Travel Blogger Salary; How Much Money Can A Travel Blog Make?
Checking Instagram and seeing people always on the road. Calling themselves bloggers. Too good to be true? How much must a travel blogger salary be to do that?! How Much Money Can A Travel Blog Make? Well, when I first started blogging back in 2010 I had read about a couple of people making money from their travel blogs. “No way, that can be true”. I thought it was another example of dudes making money on the internet by telling people how to make money on the internet. Making money from a blog just seemed to be too good to be true. So I did a little more digging about how much money CAN travel blog make, like, really?
And so I started my travel blog, and it truly changed my life. It allowed me to make $1m from my travel blog in 3 years, I visited every country in the world, I started a non-profit adventure company and donated over $200,000USD, I bought properties in London and Bangkok, ran a marathon at the North Pole, ran the 6 Marathons in 6 days through the Sahara on the Marathon Des Sables, and climbed some of the highest mountains in the world. How? All from my blog. Let me explain a little bit more how I did it:
Starting my blog
Firstly, I’m awful with computers. You probably don’t believe that, but it’s true. I was working in Australia, saving money to travel, and I learned the super basic, easy way HOW TO START A TRAVEL BLOG and I started a hideous version of this blog onestep4ward.com. I had no idea what my travel blogger salary would become in the future, but right now it was $0. However, I knew that I had enough awesome travel experiences under my belt to warrant a site, I knew that I had travelled a lot further, to a lot more interesting destinations with a lot more crazy stories to share than a lot of the big names in the community so I thought I’d start sharing them with the world, who knows what it could lead to.
With my blog now up and running, I still knew nothing about how much money a blog can make. And I had no idea how blogs even made money! I remember getting 2 visitors a day but I persevered. After a month or so it was 20 people, suddenly you start getting doubts about whether it’s worth your time. A measly 100 people a month or so is all you have to show for all your hard work and investment. Maybe I should just quit, I’m not cut out for this at all.
At this junction I knew nothing about computers, I wouldn’t even begin to know about programming or graphics, I had never come across the terms SEO, google page rank or backlinks, marketing was simply a course people took at uni. But I continued none the less.
How I started making money from a blog
I quit my job in Australia with some savings and flew one-way to Zimbabwe.
There I spent the best part of a year on an epic Cape Town to Cairo Africa overland trip, all by public bus. Soon my blog traffic was 250 visitors per month, wow – 250 strangers reading about my stories on the net, pretty cool. I still didn’t know what it was growing, but it was, albeit slowly. Then I got an email out of the blue, by an advertiser who wanted to advertise on my site, he offered me $60, to be paid via PayPal, and I almost bit his arm off. I was thinking this was the easiest $60 I ever made, I was in Ethiopia at the time and $60 would pay for my travels for the next 3 or 4 days. Another couple of weeks of silence, but I kept blogging. I was up to 500 people per month after 6 months or so, another advertiser contacted me, $100 for the year. Yes, please. Awesome.
Anyway, I continued through Africa and the Middle East for the next few months, then about a year ago I flew to Bangkok, and moved there semi-permanently. It was early 2011. I was determined to try to make something more of my site, as well as pursue some more online ventures. A year went in a heartbeat, and although I was based in Bangkok, Thailand I still traveled a fair bit in those 12 months – Malaysia (twice), Myanmar, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macau, North Korea, China, South Korea, all over Thailand, I even filmed a TV show for a Thai Travel Programm complete with an all-expense-paid trip to Taiwan for a month!
Growing my traffic and audience
By this point, I didn’t have to work in a ‘real job’ anymore. English teachers in Thailand get paid roughly $1000 per month (although when I taught there, it was more like $700). They can get $1500 if they have some experience and they choose to live in Bangkok. About 10 months after taking travel blogging seriously I was making around $1000 per month from OneStep4Ward.com and it was increasing fast, I started to build new sites, AspiringBackpacker.com (since sold) was the second site I built, I registered a company called Teach Dot Travel (EDIT 2020 -YET ANOTHER OF MY MANY FAILURES) offering TEFL courses in Thailand and recruiting teachers to English camps in Korea.
I now have 4 more sites in development (2020 EDIT: Make that 50 sites!), 2 ebooks I’m in the process of writing, and 2 very interesting companies that I’ll be trying to get off the ground next year. I’ve started to look for interns or employees from English speaking countries to work with me, where I can show them how to do this too. (EDIT 2020: Ebook is done and available for free if you sign up to my blog, the companies are up and running – onestep4ward tours, and Mudita Adventures).
And all the while I kept blogging. Slowly but surely the traffic increased. Then the advertising revenue increased. Next, the social media followers increased. And my belief that this was a viable way of life increase. And my travel blogger salary, also, increased!
