Somebody, please pinch me. No really, pinch me! Before you write me off as some weirdo let me explain. As I write this, I’m sitting down in a cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand sipping on my 3rd cup of coffee for the day. Lost in thought in a whirlwind of incredible experiences, I can’t help but look back on the last couple of months as I let out a huge grin. A few months ago, I was driving a tuk-tuk across Sri Lanka for 10 days with my partner in an Amazing Race-style competition. A few weeks after, we were surfing the waves in Bali and Lombok. Two nights later, we’re sipping cocktails at the swankiest rooftop bar in Bangkok. Three days ago, we were indulging in a staycation in one of the fanciest boutique hotels in Chiang Mai.
Let me drop a bomb on you. For the last three years, my partner and I have been getting paid to travel the world.
- 1 Our Dream Job
- 2 Making Money While Traveling
- 3 The AHA Moment When Our Blog Started Making Money
- 4 How We Make Money Travel Blogging
- 5 Are We Millionaires Yet?
- 6 So, Why Are We Telling You This?
Our Dream Job
Yup, it’s true. Over the last three years, my partner and I have created our dream job by working as professional travel bloggers. While a lot of people think that blogging isn’t a full-time gig, if you work hard enough, you can turn it into your main source of income. Currently, we are consistently making 5 figures per month all while doing something that we love.
Don’t get me wrong. This didn’t happen by chance. We didn’t just wake up one day with a successful blog that was consistently making revenue, allowing us to travel and work from anywhere we want to. It took a couple of years of hard work to get things off the ground but as soon as it did, we were living the dream. Starting a travel blog was the single best thing we’ve ever done and has since opened so many doors of opportunity for us. It has also allowed us to travel and live on four continents.
Now you must be wondering. How exactly do we get paid to travel? In this article, I will break down how we got started in this industry and how we make money online and the various income streams that we have in order to get paid.
Making Money While Traveling
After spending all of our savings on a year-long trip, we were both stuck in a rut. All we wanted to do was travel again but I had just spent the majority of my hard earned money traveling and paying for a master’s degree. Coming from the Philippines, it took me YEARS to save up enough money to travel. I knew that if I wanted to travel again, I had to somehow figure out how to make money from the road. At that time, we didn’t need much. We were budget travelers so I figured, as long as I could find a way to make $500-1000 per month, I was good to go.
Our first idea was to create an e-commerce business selling travel t-shirts. We went as far as ordering samples and setting up the site. We soon realized that no one would really buy our t-shirts apart from our initial family and friends. After a few bottles of wine, we decided that we were going to start a travel blog.
Taking the first step and leaving to travel changed our lives and all we knew was that we wanted to create an outlet to inspire others to do the same. Not knowing what type of work went into starting a travel blog or how to even make money from it, we sorta just leaped and hoped that the net would appear.
My partner Tom had a bit more money saved up while I just about had enough money to travel for two months in Asia.
Relentless about this dream that we could travel the world and make money, we quit our jobs to go into full-time blogging.
The AHA Moment When Our Blog Started Making Money
The very first month we went into full-time blogging mode, we made a grand total of $50. The next month, we made about $150. The month after that, we made $300. The month after, we made about $400. Although we still weren’t rich, after seeing consistent money roll in, we had a lightbulb moment. If we worked hard enough, we could travel forever and actually get paid to travel. At that time, this notion seemed like a far-fetched dream.
From that point onwards, we threw ourselves into a frenzy producing content, growing our social media channels all while consistently driving traffic to our blog and trying to gain a loyal following.
Now, I won’t lie. We went on for about a year or so until we made decent enough money to fully survive. If you’ve ever experienced trying to build a business while constantly traveling, you would know that this can get very stressful. It was tough at times and often drove us nuts. So why did we do it? We knew that if we pursued this big dream of ours hard enough, it would happen.
Two and a half years later, our blog now brings in hundreds of thousands of visitors every month and fully supports us alongside with our small team of writers.
So yes, travel blogging is hard and making money from it is even harder. However, starting a blog has given us the freedom that no other job could ever have.
How We Make Money Travel Blogging
Now, onto the good stuff. How we make money! Before you read any further, I want to make things clear.
I am not telling you how much we earn in order to brag.
My partner Tom and I are passionate about helping others achieve this dream of being able to travel and becoming location independent. The freedom that our travel blog has given us is incredible and we want to share this feeling with others. Letting you know how much we earn is a way to motivate you further and show you it’s possible.
Travel blogs can make money from so many different ways. We’ve purposely diversified our income streams so that all our eggs aren’t in one basket. The reality is, as a travel blogger we are reliant on so many outside platforms which can change algorithms in an instant. Which is why early this year, we decided to focus on creating multiple income streams. To give you a quick overview, I will list down a few ways that most blogs earn their income from.
