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How to Make Money with a Travel Blog or Website

written by Guest Blogger on December 8, 2010

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We all want to make money online. That’s why we create blogs and read sites like this. I make money in travel. After porn, people spend the most money on travel online. It’s a huge niche with a lot of high-ticket items. There’s good money and lots of readers to be found in the online travel business, and that is why so many people get into the travel niche.  There are literally millions of travel blogs out there, and there are a lot of travel sites out there as well. So how do you set your travel web site apart from the others and start making money with it? You have two choices and each has pros and cons.

Create A Travel Blog

The first way is to start a travel blog, and become a travel personality like Rolf Potts or Rick Steves. A blog revolves around you, your stories, photography, and personality. People follow you because they believe in what you do, and because you inspire them to do more.  If you can relate to your readers fears and travel dreams, you can grow your site pretty quickly and get a lot readers.  You become a travel resource and an expert.

Yet this method requires a lot of work. You need to update your site constantly, use social media, and network with people in your field. You need to be outgoing, you need to have personality, and you need to be your own brand.  You have to put yourself out there all the time and connect with your audience. There are a lot of good travel personalities out there, such as:

How do you get traffic?

Getting social media traffic is old news to us all. We all know the importance of Facebook and Twitter.  We know we need to tweet and have a Facebook fan page to promote our content.  But for travel, where can you go to make yourself known? What else can you do that is specific to travel? The best two places to meet travelers and network with PR firms are:

  • Travel Blog Exchange – This is the premier travel networking site. Anyone with a blog as well as PR firms and companies have a profile and interact here. It’s a great place to network and they run a yearly conference where you can meet other travelers.
  • Travel Bloggers Group in Facebook – A Facebook group where people share links, help, and advice.

How do you make money this way?

  • Speaking Gigs – As you become an expert in your field, you can earn money through speaking gigs. These gigs usually include free trips, which is better than paying for your own trips.
  • Ebooks – A lot of travel blogs make ebooks as a way of making money. I have four, Almost Fearless has a couple, as does Indie Travel Podcast, and the Art of Non-Conformity. Ebooks are a good source of income as readers view you as a trusted source and are more likely to buy these when you publish them.
  • Affiliate Ads – Selling products is a good way to make money as we all know and I don’t think I need to get into this much.
  • Advertising – Though there are not a lot of private ads outside of text links in travel, companies are becoming clued in to the power of travel bloggers and you find more willing to buy ad space on your site. Well-established blogs have no problem finding ads to help pay the bills.
  • Consulting – After you have reached success, you can tell other people how you did it. I know quite a few bloggers that consult, not only in travel but in other niches too.

Create a Destination Website

The second way to make money in travel is to create a destination based website. Instead of working social media and being a personality, you pick a spot in the world and become THE expert on it. Some good examples are Travelfish, All About Cabo, and Best Tropical Islands.  These sites are static pages that only need to be updated to keep the information current.

There are a lot of pros to creating a destination website, especially if you don’t want to put your life out there.  You can set your site and forget it, you don’t have to be a personality, you can stay quiet, and overall it is less work to maintain. Once it is built, it’s built. Plus people are more likely to buy products from destination websites because they are generally able to find exactly what they’re looking for.

On the other hand, you have to be targeted on your focus and growth is limited once you get to the top of the search engines. After you rank #1 for all your keywords, you are done.  You may not grow a lot in terms of traffic, but at least you don’t have to continue to do work unless you want to add new content.

If you choose this option, you’ll spend most of your time on SEO and building links.  Destination sites don’t lend themselves to a big community. After all, not many people want to read about London everyday. But you can become the leading resource on the net and that will still bring in an audience and gigs. A great example of this is Newyorkology.

How do you make money this way?

  • Affiliate ads – Google traffic is the best traffic to monetize. People visiting your site will most likely buy something.
  • Adsense – Adsense offers the same benefits as affiliate ads, except that you have to get your readers to click on links. My website, How to Travel the World, brings in a lot of adsense money, and it doesn’t even rank high for many keywords.
  • Guides- Many destination websites sell their own guidebooks, podcasts, and apps. This is a very lucrative field because people can’t take their laptop with them. Creating portable guides are something you can sell to people. Travelfish’s apps are a good example of that.
  • Private Advertising – As a premier destination website, you can go to hotels, bars and restaurants for advertising. Once you prove you are number one, they will probably advertise with you. All About Cabo is a good example of a site that does well with private advertising.

