We’re very happy to say that we’ve built our blog to a point where it can pretty much support our lifestyle. But we didn’t make it this far without mistakes. In fact, for the first year of our blogging career we made nothing but mistakes! But we’ve learned from these errors and now that we’re blogging for a living and travelling the world off of our website’s earnings, we feel like we’re in a place that we can share with others and maybe help some budding bloggers along the way.
There are many ways that people can make money online, but these are 5 easy ways that this blog helps us to stay on the road… and they can easily keep you travelling too!
1. Sponsored Content:
There was once a time when sponsored content was all the rage in the travel blogging community. It was like a gold mine that everyone was dipping into but we all knew that one day it would explode. In the past, this was the main source of our blogging income and it basically worked like this: an advertiser would contact us (or we’d reach out to them) to ask if they could publish an article on Goats On The Road. Inside the article there was a link to their company or brand and they would pay us upwards of $250 after the piece was published. We usually preferred to write the articles ourselves, so that we could ensure that they were high-quality and our audience would enjoy reading them. Sometimes, the advertisers supplied the content and if it was good enough, we’d publish it on our blog, in which case we’d simply cut and paste the text and make about $150-$250 in 10 minutes. Pretty good wage! This method of earning blog income may sound too good to be true… and it was.
We’ve recently had to stop this type of monetization because web spammers have been taking advantage of it. Seeing the earning potential, spammers (and even some of our blogging colleagues) opened numerous sites solely for the purpose of making money from sponsored content. They posted anything and everything as long as they got paid. Google has a problem with this. The web is now saturated with poorly written sponsored content and so Google has started to penalize bloggers for all forms of sponsored content.
For that reason, if you decide to publish articles written by a third-party, proceed with caution and know Google’s Guidelines or you may see a massive drop in traffic after the next google update. Your analytics will look something like this:
2. Banner Ads:
This is a great way to monetize a site with lots of traffic and it’s really not that hard to get started on. We have a few banner ads on our side bar, most are affiliates and one is paying for the ad space. The problem with these ads is that you usually need a considerable amount of traffic to get any real money out of them. Another major problem is that you can’t have too many. If you start clogging your pages with flashing ads and pictures of products, your readers will become annoyed and may even stop reading your blog! To get started with banner ads, here are a few good sites that can start to fill your sidebar and your wallet.
- BuySellAds: This one is pretty picky and it’s hard to get accepted into their marketplace. Expect to be denied unless you have over 50,000 unique visitors and even when you’re part of the marketplace, you’ll have to actively pursue advertisers in many cases. With BuySellAds you can choose to charge a flat monthly rate or by CPM (click for wiki description).
- Google Ad Sense: The king of ads, if you join Google Ad Sense you should start seeing some money roll in almost right away. The problem is that for travel blogs, you’ll probably have to have a ton of traffic before you receive any real pay checks from Google.
- Click Bank: Another great network with many advertisers looking to place ads. Sign up, ad the code and wait for the money to start rolling in.
Another great way to make money from a travel blog is through affiliate sales. An affiliate sale is when a reader books a service or buys a product through a link on your site. For example, you recommend a great backpack and tell your readers they can “click here” to buy it on Amazon. If you’re a member of the Amazon Affiliate Program, then Amazon will pay you a commission for sending that reader over.
To make a lot of money from affiliate sales, you should learn how to write good, SEO friendly copy. “Copy” is basically a great post that shows up in search engines and leads readers to your affiliate links. Perhaps you write an article “5 best Travel Insurance Companies For Backpackers” and each insurance company is an affiliate link. If you can get that article to show up on the front page of google for relevent search terms like “best travel insurance”, then you’ll be making some serious cash!
The great thing about affiliate marketing is that you can write a post or set up a widget or a live link and just watch the money start rolling in. For travel bloggers, there are some great affiliates that will definitely pay you some money. For us, the best partner has been World Nomads Travel Insurance. We have links throughout the site as well as a handy sidebar widget that allows our readers to get a quote for travel insurance instantly. But there are plenty of others too and they’re all very easy to join. Some others to consider include Booking.com, Hostelworld.com, VisaHQ.com, amazon.com and expedia.com.
Goat Note: Once you’ve joined an affiliate partnership programs, download the WordPress plugin: SEO SmartLinks. This plugin will allow you to link certain keywords on your blog to a specified URL. Once you’ve got the plugin, add words like “Book a Room” to the admin and the plugin will make that term always point to your Booking.com affiliate link. That way, anytime you have written “Book A Room” in your blog posts, it will automatically link to your affiliate site and make you money!
4. Press Trips
Okay so this isn’t exactly a way to put money into your bank account, but all travellers know that if you’re not spending money, you’re making it. I’m sure you’ve heard of travel bloggers jet setting around the globe and getting free accommodation all over the place. While it is true that we don’t pay for some rooms, they definitely aren’t “free”!
Once you’ve developed your blog and you have a healthy readership, you may start contacting resorts and tourism boards to partner with you. Tourism Boards offer press trips with hotels, food and tours all included. Another option is to contact individual tours, transportation companies and hotels that you want to stay at, and by-pass the tourism board. We think putting together your own trip is better than the tourism board setting it all out for you. Either way, it’s important to note that it is a partnership and a business transaction. Therefore, they are expecting some sort of ROI (return on investment). You’ll have to write articles, make videos, tweet, share, +1 and whatever else you can do to promote the companies you work with. Press trips are a great way to experience a region without spending money, but they are also a great way to network with like-minded people in the travel industry.
We just completed a 19 day trip through St.Vincent & The Grenadines and we didn’t pay for any accommodation, tours or transportation the entire time. What a great trip!
5. Free Goods!
Well this one isn’t going to fully support a lifetime of travel, but it’s always nice to get free stuff in the mail right? Once you’ve developed a significant amount of reach with your blog and social media profiles, you may just have companies itching to give you free merchandise in exchange for sharing their brand with your readers. We’ve been offered everything from the J-Pillow to the TravelCard Smart Phone Charger and cool travel pants by Bluff Works! Saving money on travel gear is always a big bonus and the more reach you get, the more companies will want to send you their garb. We all like free travel gear, but as a travel blogger it’s also great to help expand awareness of a start-up businesses with a great product.
Travel blogging is a great way to support a life of exploration and for us, starting a travel blog was the second best decision we have ever made (next to starting our life of travel). Of course we enjoy making money off of the blog, going on free trips and getting free stuff in the mail, but another great part of blogging is being able to connect with other people all around the globe and help to show them an alternative lifestyle, free from location dependant jobs!
Starting a blog is easy and if you start one today, you can have it up and running for as little as $3.95/month, and as quickly as 1 hour! So what are you waiting for? If you’re interested in travelling and want to make money while you’re doing it, now is the time to start your travel blog and look to a future of making money online. Once you’ve got your traffic up, you can take advantage of these 5 easy ways to support your travels from blogging!
Thanks for reading!