*Note this post was written in 2015 but I updated it in September 2017 with more recent project examples and prices.*
‘How do you make a living?’ must be the most often asked question of a travel blogger. And I get it. If I wasn’t one I’d want to know too! It all looks so easy or, in some cases, a little (dare I say it?) suspicious. So I thought it was time I opened up on this topic of conversation.
I’ve covered many blogging tips over the years but this is first time I’ve touched on the golden topic of monetization. So before we begin, let’s start with a few disclaimers.
Firstly, the amounts mentioned in this post are just a guide. Every blogger will charge differently for their services depending on a number of factors such as their reach, influence, expertise and experience. The fees also vary for every project depending on the deliverables.
Secondly, bear in mind it’s taken me 7 years of blogging graft and 4 years of working in travel digital marketing to get to this stage. My experience as a social media consultant has helped massively with building my blogging business, and vice versa.
This ties into my third point, which is I make the bulk of my income from consulting, community management and copywriting work that is not directly related to this site (although clients often find me through it and are encouraged to work with me on the basis of what they see here). To keep matters simple I’ve just focused on work directly related to Girl Tweets World in this post.
And finally, these are examples of some projects I’ve been involved in during the last 7 years. They are by no means an indication of what I earn each month. (If only, my friends, if only!)
Right, now all that guff is out of the way – let’s get stuck in.
Blog Trips (Rate £300 – £500 per day)
Some people find the notion of bloggers being paid for blog trips offensive or baffling so this topic needs a little explanation.
When I’ve been paid for blog trips it’s because there has been a lot of work involved. For example, I might be producing content for the host’s blog, taking over their Facebook page, providing a collection of royalty-free images or using a sponsored hashtag. Depending on what the project involves I will itemise all these services and we’ll come to a flat fee or day rate for the project depending on how and when the content is due.
I’ve also been invited on blog trips (and press trips) where there are no fees involved and I therefore set the expectation of what I will produce in return for the travel offered. (If it happens to be somewhere I really, really want to go or is somewhere I would have paid to go myself anyway.)
Whether paid or not I always ask what is the expectation of me for participating in the trip and make sure all parties are clear about the way I work. I never compromise the right to publish my truth and try to work with the host to make sure I am able to explore a destination as I normally would, therefore delivering the content I know my readers want to see. The best projects are when I’ve worked with the likes of Tippett PR who spearheads creative collaborations between bloggers and brands that are a win-win for all parties.
Instagram/Facebook Takeovers (Rate £200 – £300)
I am sometimes hired by travel brands (such as Tourism Taiwan and Cathay Pacific) to takeover their Facebook or Instagram page for a period of time. This is something that I’ve done both as a one off or as part of a blog trip.
Little tip: Often when I am offered a blog trip I go back to the brand with a list of services they can pick and choose from to build up a package that is both more engaging and far reaching than just producing blog content.
Co-Host A Twitter Chat (From £300)
I’ve co-hosted Twitter chats in the past for the likes of KLM Air France and Skyscanner Australia. The fee will depend on how much time I am needed for and whether blog posts will also need to be written in association with the event. I have 22k followers on Twitter at the moment – I’m not sure if those with more followers command a higher fee? (Anyone want to chip in?)
Create A Twitter Chat (£0 – £600)
I also used to co-host my own Twitter chat with Monica from The Travel Hack. We ran a chat called #TravelBookChat that reached over 1 million Twitter followers and was open up to sponsorship by suitable brands, mainly publishers. Due to moving to Oz this became hard to sustain and is not something I run in 2017.
Sponsored posts (£400-£600)
I hate the negative connotation of a sponsored post as there are many ways that you can write them that are both beneficial for the reader and pay the bills! In my case I write everything you see on this site, always have, so I never accept any sponsored guest content. But every now and then a brand might approach me to talk about a particular subject, in the way I usually would, and they pay me to take the time to do this.
For example, I recently wrote this post about how I book my flights with Skyscanner, something I’ve been doing organically for years. All opinions in the post are mine, the content (I think!) is useful, so the reader wins and the brand gets coverage. I always disclose the brand association on the post so no one feels they are getting duped!
