How To Start A Travel Blog in 2019 (And Earn $10,000 A Month)

how to start a travel blog

Wondering How to Start a Travel Blog in 2019? After 10 years of trail and error and finally mastering the art of travel blogging and  actually MAKING MONEY, this post is just what you ordered.

I never wanted to write this post. I never wanted to be “the travel blogger that writes more about blogging more than about travel”. That bullshit blogger that teaches people how to start a travel blog when they themselves are clueless and barely make enough money to buy a one way Ryanair flight to Manchester.

And yet here I am, writing this damn post, in the hopes of inspiring the next generation to jump on the blogging train and get out to see the world. I’ve held off writing it for 3 years but I do believe now is the time. Just as I said when I quit my job to become a full-time blogger…It’s now or never!

Why learn to blog from me?

Why now, you may ask? Well, this year marks my 10 year anniversary as a travel blogger. 10 YEARS! I have learned more about blogging, PR, marketing, social media, negotiating contracts and pay, video making, photography networking and hustling in the past few years than anything I learned in my two college degrees. I feel if anyone is qualified to teach people how to blog, it’s someone who has been doing in for 10 years and now gets paid $$$ just to leave the country.

This has been my full-time job for almost 4 years now (I wrote about how I kinda fell into this blogging thing by accident here) and I’ve no plans of slowing down!

I’ve been blogging for so long I remember the days before Instagram stories and Snapchat filters, before blogs had Facebook pages and half your traffic would come from a pretty little search engine called Pinterest.

My transition from blogging for my friends and family, to blogging about expat life and travel fails to moving on to detailed destination guides that can actually help my readers has been a long and rocky road. Blogging has changed so much in the last 10 years and I’ve always tried to keep up with the latest trends, developing and reshaping my site and brand as demand changed over the years. And I’ve even been interviewed by national publications about my career as a travel blogger as well as getting published in Lonely Planet and National Geographic.

Here I’m going to share with you just about everything I’ve learned about the world of travel blogging from how to start a travel blog in one day, to pitching hostels, hotels and airlines for collaborations, working with tourism boards on paid press trips and campaigns, setting up ambassadorships with brands you love and making BANK from your site through advertising, sponsored posts and affiliate marketing.

I’ll also share all the tools I use to run a successful travel blog, including what platforms I use outside of my blog to monetise my social media channels and get sponsored Instagram, Facebook and Twitter campaigns.

If you’ve already started a blog and simply want to know how to monetise your travel blog, you can skip the first section and move straight down to the juicy bits at the end. And if you have any questions about things I may have left out, leave a comment on the post and I’ll try to continually update the post with more information to answer your questions. At 6,500 words, this is officially the longest blog post I’ve ever written but am totally willing to make it even longer if it means being more helpful to you!

Cape Town press trip

How to start a travel blog in 2019: set up

First of all, you can very easily set up and start a travel blog in 2019 in about 10 minutes with the free WordPress.com blogging software. However, your blog will look very primitive and it will have “.wordpress.com” at the end instead of a professional looking .com or .ie. Mine looked like that for the first 3 years and it’s probably my biggest regret that I didn’t buy my own domain name and go self hosted from the beginning. If you just want to play around with a free blog, you can sign up here.

My advice is to buy you own domain name and then get yourself set up with a web host. This can all be done in less than an hour and will only cost you a one-off fee for the domain name (maybe $20) and then a small monthly fee for hosting. Companies such as BlueHost, who I use for all my hosting, can register your domain name and provide cheap web hosting and is the perfect place to start.

Picking a blog name: Don’t mess it up!

I won’t give you too much advice about picking the right name for your blog BUT think about how the name will represent your brand in the longterm and don’t pin yourself into too much of a tight niche or time frame.

For example, just because you’re heading to Africa for a few months don’t name your blog “Johns Africa Adventure” because next year when you’re in Ireland or Asia, johnsafricaadventure.com will look pretty silly. This also refers to putting things like “before I’m 30” or “honeymoon” into the blog name. Seriously, don’t do it.

