog SEO
- How to find the best blog names
- How to choose a travel niche
- How to configure and install WordPress – Step By Step
- How to use video and images in your content
- How to monetize your travel blog
- How much travel bloggers make
Bloggers are more sophisticated these days. Gone are the days of posting your travel photos and a short blurb on Blogspot or a free blogging site from time to time. If you want to get ahead in blogging, visit different places around the world world and write about it, you need to give yourself the best chance of success. That begins with a great blog framework and the right tools for the job.
How To Get Started Blogging
In this article, I’ll teach you how to create a travel blog that will put you ahead of 90% of the others from the start. Content and backlinks are the magic sauce that will help generate traffic. But a solid blogging platform, great hosting plan, and quality website design are the building blocks to a successful travel and lifestyle website. I’ll also show you how to make your site look amazing, monitor visitor traffic, and how to earn money as a travel blogger
Setup shouldn’t take longer than an hour. I’ve installed hundreds of blogs on different content management systems and hosting platforms. I’ve worked with clients from more than twenty industries and written thousands of blog posts. This is how I set up 99% of blogs for my own websites and those of my clients. Let’s jump in!
Choose A Travel Blog Niche
Pick a niche. Don’t just write about “travel” unless you’re prepared for a very long and expensive journey into blogging success. The keyword “travel” is very difficult to rank for and most of the big named sites like CNN Travel, Lonely Planet and the like, have this broad topic covered. Nobody’s getting near them unless they have deep pockets.
I should listen to my own advice as my website covers rather broad topics. But hey, do as I say, not as I do!
Picking a niche like “Surfing South America”, “Perth travel blog” or “backpacking in Vietnam” are all niche topics that are much easier to rank in Google for. Remember that this has nothing to do with the domain name. Don’t pick a domain like backpackinginvietnam.com unless you are sure you won’t branch out from this niche ever.
If you focus your efforts on producing content around a particular niche, you’ll have a much better chance of getting organic traffic from the search engines.
By the way, the three keyword topics I mentioned above are all fairly easy to rank for and have decent search volumes. You can steal those ideas if you like. People are using those search keywords on Google. If you produce a website that answers their questions then you’ll be successful. And you’re not going up against Condé Nast and Travel & Leisure in this case.
How do I find easy to rank keywords and topics? With keyword research tools.
Choose A Good Travel Blog Name
The first thing to be aware of is that domain names are in short supply. At least the good unique travel blog names are not available to register at the regular price of around $10. Most of the cool-sounding, interesting, and well, practical domains have been snapped up by website owners and domain name investors. But there are a few things you can do to find the perfect blog name for your website
- Choose a different domain to your actual brand name [risky and potentially damaging to the brand but plenty of businesses do it]
- use a different Top Level Domain [.co, .net., and .io are popular but they have their disadvantages]
- Do research to find the perfect brand name and domain
Luckily, we have a guide to generating travel blog domain name ideas.
Choose Your Blogging Platform
Install WordPress. You can hand-code a website yourself using just HTML and CSS and that will work fine. But unless you’re a pro coder, you’ll spend weeks reinventing the wheel. You’ll repeat tasks that a Content Management System like WordPress will do for you automatically.
Joomla and Drupal are two other popular CMSs but WordPress has stormed ahead in popularity recently. As a result, there’s a huge network of support groups, developers, and plugins that help save you time and money. WordPress powers almost 30% of the entire World Wide Web so it’s clear that people have confidence in the platform.
Why WordPress is the best platform to choose for starting your blog
- Easy to install
- A great platform for travel blogging beginners with no blogging or coding experience
- A large network of online support groups (WordPress forums, Facebook groups, and websites)
- Amazing plugins that can turn a vanilla WordPress website into a powerhouse of functionality
- The WordPress Dashboard is easy to navigate
- WordPress is Free
Before you install WordPress, familiarise yourself with WordPress.com and WordPress.org. This can be a little confusing. Hint: you need the latter.
The .com version is a free (and paid) platform hosted on the WordPress parent company’s servers. You don’t have to pay for hosting (see below). But your blog will not be very customisable, you will never ‘own’ it, and it could be difficult to monetize. WordPress.org is the repository for the free self-hosted software that you can download and configure to your heart’s content. Once you’ve downloaded the CMS software, it’s yours to do as you please. Upload it to any hosting in the world and change anything you like (if you know how).