This is how we make the majority of our money currently. Brands pay us to advertise them in articles, to be their ambassadors, get featured in our newsletter, and to promote them on our social media channels. This will eventually come as your travel blog following grows. Due to our large audience reach, brands reach out to us in order to gain exposure.
One thing that you need to keep in mind when working with brands is to never be a sellout. Your audience is the most important thing on your blog so you have to make it a point to always be honest and genuine about the things you review and write about.
We once got sponsored nifty little backpacks. We wrote a gushing review about them as we genuinely loved a few of the features. A month later, we discovered that the bags were actually very poorly made. Some of the seams were ripping open and the mesh netting was easily torn. Even though we were given those bags in exchange to publish a review, we had an obligation to our readers to be honest about their poor quality so we ended up altering our review.
Brands will choose to work with you based on your voice, your storytelling skills, your influence, as well as your general travel style. We also make it a point to only work with brands that we know and trust! In fact, I remember very early on turning down a client who wanted to pay us $1000 for a quick article. His product and brand just wasn’t something we were comfortable endorsing to our readers. Although we needed the money at that time, I’m glad we held our ground.
Another great way to get paid to travel is through freelance writing which is how a lot of travel bloggers make their money from. Your travel blog is essentially your online writing portfolio, showcasing your best work. You can pitch stories to various publications and eventually get published on their sites. While it’s difficult to get your foot in the door (especially since a lot of people will write for almost nothing), some people still make a decent living from freelance writing.
If you want to pursue this, you have to actively pitch editors and be ruthless in putting yourself out there. Listed below are a few online travel publications that pay writers:
- Matador Network
- Go Nomad
- Wanderlust Magazine
- National Geographic Traveler
We personally never focused on freelance writing because we were too busy writing content for our own blog. Apart from the occasional job here and there, we do very little freelance writing.
Social Media Posts
As soon as you’ve established an online presence, you can get paid for Instagram posts, Twitter parties, Facebook posts and more. Remember, social media is more than just a numbers game. It is all about engagement! Nowadays, social media is everything as it is the one platform where brands can directly reach out to users without having to spend tons on TV or print advertising.
As soon as you’ve built a dedicated following, you will start to receive offers from brands for Instagram posts, Facebook shares, and Twitter tweets. There are also a couple platforms which you can join to help you actively get social media campaign jobs.
Travel withdrawals…do you get it? ✈️ After spending 3 weeks traveling all over Sri Lanka, we're already missing it. The incredible scenery, food, and the warm welcoming smiles of the people. 🇱🇰 Question is…how do you deal with travel withdrawals? I personally cope by replaying highlights (and lows) and look at endless trip photos! 😂 📷 taken using our #goprohero5 from @dans_ph
There are travel blogs out there who make up to $30,000 a month just from affiliate sales! Affiliates are when you recommend a product/service to someone and if they sign up, you get a commission. Popular affiliate sites for travel bloggers are: Hostel World Booking.com and Amazon. Other examples are Blue Host, World Nomads, and TEFL.
Affiliates are one of my favorite income streams and is a great passive income source. Although we spend time creating these posts, optimizing them, and making sure they rank well, the time spent on them and the earning that you receive is not directly related.
For example, to date, we still make good commissions from a hotel post that we wrote one year ago. Similarly, we have articles like our Thailand Packing List that bring us good money from Amazon. Although the commissions are small, if you get enough volume, these small little sales add up.
Last year, all of our income was dependent on brand partnerships and we had zero passive income. I decided to launch an affiliate marketing strategy across our whole site, January 2017. My goal was to go from earning $0 to $4000 every month passively so that regardless if my partner Tom and I put in the hours, we knew we were going to earn from our website.
The money that we earn from affiliates allows us to take time off from our blog without having to worry about our income. This right here is golden and has allowed us a better work-life balance.
This is when brands pay you to write an article for them on your blog. Before you get into the world of sponsored posts, read up on it. There is a big divide in the blogging community between people who give out Do-Follow Links and No-Follow Links. (For your reference, Google discourages and penalizes you when you give out Do-Follow links from paid clients)
Businesses pay you to add a link to their website as the more links a business has pointing to their site, the higher Google will rank it in search results. If you want to play by Google’s rules- and we suggest you do, only offer No-Follow links. Depending on how big your site is (or if you have a really dedicated following), they will still pay for a link just for brand recognition.
Creating Your Own Products
Another way to monetize your travel blog is by selling products. Use your website’s traffic as a marketplace to sell ebooks, courses, or physical products. Part of our project to diversify our income was to create relevant products that our users want. We get A LOT of traffic to our articles about traveling Southeast Asia so for us, it made sense to create travel guides. We now have ebooks from Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, Cambodia & Laos. These books took months of hard work but apart from the extra income, they also give a ton of value to our readers. Since making them, we’ve received tons of messages from our readers thanking us for putting them together.