Are there other ways?

Unless you suddenly want to start a magazine, guidebook company, or get serious venture capital, this is it. Every person I have encountered in the online travel business makes money using either option 1 or option 2. You can try to create something different, but without a lot of resources or time, you will probably fail. These two options offer the best rewards for the least amount of money and time.

Making money in travel is not difficult. A lot of people, including many travel bloggers, get dismayed because they don’t strike it rich right away. They expect their blog to take off right away or their destination based site to rank #1 on Google in two months. You have to put in more work and effort, especially with companies with deep pockets, because there is so much competition in travel. The websites I’ve listed show can make good money with a travel website. You just have to stick around long enough. Most people don’t but if you do, you’ll make bank.

This post was guest blogged by Matthew Kepnes of Normadic Matt’s Travel Site.

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{ 40 comments }

PPC Ian December 8, 2010 at 10:07 am

Great stuff! Travel can be a tricky and competitive vertical. I currently don’t own any travel websites, but do have a few travel domains in my development queue. Thanks for the tips!
Best,
Ian

Web Hosting India December 9, 2010 at 7:49 am

Boy these bloggers are exploring new world and also making money while enjoying that.

Nothing is better than making money while you are doing your favorite stuff.

Human Development December 8, 2010 at 10:25 am

Yeah the travel blog will always be a unique piece to work with because of the difference in each and every persons view about the the places and travel tips what he or she would like to live around.

Thanks for making this idea live to blog about, and I think it would be a great deal to serve the idea to the followers who don’t know what to blog about.

Web Hosting India December 10, 2010 at 3:42 am

I must say one thing … if you love to travel than you should and you must have one blog where you can describe your journey.

Tips For Blog December 11, 2010 at 3:21 am

Creating a travel blog is not a work of a person who lives only in their house, It is a work of a person who travel 7 days in a week.

Harshad December 8, 2010 at 11:15 am

Only people who travel a lot or like traveling should get in to this niche. Lot of travel related bloggers always fall short of content.

dotCOMreport December 8, 2010 at 11:39 am

@ Harshad, quite true. I have been thinking of this niche but I’m not sure I travel enough.

Great post John.

Cheap Sunglasses December 8, 2010 at 4:03 pm

If you have to ask, you’re probably right- travel blogs aren’t for you.

I would only look at a travel blog that was about someone who did it full time. That’s the only way I am assured the content I’m reading is genuine, and the person doing it has passion for what they do.

Web Hosting India December 10, 2010 at 4:12 am

@ Harshad

They are never short of content … because photos and videos can also count as content and they have plenty of.

Harshad December 10, 2010 at 4:31 am

When I said short of content, it also means short of new pictures, videos etc. It happens cos they don’t travel much and that’s the reason I said people who do not travel much should not jump in to this niche.

Tips For Blog December 11, 2010 at 3:35 am

Ya there is no limitation in content .

ikki December 8, 2010 at 2:11 pm

yeah, im agree with that, with porn u can earn a lot of money, then a travel blog

John Chow December 8, 2010 at 2:20 pm

That’s not true at all. Most porn sites earn nothing for their owners. The average travel blog woud make more.

Cheap Sunglasses December 8, 2010 at 4:09 pm

John is right- how do you monetize a porn site, and do it well?

If you’re offering free content, having an ad that goes to paid content won’t get much interest.

If you’re offering paid content, what sets you apart from everyone else? The free content?

I wouldn’t even dream of opening up such a site.

Mick December 10, 2010 at 9:07 am

Your Message
That’ s true, to a point. A well-run, well-marketed porn site will make heaps, as will a travel site.

OTOH, poorly run sites, whether porn, travel, or any other vertical, will make nothing.

Jason Caluori December 8, 2010 at 3:36 pm

I know from personal experience that the travel industry is very un-tapped on the Internet. It takes awhile to get ranked for most keywords, but once you are there, you’ll see some nice conversions.

Cheap Sunglasses December 8, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Care to backup your claim?

It’s my experience that travel is one of the most saturated niches there are. Aside from online flash games, hosting, and other impossible-to-rank-for things.

Tips For Blog December 11, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Jason Caluori You are right there are very less travel blogs but all are with very high competition.

