Are you dreaming of making money, while doing what you love most: traveling to beautiful places? It was my dream too and have made it reality! And if I can do it, so can you :) And don't worry, you don't need to have a million followers on Instagram or millions of blog views, I started making money with my Instagram travel account from 2000 followers already. There are so many ways to make a side income or even fulltime income as a travel blogger/content creator and to make it easier for you, I've highlighted the best options below.
Before we're getting into the actual practical ideas, I just wanted to mention that this list is not a fast-track to making lots and lots of money. I know many articles and blog posts sell you unrealistic ideas that don't really make sense - and it's important to me to BE HONEST. Working and making money as a travel blogger requires investment, determination and constant out-of-the-box thinking. You're an entrepreneur, so you have to invest time and money in the beginning to maybe learn new skills, buy equipment, spend hours on Instagram or writing blog posts - real investment. The industry is also quite a competitive one, so you'll have to keep thinking creatively and keep on going to stand out. But you want to know the best part about this? NO ONE IS YOU, AND THAT IS YOUR POWER. You are your own product, so if you are you - you already stand out!
What I've learned over the past four years is that no matter how saturated the travel industry seems, it is never too late to start. Literally by being you, you already stand out from the rest!
#1 - Work as a photographer/videographer for hotels
The best way to make money while staying at beautiful hotels/B&Bs if you are able to make professional photos and/or reels. Hotels need photos and videos for their social media and websites all the time, so a really great way to being paid while traveling is to offer your services as photographer and/or videographer (aka content creator). Of course this requires time and investment by buying equipment & getting experience, but it takes less time than you might think! Especially now, when videos on social media are taking precedence over photos; all you need for that is your phone (if you have a good camera of course) and time practicing & editing videos. Offering your photography services is a bit more complicated than offering your video services, since you do need a professional camera, photography experience and editing skills as a minimum. However, on Skillshare and of course Youtube you can learn so much! In fact, I've taught myself photography & editing in Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere through these two platforms.
How to start? First, try to get lots of experience practicing and learning, then you can offer your services as a barter and after you have built a portfolio and enough experience - you can pitch to hotels for paid photography/videography work. Soon I'm writing a full guide about how to get collaborations with hotels, including pricing and how to make a media kit. Sign up here for my email newsletter to be the first to know.
Curious what equipment I use for my hotel & brand collaborations? Click here to check it out!
#2 - Write freelance travel articles & ghost write about your travels
Another great way to earn income while traveling is to write about it! There are two ways how to earn money writing: one is for online travel magazines & platforms and the other is to ghost write for someone else's travel blog.
You're probably familiar with The Culture Trip, TimeOut & Travel + Leisure, but did you know you can write freelance travel articles for these magazines? The Culture Trip & TimeOut are great options to get experience and create your portfolio, and they pay in some instances. Travel & Leisure pays well for every article, you can always send them your draft at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find more travel magazines that pay here. Next to travel magazines, you can also pitch to airline magazines, travel community websites and basically every travel related business with a blog or magazine. It involves a bit of creativity to find your clients, but it's a great wat to make money while traveling.
The easiest way to make money writing about your travels however, is to write blog posts for someone's travel blog! This is called ghost writing: you write - but your name will not be mentioned in the blog post. The blogger who hires you pays for your experience and expertise of the places and hotels you have visited! I personally love ghost writing, because the tone is more informal than writing for a magazine. On Fiverr and Upwork you can find lots of freelance writing work.
#3 - Sell your photos
Travel photographers' best kept secret! Love photography and always have memory cards full of beautiful photos of your travels? Why not sell them? All companies need stock photos for their websites and social media and since you are also selling the RIGHT to use your photos, it pays really well once you have a good amount of photos to sell. The best way to sell your photos is to join a third-party microstock website, like Shutterstock, 123RF, iStockPhoto, Alamy or Dreamstime. Personally, I really love Shutterstock! Rule here is, the larger your stock, the more you'll sell - the more money you'll get.
The best-selling photos are usually those with strong leading lines. Think landscape photos like flower fields or beachscapes with a pier - these are also my bestselling photos on Shutterstock.
#4 - Branded content & affiliates
Branded content is what people think bloggers make the most money with, but it actually isn't true for most of us on Instagram. It really depends on the niche, amount of followers and country you live in. In Israel for example, influencer marketing is not that developed yet and it's hard getting brands to actually pay for promotion instead of doing a barter. I personally rarely use this option to make money, because I want my account to be genuine and not a commercial for my followers. That being said, there are some brands I really love and know also add value to my followers, so happy to promote them! My advice is to pitch brands you really love and think are relevant to your audience with different priced packages, depending on your amount of followers and reach. Because it only makes sense that a brand pays more if your reach is higher! Be assertive with brands in showing them your data insights on Instagram regarding your audience and reach
Another great way to work with brands and make money is through affiliate marketing, when you get a percentage for every product that someone buys through your recommended link on Instagram or blog. Great affiliate platforms are Amazon and Booking as a travel blogger, but you can also reach out to hotels you've visited and other relevant brands for affiliate partnerships.
#5 - Create & sell your own products
One of the best ways to create an income while traveling is to sell your own products through Instagram and a web shop, which can either be your own shop, Etsy or Shopify. Popular products to sell are Lightroom presets (photo filters), video luts for VN, prints and courses/e-books.
The great way about this income is that it's passive. You invest time into creating the product, but once it's in the shop, it keeps selling because it's a digital product. Of course key in selling here is getting traffic to your shop, through social media, Google SEO and Pinterest.
It may look like a big investment in the beginning, but with patience and determination, selling your own products can be such a great source of income. Personally, about 20% of my income is from my presets and prints! Click here to check out my web shop.