I’ve been blogging for just over four years now, with probably three of those years at a more serious level. I’m often asked what that’s like, how I started, and how we got the blog to where it is today – helping us to see the world and, even better, getting paid to do so. It’s the dream, right?
Of course, like any dream, it takes a lot of hard work, frustration, mistakes, and learning. It’s also unlikely to make you rich, except in experience.
In today’s post I want to share some of my observations on what travel blogging is all about, where I think it’s likely going, how to turn it into a business with a liveable income and of course, how you can go about that yourself. First though:
What is a Professional Travel Blogger?
Sadly, the Oxford English Dictionary is a little light on the description as to what a travel blogger is. However, if we break it down into its constituent parts, it’s someone who has a “blog”, or online journal, largely focused on sharing the story of their travels.
Being a professional in my mind means two things. One, it means this is something that generates an income. Two, it means that you are in this for the long term, and can be expected to deliver a professional level of service to both your readers and any clients that you might have.
There are all sorts of ways to generate an income, and there are hugely varying opinions as to what a travel blogger *is*, varying from a journalism approach, through to writing more personal stories and tales.
In my mind, if you have your own website that you regularly update with articles about travel, then you have a travel blog. If it’s generating you an income, and you hold yourself to defined standards of conduct and ethical behaviour, then it’s a professional travel blog. Beyond that, we move into semantics, and before we know it we’ll be arguing about the difference between a traveller and tourist.
Let’s not do that, and instead look at:
Travel Blogging Tips and Tricks for Beginners
Find your passion
If you’re going to be doing something that isn’t going to be generating a tremendous return for a year or two then you need to be doing something that you enjoy.
I’m going to be honest, most blogs on the internet don’t survive very long, with the average life of a blog being something silly like a week, and one post.
This is often because people aren’t writing about what they are passionate about. If you’re passionate about something, you will find the time to do it, whatever your schedule, and your passion will come across in the content you create, meaning it will be engaging and interesting to your potential audience.
Travel blogging has a whole range of niches, from food, to budget, to luxury, to adventure, to family and more. We focus on photography on this site, because that’s where our passion lies. Find something you love doing, that you would keep doing even for zero reward, and build your blog around that.
One more reality check - if you don’t like travel, writing, photography, self-management, the regular feeling that no-one cares, as well as hard work for little reward, then travel blogging might not be for you. Starting out can be tough, with new blogs popping up every day, and there is no such thing as overnight success.
Write regularly, and well
Now, I am far from an expert in grammar, but I do my best, and Jessica and I work together on the posts to try and catch any glaring errors. Getting the basics right is important if you’re going to be seen as a trusted expert on your subject.
It’s also important to write regularly, or at least, consistently. There is no hard and fast rule as to how often to post, or even how long your posts should be – you need to come up with something that works for you. But you do need to keep at it, and you do need to be consistent if you want to build up an audience.
My personal suggestion would be not to overstretch yourself and commit to posting every day, but also keep it to at least a post a fortnight. You’ll find the most successful travel blogs tend to have a schedule that has content coming out one to five times a week, although there are naturally exceptions to that rule.
It’s all about the content
To be successful, you need to be putting out high quality content. As you get into blogging, and read advice on building an audience, you will hear people talking about things like search engine optimisation (SEO), using social media networks to drive traffic, and all sorts of tips and tricks for getting people to your site.
All these things have a place, but the most important thing you can do in order to be successful is to ensure that your content is the best it can be, every time you post something, to any network. Don’t just throw something up to meet some schedule you’ve invented. Make it your best, every time.
Keep putting out high quality content, and your audience will find you, they will grow, and they will keep coming back.
No-one is going to keep coming back to a site that has poor content. From your photos to your writing to your video – whatever content you share, always make it your best. No exceptions.
Define your goals
One great way to keep yourself on target and turn your blog from a hobby into a business is to set out a series of goals that you can track. The only person you are in competition with is you, and setting goals will ensure that you know you are doing well against your targets.
These goals will vary depending on your focus, but I’d advise setting goals around things like visitor traffic, social media statistics, income, mentions on other publications, and so on.
