It’s possibly the millennium’s most romantic job — and the most misunderstood.
Thousands of travel-loving pragmatists are sitting at their desks right now wondering how to quit their jobs and become professional travel bloggers. It’s possibly the millennium’s most romantic job — and the most misunderstood. I know because I’m a travel blogger.
I quit my day job in 2012 and haven’t once looked back. The fact is that I’m not just a travel blogger though. I’m a web designer, journalist, photographer, copywriter, marketing manager, print designer, social media strategist, TV host, and consultant as well. I’ve been making money doing those things for a lot longer than I have been blogging.
I started a travel blog, The Guam Guide, as a culmination of all those career skills. It has since become my bread and butter. Just this year, I launched Global Girl Travels. I do make more than I ever have, but I also share a salary with my husband who is my sales manager (couldn’t do it without him!). I also employ a team of subcontractors. That makes my net income significantly less than my gross earnings. Still, I’m not complaining. I love my job. I can’t imagine not being my own boss or not traveling regularly. Join me and learn about more be your own boss jobs.
There are as many ways to make money as a travel blogger as there are hours in the day, so I reached out to a variety of full-time travel bloggers to ask rude questions such as, How much do you get paid? What’s your most profitable product or service? I also did my own research, sourcing interviews with popular bloggers and reading their bios. Here’s what I found.
|Y Travel Blog
The Guam Guide / Global Girl Travels
|Caz and Craig Makepeace
|“Six figures” per year
Gary Arndt revealed to me that it took five years of blogging for his blog to become profitable. His most profitable product? Sponsorships. He announced last month that he’s getting off the road and will not be traveling full-time anymore. I’ve noticed a few popular travel bloggers making the same announcement, including Brooke Saward of World of Wanderlust who intended to settle down in Germany (but ended up with restless feet).
There are lots of reasons why I don’t travel full-time. Stay tuned to Global Girl Travels… In a future post, I will share these reasons, plus the key to my success in this industry.
*Updated since original publishing
Watch the episode of GGT TV about this.
December 12, 2014 at 12:08 pm
I’ve been blogging about travel for almost five years now and haven’t really even tried to make my blog profitable. It would be nice, but I am torn between what minimal profit I think I could make and how ads and sponsors would change the tone and tenor of the blog. I suppose there is also a degree of ignorance as to how to make money. If I could blog full time and feed my family, I would though. The biggest obstacle, I think, is balancing between the job that feeds the family and also allows me to travel, being present with the family, having adventures worth blogging about and also making a reasonably well put together blog. I’ll keep going as long as it is fun and interesting regardless of profit, but profit sure would be nice.
December 12, 2014 at 1:06 pm
Eric, thanks for the thoughtful reply. It’s scary taking the plunge from a secure job to being self-employed. Kudos to you for putting your family first. 🙂 I’m going to outline the steps I took in future blog posts.
December 12, 2014 at 3:09 pm
This was such an interesting read – I never realised how lucrative the travel blogging market was, although given the competition it must take quite a few years to reach that point. It’s so awesome that you’ve been able to do so though!
Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
December 13, 2014 at 1:51 pm
Yes, it takes years for most travel bloggers to make money, but nevermind the competition — there’s plenty of opportunity for the travel blogger market to expand.
December 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm
I am definitely interested in the topic but I feel like I’m thinking about it in a different way. I want to do something I am passionate about. Something that will keep me interested and keep me learning. I love travel and how it forces you outside your comfort zone and makes you grow as a person. I also studied Media & PR is college and would love to make something of that. Currently I don’t have a job since we just moved to Europe, but my husband does have a full-time position. So, I spend my time learning about this travel blogging world and thinking of what I could write about that people might be interested in, while at the same time, simply sharing our experiences. So much goes into blogging that I had no idea about until I really started focusing on it that it takes so much time! So, I’m still learning and maybe one day it might make me a little bit.
December 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm
Hi Jessica. Yes, passion is key because the business of blogging is tedious and there are times I’ve wanted to give up. My love of travel, writing, and photography keeps me going. Your media background should help quite a bit — half of blogging is promoting your content.
December 13, 2014 at 8:37 am
Wow, I’ve honestly always wondered the answer to that question, and HOW you all are able to travel/blog/make an income all the time. It’s an area my photographer husband is super interested in, but neither of us have time/funds to travel much and run a popular blog, like those listed above. Sure, I blog about our small trips around Peru, but am a nobody blog basically, so there’s no way I could get sponsorships or income for my small blog. I feel bad saying this, but sometimes travel bloggers make me jealous with the amazing places they travel to! They also make me really happy though, because I can live vicariously through photos and stories and see places I may never get to see in real life 🙂
December 13, 2014 at 1:39 pm
Hi Mere. Travel bloggers make me jealous sometimes and I’m one of them! Travel blogging is like any business — what you put in is what you get out. It does take a huge investment of time and money, as I think any travel blogger would admit. The great thing is that you can start small and develop your writing and photography skills as you go. Keep at it!
