I have hemmed and hawed over this for a long time…but I am finally releasing my first ever travel blog income report!
Yes, this makes me uncomfortable to share. ? But if you’re a blogger who is obsessed with income reports (like I am!), you know the spiel: I am not releasing this income report to brag. LOTS of other bloggers make WAY more money than I do. I am releasing this income report because I hope it inspires you and shows you what is possible, particularly with a travel blog.
I don’t know if I will do income reports in the future; depends on my comfort level. But enjoy this one now! Thanks for stopping by!
*This post has affiliate links, which means I receive a commission if you choose to purchase through a link I provide (at no extra cost to you!). Thanks so much for supporting the work I put into this site!
Mitigating Factors (You Should Read This First for Context!)
- This travel blog income report shows what I EARNED in September 2017—not necessarily what has hit the bank yet. As you probably know, with affiliate income and advertising income, it can take awhile for the payments to process. So sometimes you earn money one month, but don’t receive that money till 60 days later.
- While this is my first official travel blog income report, I started this blog more than FIVE years ago (in July 2012). I didn’t start really trying to monetize it until about one year ago in September 2016, when I purchased the online course Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing and learned the top tips for monetizing your blog with affiliate links from the Queen of Affiliate Marketing, Michelle Schroeder-Gardner (she earns $100K a MONTH from her blog!).
- This travel blog income report DOES NOT show ALL my income. I earn the bulk of my income as a freelance writer and marketer.
What I’ve Learned From Trying to Monetize a Travel Blog
- For the most part, hotel/flight/travel booking search engine affiliates are a waste of time. Why? Because the commissions for hotels and flights are TINY. It’s 25% for hotel bookings on booking.com—but get this, that’s a 25% commission of the commission Booking.com gets from their travel partners. That means you’re getting a slice of the slice of someone else’s pie.To understand this, you need to understand how travel booking sites work: They are basically like affiliates for hotel and flight companies. They don’t make a ton of money off flights; most of the money is made from hotels.Here’s an example of a booking that was recently made through one of my booking.com affiliate links: It’s a booking made for a hotel in Machu Picchu. Booking.com made 5.02 from the booking, and they pass 25% of that onto me. That means I made a whopping 1.25 EUR from the entire thing. But I haven’t really made that yet. Read on to find out why…On top of that, people will often book through an affiliate link, only to cancel later. That’s just the nature of travel. So you MIGHT think you’re getting $1.34 from a booking for April, but then the next month you’ll see they canceled it. It’s hard to keep track.In addition (yep, there’s more!), you don’t get paid (at least for booking.com) until 60 DAYS AFTER the STAY is completed. That means if, say, someone books a hotel today through my affiliate link for February 1, 2018, and they don’t cancel it, I won’t even SEE that commission in my bank account until May 2018.I don’t say this to complain. It’s awesome booking engines even send me a commission—I say this to open your eyes to the fact that there are much more lucrative and reliable ways to make affiliate income. For example, look at SiteGround. SiteGround gives a $50 for every sale made through your affiliate link for the first 5 sales, and it goes up from there. I could work my butt off to make $1.50 from one hotel booking, or I can make $50 from helping someone set up their business website.
- You make more money when you’re teaching people how to make more money. Just as in ANY business, B2B (business to business) always makes more revenue (and faster) than B2C (business to consumer). The logic makes sense. If you’re a business, you generally have way more capital than an individual. Plus, a business is way more likely to make big, frequent purchases, because those purchases lead directly to more revenue. On the other hand, personal purchases don’t promise more revenue, so it takes much more coaxing to make a personal purchase. People LOVE to make fun of “those bloggers who make money blogging about how to make money blogging.” But honestly? Those bloggers are crying…all the way to the bank! I think if you give solid advice, you make quality content, and you’re doing great work—who cares you’re making money teaching others to make money? Let me tell you who DOESN’T care: Those metabloggers bringing in $50K a MONTH from their blogs.
