These days, it seems as though everyone wants to learn how to become a travel blogger, and I don’t blame them! Having the opportunity to make money online while following your passion for travel is something that we in the internet generation are lucky to have.
Nick and I have been running Goats On The Road for 6 years now, and for the past 5 years it’s been our sole source of income – earning us six figures a year.
In my opinion, there’s no better way to get paid to travel! If you want to learn how to become a travel blogger, but not just any travel blogger, a successful one, you’ve come to the right place.
In this post, I’ll share our best tips to help you become a travel blogger. Let’s get started.
(Note: This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. Thank you in advance for your support.)
1. Start A Travel Blog – The Right Way
First of all, you need to actually create a travel blog in order for it to become successful. It sounds simple enough, right?
There are numerous steps to starting a website. You’ll need to pick a travel blog name, choose a hosting company, decide on a blog theme, and then navigate your way through the murky waters of WordPress.
For us, this is simple. We’re always in the back end of our website messing around with coding or the design. As I said, we’ve been at this for 6 years, so it’s second nature to us.
But for newbies who are learning how to become a travel blogger, it’s not so simple and can be a daunting, hair-pulling task. Every little mistake you make in the beginning could come back to bite you down the road.
Starting your travel blog the correct way is incredibly important.
That’s why we’ve created our Beginner Blogging Course, which helps you set up your travel blog step-by-step. I wish we had this course when we started out – hours of Googling and YouTubing could have been avoided…not to mention, all of the mistakes!
Here’s what one of our students has said about our course:
“I decided to give this course a go because at least when I was paying for my blog I was getting something extra for it. Well, I got a whole lot more than I could ever have imagined! Nick’s videos give clear step by step instructions that are easy to follow even for someone who is totally new to this.
I set up my blog simply by watching the videos, pausing when Nick told me to do something, and sometimes rewinding if it was tricky so I could hear the explanation as I did it. The additional help sheets give you something concrete to refer back to which is great as you make your way through the course. As a teacher, I was impressed at Nick’s ability to break things down and explain them clearly.
The Facebook community is amazing! I love seeing where other people are up to and getting tips and advice. If you’re thinking about setting up a blog, I wouldn’t hesitate with this purchase. You’ll not only get an awesome course, you’ll get ongoing support and a new community of online colleagues who all want the best for one another!”
– Jo Needham, Beginner Blogging Course student
Start your blog the right way so it grows faster, reaches more people, and earns you money sooner.
2. Pick a Niche
According to Worldometers, today alone there were 2,760,019 blog posts published on WordPress somewhere in the world. Those aren’t strictly travel related blog posts, but still, that’s a lot of content!
Now more than ever, it’s imperative that you have a niche when learning how to become a travel blogger. You need to stand out and be an authority on the topic that your blog is about. I personally don’t believe that you can be just a travel blog anymore, you need more.
So how do your get your blog posts seen? You niche down.
Here are some examples of various travel niches:
- Budget family travel
- Travel in (city or country specific)
- UNESCO travel
- Travelling with a pet
- Luxury adventure travel
- Travel in Europe
- Travelling on a sailboat
- Travelling with a disability
- Scuba diving around the world
- Vegan travel
- Travelling in a van
- Travelling in a van as a vegan
You get the picture.
If someone is reading your blog and they see that it’s a Luxury Travel Blog, they’ll think “cool, I’m luxury too!”
Then if they keep reading and realize that it’s also a Luxury Travel Blog for Female Travellers, they’ll likely think “Wow, Luxury Female Travel, that’s exactly me!”
This multi-level assimilation is what makes a niche so important and will help you truly connect with your followers.
3. Create Epic Content
When I was learning how to become a travel blogger, I was constantly told by fellow bloggers that “content is king”. To this day, I still believe that 100%.
But what does that mean?
It means creating informative articles for your readers. If you look back on our earlier posts, they’re a bit embarrassing – there’s a lot of “I did this, and today we travelled here” – which is OK (it’s a blog after all), but there wasn’t anything substantial that our readers could take away from the articles.
Once we realized that in order to become professional bloggers (rather than hobby bloggers) we needed to create epic, practical, useful content, our mindset and writing style changed and we started seeing traffic to our website.
If you want to blog as a hobby, then write about whatever you want. But, if you want this to be a successful business and make money from travel blogging, then you need to think about your audience.
I hate to say it, but no one cares where you went last week, or the bus ride you took. BUT, they do care about the details of where you went (the restaurants, the landscape, the people, the culture, the overall vibe) and they do care about the logistics of that bus ride you took like how much it cost, where you booked it and how long it took.
