by Anna Karsten

How to Make Money Blogging: Passive Income Tips

Many of you have been wondering how a person can live off a blog. I don’t blame you. It’s a surreal thought, as not that long ago a ‘blog’ was considered a private diary. Until these days many people often make fun of bloggers, and every time I introduce myself as a blogger the automatic response is: “Ok, but what do you actually do for work?”. People don’t believe you can make money blogging.

Is owning a blog (website) better than being a social media influencer? 100%

After a lot of questions, let’s make one thing clear: making money from a travel blog isn’t the same as making money as an Instagrammer or YouTuber. You can have a highly successful blog and not even have an Instagram account or have very few followers. And vice versa. You don’t need to make every channel your priority and be great at it.

The thing is… Instagram account is not a blog. TikTok account is not a blog. You don’t own any social accounts. If the platform decides to block you from it, someone steals your account or something – you’re basically done. All your work and following goes poof! No one can steal your website or email list subscribers (they could technically, but it’s easy to get it back).

How to Make Money Blogging?

I’m sorry to tell you this first, but in order to make any money from your blog, you need to invest a lot in it first. I don’t mean financially, but you have to invest a lot of time and effort into your blog. A successful blog doesn’t happen overnight. Building your brand might take some a few months, others a few years and some give up before they ever make it.

>>> Learn how to start a blog here <<<

Questions to Answer Yourself Before Making a Choice of Blogging as a Business:

  • Are you sure you’re not just looking for a fun outlet?
  • Are you willing to sacrifice free time on your travels to answer emails, write articles, edit photos, etc?
  • Do you really want to be a public person or prefer a more anonymous outlet?

How Long Does it Take to Start Making Money Travel Blogging?

There’s no single rule or answer to this question.

You don’t need millions of page views per month to make money blogging. In fact, my second website made way more income with 10x fewer amount of views than my first one.

One thing you should understand is that traveling full-time as a blogger isn’t going to make you rich quickly and quite often you’ll have to stop traveling in order to work. Ironically, in order to transform your blog into a decent money-making business, you need to stop moving all the time.

Most bloggers who run a successful website create temporary bases as digital nomads instead of traveling non-stop. A few months here, a few months there. There’s no other way to make money blogging at first – and I’m talking good money here. Recent popular cheap places to live for digital nomads are Chiang Mai or Bangkok in Thailand, Canggu in Bali, Playa del Carmen in Mexico.

Once you’re established and create passive income, then you can take weeks off work at a time. However, most likely, you’ll still be working quite often.

Blogging Courses for New Bloggers

There are some courses that could explain everything more in-depth than I can in a single post. Unfortunately, there are way too many courses out there that simply can’t teach you much. Why?

Because the author doesn’t know what he/she is talking about. Always check who’s written the course and investigate before you pay for a product. It’s become a trend to “become a blogger to sell courses on how to blog”.

After a scandal with a girl offering a travel blogging course without actually being a travel blogger and not providing much, people need to be more careful. Always Google their profiles to see if the course is worth your money, as there are way too many scams out there.

My personal tip: if their articles don’t come up in Google or there’s not much press coverage about their persona, do not bother with such ‘course’.

For instance, why would you trust someone with SEO if their own blog doesn’t even show up in Google if you search for their name? Would you trust someone with branding on Twitter when they follow as many people as they’re followed by? Or an Instagrammer who kept using follow/unfollow or loop giveaways methods to grow their account? You should not.

Focus on SEO

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a very important part of blogging and takes way more time than writing your content. What exactly does it mean?

It means that when I type, let’s say like in the example below ‘Marrakesh Morocco’, certain articles will come up. As a user, you’ll probably click on some of the articles that show up on the first page of Google, right?

When people find my articles on Google, I don’t need social media promotion of this article anymore. Ironically, if a bigger Instagrammer’s content goes viral and people will suddenly want to visit Morocco because this Instagrammer will be doing ME a favor.

How come? Most people will want to do more research than just look at a pretty photo. If they type ‘Marrakesh Morocco’ they’ll find my article with tips, hotel recommendations, and more.

I can’t teach you how to optimize your articles in this blog post (if anyone claims they can do it in one blog post they’re lying to you because they’re many methods), but it’s something I teach during my week-long blogging course.


Different Ways of Making Money Blogging

Here are the most common ways of making money blogging. However, this doesn’t mean that these are the only ways. I’m obviously not a blogging guru and not even the ‘best’ bloggers out there know everything about every method out there.

The purpose of this article isn’t to tell you what to do, but to show you different ways of doing things, so you can pick what works for you and what doesn’t.

