Insider Advice on Making Money with your Travel Blog: Part 3 Where to find Advertisers

This guest post is by Amar Hussain and is Part Three of a Three Part Series. Check out Part One and Part Two.

Yes it’s me again with more advice on making money with your travel blog. Sick of me yet? Before you read on (you don’t want to spoil the series do you?) I would suggest that you read part one for advice on how you can be more attractive to advertisers and how to manage them once you have them. If you didn’t catch the mini case studies in “part two” read them first, and collect your thoughts before you see the answers here. First let us explore how to find advertisers.

Advertiser Contact Lists

Over the past year I have managed to establish a decent sized advertiser network that regularly renew advertising with my website. At first I used to wait for advertisers to approach me which works fine. If you follow the advice in part one you’ll be more attractive to advertisers and should see a rise in advertising queries. An advertising page is a must!

I currently get around three advertising queries a week. I wanted more and started to approach SEO companies myself with speculative e-mails. They’ll always keep you on file if they have nothing at the moment, but be sure to chase them up every couple of months.

Being the businessman that I am (I can’t help it, it’s my business school background) that still wasn’t enough and started developing another strategy. When you look at a blog you can plainly see what advertising they have and their text link ads will be under a header like ‘Partners’ or ‘Featured Sites’ either on the sidebar or footer. Approaching those websites directly has mixed results. Ordinarily those websites will be represented by an ad agency or SEO company so contacting the site can be a waste of time.

You also have to think about is it ethical? I know since writing these posts quite a few people have been poking around my text link ads (yes I am watching you). One advertiser actually asked my opinion on another blog because they had gone through my ads to find them. I think there is better ways to do business.

A far more effective strategy is to contact the blogger directly. You might have an ad contact that they don’t. I think you’ve put two and two together here. Yes, trade contacts with other bloggers! Now it doesn’t always have to be a contact for a contact (you may not have one yet). Sometimes I have traded a contact for a stumble and a contextual backlink. Sometimes when I am feeling particularly generous I have given one away just because! Yes ,I am capable of being nice now and again.

If you are going to trade contacts, make sure it is a contact that you already have nailed down and have been paid by. If I have just completed a deal for a year text link ad I don’t see any harm in trading that contact with another blogger. It’s good to help out others in the community but use your head. If a renewal on your own ad is coming up, probably not best giving it out. Someone might undercut you and then where will you be!

Finding Direct Advertising

Have you ever considered approaching a travel company and doing a direct sales pitch? As much as I interact with travel bloggers I always see what else is going on in blogging in general. Sometimes I feel like I am in a house party but only stay in one room.

A blogger I know runs a successful blog within his niche (not travel). He receives approximately 20,000 unique visitors a month. Leafing through a small magazine based on his niche he noticed an array of different advertisers. He contacted the magazine to find out about distribution numbers of the magazine and their advertising rates. Here’s the genius part. He then approached the advertisers within the magazine pitching his blog and his advertising options. His blog’s readership rivalled that of the magazine and even though he offered the advertisers rates that were half of what the magazine charged, he was still making a fortune. Again, is this ethical or is it just business? We all know that the difference between old and new media advertising rates is huge. Perhaps this is just levelling the playing field.

In the same vein, seeking direct advertising can benefit you in other ways. Affiliate networks don’t always offer the best returns. Setting up private affiliate links with a company can often be more fruitful after the initial leg work has been done. The same blogger struck a deal with a company which meant a 10% commission on sales. Considering the products start at $300 I think you are seeing the benefits here.

I know a lot of bloggers out there are struggling to sell ads because they have a low Google PR. From my understanding there hasn’t been an update since April 2010 [Todd here, Google just updated in January 2011]. My advice would be for blogs that have a low PR to focus on building content and traffic and seeking direct advertisers instead of playing the PR/text link ad game.

Answers to the Case Studies

Here are my own thoughts on the mini case studies from Part Two. Let me know what your thoughts are.

Case Study 1.

An advertiser offers you a text link ad for $24 per month. They want it above the fold on the sidebar with the anchor text within a paragraph. The ad is to run for a year but the advertiser will pay every 3 months. Would you accept this offer?

On the face of it the deal is a good one. After all it’s close to the $30 mark and you could justify the discount due to the length of time the ad would be running. However in the end I decided not to go ahead. This is my own personal view but I like to try and keep advertising visibility to a minimum (not always easy with widgets). The advertiser wanted its own textbox above the fold with it’s ad in a paragraph. Realistically, the advertiser should be paying $30 for that. My final issue with this is that they have said the ad will run for a year but aren’t willing to pay for it upfront. If they really wanted a year they would pay for it. There’s nothing stopping them from pulling out after 3 months. Also, you have to think of your time. If you are dealing with 20 odd advertisers do you really want to be chasing one up every 3 months for payment? I took the ‘plenty more fish in the sea’ route here and rejected this offer.

Case Study 2

You are offered sponsored guest posts every week for a year. These posts will be well written and personalised for your site and contain two outgoing links to travel sites. You will be paid $40 per post. The agreement value is therefore worth $2080 for the year. Each text link ad, which is permanent, is therefore being priced at $20 each. What would you do in this situation?

Sometimes you have to think big and I countered with $95 per link per post which is nearly 5 times what they originally offered. They agree to 1 link per post at $70 each which is three and a half times what they originally offered. They will supply two posts a month for a year, which is less than their original offer of one a week. This deal is worth $1680. For the quick thinkers out there you’ll realise this deal is much better. You’re selling 24 links for $1680 instead of 52 for $2080. Is this deal still worth it? Ultimately, you are still selling permanent links in posts at $70 a pop, which is of course less than $30 per month. Would you make an exception?

In a situation like this you need to look at the bigger picture, not merely from a financial point of view. If you run a personal blog, then regular guest posts may not be the direction you want to take. As it states above the posts are well written. If another blogger approached you with great content and you accepted guest posts, you would think nothing of posting their article and including a link back to their blog in their bio. How is this any different? Provided it’s good content, they are easy to deal with, pay on time and it is only one outgoing link then you are actually getting a good deal. Especially if you are looking to increase your content or reduce the time you spend writing personally.

