Friday, 30 January 2009

#79 – How to make money from a travel blog

Or thinking “shop window” rather than “advertising platform”.

Reasons for starting a travel blog
People start up blogs about travel for many different reasons. Some want to share their travel experiences with the world, some blatantly can’t find anyone to pay for their witterings and thus put it online so that it can be read by two men and a particularly bored dog.

Blogs of professional travel writers
Of the professional travel writers that keep a blog, they generally fall into two categories. Some are excellent travel writers that like a space to share their thoughts on things, and aren’t trying to make money from it. An excellent example is that of Lara Dunston’s Cool Travel Guide – she’s a writer I have a huge amount of respect for, and she uses her blog as both a vent and an opportunity to draw attention to things that editors don’t necessarily go for.

Commercial enterprises
Others (such as Traveling Mamas) are clearly commercial enterprises – the purpose is to make money through advertising, affiliates etc.

Monetising a travel blog
I am the wrong person to ask about monetising a blog. This blog makes me a laughably feeble amount of money, and this is the nature of the beast. Regular subscribers to a blog are the ones that are least likely to click on advertising – they come for the read.

Travel planning equals clicking and booking
To make money from a website, it is best to put together a comprehensive travel planning site – the visitors to such a site will be looking for specific information and to book things. They’re far more likely to go to a couple of pages then click through on an advert.

Who is the reader?
A travel blog is highly unlikely to give a significant return in this way. But the key thing is not where the reader goes afterwards, but who the reader is.

Contact from editors
In the last week, I have been contacted by two editors who read this blog. Both have offered me some work (and some rather interesting work at that). I also happen to know that a couple of other editors I have not worked for read it – they have contacted me and told me. Alas, one doesn’t have a freelance budget and the other works in a field that I know nothing about. Even so, it can only be good news.

Shop window rather than advertising revenue
And this is why I have come to realise the real value of having a travel blog. It’s not about getting the traffic or advertising revenue - although that’s certainly a nice bonus if your readers are so inclined – it’s about giving yourself a shop window. And if people like what they see in that shop window, they may just come and ask you what’s for sale.


Lara Dunston said...

Hi David - once again, another great post with some excellent tips! And thank you for the sweet words.

I have to say that you're right, I started Cool Travel Guide as a place to write about the things I couldn't really write about in the guidebooks or even stories I write, and I didn't start it to make money. I'm quite happy with what I make as a travel writer. I have to admit however that I did dabble with Google Ads though - and was astounded to learn how little those unsightly ads paid that I removed them preferring a clutter-free blog over the paltry income. I have also dabbled with, but once again the amount I'm earning is so ridiculously small.

Now, on the other hand, I'm increasingly being approached (on a daily basis) by travel companies wanting to advertise, buy links and wanting me to become an affiliate - none of which I have in place at the moment - but something I might consider when I have time, but to be honest it's not a priority.

Like you, I value the 'shop window' above all. I've also had some interesting offers come through the blog from unexpected editors. And in addition to the creative outlet it provides a nice companion to my Media Bistro site and LinkedIn profile/CV.

And let's face it - it's fun to blog too, isn't it?!

Millionaire Maker said...

Thanks for this blog entry - in fact, I've just started my own making money online.