Make your goals specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time based (SMART!) for best results, and check back on yourself every few months to be sure you are on track and review accordingly.
Establish your niche / expertise
It is easier to be successful if you have a specific area of expertise that your blog focuses on, that over time results in you being the go-to place for certain things.
I will admit that we are not the best in terms of practicing what we preach on this one – we focus on our photography content as our niche, but pretty photography isn’t really niche in that way that luxury travel or adventure travel is. Oops.
Know your weaknesses
Not everyone is great at everything. You might be a whizz at writing and social media, but terrible at website design or time management. Figure out your strengths, and identify your weaknesses.
There are people out there who are good at the things you aren’t, and you can hire them to handle those things for you.
Pick your social media platforms
There are a lot of social media platforms, with a new one seeming to start every day. A trap that many seem to fall into is seeing social media as a way to drive traffic to a blog.
This is of course possible, but in my opinion, every social media platform should be seen as a place to reach a different audience, rather than a funnel. A funnel is only of value if you have something to sell at the other end. Raw traffic numbers mean very little without a reason for them.
Here are the five social media platforms I give the most weight to, in order of my personal preference. Social media can be overwhelming, and you can find yourself spread out, trying to cover too many bases, and not achieving what you want.
I’d advise picking at least three from the list and excelling on them.
- Facebook. Facebook is the most important social media platform, simply because it is where everyone is.
I apply what I call the “Mum” test to these platforms – i.e., does my mum use them? The answer for the rest of the platforms on this list is no, which indicates to me that however important we might think they are, the rest of the world probably doesn’t care that much.
Facebook is fantastic for reaching a wide audience, provides you with more data about that audience and how you are performing than any other social network, and for some reason, gets a terrible rap from some users about how awful it is as a result.
My tip for Facebook is the same as anywhere else – if you’re not getting results, take a good hard look at your content, and ensure it is top notch. I could go on about Facebook, but I wrote a book about it instead, which you can grab here for free.
- Instagram. As a photographer, I find Instagram to be a wonderful network. Focused on images, it can be used to share what’s going on in the world around you, or to tell stories from your adventures, both past and present. There’s an excellent guide from Photoshelter for using Instagram as a photographer, which you might find useful.
- Youtube. If you do video, you have to be on Youtube. It has a huge audience, gives you plenty of data on that audience, and even lets you monetize your content. A no-brainer.
- Twitter. I hold my hands up – Twitter is not my favourite social network. It’s a great tool for conversation and customer service, and is beloved by brands. I find it’s wonderful for asking airlines about late flights, or seeing what my favourite celebrity had for dinner, but as a travel blogger, I’m not a huge fan. Jodi from Legal Nomads is however, and you can see her tips for Twitter here.
- Google+. So Google decided to get in on this social media game, by launching their social network called Google+. Whilst I like the idea, and their fantastic photo tools, I remain unconvinced that Google+ has any kind of significant userbase. I’m on it because there are rumours it is good for search engine ranking, but I am yet to see any seriously compelling reason to use it as a primary platform.
- Pinterest. Pinterest currently falls into the category of “a social network I should be using more of, but don’t have the time to do so”. It’s a very visual platform, where great photos should shine. Some bloggers do very well out of it.
Finally, another trap that many fall into is pushing the same content out onto all the platforms. This isn’t the best way to go about social media, and will not give solid results. Each platform has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you should work to those.
Further reading: Liz from Young Adventuress has written a great post on how not to suck at social media, and another friend, Laurel Robbins, leads talks on getting the most out of social media in 15 minutes a day. In addition, Jodi of Legal Nomads has this excellent piece on being awesome on all sorts of social media channels.
Build a mailing list
Advice I wish I had followed from the start! If you look at the most successful bloggers out there, they tend to focus on two things - a great website with awesome content, and a mailing list of subscribers. Why? Because these are two things that you as a blogger can control.
Social media platforms are all well and good, but the reality is you have no control over them. One day, you could wake up to find they've switched the algorithm around, and suddenly no-one is seeing your content any more.