December 13, 2014 at 9:41 am
Thanks for sharing. It looks easy to start a travel blog, but being able to make enough money to live on each month is tough. Plus there are so many people trying to start travel blogs nowadays that it’s difficult to get your name out there and noticed.
December 13, 2014 at 1:37 pm
Hi Eden. Yes, I would say the market is pretty saturated with bloggers, but I think there’s still room for unique travel bloggers. The key is finding your voice and your niche, then finding like-minded readers to connect with.
December 13, 2014 at 2:05 pm
Interesting article, thank you, I’d never expect to be a big earner but it would be nice if my little hobby could fund itself and maybe cover a conference every now and then. Will watch out for your future articles.
December 13, 2014 at 2:31 pm
Hi Toni. You’re welcome. Having your travel blog cover your travel expenses means it’s profitable. That’s a good goal.
December 16, 2014 at 7:00 pm
Very interesting to read your story and about earning for traveling. It is a dream of mine too and I hope one day I can do this, just like you and the others 🙂
December 18, 2014 at 10:57 am
I’ll be adding posts about the steps I took (and the mistakes to avoid) to make travel blogging my career. Thanks for reading, Floortje!
December 16, 2014 at 10:36 pm
Interesting to see the numbers 😉 Thanks for sharing this.
December 18, 2014 at 10:54 am
You’re welcome. Thanks for reading.
December 17, 2014 at 1:47 pm
I love your blog! I am just getting into blogging since I started traveling last year. Hope to do more of it. I would love to make a little profit but I am not expecting big numbers since I am very new to this. Please add more posts about how to make a blog successful! Thank you ♥
December 18, 2014 at 10:54 am
Thank you, Hilda! I will have a new post on Friday about finding your niche in travel blogging. Stay tuned!
December 24, 2014 at 3:13 pm
Thanks for this incredibly informative post and congratulations on all of the hard work you put into your blog to make it so successful! I look forward to hearing more about all that you did to make blogging your full-time job, since that’s my ultimate goal – someday!
December 29, 2014 at 8:16 am
Hi Jessica. First of all, I love your blog design. I’m following you now. I’m going to read your posts about packing! Yes, stay tuned to this space as I have a lot more to write about the steps to turn your blog into a full-time job.
December 29, 2014 at 3:29 pm
Thank you so much! I’ve really enjoyed your blog as well. I’m following you too, so I look forward to keeping in touch and trading travel tips!
December 31, 2014 at 6:20 am
I think one of the key things about travel blogging, or blogging in general, is not to go in it with the intention of making money. I started my blog just as a personal escape and a way to reflect on the amazing trips I’ve had. I’m also a huge music fan, so my blog focuses on that as well. Its a fun hobby! And of course, everyone’s dream is to get paid for doing their hobby! I would love to make some money off of my travel blog, but honestly right now I’m just loving looking through old pictures to find which ones to post, and revisiting my memories and journal entries!
This was so interesting though! Can’t wait to read about how one can make a profit from doing something like this! I would LOVE that! And I would love to continue to do this long-term.
December 31, 2014 at 12:03 pm
That’s true. Some people blog as a hobby and that’s fine too. Either way, you’ve got to have a passion for it to keep going. I secretly love reading my old blog posts too!
January 10, 2015 at 5:12 am
Thanks for the feature here, you just made a small typo. My last name is Iovino (not Lovino).
Speaking of blogging…It’s hard but not impossible to make money and live off a travel blog. Deliver your best content and promote your stuff like crazy. It took me exactly one year to make a full time income, now after 2 years I live well from my blog earning pretty much what you stated above (good research, hehe). I’m making most through sponsorshops, affiliates and banner advertising. I’m working a lot to maintain my blog, hope in the future I can work less and travel more. Cheers from Chiang Mai!
PS: Love your blog design! Not many blogs out there that are well done such as yours!
January 12, 2015 at 12:10 pm
Hi Sab! Thanks for weighing in on the subject and the kind words about my design.
January 11, 2015 at 7:24 am
Thank you for this post, I am shocked to see a travel blogger can make six figures/year!
Contrarily to what most people say and advocate, I created my blog with the clear intention of turning blogging into a full-time job. Right now, I am struggling to keep the balance between a full-time job and blogging, but I want to continue until I know the blog is ready for the “next level”. Will get there some day, hopefully!
January 12, 2015 at 12:12 pm
Thanks for your comment. I didn’t quit my job right away either. It was definitely a struggle to work and blog FT, so I saved as much as I could and once I saw the blogging potential, I jumped ship. It takes careful planning, for sure, so I will be posting more about the steps I took.
January 13, 2015 at 6:18 pm
I guess my struggle is to pinpoint exactly when to jump ship.
Looking forward to your next posts 🙂
May 26, 2015 at 8:24 pm
I’m there right now! This post is inpiring! Next year I will leave my 9-5 job and blog full time. I’m so excitend but scared at the same time
May 27, 2015 at 12:15 am
Sara, that is exciting. No risk, no reward, right?
May 27, 2015 at 12:39 am
That’s so true! And I always wanted to follow my dreams and fight for them! So here we go!
