The Cold Hard Truth on Travel Blogging Income

If I wanted a huge spike in traffic and lots of new readers who would hang on every word, I’d promise to tell you how you can easily make six figures from a travel blog. I would promise to supply the secrets that will soon have you jetting around the world and making easy money just writing about your travels.

But that would be a false promise. Pure b.s. actually. So I don’t go there.

Half these bloggers make $100 or less per month

Yes, you can make good money running your own show as a blogger, but you’ll be one of the elites if you make it. I participated in this travel blogger survey from TBEX and found out my earnings are downright huge compared to most of the people who attend their Travel Blog Exchange conference.

I was one of 11 people—out of 339—who pulls in more than $3,000 a month from my blogs. Just my Cheapest Destinations Blog one alone earns more than 87% of the respondents’ blogs earn in total.

Some of these people don’t care. They’re doing it for fun, for a hobby, to make extra beer money. All of that’s fine and some are probably happy to be making anything from their efforts. Others care more about getting onto a press trip now and then. Some are just doing it to promote a book or a larger content website. All good.

If you’re becoming a blogger with the hopes of making more from that than you did/would as a freelance writer, however, understand that it’s a long path requiring patience and persistence, marketing and moxie. There will be at least a smattering of coins in that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but you’re not going to get there in a week, or a year, maybe not even in two years. (Related post: Four Stages of a Successful Blog)

Don’t get me wrong—if you’re going to succeed in the digital age as a writer, you need to make a name for yourself and develop a platform, becoming master of your niche. The best and easiest way to do that is to regularly post to a blog on the subject. But please don’t believe the hype (or sign up for some expensive seminar) that promises this is a path to quick riches. Not even close.

Sure, my blogs pay almost all my bills and make money even when I’m on vacation, but they were a long time in the making. The newest, Practical Travel Gear, just celebrated its second birthday at this domain, but was alive in a different form before that on the Blogger platform. Perceptive Travel’s blog is more than four years old. The Cheapest Destinations Blog was started in 2002—yes, nine years ago. All three are profitable now, that last one in a big way. But it took years of work and a business-minded attitude.

I found one other interesting nugget in that survey that may have something to do with the low income. The #2 use of time after writing posts was “social media engagement.” That answer was ahead of “research,” which is pretty scary. If you want to make money at this, social media interaction should be, at most, 15-20 minutes of your day. For me it’s closer to five minutes. Almost everything else you could be doing with your time after that is going to be more productive and make you more money. Turn off the noise and do some real work. (Related post: Stop Chatting, Start Writing)

See the full survey here.

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