Before you go there – this isn’t a whinge fest. Travel writing/blogging/vlogging/journalism can be one of the coolest jobs on the planet – and most of the time, it is. The intention of this article is not to complain, but to perhaps enlighten readers about daily life, the perks, the pitfalls and what it takes to actually make money in this interesting pursuit.
There are a few ways to make money with a travel site, such as mine. Having advertisements can put a few bucks in your pocket, which is nice. We can’t ask you to click advertisements, but if you feel compelled to – it really, really helps. You can also make money via referral and affiliate traffic. It’s a win win, usually. We show you a great travel deal, you click to the great deal via our links, and when you buy – you get the same great price, but we get a piece of the sale. The bigger you get, the more traffic you send – the better. In a similar fashion there’s also credit card affiliate programs. These are the most lucrative. To this day, we’ve resisted the temptation to reap the benefits – but no promises. Finally, there are sponsored posts. When they’re good, they’re great – but they have to make sense, otherwise it’s insulting to people like yourself. You can smell BS, so can we – and unless the sponsored piece is mutually beneficial and advantageous to readers, we decline. By keeping it real, only promoting great deals or content – you lose out on money but with any hope you gain readers, who know it’s “all killer, no filler”. Thanks Sum 41.
I wake up every day both excited and terrified. Each month, for the last few months we’ve broken our site traffic records. Our monthly readership is now more than a half million people and that’s wildly exciting to me. We’re far from the biggest, but when you think that an arena holds 20,000 people – you can really start to visualize that a LOT of people are participating. But as we begin to reach new summits, consistency and delivering even better content becomes key. I always know that you have choices. You could probably find most similar information elsewhere, but every day I hope to deliver it faster, better and more digestible than anyone else doing the same thing. If we don’t highlight a crucial deal, opportunity or cool place to go – someone else will. To make a long story a bit shorter: there are no days off and with the delights (eye roll) of 24 hour news cycles, there’s no “off time”.
Many sites have multiple writers, staff members, marketing teams, trusted parakeets, dogs, public relations reps and executive highly paid editors (thank you, credit card referrals). I don’t. As futile as it may be, I’ve endeavored to stick with a one writer approach. For better (and much worse) you always know you’re getting me. Laura contributes content as well and it’s massively helpful – but as a husband and wife duo who see most things identically – it’s still “me”. I would feel strange letting someone critique an airline or hotel, knowing they may see things entirely differently than I do. I don’t nitpick. If someone started talking about how their seat is supposed to be 22.25 inches wide, but they are sure the rule is only reflecting 22.24, I’d be mortified. The futility of this approach is that there’s never a day off. 7 days a week, roughly 365 days a year. I will say though, about 340 days a year, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
If you want to become a useful travel writer/blogger/journalist/vlogger, you need to travel. The more you travel the greater your value becomes, but the harder it becomes to maintain consistent writing practices. Unlike some other
wankers travel writers, I travel constantly. It’s the only reason I started. In case you can’t tell from my grammar, I have no journalism background, I never gave a toss about “writing” and I take the English language for granted. Know this: it’s not easy getting off a 13 hour flight to Mumbai with a high fever and tooth ache, and feeling like writing an article – especially if you actually read the comments section. Don’t bother. But hey, every job faces these issues, perhaps mine are simply magnified by being independent. I just love to travel, want to do it in the best ways possible and want to share my insights into “how” I manage these luxurious or unique feats on a shoestring budget. The more places I see, the more seats I try and the more pain in the ass issues I face in transit, the more I learn – the more valuable my voice becomes. It’s that simple, if you know how to digest and reflect. When I’m home, I spend my free time reading the fine print, evaluating loyalty programs and reflecting on what opportunities have truly impacted my travels. And of course, how they could help yours. Admittedly, I’m probably also sampling a new wine, hitting the gym or watching television re runs.
A key challenge any travel blogger faces is access to valuable information. Airlines, hotels, tourism boards, apps and other travel related businesses don’t trust outsiders with important information. Therefore, the smaller you are, the more catch up you play. Since many travel brands are arrogant to the umpteenth magnitude, it’s hard to get an email back at first, let alone build a relationship. You must fight in the weeds for a long time, providing great content before you’ll get on the inside, receiving information before it’s made public. But once you’re on the “inside” you must maintain relationships by actually covering the things they send you. And I’ll be honest – most of it is self serving crap. There are quite a few hotel brands and airlines we never, ever hear from because we don’t jump at the chance to shout about $10,000 round trip business class “sales”. We only cover the ones where there’s a zero missing. By now you’re probably extremely bored and wishing you hadn’t read this, so I’ll let you go – but since I want a day off today, I figured I’d explain why.
Thanks for reading this (and for being tempted by those flashy banners).