Sponsored Content

Paid blog posts are those where you place a link, or give a mention, to someone who paid for it. This might be in the form of a sponsored review, a guest blog post, a sidebar link, or an advertisement in a newsletter.

It’s a very popular strategy for less experienced bloggers, as many SEO companies just want to add a link for $30-$160 or give you a guest post including a link.

It may seem that including a link to your post for money (I was selling links for a while when I started blogging), or receiving some free content, might be an easy way to make money. But, these days I don’t recommend doing it long-term, but I also know people who basically have those so-called “content factories” just for the purpose of selling links. It makes your blog spammy and your readers will eventually turn off (since crappy guest posts aren’t what anyone really wants to read).

More importantly, it can also give you a penalty from Google. As a result, your blog will have lower DA, lower Trust Flow, and you’ll never rank high in Google for any posts.

If it’s a big branded campaign (not just a spammy link) you can definitely discuss it if a product or service meets your satisfaction. Lifestyle or mommy bloggers make a bank on writing sponsored household product reviews.

These can range between $500-10,000 if social media promotion is included. Personally, I’ve charged anything between $2000-6000 for a single post.

Social Media Promotion

There are many ways of earning money on social media. One of them is takeovers. Companies pay ‘big influencers’ to take over their Instagram and Twitter to gain more followers. It’s a fun and easy way to get money. I say easy once you actually build your social media channels (what isn’t easy).

There are also opportunities to get paid to place an appropriate hashtag or product in your feed. Quite often you can even use an affiliate link.

In the past, I’ve also got paid for hosting Twitter chats, but personally, I’m not a big fan of them. On social media your possibilities of collaborations are endless, so pick and choose what do you like.

Examples of my sponsored social media post: Facebook or YouTube

Instagram & TikTok Marketing

I put Instagram separately since there are many people out there who make a full-time income JUST from Instagram. I always look at Instagram sort of separately from other social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube.

Instagram is very visual, therefore the most popular travel accounts won’t be those with great stories of off-the-path adventures. Many users don’t even read the captions, sadly (you can see a perfect example of not reading a caption from comments on this post). Especially these days in the age or TikTok and Reels.

In my case, I treat my Instagram differently than my blog. On my blog, I talk more about history, politics, culture, or give travel tips. On Instagram, I try to post photos that look aesthetically good and including a lot of fashion.

You can get paid to post a photo on your feed permanently or temporarily, or just do Insta Stories or just TikTok.

This is my example of a branded Instagram photo: here

Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate income is where you place an affiliate link in a blog post and try to make a commission when people buy the product through your link. This can be a good way to make money, because you can recommend something you love, without counting on sponsors. In order to make money from affiliates, you should focus on good, useful posts that will always be useful.

Here’s my example of a post that does well with affiliates: How to Plan a Budget Trip to Fiji

There are many different affiliate programs out there. Instead of signing up for a different program with every advertiser you want to promote, it’s better to join affiliate networks. Among the others: Awin, Commission Junction, Share A Sale, Amazon, Impact Radius, eBay Enterprise, or Commission Factory.

In my opinion, it’s the best source of income, as it’s passive if you optimize your content correctly. You don’t have to depend on new clients or constantly chase new projects. Both the content and your income are out there working for you even when you’re sleeping.

BEST AFFILIATE PROGRAMS TO JOIN:

Affiliate Networks:

  • Amazon – Sign up for every country and link them together under Tools → One Link
  • LTK (formally RewardStyle) – Very powerful program as it combines plenty of different shops. Fashion and lifestyle bloggers love it.
  • Share A Sale – Great programs to joins in various niches and super easy navigation.
  • CJ – Very big affiliate network, but interface takes a while to learn.
  • Awin –  Not the best network, because commissions are often pending for months but worth joining for certain programs.
  • Commission Factory – If you have Australian / NZ audience.

Individual Programs for Travel Niche Specific:

  • Booking.com – Their direct program is better than Booking.com programs in CJ and Awin.
  • Discover Cars – Car rental program. High commission. I’d avoid RentalCars, as they have basically ZERO customer service.
  • Get Your Guide – Tours. Text links and widgets.

Display Advertising

Ad networks allow website owners to place advertisements on their websites. In my opinion, unless you have pretty decent traffic (60k+ Unique Visitors (not views) per month) it won’t bring you much money and that’s why they will accept you from 50. You also need to remember to place the ads in a subtle way, not to make your blog look spammy.

