Think you know the truth about travel blogging for money? Here are 10 myths…and the reality.
Working as a digital nomad and travelling the world is the modern-day dream job for those with wanderlust particularly if your vision of a travel blogger is someone who spends all day sitting on the beach, interspersing their tanning with a few tweets and sipping piña coladas as the millions roll in.
As someone who has been travel blogging for the past four years and has turned her hobby blog into a (small) money-making entity, let me start by dispelling a few myths. If you’re about to embark on the quest of travel blogging for money, I hope this post will help by sharing some possibly harsh but very essential truths.
Myth 1: you get to work from the beach
If you have dreams of spending your days working on the beach – actually on the beach – you should probably give it up right now. Trust me, I’ve tried it and it and can confirm that it: Does. Not. Work.
Not only do you lack wi-fi and power – two vital ingredients for cooking up cool blog posts, you’ll give yourself a headache as you try to battle the sun’s glare on your screen and, worse, run the risk of ruining your most essential work tool by getting sand in your keyboard.
Sure, you’ll get to work from much more exotic locations than the same office cubicle every day but those exotic locations are most likely going to be hotel lobbies, hostel common rooms and cafes.
Travel Blogging Reality: You need to replicate an office quality environment (with fast wi-fi and a power connection in cafes and hotel lobbies) to get any real work done.
Myth 2: work and travel is easy
I recently read an article that included a very true statement: “entrepreneurs work 80 hours a week in order to avoid working 40 hours a week.” (The article is a good read if you’re interested: How quitting my corporate job for my startup f*cked up my life).
Unless you’re Tim Ferriss, author of the Digital Nomad Bible, The Four Hour Work Week, the work and travel lifestyle is a lot more time intensive than most people think.
Why? Very simply travel and travel blogging are both full-time jobs.
Pitching, writing, marketing, tweeting, chasing payments, balancing accounts, managing a website, planning travel routes, booking flights, spending 12 hours on a bus, finding accommodation, finding food, finding wi-fi, finding power, searching for a/c, taking a day tour, spending an afternoon at a museum, spending half a day searching for contact lens solution, getting sick, needing an afternoon nap because you had a bad night’s sleep on a night bus through the Andes, and occasionally…very, very occasionally, sampling the nightlife and taking a break to visit a beach.
If you think the life of a digital nomad and travel blogger is going to be an easy ride, give up now.
Travel Blogging Reality: You’ll work as hard if not harder than any corporate job you’ve ever done (unless you’re a genius, in which case you’re excused as an exception).
Myth 3: A travel blog will fund your Around the World trip
I saw the most ridiculous recommendation in an article last year – the writer made a passing suggestion that you should set up a blog to fund your trip. Sure, travel blogging for money has become a real job but for the vast majority of people it’s not something you can dip into and out of for a one year trip. Even if you are able to build a successful travel blog fast, you’re highly unlikely to be monetising for the first 6 to 9 months and definitely not from day one.
Travel Blogging Reality: Most blogs take at least a year before they start to make any money.
Myth 4: All you need to do to make money is slap some Google ads on your blog
A lot of people assume that the main way to make money from a blog is through Google ads. But consider this: how often do you click on a Google ad on a website? The common answer is not very often. And that fact is important because Google ads don’t payout based on the number of people who click on your page containing the ad. They mainly pay based on the number of people who click on the ad itself.
Travel Blogging Reality: Google Ads is not the most profitable way of making money on your blog…unless you have a shi!t tonne of readers who are very click-happy.
Myth 5: You can watch the passive income roll in while do other things
Speaking of ads…
Considering the reality that most travel bloggers give up within a year and that it usually takes a minimum of one year to start making any money from a blog, and you’ll see that the stats are stacked against you – unless you’re in it for the long haul.
Passive income (the kind that rolls in from the likes of advertising and affiliate links) only comes when you have a decent amount of traffic – at least 30,000 page views a month as a rough guide and that’s only going to generate enough traffic to buy a bunch of hamburgers…if you’re lucky. And even then, building that traffic and establishing a consistent readership requires a lot of hard work. If you’re expecting to get very rich, very quickly from minimal work, give up now. You’ll make more money working for McDonald’s – you can find their application form here.
Travel Blogging Reality: passive income requires a decent level of traffic which usually takes time to build (commonly more than a year – often two or three).
Myth 6: You get tonnes of “free stuff”…and that’s enough
If you’ve reached the stage where you have enough readers that brands and destinations want to work with you, there are definitely great opportunities for “free stuff” – tours, hotel stays, restaurant visits, press trips.
