It feels like everyone around the net is discussing making money from travel blogging but never getting into any specifics. This site was started as an experiment to prove or disprove whether travel blogging can be a viable online income generator for more than just an elite few. As my own thinking about my business plans evolve I am committed to sharing with you my ideas, what works and what doesn’t. But besides thinking through the next stage of my own strategies I have been pouring over hundreds of travel blogs and websites to determine what is and is not working.
Before I get further into my own detailed plans I want to point out 5 great resources I have read recently about travel blogging and making money. As you all know by now, I believe that to be successful at travel blogging we need to 1) approach it as a business 2) work our asses off 3) accept that it takes time (thus is the dilemma of entering a business with no barriers to entry) 4) produce kick ass content that is also useful and leads to sales of “something” and 5) be more creative than the next guy or gal.
Now the “something” is for each of you to decide. You might be selling ad space, click through for Pay Per Click advertising, affiliate sales for information products, affiliate sales for hotels or travel products, selling your own e-books, or even promoting our own services. Next week I’ll be discussing the top lessons I learned, and wished I learned from 5 years of writing Todd’s Wanderings.
But today I want to introduce you to a few different discussions going on around the web regarding what it takes (or doesn’t take) to make money from travel blogging. These are important issues everyone needs to come to terms with as they progress in their site(s) development.
The Dilemma of Press Trips
Andy from 501 Places wrote a very thoughtful piece about the opportunity costs of participating in blog/press trips. He looks at it from the side of travel bloggers who have to weigh their time spent on a trip vs the earning they could make if they stayed home and worked. This goes back to the issue of what is your ultimate goal with your blog, and where you see your money coming from. Check out The Business Case for Blog Trips and the Bloggers Dilemma and let us know if you think they are a good or bad idea for your business.
A Little More Dirt On the Press Trip
Does it sound like I’m bashing press trips? I don’t mean to but they are often held as the holy grail of travel blogging and help to “prove who has made it and who hasn’t.” Karen, from Europe A La Carte goes into further detail about why we need to think of our blogs as businesses and why we should be compensated beyond a “free” trip. Again, it all comes down to what your goals are. For those only looking to continue to fund their travels around the world then press trips are great. But for those looking to earn a living the choices become more difficult. So have a read on Where are Travel Bloggers Heading after their next free trip?
Enough Bullshit about Making Money Travel Blogging
Darren, from Travel Rants, and creator of Travel Blog Camp goes into an inspired rant about what it really takes to make money from travel blogging. I think he nails the subject by saying: “Get your business model right, and write transactional content along with inspirational / useful content…” In addition he recommends focusing on SEO to drive targeted, relevant traffic to your site in his eloquently put Enough of the Bullsh$T about Making Money Travel Blogging. And because I like his work here is a bonus post: Bloggers Need to Think like a Business to Make Money.
Start thinking Like an Editor
Ok, so by now you might be feeling discouraged, and you might be thinking that you’ll never make it as a travel blogger. That’s where David the Grumpy Traveler comes in. While he doesn’t paint a rosy picture of the travel blogging world (it is a difficult business to make a decent living at) he does offer some concrete advice. While I am not convinced about his multi-author site pitch (it really depends on if you are a personality or niche blogger) he does a great job of showcasing the amount of work needed to succeed. His description of how to use a press trip as an asset to develop deep content that is both usable AND can lead to conversions by people searching online is great. Check out the full discussion on Why Travel Bloggers need to Start Thinking like Editors.
A bit of Holiday Cheer
And to leave you with a final example of some concrete advice here is Chris from Pfft who encourages travel bloggers to stop writing to the small market interested in that tiny cafe in Bangkok, and write to the larger audience that go on holidays. The higher the numbers, the more clicks, the more money you make etc etc etc. Now, the trick is that Chris is telling us that we can keep our inspirational tone, writing styles, and voice. We just need to move it to a wider audience beyond the “I’m traveling all the time” market. It’s good advice and well worth a read on why we should Stop Being Travel Bloggers, Start Being Holiday Bloggers
What does this all mean?
So, you might be wondering what does all this advice mean? Aren’t people saying different things? Well, yes, in a way. But there are also some very clear lessons here.
1) You need to have a plan.
2) If you want to make money travel blogging you need to find an audience who will convert on your site.
3) You have to have a plan. Wait, I already said that! But it’s true. Your plan needs to define who your audience is, what they want, how you can give it to them better than others, and then integrate a conversion/sales plan that meets the needs of the readers you attract.
4) Blogging is not a get rich quick scheme. Travel Blogging/writing takes hard work and dedication. But if you love doing it than you are halfway to there. But you can’t forget the practical issues of mortgages, taxes, and 20% tips at bars in America.
Which advice above resonated the best with you? Is there room for us all in the travel writing/blogging business or will only a few succeed? Share your story