A blog is different. It's your castle, and no-one is going to be changing the rules on you. A mailing list is the same thing. A reader letting you e-mail them directly is a hugely powerful example of their trust in you, and it's a great channel to directly contact people. It's also a good way to sell products, down the line.
The best mailing list service I've found so far is Mailerlite. These guys are free up to your first 1,000 subscribers, and are the only service I found which come with an autoresponder system, letting you send automated e-mails, even on the free tier. Sign up here.
Just start already
When I started blogging, I ran a series of articles on this blog where I interviewed some of the most popular travel bloggers in the world, and asked them for their tips on how to run a successful travel blog. This was actually a fairly selfish endeavour, as I wanted to learn as much as possible, and asking the experts seemed like a good way to do that. You can check out that series here.
Overwhelmingly, when asked if there was anything they wish they had done differently with their blogs when starting out, these experts all expressed the opinion that they wished they had started earlier.
You can plan something forever – but the only way to make something succeed is to try. So fire up that free blogspot or Wordpress account, and start getting words to screen.
Getting your travel blog noticed
So you’ve written a few posts, you’ve shared some tweets and you have a facebook page. And your mum has e-mailed you to say how nice it all looks. Other than that, tumbleweed.
Welcome to blogging. You can spend hours on your content, push it out into the cosmos, and then sadly watch as the entire world happily ignores you, instead choosing to watch endless cat videos on YouTube.
Here are some things you can do about that.
Learn some SEO techniques
The most important thing you can do for your blog is to create great content. I think I mentioned that already, but it bears repeating. Great content will be discovered, and people will share it.
There are however some simple techniques you can use to ensure your posts are found and indexed by search engines, meaning that people will actually find your content if they’re looking for it.
SEO is a complex beast, and there’s a lot of misinformation out there – largely because the way that search engines actually work is a closely guarded secret.
My tip would be to write your posts well, make them easy for human readers to read through with plenty of paragraph breaks, clear heading titles, and links to other relevant content.
Then, ensure your site is registered with places like Google Webmaster Tools, where you will get feedback as to areas you can improve, and of course track your stats with Google Analytics, so you can see where your traffic is coming from.
For further reading, check out the official Google Webmaster blog, and the Moz Blog, both of which have a wealth of useful information, from meta data best practice through to optimising for mobile devices.
Become part of the community
There is a huge blogging community out there, and a lot of support and advice that you can tap into, often for free, sometimes for money.
All of them have many members who will chime in on questions and dispense advice. My advice for anyone looking for free advice in a group like the above is three fold:
- One – read the rules of any group you join. Breaking the rules with your first post is bound to annoy other community members and is unlikely to result in you getting the answers you need.
- Two – take on board all the advice you are given, but don’t take anything as gospel. What works for one, might not work for another, so try and get a number of opinions and figure out what applies best to you. There is no one right way to do anything.
- Three – try and give back as much as you can. If you join a group and see an opportunity to help someone out, go for it. Over time, you might even become recognised as an expert in a particular field, and before you know it, you’ll be able to sell your services to other interested parties.
There are other communities as well, including those on Google+, content sharing groups on Triberr, and those which come as part of association membership or conference attendance, which are tackled a little further down.
Get known for something
One way to get noticed is to get known as being an expert at something. If you’re looking for a budget travel expert, most people would instantly think of Matt Kepnes, the blogger behind Nomadic Matt. Couples Adventure Travel? The Planet D. Fixing broken blogs? Chris Richardson. Story telling? Mike Sowden.
Carving out a name for yourself as an expert in an area, either through regular participation in groups like those previously mentioned, or by specifically targeting it on your blog or social media channels, will over time result in you being the go-to person for quotes, articles and commentary on related activity.
Invest in your product
A blog is a business, and like any business, you have to spend money to make money.
This could be anything from hiring someone to design you a professional looking website, to a social media manager, to someone to help out with your personal branding, to something as simple as getting business cards printed.
In addition, don’t underestimate the important of learning. There are a number of courses you can take to help you take your blogging and content creation to the next level. I'd recommend the following two options:
- Nomadic Matt's Travel Blogging Course. Matt's easily the world's most successful (and profitable!) travel blogger, and what he doesn't know about travel blogging probably isn't worth knowing. This course will pay for itself many times over.