But let’s dispel the “free” part because you’re not really getting stuff for free. The companies you work with want something in return. They want an article on your blog. They want access to your social media following. They want your time. Those things you provide in return for a “free” tour have a value to them so you’re not really getting anything for free.
Travel Blogging Reality: As a business, you are trading your time and expertise for trips and travel perks so don’t forget to place a value on your time. Is it really worth spending 12 hours writing a post and promoting it in social media for a “free” $50 stay in a hotel for one night? Breaking it down, that’s $4.16 an hour.
And let’s not forget that doing a work-trade will not pay for your food. Unless you have another form of income, you’ll need to monetise your blog in an additional (cash-generating) way.
Myth 7: You can do what you want when you want because you’re the boss
I accept that travel blogging is a way more flexible job compared to a cubicle dwelling position but be under no illusion – you can’t dip in and out of it when you want. Building a website is like building a snowball. If you want it to grow and grow, you have to roll it in the snow every day. Take a pause for a month or two and it’s going to melt as your readers drift off to another blog.
Travel Blogging Reality: treat your blog like a proper job and you stand a chance of getting a proper income. Treat your blog like a part-time hobby and you’ll get the same reward as you expect from a hobby – little more than personal gratification and the odd travel perk.
Myth 8: It’s the perfect job if you love travelling
There’s no denying that travel blogging is the perfect job for people who love to travel but running a blog as a business often means you spend more time working than travelling. And, when you do travel, if you are taking press trips or working with a brand, your travel days become workdays. Instead of deciding how you’ll spend your time in a city you’ll probably have activities mapped out for you, including some activities that may not excite you (basket weaving anyone?). And don’t even think about sitting back and enjoying your meal – there are notes to be taken, photos to be snapped and the chef to be interviewed.
Travel Blogging Reality: when you become a professional blogger travel becomes a job rather than a leisure activity. And for many people that can suck the pleasure out of travelling.
Myth 9: You need to be a good writer…and that’s all you need
Writing is my favourite part of blogging but the fortunate reality if you’re not much into writing is that photography and videography are equally successful (often more successful) ways of present the world to your readers. If words aren’t your thing, don’t worry.
But even if words are your thing, you’re going to need a host of additional skills because running a successful travel blog involves so much more – website design, photography, marketing, PR and social media to name a few.
Travel Blogging Reality: You can create a successful website even if writing isn’t your strong point but good writing alone (or photography or videography for that matter) isn’t enough – you need to develop a broad set of skills to help you maintain your website and promote your work.
Myth 10: The travel blogging space is too crowded, so it’s not worth trying
The fact that there are practically zero barriers to entering the travel blogging market means that new travel blogs are popping up every day. In fact, four years ago it was very rare to bump into another person on the road who was travel blogging (for a hobby or money). Four years on and every tenth person I meet seems to have a blog in one form or another.
So, yes, travel blogging absolutely is a crowded space. But, if you have a good niche, a determination to commit to your blog professionally and over the long-term, you should absolutely give it a try. It may not be a get rich quick scheme, the pay is terrible and the hours are even worse, but it’s absolutely and totally worth it.
Travel Blogging Reality: the travel blogging market is saturated but with the right niche and effort, there’s no reason you can’t succeed.
Do you have a travel blog? If so, share a link in the comments below – I love discovering new sites to follow. Any other myths to add to the list?
If you liked this, you might also like:
So, You Want to Start a Travel Blog? 10 Things I Wish I’d Known
10 Tips: How to Be a Better Blogger (from the Experts)
20 Tips for How to Work and Travel Without Going Insane (Part 1)
10 Best Wordpress Plugins for Blogs
Transitioning from Gap Year to Long Term Travel and the Challenges in Between
Why I Don’t Regret Quitting my Job to Travel
29 thoughts on “10 Myths About Travel Blogging for Money”
Thank you IndianaJo! This article is as relevant (and value-adding) as it was 5 years ago! I’m embarking on the journey and appreciate the timely reality-check!
God Bless you!
Thanks and good luck with your adventure!