Reading someone’s diary is boring. Reading someone’s stories about travel and finding useful information is what people want when they’re using Google.
If you’re going to Colombia, write an in-depth travel guide, or a compelling story about a particular place that makes the reader want to travel there. Focus on lists – the top things to do in Colombia, the best places to hike in the country, the top spots for foodies, what to pack for the trip, or things people should know when travelling to Colombia.
Within those articles, keep your voice and your flavour (that’s why people read blogs), and when your personality mixes with useful content, that’s when you’ve hit the jackpot. Find the sweet spot between being informative and being personable.
Articles should be well researched, provide as much information as possible, be lengthy (1,500+ words), have images throughout, and be reader friendly (focus on font size, paragraph length, using headings to split up content, etc.)
The goal of travel blogging is to inspire people to do something or go somewhere, and then give them details on how to do so. Blogging isn’t just about you, it’s about those you are reaching with your words. Not only will your readers like your articles, but so will Google and other search engines.
4. Be Your Awesome Self
Being a travel blogger means providing travel information to your followers, but it also means being YOU.
Most likely, the reason that people started following you in the first place was because of your writing style, your personal story, or how you portray yourself on camera.
People will like your content and find it useful, but they’ll also feel like they’re connecting with you personally. Having that relationship with your audience is what being a successful blogger is all about. We absolutely love interacting with our readers through email, blog comments and social media.
Be authentic and genuine in the articles you write, the social media posts you add, the emails you send out and the videos you create. Your followers want to feel like they are a part of your journey, and your community.
Being authentic and genuine also means being 100% transparent with your audience when you write posts. If a trip is sponsored, tell them. If you have affiliate links in an article, make sure you disclose that. If you’ve made a mistake about something, own up to it.
Just be honest and open and let your awesome self shine through.
5. Get Noticed
How do travel bloggers get noticed when there are so many blogs online today?
Four main ways:
- being niche (as discussed above)
- doing something unique
- knowing SEO
- marketing yourself
Like I said above, you need to have a niche to stand out from the crowd, but you also need to be doing something interesting.
Are you travelling to every country in the world? Do you house sit abroad and earn free accommodation? Are you planning to cycle the Pamir Highway in Central Asia? Driving a camper van across New Zealand? Teaching English in China? Rock climbing in California?
Those are all very exciting and unique takes on travel and lifestyle. If you market yourself properly, people will hear about the awesome trip you’re doing and want to follow your journey, while gaining insights on how they can follow in your footsteps.
But, how do people see those cool things you’re doing? Either by chance, from SEO (more on that below), or by marketing yourself and your website.
Here’s a few way to market your travel blog:
1. Guest Posting: This is what will get you noticed. Reach out to bloggers in your niche and pitch them an article idea. Once they agree, write a compelling post while linking back to your website, a particular post or upcoming adventure. Do this multiple times, not once, not twice, but ten or more times. Find at minimum ten blogs in your genre, write a new article for each of them and have them all published around the same date within the same month – we’ve dubbed this the “guest post bomb“. We did this when we were embarking on our trip through Central Asia and Iran and gained a lot of new followers this way.
2. Getting Featured: Getting featured on a large publication is an excellent way to reach more people, and in turn, have them follow your blog. If you’re doing something unique that gets noticed, large publications will reach out to you, but if they don’t, you can always pitch them. Write to Lonely Planet, NatGeo, BBC, Forbes, etc. and pitch them your story / angle. If they accept and feature you on their website, you’ll receive thousands of new followers. (you can actually get paid to write online with these companies – many of which are big brands)
3. Attending Events: There’s something to be said about actually meeting people in person rather than just reaching out online. Attending travel conferences or press trips with fellow bloggers and PR reps for companies is a great way to get your name out there. Once they meet you in person and see your personality (and travel blog stats), they’ll want to collaborate with you – whether in the form of guest posting, social / video collaborations, or press trips. The more connections you make, the easier it will be to market your travel blog.
4. Being Social: By this I mean being social online and interacting with those in your niche. There are numerous travel groups and communities on Facebook that you can join, and there are lots of sharing groups as well where bloggers share each other’s content to help give it a boost. Read other relevant articles and leave genuine comments on them to get yourself noticed. Joining Twitter chats are a great way to interact with those who are interested in the same things as you, in real-time. Plus, they’ll get to know you better and in turn, follow you. (More on social media below).
6. Don’t Forget About Social Media
Love it or hate it, social media isn’t going anywhere! And, for those who want to become successful travel bloggers, this is a good thing.