- My Travel Photography Course. Sorry, this is a shameless plug! I truly believe that having great images on a blog make it stand out, and investing in your photography skill is critical to succeeding. I wrote this course to share everything I know about photography, and am incredibly proud of it. Ok, no more self-promotion, I promise.
There are countless resources and options out there that will let you improve both your personal knowledge, and the product you are offering. Just check around first to be sure that you aren’t paying for information that you might be able to pick up for free.
Write guest posts
One excellent way to get your name known is to write posts for other sites. This is a particularly good way to get yourself known as an expert in a topic. I, for example, have written a number of guest posts for other sites on the subject of travel photography, and it’s a topic I have spoken about at various conferences.
Whilst guest posting has had a black mark over it of late due to Google penalising folks for poor quality attempts at building links in order to improve their search engine results (see sponsored posts below), it is still a good way to reach a new audience if you find the right blogs to post on.
When reaching out to a fellow blogger, ensure that they accept guest posts, and approach them politely with your pitch. Don’t fire off a generic pitch e-mail to hundreds of bloggers and expect a positive response – offer something of value tailored to their audience, and you are likely to get a more favourable response.
Attend conferences and travel shows
A great option for upping your game and getting noticed is to attend a conference or event. There are two distinct types of event to consider:
Travel Blogging Conferences:
Travel blogging conferences are aimed specifically at travel bloggers, and feature workshops and training experiences to help you improve your skillset in all the relevant fields, from content creation through to social media management and working with brands. They also offer opportunities for networking and meeting with brands.
The largest and, in my mind, most useful travel blogging conference to attend, especially when starting out, is the Travel Bloggers Exchange, or TBEX.
This happens twice a year, once in Europe and once in North America, and attracts a great many travel bloggers and brands. The networking opportunities are fantastic, and there are some excellent opportunities to learn at the various workshops. I was thrilled to speak at TBEX Dublin in 2013, and will be speaking at TBEX Athens 2014 also.
There are a number of other travel blogging conferences, with some, such as the PTBA conference, or the Social Travel Summit that just happened in Leipzig, offering smaller, more specialised or more advanced topics, for when you want to take it to the next level. But as a starting point, I can highly recommend TBEX.
Travel Trade Shows
Travel Trade Shows are enormous events, usually held once a year, and unlike travel blogging conferences, they are focused on the entire travel industry, with representatives from travel brands around the world in attendance.
They are fantastic opportunities for networking and getting your brand in front of the travel industry. Some simple tips for getting the most out of these events:
- Dress appropriately – these are business events.
- Plan your schedule in advance, and schedule meetings with the people you really want to meet beforehand.
- Take plenty of business cards, and know what your pitch is going to be, as well as the value you offer.
- Be polite, don’t be pushy, but be clear about what you want and what you can offer.
Some Dos and Don’ts of Travel Blogging
So that was how to get noticed. I figured, based on my experiences, that you might like a list of dos and don’ts for travel blogging. In no particular order:
Don’t judge yourself by the success of others
This is a really easy trap to fall into, particularly as you are likely going to be spending a fair amount of time on social media.
The only person you should be measuring your success against is yourself and the goals you have set yourself. There will always be those who are doing better, and those who are doing worse – it’s called life.
The problem with social media is that people tend to share the more positive things, and as you participate in the travel blogging community more and more, and start to make friends, your social feeds might start to fill with success stories from those you follow.
Don’t ever let these things get you down. You might feel left out, or passed over, or that someone less deserving than you has got something that you should have got.
The truth is: everyone has worked hard to get where they are. The best thing you can do is be pleased for them, and try to learn from what they have achieved. Then, get on with doing your own thing.
Success will come, but it is never overnight, and despite what it may look like on social media, always comes after hard work.
Do be professional
The word Professional is in this blog post for a reason. If you want to be taken seriously as a travel blogger, content creator, or whatever, then you need to behave in a professional manner.
If you commit to doing something – do it.
If you don’t feel that something is right for you or your audience – don’t do it.