There are many million-dollar websites out there that run purely on WordPress.
Choose Your Blog Hosting Platform
There's so many website hosting options that it’s easy for beginner bloggers to either overspend and get a lot of features and services they don’t need or get poor quality WordPress hosting that doesn’t deliver what they need.
Now I hate to talk bad about businesses on the Internet but in this case, I have to make an exception. I don’t recommend Bluehost as a web host for your own travel blog, even as a place to start a travel blog in the early stages. It’s not that the company has wronged me but that I can’t find anything good about the service.
The control panel (where you configure the hosting platform) is literally a minefield of confusion and ‘upsells’. It feels like Bluehost’s admin back end exists purely to trick you into buying services you don’t need. The real information is obscured, it’s hard to navigate, and you’ll just waste hours trying to find what you’re looking for. Not to mention all the dismissing of banners, pop-ups, and upgrade notices.
The secret of Bluehost’s success is the huge commission payouts they offer to bloggers and websites that promote their hosting services. Even one of the biggest names in the blogging world, Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, promotes the hell out of this hosting company’s service. In fact, Pat makes most of his passive income from Bluehost web host affiliate sales. But his own site doesn’t even use that platform. Go figure!
My recommended hosting platform is Siteground. I have two of the top-level hosting packages (one in the US and one in Europe) and they never fail me. The support team is amazing, the back end is simple to navigate, and the quality of service is one of the best I’ve experienced in over ten years hosting websites.
A Note About HTTPS
A very important point to remember. You should have an SSL on your site. What’s SSL? It stands for Secure Sockets Layer. All you need to know is that your site is deemed more secure for visitors with this layer and Google will reward your website with more favourable rankings (hopefully). Back in the day, installing and configuring an SSL layer was difficult and expensive. Today, some hosting companies still charge a lot of money (over $100) for a basic SSL. SiteGround have implemented free SSLs from LetsEncrypt.org for everyone. And just recently they started installing the SSL layers automatically so you don’t even have to make the 3-click install yourself.
With an SSL you will be able to sell products on your site without fear of hackers intercepting credit card or password details.
You can tell a website has an SSL installed by looking at the text prefixing the domain name. Look for the s after HTTP. If you see https:// the site is secure.
Setting Up A Blog On Web Hosting
If you’re reading this post, you probably already have this part taken care of. What you want to know is how to get your blog from the basic WordPress installation to a fully functioning, traffic-generating travel blog.
If you’ve just bought your web hosting package and installed WordPress, your new blog will be accessible to anyone on the internet but it’s going to look a little boring. So let’s get it ready for stardom.
Configure WordPress And Install A Premium Theme
Your blog needs to stand out from the crowd. Successful travel blogs look good. Free templates and badly designed WordPress themes make your site look amateurish. You can, of course, run a minimalistic website without spending a penny. But that’s not what people expect from modern travel related sites.
To make your blog look professional, buy a quality WordPress theme that comes with the developer’s support and guaranteed updates. Free themes might do the trick, at a pinch, but who supports them when the WordPress codebase is updated? What about security holes in free Website themes? The reality is that you didn’t pay for the theme so nobody owes you a security fix.
Which theme to choose? If you don’t have time to shop around, here’s my recommendation: Use the beautiful, versatile, high performance and security-focused Astra Theme. It’s the fastest-growing Premium theme for WordPress for a reason.
The documentation for any of these themes is excellent and explains everything better than I ever could. Once you’ve configured your theme according to the recommended settings you can rest assured that you have a secure, fast, and SEO optimised website.
Install the following plugins to make your website even more powerful and productive
SEOPress For WordPress – The best search engine optimisation plugin available. Yoast is the better-known (and original) SEO plugin but SEOPress is much better. And for half the price of Yoast Premium, you get unlimited websites and more functionality. Basically, these tools are not “fixes” for poor content or website structure. They are tools that will give you more control over the on-page SEO.
SEO Plugins are not magic search engine ranking tools, as many people think. For Google to send you search traffic you need to produce amazing content or get lots of links from other sites. But Yoast and other plugins can show you where you’ve made errors in formatting, tagging, and structure. It can also help automate tasks for improving the site’s search engine visibility.
