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Blogging and Social Media

The Truth About Travel Blogs (Can You Still Make Money with A Blog?)

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I’d been blogging since 2015-2016. While I wouldn’t call myself a veteran, I’d learn a lot of things over the years and I’d seen how the content creator have changed, particularly with the rise of social media influencers.

If you’re planning to start a travel blog, here are some things you should know.

1. Making money with a travel blog isn’t easy

It’s the ultimate dream: Start a blog and travel the world.

However, the truth is that making money with a travel blog isn’t easy and there are very few bloggers who do it full-time successfully. It takes a lot of time and effort, and even then, it still depends on factors such as audience demographics.

For the sake of discussion, let’s look at the ways you can earn with a blog.

  • Displaying ads. This is the most common way or monetizing a blog. You apply through ad networks such as Google Adsense, Mediavine, or Ezoic and earn through cost per thousand impressions (CPM) and cost per click (CPC).
  • Sponsored posts. Businesses often buy a sponsored post to promote them or to “buy” links, to help them rank higher in Google.
  • Affiliate marketing. Earn commissions by posting your affiliate link in commercial stores (such as Amazon) or booking services (such as Agoda or Booking).
  • Selling your own product or service.

Let’s look at how these apply to travel blogs.

Displaying ads is a good way to earn money, but your earnings will mostly depend on your audience demographics. That’s right, just like traditional businesses, it’s about location, location, location. Most advertisers prefer audience that resides in the US or other first-world countries. If you’re writing about Asia, your CPM and CPC will be significantly less.

For example, if your audience are Filipinos, you most likely need about 5x the traffic to get the same revenue as other blogs that write about the US.

The other monetization methods can be affective but are usually not guaranteed income earners. Additionally, these are constantly changing. People are finding ways to avoid ads, such as installing plugins or using browsers that block ads. Over the years, stores such as Amazon have been decreasing commission rates for their affiliate programs, leading bloggers to search for alternative stores. Airbnb opened their own affiliate program but closed it after only a short month — they also closed down their years-long referral credit program.

As you can see, making money with a travel blog isn’t easy. You need to have a contingency plan if something changes. While you can certainly earn money, the question is how much do you need? Earning enough to quit your job and travel the world is a huge undertaking. Most travel bloggers blog on the side, and the few who travel full-time have multiple income streams aside from blogging.

2. It’s mostly about click-bait stories

One thing that I learned when I started this blog is that readers prefer travel guides over stories. Google’s algorithm also pushes up guides, listicles, and click-bait stories over traditional storytelling.

At first this may seem off-putting, but considering our times it’s also understandable. A lot of people have busy lives, juggling a 9-5 job and home life. This and the fact that there are lots of distractions available online, who has time to read about a long journey to Tibet? Let me be honest, I like occasionally reading stories that are written from the heart, but like everyone else, I mostly peruse blogs for information.

If you want to start a travel blog, level your expectations on what articles you need to write to get traffic.

3. Old-school travel blogging is done

Nowadays, it isn’t enough to have a blog. You also need to have strong accounts in social media.

In fact, a lot of successful people in the content creation industry do not have a blog at all, but rely on social media. You can see them posting travel goals in Instagram, writing mini-guides on Facebook, or showcasing fancy locations in Tiktok.

It’s interesting how the content creator industry has changed and continues to change. Before the pandemic, the public was still making fun of people on Tiktok – and look at it now. A lot of travel and food influencers are making a killing in this platform.

Even brands are now making full use of social media, from posting fan-generated content to tapping social media influencers who can share their experience via photos and videos. In the Philippines, local tourism offices are starting to include social media influencers as well due to their high reach and engagement, leading to effective promotion especially for unknown brands.

So, are travel bloggers doomed? I don’t think so.

Travel blogging will likely remain. After all, if you need to do research (how to get there, where to eat, etc.), the easiest way is to do it via Google. However, it will no longer have the monopoly on information in travel.

Blogging also has additional benefits over social media. Blogs are highly visible in Google search results. This means that it can help brands not only establishing brand awareness, but also in including it in lists of recommendations. For example, some of my top-ranking posts include a list of recommendations of resorts to visit (e.g., Best Private Resorts in Batangas) and I’ve received feedback from one resort I’ve included that it’s a great help.

Old-school blogging may be gone, but travel bloggers are here to stay as long as they adapt to the changes by building their social media profiles along with their blogs.

My advice for aspiring travel bloggers

Start a blog if it’s your passion.

Calinawan Cave in Tanay, Rizal
Bloggers trip to Tanay Rizal.

Why am I saying this? You see, travel blogging has a lot of perks. These include free accommodations and trips, invitations from tourism boards for local or international travel, and let’s be honest – the fame. But these perks take a lot of time and work, and they are not guaranteed. A lot of people have started a blog only to be disappointed after several months (and sometimes even years). So it makes sense to do it if you truly are passionate about it.

I blog because I like it. The other perks are just a bonus.

Learn from others who made it.

The best approach to doing something new is to learn from experts. List your favorite bloggers and observe what they are doing that makes them successful.

Although I’ve been blogging for a few years now, there are still things that I continuously learn especially in social media. Because I’m an introvert – specifically an INFP with special interests and quirks – putting myself out there is especially challenging. It really helps that I follow and I’m friends with other bloggers who know how to handle social media posting effectively.

Embrace the trend.

There’s an old adage saying: adapt or die. The influencer industry is so huge now that it does not make sense to ignore it.

To be successful in travel blogging, you also need to build your social accounts. In fact, if you’re not particularly in it for the writing but simply want to express, you might consider going the new routes: starting a career as a social media influencer instead (sans the blog) or perhaps starting your own channel. A lot of people have found greater success in terms of earning capacity in Youtube.

Are you an aspiring travel blogger? What are your thoughts about this? Let me know in the comments section below!

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