If you turn up to do work for a client, remember that it *is* work. You are not on holiday, you are not a celebrity – you are there to fulfil a function, and are part of a larger effort to meet a goal. It’s not rocket science, but it is important.
Don’t abuse the trust of your readers
A travel blogger is nothing without an audience – that’s you out there, right now, reading this.
You trust that what Jessica and I write on this blog is based on our opinion, rather than marketing dollars. Sure, we work with companies from time to time. We might get paid to take trips, or share products with you.
But the bottom line is that you have to trust that we are only sharing our honest opinion with you. If something isn’t right for us, or we don’t feel it’s right for you, then we turn it down. And we always disclose any arrangement where we have received some form of compensation.
If you don’t trust that, then we are essentially of no value to you, and a travel blogger with no audience is of no value to anyone.
Do set out a code of ethics for yourself
Speaking of trust, a good idea is to set out a personal code of ethics, and stick to it. This might be things like promising to deliver within a certain timeframe, or always to make it clear up front when something is paid for, rather than hidden on a disclosure page somewhere.
Whatever your personal code of ethics for your blog might be, and whether you choose to share it with your readers, setting one out up front may help protect you from making poor short term decisions that affect the longer term viability of your blog.
Don’t believe the hype
This one is much like professionalism.
When you have been on a hosted trip or two, you will notice that you are likely treated very well. You’ll be put up in nice hotels, fed gorgeous food, and taken on spectacular adventures.
You might start to believe that you are special, that you are an important person, that you deserve five star treatment.
Of course the destinations and people you work with will want to show you a great time, because if you have a great time, then you are more likely to write good things about where you’ve been. And let’s be honest – it’s not hard to write great things when your job is based around travel.
Sometimes, though, things will not go to plan. The wi-fi might not work. The plane might be late. The activity might not be available.
This is not the point at which to throw a giant hissy fit on Twitter and demand that your bowl of brown M&M’s be brought to you Right This Instant Or Else.
Things go wrong, you have to deal with it, and tackle it as a professional. Sure, if the service is terrible and the attraction awful, then you owe it to your readers to share that. Honesty and integrity are vitally important. But behaving like a spoilt brat when everyone is doing their best will do your profession a disservice, and won’t do your personal reputation in the travel industry any favours either.
Do keep at it
Think of some big names in Travel Blogging. Want to know what makes them stand out above all else? It’s easy. They’ve likely been going for longer than anyone else.
Like anything, building a name for yourself and acquiring a reputation takes time and effort. The longer you go at something, the more likely you are to succeed. It might take one, two, three, or even more years for you to start getting where you want to be.
Don’t give up. The most successful blogs have been at this for a long time, and you’ve got a fair bit of catch up to play.
Do get your own domain name and get a decent website design
If you want to be taken seriously, you need a nice looking website, and your own domain name.
MyTravelBlog.Blogspot.com isn’t going to cut it I’m afraid – you’ll look like a hobbyist.
Like everything – there are exceptions to the rule, but generally, getting your own domain name and a nice website design will help you immeasurably.
Do keep learning
No matter how much you know, there is always something new to learn, and new people to learn it from. Thankfully, the internet is full of advice, tips and courses on how to do things, from mastering YouTube to photo editing, much of which is free.
Beyond that there are conferences, groups, classes, communities, talks, books – you name it, someone is likely doing it.
If you want to learn, and however you do that best, there will be an option out there for you.
How to make money
Ah, the perennial question! How do you make money from a travel blog? The answer isn’t entirely simple, and usually involves a number of factors, depending on your site and your personal skillset.
Here are some ideas to start you off, followed by some additional reading at the end.
You see that sidebar down the side of the site? Some of those positions are paid for ad placements. We try not to run too many, and they don’t generate a huge income, but every little helps!
Banner advertising rates tend to be linked to traffic, so when you’re starting out you won’t be able to charge very much. Programs like Google Adwords are likely a good place as any to get started.
Affiliate marketing is a system where you recommend a product, and if someone buys that product, you get a commission. This works for all sorts of products, from hotel rooms through to goods sold on Amazon.