ConvertFul: Add mailing list pop-ups, calls-to-action, and notification bars to your site with ease. ConvertFul’s main function is getting new subscribers to your email list. But it can be used for a bunch of other interesting things. Check out the bottom of this post for an example of an email subscriber box.
Table Of Contents Plus: Helps you make a stylish list of headings automatically for every post. You can see this in action at the top of this post, right before the first heading.
Long, cumbersome URLs look ugly on social media posts. And in the case of Twitter, and some other social platforms, long URLs eat into the character limit. Use a link shortener to tidy them up.
If you plan on monetizing your site using affiliate links then these tools help you manage these links but will also help keep your website in line with Google’s policites. Short links or pretty links can also be used for branding and sharing content.
ShortPixel: Travel websites are often image-heavy. This can slow a website down thanks to the large file size of most images. Ideally, you’ll want to scale your images down to fit your blog width and reduce the image quality. But a plugin like ShortPixel image optimizer can take it a step further and automatically reduce the image size on all media, without compromising on quality. It’s the image optimization plugin I use on every website.
Anti-Spam: Be sure to activate the Spam filter plugin called Anti-spam. Best to let software deal with the flood of garbage comments and links you will inevitably get. Many people use Akismet but the full version (that one that actually works) is a “paid” product for commercial websites.
Website Images And Video
Your professional WP theme will give you all the design flair you need. However, you might need a couple of design tools to really make the blog shine. For promoting on social media accounts, try different images, font sizes and layouts for graphics to see what works. Testing is the best way to find out what your audience responds to.
Photoshop is an amazing product. But it can take some time to put great graphics together thanks to the complexity of the software. This is especially true for newbies. If you plan on creating lots of images for social media then a large portion of your time will be spent on design.
Use Canva, Crello or Stencil to knock out images for Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Google and more in minutes. You can literally build a great looking header for Facebook and in seconds convert it into a Twitter header, advertisement, Pinterest pin, YouTube header, featured image, and more. A huge time saver and one of the best tools for beginning bloggers.
Adobe Lightroom is another tool that gurus in the travel photography niche rave about. It’s an awesome product and one that also takes some dedication in time and energy. But knowing how to make your photos sparkle is a great skill to have. Rawtherapee is free software that works like Lightroom and is highly rated by photographers.
Tracking And Monitoring Traffic
How will you know if your blog is popular? How can you measure the traffic to your blog? What are your visitors interested in?
- What keywords people use to find your site
- Your blog’s most popular pages
- Which sites are linking to your blog
- What Google recommends you to improve for higher ranking
- Where the majority of your visitors come from
- How long people spend browsing your pages
And a lot more besides. Google Analytics and Search Console are must-haves for any serious entrepreneur or blogger.
Create An About Page & Contact Page
Both your visitors and Google want to know who you are and where to contact you. It’s important to create some kind of about page showing that you’re a real person and that you know what you’re talking about. You don’t have to a travel expert (who is?) but people want to know that there’s someone real behind the scenes. If you’re like me (publicity-shy & kind of introverted), the about page doesn’t have to give your life story. Some simple details and a description of how the site will help the user (important) will suffice.
Google is clamping down on fake news and fake websites. If it suspects that your travel website is just churned out for the sake of capturing affiliate clicks or generating ad traffic, it will, let’s say, look unfavourably upon your creation.
Add a contact page to the site and make it easy for people to get in touch. Don’t have them jump through hoops to get to you. Because they won’t bother. Adding a phone number shows that there’s a genuine person behind the website. But it’s a bad idea if you value your free time and privacy. Especially as the blog grows.
Travel Blog SEO – Create The Web’s Best Content
Marketing a travel brand or blog is a lot like marketing any online business. The difference is in the message – how do you want your clients or readers to perceive your business and what value are you offering to them.
Search Engine Optimization, also known as SEO, is a skill that, once learned, can mean the difference between content that languishes at the bottom of the search results and content that brings thousands of visits to your site. To do proper SEO for travel websites, a plan is essential. And you need people that can execute on the plan. The travel niche is competitive – isn’t everyone a traveller blogger these days?
Of course, creating content for SEO comes with its own risks. While Google’s algorithm might deliver consistent traffic, it’s easy to fall into the trap of writing boring SEO blogs for machines and not for people.