Every time you write a new blog post, share it across your social media accounts – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and of course, Pinterest (Google+ is dead). Use relevant hashtags on Twitter and Instagram, and to get a further reach, tag people who you think would be interested in your post – without being spammy.
Facebook: Post a wide variety of things on your Facebook account, mix it up! Not only does Facebook’s algorithm like this, but your readers will as well. One day you could add a stunning photo, the next day ask your community a question, followed by a link to one of your articles, and then a live Facebook video of you doing something interesting.
Create a group for your brand – ours is Turn Travel Into A Lifestyle – and connect with your readers there.
I’ve found that posting once per day on Facebook works the best for our engagement. To figure out what time of the day your readers are online, check your Facebook analytics under “insights”.
Instagram: Make sure your photos are beautiful. This platform is strictly about images and since it’s completely visual, you need to catch someone’s eye right away before they keep scrolling past you…
Use programs like Lightroom or Snapseed to edit your photos before posting them on Instagram. Use relevant hashtags, geo-tag the location, and tag people who are either in the photo or accounts in the region.
For example, when posting about Barbados, I tagged the tourism board and some other Barbados Instagram accounts and they reposted my image. When this happens (and you receive proper credit), it’ll help you gain new followers.
We’ve found that posting every couple of days works best for our Instagram engagement, and again, check which time of day your followers are online. This can be found in your “Insights”.
The most important thing to remember with Facebook and Instagram is to reply to your readers when they comment on your content. Engage with them, and reply to their comments with a question so you can keep the conversation going.
Pinterest: For us, the least important platform has to be Twitter, while the most important is Pinterest. Why? Because Pinterest actually brings a lot of traffic to our website, and when utilized properly, it can be a game changer. It’s like a search engine in itself.
Traffic to your website = advertising revenue, product sales, affiliate commissions and new followers.
Use programs like Canva to create pinnable images at the bottom of all your posts. People won’t pin your content to their “boards” if there isn’t an appealing image with a caption on it. Utilize Tailwind for Tribes, and to schedule your pins to boards in intervals. For us, Tailwind has been the best scheduling program.
The amount of followers you have on Pinterest doesn’t matter, it’s about how many times your pins are repinned and engaged with.
YouTube: In my opinion, you’re either a blogger, or a YouTuber. They are both huge platforms with endless things to learn. If you’re both, your days will be filled with content creation, editing, marketing and networking. It’s too much and is incredibly overwhelming to successfully run both.
We’ve had our YouTube channel since around 2012, and we’ve hardly made any money from it, yet we put in hours filming and creating videos. For us, it’s now a supplement to our website and if partners want us to create a video for a campaign, we will.
To sum up, social media is a great way to connect with your readers, and it’s also an amazing outlet for your new content.
7. Learn SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
This is a huge component of becoming a successful travel blogger. When you write an amazing piece of content, you post it to your blog and share it across your social media platforms, which is great…but, then what?
Apart from Pinterest, social media isn’t evergreen. Once new articles leave the home page of your blog, they’re not often seen again. Unless you know and utilize SEO.
In short, SEO (search engine optimization) is that process of writing a post around a key term. If I want to write about Malta and actually have that article show up on the first couple of pages in Google results, I need to write a post around a key term that people actually search.
Such as “things to do in Malta“, “what to do in Malta”, or “what to see in Malta”.
So, how do I find the key terms? We use a program called KeySearch to find highly searched terms. KeySearch starts at $17/month, whereas other companies such as Ahrefs start at $99/month.
Once you’ve written an article using that search term the appropriate amount of times (get yourself the Yoast plug-in for WordPress), and you’ve added the term to the “alt-text” of the photos in the article, the title, the URL and the Meta description, you’re ready to publish the post.
But, that doesn’t mean your article will rank in Google right away. SEO involves interlinking articles on your website using the key term(s), creating backlinks to the article from domains in your niche, and also, your website authority and age plays a role.
Once you know SEO and start to rock it, you’ll begin to see a huge boost in your traffic on Google Analytics. And as I said above, traffic equals revenue and new followers.
8. Collect Emails
Do you own Google? Instagram? YouTube? Facebook? Nope. So, if anything should happen (knock on wood!) to any of those platforms, your content, followers and revenue could be wiped out.
Needless to say, that would be devastating.
The only thing that you actually own are products you’ve created (more below), and the email addresses that you’ve collected.
In order to create an email list, you’ll need to offer your readers something. You need a product that they want to “opt-in” for, by providing you with their email address. It’s called a “lead magnet”.
