More tips on making money from travel blogging
comment 6 Written by on January 9, 2010 – 6:05 am

croatia

I have written a piece for Guardian Travel today about how to make money from travel blogging. The specific angle was to show if it’s possible and to take a realistic approach. The verdict: doable but only with lots of time and hard work.

In researching this piece, I did a number of interviews with some money-making bloggers. (My own blog, I should add, doesn’t make a penny, but that’s because I don’t invest the time. I’m confident it could, if I worked at it and followed the advice of more dedicated bloggers out there.) I couldn’t use all the material in my Guardian piece, so here are some highlights of my conversation with Jeanne Oliver from CroatiaTraveller.com.

I found Jeanne’s story particularly fascinating. You’d imagine most people trying to make the move from blogging to Lonely Planet, not the other way around. She’s a great example of a traveller who has found success self-publishing and is doing things her own way. She’s created her own, strong niche and a reputation for offering practical tips. It’s more a travel site than a typical blog, but her advice still stands. Read on for some vital tips for anyone looking to get into this competitve field.

Fellow travel bloggers feel free to comment and share your own tips or experiences.

Making money from travel blogging is not easy. Do you agree?
I certainly do! Making money from a blog or website is a long, hard slog. Success comes (if it comes at all) after a few years, not a few months. The only people that can make quick money on the internet are spammers.

Do you have any tips?

It’s important to do extensive research before launching a site. The technology is daunting to many people, but actually that’s the easy part. Marketing and content creation sucks up the most time. For most sites, marketing comes down to "how can I get to the top of Google search result pages". There’s a great deal of online information exploring how Google ranks sites and budding webmasters need to be well-versed in this area. For content creation, ask yourself: are people looking for information in this niche? What is the competition like? Do I have something unique to offer? Do I know enough about it to produce a page or a post a day? Every day? For years?

What is your own situation? How long have you been blogging?

I was a travel writer for 10 years, primarily producing guidebooks for Frommers, Lonely Planet and Insight. About six or seven years ago it became clear that travel guidebooks were operating in a difficult economic environment that precluded paying writers a living. I had specialised in Croatia for Lonely Planet, writing the first guidebook in English to Croatia in 1997 and then updating four subsequent editions. As an up-and-coming destination, Croatia seemed to be a promising niche for a website. I launched Croatia Traveller ( www.croatiatraveller.com) at the beginning of 2005. A few years later, I launched www.frenchrivieratraveller.com because I live here and want to share my restaurant reviews, pictures and miscellaneous experiences. Last year, I launched www.yourcatisacriminal.com to entertain my friends with comical cat pictures.

Do you make your living entirely from blogging?

Yes, almost entirely from www.croatiatraveller.com. The first year, the site paid for a few nice meals and some accessories. The second year it provided steady pocket money. The third year, it was a comfortable side income while I continued to work for Lonely Planet. The fourth year, it was my sole income but I was on a pretty strict budget. Last year, it finally paid off.

Would you be willing to share how much you make a month through blogging?

Let’s say I make a comfortable but not lavish middle-class income. I have a car, a mortgage, foreign holidays, restaurants, nice clothes. The big selling point of this business is that the income is very secure and predictable. It takes a long time to climb Google’s mountain but once you’re there you won’t be knocked off for a long time.

 Photo: Rovinj, Croatia – by Akk Rus on Flickr.

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6 Responses to “More tips on making money from travel blogging”

  1. Hi Vicky

    As you point out yourself Croatia Traveller is not a blog but a typical travel guide, and in fact a successful travel guide can, and always has been able to, make a vast amount of money – usually via hotel bookings, tour bookings and ticket sales. This business model involves writing a page for every key search term in the city: eg. London hotels, London tours, London pubs, London gatwick airport, London soho etc etc, and then Search Engine Optimising them to ensure they appear high on Google.com etc so that you can attract reservation bookers etc. The problem for newcomers is that, unless you pick an obscure city/country, you have plenty of established competition that will prove almost impossible to displace. (Nonetheless I am currently trying with my website http://www.barcelona-life.com – although I have the advantage of being a SEO specialist having worked for 3.5 years with http://www.cracow-life.com and their network of 22 websites to Central Europe – http://www.lifeboat.eu/online/city-guides.php. For a beginner I wouldn’t recommend it!).

    The blog is different model altogether – in fact very few bloggers will get much traffic via Search Engines because a) blog content gets archived quickly and is hard for Search Engines to find b) most travel bloggers don’t know too much about SEO and don’t structure their blog in a way that will maximise their search engine traffic (those that run more typical travel sites have become the kings of SEO in the last ten years or so). However blogs often have better content than travel sites, which are written merely with hits in mind (ie. tonnes of slapdash content, covering as many search terms as possible, drowning in key words etc) and the key to successful blogging lies in building a loyal following (as opposed to Search Engine traffic) via internet marketing – via facebook, twitter, mailing lists. Unfortunately the chance of making any money like this is still minimal. You really would have to become an authority on travel (ie. the advice of picking a specialist niche is definitely right!) and be a brand that advertisers want to associate themselves with (Google adsense will only bring in pennies, and you’re unlikely to attract many reservation bookings – most travel sites main revenue – via a blog interface – leaving other forms of advertising as your main source of income).

    I am hoping to do things a little differently with Urban Travel Blog (http://www.urbantravelblog.com), which has the format of the blog, but with the editorial process of a magazine (let’s face it many blogs are self-indulgent rubbish!), good SEO and – importantly – a number of contributors (I am still looking for more!). I am hoping that Urban Travel Blog will benefit from being a stronger brand for advertisers than a one-(wo)man show, as well as being a stronger booking platform. Like all blogs should be, I am using social media to try and build as strong as following as possible, whilst also concentrating on SEO to gain two strands of visitors!

    Hope this information helps aspiring travel writers out there – there’s certainly plenty of scope for those able to harness the opportunities of new media!

    Regards

    Duncan

    http://twitter.com/UrbanTravelBlog
    http://www.facebook.com/pages/UrbanTravelBlog/187300033626

  2. Very interesting article. I make some money from affiliate marketing on my site-www.hiddenpousadasbrazil.com and I think I could potentially make a lot more. The trouble is my web designers are just that- designers- and they did not want to pollute their design with ads which stood out. So they blend very nicely into the page and are so camouflaged- you can hardly see them!! As I think I agree with what the designers have done- I think I will have to say goodbye to the chance of megabucks!

  3. I firmly believe that affiliate marketing can make money.
    However, there is a lot to understand before most people can get to that point.
    You need to understand the principals of marketing, email marketing, article marketing, video marketing, web 2.0.

    If you find an unexploited niche and have some basic technical skills it is possible!

    Good luck
    Matt

  4. It is a sad fact, Allison, that the internet is loaded with eye-catching sites that make no money. Sometimes you have to choose. Designers are often not aware of or interested in ways to encourage users to click on ads. Designers are also not necessarily versed in how to set up a site so that it climbs high in Google search result pages, essential to bringing in the visitors that will click on the ads. Design and “search engine optimization” are different specialties.

  5. Very interesting post I’m very new in blogging and also hoping to earn from it.

    karl,
    cheap boracay resorts and hotel

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