When we decided to set out on our adventure one of our first thoughts was, “let’s do a travel blog and make some money!” This is a very common thought, one you may have had, and one that many others have had and will have. Let’s start with solid reasons to start a travel blog and a few warnings.
Top 5 reasons to do it
- It’s fun and fulfilling to write about your adventures
- It’s a great way for friends and family to follow your travels
- You will likely learn quite a bit in the process
- You have a great tool for building an audience and sharing information
- You might make some money
Top 5 reasons to consider carefully
- It will take a lot of your time
- It can turn travel into work
- It’s not a very good way to make money (at least not directly)
- You may attract unwanted attention
So should you do it?
I’d say yes, definitely. Even if you never make a dime, its fun and a great way for folks to stay in touch. I think that is worth the time it takes to write articles. You can’t really fail at that part of the endeavor. If you do a blog for only these reasons, you really can’t fail or waste your time.
Should you do it for money?
You should give it a try if you have the notion to. You don’t have much to loose but a little money and a fair bit of time, but the time can pay you back just in personal fulfillment so give it a go. If you are just thinking its an easy way to make money, it’s not. It may be fun, and not rocket science, but it’s very difficult to turn a blog into income. The effort is large, the financial reward is typically small.
Three Key Blog Topics (listed from easiest to hardest)
- How to set up a blog
- How to create content for a blog
- How to find an audience for your blog
- How to make money on a blog
How to set up a Travel Blog
Setting up a blog is very easy. You need to be able to read instructions and access the internet. My advice is to use WordPress. You can host a starting blog for free and it’s very nice software. It is what I use, and it is what a great many people use. Head here, follow the instructions, you will have a blog to play with.
Coming Soon: A more detailed article on setting up a WordPress blog.
How to create content for a Travel Blog
To start out, blog what you feel like blogging about, what you have a passion for. Writing is far easier when you care about what you are writing and want to share it with others. As time goes on you will probably find a niche of some kind that suits you well or you found there is a good audience for. Most bloggers start by chronicling their travel adventures. Beyond this, articles offering instruction, advice, inspiration, and amusement all have potential audiences as well.
Of course, these are the days of multi-media and you will need images for your blog. The proper thing to do is get permission for any image you use but which you didn’t create. Owning a camera is a prime way to get images you can use. Start making an organized library of images so they are easy to find when you need them. You can, and many do, use google to find images they can use from the net. More often than not, it’s a copyright violation to use those on your blog, and if you are a popular site it could become a problem for you.
Coming soon: A more detailed guide to making good blog posts.
How to find an audience for your blog
Most bloggers start with their family and friends and work out from there. If you are plugged into social media this is a great place to start. There are tools for most blogs that can automatically post your articles to social media, and failing that you can do it manually.
From there you want to find out where people who might find your blog interesting hangout online and convince them to come check it out. Generally, this involves finding your competitors or complementary sites and then posting links back to your blog. Do it crassly and you are an annoying spammer, do it thoughtfully and folks will see you as a helpful source of information.
Finally, there is the wonderful world of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The idea here is that you create your blog and its content such that search engines get a good idea what it is about. Then when people using those search engines look for things related to your blog, it shows up in the search results and new folks come to your site.
Coming soon: More detailed articles about finding an audience for your blog.
How to make money on a blog
I’ll be totally honest with you, this advice is based more on research than experience. I have not made a lot of money on my blog; some, but not nearly enough to make a living. As I said, it is a hard thing to do and bloggers far more popular than we also make meager earnings.
The basics are as follows:
- You can directly sell them products you have to offer
- You can directly sell them other peoples products for a commission
- You can make money by showing ads to your readers
- You can sell your readers information to other advertisers
The first is probably the strongest way to make revenue from a smaller blog, but of course, you need something to sell people that they will perceive as valuable. Often bloggers sell books with information like that found on the blog, but more detailed or in depth.
The second is pretty easy to set up, and to my mind, it is an honest way to sell but less personal and thus harder to convert readers to customers. Ideally, you sell products that are related to the content of your blog. Amazon is the granddaddy of what are called “affiliate programs” as they sell such a range of items it’s easy to find something to offer.
Read about how Trail and Hitch are using affiliate advertising.
The third is what most people think of, but to make decent money you need a pretty massive audience. Good paying advertisers seek out heavily trafficked sites with hundreds of thousands of readers. Plug and play ads pay pennies at best unless you have huge volumes of people reading them and clicking through.
The last technique is not one I find to be ethical unless your site is somehow about connecting visitors with services. For instance, if you have a site to find the best RV for someone, then with their permission, passing their information along to a dealer may make a lot of sense for the person using your site. Simply selling off your email lists to spammers, I can’t condone that kind of behavior, nor is it likely to make you rich anyhow.
Coming not as soon: A more detailed guide to making money from a blog.
Summary on Travel Blog Basics
Those are the bare bones basics as I know them. Blogs are good fun, and I find having one very fulfilling. While I’ve not made my fortune yet, we are building an audience, entertaining that audience, and working towards new ways to make money while providing information and entertainment.