“How do you make money travel blogging?”. This is by far the most popular question we get asked by our readers, friends, and family and it’s time that we share the truth about making money from travel blogging. First, let us debunk a big myth.
After 2.5 years of travel blogging, this blog DOES NOT make us enough money to travel full time. Travel blogging is a not an easy and certainly not a sure way to make money while traveling. If you are looking for some easier and better ideas, check out our Work & Travel Abroad Series in which we interviewed travelers with all sorts of professions on the road.
With that said, though, we do make SOME money through this blog, enough to fund about 6 months of travel per year. But the earning didn’t come overnight…
Our Blogging Journey
When I first started Drink Tea & Travel in May 2014, it was nothing more than a hobby, a place to note down my travels from the last 5 years, capture stories and experiences. For the first 6 months, the blog served as a creative outlet, but the more I got into it, the more I learned about travel blogging, the faster I realised that this little piece of the internet had a lot of potential.
The first year of travel blogging was a bit of a blur. Max and I were still living in Australia, working regular 9-5 jobs in an attempt to pay off my debt and save for travel. We traveled on weekends and tried to make the most of our 4 weeks of vacation, constantly finding ourselves hungry for more. I spent evenings writing, and learning as much as I could about travel blogging. I joined the Travel Blog Success Community and scoured the Travel Blog Success Course for lessons on everything from creating content to developing traffic, and making money from the blog.
The first source of blog related income came in early 2015, almost 8 months after the blog had gone live. I scored a long term freelance writing gig that allowed me to earn some money ghostwriting a variety of travel related articles, hotel reviews, and city guides for travel websites across the web. That year, I also managed to get a few discounted stays at hotels and on some activities in Australia. Total blog earnings in Year 1 = under $1000.
We kicked things into high gear in the 2nd year of travel blogging. Max joined me on my mission to grow Drink Tea & Travel and took on a slew of tasks to help us move forward. He helped with a ton of web design issues, photography, took on the scary job of videography, and even managed to write a bunch of articles. Together, we redesigned this site, making it more organized and more user-friendly. A few months into our 2nd year, we’d had enough of the 9-5 lifestyle, and finally, quit our jobs to travel the world. We took off on a short but epic round the world trip that took us to 5 continents and 15 different countries.
We traveled and continued to work on the blog (we also got married and made it through a major injury). Over the course of year 2, we sold our first photos, scored our first press trip, landed our first big campaign, and found a few more ways to earn money through this website. Total blog earning in Year 2 added up to just over $15,000.
How we Make Money From Travel Blogging Today
Today, 2.5 years into it, Drink Tea & Travel continues to grow and attract more and more readers from all over the world. We have recently crossed an exciting milestone of 30,000 monthly unique users and have started to see some new income streams come our way.
The following is a breakdown of all the ways we make money on Drink Tea & Travel…today.
Affiliate Sales is a new, but very promising source of income for us. Over the last 6 months,we have partnered up with our favourite accommodation providers (like Airbnb and Booking.com), car/campervan rental companies, and online shopping sites (ie. Amazon) to help you experience our recommended hotels, travel gear, photography gear, and other travel resources. What that means is that any time you book or buy something by clicking through an affiliate link on this site, we earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.
The income from each sale is small, but those dollars do add up. The best part about affiliate links is that once they are set up, they require little or no ongoing maintenance and as our traffic continues to grow, so will our affiliate link sales. (Or so we hope!)
We do not allow banner advertising on our blog, (we hate ads so we don’t want to force you to look at them either), but sometimes we do allow contextual advertising (a.k.a sponsored posts). Sponsored posts have been a source of income for us for almost a year, but these days we are pretty selective about the companies we work with.
Sponsored posts include 1-2 links to the sponsor’s website along with contextually relevant information about their product/service. Despite being sponsored (we’ll always tell you when they are), these posts are almost always written by us and always include our honest views and opinions on the subject at hand.
Branded Campaigns are longer term projects that include a combination of posts, photography/videos, social media promotion and more. Our biggest campaign to date was with an Australian travel insurance provider, Budget Direct Travel Insurance which included a number of posts, social media posts, and 15 videos that we shot and edited for BD over the course of 6 months of travel.
This is our favourite income stream, as it allows us to do what we love (i.e. travel), while creating content and sharing our experience with a brand along the way. We are always on the lookout for more branded campaign opportunities and hope that we’ll be able to secure these on a more regular basis going forward.
We’ll be honest, we haven’t made a ton of money on our photography, but we have managed to sell our travel photos to a few tourism boards. While the best of our photos are always featured on our blog and on our Instagram, we do also have a full fledged Travel Photography Portfolio for anyone looking to license our photos for print or use in digital marketing & advertising campaigns.
We work with Tourism Boards, tour companies, hotels, and other travel providers to promote destinations and/or experiences to our readers via this blog and our social media channels. So far, we have not earned a lot of hard cash for these types of trips, but our flights, hotels, accommodation and other expenses are typically covered in exchange for coverage.
We never promote experiences we don’t enjoy ourselves and always give our honest opinions. More often than not, we choose the experiences that we know you guys will enjoy and would be interested in learning about and work with relevant companies/organizations to help us bring these experience with you.
While freelance writing was the biggest source of income for us in our first year of travel blogging, it has recently taken a back seat in our income sources. Freelance writing (at least the type of ghost writing that we’ve done in the past) does not pays well at all and these days and we are finding it harder and harder to compete with freelancers willing to write 500+ word articles for under $50. Rates like these are simply not worth our time, so we have recently increased our rates and are now accepting fewer and fewer of these types of assignments. Our time now is simply better spent on other income sources.
Wondering how on earth are we able to sustain our lifestyle when the above mentioned income streams don’t make us more than $10,000-$15,000 a year combined? The truth is that while travel blogging and income streams directly associated with it has earned us a significant amount of money over the last 2 years, they are NOT our only income streams.
In fact, income earned from this travel blog represents only 30% of our total income. Come back next week, when we’ll reveal the other 5 income sources that help us sustain our full-time travel lifestyle.
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