Crafting Content And Website Copy
Looking at the trending articles on social media, one might think that short, listicle-type, controversial articles are the way to go. But does that suit your blog personality? Maybe not. In that case, avoid listicles. Try to be unique. Your blog will stand out in the long term and Google will reward your site with organic traffic for years to come. Ask yourself if you want to be a mini-Buzzfeed for travel or a site that people trust?
So what’s Google looking for?
Well, Google is telling you what it thinks should rank in the top 10 positions (and beyond). Do a search for the keywords you are going to write about and examine the results. See what kind of post is ranking (list post, YouTube video, round-up post, 8000-word articles, short quizzes). The SERPs (search engine results pages) will give you the answers. Then look at where your content is lacking compared to the top 10 pages.
A quicker way to do all of the above is to use the excellent Surfer SEO tool, which analyzes all of your competitors and tells you exactly what keywords, phrases to use. It also highlights issues with keyword density and advises on article length.
Content writing for travel blogs and services should focus on providing answers and value.
One way to find out what your audience needs is to survey your clients (or readers) and try to elicit questions. The more problems they can tell you about, the better. Make a list of every single question, problem, and pain point.
Turn their questions and doubts into answers. Make your customers a source of content.
Businesses that offer package tours, for example, should write detailed descriptions of their products, right down to the exact locations visited, the food clients might try, and the experiences they can have. Make the boring tour guide brochure into an ultimate location guide to the location – a great lead generation trick.
Hire writers that produce high-quality content. It’s one of the best investments you can make. Good writing always wins. Low-quality, thin, copied content signals Google that your website and brand is not a quality product worthy of front page results in search.
Use copywriters (or trusted content writers) to create compelling headlines, calls-to-action, sales pages, and emails. Skilled copywriters can grab people’s attention without making the message sound spammy.
Don’t forget to create click-worthy meta description tags. This is often overlooked. Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress automatically pull text from your content to use as a description but you should create your own. Short, snappy, attention-grabbing descriptions should draw a potential reader in. Google ignores Meta tags in the search algorithm but this text appears in the search engine results pages. The meta description should tell potential readers what your post is about and what value you hope to deliver to them.
Stay Up To Date With Google Updates
Major Google updates and core updates can cause drop in rankings and traffic for some major websites in the health niche. Many of the affected websites and blogs are hugely popular. Nobody knows for sure why their websites received penalties but there’s a good possibility that Google considers the content quality to be of low quality.
The travel niche differs from the health niche but the same principles should apply:
- Write about what you know or are qualified to write about. If ‘writing’ is not your thing, hire someone with credentials and amazing research skills to help.
- Don’t make claims you can’t back up.
- If you quote statistics or facts, be sure to do thorough research. “Fake news” will get your website penalised.
Build Relationships With Bloggers
Connect with influencers. Use an influencer marketplace (we know a few) or manually reach out to people in your niche. Building relationships through conversation is still the best way to progress.
Keyword Research For Travel Niches
Perform in-depth keyword research to find out what your potential customers are looking for. Understand where you can outperform your competitors. If you’re just starting off, looking for long tail keywords to help your website to rank in Google.
High-competition keywords like “Travel Japan” are well out of reach of startups, beginner bloggers, and boutique travel agencies. Try to find less competitive keywords like “Bangkok travel for over 40s”. (Try to make this relevant to your niche). You won’t get as many clicks but some clicks are better than none when you’re building your business.
How to do Keyword Research for Travel
This is a huge topic. There’s a lot of traffic at stake and a lot of money to up for grabs to those that get it right.
Many SEOs still recommend Google Keyword Planner for research. Don’t go there. The metrics are inaccurate and ridiculously broad. The competition for Google Ad ranks has little to do with the competition in Google organic search. The search volume is always incorrect too because Keyword Planner does not offer exact volumes, only ranges.
Keysearch is better. Keysearch lets you find low competition keywords that people are searching for. It also shows the top ten results based on any location in the world. When you search for anything in your browser the results you see are determined on your previous search history, your location, and a few other things. Keyword tools strip this personalised result data out and present the ‘real’ results.
Keep in mind that SEO tools use algorithms and best-guess methods for finding keyword competition. So they’re not perfect. Don’t take the results as the definitive answer (there is no final/gospel/authority word on keywords). But there are other ways to find juicy content phrases.
Use Google’s related searches to find out what people are actually searching for around a topic.
After searching for a topic, scroll to the bottom of the page and look for “Searches related to…”
These search terms might spark your imagination and give you ideas for blog content.
