I’ve always been hesitant to blog about blogging because the majority of my site’s readers aren’t interested in the subject. But, because I enjoy reading and discussing blogging, I’ve chosen to launch a blog series that will be independent from my normal work.
These posts will not be promoted on my main page or shared on my blog’s Facebook page, but you can find them under “Blogging” in my navigation menu, on Bloglovin’, or by subscribing to my dedicated blogging newsletter.
September 2019 update
In my 2016 review piece, I casually (haha, not really) noted that I would be writing full-time beginning in January 2017. And then my email was inundated with one question: does this imply I’ll be leaving Norway?
I love writing, but I love my life in Norway even more, and if I couldn’t earn enough money blogging, I’d surely pick up a part-time work here to supplement my income – in fact, that’s what I did all last year. Which begs the issue, how are Vloggers compensated?
I recognised last autumn that I was starting to generate enough money from blogging to sustain myself here.
Norway isn’t the cheapest country in the world to live in, and I used to think that if I wanted to work online, I’d have to move to Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia, but eventually I realised that earning a Norwegian income through my blog wasn’t such an impossible goal after all – it just required treating my blog less like a hobby and more like a business.
I’ve been writing for approximately three years (I started Heart My Backpack on January 17, 2014!) It wasn’t until this year that I started making any serious money from it.
While the Internet is replete with “How I Earn Money Travel Blogging” postings, I still have the impression that the entire industry is wrapped in mystery.
We’re all aware that there are many professional Vloggers out there, but few people seem to grasp how Vloggers get compensated.
It took me a long time to figure out how much to charge for sponsored pieces, how to create passive revenue streams that paid more than a few cents per month, and how to monetize my site without losing its essence.
So, while this is just an overview, and each of these subjects might be its own blog post (and perhaps will be! ), I’m going to try to be as specific as possible here to give you a sense of how I’m now generating enough money to, like, not starve.
And, as a point of comparison, currently now (September 2019), my blog has over 350,000 page views each month, and I have approximately 200,000 followers on social media.
How Vloggers Make Money
So, I know a lot of Vloggers despise display advertisements, but I actually like them! Because many of the news sites I follow use them, I’m already accustomed to them as a reader, and because I don’t want to take on more than one or two sponsored pieces each month, display advertisements are a wonderful method to monetize my other blog entries.
I began with Google Adsense, which only pays when someone clicks on an ad, and eventually built up ad cascades with a few various ad networks like as Sovrn, LiveBurst, and Google Adsense, but now I use Mediavine for all of my advertisements.
I make about $20 every 1,000 sessions on Mediavine on average (revenue per thousand impressions, or RPM). Companies spend the most for advertisements in the fourth quarter and the least in the first quarter (so January is the lowest earning month).
Your RPM with Mediavine will also vary depending on where your readers are coming from – usually, the bigger percentage of your readers are in the US, the more money you’ll make, because Mediavine is located in the US and the majority of its advertisers are American.
So I have pals who make around $30 every 1,000 sessions, while some make around $10.
You must have 50,000 monthly sessions to join Mediavine, which appears to be a decent threshold for having advertising on your site anyhow because anything less than that is unlikely to earn you enough money to make them useful.
Edit: Many people have wrote me asking for my personal opinion on Mediavine, and I would absolutely recommend joining their network if you match the page view criterion (and if you don’t, I’ve written more about expanding blog traffic here).
They give you a lot of control over how many ads you have on your site and where they’re placed, they’re refreshingly transparent about everything they do – you can see a breakdown of how much each ad on your site earns you – they have a very supportive Facebook group for all their publishers, and I’ve only heard good things from other publishers.
It’s odd because when I first mentioned using Mediavine, no other travel Vloggers were using them, and in fact, most travel Vloggers were very outspoken about never having advertising on their sites.
They regarded them as selling out, which seemed strange to me because the same Vloggers who refused to put advertisements on their blogs were frequently going on sponsored vacations and writing sponsored pieces for businesses.
And, as a reader, I would much rather read an article where the material is completely independent and unsponsored, even if it means having to see an ad every few lines.