You’ll also need to make your blog name has not been used already, and that you can easily get the social media channels. My blog name is 10 years old, so when it came to Instagram and Twitter “JournalistOnTheRun” was simply too long and I ended up only been able to use my name as a username. Learn from my mistakes, as my Dad would say!

P.s. The name “Journalist On The Run” came about as I had just graduated with a degree in Journalism in 2009 and set off to escape Ireland and travel the world…thus the “on the run” part. The name stuck and I’ve always been pretty happy with it.

Register your domain name and hosting

Once you’ve picked the perfect blog name (although I REALLY wouldn’t stress too much about the name!) you can go to BlueHost and register the domain name and set up a hosting package.

BlueHost is by far one of the cheapest hosting companies out there and is perfect for people just getting started. They have good customer service and even a live chat feature in case you’re struggling with getting set up right.

Hosting NORMALLY costs $7.99 a month but BluHost have given me a special discount code so you can get started for just $3.95 a month by signing up here.

To get started, click on hosting plans (see screenshot below) and pick the basic $3.95 plan as that’s all you’ll need when you’re just starting your travel blog. You’ll then be given the option to register your domain, or let them know you already have your own doom name. Your domain name is your web address, for example: journalistontherun.com is my domain name. 

Depending on how serious you plan to take blogging or if you’re in it for the long run or not (if you’re reading this, I hope you are!) you can pick which plan you want – from 12 months to 36 months. The longer you sign up, the cheaper the deal. Do what’s best for you!

Pick a blog theme

Next you will be asked to download WordPress, pick a password and choose a blog theme. Don’t worry too much as I change my theme all the time and love picking new themes from Elegant Themes which start from about $89 and you can pick from almost 100 customisable themes. If you have a little more cash, you can even get a designer to customise one for you at a later stage. That’s what I did anyway, so just pick a theme you like for now and keep on moving with the blog set up process.

I’m not going to go into much more detail about this as a quick Google will bring you to 101 YouTube tutorials and blog posts about the technical parts of setting up your blog. Essentially once you’ve done all this and you’re set up, just go to your domain and log in to start blogging! To log in just go to —> http://yourdomainname.com/wp-admin and get blogging!

Get some basic plugins for your blog

Once you’ve done all the above, you’re free to start blogging, personalising your site and adding links to your social media accounts etc. However, there are some free plugins that most bloggers install straight away, and I’m going to recommend the ones I use all the time. Useful plugins I use include: Aksimet (to stop spam comments), Yoast SEO (perfect for beginners learning SEO), Google analytics (to monitor traffic) Add To Any (for social sharing), and Simple Social Icons (to have cute social links to your social media channels).

Try not to have TOO MANY plugins as it can really slow down your site speed. I’m actually trying to get rid of a few more right now to make my site speed a bit healthier.

 Create your blog pages

I realise this is complete beginner talk, but I’m aiming this at people who may have never blogged before. On your site there are pages and posts. All your individual travel articles and guides will be blog posts, while you’ll have a few main pages at the top such as an “About Me” page, a “Contact me” page and maybe a page that lists your destinations or your top content.

It’s better to have your pages filled out and looking professional before you start writing blog posts and pushing your content out on social media.

How to start a travel blog: build an audience

Once your travel site has been set up and you’ve finished the technical side of things, it’s time to start writing your blog posts, building a community and hopefully getting people to read your work. This is the hard part guys, and traffic just doesn’t manifest itself overnight. It’s going to take a lot of research, hours of writing posts, editing photos, sharing all over social media and hopefully, in time, ranking on Google.

Again, this will not happen overnight so if you think starting a travel blog will make you rich quick – stop reading, don’t bother starting a blog and go invest some money in Bitcoin or something!

Here I’m going to give you tips on how to start building your blogging community and getting traffic to your site, through writing, collaboration, networking and more.

Get personal with your posts

I think one of the best ways for newbie bloggers to start building an engaged audience on their site is to get personal. Sure, you can create detailed destinations guides, and list the 10 best hostels in a city or “things to do in New York” but you’ll find in very hard to compete with some of the more established bloggers out there at the beginning.

