Before I dig into the myths (vs. reality) of how to make money as a travel blogger, I should mention that I’m a former successful travel writer. I’ve written for leading outlets, from Conde Nast Traveler to the New York Post, and I gained an amazing lifetraveling the world for over a decade – and getting paid.
I say “formerly” because the rules of the trade of travel writer have changed and the industry has not been kind. Due to the state of publishing, many of my outlets closed, took all their travel writing in-house, or paid less (or not at all).
Because I had so much content, knowledge, and photos from all my travels, I started Travelbinger in 2019, thinking I might have some cash on the side. I had heard that travel bloggers could make a lot of money, even an entire career from blogging, but making money as a travel blogger is not very common.
Despite everything you hear from travel bloggers and their supposed success, I’m going to tell you straight – and real.
Here’s my myth-vs.-reality list of how to make money as a travel blogger, and why you should have low expectations.
Myths vs. Reality of Making Money as a Travel Blogger
1. As long as you have Google Ads, you can make decent money on the side.
I wish that were true. I connected my site to Google Ads, and I thought that would result in this amazing passive income stream, especially because my traffic is good (between 30,000 and 50,000 unique visitors per month), and I’m writing a original story a day – but I barely make $150 a month from Google.
If your site gets tons of traffic, hundreds of thousands to millions a month, and readers click on your Google ads (and even buy whatever is being sold), then you can potentially earn hundreds or even thousands. , per month. But if you receive less than 100,000 UVM per month like me, you will not use this money to pay your rent. Frankly. If you read stories about how to make money as a travel blogger, they may stretch it a bit.
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Here’s another reality: a travel blogger will usually be not get tons of traffic because Google tends to give larger, more established publications and legitimate authorities, like Travel + Leisure, all the love from the first page on Google searches. It’s easy for a top travel publication to get the most clicks because they have tons of money to spend as well as a dedicated team that works with SEO to get their site on the first page of Google. .
If you’re a travel blogger, you’re just working behind the scenes without a marketing team. You’re a one-man team doing everything (writing the content, doing the ads, editing your own articles, researching images, setting up SEO optimization, etc.), and since you’re not already earning no money with your blog, you probably have a full-time job that takes up all your time, which means you have a hard time getting content and you might burn out later.
I write all my content, daily, to respect the rules of Google News and Apple News… and I have a full-time job. If travel blogging were my full-time job, of course, it would be much easier to run my travel blog. I could spend a lot more time focusing on SEO. Plus, I have DOZENS of stories that rank on the first page on Google…but that’s still not enough to make a lot of money.
So, can a travel blogger make decent money with Google Ads?
If you’re just starting out, not that much – unless you hire a team of writers to do daily content, have hundreds of thousands of dollars to pay for search ad visibility, and quit your full-time job to make all of this happen.
If you spend a lot of time on your travel blog, producing engaging content daily that gets enough clicks and people click on Google ads, you’ll be headed in a better direction than most other travel bloggers.
2. Hotels, destinations and airlines will pay you to post content on your blog – or at least give you a free trip in exchange.
Unless your travel blog gets at *least* 20,000 unique visitors per month and you have a decent combined following on social media platforms, a travel agency like a hotel strength consider an exchange (free night for a blog post) – but that will be rare.
You have to think about the exchange in value. Is your review of the hotel worth the $200-$500 per night rate the hotel will have to charge? Not really. If Google doesn’t even pay you much, why a hotel?
When it comes to paying for content, travel companies almost never pay travel bloggers. Even if you are a top travel blogger, no one will pay you. Sponsored content is a whole different story, and yes, if you work on sponsored content with a company, they will pay you…but remember, it depends on your traffic.
If you’re not getting traffic (and 99% of travel bloggers rarely get enough traffic to warrant sponsored content), you can only hope for other sources of income.
Sorry, I know it’s hard, but I’m speaking from experience! Also, you have to remember that travel companies are still trying to make a comeback after the pandemic. They’ve lost billions and billions of dollars, so any extra budget they have will go to advertising or marketing. They are unable to pay bloggers or offer free trips.
Ultimately, don’t expect companies to pay you or give you free hotel nights, plane tickets, or other perks in exchange for a blog post. Once you’ve achieved super high traffic (and yes, you can!), then you can come back.
3. I see so many travel bloggers giving advice on monetization – they need to make money!
Here is the reality. I did a deep dive with 5 random travel bloggers, each with good social media, but average blogging. The 5 travel bloggers didn’t write daily content (As Google states, a website must have original and thoughtful content *and* daily content to rank top. Naturally, there are exceptions, but such exceptions are rare).
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Optics are important, so if you’re going to take advice from a travel blogger, be sure to check out their site, see if they’re genuine/legitimate, and determine if they’re worth the advice. Many travel bloggers simply write these types of posts to get you to click on their affiliate links.
If you’ve googled “how to make money as a travel blogger” I think some of the top ranked travel blogs that show up in that search are lucky because they’re not an authority, but they wrote a long and well researched article. They probably got a lot of traffic through their social media channels as well, because these blogs do NOT get traffic, which means they do NOT make money…and here’s how I know that.
I have access to Muckrack, a PR platform that displays the number of unique visitors for any website. I can assure you that some of these travel blogs claiming to make money didn’t have a lot of numbers on Muckrack.
4. Affiliate links will earn you money.
I use affiliate links. Everyone should use affiliate links to make money as a travel blogger in hopes that a reader will click on the link and purchase the product (we get feedback for any referrals). But, again, you need high traffic and hundreds of people clicking on that link to have any impact.
Now, a travel blogger might have gotten lucky with a high-ranking story that has tons of affiliate links, and they could make money from just that one link. Good for them. They are part of the .00001%. Not only did they get lucky, but they use it to feel empowered and tell you that you too can be successful.
The reality is, you have to get lucky and hope the algorithm gods of Google, the affiliate marketing gods, and the readers who really want it. travel pillow on Amazon are all working in tandem to make this happen.
If you get a ridiculous amount of traffic and a ridiculous amount of people wanting whatever you’re linking to, sure, yes, you can make money, but remember, it’s just gonna be a bribe -wine (1 to 10% maximum) .
So can you make money as a travel blogger? Yes. But not a lot, unless you have really good traffic, know how to manage affiliate links well, and write daily content…and, of course, great content that Google finds worthy of ranking at the top.
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