7 Ways to Make Money Travel Blogging (and 7 to Avoid Like the Plague)

Credit: NASA Goddard Photo and Video

The truth is, you can make money with a travel blog…

… but it takes a LOT of work to get off the ground.

It’s like a rocket ship.

Your travel blog requires a tremendous amount of effort just to get off the ground…

… but once you do get it off the ground, it gets easier and easier (and hopefully reaches orbit where it practically moves itself).

And once you have the traffic, it’s time to monetize your blog.

But I must warn you: choosing the right mix of monetization techniques is more art than science.

While some monetization methods work great for everyone – creating your own products, for example – others (like public speaking gigs) are more of a personal preference.

So in this spirit, here are 7 smart ways to make money with your travel site:

#1. Create and Sell Your Own Products

I mention this first because it is without a doubt the BEST way for the average travel writer to make money. If you create an eBook, your only real cost is your time spent writing the damn thing.

Now before you start writing it, take some time exploring what your market wants. Send your readers an email asking about what they’d most like to see, ask them in the comments section and

Like Brian Clark of Copyblogger says, build an audience, ask them what they’re willing to pay for and give it to them.

#2. Direct Advertising

Working directly with advertisers will make you more money than Adsense.

However, it’s a more in-depth process than just slapping some code on your page… you’ve got to put up an “Advertise With Us” page, set advertising rates and negotiate with advertisers.

In other words: mo’ money, mo’ problems.

I don’t really recommend using ads at all, but if you must run ads to keep the lights on, deal with advertisers directly.

#3. Speaking Engagements

Businesses and conferences need speakers… and they’re willing to pay for your time. If you enjoy speaking, create a page offering your services as a speaker.

Caz and Craig have a nice “About Page” here which you can model yours after.

#4. Consulting

Once you’ve gotten your brand out there, consider offering one-on-one consultations.

You don’t have to be Tim Leffel to get started: people will gladly pay you to solve a specific problem (e.g. set up WordPress, install plugins and themes, edit their writing, etc.).

#5. Freelance Gigs

Your travel blog is like a portfolio. Actually, it is your portfolio.

Therefore, add a link in your footer offering your services (articles, eBooks, development, etc.) to your readers.

#6. Go to Print

Compile your best travel writing and/or photos into a print book. It worked for Matt Kepnes, Tim Leffel and me, too.

Just be sure your publisher has a sound marketing plan. If they don’t, you’re much better off selling it as an eBook (and keeping the profits).

#7. Affiliate Marketing

Here’s how it works: you write a valuable piece of content. Either in the post itself or at the end you include a link to related products.

For example, if you write a post about preparing for long term travel, you could include affiliate links to the gear you recommend packing.

Remember: you should NEVER promote an affiliate product you don’t believe in. If you wouldn’t hype it for free… don’t promote it.

 7 Dumb Ways to (Barely) Make Money With Your Travel Blog

#1. Contextual Advertising

Google Adsense is the most popular variety of contextual advertising out there.

And at first glance it sounds like a good idea: simply add the code to your webpage, and get paid when someone clicks an ad.

The nice thing about Adsense is that it serves up relevant ads automagically. For example, if your post is about “things to do in Rome” Adsense will display ads about (you guessed it) Rome.

The not so nice thing about Adsense is its earning potential. If you aggressively place ads you can make around $20 per thousand impressions (called an eCPM). So if you want to make $3,000 a month from your travel blog, you need 150,000 pageviews.


And it gets worse. These types of earnings don’t scale easily… which means the more pageviews you get, the lower your eCPM. When I worked at Google, the Adsense sales reps told most large sites to expect an eCPM of $1.

#2. Sponsorships

Many bloggers charge anywhere from $50 - $500 for a sponsored post. While it’s easy to understand the appeal (get paid to publish content you didn’t write) sponsored posts don’t do much for your readers.

Remember, we live in an attention economy… do you really want your reader’s attention going to the highest bidder?

#3. Sell Text Links

It’s against Google’s policy and could end up torching your site in the search results.

Instead, use an affiliate link to a useful product (or better still, link to valuable content which actually helps your reader).

#4. Paid Surveys and Polls

Sites like Vizu Answers pay you to include polls in your content. Really, what value does this bring to your reader?

#5. Selling Pages

If you’ve seen Million Dollar Wiki you know how this works: get sponsors to pay for a specific page of content.

Again, what value does this bring to your reader?

#6. Offer Affiliate Offers to Your Newsletter… Every Single Time

OK, you should occasionally tell your readers about a valuable product… but for the most part, use your newsletter to continually provide unique, interesting content.

Ask yourself: do YOU like getting daily emails from someone trying to sell you something? Me neither.

#7. Make Commissions on Flights

This one is insane. You have to convince someone to spend $500 on a plane ticket so you can make a $10 commission. Wouldn’t it be easier to sell them something you made for $20… and keep the $20?

How you do you monetize your blog?

About adamcosta

Adam Costa is co-founder and Editor in Chief of both Trekity.com and TravelBloggerAcademy. He currently lives... um... somewhere.


  1. Good advice. For sponsored posts, it’s important to remember to always write your own content. Never ever accept guest posts from companies looking to have an SEO advantage. Nothing wrong with selling sponsored post but it definitely needs to be done right.

  2. Hi Michael,

    I wouldn’t recommend sponsored posts for a few reasons:

    1. They shift attention from your audience to your sponsors (which can lead to sub-standard content ideas, e.g. “Why American Airlines Is Great”)

    2. It makes you (the writer) look like you’re for sale.

    3. Sponsored posts are disclaimed right away, which make them less effective than regular posts. When I see “sponsored post” I usually skip it. Which hurts both the advertiser and the blogger.