You need to start small and build your core following, and the best way to do this is through super personal posts. Tell people why you’ve started a blog, where you’re currently travelling. Write about things you learned travelling in X country to about your biggest travel fails. People like to be able to relate to what they’re reading, so being real and honest (and sometimes funny) can work really well.

If your posts are interesting and relatable, you’ll start to get subscribers and followers across Social Media who will actively follow where you’re travelling, what you’re writing about and want to know what you’re up to. It’s like a core fan base!

Examples from my own blog that did very well include:

I’ve Got A Confession To Make

25 Things I learned About Myself in Thailand

My Worst Travel Fails

Why Our Cork To Cape Town Trip is FINISHED

Try out tribal marketing

Tribal marketing is a form of content writing that ensures a post goes viral, at least to a small extent, due to one specific demographic or group sharing it with pride (or resentment!!).  You find a group of people with a strong set of beliefs, or from the same place, or that have the same interests, and you write an article that strokes their ego, that tells them how great they are, to that pisses them off. But I don’t recommend the later if you’re just getting started!!!

Examples:

15 Things That ONLY Happen When You Travel Solo – I wrote this about 4 years ago and it went crazy viral because anyone who ever travelled solo loved it, could relate, was proud to share in this group of solo female travellers and thus shared the article.

45 Reasons To LOVE Bosnia and Herzegovina – It’s a country that doesn’t always get a lot of good press, and why there were lots of top 10 things to do articles, no one had written an article that praised the people of Bosnia and Herzegovina and talked about endless reasons to visit. It went CRAZY, crazy viral.

10 Reasons to NEVER stay in a hostel– This one was tongue in cheek but a lot of people just read the title and shared it while being outraged, and once it hit all the Backpacking Facebook groups it too went viral!

Like I said, it will be hard to rank on Google if you’re site is only a few days / weeks old, so it’s fun to experiment with different types of writing like these tribal marketing list posts. They work really well if you go hyper local, like writing a post about 20 reasons to visit x village – especially if its a place hardly anyone ever writes about. The people living there will LOVE it and they’ll all share, share, share!

To ensure they see it, you can do TWO things. First of all share it on Facebook, and direct message anyone you mentioned in the article suggesting they might like to share. You can also share it into destination specific Facebook groups like “We Love Ireland” or “People Who Love Turkey” and it might blow up in there.

You can also boost the Fb post for $2 to a very nice audience, such as Males aged 20 – 30 who live in Dublin, Ireland and like budget travel. So depending on who’s attention you’re trying to get, you can make sure a set audience see’s the post and starts sharing it.

Get serious with SEO

In the long run, SEO (Search Engine Optimisation or traffic coming from search engines) is what’s really going to help your blog grow, and make you those much coveted $$$. The reasons bloggers are so obsessed with SEO these days is because once you’re article ranks at the top of Google, you’ll start to hundreds and later thousands of hits to your site every day (all of which will make you money) while you sit on a beach sipping a coconut.

Getting a lot of traffic from Google translates to money from advertising which is totally passive and comes in every day whether you do any work that day or not. I took a week off last month, didn’t touch my blog for 7 days, but because my traffic from Google is so steady I still made a couple thousand dollars while I was off adventuring on another island.

If you want to get serious with SEO then you’ll need a few basic things. You can watch some videos on YouTube to get started and learn the basic, and then you can download books by Gemma and Laura from Make Traffic Happen – which teach you the basic of SEO and how to increase traffic to your travel blog.

You’ll also need to invest in Keysearch (20% discount with the code KSDISC), a search tool that costs about $17 a month for the starter pack is probably the best investment I’ve ever made. It lets you research what keywords you should be using in your articles, lets you know how many people are searching those terms each month and how hard they might be to rank for.

For example I can type in “things to do in Bali” and it will show me how many people search, who already ranks, how hard it might be to beat them – and then I can decide if it’s worth my time writing an article on this topic.