Since then, a lot has changed in terms of travel blog revenue, and I believe that most full-time travel writers now generate a percentage of their money from display advertisements. That is a good thing! At the same time, I occasionally regret writing about Mediavine in my blog article.
My inbox was swamped with emails from Vloggers wanting to learn more about Mediavine the day after I pushed publish, and within a few months, most of the leading travel blogs were using Mediavine.
And I’m not sure why I sought credit? I want to yell every time someone mentions Mediavine that I was the one who introduced you to it!
The same folks who had been so passionately opposed to display advertisements were now bragging about their huge Mediavine earnings, and I instantly got it. I understand why many Vloggers are so discreet about how they generate money.
I’m embarrassed to say that there are moments when I wish I hadn’t informed anyone about it. Because, deep down, I wish people were more upfront about how they made money.
Finally, so many travel Vloggers joining Mediavine was a positive thing for me since it increased the network’s size, allowing it to boost its prices, which equals more money for all of us.
I think what I’m saying is that I completely understand the need to keep your accomplishment a secret, but I strongly feel that if we were all more transparent, it would be better for all of us.
Affiliate marketing is popular among Vloggers for good reason: by joining affiliate networks, you can connect to things you already use and enjoy and earn a tiny fee (at no extra cost to your readers) when someone books or purchases through your links.
I almost feel like I shouldn’t be writing about affiliate marketing since, to be honest, I’m a slacker and nearly cheat at it. Skimlinks is installed on my blog, and every link to one of their merchant sites is instantly converted into an affiliate link.
Amazon, Booking.com (see what they did there? ), TripAdvisor, and a slew of other firms I’m not even aware of are among their sellers.
I made a commission from a Sephora sale last week (I believe from a moisturiser I mentioned previously), yet I had no idea they were a Skimlinks merchant.
Hotel reservations are my greatest affiliate sales earner, and I regularly make several hundred dollars each month from the hostel and hotel suggestions in my travel pieces. It’s very simple money, and I should definitely be more proactive about it.
It’s an ongoing battle to figure out how much to charge for these sponsored posts!
The greatest advice I’ve received is to charge $1 for every view you can guarantee in the first month. Therefore, when I look at my blog entries from last month, some did remarkably well, but a few of the more routine (maybe even boring?) pieces only had 2,000 – 3,000 views, so my fee for a sponsored post would be $2,000 – $3,000.
And that’s roughly how much I’ve gotten from businesses for sponsored posts (typically including one Facebook share and one Tweet – any more social shares would cost more). Here’s an example of one of my sponsored blog entries.
You can also look up rough values for how much to charge for sponsored blog and social media articles on Social Bluebook. When I initially looked at Social Bluebook, I felt their estimations were far too high, but I had really been undervaluing my efforts.
Many of my sponsored articles have come from businesses approaching me (often travel sites like Expedia or TripAdvisor), but I’ve also received posts via sponsorship sites like Inzpire, Cooperatize, and Izea.
I might add, though, that I’ve seen a lot of changes in sponsored articles over the last several years, so I’d be weary of relying on them too much for your revenue.
I often think that it’s preferable to focus on revenue streams that you can control, which is why I spend most of my time generating visitors for display ad money and bookings for affiliate income. Working with brands and places is an added bonus.
Promotion on Social Media
Brands are frequently solely interested in social media posts. While I don’t frequently do them since they are so random, I usually offer businesses a package of additional social media attention on top of sponsored posts, which is a great way to get more out of a cooperation (or if they say my rate is too high I offer more social media coverage instead of reducing my rate).
There are several social influencer networks that connect marketers with Vloggers, such as Clever Girls, TapInfluence, BlogHer, and Social Fabric, but I like to deal directly with brands.
I’m also very protective of my Facebook and Instagram sites and avoid posting a lot of paid stuff on them.
Instagram takeovers (when I put my images on a brand’s account), which I charge $500/day for, and sponsored Instagram posts on my own Instagram profile, which I charge $700 each post, are my greatest earners from social media postings.