Home Blog & Personal How do bloggers get paid? (How I make money as a travel blogger)

How do bloggers get paid? (How I make money as a travel blogger)

by Lisa Stentvedt
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Psst! Some links in my posts may be affiliate links, which means that I get paid a fee if you chose to purchase something through it. This doesn't cost you anything, but makes a huge difference for me! Thanks for your support!

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It’s actually funny how often I am asked whether and how I make money. Apparently, a lot of people have the same question: how do bloggers get paid. Personally, I can get so annoyed when I get questions such as “are you working at the moment?”, “is it possible to make money as a blogger?” (seconds after we have established that this is, in fact, my job), and “are you going to get a job?”. I understand that this is a topic that many people get confused about, so it’s time to clear it up.

Fun fact: in the same week as I was interviewed and featured in two local newspapers in Norway (see my whole press page here), I was asked twice whether I was currently working.. So it seems it’s quite challenging to understand how bloggers make money and get paid. Having been a travel blogger for over 10 years now, I have learned pretty much every single way for a blogger to earn money, and so I think I am the right person to share this.

When I get questions like the ones mentioned above (mainly relating to whether I work or not), I tend to get quite annoyed. A friend has pointed out (again and again) that I shouldn’t get annoyed, as these questions don’t stem from people wanting to offend, but genuine curiosity. So, I decided it was time to write this post for anyone curious about how I can make a living from travel blogging. Hopefully, this will answer the whole “how do bloggers get paid” question once and for all.

Of course, the Covid-19 pandemic has changed how bloggers get paid in many ways, with lots of bloggers looking to new outlets and income streams. Some have doubled down on making digital courses, whilst others have started using Patreon and other membership-style ways to connect with their audiences and still make money. It has been incredibly fun and interesting to see my blogging friends find new ways to make money, and diversifying their income. This was also something I had to do, as travel blogging (naturally) was hit quite hard by the crisis.

how do bloggers get paid

How do bloggers get paid?

Let me start by telling you the first thing you need to know. Bloggers do not get paid once a month like with normal jobs. Very few bloggers run their business in a way that lets them pay themselves a salary once a month. So, if you are the type of person who wants to know exactly how much money you will make in the next month, blogging might not be for you.

Another thing worth knowing about bloggers, is that we do not get paid in just one specific way. Most bloggers have at least 5 income streams, and full-time bloggers can have as much as 20 or more! I’ll let that sink in a little.

Several income streams is a must for bloggers who do this full time, and it is the best way to ensure job (and income) safety. If one of your income streams fail, you’ll have a handful of others to focus on, and your business won’t take a huge hit from it. Of course, the hit from the pandemic unfortunately hit several income streams for many of us, but hopefully that was a once-in-a-lifetime happening. Below, I break down all the income streams for bloggers I can think of, and some that happen to be my biggest ones.

Side note: if you are curious as to what life is like for a full-time blogger, how about reading some of my old my monthly recaps?

Sponsored blog posts

I have opted to split this into two sections, one for sponsored blog posts and one for sponsored social media. Of course, since the gist of it is the same, I could have also put the together. More and more influencers and bloggers swear to social media as their main channels these days, and some make a full time income from Instagram and Tiktok alone. But, this section focuses on what is the main way some bloggers make money: sponsored blog posts.

Basically, brands look for bloggers that fit their values and whose audience may be interested in their products and services. When they have found a great fit, they can team up with said blogger for a sponsored post, where they will pay the blogger to write about their product or business.

What is a sponsored post? It’s literally when a brand pays you actual money to write about their product or service. Whether it’s a review, or a how-to guide, the gist of the post is still sponsored. A great blogger will know how to take a brand’s product and still write a post that is compelling and valuable to their audience.

