Travel blogging for a living sounds idyllic. Imagine…
Life would be one never ending extended vacation, flying from one fascinating destination to another, staying in the best hotels while exploring one intriguing sight after another.
Best of all you’d get paid to do it …
As it turns out, most travel bloggers will tell you that in reality it’s a lot more difficult and less flashy than you might imagine. It’s also not guaranteed to be that lucrative either. In fact, very few travel bloggers make enough from blogging alone to say they earn a living that way.
But before you click away, there are plenty of successful, money earning travel bloggers out there. What if all you need to is find out what they’re doing and do the same thing?
step #1 get real
Too many aspiring travel bloggers fall in love with the fantasy, a romanticized version of travel blogging.
They imagine travel companies lining up to employ and pay them full time, huge salaries to live the dream.
That’s not to say there aren’t a few lucky bloggers out there who somehow land their dream job, but they are few and far between.
The fact is if you want to be a travel blogger, it’s unlikely you’ll be employed by anybody which means you must set up business for yourself.
Unless have the cash flow to support a jet set appearance, it’s probably more than a possibility you’ll be flying budget class and staying in hotels that won’t be featuring in any of your photos.
Setting up a blogging business involves a lot more than just crafting some pretty posts from the Outer Hebrides.
No matter what you’re blogging about or where you’re doing it, its hard work and it takes time to learn the skills you need.
So if you’re not in this for the long haul then you may want to rather clean up poo in a zoo to earn a buck.
Most successful travel bloggers commit to becoming digital entrepreneurs, to learning their craft and developing the skills required for as long as it takes to succeed.
STEP #2 create a brand
Travel is a very competitive market.
Unless you and your blog stand out you’ll simply disappear into the “same as” pile.
The reason so many travel blogs don’t go anywhere is because they don’t develop themselves into distinguishable brands. They are merely bland copies of what’s already circulating on the web.
Let’s face it, there are probably almost no unexplored destinations left to conquer; ones others would want to visit anyway.
Big, well-known brands like The Lonely Planet and others have been uncovering and exposing travel destinations for years.
What can you offer readers they can’t?
If you’re just rehashing what’s already out there, whose advice do you think Ms and Mr Traveler is going to follow, the voice of authority belonging to well-known brands or yours?
Successful travel bloggers do not attempt to compete with the ‘big gun’s in the market, they develop their own brands by sharing their unique voices, opinions and personalities on niche travel aspects that are helpful to their audience.
The key is in identifying an untapped audience who need help with some aspect of travel that nobody else or very few are targeting.
STEp #3: geT Niche Specific
At one time, before the Internet, travel writers could write about just about anything. In today’s digital world doing so will lead to certain death.
A lot of travel bloggers think it’s fine to simply record and share their travels around the world as a theme for their blogs. But there are far too many general travel blogs around and nobody is very interested in them.
Today people search for specific topics on the Internet.
Successful travel bloggers have managed to identify smaller untapped niches within the broader travel niche.
They go on to develop themselves as experts and authorities in these niches, finding specific audiences who they can help with whatever they are looking for.
You might decide you want to write about international travel on a budget but can you find a specific audience to target on this topic?
More importantly, are you able to identify an audience who is prepared to spend money?
You will need to know how to connect with your audience and give them what they want and it will have to be something they can’t find done better, elsewhere.
The time for random global nomad type blogs is long gone. Successful travel bloggers do not settle for being generalists.
Rather they identify a specific niche and an audience within the travel niche who they can help. They blog with a defined purpose.
step #3 plan to get paid
Another reason why many travel bloggers fail is because they don’t know how to make money from blogging.
There’s more than one way to monetize a blog but many of these don’t work, especially for beginner bloggers.
Take advertising an example, one of the most common options by far.
Why wouldn’t this be successful? Isn’t it this how magazines do it?
Yes… but your blog is not a magazine. There are some major differences.
For starters, you have to buy a magazine. Nobody has to pay to read your blog.
Magazines charge advertisers huge fees to advertise in their magazines. Internet advertisers hardly ever pay to advertise on websites, unless it’s an extremely sought after site.
Magazines can only do this because they have a guaranteed circulation, a big enough audience who is likely to be interested in their advertiser’s products and services.
Unless your blog attracts many thousands of visitors and enough of them click on the ads you will not even make enough to buy a cup of coffee at the end of the month, so low is the payment you receive per click.
Travel bloggers make the mistake of believing that because they have a blog with advertising on it that somehow visitors will surface out of nowhere and make their dreams come true.
It does not happen.
It takes skill to know how to attract visitors to your blog and it takes time for this to happen.
So what is a better way for travel bloggers to make money?
The ultimate is to market your own products and services but when you’re just starting out it’s possible you won’t have developed these. I suggest you do the next best thing, sell other people’s products and services for which you get paid a commission when purchases are made. This is called affiliate marketing.
It’s important to only market products and services you understand, would use yourself and believe are valuable to share with your readers. Naturally these must align very closely with your specific niche and provide for your audience’s needs.
Affiliate Marketing still requires work. You need to know how to set it up properly, how to attract visitors and develop trust with your audience.
The reason this is a more viable option is because as long as you choose the right products and services to promote, the commissions are worth far more than what advertisers will pay you to advertise on your site, so you have a far greater chance of making money.
step #4 – be the best at what you do
Lastly travel bloggers often don’t succeed because they they don’t invest in the right education required for success.
You can’t just throw up a website, add words and pictures and hey presto, instant success.
You have to learn how to communicate effectively in ways that readers will regard you as an authority and be prepared to trust you.
You also have to learn about more than just how to blog. You must learn about business and marketing.
Learning these skills takes time and practice and you have to be sure you get the right training that covers everything you need.
Travel Blogging For a Living can work
Travel blogging for living can work when you approach it the right way:
- Be realistic. Understand what’s required to be successful. Commit to creating a long term blogging business.
- Develop your blog as a unique brand that stands out with consistent messaging
- Identify a specific niche and audience within the broader travel niche who you can help as you become an authority
- Choose the best way to monetize your blog e.g. become a skilled Affiliate Marketer
- Invest in the best all round training, resources and tools to help you achieve your goal.
It may not be the easiest way to earn money when you start but speak to any successful travel blogger and they will tell you it’s the best ‘job’ they’ve ever had.
Have you considered travel blogging for a living? Where in the world would you head to first and why?
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