I currently use Mediavine network for my ads. I cannot disclose how much am I being paid exactly, but thousands of dollars monthly, per site.

Destination Campaigns (Paid Press Trips)

There’s a huge difference between sponsored travel and making money from traveling.

Destination marketing campaigns are based on invitations from tourism boards, hotels, or tour companies. At the beginning of anyone’s blogging career, those projects will be unpaid – with flights, accommodation, food, and activities covered. But the longer you blog for, you will be compensated for the time spent on such trips.

Depending on the size of your audience you can ask tourism boards for either a day rate or a trip rate for projects. To give you an idea an established blogger should charge about $6000+ for a campaign 3 days long. If there are a lot of deliverables you can even get paid $20-50,000.

Here are some examples of my past destination campaigns: Visit Long Beach or Marriot International in Aruba

I said projects, as a LOT of bloggers and people confuse FAM Trips (group press trips) with destination campaigns. Some people are put off by these, claiming they don’t always like group tours. Don’t worry – destination campaigns don’t always mean press trips with other bloggers.

Once you’re more established, there are many projects out there where you have total freedom as long as you deliver what you promised (eg. photos, articles, videos, etc.).

It’s important to mention this doesn’t only apply to the travel niche. You can be invited for a photoshoot as a model (I did it for Visit Trentino along with other fashion bloggers), or even as a food blogger to try out new restaurants.

Another example of an individual destination campaign project: Paris Tourism or iAmsterdam

Branded Content

Brand marketing is slightly different than traditional advertising. They’re either short or longer-term projects with bigger brands, who’re willing to invest some proper money in exchange for valuable content. In contrary to link-building marketing agencies who don’t really care about bloggers as long as they get a link on their site.

Brand marketing involves (usually) big, always respectful brands. These companies have decent budgets, so what’s not to like about earning good money to work with a company you love?

I don’t think it’s good to take every single comp, press trip, or campaign that lands in your inbox. It’ll make you look like a sell-out to your readers.

My recent example of branded content: here

Freelance Writing

Many bloggers are paid to write travel-related articles for other websites. It’s easy to get a copywriting job once your name is known from your blog. They need content, you have experience and stories. Who would you be writing for? Smaller websites who’re willing to offer payment, other bloggers who need writers, or bigger publications such as BBC, News.au, Daily Mail, etc.

The standard payment for this type of freelance work can range from $50 to $1000, depending on the length of the article, publication, how much research or photos are needed, etc.

There’s constantly a discussion of whether you should be writing for free or not, as many big publications – Huffington Post included, don’t pay their writers. It’s your call. Being published in a bigger publication might help to boost your blog, but I’d not recommend doing it long term.

It’s usually a good idea to start… once you get big, ironically, then you’ll be outsourcing some writing to other people.

Here are some examples of my articles on other websites: News.au, PlaquePsoriasis, Hecktic Travels

Public Speaking & TV appearances

Once your blog is established and you become a specialist in your niche, you can be hired to talk about it. There are plenty of conferences out there willing to invite travel bloggers & destination specialists to speak at their event. Again, not for free.

The same goes for the TV. You can be invited to talk about your travel experiences, and/or share photos. I personally spoke at the conferences in Orlando and Austin and appeared on Polish and Mexican TV.

Selling Photography

While I rarely sell my photos online, but I know many people who do it on a regular basis. How do you sell your photos and to whom? Shutterstock, companies, tourism boards, airlines, etc.

Networking at a blogging conference

Once you start making money…

Once you start making regular income congratulate yourself first. Then, take care of important business decisions as you’re now a business owner.

Register Your Business

Boring stuff, but necessary. Bloggers can get sued as you’re now making money off your blog. It’s important to register – first as LLC (and later I recommend swapping to S-Corp). It’s also incredibly important for tax purposes (sadly, we all need to pay taxes).

Outsource Your Work

Once you make the money, spend the money. Outsource your basic tasks to a VA as you focus on important work.

VA is a virtual assistant. They can do anything for you, but most bloggers use VAs for managing social media channels, fixing links, editing and updating older posts, and basically anything you personally don’t enjoy doing. It will pay off, trust me!

You can find your VA through Upwork, Fiver, Facebook groups, or the word of mouth. Many of them are based in the Philippines which means they’re not expensive.

Once you’re big enough you can also start thinking of hiring writing. While some people outsource most of the blog, I do believe you need to add your own expertise to any article you’re writing so don’t overuse the ghost writers 😉

I hope I managed to answer your questions about how to make money blogging and how you can earn money from a travel blog. If you have any more questions, don’t hesitate to ask!

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