It can take weeks, or more often than not months, before your posts will start ranking on Google and you’ll have to work super hard to keep them updated, relevant and full of useful information. Keysearch has been an absolute game changer for me and helps my blog traffic increase month on month. 

To keep track on what articles I’ve written, which ones need support posts and internal linking and when my older posts need to be updated, I use this amazing spreadsheet which you can download on Etsy for less than $5. It’s been custom made (with my input!) for bloggers and is making my life SO MUCH EASIER.

You can assign articles to writers, figure out what’s in drafts mode, what’s been published and what still needs to be written. It’s especially good if you have a few other writers helping you out with your site.

Get active on social media

While you can build a big blog and make money without ever having a presence on social media, I find social media and travel blogging go hand in hand. Your social media channels will be part of your brand, and will help you reach a much bigger audience – often people that are different from those that read your blog.

Having a strong presence (and personality!) on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook will help you to build your brand, get traffic to your site and can land you high paid campaigns when you’re more established.

Whether we like it or not (I do NOT), many PR companies and tourism boards very much focus on numbers, especially when it comes to Instagram. It tales time to build up a large following, who enjoy your content engage and hopefully are influenced by your travels. This takes time and really is a game of patience, as well as hard work!

You can read how to start a decent Instagram profile and build your following here, and some tip on using Pinterest to push traffic to your site here. Both posts were written by me a few years ago, so finding more up to date information might help you more. Just keeping it real!

As previously mentioned, be sure to pick a blog name that isn’t too long and also check to make sure all the social media handles are available before buying your domain name!

Once you start publishing articles regularly, you can start sharing them on your blog Facebook page, Twitter and including links in your Instagram bio. Pushing articles out on social media is also good for SEO as it sends signals to Google that you have a new article published and that various sites are linking to it.

Consider a blogging course

First off, I have never done any blogging courses but it has taken me 10 years to get to where I am today, so if these blogging courses has existed back in the day, maybe I would have signed up for them. Maybe. ;-)

Blogging can be a bit of a slog, the hours are long and at the beginning there’s not much payoff for all the hours you put in. So if there are useful course out there that can help you get traffic, grow your social following and start making bank from your blog, then it might be a good idea to sign up.

Then again, there are also tonnes of free resources on line and some excellent Facebook groups that could also help you get started. This is the no bullshit guide, and course won’t make you a successful blogger. Hard work and networking will!

Anyway…I’m only recommending two courses here, and they’re run by people I know and bloggers I admire. Bloggers who are also making big, BIG money. So they must be doing something right.

The first course to consider is by Nomadic Matt, the world’s most famous travel blogger. His course is called Superstar Blogging and is perfect for beginners just starting out and feeling overwhelmed. This is also one of the cheapest courses out there, with a special price of just $99 right now. Although he also has travel writing and travel photography courses listed that are worth checking out and many big bloggers have successfully taken these and loved them.

The second course you could consider is Sharon Gourlays’  course called “Build Blog Freedom” which is for people who have already been blogging away but are failing to make money and really want to make that push to making blogging their full time source of income. Be prepared to work long hours on this one!

Starting a Travel Blog: Making connections

Join some Facebook groups

One thing I absolutely love about the travel blogger community is how supportive we all are of each other, always willing to help each other out. There are Facebook groups for just about all things blogging-related, which probably explains why us travel bloggers spend HOURS of our day on Facebook. You’ll often make great contacts and even build friendships in these groups, and most of the time you’ll end up meeting in real life at conferences or on press trips!

There even niche specific Facebook groups, groups for bloggers with under 1,000 followers, groups to help you build a business, grow traffic, help with social media, increase Pinterest traffic and about a million others. Some of the most useful groups to join as a travel blogger looking to build blog traffic and monetise your site include:

DNW: Make Money Blogging – Great for learning how to monetise your site in different ways.

Make Traffic Happen – Amazing group for learning how to get more traffic from Google / SEO.

The Business Of Blogging – Very active group to ask about detailed blogging questions, copyright, contacts etc.

