Before you even begin thinking about making money with a blog, you’ll want to make sure you have a self-hosted blog, preferably on WordPress. Having a self-hosted blog with your own domain name is the main foundation to making money with your blog. If you don’t have a self-hosted site, see why I recommend Bluehost, the hosting company I’ve been with 2009, and how to start one easily.
After one and a half years of blogging, I’ve finally made $1,000 cash in one month. I’ve had a goal of making $2,000 a month by the end of year two so I need to hustle a little bit more, but for now, I’m happy about reaching this four-digit milestone.
Of course, it’s not enough to be my sole source of income, and this amount is pre-tax, but it’s a start, right? We all need to start somewhere so here’s how to two different ways:
- Directly with sponsored posts and affiliate links, and
- Indirectly with travel writing and social media strategy.
For each section, I will explain what it is, my approach to it, and how to make money from it.
Click on a link above to jump directly to each section.
A sponsored post is when a brand pays you to publish a post on your blog or social media. Generally, I write and create sponsored posts myself, but every so often, a company will give me content created by them for me to edit and place on my site.
Questions to Ask Yourself When Accepting Sponsored Content
Will the brand align with my site?
This is by far the most important question to ask yourself because you are not just a blogger, you are a brand. You want to create a consistent, and ideally, genuine image that’ll reach out and speak to your followers aka your tribe! Saying no is hard especially when there’s good money involved, but think about the long-term game, and the empire you’re trying to build.
My blog is focused mainly on traveling and certain lifestyle related subjects such as food, music, and home decor so when companies reach out to me to place an article about gambling or sports on my site, it is 100% a no.
Is this something I genuinely care about?
Even if the brand aligns with your site, if you don’t care about the company’s product or services, then it’s going to be hard to write a post. Forcing your way through a sponsored post might come off as fake and hurt your blog in the long-run as readers start to recognize your money-driven goals and aren’t able to tell whether your suggestions are genuine or not.
Sometimes I accept sponsored posts about places I haven’t been to and haven’t even thought about ever visiting. Before accepting the post or not, I’ll do some research as if I’m trip planning and think about what I would do in that place. Then I reach out to locals in that area to get their input, and if I feel like I can make a genuine post, I’ll accept the sponsored post. This is exactly what I did with my Nashville post, which is part of this month’s income.*
*Even though this post is from October, I include it in January’s income because this is when I sent out the invoice. For tax purposes, income is counted when you invoice a company, not when you produce the work.
Is the money worth it?
As you might already know, writing a blog post can take a really long time between writing, editing, photography, social media marketing and more. Your time is valuable! Don’t take anything less than you deserve.
Of course, we all have to start out somewhere so you may offer a lower price than you want until your blog becomes more established. Whatever you offer, stick with it. Getting what you deserve for a high-quality post not only benefits you but also your readers and the brand.
Personally, if the money isn’t worth it, I’d rather spend my time writing a post that my readers will value and love like this one*. This in turn will bring me more traffic and better opportunities in the future. On that note, I have a ‘What to Eat in South Korea’ post and ‘Local Guide to NYC’ post that I’ve been meaning to write for a long time!
*If you’re curious, I’ve spent about eight hours so far on this post from writing it, collecting resources, and marketing it. I plan on updating it and continuously marketing it since I know it’ll be a post that’ll help bloggers like yourself time and time again. Please feel free to share this wealth of information!
Are they ok with me disclosing sponsored posts?
Per FTC guidelines, bloggers must disclose sponsored posts. Read the full FTC guidelines here.
How to Get Sponsored Posts
So here’s what you really want to know– how to get sponsored posts. There are many ways to do it, but here are a few:
Influencer sites connect bloggers with brands that want to raise their brand awareness. The main site I use for sponsored content is Copypress. I’ve written posts for brands like InterContinental Hotels Group and Go Euro. To be honest, Copypress takes so long to pay (about 3-4 months after writing a post) that I’m at a point where I’m not quite sure if working with them long-term is sustainable or not. If you’re just getting started with sponsored posts though, this is a helpful resource.
A fun influencer project I worked on was with Fullbottle where I got paid to post to Instagram! I plan on working more on my Instagram so I get more gigs like these because I love being on Instagram.
I’ve had some good offers on Cooperatize and Linqia too but because of timing, I had to pass on those posts. A few blogger friends of mine have received work through these sites though so I know they’re legit!
Other notable influencer sites with ongoing campaigns:
Networking is key in any industry, and blogging is no exception. I get around 50% of my sponsored work from other bloggers. Often, when a brand works with one blogger, they’ll look for other bloggers to work with, and ask that blogger for referrals. If you are close with that blogger or if that blogger trusts you as a professional, then most likely he or she will refer you!