Examples of great sponsored blog posts:

  • A brand of packing cubes reach out for a collaboration. A good post for this would be a packing guide for a specific destination, or a “How I pack my suitcase efficiently”. These types of posts are better than a “why I love XYZ’s packing cubes”, and will provide value to your audience as well as promote the product.
  • If you are a food blogger, a brand of spices may reach out to you. Instead of writing a blog post dedicated to the company and their spice, you might want to share a recipe using the spices instead, or write a blog post on how you use spices to enhance your cooking.

When you write a sponsored blog post, it is important that you follow the guidelines of the country you live in (and of your followers) when it comes to disclosing your relationship with the brand you are promoting. This should be made clear by a marking of “sponsored” at the top of the post (or in some cases, “in collaboration with”). Many bloggers skip this altogether, for various reasons, and it simply does not build trust with your audience. So make sure to always be transparent with your readers 🙂

How much do you charge for a sponsored post?

Most bloggers will have a rate kit where they specify how much they charge for a sponsored blog post. However, there is almost always a negotiation process, and the goal is for both the blogger and the brand to be satisfied with the deal. When figuring our how much to charge for a blog post, it is important to consider the time you need to spend writing the post, editing and formatting, as well as keeping in mind the value you bring to the table by promoting your post on social media.

A simple way to break down what to charge is:

  • How many hours will this take me? Include the time it will take to test/try the product if you have to do so.
  • What is your preferred hourly wage? This could also be the hourly wage you had at your last (or current) job.
  • You will then be left with the minimum to charge.

When figuring out how to get paid as a blogger, you cannot only calculate based on the time it takes. This is because most brands want to work with you in order to reach your audience and readers – not just for your writing skills. Otherwise, you’d just be a freelancer.

So, you have to add to the number you reached above, to make sure that you are getting paid for your reach and influence, as well as your work. As a long-time blogger, I have found that not everyone understands this, but to put it plainly: you are not only paying me for my writing and the work I do, but also for the years and years of building a trusting and engaged community. So remember that if it feels iffy at first.

There is no universal rule for how much to charge for a blog post, as opposed to paid social media (see below). However, a ball park is to charge €100 per 5000 monthly blog views. Please note that this is just my estimate.

Let’s look at an example:

  • It will take you 7 hours to write a blog post, including research, editing, formatting and promoting it.
  • You consider your hourly wage to be €35.
  • 7 * €35 = €245.
  • You have 10’000 monthly pageviews. According to my suggestion above, this equals €200.
  • €245 + €200 = €445

So, to write a sponsored blog post you could charge €445.

Sponsored Social media

Next up are sponsored social media posts. As mentioned, more and more influencers use mainly social media, and have no blog at all. Thus, they make the most of their “blogging” income by getting paid to post on social media.

How does a sponsored social media post work? Exactly like a blog post! A brand will reach out to you (or you will reach out to them), and ask you to promote their hotel/product/destination. Then, you will negotiate a fee for how much they will pay you to do this.

Most of the time, a sponsored media post does not come alone. They are usually part of a campaign, which is really just several social media posts posted over time. This is because promoting a brand or product in the long run will build more trust with your readers, and also give them time to consider the brand for themselves.

An example of a paid social media campaign on Instagram:

  • 2 Instagram posts posted over 3 weeks
  • 1 Instagram Reel posted within the same 3 weeks
  • 4 sets of 3 stories, posted at the same time as the posts and Reel, and one additional set of Stories

The campaign example above will give your followers several opportunities to see and engage with the content, as well as meet the product or brand several times.

What to charge for social media posts

There is a rule of thumb when it comes to what to get paid for Instagram posts, which I usually use for all my social media: charge €100 per 10’000 followers. This rule of thumb is used for feed posts only, but can be adjusted for any type of post. For example, I would charge less for stories, but more for Instagram Reels (as they take longer to make).

Here’s an example of a sponsored Instagram post I did a while back, with a brand I absolutely love; PADI.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Blfs5tXnVlZ/

Social Media Creator Funds

This is a fun one, and a new addition that has come in the last year or so. With the success of Tiktok, the platform set up the Tiktok Creator Fund, which is a way for creators to get paid directly from Tiktok based on the amount of views they get on their videos! Eventually, Instagram made a similar fund, and the platforms are now continuously improving their Creator Funds in order to give content creators and bloggers the best experience.