A Chrome plugin called Keywords Everywhere is great for getting enable search volumes and pay-per-click cost estimates beside the related terms. This is great for getting a quick idea of the competition and the search volumes.
Quora and Reddit’s Travel-related Questions
Use Quora and Reddit to find topics that people are asking about.
If you find a relevant question in the travel niches, check to see how many times it has been answered and the number of views for each answer.
Reddit can be a bit of a minefield of etiquette and crazy behaviour, but it’s a great source of ideas. People ask and discuss questions on Reddit in specific sub-niche sections called subreddits. To get ideas, read the questions and answers or search for specific topics. You can even ask questions that might help you with writing content.
Test Variations Of Headlines and Keywords
Run “split tests” on your most important page
Split tests, also called A/B tests are part of what marketer’s call Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO). CRO for travel businesses isn’t any different than with tech or health, for example.
You perform A/B tests by creating a special version of a web page or section of a web page and changing something on the new version. It could be the entire text of the page or a design change. It could even be something as simple as the colour of a button or one word on the page.
A simple change in button colour can have a big impact on your conversion rate.
Maybe readers don’t notice the call to action because the background colour of the button isn’t striking enough.
Knowing which version of the page performs better is the beauty of split testing. By sending some visitors to your original page and other visitors (usually 50% of the total ) to the page with ‘changes’, you can compare the conversion results. Make the best-converting page be the permanent one.
Google Optimize is a free tool that will get you started with optimization tests. It takes a bit of learning, but it’s worth the effort.
Another way to do this is to run Facebook Ads with different headlines for the same article link. After a while, you’ll see which headline grabs the most attention. You can then use this as the SEO title of your blog post.
Make sure your website looks great on a mobile phone. But don’t obsess over mobile conversion. Many people still browse and evaluate services and products on mobile phones but make their purchases on desktop computers. Tracking user journeys across devices is a tricky thing to do but Google (and other tech firms) is getting better at helping us through it.
If your mobile website offers a bad user experience, don’t expect your business to shine in the search results. The site should look good but it should also be easy to navigate, buttons must be easy to press (with thick thumbs), and pages should download fast.
Test your mobile speed and performance here.
Every travel industry website has to compete with millions of travel blogs on the internet. There’s a lot of content out there to compete with for keywords. SEO-savvy travel bloggers, agencies, and services have the advantage that they can laser-target specific keywords that their potential clients are searching for.
As people wake up to the fact that travel blogs can be lucrative, the competition gets stronger. But you can stay ahead of the game by doing what most people don’t, creating a marketing plan. Treat your blog like a business.
Be different, be original, be better than the usual stuff and rise to the top. Good content is subjective, of course, but just take a look at the writing of the top in the world for inspiration. Give more than just travel tips!
How To Monetize Your Travel Blog
So how do travel content creators generate income?
Getting paid to travel write about your adventures and post pictures of amazing locations is not easy. Otherwise, we’d all be doing it. Some people make a nice living doing just that but there are other ways of making money from a travel blog too. But your success will depend on how much quality content and value you can offer. Having a solid blog puts you ahead of most wannabe bloggers too. You’re halfway to blogging success if you’ve followed this tutorial to this point.
As a travel blogger, you can earn money through any of the following methods
- Affiliate marketing. Bloggers recommend products like travel gear and services like hotel reservation websites all the time. Why not make some money from the company that benefits from the traffic you send them? The customer or client (in most cases) doesn’t pay any extra for clicking the link on the travel blog, but the owner of the site will get a commission if the customer spends money. Sign up with Awin (ex-Affiliate Window) or ShareASale and get access to hundreds of affiliate opportunities. There are many affiliate programs that bloggers can join. And don’t forget Amazon (despite the recent commission cuts). Million-dollar businesses have been built on the strength of commissions from recommendations to Amazon products. It’s a huge industry and one that almost anyone can join.