Case Study 3

An advertiser approaches you asking if they can do a sponsored post. The post fits in perfectly with your blog and includes one outgoing link. More importantly the advertiser wants the post to go live within the next 24 hours. They want to know how much you charge? How would you go about pricing this up?

It depends how bold you are willing to be. An e-mail like this reads to me that the advertiser is in a use it or lose it situation. Either that or the advertiser has a client that is in a rush. In this case you can probably risk pitching quite high. From personal experience I pitched at $400 which the advertiser agreed without any arguments provided I could get it posted within the next few hours. The fact that the advertiser didn’t even attempt to negotiate price indicates that I probably could have gone higher without much trouble. Nevertheless, this was a rather easy quick sell which was very profitable. These situations don’t come up often but if you judge the situation you can profit considerably. I don’t think you can teach this. Sales skills and instinct come from experience. My advice would be to be bold once in a while. It may pay off in unexpected ways.

Case Study 4

An advertiser approaches you with the offer of a 6 month simple text link ad to be placed in your footer. They are prepared to pay $150 up front which is the equivalent to $25 per month. They are incredibly easy to deal with and very prompt with payment. However, the link is for ‘identity protection’. Would you proceed with this sale? What could you do to make it ‘safer’?

Personally, I wouldn’t. My main concern is that the link directs to a website that isn’t travel related. This is always a flag to Google and as you should be aware, as per Google’s terms of use, websites that sell text link ads could be deindexed or have their Google PR removed. Considering how many advertisers I currently have I wouldn’t take the risk for the sake of $150. If you were to go ahead with a link such as this you could make it safer by surrounding the link with text to make it more contextually matched with your site e.g. ‘Identity protection whilst travelling’. With any link that is a dubious match to your travel blog have a think. If you were an average Joe and saw a link that had nothing to do with travel your instant thought would be that it’s an advertisement. If the average reader can spot that, what do you think Google can see? I saw a travel blog with text links for colon cleansing and Vegas gambling. The money might be tempting but you’ll only be hurting yourself in the long run.


Insider Advice on Making Money with your Travel Blog: Part 2, How Much to Charge

This guest post is by Amar Hussain and is Part Two of a Three Part Series. Check out Part One or Part Three.

For Sale

A common question asked by so many bloggers is “how much should I charge for a text link ad?” If you haven’t already done so I would suggest you read Part One of this series first.

Now I would love to give you a clear cut answer but there really isn’t one. Like any industry there are market forces such as demand and supply at play. All advertisers are different, all websites are different and the biggest variable of all is you.

My primary concern, as this is one of my greatest sources of income, is that the market has become flooded. If you’ve been a blogger for a little while you’ll have seen an explosion of ‘John Smith’s’ setting up travel blogs. You see new ones everyday; BackpackingJohn, NomadicJohn, WhereIsJohn etc. I want to stress that this isn’t a bad thing from a personal point of view, I encourage new blogs and enjoy the growth in the community. However, this is a business-centric post and if we are talking about ‘the threat of new entrants into the market’ then in travel blogging it is very high.

Supply (travel blogs) is certainly outstripping demand (advertisers) which probably explains why price is being driven down as bloggers scrabble to generate any kind of income. Even though I have seen my revenue increase I have seen a decline in how much links are worth. Whether this is a supply/demand issue, smaller advertising budgets due to the recession or bloggers not realising how much their blogs are worth, is open to debate. If you are one of the latter; stop it. You’re undervaluing yourself and your blog and we all deserve better.

Looking at my contacts list I have dealt with in the region of 50+ advertisers. That’s not to say I have gone with them all. However, this does give me a pretty good insight as to what is out there, the current trends and the answer to the question you are dying to know; how much to charge.

Let me put myself out there and use my own site as an example. My site has a Google PR3. It has approximately 40 outgoing links from the homepage (verging on too many I think, but that’s a separate issue for me) and has an Alexa Rank of 166,033. A rule of thumb that I go by for a simple text link ad is $30 per month. Price for different advertisers tends to vary slightly around this point, recently moving more towards $25 per month (remember I was talking about excess supply?).

Text link ad is such a vague term so let’s look at all the variations

Simple text link ad with anchor text only.

This is generally the most common form of text link ad and you will see these in sidebars and footers. The anchor text will generally be 1-3 words.

Simple text link ad with anchor text and accompanying text.

Similar to the above but the anchor text will be embedded within a sentence or short paragraph.


You normally see these in the shape of a travel insurance or flight widget with a search function. There will be embedded text links within the widget.

Sponsored posts – provided.

An advertiser will send you a pre-written post with link(s) within it.

Sponsored posts – produced by you.

You are required to write a specific post on a particular topic or review a particular product or service and include link(s).

Sponsored posts – An old post.

The advertiser asks you to add a link within an old post. This may require you to slightly amendment a sentence so that the anchor text fits.

Here are factors that can affect the value of a text link ad and the price you should charge

Above the fold.

This is a really ambiguous term. This normally means as high up on the page as possible. Anything above half way is considered acceptable from my experience. Text links above the fold are considered to be higher value.


Pretty self explanatory where these text link ads go. These have the opposite affect and are considered less valuable.

Site wide.

This is generally standard practice for a text link ad to appear on every page.

Homepage only.

This doesn’t occur very often but it’s about as valuable as a site wide text link ad.

Every page except the homepage.

Although site wide, not having an outgoing link from your homepage is beneficial to yourself. I would generally accept a lower price for these due to the benefits.

Accompanying text.

A link with surrounding text is perceived as more valuable due to SEO. You could charge slightly more for this type of ad.

Google PR.

The higher your PR the more you can charge for text link advertisers. Whether this is ‘right’ is open to debate and I don’t wish to go into this now. It is understood that Google does not take too much stock in a sites PR. Nevertheless it’s a benchmark that almost all advertisers use to gauge a sites suitability. As much as we may want this to change it’s just the way the market currently operates.

Outgoing links.

If you have numerous outgoing links from your homepage advertisers are less inclined to use your website. I would suggest all blogs wanting to advertise audit their homepages to ensure that they remove or ‘no follow’ any non-essential links.

Number of links.

More links means more dollar, well it should do anyway. Before quoting any prices for a widget ask to be sent the widget and the code. Not only will you be able to see the size of the widget (and the space it will take on your sidebar) but you’ll be able to see how many links are contained within it and can price accordingly. Same goes for sponsored posts. I normally agree to one link per post, two maximum. Some blogs will allow more but that’s up to you.