(Update: Advertising guidelines have been released since I wrote this post – check the rules in your country.)
I rarely run sponsored posts on my social feeds because personally I find this a little jarring. I would rather include social promotion within a larger campaign. Many bloggers do run sponsored Instagram posts, however, and I read that charging approx £100 per 10,000 followers was the norm.
Host A Contest (£250 – £500)
I love being able to give free things away to readers so often if a brand approaches me looking for coverage I point them in this direction. I tend to create, host and promote the contest and for this they pay me a management fee.
Sometimes the cost of the prize is deducted from the fee – so the better the prize the less I get as a host but the better it is for readers! I don’t tend to promote contests that are hosted on other sites as I prefer to be able to offer something that is unique to my readership.
Create Social Media/Blog Content For Brands (£250 – £1000)
This one is often tied into blog trips but is not always. Many of the brands I’ve worked with (in both a blogger and consultant capacity) are always looking for unique content they can share on their own social media channels. This is basically what I do all day so I pitch to them a number of content ideas I can produce for them to use on their own websites and social pages as they wish.
Brand Ambassadorships (£2000+)
These are the nice, meaty projects where a brand basically wants to be associated with my own. Often there are a number of elements involved – I might be asked to judge a contest (like with Three mobile), review products, film a video (Visa) or feature in their newsletter (Muji).
The fees for this type of campaign factor in both the promotion and content required as well as the way the brand wants to use my name in association with their own. Sometimes these projects are one off (like the Muji travel campaign) and sometimes they are of an on-going nature where I’ll work with the brand in a number of different capacities over a couple of months.
I believe your personal brand is one of your most valuable assets so I don’t go around hooking up with just anybody. (I was a genuine customer of all brands mentioned above before we discussed partnership.)
Speaking At Events (£0 – £500)
I used to speak at quite a lot of blogging events in the UK. At first I was terrified but then I slowly began to realise that it’s not so hard to just talk about what you love. Sometimes a speaking gig might be unpaid (such as the World Travel Writers’ Conference in the Maldives) but your travel and expenses are covered and you get to attend a great networking event for free.
Advertising (less than £100 per month)
Advertising is (clearly!) not a big earner for me. I prefer to keep my sidebars uncluttered and focused on content so I very rarely allow it. In some circumstances a brand might want to buy a banner ad in association with a review I did for them. For example, I worked with Cathay Pacific on a project where I reviewed a Premium Economy flight for their website and then I hosted a banner ad on my site which linked to that review.
Affiliate Sales (£100 – £200 per month)
Again, not a big earner for me. Mainly because I suck at it! I often forget to add affiliate links to posts and am aware that I don’t have pages optimised for this type of conversion. Some bloggers, for example, have a travel resources page with affiliate links to companies they recommend and they make a small percent off any sale through that link. I am working on improving my affiliate income after taking The Blogger Course (an affiliate link!) in 2017. At the moment my affiliate sales mainly come through 1 post about Ao Nang Krabi where I’ve mentioned the hotel we stayed at on booking.com.
Blogger One-on-Ones (£30 per hour)
I started getting approached by bloggers a few years ago who would like an objective assessment of their site/content and advice for improvement so I began offering blogger consulting in person or via Skype for a nominal fee. I really enjoy this type of work and often it reminds me to go back and fix things on my site, which I had overlooked or not improved for some time. A big part of my ‘day job’ is doing social media audits and strategies for companies so this work also helps me with ways to approach that.
(Update: Due to limited time I no longer offer this service.)
Hosting An Insta-Walk (£1000+)
I held an Insta-Walk in Sydney on behalf of Kodak Moments and it was such a fun way to simultaneously connect with local bloggers and offer a brand coverage on my blog in an innovative way. I pitched the client this idea as I thought it was more engaging than a sponsored post and it worked really well. I’d love to do more in future now that I have a new base in Melbourne.
So that’s the end of my massive post on this tough topic. I think I’ve covered off all the main monetization threads, although it can and does change every week. Is this pretty much what you imagined a travel blogger does for a living or have I mentioned anything you hadn’t considered?