One of the most frequent questions I get asked – on email, on Facebook, in person, and by carrier pigeon – is how I make money as a travel blogger.
I don’t have a traditional day job, I don’t have a trust fund, and I don’t have a sugar daddy.
So how the hell am I traveling so much? And maybe more importantly – PAYING FOR IT?!?
who doesn’t want more of this?
Commonly, the person asking either wants to travel MORE (which is awesome) and find ways to fund the additional travel, OR they want to break into travel blogging and make big bucks by lounging on the beach and snapping a few photos.
Aside from the blog, I’ve also worked in more “traditional” jobs around the world, and focus a lot on living frugally. If you’re interested in the equally important principle of saving more, especially in your day-to-day life, I detail that here.
Here, though, I’ll address the underlying aim of the second questioner – how do I make money as a travel blogger?
SPOILER ALERT: I don’t.
I don’t make much money specifically as a travel blogger.
This blog, itself, makes around $300 most months.
- I averaged around $.35 in Amazon CPM ads before they went defunct. Yes, 35 CENTS, which makes sense [pun intended] because I have almost no ads up.
- I make about $300 per month in affiliate sales (mainly through Amazon, sometimes through Agoda, and now I’m trying out Skimlinks which even includes Airbnb!), as I only link to products and hotels that I absolutely love and use myself. When you buy products I recommend through my affiliate links (like in this post), I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Sidenote: a big thank you to anyone who buys from my affiliate links, as you contribute to the continued life of Joy and Journey! xoxo
- My other biggest affiliate partnerships are Awin (including for Kiwi), Linqia, and Social Publi.
So… if I’m a so-called “professional travel blogger”, how the heck does that add up?
I’m certainly not paying for trips to Salar de Uyuni salt desert, Bocas del Toro beaches, and Haifa hummus shops with rainbows, big smiles, and compliments.
Salar de Uyuni
While Joy and Journey is first and foremost a labor of love, I also use it as a springboard to other opportunities, related more or less (a lot less, in some cases) to travel and blogging. While I provide (what I hope is) useful content to you guys, I’m also selling my freelance services to travel and tourism-related companies.
How I REALLY make money as a travel blogger:
my first-ever home office, in Puebla
Virtual Assistant: $200-500 per month
The biggest and most reliable chunk of my monthly salary for almost a year now comes from working as a virtual assistant for another travel blogger on a regular basis. I help with tasks like research, Facebook management, updating old posts, and occasionally writing. I also used to manage emails. I obtained this position by applying through Travel Blog Success’s opportunity board.
I provide similar services to a few other bloggers, but on a more as-needed basis.
[Since original publication of this post, I have stopped virtual assisting]
Freelance travel writing: $50-300 per month
One of the most enjoyable and blog-beneficial freelance jobs I’ve found is freelance writing for other travel related websites. I’ve contributed to Matador Network , TravelVersed, and GoSeeWrite. I found the GoSeeWrite and the TravelVersed opportunity through the Travel Blog Success opportunity board as well.
Blog ghostwriting: $20-300 per month
I ghostwrite blogs for both travel and non-travel related websites. Ghostwriting is creating content that will not have my name attached to it, and most commonly the client takes credit for writing it.
My past and current clients have included luxury vacation rentals in the Caribbean, a wine magazine (I love my vino), a high-end Peruvian tour operator, and a well-known travel blogger.
Social media scheduling: $10-30 per month
Some companies have no time or interest in keeping up with social media, but still understand its importance. I provide low-cost social media scheduling services, and also occasionally management as well (responding to comments, engaging with other pages, etc).
English editing: Up to $100 per month
I frequently work with various travel operators and businesses who do NOT speak English as a first language, but whose target demographic mostly does. I help them edit their websites, pamphlets, and marketing materials to be both professional and appealing to native English speakers.
Every now and then, a company will contact me looking for help creating a marketing plan, or improving their online presence and appeal. I develop a plan on a case by case basis (the initial review is free), sometimes also providing implementation. This is not regular monthly income.
I also work as a college application consultant, helping clients (more specifically, their children) fill out college apps and write essays, and as an expat lifestyle coach, which is where I’m pivoting to focus more of my time, especially as I finish my MA in therapy. Try it out, the initial consultation is free!
Copyediting and Editorial Assistance: From $600-2000/month
I work for a major online travel publication providing copyediting and editorial assistance. I work on an hourly basis, so the pay each month depends on the demand.
[Since original publication of this post, I have stopped copyediting for the travel publication]
How I Make Money as a Travel Blogger: Real Talk 2019
If you think travel blogging is the fast ticket to big bucks – let me know your secrets!
On average, my monthly income is around $1000-2000. This is way less than I made as a marketing manager in the US, and actually even less than my starting salary in Thailand (which has notoriously low paying jobs). I make less per hour as a travel blogger than I did when I worked for McDonalds in 2006 as a high school junior.
But I enjoy life a heck of a lot more now.
How can I afford to live and travel?
I plan. A lot. And I make sacrifices.
I definitely couldn’t afford to live in New York or LA or London (nor would I want to), and I probably couldn’t afford to travel to Vanuatu, most of Europe, or Hawaii.
I live in (relatively) inexpensive cities, especially Bangkok and now in Mexico. When I lived in Rio de Janeiro, which is fairly expensive especially for international plane tickets, I kept my travels close to home and limited my international travel to typical budget-busters USA and Israel, in which case family graciously hosts me and my partner the majority of the time.
dinner with family in Israel
In general, I keep my expenses low and live a very simple lifestyle. I don’t eat out at super fancy restaurants, I drive my car sparingly, I don’t go shopping (unless I NEED something), and I almost never get my nails done at a salon. I’m a vegetarian (which saves a ton of money, but it isn’t the main reason I’m veg), I’d rather watch Netflix and chill than go to the club, and walking is my favorite form of transportation.
For me, the “sacrifices” of living a simplified life are worth the benefits of intentional living and increased ability to travel.
Travel blogging may not be the glamorous and highly paid career many dream of (at least, it isn’t for me), but I am still grateful for the many opportunities that it brings me… especially when it comes to connecting and sharing with you, readers!
I’ll even share my ugly eating faces – this burrito costs $1 and I’ll enjoy every INCH of it!
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Does travel blogging seem like something you’d like to do?
If you’re already blogging – any advice on making money as a travel blogger?
Great that you tell it like it is for you! By the way, I lived in Puebla for a while. I love that city.
I love Puebla too – I was there for a few months before moving to Mexico City, and am actually moving back in December! Any advice on must-dos? I found it a bit bland compared to Mexico City to be honest!!
Wow! This post is so inspiring. I traveled for two years and then the recession hit in the U.S. I lost a substantial amount of my retirement funds and my “nerve” to leave a stable job. It’s been miserable ever since. This post motivates me to look into ways that I can hit the road again.
Hi Ramona! I’m so sorry to hear about the loss against your retirement fund.
Even without leaving a stable job, you can definitely still travel. If your job allows for freelance work, you can try putting your day job skills to work picking up a few freelance gigs (Upwork is a popular site for finding such opportunities). Or think outside the box – my sister babysits on weekends to save extra money, and makes more per hour than most “real jobs” I know (including my own)!
I have some other suggestions in Don’t Quit Your Day Job: How to Travel More with a Normal Job, and 6 Borderline Ridiculous Ways I Save Money to Travel.