EWE Travel Press Trips – You need to be quite established to join, but they share press trip opportunities.

Travel Collab Post Opportunities – Get other bloggers to help you make an epic list post

Travel Video Group – For getting advice about Youtube and Facebook video

networking

With fellow bloggers Liz and Yulia at World Travel Writers Conference in the Maldives

Network at Blogger Conferences

I absolutely love going to travel blogger conferences and wish I had discovered these way sooner. They are gold for beginner bloggers, with interesting sessions taking place throughout the day to learn more about the world of blogging, how to make money, how to grow and engaged and audience and of course learning how to work with tourism boards and brands.

They’re also great for making friends, networking with other bloggers, meeting tourism board reps and PR reps face-to-face and hopefully building meaningful relationships. Some of my favourite travel blogger conferences to attend include:

TBEX: Takes place in Montana this September

Traverse: I’ll be attending the one in Trentino, Italy this June

STS Social Travel Summit: This one os more exclusive, and takes place in Rimini, Italy this year.

World Travel Market London: It’s free and huge and amazing – takes place in London in November.

There’s also World Travel Market in Cape Town in April and Nomadic Matt now runs his own travel conference in the USA this summer. There are also events focused on travel rather than blogging, such as the Women in Travel Summit.

I’ve spoken at conferences in the USA and the Maldives and have made so many great contacts attending travel conferences over the past few years.

speaking at conferences

How To Monetise Your Travel Blog

Okay so this section is for those of you that have already set up your blog, may already have been blogging for a while but are seriously STRUGGLING to make money from your blog

About 3 years ago I was seriously struggling to make enough money and thought about quitting SO MANY TIMES. On two occasions I had less than 100 euro in my bank account while I CRIED myself to sleep in a foreign country. Quitting was never an option for me and I just persevered and took whatever freelance writing gigs I could get to make me enough money to survive.

As my blog began to make money, I slowly stopped working for other people. Once I was making over $1,000 a month just from my blog, I quit all my freelance writing jobs to concentrate on building my brand and my business instead of someone else’s. Before quitting, I was writing for Matador Network, Lonely Planet and Skyscanner as well as occasional writing for The Irish Times newspaper in Ireland.

Once all my effort went into my blog and not on freelance writing, my blog traffic soared and my passive income increased month on month.

Within a year I went from making $1,000 a month to making as much as $10,000 in one month.

I used to be saving for my next flight, and now I’m saving to buy a house!

Here’s my guide to monetising your travel blog including ALL the various ways I make money from my blog and my social media channels.

Affiliate marketing

I’m going to start with affiliates because no matter how small your blog is, and how few people read it, you can start making money from affiliates from day one. How does this work? Well, you join an affiliate site such as AWIN, which has partnerships with all the big clothing stores, airlines, hotel sites, tour sites etc and you start to recommend places you’ve stayed or tours you’ve taken to your readers.

These will look like a basic hotels.com or booking.com link to the average reader, but in reality they have a personalised affiliate number at the end (your number) so when people go ahead and book the hotel, or buy the backpack you recommended, you will make a small commission. 

While the commission might seem small, this one can add up REAL fast, especially if you’re recommending high end hotels in expensive destinations such as the Maldives or Switzerland. Each site also has different rules about cookie, so for example with Booking.co they must book within that session whereas Hotels.com have a 30 day cookie period which means if anyone who clicked on your link then goes to book lots of hotels for their travels over the next 30 days, you get the commission for every booking made!

I have some friends (mainly American) who do very well with Amazon affiliates, where as I personally do best with Hostelworld, World Nomads Travel Insurance and Hotels.com. I also recommend signing up to the Get Your Guide affiliate programme if you want to sell tours.

Below you can see some of the money I make from Booking.com and Hotels.com. I personally make about $1,000 from affiliates each month but I know some bloggers than make up to $10,000 a month just from these affiliate links!

how to make money blogging

how to monetise travel blog

Display ads

The reason I believe you should start with affiliate marketing first is many of the big ad networks such as AdThrive or Mediavine won’t accept you into their programme until you have a minimum number of monthly page views. Mediavine, which is the ad network I use and pretty much all my travel blogger friends use, won’t let you join until you have a minimum of 25,000 page views a month.