This is a great way to get paid as a blogger or content creator, as it allows you to simply keep creating the content you and your audience love, without needing to get paid by brands!

Read more about the Tiktok Creator Fund here!

Affiliate links

This is one of my favourite ways that bloggers earn money, and one that I love using myself. Affiliate links can be a tough cookie to break, but those that do it well can make thousands of dollars (yep, thousands) from it.

In short, an affiliate link is a special type of link that will allow the company you link to (such as Amazon or Booking.com) to track where the customer came from. For example, if I share a link to my favourite hotel and someone chooses to book it after clicking my link to get to the booking page, Booking.com will pay me a commission for driving that sale.

This doesn’t cost the customer/buyer anything at all, and so it is a great way to support your favourite bloggers! So, whenever you see a tour, hotel, or other links from my blog (or someone else’s), book it using their link! It means the world. Alternatively, if you know you’ll be looking for a hotel in that area later on, bookmark it and revisit when you are ready to book. Again, this doesn’t cost you a dime.

My biggest affiliate earners are Booking.com, GetYourGuide (for tours) and Amazon (for everything, mainly travel gadgets). If you are planning on booking a hotel, tour or need something new soon; please use those links (they are affiliates).


Ads

Once you get a bit of traction and some traffic, you can (and should) join an Ad Program. These programs put ads around your site, and you earn money based on the number of people who see those ads. So, know that you support your blogger friends simply by clicking onto their blog posts and reading their posts! I know bloggers who earn over $5000 a month from ads, and this is simply a result of producing kick-ass, high-quality content making people visit their blog to read again and again.

The two most common Ad programs are Ezoic and Mediavine. The latter is the most popular, but it requires 50’000 sessions a month to join (previously it was 25’000, but they changed this in 2020, unfortunately). So if you are a newer blogger, Ezoic might be the way to go. Ezoic requires only 10’000 sessions a month, but they have been known to accept bloggers with as little as 6’000 monthly sessions too. Apply to join Ezoic here!

What’s so great about earning money as a blogger using ads is that all you have to do is keep creating content. If you love writing and sharing, but don’t love the hustle and admin work of negotiating fees for sponsored posts, Ads is the way to go. Simply set it and forget it, and keep writing and publishing your work. The more traffic you have, the more money you make.

Paid press trips

Getting free trips is one of the absolute best perks of being a travel blogger (in addition to the whole “having my dream job” thing). But often these trips are not only free, they are also paid.

In short, bloggers can charge a day rate (or a total retainer) for the trip, which covers all the work that goes into it. On a press trip, you are constantly present, posting on stories and social media live throughout the day, and always thinking about content and what photos/articles you can get out of it. Not all trips are paid, and many destinations don’t have a budget to pay bloggers in addition to providing a free trip, but it is becoming more common.

Personally, I find it to be very fair, as when you are on a press trip you don’t have time to focus on any other work (or income stream). So, if all your income streams depend on you producing content (such as freelance writing, for example), taking a free trip could mean days of revenue lost. But, when you are paid, you can justify giving 120% of your energy and focus to the destination in question.

Of course, when it comes to how bloggers are paid, going on amazing trips and getting money for it is one of the best income streams there is.

how travel bloggers get paid and make money
On a press trip in the beautiful Dolomites

Patreon (and other paid subscription services)

This is one of the income streams for bloggers that really came on the scene during the pandemic. With Patreon, valued followers pay a fee each month in exchange for exclusive content from the blogger (and even direct contact with them in the form of private Instagram lives and Zoom sessions). I saw several blogger friends start offering this, by putting exclusive content behind a paywall for those readers willing to subscribe to it.