February 18, 2015 at 8:46 pm
It’s interesting to hear that a rather remote place like Guam can draw so much attention and a site about it can generate substantial income!
February 19, 2015 at 2:10 pm
I think the key was that there was no English guide to Guam (there were Japanese websites). I saw the opportunity and filled the niche with TheGuamGuide.com, which is multi-language.
February 19, 2015 at 1:52 pm
That’s insane. I mean, good kind of insane! Well done all!
I’ve been “blogging” for 3mths & nowhere near the traffic I want to be, before I even consider any advertising/sponsorships. Any further tips would be great…even if I can make an equivalent to part-time income out of blogging would be rewarding enough.
February 19, 2015 at 2:11 pm
Hi Ailene. Yes, website traffic is important, but don’t forget to count social media followers and engagement (likes, comments, shares). Those are part of your total reach.
March 2, 2015 at 5:25 pm
I knew ytravelblog was popular. I didn’t know it was that popular. Building a buzz around travel blog is hard especially if you lack marketing skills and new to blogging world. I have recently started blogging my travel tales at my blog. And i have miles to go before i monetize it. Thanks for sharing these stats.
March 18, 2015 at 9:53 pm
Abi, what you said is sobering and true. I have a marketing/journalism background. It can still be done if you don’t — you’ll just need to hire someone to help you. Elance.com is a good place to start.
March 20, 2015 at 4:57 am
Something I’ve wondered about often. 🙂 Thanks for this post! Great to see full-time travel bloggers doing so well, and more power to them all!
March 20, 2015 at 2:39 pm
I wondered too which is why I did the research about other bloggers. Glad it was helpful to you.
June 19, 2015 at 3:39 pm
Awesome!! Thank you for posting. It’s nice to know that every single travel blogger started with zero followers, zero posts, zero $. This post is super inspiring. It’s all what you make and create!
I’m curious to see how much bloggers like adventurous kate and the blonde abroad make? Any ideas? xx
July 16, 2015 at 5:01 pm
Hi. Yes, we all pretty much start from zero. Travel blogging is a huge investment of time and money and you never know if it’s really going to pay off.
July 15, 2015 at 7:01 am
Great article, my little two cents here is similar to that of Sab’s, my travel blog certainly doesnt have anywhere near the traffic I would like it to nor what others have but I am successfully funding my trips and travel, as its still in its early stages the key for me to earn a living is to work with companies and offer them a unique product through my photography, I am a motorsport photography as well, specifically I photograph the World Rally Championship, what I have done is successfully incorporate my travels for the WRC with other travel in between, right now I am typing this in the Alps of Poland documenting my 18 days through Poland between rallies, I contact rental companies, various accommodation, photography gear companies and tourism boards and anyone else who might be interested and produce content for them based on where I am going, so far its working perfectly, I think a lot of people expect everything to be thrown at them and for companies to contact them left right and centre, I have learned that doesnt happen, you either chase or you miss out, I have a 3 week trip to Iceland in Nov/Dec this year and pretty much the entire trip is funded by companies who want content and similar to the expert vagabond I am also an ambassador for a number of companies which helps a great deal.
July 16, 2015 at 5:05 pm
Hi Michael. Thanks for your comment. I did the same thing for Iceland — contacted every tour company, tourism bureau, hotel, and campervan rental to get most of my travel expenses paid for. It’s usually up to the blogger to reach out to companies, like you said.
November 14, 2015 at 8:45 am
Brooke Saward bought an apartment in Berlin for 2 months and only lived there for 10 days during that lease because it didnt feel like home. She never liked it so please update this with correct facts.
November 17, 2015 at 12:14 pm
Thanks for the update.
August 26, 2016 at 2:16 am
It most certainly is a “romantic” line of “work.” I’ve really enjoyed perusing your posts and reading your travel articles. The combination of interesting travel, quality content (advice, guides, etc.), and beautiful photography on Global Girl Travels is exactly what I’ve been wanting to create of my own for so long. I haven’t delved into it just yet, but I hope to soon. Thank you for doing what you do, Jessica!
March 17, 2017 at 2:05 pm
Thank you for sharing this. I write my travel blog as a hobby and it probably remain that way. The whole traffic driving thing is very stressful. Suffice to say that it is way harder than my day job. I can’t quite see myself working as a full time blogger though. I think pro bloggers are very brave souls who require no sleep *LOL*
March 27, 2017 at 1:10 pm
True comment! There are definitely non-creative aspects of blogging that I don’t enjoy. I’ve had to learn to turn it off and get some sleep but that’s hard when you first get started.
June 19, 2017 at 2:29 am
Jessica, this is such a motivation! My plans & efforts are still at a very very nascent stage, but I am in it passionately. Articles like yours keep new ones like me highly motivated. Am sure it will require a lot of efforts, skills and perseverance, but where is it not.
Thanks again and I wish you and all the travelers the very best for their endeavors. One day am sure I will be able to give up my full time job and go traveling full time.
August 27, 2017 at 8:00 am
Awesome article. thanks for sharing
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