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.

The Money

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.

Days Off

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”.

One Approach

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.

In Transit

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.

Inside Outside

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).

 

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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24 Comments

  1. There’s something very generic about your site. It lacks creativity and just seems like it’s trying too hard. Put more work into substance and original content rather than aesthetics.

    Reminds me of a 20 year old suburban tract home. Nothing memorable about it.

    At least a website like Points with a Crew is memorable. Albeit for all the wrong reasons. But you just have to look because it’s that bad.

  2. I think it’s great that you write all your blogs yourself. It’s what makes yours unique over others who have staff write them.

  3. I appreciate the work you do. I could never maintain a lifestyle like yours. Always good to get different perspectives from the blogosphere. Don’t let the trolls get you down.

  4. “Too generic”?! Quite obviously the only thing here which ” lacks creativity” is lopere. What a sad excuse of a human being to troll without even attempting to provide useful input.

    The content and style of your site is the main reason it is tied for number one as my go to site. I love the bold headings that lead to succinct yet rich information. Not dragging on with “I felt the food was a pinch too salty” wish wash. THANK YOU especially for the deal alerts and posts on how to actually execute a booking with points and the best ways to do so. You absolutely nail style and content, Gilbert. Thank you and keep it up!

  5. As opposed to someone saying your site is too “generic”, I actually find that it is somewhat different than other blogs that are also on boardingarea. (Trust me, I read all of them, and the famous TPG. While they all have decnet content, I found yours particularly very useful) You always seem to be fast on reporting deals like cheap business class fares and hotel sales, have an unique perspective on things. When some others just chase down the story of United killing a dog on a flight and keep “milking” it per se by doing multiple blog posts on it, I see you mostly focus on bringing in something that is actually useful in helping the readers finding good deals and make smart decisions. Keep up the good work!

  6. Love reading your blog every day.. I was already a traveller… but you give me inspiration to try and get better deals… keep up the good work

  7. I personally find your site invaluable, especially as it gives more British/European-centric information and opportunities to travel of which which I find a distinct lack of from other bloggers. Unfortunately I don’t get to travel as often as many others as my trips are on my own dime as opposed to business, however I do like to travel well and if I do find an opportunity to write a review of a trip, I would be delighted to send it to you to get your thoughts if it’s worthy of inclusion.

  8. *Eye roll at the troll*
    Well, I really enjoy reading your posts, and the personal approach is brilliant, rather than posts from a big team.
    Enjoy the day off. And the wine!

  9. Everything (well, almost everything) you always wanted to ask about GSTP but were afraid to ask. Thanks for a peek behind the curtain. If PWAC is memorable then GSTP will be here when the Pyramids have vanished! I would like to know what your guess is on the ratio of spend/award flights would be. I assume you have to top up those points somehow. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go click an ad.

  10. Everything (well, almost everything) you wanted to know about GSTP but were afraid to ask. I very much enjoyed getting a peek behind the curtain. I would like to know what your ratio of award flights to paid flights would be. Gotta top up those points somehow. Now, if you will excuse me, I need to go and click some ads!

  11. Great insight into what happens behind the scenes Gilbert. Although the British-focused travel deals aren’t relevant to me in Australia, I I really enjoy your writing style, reviews, travel destination features, honesty and excellent photography! Keep up the great work

  12. Simply you do a good job which is why your readership grows.
    There will always be trolls and serial commenters… The cost of being a public site but hopefully with some positive feedback and opportunities for story ideas and improvements.
    Must be exhilarating but exhausting so hope that you can sustain the lifestyle… And adapt the model to lessen the personal impact…

  13. Love your site. Ignore the trolls from the other travel bloggers (wink! You know who they are) . Just like I be said, you have the most informative travel site and can’t wait for the next post. Generic? Tell him to go pound sand!

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