These can work well particularly if you offer an incentive to your users – for example, if you sign up to AirBnB using this link – you get up to $100 in AirBnB credit, and I get $25 AirBnB credit. Everyone wins. Uber have a similar program - sign up here and you get $20 towards your first ride.
The best results are for blog posts which are full of information, where the visitor is in a purchasing sort of mood, having run a search for something specific in Google for example.
So say someone is wondering about what gear to take to the Galapagos, or what to pack as a digital nomad – they are looking for answers, and might then want to purchase directly based on your recommendation.
Unless you spend a lot of time optimising posts to rank highly in search results though, affiliate programs aren’t likely to generate a huge income, but it all adds up, and some bloggers do have tremendous success with these programs.
Product placement / partnerships
A growing area for travel bloggers to generate an income is to partner with a brand and promote it to their audience. This can be in the form of posts on site talking about the product / brand, sharing content to social media related to the brand, and so on.
As with all partnerships that involve money, I believe it’s important to disclose this to your readers up front – a legal requirement in many countries.
These partnerships are also generally only effective when partnering with brands or products that are relevant to the blogs audience – a budget travel blog for example likely wouldn’t offer much of value to a private jet charter service.
Another way to generate income is to run sponsored posts, or what is sometimes referred to as “native advertising”. This comes in two forms, and can be content written by a third party or by the blogger to be hosted on the blog.
The first type of sponsored post takes the form of a blog post, just like any other, which aims to reach your audience, with the goal of raising awareness of a brand or product.
The second type of sponsored post has nothing to do with your audience, and is a way of gaming Google in order to improve the ranking of specific search queries in Google’s results.
Accepting money for posts which aim to manipulate search engine results is specifically against Google’s webmaster guidelines, and if caught, the offending blog runs the risk of being penalised by Google, and in a worse case scenario, being removed from Google’s results entirely.
You can see those guidlelines outlined here, as well as some suggestions for best practice. It’s up to you what you do with your site, of course.
Finally, and this is a way to create money both on and off-site, some bloggers have created products based on their areas of expertise, which they sell to their readers. These can be virtual products like eBooks or apps, or physical products like clothing or printed books. If you’re creative and have a great idea, you might find your audience will love it too!
Speak to many travel bloggers, and you will quickly realise that the travel blog is not necessarily where they directly generate their revenue – it’s more like an online portfolio from where work can be generated. Ideas for the type of work are:
If you’re running a blog, chances are you have a decent idea on how to create good content, be that video, photography or text. These services can be of tremendous value to brands, who are always on the lookout for good content for their social media streams or blogs.
If you can set yourself up as a freelance content creator in one or more of these areas, using your blog as your virtual “CV”, then you could start to generate a decent income.
Social media leverage and training
Most bloggers, over time, start to become pretty adept at social media. This blog’s Facebook page, for example, has a highly engaged following of over 500,000 fans. That sort of following is of tremendous interest to brands, for two reasons:
- You can share relevant content to your audience
- You can advise brands as to how to improve their own social media presence, based on your experience running your social media accounts
Both of the above offer opportunities for revenue generation.
As previously mentioned, I have spoken at a number of conferences and events, including TBEX, TDB Italy and the Arabian Travel Market, a travel trade show in Dubai.
Whilst none of those has been a paid opportunity, if speaking publically is something you are interested in, it is something you can turn into a fee-earner, given sufficient experience and expertise in a subject.
Travel advice and tours
Finally, some travel bloggers offer advice to their readers in the form of helping them to arrange travel itineraries. Nomadic Matt and Wandering Earl offer full tours, helping travellers to experience the places that they have visited, know and love.
Further Reading on Money Making
Finally, because I don’t know everything, here are some other perspectives on making an income whilst travelling:
- Stephanie Yoder writes how she makes money when travelling
- Wandering Earl shares his long term travel income tips
- Talon Windwalker explains how he funds his long term family travel
- Caz and Craig share how they make money travel blogging
- Clelia Mattana shares her top 3 strategies for monetizing a travel blog
Whew. That was a lot of information. To top it all off, I just want to include some other posts from some great bloggers, as well as some resources and communities that you should consider joining if you want to take your blog to the next level.
