In today’s post, I’m going to be talking to you about how you actually make money travel blogging and how I made over $11,000 last year for my brand new travel blog.
The post is divided into three different sections.
In the first section I’m going to be talking about how I actually started blogging.
In the second section I’m going to talk to you about is how long it actually took me to monetize and see some decent money trickle in.
And in the final section I’m going to talk to you about how much money I make, how I made it, and some key takeaways that I realized in that process.
#1: How did I actually start blogging?
I started blogging in late 2016, early 2017 shortly after I’d moved from India to Germany for a two year sabbatical to actually study a second masters.
At this point, I had no idea what blogging really was. I had no idea this could be a profession or that you could make money doing this. I was just kind of sharing my experiences with my friends and family back home and I just kind of wanted a place to document my entire expat life in Germany for two years or so. I wasn’t even sure if this would turn into anything more.
So the first 18 months that I actually ran this expat blog, it was like two or 3000 page views a month. I was really just doing the bare minimum to get by. I wrote whenever I wanted, there was no structure, no SEO and none of the fancy stuff that exists in the world of blogging. I had basically no idea that there was anything more to it than just writing out my thoughts online.
This is when I realized that there was so much potential for blogging and there were so many people that I could reach if I actually really wanted to reach them and I could actually do something real with this. That this could be more than just a hobby, this could be more than just a pastime.
So after about 18 months of running my first blog, which was an expat blog, I actually bought a new domain and started a brand new blog called Indian Girling, which you can still check out if you want. It’s called indiangirling.com which is a travel blog that is focused on Europe and some lifestyle aspects as well.
#2: How long did it take me to monetize this blog ?
If you’ve heard this from any blogger that does it full time, they will all tell you that it takes a while. It takes six to 12 months to build a foundation, get into a rhythm, and really understand the different aspects of blogging because it’s so much more complicated than it sounds.
It’s not just about creating a post, it’s also about optimizing it. It’s about having graphics, it’s about social media marketing, it’s about content marketing. It’s so many different things. All capped into one head.
So in the first four months, I actually just managed to make around $400 or so. In the first eight months I managed to cross $1,000 and I believe it was from month 9 onwards that I started to see a little bit more of a regular income, which would range between $500 to $1000 a month depending on different things that I was trying at this point.
Moving onto the most exciting part…
#3: How much money did I make and how did I actually make it?
I made close to $11,000 which you would have already seen in the title of this post. And this was through four different income streams.
I’ve always been pretty intentional about the way that I wanted to grow my blog and I knew that I didn’t want to rely excessively on sponsorships, brand partnerships, and all of that. So the one thing that I want you to know is that I’ve had a very different outlook on most travel bloggers out there.
A lot of travel bloggers love going out on press trips, and they also love working with brands and partnerships. It’s not that I didn’t really love these things, it’s just that my time schedule didn’t really allow for this because I wasn’t doing this full time.
I just had a part time blog next to my studies, next to my job, and I really didn’t have a lot of time to cater to this. So I knew that if I wanted to grow my blog in the long run, I wanted it to be as passive as possible. I wanted it eventually to run on its own, which is exactly how I run it today.
My focus has always been on monetization through ads and digital products because I knew that this was a stream that I could scale and that was much more sustainable for me in the long run than focusing on partnerships and press trips and so on.
So, breaking down how I actually made this $11,000, the biggest chunk which I made from this $11,000 is actually from ad revenue or ad income.
Midway through last year I joined Mediavine, which is a premium ad network that you can monetize with if you have more than 25,000 sessions and that’s when I really started to see my ad income growth. I went from making like $50 a month to actually $500,000 a month in a very short span of time after I joined Mediavine.
The second biggest source of revenue for my blog was sponsorships, which was not really press trips but more like sponsored content. I would create content for a brand or a company in exchange for a one time payment. So that was another 27% of the total $11,000.
Next up was something that I experimented with, which is digital products, which I’m also doing actively right now. I made about 18% on digital products, which is primarily from ebooks and printables that I was basically just sharing with my email list.
I wasn’t doing any paid advertising. I created an ebook which was directly related to what my blog’s topic was and which was a question that I used to get a lot from my readers and I sold that ebook to my existing audience, to my email list, to my social media followers.
And that still generates revenue for me pretty passively on a monthly basis.
The last method with which I monetized and that I made the least amount on, which was about 10% I think all of last year was through affiliate marketing.
Now I have to be honest, there are people out there who are making thousands of dollars a month on affiliate marketing. But the thing with the niche that I’m in, which is travel, is that affiliate commissions tend to be on the lower end.
Because we’re not only competing with other travel bloggers, we’re also competing with Google, with travel agents, with online travel agencies, so that makes the commission really low.
This means that if you have a very high traffic, very affiliate, relevant blog, then you’re definitely going to have a large number of affiliate income. But this was never really my focus because I was not really interested in affiliate marketing.
And I do love sharing products and services and companies that I use on a regular basis when I’m traveling, but this wasn’t a huge focus for me. And that really shows in my income report.
So when I look back and I think that I made $11,000 which is like half of my full time salary after I graduated from a top school in India, I did an MBA, and all of that while doing all of this part time, like literally working on weekends. To me that is hella insane. That is crazy.
So that brings me to what is the future of Indian Girling, what is it that I’m actually doing right now and what I plan to do. Currently, I do have a team that helps me out with Indian Girling on content creation, social media aspects, and that runs pretty much on autopilot. It’s pretty stable when it comes to traffic and income and Indian Girling for me right now is exactly what I intended for it to be, which is a passive income stream.
I love that even though I spent less than an hour a week working on Indian Girling, I’m able to make thousands of dollars on autopilot pretty much consistently month on month. And this is something that I would have never imagined was possible when I first started this blog about 20 months back.
However, this is not my focus going forward in 2020. Apart from my travel blog, I also have another blog which is called digitalempires.co (the one you’re on right now), which is a very different type of business.
For Digital Empires, I’m working on digital products and that’s where I teach people how to grow their income, their impact, and their influence online using Pinterest marketing. And that’s where all of my other products are.
So going forward, my focus is not just building Indian Girling and growing that revenue stream, but also growing a completely different brand and business, which is totally different when it comes to monetization and niche and audience.
But I’m super pumped that I’m blessed to actually do this. Had I never really started blogging, I would never be in a position to be location independent, to be financially independent, to live wherever I want to, work wherever I want and to basically be my own boss.
So, if you’ve been wondering if blogging can do this for you, yes it can. It does take a while. It does take smart strategy and systems, but it’s totally possible to replace your income completely and maybe even make more money from your blog or your side hustle online.
If you found this post helpful do leave a comment below. And if you’re interested in knowing more and growing more, do check out my Youtube channel.