HOW I MAKE MONEY AS A TRAVEL BLOGGER
There seems to be a lot of debate about blogging and money. In fact, one of the questions I get asked a lot is “how do you make money blogging?” and to be honest, I find this question really annoying because I never started this blog to make money. I started this blog because my friends and family wanted to know what I was getting up to on my weekends because I was always off on a crazy adventure and as a result, I was inspiring them to do the same – to get outdoors! So decided to create this blog as a platform to share my adventures, which they could access anytime they wanted. Fast forward to today and Mister Weekender has grown into something I never imagined! I have thousands of people visiting my blog and social media channels every month, I run workshops, I have collaborated with brands, I have written and sold eBooks, I coach other bloggers and creatives, and I have travelled a lot. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine Mister Weekender would turn into such a thriving platform, let alone being paid to do what was, and still is, something I genuinely love.
However, there came a time when I realised I needed to monetise my blog. I had reached a point where brands were offering me incredible (unpaid) opportunities but the time and creativity it took to produce the content heavily outweighed everything else. And let’s be honest, you don’t work for free, so why should I? So in the interest of sharing my gifts of knowledge and experience, here are a few inside tips on how I make money as a travel blogger.
SPONSORED TRIPS Most of the trips I go on are unpaid, and because I know how much money goes into organising a trip for a brand I’ll always agree on a set amount of content roughly to the equal value of that trip. Some of the trips I get paid a day rate, or I get paid for my content. My first ever trip was with STA; they flew me to New Zealand and paid me a day rate – which was amazing! Most recently I went to Greece with G Adventures who took care of transfers, accommodation, a sailing tour around the Greek islands, meals and airfares in exchange for me creating content; I was not paid but the trip was a once in a lifetime opportunity and the brand put in a huge effort to get me over there. Win win.
SPONSORED BLOG CONTENT A great way to earn money as a blogger is sponsored blog content. However I don’t wait for opportunities to fall into my lap, I prefer to create them so I’ll send pitches and proposals to brands I would love to work with and who I know my readers would like to know about. Opportunities do come into my Inbox and if they're the right fit and relevant to my niche and audience, I will accept the collaboration. I think this is my favourite as there is so much creativity behind this type of content!
SPONSORED SOCIAL MEDIA CONTENT Some brands only want access to my social media content, particularly Instagram. And some brands want access to my social media content as part of a sponsored blog post. I am a little protective with Instagram as I don’t want to oversaturate my audience with paid post after paid post - it looks tacky! Great financially yes, but I have seen with other bloggers that their engagement drops because their audience can see straight through consistent brand plugging - it gets boring and insincere. I also share a lot of nature and adventure photos so in some way what I can do on Instagram with a brand can be a little limited sometimes. But that doesn’t mean I can’t think creatively to make it work. Last year I worked with Clinique who paid me to share some nature photos and simply mention their brand as a campaign. It was incredible to work with such an amazing global brand who also respected my platform and audience. I would love to work with them again!
BRAND COLLABORATIONS I love brand collaborations, they are really fun and I feel really good when I do them. They are a great way to showcase my own blog and also introduce a brand I love and trust to my audience. But I am very picky with collaborations; I have been approached by several alcohol brands over the last couple of years and tend to shy away from them as I am very focused on nature and adventure, not boozing it up. However, if it was a cool spirit, wine or beer that was naturally associated with the outdoors, then I would say yes.
PHOTOGRAPHY More and more these days I am getting paid for my photography, and I really think this is a skill more bloggers need to pick up. A lot of bloggers pay photographers to take photos for them, but for me, this lacks authenticity and creativity on the bloggers behalf. Obviously we can't all take incredible photos, I get that. But... Even though, I love collaborating with photographers and have lots of friends who do this full time so often you’ll see me working with them. Most recently, Kit & Ace approached me to take a nature photo for their store opening on the Gold Coast. It ended up being 8 metres long and also featured on a lightbox; this was an incredible career moment for me! I am also currently investigating selling my nature photos as prints – watch this space.
WORKSHOPS I think it’s important as a blogger to diversify as much as possible, as long as you remain authentic to your niche and audience. My posts about blogging, Instagram and work hacks are some of my most visited content so last year I created two workshops – How To Be A Successful Blogger, which sold out. As well as How To Take Better Instagram Photos, which I run every couple of months and always sells out. I am aware I need to keep raising the bar so I am currently writing a workshop around creatives and freelancing – watch this space also!
EBOOKS As I mentioned above, it’s very important for bloggers to create more than one revenue stream and do something they feel comfortable with. As an example, I will never do videos on YouTube; I feel too old! But I love writing and selling eBooks. In my first year of blogging I wrote a Travel Guide to Sydney which completely sold out. I was blown away! And last year I wrote an eBook on How To Take Better Instagram Photos, which also sold out, and then became a workshop that I host regularly and spoke about above.
FREELANCE WRITING I love writing, but I also find it tiring, formal and time consuming. It also doesn’t pay overly well but if I love the brand and the project, I’ll do it. Often you’ll find me writing travel features in Gritty Pretty magazine and more recently, I did some freelance writing for Tourism Noosa.
PRODUCT PLACEMENT This is something I love and need to do more of! I’ll mostly work with brands who have a connection to the outdoors and camping, such as Polar Stuff, Home Camp and Kathmandu. I’ve also worked with tech brands such as Mophie who provide some of the best phone chargers for explorers who go off the grid for a few days or more.
GUEST SPEAKING Public speaking, oh how nervous I get! Once I get talking and I am holding something solid, like my hard cover diary or a notebook, I can hide the dreaded shakes but it’s the leads up to guest speaking which killlllllls me. However guest speaking is something I have found myself doing more and more. Most recently, I was awarded a Qantas ambassadorship as part of the first Rising Social Star competition in the travel section. It was an incredible evening but the next day, myself and the winners in the other categories had to speak at Vivid – and hold a microphone. Dyyyyying. But after my first question and holding the mic with two hands (what a nervous wreck!) I started to feel comfortable. And as a result, I picked up lots of new followers on Instagram who were sitting in the audience. This wasn’t paid but I have done paid guest speaking opportunities with a few brands, including most recently Cheap Flights. Now that was fun!
Do I make enough money to be a full time blogger? No. This is because I have commitments to a mortgage and a way of life. This is also because I don’t just want to do one thing, I want to do lots of things. As such, I recently launched my own creative agency called Your Creative Start where I offer social media, branding, talent management, website and graphic design services for brands, creatives and bloggers. It keeps me very busy! I also have two long term business plans in the pipeline both based on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, which I hope to see into fruition next year. I’ll have keep you posted!