Well I’ve just started my blog, based a lot on your tips, now I feel like Homer Simpson “when does the money start rolling in?”. lol! I’ve actually got the horrible photo ad/links that come with “shareaholic” now but haven’t worked out how to make money from them yet ;-/ I’ll get there 🙂
I’ve been blogging for 7 years and I think I realised early on that blogging and travelling seemed to detract from the enjoyment of each other. Before I began travelling with a laptop I’d just hole up somewhere with an internet cafe for a few days and write a bunch of posts, then set off again. That down time would give me a rest from the constant travel, sort of recharge the batteries, and then there would be no pressure to blog till my next stop somewhere. It’s a bit different now that I have a computer and WiFi is everywhere, particularly for editing photos as I go, but I’ve definitely learnt to try and keep each in perspective. I don’t need to use blogging as an income source, so there are much fewer pressures for me, and articles like yours reinforce my choice to fund my travel not from blogging. I can see how much hard work it is and I don’t think those who do become successful bloggers ever really get the recognition for the huge amount of effort it takes. So a little congratulations from me that you are now reaching your stride.
Thanks Naomi. It can be challenging working on the road and I know a lot of people see it as the perfect lifestyle but it does come with more stress and challenges than most people imagine. Having perspective is great and I’m glad you’ve found that. And, for all of my complaints, this life is more definitely superior to the one I had!
I am not a traveller anymore nor do I run a travelling blog, but have still
enjoyed reading all your posts & replies. I think it wonderful that you and your
friends here are doing something with your lives – “Living Your Passion” for
Passion is a gift which many thousands still dare not fufill & I wish more people could live theirs. I have lived mine & will contiune to do so (art & palywright George Bernard Shaw are my Passions) and I have been lucky to have lived
my Passion for the last 23 years. So I say to all out there – “If travelling & writing
is what you feel in your heart & you have the oppertunity to do it (all the time or just for a year or so ) Then Go Ahead And Do It !! Live your dream – dreams are real – You can not create Passion, it is in the soul, so live yours
Shawdiane, glad you’ve been enjoying my blog and yes, living for your passion sound like such a simple concept but one so few of us manage to achieve. I’m so happy that you’re managing to live by yours 🙂 Here’s to chasing our dreams, come what may!
This was such an excellent read and something I needed to read right now as I am sitting inside a coffee shop on one of the first beautiful days of Spring in Korea! I started my travel blog a year ago to document my travels through Central America (like just about everyone else who has a blog). I didn’t post much while traveing constantly because wifi was terrible and I was too busy exploring or sleeping! When I returned from my travels I realized how many travel blogs are out there and how many people are using it as a way to make some money.
I decided I would go at it slow and steady, and it seems to be working so far! Readership increases a little each month, I am getting a few paid opportunities here and there, but mostly I do it because I love it. I genuinely love writing about the experiences I have or how to do something, see something or eat something in a particular part of the world. I am a teacher and work full time all day, then blog at night, but I don’t mind! I think that is key to success, you can’t see this job as a fast track to living the easy life. See it as you are doing something you love and hopefully making some money from it, isn’t that what we all want anyway?
On a different note, I found your blog because I was procrastinating and perusing sites that have written about Semuc Champey – a place I am wanting to go back to ASAP – and your blog came up! It has led me from post to post of yours and I am so glad I found you. Look forward to following along!
Hey Katie, glad you enjoyed my article. I struggled with posting consistently when I first started out for the same reason you mention – wi-fi but since that’s gotten exponentially better in recent years, blogging on the road is so much easier! In the end, (IMHO) it’s those who genuinely love blogging that go the distance. So, I hope it works out for you 🙂 As for Semuc Champey – what a wonderful place. Part of me wants to go back but my logical brain tells me it will be much more developed now so I might just keep the memory instead. If you do go back, let me know how it is! PS: love your blog name!
Thanks for your honest and so true post. Many people think it´s only fun and not a real job to be a travel blogger.
Happy to find your inspiring blog!
Have a great day and many greetings from Bavaria/Germany
Thanks, Ivana and glad you liked the post. Yep, when I’m still working at the weekends, writing posts and answering emails, I can definitely confirm it’s a real and full-time job 🙂 Happy travels!
Thanks for your informative post on travel blogging. A friend of mine who lives in Bangkok suggested to me that I should start a travel blog, his reason was that I like doing research and sitting in front of a laptop. I started the blog in October 2014 and I’m still sitting in front of my laptop, although I do get up occasionally!
I’m under no illusions about making any money at present and my next move maybe to head back to Thailand. I’ve seen a few jobs in BKK and Chiang Mai, money is not great, but should be good for lots more content…
Bangkok is one of those cities I will always go out of my way to return to, so I’m pretty envious of you move there. Blogging has its ups and downs but if you’re passionate about it and prepared for the long-haul, who knows where it might take you!
really like your post. I recently realized that I’ve been writing travel diaries (off-line) for more than 20 years and never put them to use. I never made them public. Despite the ubequious travel blogs I still find it hard to find proper information on the web. Either they are hosted on shitty websites or their focus is soley on seo (or worse: social media oversharing) and their true information content tends to be nil. Just random stockphotos, a fishing for impressions pagination and a couple of keywords in between.