I do believe there are some other smaller ad networks, but I personally would just hold off on joining any until you’ve reached that 25,000 mark as with traffic less than that you will barely make $200 a month from display adverts. 

The amount you earn from these ads on your sites varies a lot depending on how much traffic you get, how niche your site is, what the topic is (luxury Vs budget for example) and where your traffic is coming from. Advertisers will pay more if your readers are from the USA and will pay much much less if your traffic is coming fro Asia or Eastern Europe.

RPM (revenue per mille or the only you make per 1,000 pageviews) can be anywhere between 10 up as far as 30 in a good month. Mine averages around 15, sometimes going up to 25 or higher. That means with my 150,000 monthly page views, I can earn up to $2,500 a month passive income just fro the ads on my site.

As long as my traffic remains stable (it rarely changes unless I have a viral article or something) this money is pretty much guaranteed to come in every single month.

I have a love/hate relationship with sponsored blog posts and thus don’t do the too often. Most companies that reach out are just looking for a cheap link back to their business in order for them to rank higher on Google. Their emails are spammy and often call me by the wrong name, they offer shit money and they want me to link to a window cleaning site or something equally silly.

The email below is an example of the ones I DELETE straight away – I get at least 2 to 3 of these every single day!!

monetise your travel blog

However, sometimes there are sponsored post opportunities from travel startups, cool travel gadgets, or established travel companies which I’m happy to do as long as they pay my rates. Every established blogger has their own rate card which we send out when we receive emails about sponsored posts, sponsored social media etc. Often companies will bargain hard with you, which is allowed, but it can be super annoying and often puts me off wanting to do this kind of work to make money. 

People starting out will often charge maybe $100 or $200 for a sponsored post, and as you get bigger your rates will increase drastically. I charge 600 euro for these sponsored posts, but that includes social sharing to promote the article. Some of my friends charge $300, others charge well over $1,000.

These can be fun to write and experiment with if the brand you’re working with is open to new ideas – and as it’s not an SEO post you can be more creative with your writing.

Sponsored post example

Brand Ambassadorships

These are often year long contracts whereby you act as an ambassador for a certain clothing company, tour company or in some cases even a specific country. I know bloggers that have been ambassadors for cities, for outdoor gear colony, for camera companies and more.

Last year I was an ambassador for a big campaign in Hamburg and had a lot of fun promoting tourism in Hamburg at events in both Hamburg and London. I’ve also in the past done a mini ambassadorships for a safari company in Africa and was invited to join the GoPro Family as one of their ambassadors three years ago.

This has never been my biggest earner income wise, but a handful of my friends have yearlong ambassadorships with companies that pay the $10,000 for the year to be their ambassadors! 

These, along with the passive income I make from Mediavine, are my bread and butter and also feel they are like hitting the jackpot in terms of travel blogging. Once you’re big enough (or confident enough) to start sending out your rate card when people invite you on free trips to exotic locations, you’ve essentially hit the big time.

Let me briefly explain. When I first started blogging, the idea of getting a free nights stay in a fancy hotel or free flights with a budget airline seemed like “the dream”. Imagine getting invited on trips to Switzerland, Aruba, the Maldives, South Africa, and the tourism board flying you out there, putting you up in fancy hotels and paying all your expenses for a week.

It was of course amazing, and allowed me to travel to destinations I would otherwise only have dreamed about. But you’re also kind of working for free – and for the entire week you’re on the press trip with NO DOWN TIME, you can’t work on your site, or be writing sponsored posts, or be doing freelance articles to earn money. So you’re actually losing money!

While sometimes I still say yes to trips like this, I’ll only do it if it’s a very exotic location or somewhere I’ve been dreaming of visiting for a long time.

