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Making Money as a Professional Travel Blogger

Freelance Dream or Reality?

The Dream and the Reality

At one time or another every travel junky has dreamed of finding the perfect travel job. Such a mystical occupation would be wildly fulfilling. It would require only a laptop and an Internet connection. It would empower him/her to create, explore, and affect others’ lives. Of course, it would pay six figures. Such a job would be easy, even enjoyable, to do day in and day out from bungalow porches and café patios around the world. If that is the job that you are looking for, then I would like to direct your attention to the work from home advertisements in your local newspaper’s classifieds section.

Many of us have read enviable travel blogs like Everything-Everwhere and Nomadic Matt’s and imagined that the lives of the author were simple and fulfilling and that they were being paid to travel the world. The truth is, that is rarely the case. Blogging is hard work and does not usually pay well. But, if you are interested in devoting your personal time to a project that is fulfilling, that you can take with you on your travels, and that can bring in a few bucks on the side while raising your professional profile, then you may want to consider writing a blog.

Blogging Work and Pay

Blogging is hard work. In the beginning you will spend a lot of your spare time working for free. First you have to learn how to create and customize your blog, then you need to promote your blog, and all the while you should be writing blog posts on a (nearly) daily basis. Being your own boss may sound great in theory, but the truth is that it’s extremely hard to sit down every day and work for four, six, or eight hours, for free, without a boss forcing you to do it. Consider this: how many times have you resolved to go to the gym everyday? How successful were you? How long did you keep it up? Now, think about how hard it would be to sit in front of the computer for hours on end, in face of endless distractions like Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, email, etc., and wrestle with technical problems in your blog’s software, write keywords and tags for articles, and send emails asking others to exchange links with you.

Most bloggers make little or no money. Although a few of the best-known bloggers do actually make six figures, it is unrealistic to think that you will too. They are usually people with specialized expertise on a topic in great demand who stumbled into an exceptionally profitable niche. You or I expecting do the same would be like taking up tennis with the expectation of competing at Wimbledon—that would be ridiculous.

However, if you did take up tennis, learned to play properly, and practiced every day, you could reasonably expect to work your way up in the local tennis league. The same is true of blogging. If you are willing to put in the time, then you can reasonably expect, over time, to make a decent side-income from it.

By now you are probably wondering, “How much will I make?” This question has been asked many times and no one has ever definitively answered it.  Blogging is simply web publishing with a 1-person staff. How much money can you make from a website? That simply depends how successful you are. One rather unscientific poll taken by a leading blog about blogging, ProBlogger, suggests that about 70% of bloggers who make any money at all, make less than US$500 per month from their blogs. You can read that poll of bloggers here.

The Other Benefits of Being a Blogger

Most (travel) bloggers are not interested in money. The vast majority of bloggers do not try to make money, and most of the bloggers who actually do earn money make less than you could make working at convenience store. Some dedicated bloggers generate a decent side income, or even a full-time living, while a small handful of bloggers make really, really good money. So, if there generally is no good money in the activity, why blog at all?

Blogging has several side benefits. Blogging can be very fulfilling because it leads you to research a subject that you are passionate about. Whether you are interested in beaded jewelery or high-end yachts, you will learn things you never expected, and receive feedback and comments from others who, as odd as it may seem, also travel from port to port taking pictures of other people’s boats, or spend hours on end trying to create the perfect spiral hemp weave.  

Blogging also gives you exposure as an enthusiast, or expert, in your field and helps you to meet others who share your interests. People who like your blog will post comments and send you emails. One of those people may own a yacht the size of St. Louis and, after reading about your passion for the sport, invite you to work as crew on a trip. Perhaps a reader of your blog will run a boutique and want to sell your jewelery. You never know what might happen with the connections you make.

So, while you may or may not immediately realize your dreams of working your way around the world from a laptop, blogging can get you part of the way there. And hey, you never know, maybe your blog will hit the right niche at the right time and you will end up giving interviews about the aesthetic pros and cons of glass versus stone beads on a morning TV talk show. But, if you do not turn out to be the prodigious blogger that you had hoped, do not worry; your effort will be likely be at least moderately rewarded. My neighbor Neil, who only started taking lessons last summer, is now cleaning up on the tennis courts down at the YMCA, and I, who only started blogging part-time eight months ago, just sold my first US$150 text ad. And if that is not inspiring enough for you, check out this blogging success story.

More About Blogging

Problogger: Written by Darran Rowe, one of the few bloggers who actually makes six figures, this is probably the best-known blog about blogging in the world with useful information for all bloggers from novice to professional.

New York Magazine Timeline of the History of Blogging: Exactly what it sounds like; a chronological list of the most important dates in the history of blogging.

Determine if Blogging is Right for You at About.com: A thoughtful list of questions to ask yourself before you commit to blogging.

10 Reasons to Start a Blog at About.com: From money to fun to advancing your career, a comprehensive list of the benefits of blogging. 


 More on Travel Blogging and Interviews of Successful Travel Bloggers by Matt Gibson
Interview of Rolf Potts on Travel Blogging
Interview of Nomadic Matt on Travel Blogging
Interview of Gary Arndt on Travel Blogging
Interview of Tony Eitnier and Thomas Arnold of Contemporary Nomad on Travel Blogging
Interview of Beth Whitman, Host of Wanderlust and Lipstick
Interview of Nora Dunn, Host of The Professional Hobo Blog
Interview of Debbie Dubrow: Family Travel Blogging
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