Advice from other travel bloggers
- Amanda from A Dangerous Business wrote her thoughts on Life as a Travel Blogger
- Liz from Young Adventuress wrote: So you want to be a travel blogger, do you?
- Liz also wrote: How not to suck at social media
- Kate of Adventurous Kate wrote: How to Start a Travel Blog
- Kate also wrote about the Reality of being a Professional Travel Blogger
- Micki Kosman also wrote about How to become a Professional Travel Blogger
- Kia of Atlas and Boots has a more technical and editorially focused guide to Starting a Travel Blog
- I also interviewed nearly 30 leading travel bloggers on this site for their advice on travel blogging. Find those interviews here.
Networks and associations to join
I would recommend joining all the free options below and spending a bit of time on each creating a profile. The more of these you join, the higher your chance of finding paid opportunities. I have noted against each one how well they have worked for me, although your results will likely vary.
- TapInfluence – TapInfluence is a network to connect networks with brands. You connect all your networks and share examples of past posts, and the site creates a mini-media kit for you. You can also set your minimum rates for projects. Thus far, this has been the best free network in terms of projects for me. Once connected, sponsors can reach out to you for partnership opportunities. Free to join for bloggers, so a no-brainer in my mind. Sign up here.
- themidgame – this is also a project which aims to connect travel bloggers with sponsors and help monetize their blogs.
It’s very well laid out and easy to navigate, allowing you to connect all your social media networks to your profile and easily demonstrate your reach and audience demographics in an easy to understand way to potential sponsors
Once connected, sponsors can reach out to you for partnership opportunities, and as a blogger you can also apply for opportunities, with the potential to earn an income. Also free to join for bloggers. Sign up here. I have had limited success so far on this network, but largely because the opportunities weren't a great fit.
- Bloggerbridge – initially launched as a side project to TBEX, this has now grown to be a standalone database of travel bloggers. Again, you can connect your social media channels and outline your interests so that industry members can connect with you, with the added benefit that it connects to TripIt so potential sponsors can see your upcoming trips. Also free to join for bloggers. I have had some free trips from this platform, but nothing paid as yet.
- SocialPubli - a relatively new offering, this site has some major brands on board, but is currently only focused on Instagram, Twitter and Youtube. If you have strong followings on those networks, it's worth checking out.
- The Professional Travel Bloggers Association. Of those listed, this is the only one which is not for profit, and is run by bloggers for bloggers. It also has minimum requirements for membership. I should point out that I’m the President Elect of this association at time of writing.
As with the above, again you can connect your social media accounts and be found by industry members, but the PTBA also exists to help further the travel blogging profession, providing speakers at industry events and offering a community for support and advice. $75 for a yearly membership as a blogger. I have had a number of projects, press trips and speaking opportunities as a result of my PTBA membership, which has paid itself over many times.
- Cooperatize. I've only recently heard of this one. It's a system for connecting brands with bloggers for paid opportunities, specifically for pushing out sponsored (nofollowed!) content to your audience. It allows you to connect all your social media networks, as well as specify your niche and pricing to ensure a good fit. It's free to join, and they take a commission on projects.
- Linqia. Another system for connecting brands with bloggers for paid opportunities, to date this been the second best free network for me, with payment based on both reach and results. Free to join.
I would certainly recommend joining all of the above in order to maximise your chances of connecting with the travel industry and earning an income.
Courses and online communities
- Travel Blogging 101 course by Amanda from Dangerous Business
- Travel Blog Success - an online training course and support community to help you take your travel blog to the next level.
- The Travel Bloggers Facebook group
- We Travel We Blog Facebook group – smaller group for beginning to intermediate bloggers
And that is it for my tips on becoming a professional travel blogger! Sold on the idea? Head on over to my Essential Packing List for Digital Nomads so you know what gear to pack for your journey! Finally, please note that some of the links in this post generate a small affiliate income to me if you use them, at no cost to you. I've listed every resource I find useful though, regardless of whether or not there is an affiliate earning.