Ad length.

If an advertiser pays up front for a period over 6 months they should expect to receive a slight discount in the region of 5%-10%.

Site content.

You may think it’s all about PR but your site content also plays a part. I run one of the largest Gap Year blogs out there and as such I am one of the first ports of call for Gap Year advertisers. Having the term Gap Year in my domain name helps considerably. If you run a ‘generic’ travel blog there is always going to be many sites like yours thus lowering the price. Still, this isn’t always the case. I know some ‘backpacking’ blogs that on the face of it could be deemed generic however they have large quantity of content in a specific geographical area that they attract a large number of advertisers from that area. I have a large amount of content on Australia and therefore attract advertisers from that region.

Sponsored posts.

You should note that sponsored post advertisers vary so much more on price. Predominantly text links sold in posts are normally permanent links. I know some bloggers change the link to no follow or remove it completely after a year. This is something you will agree prior to the sale but most advertises want the link archived ‘for life’. Contextual links such as this tend to be ‘safer’ provided the anchor text is relevant and it blends well with the post. However, as we explored earlier there are variables. If the link is to go into an old post, this requires very little work on your behalf but that page probably has a PR and arguably worth more. Similarly, if the post is provided by the advertiser this requires very little work for yourself but it’s not as valuable despite the fact that the advertiser is able to tailor the post for their SEO requirements.

The sponsored posts that bloggers should charge the most for are ones which they have to write themselves. There are additional costs involved with these, whether this involves your time or the fact you have to hire a copywriter to do the piece for you. These costs should be past on to the advertiser. Taking all of this into consideration sponsored posts should be priced somewhere in the region of $200-$400. Not an exact science I know but I am hearing far too often that bloggers are charging a lot less than this. I don’t want to hear how you accepted a sponsored post with 5 links for $40. You are being ripped off. After this post you should know better!

One last thing on sponsored posts; is the post they provide you any good and congruent with your readership? I once was sent a travel insurance post for over 60’s. I run a Gap Year blog, I turned it down. Don’t be afraid to say no. You can damage your image with your readership for posting sponsored posts that don’t add value to your audience. Is the quick buck really worth it in the long run if you alienate your readership?

Now there are many exceptions to these guidelines and to illustrate why I’ve provided some mini ‘case studies’. Have a read and think about what you would do if you were confronted with this situation. They are real life examples and there may not be a specific right answer but I can only advise what I have done in these situations. Write your answers in the comments if you feel like sharing your thoughts. I’ll follow up with the ‘answers’ in part 3 along with advice on finding new advertisers.

Case Study 1.

An advertiser offers you a text link ad for $24 per month. They want it above the fold on the sidebar with the anchor text within a paragraph. The ad is to run for a year but the advertiser will pay every 3 months. Would you accept this offer?

Case Study 2

You are offered sponsored guest posts every week for a year. These posts will be well written and personalised for your site and contain two outgoing links to travel sites. You will be paid $40 per post. The agreement value is therefore worth $2080 for the year. Each text link ad, which is permanent, is therefore being priced at $20 each. What would you do in this situation?

Case Study 3

An advertiser approaches you asking if they can do a sponsored post. The post fits in perfectly with your blog and includes one outgoing link. More importantly the advertiser wants the post to go live within the next 24 hours. They want to know how much you charge? How would you go about pricing this up?

Case Study 4

An advertiser approaches you with the offer of a 6 month simple text link ad to be placed in your footer. They are prepared to pay $150 up front which is the equivalent to $25 per month. They are incredibly easy to deal with and very prompt with payment. However, the link is for ‘identity protection’. Would you proceed with this sale? What could you do to make it ‘safer’?

Let me know your thoughts on this post and the mini case studies and stay tuned for part 3 of this series. I’ll give my thoughts on the case studies and explore advertiser acquisition. If for whatever reason you want to contact me privately, I can be reached here.


How to choose your position in Soccer?


Are you interested in playing soccer and eager to get into the game but not quite sure what position best suits you? Choosing the position that best suits you can make or break a player and will determine how successful they will be when they play. You want a position that will highlight your strengths and benefit the team as a whole. So put on your soccer cleats and let’s find out. You may also like article about “Best Soccer Cleats”

Soccer (or also known as Football outside the United States) is a game composed of 11 players per team. Each player has a designated role in which they can show their strength either in offense or in defense. Choosing must be done with careful consideration of what you can do on the field and consultation with coaches and trainers to see where you best fit.

Each team on the field is composed on defenders, midfielders, forwards and a goalkeeper. It is up to the coach’s decision on how to manage the team’s positions on the field and is mostly based on the coach’s tactics for a particular game.

Here are some suggestions in choosing your position in soccer:

If you’re strong, smart and composed then perhaps the best position for you is the defender. Defenders generally don’t get much glory as their role is really to defend as the name of the position suggests. They may not contribute to the scoring, but they win games. A good defender is able to assess and read their current game and come up with strategies to wrestle balls away from the opposing team. They can often come in and suddenly change the tide of a game.

If you have the endurance to keep running and are good at passing the ball, then perhaps midfield is the best position for you. Midfielders are the jack-of-all-trades in soccer. They are all around and must be able to do a bit of everything. But their most important role is to keep the whole team together, strategizing attacks, and passing balls from the back to the forwards. Midfielders typically run up and down the field, pass the ball as accurately as possible at both short and long distances, generally remains composed and calm.

Now, if you’re big, fast and loves to score goals, then being a forward is the way to go. Forwards (often referred to as strikers) have one job and that is to score. The best strikers are those who can move fast and is excellent at shooting the ball to the goal.

Goalkeepers on the other hand are those with excellent reflexes and great hand-eye coordination. Whatever it is on the field, their primary task is to ensure that not a single ball will get pass them. They need to be smart and confident, able to analyze movements of player so that they can actually predict where a ball may be headed and stop it before it even reaches our apartment.

However, the best way that will help in choosing the best position is trying out all the available positions in a team. By trying out the different positions, you can find your sweet spot and see what best works for you and hopefully make good use of those soccer cleats.