Cheap Sunglasses December 8, 2010 at 4:05 pm

As far as I know, the quickest path to getting paid would be Adsense and private advertising, with Adsense being the quicker path of the two.

Everything else takes a lot of commitment that I’m not sure a lot of webmasters, who are just sampling the niche, have time for.

Jason Cohen December 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Great Post – I recently started a niche travel/lifestyle website. My wife and I just quit our soul crushing 9-5 jobs and are traveling in Latin America for 4-6 months. The site will first be about our amazing adventure, but will become more about Escaping the traditional 9-5 and going after your dreams and passions. I am not exactly sure how or when I will monetize, but will worry about that down the road.

Would love any feedback or advice on my site http://www.EscapeThatCube.com

Catalin December 9, 2010 at 1:55 am

Indeed you’d have to travel a lot to get in this niche and stand a chance. But in truth, John’s advices also apply to blog activities in general, either pick one specific activity and become ‘the’ expert on it, or work on a personality.

Ryan Lile December 9, 2010 at 10:47 am

Great article, thanks. I just started my blog after TBEX this year and am learning the ins and outs. For me it’s a more a fun thing to do than something I want to monetize (at least at this point). Should be interesting to see where 2011 takes it!

fas December 9, 2010 at 11:51 am

And the fun of travelling is an added bonus

Jeroen December 9, 2010 at 11:58 am

Nice post Matt ! I always love to read about travel destinations before I go there and check out what I should see and visit. The destination site idea is an interesting one and worth checking out!

Erik Emanuelli December 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

Thanks for the tips and the info.

I travelled a lot, and write about it was always my goal.

It will be reality soon.

:-)

Web Hosting India December 10, 2010 at 4:15 am

Would love to …

By the way … where you have been travelled in last 2 years.

soultravelers3 December 9, 2010 at 9:00 pm

I’ve read that there are over a million travel blogs and very few are making money, but that is probably true in many niches.

We’ve been traveling the world as a family since 2006 & are pleased that our travel blog ( http://www.soultravelers3.com) has become so popular ( case study in 4HWW, featured in NYTimes, BBC etc and number 6 for top 50 travel influencers according to Klout etc).

That said, I don’t know anyone who is making a fortune from a travel blog. As much as people love travel, it will never be the niche that “how to make money” blogs are.

Harshad December 10, 2010 at 12:07 am

Your blog has real good content. I think you should get it re-designed.

JBestler December 10, 2010 at 12:40 am

I have a domain which is called GetToKnowGermany.com which I have totally neglected. I am actually liking in Germany, and originally was going to just update my friends in the states with it. I guess it would be easy to start making a bit of cash with it if I used it properly.

Tips For Blog December 10, 2010 at 9:24 am

I started a website called citycycle.in to provide informations about all cites but can’t succeed.

Lucian December 10, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I bet that affiliating with booking websites will earn a lot of money for the website

ikki December 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm

by the way, the lost girls, nice website

Dave December 11, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Membership websites are another lucrative option for earning money online, whether you’re teaching others how to build a successful travel blog, or build a location independent business and lifestyle for themselves.

Those are just two examples — but I’m sure we’ll see more subjects as travel bloggers continuing creating their own product lines.

Human Development December 11, 2010 at 10:49 pm

Can Any one give me some tips for creating a travel blog ??

Tips For Blog December 11, 2010 at 10:51 pm

I think for creating a Travel blog you should be a traveler.

Thor December 12, 2010 at 4:23 am

Really valuable input. Yes, I put up my blog about Sydney and it’s working well. I will check on the groups you suggested. Thanks Again!

Cecil December 12, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Thank Matt. You have inspired me a lot in my travel blogging venture. I totally agreed that travel blog can make money at least to sponsor your next travel. It is real fun when I could enjoy my holidays while my travel blog could cover all the travel expenses!
Just another point to add, Sponsored blog post is also another good source of your travel blog income if your niche is popular. :)

TravelholicA December 15, 2010 at 8:42 am

Great tips! I apply some of them on my Travel Blog already (www.TravelholicA.com) but some you mentioned there need more attention.

n-guru December 18, 2010 at 6:41 am

Thanks for this article, I run a destination website for Diani Beach, Kenya and monetising is quite a challenge. The insights and comments are certainly helpful.

Lunarpages Review February 1, 2011 at 5:03 am

Great article. A single travel blog and a network of travel websites around it can make wonders if they are worked upon in a proper way.