- Sponsorship. Brands pay travel bloggers to try products and write about them, travel to destinations, stay in hotels, and use their services. Honest bloggers will only write positive reviews of products they genuinely like and/or use. Don’t be tempted to write positive reviews in return for money for products you don’t love. The Internet community has a collective sixth sense for fakers
- Advertising. If you’ve got a lot of traffic, then advertising can be lucrative
- Freelance writing. You can make money on Upwork and Fiverr with almost any skills you can think of. I supplement my income by freelancing on both of these sites but the better your writing and the more exposure you get, the more opportunities for travel writing pay will come your way. Use your blog as a showcase for great writing
- Sponsored Posts. You might have seen these kinds of posts on sites with a statement saying something like “This post is sponsored by blah blah”. Sometimes the blogger writes the post, with a positive spin on a company’s product, and sometimes the company writes the whole thing. It’s not something I’m a fan of and when I see that an article is sponsored, I immediately ignore it. It’s an option but make sure you don’t abuse the trust of your audience. Like with affiliate disclosures, let your audience know that the post is sponsored
- Products, courses, and e-books. Do you have extensive experience in one aspect of travel? Would people pay for a course or product which contained a distilled version of your knowledge? If you have the time and you’re dedicated, producing a product can be lucrative. The best part is that you can advertise the product to your audience for free via your blog.
How Do Travel Bloggers Get Paid?
Now for a more detailed look at how travel bloggers make money and how they make money.
Can You Make Money With a travel Blog?
The answer is Yes, you can. There are thousands of blogs on every topic imaginable making lots of money right now. How much money they make essentially comes down to two things:
- The traffic to your site
- The focus of your content
- The behaviour of your visitors
The “theme”, niche, or focus of your Website’s Content is a crucial factor. For example, a website about minimalism will be difficult to monetise for obvious reasons.
Blogs about luxury goods will probably make a lot of money with good traffic levels. People that buy luxury items are more likely to purchase on a whim and shop around less than the rest of us.
Visitors arriving on your site to get information and then leaving again are less likely to buy your services or click on your affiliate links than more engaged readers. This is why monitoring Visitor Behaviour is important. The most profitable blogs are the ones that have repeat visits, a community, or engaged readers.
How Much Does the Average Blogger Make?
Pat Flynn, the Smart Passive Income blogger makes $100,000 or more every single month. Yep, that’s monthly. Most of that income comes from affiliate sale commissions. Pat’s secret: starting early, blogging consistently, and being open about everything. People trust the man and happily use the products he recommends.
Michelle from Making Sense of Cents is like the Oprah Winfrey of blogging. In 2017 she made over $1.5 million from her blog. Michelle keeps nothing from her readers either. The whole process and how she makes money is detailed in her income reports.
The bloggers above are the top earners but here are some ideas about how much a blogger can make depending on traffic
- 10,000 visits a month: $1000
- 100,000 visits a month: $8,000
- 1,000,000 visits a month: $40,000
- 2,000,000 visits a month: $100,000
Note: These are very rough figures based on browsing hundreds of income reports, chatting with bloggers and my own research. Don’t quote me, shout at me, or hate me. You can, however, correct me if you have some genuine statistics on the subject. It’s love to hear it.
Successful Travel Blogger Examples
Bloggers in the travel niche are no different from other types of content creators. Some of the top bloggers around the world are in the travel niche.
Matt from Nomadic Matt is one of the best-known travel bloggers and digital nomads. His super popular website generates over$50,000 a month.
The guys over at the excellent Goats on the Road talk about how they got their blog to a six-figure online business.
Johnny Ward from One Step 4 Ward made over $1.5 million from his blogging and website empire. It all started with a simple travel blog that now gets over 30,000 visitors a month. He also visited every country on earth while building his brand.
The Poor Traveler website focuses on budget travel but that doesn’t stop them from pulling in the big dollars. The site makes a reported $6000 a month from affiliate and advertising revenue.
Nomad Revelations posts tons of great blogs about adventure travel and other travel-related topics. This is a great website for inspiration if you're wondering how to monetize less “traditional” blogs with a more niche appeal.
One thing is certain, travel bloggers make money by diversifying their income streams. Unlike, say, affiliate-based niche websites that focus on Amazon affiliates entirely, travel bloggers spread the income channels.
Here are some of the ways in which you can make money from a blog focused on travel
- Amazon affiliate commissions – Adding links to your content to Amazon products and getting paid for commissions if people spend money on the site within 24 hours.
- Product sales – Your own products such as eBooks, online courses, and apps give you the best margin on sales but this kind of monetisation takes the most work (after writing content). You can also leverage the power of affiliate marketing. Setting up your own affiliate program is easy. Give a good enough commission and bloggers will sell your products for you. Works especially well with digital products.