For example, Natasha from Live Learn Venture and Jo from Wander With Jo are some blogging buddies I met through Facebook travel blogging groups. Not only do we refer each other to brands we work with, but we help each other out with general blogging work. Natasha and I have even met up in person and created a Twitter course together. Even though blogging seems like solo work, there’s a lot of opportunities for collaborations.
To network with like-minded bloggers, search in Facebook “travel bloggers” or “[whatever industry you’re in] + bloggers” to find your tribe.
Pitching to Companies
If you don’t like playing the waiting game with these influencer sites or getting referrals from other bloggers, you can be proactive by pitching to companies. In short, here’s how to do it:
- Start out with a list of brands you trust and would love to promote.
- Do some research on them so you can get a better idea of how you collaborating with them would be beneficial.
- Figure out the best person to contact.
- Craft a genuine email explaining who you are, why you’re reaching out, how your collaboration could be mutually beneficial, and exactly what you’re looking for in return. Be clear and concise on what you want!
- Follow up on the email if you haven’t heard back in a few days.
If you feel like you’ve exhausted the list of brands you trust, then research other brands you would engage with but haven’t gotten around to actually buying something from them. Whoever you choose, make sure you vibe with them!
Advertising agencies and media companies reach out to bloggers on behalf of brands they work with for sponsored posts. The ones I’ve worked with emailed me first to collaborate, but if you want to get started with some now, you can google advertising agencies with a travel niche in your area and introduce yourself to them.
Like these tips? Get real-time blogging help from my free Facebook blogging community.
Affiliate links are when you place links to products or services that your readers can potentially buy from within your post. When they buy from your link, or with some companies, simply click on your link, you get a small commission from their purchase.
This is by far one of my favorite ways to make money from my blog! Once I’ve put in the hard work of writing a blog post, it brings in money months and months after without me doing anything. The posts that do the best with affiliate links are informative ones with lots of information like this dual-voltage hair appliance one, not posts that are general like this backpacks and suitcases post.
Affiliate Programs I Make Money From
- ShareASale – ShareASale has over 3,900 affiliate programs ranging from fashion to travel companies so there are many ways to earn commission off products or services you like. If the company you want to promote isn’t on ShareASale, then it’s probably on ImpactRadius.
- HotelsCombined – HotelsCombined pays you per click, not if people actually make the purchase. I make more money with this method for hotels than getting a percent of commission for bookings like Booking.com’s affiliate program. From discussions I’ve had with other travel bloggers, HotelsCombined seems to be a better option than Booking.com or Agoda’s affiliate program, but it really depends on your followers and what they use.
Learn From Someone Who Makes $50,000 a Month Through Affiliates!
Michelle Schroeder-Garner from Making Sense of Cents makes over $50,000 a month through affiliate marketing. She has a course, which details exactly how she makes money. I took the course to see what it’s all about, and yes, it has everything I do and even more. She tells you exactly which of her posts bring in the most money and guides you step-by-step on what to do.
Learn from the best by signing up for her course. If you’re serious about making big bucks from affiliate links, then it’s worth the investment.
When I first started blogging, I thought all I’d have to do is gather my photos, make them look pretty, write some stuff about the places I went, then publish it online. I quickly realized that there is much more to blogging than photography and writing. Blogging also includes design, social media marketing, and other skills.
Readers, which includes travelers, companies, and bloggers, liked what I was doing on my blog and started to reach out to me for specific skills. Now I offer these services in addition to blogging, and I love it!
Travel writing is exactly what it sounds like– writing about travel! The only difference is that instead of writing about it on your own blog, you write for it on a company’s blog.
The writing gigs I’ve gotten have been through companies reaching out to me because of the strong writing skills they’ve seen on my blog, but I know other bloggers pitch to companies they want to write for in order to get travel writing jobs.
My advice to you here is to always edit your posts (something I need to get better at) and let your writing skills shine through. Then you can use your blog as a portfolio when pitching to companies.
Social Media Strategy
Social media strategy is helping a company devise a marketing plan that involves their social media. Because of my quick growth in followers and page views from my blog, companies have reached out to me for help with their own social media. I specialize in Instagram, which includes hashtag research, community engagement, account growth, and posting.
If you are great with social media, then start reaching out to companies that you connect with and see could use your help! Your way of handling social media from your blog shows that you’re credible to handle other people’s social media.
Different Ways I’ve Made Money in the Past
As you now know, this month I’ve made money with sponsored posts, affiliate links, travel writing, and social media strategy, but how I make money changes month to month. In the past, I’ve made money through:
Some companies allow you earn cash if you refer your friends. This isn’t always technically cash, but I include it in my monthly income if it’s related to services I use often.
