When I tell people that I’m a travel writer, a lot of people tend to assume I make a lot of money. While I’m in a very stable place right now as a freelance writer (which was definitely not the case a few years ago), I’m tired of this lie being perpetuated that you can make a ton of money off blogging. A ton is a very large exaggeration for most bloggers, and it tends to take a long time for them to reach a point where they have a steady income.
For me, blogging has provided a lifestyle of free travel and the chance to connect with some truly incredible people. It’s also allowed me a voice for what I love to talk about—sustainable, ethical travel. I might get contacted for work from my blog page, but as of yet, I’ve made a total of $108.62 from having it. This has been over the course of two years.
So what about the travel bloggers who say they are making $10k, $50k, $100k a month from travel blogging? I don’t doubt that they are. But the truth is that they aren’t getting paid for their writing, they’re getting paid for their ability to market themselves. Some are better than others, and some understand the marketing game a lot more than others, as well (cough, me). Knowing how to market yourself as a brand has become an essential skill if you want to end up making it into a business over the long run.
How much does that sacrifice the quality of the writing? If you are just planning on making money from your blogging, then I don’t see a moral quandary. However, for me this blog is much more than a way for me to make extra cash (okay, $54 a year). It’s a way for me to connect with people who share my interest in making the world a better place.
I would love for the blog to make more money, and I think it will at some point. (I talked to one prominent blogger recently who said that she had just managed to make a salary from her site and it had been around ten years.) But for me, the most important part of blogging is knowing that people are reading what I have to say and that they find new ways to get more out of their travels. It’s also imperative to me that the writing is high-quality since I was trained as a writer, after all. I’ve definitely read some successful travel blogs where the writing seems to take a back seat to making some cash.
This post is not to discourage those who hope to make an income from travel blogging, nor am I really one to ask about it. But I do want other bloggers to know that there is value in what they are doing without receiving a paycheck at the end of the month. I know plenty of bloggers who have to do other things in order to make a living, and in some ways, I think it adds to our experiences. Blogging can be seen as a creative outlet rather than something that has to be regimented. It can be enjoyable rather than just another way to make money.
Travel blogging has taught me a lot, and it has increased my understanding that good things tend to take time. But no, making money from your blog is not easy. And I admire those who have achieved that goal and also those who aren’t interested in monetization. We need all of these voices!
What are your goals for your blog/business?