Welcome to Travel Blog Challenge

Welcome! It is really exciting to write this first post in what I hope will become a dynamic community of travel bloggers, ready to help each other succeed. Many of you may already know me as the author of Todds Wanderings. If you know me from there you might be asking yourself, what the heck are you doing creating another website? Dont you have enough to do with blogging, writing 3 books, and working full time for the United Nations?

Welcome to Travel Blog Challenge

While the danger of pulling myself in too many directions is certainly real, there is an even greater danger of just going in the wrong direction in general. Like many of you, I have heard (well, read) all the hype how we can earn money for traveling by blogging. How its possible to create a location independent lifestyle, travel the world and get paid to do it. Sounds nice right? Who wouldnt get caught up in this dream. It pulls at all the right emotional hooks, freedom, travel, escaping the 9-5 grind, becoming rich doing something we love. The question is, is it true? Is blogging, and more specifically travel blogging, a viable way to earn enough money to survive and support our travels?

What we are all about

The Travel Blog Challenge was created to answer this very question. It was created to shed some light and transparency on the travel blogging and lifestyle design worlds (yup, lifestyle designers are welcome too!). The Travel Blog Challenge was also created to help prejudge the answer, a place to gather together, network, to help each other out and succeed in an ethical way. Thats right, no spammers here, just a way to help travel bloggers develop sustainable online incomes.

1000-1000 Travel Blog Challenge

One of the main tools here on the TBC is the 1000-1000 Challenge. The aim of the Challenge (beside being the source of the blogs name) is to give everyone a goal to reach, as well as to help us create a standard in determining travel blogging success. This is how well be able to answer if travel blogging really is viable, and how to go about it.

Im not going to lie, this is not easy and will take a significant commitment, and a lot of time. But if youre willing to put in the effort then were willing to help you. Ill also be in it with you. To sign up for the challenge visit  the link above, but to see where it all started visit this post. I was amazed at the number of bloggers who thought it was a great idea, asked for my advice on building a successful blog, and were just stumbling around with no clear goal. In response I decided to expand the challenge to something greater than just my own personal goal.

Articles and Advice on Building a Successful Travel Blog

Besides tapping into our competitive spirits, TBC is also dedicated to furthering the Travel Blog world and finding the best ways to succeed. There is a lot written on the web about how to build a successful blog, from the nuts and bolts of web design, to finding an audience, to monetizing to the dreaded SEO. There is also a wealth of information floating around in other industries, such as marketing, public relations and tour companies. The TBC is dedicated to sharing the most useful advice on all of these topics and how they can help us all.

Knowing that we all have creative advice and hard earned experience to share, TBC is open to guest bloggers. So if you have useful tips or advice on anything related to increasing readership, monetizing, SEO, nuts and bolts, or cool things I havent heard about yet, check out how to write for Travel Blog Challenge.

TBC Network

One of the ultimate goals of the Travel Blog Challenge is to create a Network of successful travel bloggers that we can leverage to increase all of our online incomes. Ive been nothing but impressed with the willingness of the travel blog community to help each other out. Well approach advertisers and spread the wealth throughout the group. You wont have to wait until you complete the 1000-1000 Challenge to become a member. After all, the purpose of the TBC is to prove we can succeed, and to help you succeed. But you will have to commit to being a part of the group and helping others out. So to become a full blown member you have to do four things:

1) Start the 1000-1000 Challenge (click here to get started)

2) Register in the Forums and participate for 3 months (yes, Ill be able to tell)

3) Have an average visitor rate of 0ver 200/day for the past 2 month (as judged by Google Analytics)

4) Promote the heck out of your fellow travel bloggers

Once you have all four contact me and youll be added to the TBC Network List (yay, more promotion),  and youll be able to write a  Member Post to introduce  yourself and your blog. This way well ensure that Members are committed, and potential advertisers can be assured of our quality.

Commitment to Honesty and Transparency

Unfortunately, its very easy to trick people on the internet. The TBC is my answer to this trickery. We are not trying to employ emotional hooks, and promises of instant wealth with no work. What we are promising is complete honesty regarding what it takes to succeed as a travel blogger, if its even possible. I will be using Todds Wanderings as a case study and will share what has worked, what has failed, and where I stand with earnings and visitors. Anyone else who wants to do the same is free to post as well once they are a Member (although guest posting is welcome anytime).

I know, I know, this is a very ambitious plan for a new website. Thats OK, slow and steady is fine with me. and the site will evolve slowly as I add content, functions, and our membership grows. I have been blogging for the past 4 years and while Ive learned that quality takes time, Ive also learned that great things can happen quickly. If we succeed I have even more plans include: a space to promote travel and writing competitions, a jobs board to connect bloggers with those who need content and companies looking for reviews.

Excited? I am. Id love to hear what you think below in the comments.

*I would love for you to provide as much feedback, advice and even criticism as you can muster. This is a community site and it depends on its members to be successful, whether this if with guest posts or interaction in the forums, promoting each others sites, or suggesting new ways to grow. Leave your ideas below in the comments, or better yet get involved and help out. This is your site too.

1000-1000 Blog Challenge

Complete the 1000-1000

Welcome to the 1000-1000 Travel Blog Challenge. The Challenge is the competitive bedrock of the TBC and is the main tool we will use in our community experiment to answer the question: is travel blogging really a viable way to earn sustainable online income? It is also a fixed goal that we can use to motivate ourselves and each other.

What is the 1000-1000 Challenge?

The Challenge is simple. Build your travel or lifestyle blog to the point where it earns at least $1000 USD per month and gets an average of 1000 visitors/day.

Simple right? Well, maybe not that simple. In fact, we know accomplishing both can be difficult. Many people on the internet want you to believe that its easy to travel the world and get paid for it. They rely on the emotional hooks of freedom, travel and money to get you to part with your own money. The truth is, travel blogging takes time, dedication, and a plan of action. BUT you can succeed, and the Challenge is a way to help each other gain sustainable online income from travel blogging and build a legion of adoring fans (or just some really cool people).

We will do it together, and prove not only that succeeding at travel and lifestyle blogging is possible, but how to do it so others can follow in our footsteps.

How to Start the 1000-1000 Challenge

Starting the Challenge is easy and is the first step on your way to joining the Travel Blog Challenge (TBC) Network.