Creating your own products based on what your readers want is something that we wish we started earlier. It has helped us expand our brand and also provided us with another source of passive income. Sometime this year, we’ve received more and more messages asking us how to start a blog and how we’ve managed to turn our blog into a business.
Due to this, we are currently working on a blogging crash course that will teach people how to make money from their blogs. When we first got started on our blogging journey, we made so many mistakes all because we were trying to learn everything on our own. If we had looked at what other people were doing and invested a bit of money into learning the ins and outs, we would have reached our goal of making money from our blog a lot sooner!
Want more blogging tips on how we monetized and grew our blog in just two years? Subscribe to our special blogging list below!
When we first started our website, we said we would never ever get ads. However, we’ve realized that from a users side, almost every website out there have ads so seeing them when you read a post doesn’t ruin the user experience. We decided to jump on board the Ad bandwagon and we’re so happy we did. Unlike Google Adsense (who pays you peanuts!) there are plenty of legit Ad networks out there that will allow you to make decent money monthly passively. Personally, we are with Mediavine and love them! They have a super helpful inspiring community of bloggers from every niche that has achieved financial freedom (or at least created a good side income) just from Ads alone.
Apart from these money making strategies, one of the biggest (and best) parts of being a professional travel blogger are all the perks!
In return for writing an article or a review on your website, you can get hotel stays, airplane tickets, campervan rentals, comped meals, and so on. Remember that in order to foster a good relationship with brands that you work with, always overdeliver and be professional.
Early on, we got sponsored to do a number of things (skydiving in Switzerland, a trek through the Amazon Rainforest, Eurorail Passes for an entire month) and with each one of those deals, we made it sure to give them a good return of investment. Now, most of the companies that we work with work with us on an affiliate commission basis due to the number of leads and bookings that we send their way.
Aside from these items, I listed above, travel bloggers also make money from leading tours, public speaking, destination marketing, and so on. The bottom line is, there are a million ways on how to make money once you have a loyal audience that’s willing to support the stuff that you put out.
Remember, with travel blogging, the hardest part is building an audience. Most travel blogs don’t monetize until they have a fairly sizable audience, to begin with. While this is true in a certain sense if you have a small niche and a dedicated following, it’s never too early to monetize.
Are We Millionaires Yet?
Um..no. Travel blogging is a hard niche to crack but in all honesty, we wouldn’t have done it any other way. Every day, we feel insanely grateful that we get to work on something we are passionate about. Whether it’s writing articles to give out travel information, writing inspirational articles that will reassure others that traveling isn’t so scary, or creating content like this that will hopefully inspire others to step outside the box.
It takes a lot of hard work and now that we’ve built a stable foundation, we’re able to work less and have a healthier work-life balance. If we wanted to, we can take a month off from work and still make a similar amount of money due to the passive income models that we have created. This for us is why we do what we do and why we want to encourage others to take on this road-less-traveled path.
One thing worth noting is that yes, we do make a good amount of money monthly online however, it is never consistent. One month we can make about $3000 and the next we can make $10,000. This holds true for any business owner.
For us, the reward of being your own boss, being location independent, and having the freedom to travel as we please outweighs the security that any 9-5 job promises.
Our blogging journey has taken us to so many incredible places and has allowed us to experience so many awesome things. However, above all, I think the best part about it are the skills that we’ve learned along the way. Prior to starting Adventure in You, I was working as a teacher and Tom worked as a waiter while finishing his degree in Aerospace engineering. Now, both of us are fluent in digital marketing, copywriting, email marketing, Facebook ads, social media, and a whole string of skills that we’ve learned along the way. These are skills that we will be able to use and apply towards any future business endeavors later on.
So, Why Are We Telling You This?
It’s simple. If we can get paid to travel, so can you. Coming from a very traditional background where people are expected to graduate college, get a job, and climb the corporate ladder, alternative careers like ours are unheard of.
However, like most entrepreneurs, it pays to take risks. It pays to follow your passion and to pursue your dreams. Never in a million years would I have thought that I would get paid to travel the world and look where I am now.
My objective in writing this article isn’t to get you to quit your job. It isn’t for you to feel bad about what you’re currently doing in life. I wrote this article to hopefully inspire people who are feeling stuck in a rut. I wrote this article to inspire others to think big and to pursue the things that they love.
We have big plans for our blog over the next couple of years (#vanlife) and plan to continue growing it in a way that frees up more of our time so we can focus on creating better content, videos, and photographs to share with our readers. Afterall, we started Adventure in You so that we could inspire others to travel more and live their lives to the fullest.
That’s it from me and hopefully, see you on the road.