ow can you afford to travel the world? How do you finance it all? That’s the number one question we get asked. That and why Ben is always such a clown, but that’s a different story ;)
Disclaimer: As of writing this article, it‘s been about 10 months that we have been devoting our time fully into building a life as bloggers. We haven’t figured everything out yet and there is definitely still quite a bit of uncertainty ahead of us. In any case, we wanted to summarize our thoughts on how to earn money while embarking on an adventure such as ours.
Hi! Nice to meet you, we are Marina and Ben. We live in Berlin and travel the world full-time 🚀
Before we pretty much reinvented our lives, we had studied and worked for around 10 years. Over that time, two major things happened:
First, we had built a career and skill set in each of our industries that would allow us to always be able to get back into our old professions. With that thought in mind, the risk of starting something new didn’t feel too frightening anymore.
Second, we managed to save up a good amount of money that would give us the freedom to earn much less for this year and still be able to afford our living costs.
Both of these things don’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to go the same way we did. You can surely start off from any other background as well. We just want to point out that it can be a good thing to have some foundation that you can launch from (PS: this foundation can also be a bit of a hurdle if you consider having higher living costs already, but more on that later in section three).
Now to the exciting part: how can you earn money as a content creator, especially when traveling a lot? This list is probably not exhaustive, feel free to message us if you think we should include another point that is working for you :)
As soon as you’ve built a core audience that enjoys your content and trusts your opinion, you’ll be able to work together with brands whose products are interesting to your following. Even with 10.000 followers on Instagram (given they are real and engaged), you can provide quite some value to a brand. For us, the key in brand collaborations lies in finding companies that you actually like and whose values align with yours. Otherwise, your presentation won’t be authentic. But if you can give a genuine recommendation or even sort out a deal for your audience to e.g. get a discount, it’s beneficial for everyone. The brands will pay you for your content and reach when they believe you‘re a valuable contributor to their marketing strategy.
May it be a hotel, a blog, a travel agency or a lifestyle company, there are plenty of people out there who will need high quality content for their own purposes. Instead of hiring an agency or professional photography studio, they might be interested in getting their photos/videos/articles from you, especially with your personal and authentic touch.
And even if the compensation might be less compared to working as a consultant on a freelance basis, these kind of jobs also allow you to become better in this very profession. That’s a big advantage for us when we consider these kind of revenue streams.
We love this one: Whichever niche you‘re establishing your personal brand in, you will likely develop a skill set that you can turn into a sellable product. For instance, we’ve been becoming better in taking photos and editing them in an app called Lightroom. Now, Lightroom happens to offer the feature to export editing settings as presets so that anyone could apply the same style to their photos. Voilà, it’s the perfect opportunity to start selling our own presets to anyone who’s into photo editing as well.
In our opinion, the main advantage of selling your own things, may it be digital or physical products, is that you’re fully in control of the business and the revenues do not strictly depend on the hours you put in. Compare this with brand collaborations: you will only get paid if you actually do another project for a company.
There are endless opportunities if you just think about it, head over to our other article “Types of work that allow you to travel more” where we already elaborated on the whole idea of selling your own products a bit more.
This is a major income stream for most content creators online. Affiliate marketing in a nutshell:
You will need to register for the affiliate program of the company that you want to link to. While not every company offers such a program, big players like Amazon or Booking.com often are very professional about their offering.
The benefits of this revenue stream are obvious: when done well, one piece of your content will monetize over time as it gets consumed by more and more people who potentially convert on your recommendation. And this applies to so many channels: your blog, YouTube videos, email newsletters, Instagram stories etc.
The only drawback here is that at the beginning, revenues from this channel tend to be pretty small. This is something that will grow over time as you will get more traffic.
Similar to affiliate marketing, you will need a decent amount of traffic to your blog for this channel to be substantial. But, if you’re cool with putting a lot of ad banners in your readers’ face, you can potentially earn good money with display ads.
This monetization option will most likely only work for content creators that are active in the travel niche. There are various companies such as travel agencies, tour providers, hotels or tourism offices that want to market their services or their country. For instance, we have been asked to join a sailing tour in Greece by a local yacht operator in return for filming the whole experience. Usually, these companies will pay for the entire experience and depending on how good you already are, they might even pay you an additional amount.
Keep in mind that these kind of paid trips are a lot of work. You probably won’t be as independent in your travels as you’d normally be.
After some time, and you may not even notice yourself, you’ll have become pretty good at what you’re doing. You probably will have learned what works for you and which attempts failed. This knowledge might be something that others are interested in and who would want to learn from you.
The cool thing: There are plenty of formats with which you can pass on your learnings. You could offer 1:1 mentorships or specific consulting services, or you could even create your own online course with platforms like teachable.com.
Besides building up your revenue streams, keeping your costs in check is important especially when you’re starting out. Depending on the lifestyle you’re used to, this can be more or less difficult.
As mentioned in the first section, before becoming bloggers we’d been working in our jobs for several years, earned good money and as a result, had grown to get used to a relatively costly lifestyle. Of course you can adapt many things, but certain fixed costs like the monthly rent for our apartment aren't easy to change over night. Hence, if you haven’t built up a costly living standard yet, starting something like this will be easier from the financial perspective. With that in mind, here are our top three ways to minimize costs as a travel blogger:
The more luggage you have when traveling the more you’ll pay for flights or even last-mile transport. For instance, many flights in South East Asia will charge for any luggage you check in, especially when it’s heavier than 20kg. Also, instead of a small and cheap scooter, you will need to rent a bigger vehicle to transport your stuff.
A major cost driver when traveling will be your accommodation. First, it’s your home you’re leaving behind empty, so consider renting that out to a friend or use airbnb.com. Second, you can become creative when it comes to the places you stay at. Some hostels allow you to stay for free when you contribute to their community or work for them. Or you can save a night of accommodation when you take e.g. a night train to your next destination.
Now this may seem like a drastic move for most, but depending on where you’re currently living, chances are that countries like Indonesia would actually be cheaper. For instance, the beautiful island of Bali offers a great living standard at comparably low costs: all in, you could pay as low as 1000€ per month. That’s including rent and food. Definitely something to consider if up for the adventure.
There we go, those are our top ways how we earn money as travel bloggers. We hope this article was helpful for you, do let us know if you’d like us to add more to this list. Also, if you’re considering to build your own career in this industry, feel free to connect with us. It’s much more fun if we help each other out on our adventures!