Sites I use often are:
- Airbnb is for booking accommodation in someone’s home. It’s great for getting a local or unique experience, and most often, saving money compared to a hotel. To get credit, someone has to sign up through your referral code, and book a trip, so sign up through my link so you can get your referral link. They change the amount often but most of the time, you’ll get $20-30 of credit a referral.
- Uber is a taxi or car sharing service that you call via an app on your phone. I use it in whichever city has Uber. For every person that signs up to the app, you get about $5. Sign up through my link to get your referral code.
- Ebates is a good one to help people gain rewards from places they already shop at. You get $25 a person that signs up through you so sign up through my link, get $10 for free towards shopping, and start inviting people to use the site through your link.
- Transferwise is the cheapest way I’ve found to transfer money to another country. The fees are so low compared to a bank, and the exchange rate is very competitive. When three friends sign up through your link, you’ll get £50 so sign up through my link, then invite friends to sign up through your link. This is great for expats, digital nomads, and even doing business with people in other countries so you can avoid bank wire transfer fees.
As a note, if you sign up through my links, I’ll really, really appreciate it! This little bit of money that comes out of the company’s pocket, not yours, helps pay for the time it takes to write posts like these, so thank you for supporting me! As a fair estimate, it took me around seven to eight hours to write this post and market it!
I’m sure when you travel, like me, you take tons of photos. Well, you can sell these photos to companies in whatever location you were at. One way to do this is through Instagram takeovers. Companies will pay you money to post your photos and personal experiences on their Instagram!
This isn’t a common occurrence but occasionally, bloggers will reach out to me for analyzing and strategizing their blog. Yes, they could take a course or find some free help online, but working with me means they get one-on-one help specific to their current blog design, writing style, and social media strategy.
If you feel like you could use a custom guide on how to really grow your blog and monetize it, check out my Work With Me page for bloggers, or email me. There is a lot of good information in this post though so I would apply that to your blog first, see how it goes, then reach out to me.
Non-Monetary Benefits of Travel Blogging
Of course, there are other benefits to travel blogging besides getting cash. The main reason I started this blog was to share my firsthand experiences with friends and family to better help them travel so there’s that, but if you want to talk about the good stuff.
A travel blog will fund your passion– traveling!
As your blog begins to grow, hotels, tours, and brands in the travel industry will want to work with you and get you to try out their products and services in exchange for marketing on your blog. I hate saying that it’s “free” because you have to still work for it, but you’ll be shelling out your own time for new travel experiences, not cash, and experiencing things you might’ve never been able to experience without a blog.
Since starting this travel blog, I’ve been invited to stay at a villa in Italy, take a cooking class in France, and try out travel-related products. I don’t always accept, but it’s nice to get something back for the hard work I’ve put into the blog and be able to continue my love for traveling at a greater pace.
A travel blog will increase your networking opportunities.
Since starting this travel blog, more people know that I exist. As my blog gets bigger, people want to collaborate and work with me. As you can see above, this includes working with companies on sponsored posts, collaborating with other bloggers, or even taking my readers on a local tour of Amsterdam. The possibilities are truly endless.
Recently, a serious travel blogging dream of mine came true. I became the brand ambassador for Bonwi. Because of them, I got to go to Belgium, Germany, Spain, and France in February and March of 2017!
Frequently Asked Questions About Blogging
If you found this post to be helpful, check out my Frequently Asked Questions About Blogging post, which covers how much I spend monthly on blogging, what tools I use, what camera I have, how much time I spend on social media, and what the hardest part about travel blogging is. Through my experience, you can gain insight for your own blog.
Also, don’t forget to sign up for my newsletter for blog tips below.
Want more blogging tips?
I plan on writing a lot more posts about blogging instead of only focusing on traveling because a lot of my readers, like you, are also travel bloggers. I want to help grow your blog by giving you insight from experience. If you’d like more blog tips, then sign up for my newsletter (sign up form below). It’s ONLY for blog tips and does not include my normal travel posts.
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Don’t have a travel blog yet?
Are you inspired by this post to start a travel blog knowing that you can make money from it and increase your networking opportunities? Check out my post on how to start a blog easily, which hosting company I recommend and have been using since 2009, and my top three tips for success! Then join my FREE blogging community on Facebook and sign up for the launch of my free 7 Days to a Profitable Blog Course.
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Thank you so much!
Well, this must be of no surprise to you, but this post contains affiliate links and referral codes! If you use one of my links at no extra cost to you, it’ll help me with my blog expenses, which in turn will allow me time to write posts like this for you. So if you could be so kind, please use my links when signing up for these services or buying products I mentioned above! Either way, thank you for listening to my advice.