- Advertisements – Adsense, fixed ads, Mediavine, Media.net, AdThrive. Put ads on your website and get paid for impressions and clicks. There are many players in the ad network area but Mediavine is the new hot kid in town. I know lots of bloggers that have switched or are switching from Google Adsense (the biggest network) to Mediavine. Those that saw no value in Adsense are putting Mediavine on their websites and making money right away. I don’t have any experience with the platform (this site is under the 25,000 views a month threshold) but by all accounts, people are very happy with it.
- Affiliate sales – Non-Amazon affiliate commissions. These commissions could be directly from a product or service owner or through an affiliate network like Awin, CJ.com, or Clickbank.
- Social sponsorship – As a blogger, you’ll likely have a social media presence for promoting content, connecting with like-minded individuals, and prospecting. Companies pay bloggers for shout-outs on social media. Sponsored Instagram posts, tweets, Facebook reviews or product placement and many other types of social media promotion can be lucrative.
- Sponsored content – This is where a company pays you to add content to your site. This content will either promote the companies product directly or indirectly with some links to their website or sales page.
- Press trips – This is where you really do get paid to travel. Hotels, travel companies, and tourism boards often sponsor travel bloggers in return for a write-up and social media campaign to promote their products.
How Much Money Do You Need?
That’s another big question and can only be answered if you look at your spending habits and travelling style. I’ve met people travelling around Asia with less than $700 a month. I don’t recommend this style of travel. It’s tiring and you’re constantly looking for the cheap option. Opportunities are missed and lots of time is spent looking for the cheaper alternative to accommodation, food, travel, and entertainment.
$1500 a month in many parts of Southeast Asia (Singapore excluded) is quite possible. Thailand is one of the best places to both live cheaply and have amazing travel experiences. In some parts of Eastern Europe and South America, this figure will also be enough to live and travel on. Once your blog takes off you will have the opportunity to receive sponsorship for travel. This might be in the form of free hotel stays or free transport. This helps reduce costs even further.
So if your question is “how to become a blogger and get free stuff?” then you might want to reconsider your career path. Travel blogging is something you do because you enjoy writing about travel. Many bloggers don’t accept freebies, sponsored posts, or anything else that will influence their content. They like to let things happen organically. The free stuff will come but it won’t come if you focus solely on getting it.
Travel blogging is a viable business but it takes time, patience, and lots of work. Don’t expect to make money straight away.
How To Promote Your Travel Blog [10 Ways]
So you’ve written an amazing blog post that everyone should read. But nobody does. Yet. The problem is that SEO takes time and other traffic channels can be a pain to master. But there’s no reason to avoid a multi-channel approach to hacking your way to more blog traffic. These traffic generation tactics can be applied to almost any niche but we’ve tailored them specifically for the travel blogging niche. Use these tried and tested ways of promoting your blog and enjoy the rewards of a bigger, more engaged audience.
There are different strategies for marketing a particular piece of content or your travel blog as a whole. Let’s look at how to do each.
Tell Google Search Console about your post
This isn’t 100% necessary, Google will find your new post but the sooner it knows about it, the better. Merely publishing a new blog will set in motion the processes that lead to Google adding your content to the search index. But by using Google Search Console to add the URL to the index, you can speed up the process somewhat, especially if you haven’t posted in a while and Google is not crawling your site as frequently as before.
- Go to GSC
- Select the name of your blog from the drop-down on the left-hand side.
- Enter the URL in the “Inspect ant URL in [your domain name]”
- If the post is brand new, GSC will tell you that the post is not yet in the index. Click the “Request Indexing” button and let the tool add your URL to the queue. That’s it.
Post on Social Media immediately
Not only will you get eyeballs on your content but there are plenty of indications that social signals like posts on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other platforms that allow links and brand mentions, can help with organic search rankings.
Buy Facebook Ads
Take out a small number of Facebook Ads to boost a post initially
While Facebook Ads can be a bit of a money pit sometimes, it can help to get the word out about your new blog post. By buying ads, you’re guaranteed to break through a lot of the noise ton the social channel and you can target your ads to a niche audience that is more likely to want to read your stuff.
Get Your Posts Shared on Viral Content Bee
This service, with the terrible name, helps spread your content further than you would with mere social posting or even ads. The network of marketers and bloggers that use the service share content with their followers. Real people, not bots. Viral Content Bee is free if you take the time to find content to share on your networks. But you can also buy credits that get you immediate access to thousands of other blog owners.