Nowadays I won’t normally get on a plane unless I’m being paid to do so. If I get invited on a trip I’ll reply with my rate card and a sort of menu of what deliverables I can offer (drone videos, blog posts, Instagram stories etc) and then they can pick and choose what they want depending on their budget.

Other times I’ll get approached by an influencer marketing company or a PR company in London, inviting me on paid campaign. You can make really good money doing these trips but the they are A LOT OF WORK and I always aim to overdeliver by writing extra articles or making extra videos to ensure I’ll be invited back again.

So, how much can you make? Last year I charged $700 for a weekend trip to a destination in Europe and $1,000 for a long weekend trip to another destination in Europe. I was paid $2,000 for a 2 week trip to one Asian country, $5,000 for a 2 week trip to another Asian country and $5,000 for a long trip in Europe.

What you charge is up to up to you, but will depend on how bug your blog is, how big your following is and if you can offer extras like video creation.

HOW to get on these paid press trips

Honestly, it’s all about networking. Sometimes other bloggers will recommend you. Sometimes you will get invited by tourism boards who randomly came across your blog. Other times it will be though contacts you made at travel conferences. A lot of the time I will get contacted by a PR company repping a tourism board and if I do a good job the first time, they’ll pick me to work with their other travel clients.

You can EMAIL the tourism boards and ask to be added to their press mailing list. I did this for Tourism Switzerland and landed two great trips two years in a row as the minute the list of press trips for 2017 and 2018 was sent out, I applied straight away. You can also google “Tourism x country press trips” and see what comes up. If you go to World Travel Market you can make appointments with the tourism boards you’re interested in working with and ask to be added to their mailing list.

You can also direct pitch tourism boards if you want to travel there and have a unique concept for a campaign. This can be a paid or unpaid trip. Remember that if you’re a professional blogger you do not ask for freebies. It is a business transaction and a fair exchange of services. Do your research, find out the communication managers name. Find out what they’re concentrating on in terms of marketing this year. Only pitch hotels / airlines / brands that are relevant to you. For example if you’re a budget backpacker and all your audience is in their early twenties, don’t go pitching 5 star resorts in the Maldives.

If you have a solid Instagram account with over 10,000 followers, you can make really good money from sponsored Instagram posts (or stories) to supplement your blog income. As always, the more followers you have, the more you can charge however I know bloggers with a very high engagement and say 15,000 followers who charge the same as bloggers with 70,000 followers! 

Good engagement and a genuine audience is very important, and many brands these days are actually more concerned with Instagram stories rather than posts on the feed as they are much more real and you can include swipe up links to the brands website.

While sometimes people will simply email me asking for my rates for a Sponsored Instagram post, there are also some websites and apps where you can actively seek out sponsored collaborations.

The best app in my opinion is TRIBE as you can scroll through all the brands looking to collab with influencers then submit a post. You set your fee (TRIBE will suggest what to you should charge based on your follower number AND engagement) and if approved, you post the photo and get paid Via Paypal within 24 hours! For my 50,000 followers, I usually charge about $400, although sometimes they bargain me down a little.

Other apps to find sponsored posts or sponsored instagram collabs include Famebit, Cooperatize and Indahash.

I’ve been paid as much as $1,000 for a single Instagram post which is a nice boost to the monthly income! 

Sometimes a brand (such as a travel agent or maybe a camera company) will ask you to give away one of their tours or products on your blog or social media channels. I love running these giveaways, especially if the brand aligns with mine. Right now I’m working with TD Active Holidays to promote an amazing competition they have to win a trip to Vietnam.

In the past I’ve worked with airlines, tourism boards, backpack companies and many others to either run giveaways for my followers or to help them promote a much larger competition that they’re running. 

Depending on the value of the product, how the giveaway will benefit me (if at all), and how much work I need to do will determine how much I charge to run these giveaways. But my starting point would be about $500 and can go up a lot more.

Selling photography

I don’t make a lot of money selling my photography, but I love how passive it is. You can upload your best images to sites like Shutterstock and every time someone downloads your page, you get money! Granted the image needs to be downloaded A LOT to actually make decent income, but it’s definitely worth signing up to.