1) Register your site with Get Clicky so you can track visitor numbers and prove them to me and analyze where your traffic is coming from! (I switched this requirement from google analytics, because Get Clicky offers a much better user interface and is still free (there is a premium option if you want to track more than one site).

2) Install the TBC 1000-1000 Challenger Badge with pride (lots of sizes to suit your needs)

3) Write a post on your blog announcing you have joined the 1000-1000 Challenge

4) Leave a comment on this page with a link to your announcement (so I can add you to the list of challengers)

5) Write consistently, be creative and honest when earning money and building traffic

6) Selflessly promote the heck out of your fellow travel and lifestyle challengers

Why 1000-1000?

Before you send the inevitable barrage of e-mails bemoaning earning money from travel blogging, waxing poetic about all the other benefits such as social capital, engaging in a passion, and meeting new people, just take a deep breath and read some more.

There are many ways to measure success in the blogging world, and by no means am I saying that $1000/month and 1000 visitors/day is the only way to measure this. If you are happy blogging for the love of writing, great! If you are only interested in keeping a journal of your trip, go for it. If you are only interested in building a community but not monetization, this is still a great place for you.

I chose $1,000 as the threshold as this is a nice side income, and it is also the minimum monthly income needed by most long term budget travelers.

I chose 1,000 visitors (or about 30,000 a month) as this seems to be the magic number between a small website and one that has developed a respectable following. Well, to be  honest, this one was more random and I went with my gut feeling. Of course we would all love over 100,000 visitors a month, but lets concentrate on one thing at a time.

These are the standards I hoping we can use to build up credibility. When we have enough bloggers who have completed the challenge we will have a powerful lobbying group to engage with advertisers, PR reps and marketers.

Ive Started the Challenge, Now What?

The challenge is a medium term goal. It is my hope that it does not take most challengers longer than 1 year to complete. In the meantime, poke around the Travel Blog Challenge for advice and guidance on how to build a better blog.

Sign up for the TBC Network (the 1000-1000 Challenge is the first step). See the TBC Welcome post for details.

Introduce yourself on the forums in the New Challenger Introductions thread.

Most importantly, network, promote others, and engage with the community here. This is your site too and the benefits for all of us will come through supporting each other and banding together.

Ive Complete the Challenge, Now What? How will you Know?

Fear not, Im not going to forget about you, or exclude you if you are already a popular blogger.

If you are already over the 1000-1000 threshold, then get in touch and we will work it out. This will most likely be through a 1,500-1,500 challenge, or something like it. In either case this is just the first step in getting involved with the TBC Network. See the full steps here.

How to Prove you finished the Challenge

Like joining the TBC Network I will rely on Get Clicky to show your average monthly visits. While I encourage these to be unique visits, for the time being we will just say visits.

Proving how much you earn from your blog can be trickier and since this is all for self development I am going to just take your word for it. You are free to be creative in how you earn money from your blog (adsense, private advertising, affiliate sales, selling your own products, entering competitions etc). BUT you should distinguish between what the blog helps you earn and what you earn through the blog. For example a paid writing assignment that has NOTHING to do with your blog does not count. But if you win a writing competition by promoting it through your blog that is OK.

Basically, Im asking you to use your common sense, be fair, transparent and honest. When you complete the Challenge Ill ask you to post an article with your tips, advice and a breakdown of the types of revenue you earn and where your traffic comes from. This will help everyone else who follows, plus its really cool to see how others succeed!

OK, enough chit chat, lets get on with it. Good luck with the challenge and I cant wait to meet you.

How to Spend Less Time Blogging and More Time Traveling

Travel and BloggingOne of the most important aspects of running a travel blog is being able to travel.  This can be a difficult task.  While many travelers start up a travel blog at the beginning of their first around the world trip, many fail or lose interest part way through their travels.

Running a successful travel blog takes a full time commitment and this can really cut into your quality time seeing the world.

How can a person travel and enjoy their time exploring the earth while running a successful travel blog?

It is much easier to keep up to date with everything when you are at home in the comforts of your living room, but on the road any situation can pop up.  You may be in the middle of the jungle for several days or climbing a mountain without Internet access. Many countries have terrible and slow connections and you may find that you cannot upload photos or even get into your site.

You have to be prepared for any situation and you never want to have a blog that hasn’t been updated for long periods of time.

We have developed a system that not only allows us to travel, but to go on multiday adventures without even looking at the Internet while still managing to post content 7 days a week.   While things are easier when we are not travelling, we have our greatest increase in traffic and interest when we are out exploring the world. So our goal is to be on the road as much as we can each year.

Here are the ways that we manage to stay on top of social media, post content regularly and manage to contribute to other blogs through guest posts and interviews regularly.

1. Schedule Posts

Before leaving on a trip, we have two weeks of blog posts already scheduled.  We stay two weeks ahead on our blog at all times. This gives us a cushion if we find ourselves in a situation where we can’t get to an Internet.  Even though we are not in the location that we are writing about at the time, nobody knows it.  Only our core group of friends and fellow bloggers know the truth about where we are, but they are not the audience we are writing for. We write for people searching for information on a location or people that are interested in our adventures and don’t know us personally. They still get the story, just two weeks later than when we were there.

2. Schedule Social Bookmarking Sites

It is extremely important not to fall out of the loop of social networks.  We receive a lot of our traffic from twitter, facebook and StumbleUpon. We learned early in our travels that if we didn’t tweet and share other people’s content, they would forget about us. We use a combination of Hootesuite and to schedule tweets.  Bloggers that we know who put out good solid content regularly are tweeted automatically from Hootesuite using their RSS/Atom application.   In doing so, we can instantly share their content and not even be online. is another great way to spread out our tweets and to post on facebook. We will spend a day scheduling people’s content to be tweeted and shared at different times throughout the week.  This allows us to add a human element to our scheduled tweets.  Autotweeting doesn’t allow any personality, but when scheduling tweets with your own little comments it allows you to engage with your audience.

We also use because it gives people an easy option to submit our posts to StumbleUpon.  It must work because we receive a lot of traffic from StumbleUpon.