Actually I get the impression that it is getting harder to find true insider tips for travelling on the net – especially for demanding & experienced travellers.
Which is sort of what promted me to start my own blog recently. However I find it quite hard to catch up on all these years (especially since english is not my native tongue :P). I shall keep on trying & thanks for the advice. 🙂
Hi Norman, sorry for such a slow reply! Glad my post inspired you because what you’re trying to do – write genuine tips about places to go – something I agree there is less and less of on the internet, as you point out. Instead of writing chronologically (which can be a huge stress), consider writing about your biggest and best tips first. Hope that helps.
Great post, everything you said is true, managing a blog takes a lot of time and skill, thankfully I am managing my blog with my wife and I need to say it is much better to have somebody to share the work!
I am from Brazil and my wife is from Slovakia so our biggest struggle is to have a 3 language blog so we aways have to think 3 times about the same post =)
Marcelo, I can’t imagine what it must be like running a 3 language blog – well done and keep up the hard work!
Just read some of your blogs. I really appreciate what you wrote. I’m an American businessman and geologist who has lived in Asia and Australia for 25 years. Since the start of my career I’ve kept written journals and photos. I would love to put these online. Lots of experiences, some not so good though. Any quick thoughts pertaining to this? Would his be something that people might be keen on reading?
I just started using Ulysses III. Great product!
Hi Mike, I guess the saying “nothing ventured, nothing gained” comes to mind. Until you publish your work, you can’t know whether it will be a success or not. On the money front, I’d just say make sure you’re in this for the long-term as very few blogs make money immediately – most take years. And be prepared for some hard work. But otherwise, give it a shot and good luck. Yep, I love Ulysses too!
Thanks for your response Jo. I’m not in it for money; I love to write and to share my experiences. Its an outlet for me that I would normally wouldn’t have. I love to read blogs of any type. You have motivated me to do more. I also wrote short stories for my two daughters when they were small. They were like serial novels. As I traveled, I would email them an installment. It kept me close to them. Anyways… thanks!
Mike, you’re welcome! Keep on writing. Who knows where it will lead?!
Good Read Jo,
Many people think blogging or most self-employed jobs are easy. Like Becky mentioned, I still have a day job and don’t spend much time blogging, yet.
But about taking your laptop to the beach. I’m going to risk it. I care more about my camera equipment than my laptop and I need to let my guard down with some of my stuff. 🙂
Ha ha, there is something nice about the idea of working on the beach. I’ve never been able to make it work for me, though I have definitely perfected the art of working from a hammock 🙂
great post. Very true on every point. Still a hobby for us.
Thanks, Mike. Happy blogging is the key whether you’re in it for money or doing it for a hobby!
Fantastic post! I’ve been blogging for six years so the commitment is there but agree that the space is crowded and that it’s hard work. I’ve cranked out 2000 posts in my spare time while working a demanding full time job. I worry that if I did this full time, it could suck the fun out of travel. I’m envious sometimes of folks like yourself that have broken free and are doing this successfully but I definitely appreciate the security that a full time income allows. I simply try to make the most of all the travel opportunities I have and at the very least I’ll end up with an awesome record of all the stuff we’ve done to reflect on when I’m old and at best some other people will benefit from and be inspired to travel by my experiences.
Wow! 2000 posts – I envy your energy in addition to working full-time. I also agree that full-time blogging can be a travel-fun zapper. At one point I was travelling to places because it would make a great post, not because I wanted to. Ugh. Thankfully, I’m over that! And I think there is no better approach than to think of your blog as a record of your trips. You can’t go wrong that way!
I found your list to be spot-on…I’ve been blogging (thegirlandglobe.com) for ~3 years and only in the past 3 months or so would I say it’s been financially successful. Although I’m self-employed, my blog is not my primary source of income, nor do I expect it to be. However, it’s a great way to do things you’d otherwise never get the chance to do and I have a lot of fun with it. Is working for yourself and blogging worth it? Yes, but I agree that long hours and hard work will be a big component of getting ahead.
Becky, I think it’s good for new bloggers to read stories like this. It took me years too before I made any money from my blog. There are a few of those “I made $$$$ from my blog” stories out there, but they are so rare in real life. Thanks for sharing!