Hey there sea changers… Many of my recent posts have discussed how to get yourself started with an online business. Today however we are going to have a look at those who have already got their travel related site/blog up and running and are now looking to make some money from it. This is a popular niche – as we all dream of working “from anywhere in the world” – however also a highly competitive one so with that in mind welcome to my post on how to monetize a travel blog.
Before we begin however it is important to note that you may not want, or need to set all of these up right now. Some may not be viable for your site or not be accessible if your site is new, or not generating a lot of traffic as yet – but you can certainly keep these options in mind as your site starts to grow.
So grab a drink, a map and let's see how we can make some money…
Note: This post is assuming that you have a working a website, blog or social media account within the travel niche (or any niche for that matter really) and are looking to generate income from within it. If you need assistance with the development of an affiliate marketing or online business website, click here.
1. Affiliate Marketing
Our first method, affiliate marketing, is the process of earning commissions based on the promotion of travel related products that are sold directly via the vendor. In this case, you can utilise your website or social media account to provide information and solve problems in regards to the travel plans, experiences and/or general needs of your readers.
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products – your brand can be severely damaged if you promote poor quality product.
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangement.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
How is revenue earned?
As mentioned above, the trick here is to attract readers to your site via the provision of information and solving problems. Within the travel niche, this can be undertaken via the inclusion of:
- Product reviews – hotels, airlines, tours, luggage and so on
- ‘How to‘ posts and lists – such as “How to see Europe on $20 a day”
- Product rankings and comparisons of travel accessories or tours from different companies etc.
- Process information outlines – e.g. discussing travel health regimes etc.
- Tips, tricks, hints and other general information.
Money is then earned by placing affiliate links to merchant/vendor sales pages within these posts. If your website visitor then chooses to make a purchase, they click on the link for redirection to the vendor site which processes and manages the sale, delivery and customer service requirements. Commissions are then paid to you as the website owner based on that sale.
When to action
Affiliate links can be loaded to a website as soon as it has been setup or a post written. Some affiliate merchants however will not accept you into their programs until your site generates a certain amount of traffic. Others, such as Amazon, will accept you immediately but on a trial basis which is terminated if you do not drive at least 3 sales to their site within the first 180 days.
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2. Sell your own products
This area is another opportunity to solve the problems of your readers as traveling is definitely one of those areas where things can easily go wrong so anything you can provide to make things a little easier for those in their time of need is going to be a Godsend to them. As your site grows and you start to create a decent amount of content, you can then start to monetise it via the on selling of your own products such as:
- E-books – This can be extra content, a collection of the ‘best of' information from your posts or a ‘how to' guide etc. that you can sell on your site. In the travel niche, you could consider:
- Travel guides – Best hotels, tours, restaurants, car rentals etc. for each city, country.
- Equipment lists for certain types of travel.
- ‘Things to do' lists for luxury holidays down to budget travelers etc.
- Books – As with e-books, if you have enough content or know how to write a book based on traveling, then this is another way to earn some good money online. You can also sell them on marketplace sites such as Amazon to drive more traffic back to your site for their affiliate sales etc.
- Merchandise – If you have built a good following that has turned your site into a well-known authority or brand within the travel niche, then maybe you can add some merchandise. This works best in the travel niche if you are selling things of real use that just happen to have your logo and website on them such as t-shirts, smartphone covers, stubby coolers, hats, travel bags, toiletry bags or anything waterproof – If you think about all of the travel accessories that one might use then the sky really is the limit here.
- Tools – Online tools are another great way to generate income to your site – especially if you can offer subscriptions for ongoing use (as long as it is worth it). Common tools include travel calculators or plan creators etc. Basically, if it is something that can help people plan and budget their trips, then it is a tool. Oh, and search engines LOVE tools – they are great SEO juice!
- Subscriptions – and finally, if you are looking to create yourself an ongoing income and are able to produce new content each month (basically anything we have discussed above), then maybe you could set up a membership subscription for your site. Members then receive a monthly ‘travel box' with content such as a new e-Book, newsletter, a piece of merchandise, a travel accessory or bonus information (such as member only tips) for example.
How is revenue earned?
This method mirrors basic retail operations where you:
- Source or create your products.
- Write about the products, their benefits, uses and problem solving capabilities.
- Provide links where customers can purchase them via sales pages on your own site or marketplace sites (Amazon, Shopify etc.).
The disadvantage here is that you will need to do all of the work in regards to packaging, shipping, sales and customer service – which is why online/downloadable products such as e-Books are popular here. However on the plus side, you do hold the ability to set your own price meaning you can increase and decrease as demand rises and falls.
Revenue is earned by direct sales to the reader.
Note: This option will require some fairly significant (but not too difficult) changes to your website to allow for the display of products and processing of payments. Please comment below if you need any assistance in this area.
When to action
To be honest, I was about to write that you would probably want to have built a good and loyal following before you started to attempt these types of sales. But you know what? You can never tell what will prompt a person to purchase so I am now thinking that if you have your products ready and your site can handle it, then why not test it out?
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3. Placing ads on your site
Should you not wish to actually sell products on your site – or are too busy traveling and writing to be able to create products to sell – then placing advertising on your pages and posts can be a good way of making some passive income if your website has some decent traffic. The trick here obviously is to have enough advertising on your site to make some income, but not so much that your site just becomes annoying or worse, unreadable. There are a number of ways that you can make money from advertising on your page, including:
Pay per click ads
Pay per click ads are placed on your site or within search engine results based on the interests, internet use/search history, search behaviour and/or location of the reader. These can be utilised in one of two main ways dependent upon whether you are selling products via any of the methods listed above or not:
1. If you are not selling products on your site then you can try Banner ads. Banners are placed on your website and are shown to readers as they view your page and posts. You, as the owner of the site can generally determine how many ads are incorporated and what they look like but not on what types of ads they are. You are then paid a commission each time a reader clicks on the ad.