    Of course, I’m not saying sponsored posts are evil (they’re not), just that there are better, more profitable options available.

    This will be a recurring theme throughout this blog: very, very few monetization models are inherently good or bad. You must look at your options and ask “what provides the most value to my audience and myself, without sacrificing one for the the other?”

  3. fruit mocking party says:

    Hi there would you mind stating which blog platform you’re using? I’m planning to start my own blog in the near future but I’m having a tough time deciding between BlogEngine/Wordpress/B2evolution and Drupal. The reason I ask is because your layout seems different then most blogs and I’m looking for something completely unique. P.S Sorry for being off-topic but I had to ask!

  4. Thanks for the great information regarding the monetary aspect. While my blog seriously lacks content AND readers (hehe) it’s nice to know what is possible, how a post should be written and all the other advice on these pages.

  5. Dunno if I agree with you about sponsored posts, but it is definitely all about the execution. As an editor, I treat a sponsored post just like I do any other story: If it’s not good enough for me, it’s not good enough for our readers.

    I’ve sent sponsored posts back to advertisers several times now for rewriting, and in a couple of cases they’ve paid extra to have me rewrite it for them. The key question for me as an editor is this: If I took out the portion of the post that links to the advertiser’s website, would this post be something I’d personally want to read? If not, I don’t run it. It’s all about standing up for quality.

    Also, for the newbies who might be reading this, all the advertisers care about is the link, so your sponsored post does NOT need to be all about the company or their product. We published one recently for a company that specializes in international phone calls, but we never even mentioned them in the post. Instead, we focused on the downsides of travel, one of which was missing my 10-year-old daughter when we’re gone. We made the link fit the story, rather than making the story center around the link. The advertiser was happy, we got a good story out of it, everyone wins!

    • “We made the link fit the story, rather than making the story center around the link.”

      Well said, Bret.

      I must caution readers that sponsored posts should be “no followed” lest they incur the wrath of the Google gods. Yes, many bloggers sell links, but they run the risk of being thrown out of the search results… which can kill a sizable chunk of your traffic.

      There’s nothing “wrong” with using follow links - but I’d hate to see someone’s site get flagged for it.

      Agree to disagree 😉

  6. No mention of list building here? That is talked up as a key way of monetizing a blog these days

    • Roger, you’re a man after my own heart. List building is a great method and can be used with any of these listed. I’ll be writing further on newsletters in a later post.

  7. I feel kind of silly, but what is the difference between an affiliate marketing link and selling a text link?

    • Hi Catherine,

      With affiliate marketing links, you make money when someone clicks the link and buys a product from that website. Amazon is perhaps the most popular example of this.

      With text links, you are charging someone money in exchange for a link to their site. Unlike affiliate marketing, you do not make any money beyond that (usually).

      My advice: avoid text links as they are an attempt to “game” search engines like Google and Bing. It’s against their terms of service and cause you serious harm. If you decide to do affiliate marketing - which is fine with search engines - make sure to mark the links as ‘no-follow.’ This tells search engines not to follow your affiliate link (in other words, they’ll stay on your site).

      Here’s a list of WordPress plugins that can help you add ‘no-follow’ to your blog:


      This is a large topic, but I’ll summarize my thoughts:

      1. Don’t sell links for SEO purposes.
      2. If you choose to include affiliate links on your blog, that’s cool. Just remember to use one of the above plugins to make them ‘no-follow.’

      Hope this helps!

      -Darcie (Adam’s wife and CEO of Trekity.com)

  8. Very interesting ! I agree with the “make your own product” part. The only thing is you need to have an audience ready to pay for it. And a quite big. So, when you start working on your blog, it takes time before you get a mailing-list which is big enough to get money when you start selling your ebook. Selling text links or sponsorised articles is a quickest way to get money, and you dont need to be read by thousands of people. Just by the good ones (SEO agencies :p ).

    PS : sorry for my english, I’m french 🙂

  9. I know that this is an old post, but I just happened upon it. Anyway, one thing that you all don’t talk about much is the idea of being “paid” through sponsored travel. NOT sponsored posts, as mentioned in this article, but by being invited by a local tourist board (or something similar) to visit their community and then review the experience on your blog. I know that there are “blog tours” and such offered to bloggers, but I was hoping to hear your thoughts on this type of compensation. Is it worth it, assuming that the said destination is in your niche? If you’ve covered this topic in another post, I haven’t seen it. Ciao!

  10. My programmer is trying to persuade me to move to .net from PHP.
    I have always disliked the idea because of the costs.

    But he’s tryiong none the less. I’ve been using
    Movable-type on various websites for about a year and am nervous about switching
    to another platform. I have heard fantastic things about blogengine.net.

    Is there a way I can transfer all my wordpress content into it?
    Any kind of help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Adam and I aren’t developers and, unfortunately, we don’t have any experience with blogengine.net. Perhaps you can ask this question directly to blogengine.net? Wishing you all the best and happy to have you as a reader.

  11. Thanks for this advice, Adam! There are so many travel bloggers out there who hide sponsored posts. It’s never something we’ve been comfortable with so we haven’t done it. Glad to see there are some other ways to make a few bucks here and there!

  12. Great tip you got there. I think more people should start travel blogs to share their travels. The money made from the blog can literally pay for your travels!

  13. Hi adamcosta, do you have a video tutorial to help us get started with Google Adsense?

    • Hi Daphne. Currently, we don’t have any videos on AdSense, but we’ll work on getting something up for you and the academy. Great suggestion.

  14. Thanks Adam to bring all up into our attention. As a newbie I wasn’t aware of all that.