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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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