Use Pinterest – The Visual Search Engine
Think of Pinterest as a visual search engine. Now imagine how that translates to the travel blogging niche. As a travel blogger, you probably have amazing photos of far-flung places that, when added to a pin, will attract people to click and view your content. The platform is particularly suited to bloggers in the fashion, DIY, Home, and of course Travel, niches.
Travel bloggers should use Pinterest. Many WordPress site owners get the vast majority of traffic through the platform. Yes, more than Google.
The key to Pinterest is regularly sharing new content. The more blog posts your produce, the more opportunities you have for creating new pins and getting your work noticed. Don’t worry about followers, likes, or other signals like that. The most important thing you want as a travel blogger is clicks through to your website. So make your pins click-worthy and share often.
Be Active on Reddit
The “Front Page Of the Internet” is one of the most visited websites on the web. The Reddit community is huge and it’s 100% free to join and contribute. Join the sub-communities, called SubReddit, where people chat about anything from solo travel to digital nomadism, maps, and travel blogs.
Answer Questions on Quora
This is the place where people go to answer questions and get answers. It’s also a place where marketers and bloggers go to get ideas. If people are asking questions here, you can provide an answer and link to your post on that topic. But that’s not the only reason to use the platform to promote your blog. By creating a trusted persona on Quora, you can build a list of followers and get literals millions of views on your posts. From there, it’s a lot easier to convert people who view your answers into blog readers, social followers, or email subscribers.
There are thousands of questions on Quora about travel, travel blogging, and travel hacking. But how do you know which ones are worth answering? Well, you could spend a lot of time making guesses or checking the number of views and dates of every post. But that would take forever. A much easier way to do it is to use a tool like SE Ranking to find the top keywords and pages on Quora based on your chosen keywords.
For example, you could look for the topics that get the most traffic on quora for the keyword “travel Australia”. Sort via the amount of traffic and you’ve got a list of Quora posts with the most potential for eyeballs on your answers.
Email bloggers you mention in your posts
Keep a list of blogs and personalities that you mention in your blog posts. Did you talk about a resort, a service, or another blogger? Then let them know once the post is live. Give them a reason to share with their own followers. One way to do this is to write them unique, shareable content for social media. All they have to do it copy and paste. The easier you make it for people to share, the more likely it will happen.
Repurpose Your Posts
Creating different versions of a piece of content is an excellent way of using work you’ve already produced. The return on investment is high because there’s a lot less work involved in repurposing old content than creating new content.
There are loads of ways to repurpose content, so I’ll list them in bullet points.
- Turn your blog posts into PDFs for ebooks to use as lead magnets or for sale on Amazon.
- Create podcasts from the written version of your content.
- Create YouTube videos explaining everything in the blog post.
- Turn video or audio content into short, snappy video posts for Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter using Headliner App
- Make Pinterest pins for every heading or topic in your post and create new boards on Pinterest for each heading.
- Make infographics from the statistics in your blog posts
- Share snippets of your posts in email newsletters.
Write Guest Posts
One of the absolute best ways to promote your travel blog is through doing guest posts on other blogs. There’s nothing complicated about this process but it can be time-consuming, especially if you don’t have staff, a virtual assistant or blogger outreach software to help you.
Here are the steps involved:
- Find relevant blogs that accept guest posts.
- Reach out to the website owners and suggest an article or post that fits in their niche.
- Write the post and include a link in the body or a link in the bio (byline) to your travel blog.
For every link you manage to get, your blog gets a vote of confidence in the search engine results (Google rewards websites with good backlinks), exposure for your writing, and potential traffic to your site via the link.
Quick tip: To find travel blogs that accept guest posts, use these search phrase in Google
- Travel “write for us”
- Travel “guest post”
There are many other creative ways to find guest posting opportunities but start with these two and expand.
Want to start a travel blog but aren‚Äôt sure how? This article will show you exactly how to start a travel blog and get it up on the web. It has tons of great information and tips that will help you launch your own successful travel blog.
Good luck with your blogging journey. Let me know in the comments if there’s anything else you would like to know.
Keith is the founder of Fat Frog Media. He has worked in the tech, fitness, food, and hospitality industries. Keith helps businesses improve their marketing and conversion rates.