Use Facebook Effectively – Start a fan page and use networked blogs to syndicate your content on facebook. It will automatically pull your feed from your blog and post your content onto facebook as soon as it is published.  This lets your fans instantly know when your new post is up.  You can also schedule facebook status updates through Hootesuite.

3. Photos

We host our photos on SmugMug and Flickr. This allows us to mass upload photos to be used on the website.  SmugMug houses our more professional travel photos while Flickr hosts our snapshots. Both types of photos are just as important to further the story of a post.  These sites are useful because it is quick and easy to upload several photos at once rather than inserting one photo at a time to the blog.  All we have to do once we write the article is to link the photos to the post where we want them. This saves valuable time online.

4. Write posts ahead of time

There is a lot of down time when traveling. You can spend hours on a bus or sitting in an airport. Use that time to do work.  Pre write your post on your laptop and sort and choose your photos for uploading. When you have an Internet connection all you have to do is copy and paste your content into the site. And when it comes to your photos, all you have to do is upload the album that you have already made.

I even pre write my tags and the excerpt for my post so that I don’t waste time having to think about anything at the Internet.  The less time I have to spend online, the more time I have to enjoy my travels.

5. Keep a Journal

When you are out on a tour jot down some notes. This will help you write a post faster than trying to remember details or having to look up information.  I brainstorm ideas all the time in my journal and keep it close by for quick reference.

6. Buy an iPhone or Blackberry

We always carry an iPhone to answer emails.  Advertisers contact us daily and we would hate to miss out on a business opportunity because we can’t get on the Internet.  We buy a SIM card and data plan in each country as soon as we enter. Our iPhone has become one of our most important items because its an excellent way to stay connected.   We can send out tweets and facebook updates and moderate comments on our blog all while stuck in transit.

7. Enjoy your travels

We travel hard and then we work hard. We will go for several days at a time unplugged but nobody knows it. By doing all the legwork, we stay connected and have posts coming out regularly while we are off enjoying the adventure of a lifetime.  Once we are finished our adventure, we then settle in for a couple of days to catch up on our work and write our next round of posts.

Take advantage of the many times that you will be stuck waiting for boats, trains, planes and buses to get your work done. There is nothing else to do in a waiting area but wait; you might as well do your blogging so that you don’t have to work when you arrive at your destination.

We like to immerse ourselves in our travels.  We aren’t a type of traveler that sits in one place for months on end. We take part in adventures; we go on treks and move around a lot.  The last thing we want to do is spend too much time on the Internet.

Anyone Can Monetize A Blog How Much Youll Make Is A Different Story

Create Blog Plan to Make MoneyBefore we get to Anils great post, I want to have my say on this topic. Yes, Im entitled to! Its my blog after all! What you are about to read is really true. There are a lot of people peddling the get paid to travel line but not everyone comes and tells you how hard it is, how you need to have a plan, how you actually need to work at it. No one is going to throw money at you in real life, so why would they in the blogging world. You need to EARN your money. I hope its possible to earn that money doing what I love, sipping cocktails on the beach, and dodging bullets and clingy groupies.

Here at the TBC we are trying one of these unique ways to add value (i.e. $$$, fame, world domination) collectively to our travel blogs. It takes creativity, and a willingness to work hard when youre not on the beach. No one ever said doing what you love is not hard work. It just doesnt feel like work.

Ok, now without further ado here is our great guest post by Anil.

How Much Money?

There isnt a single blog or blogger out there that cant make money by the end of this week with their site. Making money with a blog is easy, but if thats where your goal stops you wont be able to pay for a beer in Thailand, let alone your travels.

Without goals and a plan to achieve them, youll fail. There is no single way to make money with a blog just as theres no single way to make money from a business. Henry Ford didnt wake up one day and say I want to make money, let me figure out how. The idea came first. He monetized a dream and wasnt dreaming about monetizing.

Those of you serious about making money from your travel blog need to have some idea of how much you want to make…and how often. Monetizing isnt just turning your blog into a cash machine, in reality its converting it into a business. You need to treat it as such.

Have A Travel Blog Plan

There are two ways to go about making money online; either try and make a million dollars out of one thing, or make 1 dollar a million ways. Somewhere in between the two you need to diversify your income. Experiment, and keep track of where your money comes from and how. Talk to businesses in your field (aka. other specific travel blogs youve singled out) and see whats working for them and how.

Starting to sound like a business? Remember, it is if you have a figure in your head you want to make. Otherwise its just a hobby, and thats fine too. The biggest mistake you can make is getting caught somewhere in the hazy gray area of the two and end up frustrated with the goals you never created, realized, or achieved.

Wear Your Business Hat

While I cant make a business plan for you, I can help you get started but asking you, why should anyone give you money? Ask yourself (and your travel blog) the same question. (Dont worry, I wont look as you talk to your computer screen.)

You may have an audience that others would like to advertise to, an expertise others are willing to pay and learn from, or travel photography worthy of posting on living room walls. And probably many other things nobody has thought about or done in the same way before.

Blogs dont make money, everything associated with them does, indirectly. How much theyll make on the other hand is mostly up to you. Remember that you cant financially succeed or fail if you dont have goals to measure that success against.


Write for TBC

Thanks for your interest in writing a guest post for Travel Blog Challenge.

Travel Blog Challenge is a community site that relies on the experience, creativity, and insight of its readers to create and share content. Basically, wed love to get you involved. After all the Travel Blog Challenge is all about helping each other.


We are hoping to get a lot of requests and while we would love to feature everyone, quality content that is relevant, well written and above all useful is a must. While we will consider everything, you have a better chance if your guest post:

  • speaks to the travel blogging community (if you didnt read the About, you are out)
  • presents a unique and creative perspective
  • is written so that the beginner as well as the advanced blogger can use the advice easily

What does this all mean? Basically that we may politely decline to use your article if it is not well written  is not relevant to our readers or the theme of the TBC, fails to present information in a new way, we have already covered the topic, or we have too many posts. I know, it sounds strict but we arent so bad. As long as you are eager, honest, and passionate Im sure youll do fine.