- You make more money when you sell your OWN products versus selling affiliate products or via advertising. This also makes sense when you think about it. Selling other people’s products via advertising or affiliate marketing means you never get 100% of the sale; you always get a percentage. When you sell your own products, for the most part, you get 100% of the revenue generated (minus payment processing fees). The difference between 5-figure bloggers and 6-figure bloggers, I’ve noticed from studying income reports, is that the 6-figure bloggers sell their own products, usually in the form of higher-priced online courses or eBooks.
Travel Blog Income for September 2017: $2,438.70
Here’s the crazy thing: My travel blog earned that income WITHOUT sponsored posts or press trips. I do not do either of those things (though I might be open to changing my mind. I don’t think I will though).
Travel Blog Expenses for September 2017: $207
This was an unusually high expense month because I invested in some educational resources. Usually my expenses are super low.
Total Blog PROFIT for September 2017: $2,231.70
Goals for November
- Launch a digital product. I plan to launch an eBook.
- Implement the Pinterest strategies I learned from Pinteresting Strategies.
- Publish the BACKLOG of blog posts about my recent train trip through Eastern Europe. I have SO many awesome tips and stories I want to share about travel in that region of the world but I just. Can’t. Find. The. Time.
My Ultimate Blogging Goal: Earn $4K/Month from My Blog and Quit Freelancing!
Yep, although I LOVE my clients, I am getting tired of selling my time. My ultimate goal is to make at least $4K a month from my blog and then end my freelance services. I fully intend to hit that goal by the end of this year. I will continue my freelance writing contracts with certain publications though because I love writing so much.
The Top TWO Blogging Resources Responsible for My Boost in Blog Income
I have bought COUNTLESS paid blogging resources in the past 2 years, and here are the top 2 so you don’t waste your money like I have…
#1 Pinterest Traffic Avalanche: If you’re just starting out, to make money from your blog, you need people to VISIT it—and fast. SEO is my favorite traffic technique (Google Search is the #1 source of traffic to my blog!), BUT it’s a long-term play. If you’re a beginner blogger, you don’t have time to wait for search engines to rank your posts. You need traffic NOW, and the best source of instant traffic is, hands down, Pinterest. I’ve tried FOUR different PAID Pinterest resources, and my favorite is the online course Pinterest Traffic Avalanche. I took the course in February and immediately implemented the techniques—it 5X’d my Pinterest traffic in about 6 weeks. You can read my full Pinterest Traffic Avalanche review here.
#2 Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing: I have mixed feelings about this course, which I explain in this review. I don’t know of anyone else on the internet who is more well-versed in affiliate marketing for blogs than Michelle of MakingSenseofCents.com. Her blog earns more than $100K a MONTH, most of that coming from affiliate links. I took her course about a year ago and once I started implementing the strategies (it took me a couple months because I was working on my freelance business), my blog income started to grow. The best part of this class for me is the direct access to Michelle through the members-only Facebook group. On certain Saturdays, you can ask her a question in the thread, and she will respond to you within 24 hours. It’s helpful to have direct access to a successful affiliate marketing blogger. The other part I love about the Facebook group is it has been great for boosting my traffic, since we have dedicated threads where we promote each other’s content. On top of that, I learn a lot from the other members of the group, and they push me to work hard and see results with my blog. Check out Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing here.
BONUS: SiteGround web hosting. I added this one here because, though it’s not a blogging education resource like the others, it is SUCH a huge reason my blog’s traffic and quality has increased in the past year. I used to be on Bluehost, and my blog was down ALL the time. I mean, one time, I was standing right in front of an acquaintance who asked what my blog was so she could check it out, and when she type it into her phone, my blog was DOWN. How embarrassing! On top of that, my blog’s loading time was inexplicably slow. I finally switched to SiteGround and my blog’s speed DOUBLED, plus I haven’t seen any downtime with it since switching. Not once. Bluehost is probably okay if you’re a hobbyist blogger who doesn’t want to make money from their blog. But if you want to be a professional and set a foundation for success, I highly recommend you switch to SiteGround now. You can get 60% off (!) your first year with SiteGround here.
I hope this travel blog income report has helped you see what’s possible. Don’t let anyone tell you you can never make money blogging, especially from a travel blog, because it’s not true! There are tons of other bloggers out there making more money blogging than I am, but I’m just starting out with serious monetization, and I have big goals! Here’s to knocking them outta the park!