Talking about money is weird, but I think the time has come.
Every week I get around half a dozen emails along the lines of “how can I make money while traveling?” or “How do I monetize my blog?” I’m always a little bit loathe to answer, not because it’s a secret, but because as time goes on, I think of myself less and less as a person who makes money by traveling, and more as a person who is lucky enough to have a job that allows me to travel. Almost anyone would have a hard time emulating my career choices, which have been a mix of luck, taking absurd risks and crazy hard work.
Nonetheless, I understand why people are curious. So, skipping anything super personal like actual numbers (let’s just say it’s less than I made before I quit my office job, but still enough to get by and the number is growing each year), here is a breakdown of how I make money to travel:
A lot of people seem to think that travel blogging is the key to some sort of passive income lifestyle, where you live on the beach and drink cocktails and write stories all day. This honestly makes me laugh. Anyone who tells you they make a full time living off of just their travel blog is either lying or selling a boat load of text links (not the greatest long term strategy).
My TST related income breaks down into a few categories:
Advertising and Sponsored Content
Look over to the right on the sidebar, you see those ads? Those are just part of the advertising I sell on this site. The bulk of the rest of it is in the form of sponsored content.
What is sponsored content? It’s when a company pays me to post about them. An example would be when I helped Samsung promote their SOS Island competition. I always put a disclosure at the end of these posts so you know they were paid for.
I used to sell a lot of sidebar text links back in the day, when it was quick and easy money. Nowadays the text link market is seriously drying up so I have turned my focus to other more reliable income streams.
Sponsorships are different than sponsored content in that they involve a long lasting relationship with a company. For example, I’m currently a Zipcar Brand Ambassador so every once in awhile I’ll write an article on how their services are enrich my life and travels. Again, I always disclose these relationships so you guys know what’s going on.
A tiny, but important component of my income. The way it works is that when you buy certain products through links on my site, I get a portion of the proceeds. I really only have two major affiliates that I work with: Travel Blog Success (my husband’s company) and Amazon. Amazon pays in store credit, which is super important because it allows me to buy more books!
If you’re looking for help building a great blog or making money this way, I really do recommend Travel Blog Success. My personal blogging tips are here.
My sites most important function business-wise is that it’s a platform for promoting myself as a writer and a brand. Over the past year I’ve transitioned from making a living selling links to making the bulk of my money via freelance writing. I much prefer this as it’s stable and I really enjoy it.
At this point in my career I don’t do a lot of pitching to newspapers or magazines. That might be something I pursue in the future, but right now it’s really hard to find the time. I much prefer to form lasting relationships with companies where I write for them on a set monthly basis. I’ve done writing projects for companies like Viator, Room 77, Eurail, and RoamRight travel insurance.
I get a lot of emails asking me how to break in to freelance travel writing, and I never have a good answer to give. I’m assuming most people don’t want to hear: start a travel blog and write for free for three years until companies start contacting you.
I’m definitely a bit of an internet jack of all trades: I’ll try anything once to make some money. In the past year here are a few of my other income streams.
A Year Without Make-Up was so much fun to write and so cool to share with everyone. I’ve made some money off of it (although maybe not as much as I initially hoped). I would definitely love to write another ebook, or even better, a real book.
Navigate Media Projects
Navigate Media Group is a collective of bloggers who work together as a marketing and social media agency. We’ve worked on projects with Samsung, Visit Finland and more. Hopefully in the future I will be working with them on sponsored campaigns that will help put more money in my pocket (you will hear all about these things as they become realities).
So far the most worthwhile project for me financially has been our BlogHouse projects. I poured a lot of time and energy into putting together the Toronto Bloghouse and made a small stipend for my efforts. This is something I would definitely love to do again.
I’m definitely not the best photographer out there but I do manage to capture a cool shot once in awhile. This year I’ve started licensing some of my photography to tourism boards and tour companies I have worked with.
The Bottom Line
I won’t lie: cobbling together a living from all of these moving pieces isn’t easy. I work, a lot. More than in my old job and for less money per hour. I’m actually doing very well compared to a lot of travel bloggers out there, but I’ve been doing this for nearly five years now. What I do is unique to me, other bloggers make their money differently. Here are a few posts from other bloggers on how they make a living:
How I Make Money to Travel the World– Art of Adventuring (my other half!)
How We Fund Our Permanent Travels– Never Ending Voyage
This is How I Fund My Long-Term Travel Lifestyle– Expert Vagabond
How We Do It (And Why You Shouldn’t Listen to Us)– Hecktic Travels
How Do We Earn a Living? – Raising Miro
How to Go Freelance and Not Starve– Indecisive Traveler
Answers to Questions About our Work Life Balance– Edventure Project
How to Afford Long-Term World Travel: How Travel Bloggers Do it– Lash World Tour
How I Fund My Travels Around the World– Never Ending Footsteps
How Much Money Does This Blog Make?- Goats on the Road
About Page– Legal Nomads
About Page- Adventurous Kate