As you may have noticed, Travel Blog Challenge is dedicated to helping the travel blog community succeed. This falls into two basic topics- building readership and making money. Of course this can cover a lot of ground and were are relying on your creativity to expand our knowledge and the possibilities in travel blogging. But just so we are all on the same page here are some of the topics the we cover:

  • Increasing traffic and find a readership
  • How to make money
  • Building and optimizing web sites (the nuts and bolts)
  • Marketing, Public Relations, Social Media
  • Tools
  • Writing compelling content
  • Efficiency and how to spend less time blogging and more time traveling

Yeah, thats a lot and Im open to more so suggest away.


Here are a few guidelines and suggestions that will make both of our lives easier and will hopefully increase the chances we can feature your post. So, before you hit send make sure your submission:

  1. is clear, concise and follows a logical progression. Basically, make sure the advice is useful and is written with Travel Blog Challenge members in mind
  2. includes all the information you want presented and in the appropriate areas, text, links, pictures etc
  3. infringes on NO copyrights laws either with text or images
  4. includes a title, body text, your byline, and an image


Your post can be as long as it needs to be to cover your topic of choice. There are lots of rules floating around the internet about how posts for the web should be short to retain our attention. That may be true but at the end of the day content and quality is king. Write well, write in a compelling voice, add value and youll keep attention to the end.

Those are the rules. Now you may be wondering what you get out of it all.

What you get

Travel Blog Challenge is all about promoting others and helping each other master the 1000-1000 Challenge. Feel free to include links in the body of your article, but make sure they are relevant (abuse it and well remove them or reject completely). At the end of every guest post we will include your byline with up to two links to promote your blog, service, product or whatever you think is relevant. We love to promote!

Remember, the more useful the content the more likely people will click through to your blog to see what else you have to say.

– See more at:

8 Tips for Going Viral With StumbleUpon

8 Tips for Going Viral With StumbleUponHave you ever wondered how some posts go viral with 100,000+ hits on StumbleUpon and others only get 23?  Or why two of your posts of equal strength and style differ in the amount of traffic you receive by several orders of magnitude?

When using StumbleUpon, there are many tips throughout the internet that are designed to help you maximize your ability to get stumbles.  The sad truth to this is that StumbleUpon is as elusive as figuring out Google or other large SEO factors.  The amount of metrics that go into determining what is good and what is bad make it impossible to decipher.

After years of playing with StumbleUpon, having an account blocked, and another become successful, then lose that success only to regain it again, Ive figured out a few things that should be looked at loosely when trying to send traffic to blog posts.

1) Account Strength is the Beast

StumbleUpon lets you share many posts, make friends, and even have reviews of your account.  The more of these you have over more random sites, the higher your account will be rated.  This is simple; StumbleUpon trusts the views of users with hundreds of shares and a pattern of quality submissions than a spammer who only has a few dozen.  I did not even begin getting 100+ views on a stumble until after 50 unique reviews, and that is a modest count.

Try this: A great way to strengthen your account is to stalk sites that you know will get many reviews on StumbleUpon like Matador Network.  Be the first to review a post immediately after it is live, and let the people behind you fill it with likes.  Your account gets stronger significantly from this.

2) The Friendship Double Edged Sword

Having friends on StumbleUpon is a great way to strengthen your account.  Your stumbles get a boost because people are friends with you, who in turn make you appear to be a trustworthy source.

Sharing recently stumbled articles with your friends, unfortunately, does absolutely nothing to get a post viral.  StumbleUpon cares more about organic likes than your friends liking a post just because you are connected.  With this, a post that gets 20 thumbs up and 5 reviews from friends may be stuck at only 50 views.

3) Organic Likes are Better

An organic like is someone who thumbs up or reviews your page that you are not connected with.  In order for this to happen they must stumble upon your site either by the toolbar or reading your site on their own.

When they thumb up your post or review it without any encouragement, the benefits are more substantial as this is a sign of an actual quality post.  It is possible for you to get one thumb up after a post from someone you dont know who has a strong account, and end up with 600 or more views.

Remember: You can only get organic likes from your initial discovery if people are actually around to read your post, so submission time is key.

4) Submit Your Post at the Right Time Staying in the Cycle is Key

When traveling Asia, I would submit posts at the equivalent of 3am, 4am, 7am EST time.  My StumbleUpon returns were low.  Why is that? No one is using StumbleUpon at that hour.  A post cant be looked at if no one is clicking the Stumble button. Better hours are between 5 and 10pm EST when more people are at their computer.

When you submit, you get an initial boost of shares based on the post criteria (through means that are still unknown) and the strength of your account.  The rest of the traffic you get is from people that the post is shared with, and how many thumbs up you get.

If you get zero thumbs up, the post will fall out of the StumbleUpon sharing, and may never get traffic until someone boosts it in the future from reading your site.  If you continually get thumbs up and reviews from this initial burst, the sky is the limit and you will stay in the network for some time – the key to being viral.

5) What Posting Criteria is Good?

It is hard to say on this one. Since StumbleUpon is so secretive, everything is always purely speculation.  My best articles are always authoritative and not personal stories, making the use of the program even harder against us travel bloggers.  List posts also seem to do well as a site is deeming the Best of with authority and are generally easier reads.

The other major topic that youll see from time to time is photos.  We all have amazing photos, and it is important to showcase them front and center in any post you want to get stumble traffic from.  A post without photos is meant for certain doom.

Try this: You can get a feel for this by selecting the travel topic and stumbling 20 or so posts just to see what comes up.  Here are the first few that I got:

Mondays are for dreaming: Ten dream-worthy moments

7 Epic Journeys in SE Asia

Hohenzollern Castle photos

Top 10 Man-Made Wonders: Amazing Monuments

Ultimate Guide to Packing Lists: 45 Tips for How to Pack Light

Mopeds in Mykonos photo essay

Thailand Travel Photography

See the trend?

The Pitfalls of StumbleUpon

Even with all of these tactics, there are a few thoughts you should keep in mind when submitting to StumbleUpon.  A few pitfalls will mean certain doom to a post and you will never get traffic to it again no matter how hard you try, unless a major player likes your page.

1) Review a post if you are the first thumbs up.

If you get a prompt for a review when you thumbs up a post, for the love of everything good, review it! A post with a like and no review is like the kiss of death and it takes a really strong SU account to bring a post back from this.  Ever see a post of yours stuck at 1 and no more, only to take 8 likes and 4 reviews to get it to boost to 50? This might be one of the reasons for the problem.