Freelance writing

Freelance writing is quite common amongst bloggers, as we all have quite a lot of experience in writing. It might not be a source of income deriving directly from blogging, but at the same time, I wouldn’t have been able to start freelance writing if it wasn’t for my blog and the experience it gave me. Many bloggers take freelance writing gigs throughout their careers, and it is a great way to get paid.

In addition to writing freelance (for brands such as PADI, which is completely separate from the sponsored post I shared above), I am lucky enough to speak two languages fluently. So; I can not only write in both Norwegian and English, but I also offer freelance translation services. If you are a travel blogger, make sure you offer up your (ever-improving) writing skills as a service!

Selling digital products

Many bloggers offer digital products such as eBooks, courses and PDF downloads for their readers. Personally, I have created a bunch of custom-made Norway itineraries for my readers, as I get so many questions from travellers planning a trip to Norway. This is not a huge source of income (my itineraries are only $2.99), but it’s a great way to provide my readers with added value, whilst they get a chance to support me at the same time. Some bloggers sell eBooks on learning a language (such as Michele’s Italian in 8 Hours eBook), and others sell courses of different kinds.

There are plenty of ways to create and sell digital products, and every blogger could potentially offer something different. Here are some more examples:

  • Printable planners
  • Pre-recorder webinars on any topic
  • Downloadable Spreadsheets
  • Screensavers and background images (perfect for a photographer)
  • Recipe books
  • Travel guides (such as this one)

Offering expert services

In addition to selling digital products, such as the ones mentioned above, many bloggers take this a step further by offering their expertise (and time) up for money. Many bloggers offer coaching on the topic of their blog (and some even coach other bloggers in starting and managing their blog). Some travel bloggers are available to plan a trip for you if you need it, and personally I create custom-made itineraries for travellers planning a trip to Norway. For me, this is an add-on and a more exclusive offer than the ready-made itineraries I sell.

Offering your services is something you can do whenever you want, just make sure you have the time and capacity to do so, as you will quite literally be trading your time for money when doing this.

Starting a second (niche) site

Finally, I have recently discovered this way of getting paid as a blogger: starting a second blog. I know quite a few bloggers who have done this, myself included (check out my travel guide to Flåm here!). In short, starting a second (or third) blog won’t automatically make you money, but once you get traction, you have a potential second stream of income when it comes to ads and affiliates.

One reason this is so tempting to many bloggers is that after blogging for years, you know exactly how to start, write and manage a successful blog. So I think a lot of bloggers find that it is easier to get results from their second site. If you have an area of expertise you love writing about, and know a lot about, why not start a new site dedicated to it?

Blogging tools you need:

  • ConvertKit: seriously, my biggest regret in blogging is not signing up to ConvertKit right away. I didn’t want to spend too much money when I started (it’s $29 a month), but I soon learned that in order to start making money, I had to invest in my blog. This should be your first investment (after hosting and your domain, of course). My link gives you a free trial to see if it’s for you (hint: it is).

Head this way to read my full guide to using ConvertKit as a blogger!

  • BlueHost: here’s that hosting and domain I mentioned. Use that link to get some $$$ off.
  • Tailwind: once you get started with Pinterest (and realise how important it is to drive traffic to your blog), Tailwind will help you automate that. It’s the only service of its kind that is 100% affiliated with and approved by Pinterest.

So, how do bloggers get paid?

To answer the question as literally as possible: most bloggers get paid using Paypal and Wise (and of course, via international bank transfer). However, I am sure you didn’t mean to ask quite so literally, and so I hope you have gotten a bit of an overview of how bloggers get paid and how the whole industry works. Of course, new income streams for bloggers will come and go, but the ones in this post have been staples for years and years.

As mentioned, it is not uncommon for bloggers to have 20 different income streams, and most will have over 10. So, the next time you meet a blogger, you may not feel the need to ask them how they make money or get paid. I hope you found this post a little insightful, and that you enjoy learning about the ins and outs of travel blogging!

If you want to read more, head this way to see what some full-time travel bloggers wish they knew before they quit their job!

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