Most travel bloggers offer an ebook, a check-list, or some sort of free training in exchange for the email address. We offer our 101 Ways To Make Money Travelling ebook when people subscribe to our newsletter, which is sent out weekly.
Because we have collected these emails, we now have a direct line to our followers. We can send them personal messages, give them VIP access to our products and provide them with content that no one else receives. Your newsletter followers will be the most loyal of all your readers.
9. Invest In Your Business
In order for your travel blog to thrive, you need to invest in it – time, energy and money. It’s your business, so make sure you treat it like one.
Obviously, you’ll be spending lots of time writing and marketing your travel blog, but you should be spending time researching the latest trends and making sure you’re up to date with website protocol.
If you want to become a travel blogger, just know that you’ll be constantly learning and educating yourself – there’s always something to know in this business.
Set aside some time each day or week to sit down and study a particular website-related topic. Maybe you want to brush up on SEO practices and affiliate marketing, or perhaps you need to know more about the current privacy and data collection guidelines.
Invest in your travel blog by educating yourself and staying on top of the best practices.
You should also put financial investments into your blog if you want it to become successful. It took us a while to realize that investing cash into our business was a good thing – we never liked seeing the money leave our bank account, but the rewards were worth it. This is your business, putting cash back into it is not a negative thing.
Purchase courses and ebooks to gain knowledge and become an expert on a particular topic. Spend money on Facebook advertising, Keyword search programs, an SEO team, a website designer, travel conferences and virtual assistants.
You’re just one person, you can’t do it all. Hire people who are experts in their field and your blog will grow rapidly.
Note: when you’re first learning how to become a travel blogger, you probably won’t have a lot of cash to throw into your website. Don’t worry, you don’t have to go out and hire a bunch of people. Start with one person and go from there.
10. Diversify Your Income Streams
Diversity is key in this industry! In order to become a successful travel blogger and run a six figure blog, you need to have numerous income streams. Don’t rely on just one way of earning money each month, this is a volatile industry, but if you prepare yourself and diversify your money-making methods, you’ll be fine.
We personally make money through affiliate marketing, in-content advertising, paid partnerships, FAM trips / press trips, sponsored content, product sales, social media management, content creation, freelance writing… the list goes on.
Here are a few ways to make money and become a successful travel blogger:
1. Affiliate Marketing: This is by far our favourite earning method. We share products on this website that we use and trust, and in turn, those companies pay us a commission when someone purchases their product. Run Google searches for companies in your niche and see if they have an affiliate program, most companies do. Some popular ones for travel bloggers include: World Nomads, Amazon, Booking.com and Expedia. But, there are many more.
2. In-content Advertising: Mediavine offers bloggers a very fair rate for showing relevant ads on their website. Once you hit 25,000 monthly sessions on your website, you can start earning from Mediavine. Apply here.
3. Sponsored Content: Most blogs start this way. A company basically contacts you via email (or you reach out to them) and ask you to write about their product or brand. They pay for the advertising and the link to their site (between $200 – $750+ USD / article).
4. Create a Product: As I said above, you only own the emails you collect and the products you create. Having something that’s your own that you can personally sell to your followers is a must. Ebooks, online courses, t-shirts, tours…whatever you can think of.
5. Freelance Writing: Writing on your own travel blog is a must, but a good way to make money is to do some freelance writing on the side – either for major publications or for fellow travel bloggers.
6. Press Trips: Destination marketing is something that has taken off over the years. Tourism boards, tour companies and hotels are starting to see the value travel bloggers can provide. Basically, once you become a successful travel blogger and have a large following, you will be able to promote various destinations to your readers, and receive a salary. We’ve been invited on numerous press trips by tourism boards and have always had a great time, and completed successful campaigns.
These are just some of the ways that travel bloggers make money. Think outside the box and come up with an idea of your own.
Be Persistent and Don’t Give Up!
When you’re first learning how to become a travel blogger, the thought of just throwing your hands up on the air and giving up might seem appealing. In the beginning it can be slow going, but if you stick with it, have a positive attitude and have a goal of becoming a successful travel blogger, it’ll happen. We started out when there was hardly any information online and we knew nothing about websites, marketing or writing.
These days, this website is one of the Top 50 travel sites online (based on traffic), we earn more money now than we did living in Canada, and – best of all – we love what we do! There were some tough days when we first started out, but we’re so glad we didn’t quit.
Follow the steps above and constantly be researching and learning – soak up as much information as you can. But most importantly, have fun while you’re at it. If you have any questions about becoming a travel blogger, feel free to email us. Happy blogging!
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