I also sometimes sell my images after a press trip, hotel stay or paid campaign, especially if I took some unique drone images that they might not have seen before. I’ll approach the brand or PR company and offer single images or a package that they can then offer the brand or tourism board to purchase. 

Starting point for me would be about $100 per image although I know a lot of bloggers that would be horrified by how low this number seems. Guess it depends how confident you are in your photography – you can charge way ore if you think you can get it! 

I also try to sell my videos after trips and have had some success with this, usually charging about $600 for a  to 3 minute edited video.

Video creation

As part of press trip packages, I’ll often offer the add on of a custom video of the trip to be posted on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Or if  a brand reaches out to me to come on a one day trip or help the promote a new product, I’ll offer a video. Depending on your skill level and how many views you think the video can get will depend on your rate.

Some brands will want to post the video on their own social channels instead of on yours, and for this I will always charge more. Prices start from about $700, but all bloggers are different and some will charge MUCH more (up to $5,000!!) than this especially if you have a large YouTube following.

Some of my YouTube videos have up to 30,000 views while on Facebook some have over half a million!

I hope this guide to starting a travel blog and more so how to monetise a travel blog was useful to you. I’ll be happy to answer any additional questions you might have, so just leave a comment below and any feedback would be much appreciated as A LOT of time and effort went into making this guide!

If you’re planning to start a travel blog in 2019, don’t hold off any longer. Get that domain name and start blogging NOW!!

Like it? PIN IT!

  • Veronika Primm
    March 25, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    You’re such an inspiration, Janet! I hope to see you in Bali next winter if you’re still there ;)
    Btw. the STS event this year is going to be in Ravenna.

  • Susannah
    March 25, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Thanks so much for the shoutout, Janet!
    We’re so glad you’re a Mediavine publisher and are proud to play a small part in your success.
    If you or your readers ever have questions about our application, revenue, optimization, etc., please know we are here! You can reach out to us at publishers@mediavine.com.
    — Susannah at Mediavine

    • Janet newenham
      March 25, 2019 at 2:48 pm

      Thanks for stopping by! Mediavine has certainly helped me in a BIG way!

  • Arzelle
    March 25, 2019 at 1:56 pm

    Really enjoyed reading this article. Thank you!

    • Janet newenham
      March 25, 2019 at 2:29 pm

      Hey Arzelle! I’m so glad you enjoyed reading it and hopefully it was helpful! Janet

  • Rebecca
    March 25, 2019 at 2:58 pm

    Totally awesome. YOU GO!!!!!!!!

  • Andre Bedford
    March 25, 2019 at 3:26 pm

    A great informative read Janet.
    Great to hear how the other side of the Travel business works and more interesting as it’s written by a fellow Irish woman. Thanks.
    Hope it goes viral for you!

  • Jane Dempster-Smith
    March 25, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Great article janet thanks for sharing. It’s hard work but you have achieved so much since you started 10 years ago. Well done! You are an inspiration to us all.

  • Steev
    March 27, 2019 at 9:37 am

    Just setting up my travel blog at the moment – so was happy to find this post. Sounds a LOT of work. At the grand old age of 62 I hope I’m up to it! Newlife Steev.

  • Claire
    March 28, 2019 at 11:14 am

    Awesome and detailed blog post Janet! Inspiration for sure :)

    • Janet newenham
      April 12, 2019 at 1:05 am

      I’m so glad it was helpful!!

  • Orla Smith
    April 11, 2019 at 10:17 pm

    Thanks a million for this Janet. Very informative, especially for building confidence in pitching to tourism boards. Just starting to do this now and your article stopped me from losing faith!

    • Janet newenham
      April 12, 2019 at 1:04 am

      Wonderful! I’m just writing part two of this post at the moment, as people who are already blogging but have kinda of reached a brick wall asked for advice on how to pitch people, what to put in the emails etc so will be publishing that this week. And the video is also almost ready! Thanks for stopping by Orla.