My plans (written back in 2012!)
OneStep4Ward had allowed me to not work, travel the world, maintain a great lifestyle in Thailand throughout and it gave me the free time to concentrate on other projects, which I’m continuing to do now. Last week was the most I ever made from one site in 12 days, OneStep4Ward.com alone generated more than $5000 in less than two weeks (EDIT 2020 – I first wrote this in 2012, I find it so motivating to see how much more travel blogs can make now!).
My other sites are generating money, my businesses (all education and travel orientated) are slowly progressing to a point where they’ll work, my other projects have got me excited and motivated and I’m currently riding the Trans Siberian train across Russia, with a plan to break my 100 country mark by the end of the year. (EDIT 2020: I finished the trans-Siberian trip, and finally finished every country!)
How Do Travel Bloggers Make Money?
That’s the $1m question, right? I answer that question in more details in my ebook (sign up to the blog and get it for free). But in short, travel bloggers make money by:
It’s annoying (sorry!), but even in this article, you see lots of automatic ads, right? Yup, that’s the bulk of most travel blogger income. You much do ads in blogs make? It varies on which country your traffic comes from, but very, very roughly speaking, let’s see 100,000 page views in a month could generate $1k to $5kUSD.
That’s when you sign up for products after clicking on a link. For example, I only ever use Safety Wing for my travel insurance. It’s $9 a week, you can switch it off and on in 2 seconds, it covers me for weird countries like when I go to Yemen, Libya or Syria for example. And it’s awesome as insurance for digital nomads because it allows us to be in one place for a while. Anyway, if anyone reads that I use Safetywing, and they trust me. They may too sign up for Safetywing. If they use my link to get to the website. I get a small commission. Literally a couple of dollars. But it adds up. That’s affiliate marketing.
Brands pay you to publish blog posts, either for brand awareness or for an SEO boost.
Courses & Products
Lots of bloggers sell courses, travel guides, even travel products. The most lucrative is online courses. Lots of work once, But then 100% profit after. Some courses will change your life, most of them are lazy rubbish designed to make money, not to help people. Be careful.
I’ve worked with Hugo Boss, Amazon Prime, The North Face, Qatar Air, Fitbit etc etc. Sometimes they pay you for a blog post, or Instagram post, but the best is a longer term ambassadorship where they pay you monthly to represent them.
Lucrative but you have to stand out. I get offers for this due to my journey to every country. It can pay $1k to $20k per speech. Wild.
I run some epic OneStep4Ward tours to places most people won’t go. Not so lucrative but fun, you get to travel, and meet cool people who are interested in going to wild places too. I’ve met so many friends through this!
Do you get paid to travel?
Actually, no. Not quite. Normally, travel bloggers travel at their own expense. They then blog about it and make money from adverts on the content they create. Sometimes, tourism boards/hotels/tour companies will pay for you to join, so on those occasions, yes you do get paid to travel. But generally speaking, no. It’s a myth that travel bloggers get ‘paid to travel’. Having said that, I travel because I love adventure. I do see a lot of new bloggers, and especially Instagrammers, who care more about style than substance. And they only go on trips when they’re invited/paid. They travel for a job, not for the love. So they may answer this question differently.
Travel blogger income; What’s my travel blogger salary?
My goal back in 2010 was to make $33 a day, $1000USD per month. I had lived on about $700 teaching English in Chiang Mai, so I knew I could easily keep traveling the world on $1k a month. And in your 20s, that’s epic. As I got to my late 20s, I started t think about a roof over my head, some security, flights home to Ireland to visit family etc. $1K wouldn’t cut it as I moved into my 30s. So I expanded my blog, wrote more, started more sites, sold more advertising. By 2012, I was making more than $30k a month. Crazy times.
For the next 4 years or so, it was like that. It allowed me to invest in my future. I lived humbly, and the only stuff I spent money on was travel and investments. No Rolex, no sports car, no fancy apartment for rent.
When I finished my goal of visiting every country, I found myself in an emotional slump. The anticlimax of reaching a life goal, a 12-year goal. It took me 6 months to snap out of it. I struggled to focus on work, I ate shit, drank too much, and achieved very little. My monthly revenue plummeted, over the course of 2017, to about $2k a month. And with my costs, I was in the red each month, losing money. I snapped out of it through exercise, early nights, and cutting out excessive drinking. And then pre-Covid, I was back to $20k months again.
But then COVID hit, and the travel industry was decimated. But that’s ok, it’s on its way back.
So my travel blog income? I’ve made over $2,000,000USD in the 10 years I’ve been blogging. I’m officially a millionaire in my Net Worth because I invested, saved, and never got flash even when the money was good. And now I’m building my dream home in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Finally, I’m going to enjoy some of that ‘travel blogger salary’.
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