2. If you are selling products (say as an affiliate to some hotel chains for example) then you will set up your advertising where links to your site are displayed at the top of search engine results pages based on the searches undertaken by the reader. If their searches match your chosen keywords (“best hotels in Munich” for example), then your site will be placed at the top of search engine results. This option really only works if you have saleable options on your page as unlike banner advertising, you will be charged a fee every time a reader clicks on the link to access your site – anywhere between $0.01 and $100 depending on the popularity of the keyword and competition.
You can also load these ads onto your YouTube channel for extra exposure and earning capacity. Companies that manage this form of advertising include:
- Google Adsence – Google's website ad product.
- Microsoft Advertising – Bing and Yahoo service.
- Infolinks – Offers both website ads and in post ‘text' ads – these are where they place ads within your posts on relevant keywords – keyword ads are usually double underlined.
Selling page space
These ads work in a similar fashion to pay per click ads however in these instances you are actually selling space on your site for more permanent advertising. These ads pay a higher commission but do not change based on the online behaviours of your readers. Companies offering this type of advertising include:
Social Media Advertising
This can also be a good way to increase traffic to your site and sales pages as well. Social Media platforms such as Facebook and Pinterest will allow you to place advertisements to boost your online presences and drive sales.
How is revenue earned?
This one is simple – each time a reader clicks on your ad, you either get paid or redirect a reader directly to your purchase (money) pages to increase your chances of sales. If I am being honest, these advertising processes are generally a set-and-forget type scenario as they really do not generate any real income until your site starts to generate serious traffic.
As an example, on one site I placed 3 ads from Google adsence once it reached abut 200 monthly viewers and it made about $1 per month. However, for another (currently running at about 3000 views per month), I paid $25 to place my site at the top of search engines and generated an extra 2000 clicks per week resulting in a bonus $230 in sales.
When to action
Generally, the advertising brokers will not accept your site unless there is some traffic generated to it. I started at 200 monthly viewers but it is really up to you when you start. My main recommendation however would be to really consider where you want to have ads placed on your site – especially if it is new and you are still tweaking the set out.
4. Become a Social Media influencer
This one is a bit more difficult achieve and is definitely one that requires a massive social media following. However if you are handy with a camera then this does make a lot of travel bloggers a good income via the following process:
- Take amazing photos and/or videos of your travels (or as part of your hotel or tour reviews etc.).
- Upload these to Social Media (Instagram and YouTube are popular within the Travel niche).
- Gain a good following because your photos and videos are so good.
How is revenue earned?
As your following starts to grow, you then become what is commonly known as an ‘influencer'. Influencers then earn their cash via:
- Product placement.
- Wearing, using or reviewing products in their social media or website posts.
- Linking or adding hashtags for various companies on their posts.
- Adding advertising banners to their social media (as above).
Note: This is a highly competitive market – especially within the travel niche – so your social media management will have to be absolutely well managed and generate a huge following and interaction. That said, and as mentioned above, this can be an extremely lucrative income generating stream for travel bloggers.
When to action
The advantage here is that social media is free however building a following takes time meaning it is never too early to get started – so start taking photos now and get them uploaded.
5. Email lists
Email lists are one of the most effective means of generating revenue for you and your website. This is because once you have the ability to send your readers a direct email, you are able to then promote products, promotions and special deals directly to them without the need for them to search and locate your site. After all, how many times have we decided to go on a holiday or weekend away simply because someone has sent us an email with an amazing hotel deal?
In general, you will need to do the following (in extremely abbreviated steps):
- Set up your email autoresponder and email list. Common Autoresponders include Aweber, iContact and Mailchimp.
- Add an ‘optin' to your website with an incentive to join (maybe you could give away some of those e-Books or information guides etc. we discussed above for free in return for their email address).
- Send emails to your list with extra information, bonuses and sales offers/promotions.
Note: It is critical that you only send emails to those who have ‘opted in' to your email list via your website or social media. Unsolicited emails are known as SPAM and generally not accepted or appreciated by those who receive them and can do your website and brand irreparable damage. Autoresponders will also cancel your service if they think that you are spamming.
How is revenue earned?
Revenue is not actually earned via the emails as such rather provide the opportunity for higher sales due to the ability to market directly to your reader list.
When to action
Most seasoned online marketers will tell you to wait until you are generating a decent amount of traffic before setting up this type of marketing. This is usually for two reasons:
- The cost of the autoresponder software – If you have a new site that is not earning any revenue then this might be a cost that you don't really need at this point. There are however some free ones out there with limited functionality.
- You don't yet have anything to offer – With so many websites and social media platforms out there, readers are becoming more and more hesitant to give out their email address information for fear of receiving yet another raft of emails. Unless you have a pre-prepared product such as a book, health or fitness programs to match travel needs or exclusive discount codes for flights or hotels you may not have the necessary means yet to lure someone to sign up.
That said, as with all other traffic reliant revenue raising methods here, if you feel your site is ready for it, give it a shot.
So there it is. Some fairly solid methods that you can utilise to monetize your travel based website. As always, keep in mind that making money online is a long term process so just because you have some of these revenue earners on your site, it doesn't mean that you will see any immediate income. As always, patience is the key.
Have you tried any of the above methods? What worked well for you? What didn't work so well? Please share below.
Do you need some extra assistance with the right ways to monetise your travel site or do you need help in creating your very own affiliate marketing website?
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Until next time
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