2) Small photos have an equally bad effect.

This may be a stretch, but from what I can tell, StumbleUpon really likes photos.  When you submit a post, a photo should be large enough that it gets grabbed by the thumbnail image on the SU discovery page.  If it is too small, the photo will be a generic image of your blog or blank.  That does not give a lot of credibility to your post, and seems to have a negative effect.  Ive found that bigger than 240x300px does the trick, but this is an estimate.

3) Dont Over Promote and Remember to Actually Stumble!

It is easy to say do not over promote your own pages, as a history of repeatable behavior is the sign of a spammer.  Break things up by actually using your SU toolbar and stumbling for posts, liking them, and giving reviews.  Forgetting these may flag your account and reduce your potency.  But even though using the toolbar is great, you still have to vary your discoveries from many sites in order to keep the appearance of being random!

With these thoughts in mind, your StumbleUpon account can become very powerful.  But with that power, it is only as good as your organic likes let you become.  If you continually submit a string of posts that do not get likes, you will stop getting the critical initial traffic.  Be sure to balance the amount of discoveries you have from powerhouse sites and our independent blogs to ensure that your account gets ideal traffic on both ends.  Remember It takes both an initial boost from your account and continual boosts from random users to go viral, and balancing that is very, very tricky.

For more great tips on using Stumble Upon check out Go, See, Writes How-to Guide on driving traffic using Stumble Upon.

What is your secret trick to get traffic from StumbleUpon? Help us out and submit below!

Insider Advice on Making Money with your Travel Blog: Part 1

This guest post is by Amar Hussain and is Part One of a Three Part Series. You can also jump ahead to explore Part Two and Part Three.

Money Blogging

Text Link Ads

I remember the first time I ever sold a text link. It was for 3 months and I got completely ripped off. Still at the time I was over the moon. As a blogger when you make your first buck that’s when you’ve made the move from amateur to professional, by definition anyway. I’ve come a long way since then and it’s not been smooth sailing. Trial and error has taught me different aspects of monetization and I will share with you some lessons that I’ve learned.

To give you a little background on my blog. It’s just over a year old and is PR3. I’m not a big name blogger, I don’t have massive stats and I’m not a regular feature on Top 10 lists. Sure the accolades and the prestige would be great, but they don’t pay the bills. What actually makes me sad is there are blogs bigger and better than mine but they have no idea how to convert what they have into financial reward.

Blogging started as a hobby and then I realized its potential for monetization. I run a business, not a blog. Don’t get me wrong I think the community we have is great and I have made some fantastic connections. I see my blog as a means not an end. Yes I like making money but only because money enables me to do the thing I love; Travel.

I’ve tried various monetization strategies mainly text link ad sales and affiliate links. I’ve had more success with text link ad sales and currently average $1800 a month from these. So how do I go about leveraging this? My top tips for you…

Be open

I lead a busy schedule but I do my best to hop around on different blogs and discover new ones. It’s actually infuriating when I see a good blog and I think to myself I’ll get in touch. Do I see a contacts page? Is there an e-mail address? I mainly see this with newer blogs but if I was a perspective advertiser how am I to get in touch with you? Something I see rarely is an advertising page. Are you open to advertising and what do you offer? Advertisers will trawl through many blogs to find yours and you need to make it easy for them. One of the best examples I have seen of an advertising page is on Personally, I wouldn’t list my advertising rates mainly because I think it improves your negotiating position. Sometimes advertisers have come in and offered me more than what I would have quoted.

Be seen

When I first started getting approached by advertisers I used to ask them where they found me. A lot of the time they responded that they found me on a blogroll or comments. Exposure is paramount. I do a lot of link exchanges which means that not only do I get back links and referrals but my blog’s name is out there. It’s also great for networking too. Some of my friendships in the community started this way.

Be prepared

I’m a slave to my e-mail but this is for a good reason. One time I didn’t respond to a potential advertiser until a week later. By the time I got in touch he had already spent his advertising budget. An early bird really does catch the worm. I have a template e-mail saved meaning that when I receive an advertising query I can respond quickly. The most common query I get is “what advertising do you offer and how much does it cost?” Work out what advertising options you are willing to offer and how much you will charge for them. Always set the price slightly higher. This way you have room to negotiate the price down to an acceptable level.

Be practical

The industry standard is for payments to be made via PayPal. I’m sure most of you have one but in case you don’t it’s worth setting up. Getting money out of anyone who owes it you is a pain and it’s no different with advertisers. I once had an advertiser that would transfer money monthly, well that’s what they were supposed to do. I spent that much time chasing them each month that I actually refused to work with them again. Time is a valuable commodity too.

My advice would be to upgrade your PayPal account to a Merchant account. This enables you to create subscriptions that will automatically transfer money to you from the advertisers account. Alternatively, and more preferred by advertisers, is to be paid for a fixed term. I normally shoot for 6 or 12 month ad lengths which means that I don’t have to go through the renewal process too often. As an incentive I will offer a discount for a 12 month ad or if they opt for multiple links. For something like this I offer around about 10% discount.

Be organized

I have a spreadsheet that tracks all my advertisers. When I see that an ad is about to expire I get in touch in advance to inquire if they want a renewal. They aren’t going to come to you and say “oh yes we owe you more money.” It’s your responsibility to keep on top of it all. It’s also important to keep track of the amounts in case the same company come back and want another link. You can easily work out what they have been quoted before. Finally, I always keep in touch with advertisers. That really does mean all of them. This includes ones that have decided not to go ahead at all and long term advertisers. I check in every 2-3 months to see if they have any new clients that they are representing and need advertising for.

Be transparent

This should go without saying really. If it’s a sponsored post, say so. I always put a disclaimer in my posts. Not only is it best practice but it’s the law. I’d like to think that readers understand that you should be able to profit in some way from all the free content that you provide. People prefer honesty at the end of the day. If you are writing a sponsored review ensure that you are writing a fair and balanced review. Let the advertiser know that you will only agree to write an honest review before you accept.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Amar’s advice on pricing,  sponsored posts and paid reviews, and finding advertisers.

Amar Hussain is the owner, author and traveler for He is a freelance writer traveling round the world in the pursuit of sustainable travel and documenting his experiences for advice, inspiration and entertainment.