Affiliate marketing guide main image

The world of travel blogging is crowded, but there are ways to make money if you know where to look. With focus and dedication, you can design a custom career ladder and monetize your passion.

In a previous post, we reported on the three most common professional pathways for an aspiring travel blogger: freelance writing, writing for an established brand or company, and creating a blog. To learn more about how much money can be made by travel blogging, please refer to the post: Travel Blogging Salaries: How Much do Travel Bloggers Make?

In this post, we’ll dig deeper into how you can make money across these three categories and offer recommendations for development in each. We’ll describe each monetization strategy and provide more information about the best ways to reach them. 

Growth Steps in Travel Blogging

Affiliate marketing is a performance-based advertising model in which individuals or businesses promote products or services online and earn a commission for each action generated through their efforts. In simpler terms, affiliate marketing is when someone promotes another company’s product or service in exchange for a commission. In the example above, the referring website (Wirecutter, the Strategist, or your favorite blogger) is the affiliate. They receive a commission from the purchase you make after visiting their site and clicking on their affiliate link. 

We will present these three strategies sequentially. However, you do not need to follow each step in order or work through every proposed pathway before moving to the next. No pathway is superior to the others. 

For those starting from scratch, we recommend working across the paths to build an online presence and writing portfolio quickly.

A chart showing the affiliate annual revenue derived from marketing efforts.

Making Money as a Freelance Travel Blogger

1. Build Your Own Blog

For every pathway we discuss, your first step will be to create your own blog. Let it reflect your professional brand or the brand you hope to cultivate. It will be your writing portfolio, professional resume, and a compilation of your online identity. You can also use it to showcase any other skills you hope to monetize, such as photography or videography.

Create your blog as soon as possible. If you don’t have any prior writing experience, you can use your new blog posts to demonstrate your writing proficiency for freelance writing opportunities.

You can also use your blog as a low-risk way to test different writing styles, visual formats, and creative mediums. If you’re starting from scratch, you can be as experimental as you’d like without fear of losing followers or paid opportunities. 

This is also a good time to create accounts across the major social media platforms. These accounts will help you amplify your ideas, promote new blog posts, and direct traffic to your blog. We recommend creating accounts on the following platforms: Facebook and Instagram (through Meta), X (formerly known as Twitter), LinkedIn, and TikTok. 

As your traffic grows, you can collect data on which platforms direct the most traffic to your blog and develop different content creation and posting strategies for each. You will likely find that your target audience prefers certain platforms over others and adjust your efforts accordingly. 

Do what moves you and see what sticks. Eventually, you’ll settle into a style that feels right and grows your audience. And once you have an audience, you’ll need to create content that resonates with them.


Create a blog

❏ Update your resume and add it to your blog

❏ Publish at least one new blog post to kickstart your writing portfolio

❏ Create social media accounts and develop posting schedules for each

2. Get Freelance Jobs Online

One of the greatest professional perks of blogging is the ability to develop a writing portfolio independently. In other industries, building a body of work to show potential employers might require expensive equipment or a team of collaborators. If you’re a good writer with something interesting to say, your work can (and should) stand on its own.

Eventually, you’ll want to charge for your work and diversify your portfolio by writing for external publications. The growth of the gig economy has made it easier than ever to connect creators with companies seeking their services. Now, instead of vying for work from a handful of high-profile travel companies and competing against seasoned industry professionals, you can find different types of paid writing assignments for companies of all sizes.

We recommend using platforms like Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer to source freelance travel writing assignments. You can find a list of popular platforms here.

But don’t limit your search to those sites. Join different mailing lists, job boards, and online communities to find more writing opportunities in the travel niche you hope to develop. You should always be on the lookout for your next gig.


❏ Create accounts on Upwork, Fiverr, and Freelancer

❏ Find and join other relevant job boards

❏ Search for and apply for jobs until you get your first assignment

❏ Find and join at least three online communities related to travel

3. Build Your Reputation to Get More Paid Work

Your freelance writing roles will lay the groundwork for your future paid writing career. Treat every assignment as you would a job interview. Your writing is the final product, but your interactions with each company determine how likely you are to be hired for additional projects or referred to other companies.

Word-of-mouth recommendations go a long way for freelance workers. Developing a reputation in the industry as someone dependable, competent, and easy to work with will keep you top of mind and lead to a steady flow of freelance work.

By maintaining good working relationships, you’ll also be able to ask for data on how your writing performs. For example, if a post you’ve written goes viral, you’ll want to include it on your resume and highlight its performance with relevant statistics.

Finally, if you’ve had a positive experience with a company, ask for a testimonial to include on your blog. Social proof is a powerful endorsement.


❏ Add links to published freelance pieces to your blog

❏ Follow up with your point(s) of contact to learn how your pieces perform

❏ Ask for recommendations and/or testimonials if appropriate


 4. Turn Freelance Writing into a Career

If you’re looking for more professional and financial stability, explore roles as a travel writer for an established company. As a company employee, you’ll exchange some creative control for the security of having regular assignments and other benefits of formal employment.

Making Money as a Career Travel Blogger

1. Get Your First Travel Blogging Job

Now, you’ll be able to leverage the cumulative effects of your blogging and freelancing efforts. As you apply for travel writing jobs, you can submit a portfolio, including the writing you’ve done on your blog and for your freelance clients, and provide testimonials. You’ll finally have examples of writing to speak to your ability to follow writing briefs and collaborate effectively.


❏ Update your resume with performance numbers

❏ Use your travel writing network to search for full-time writing roles

2. Gain Experience and Grow Your Salary

Writing for a company will give you an entirely new set of writing experiences. Take advantage of every professional opportunity this setting offers.

Writing can be a solitary job, but as a company’s travel writer, you’ll gain access to a team of writers, editors, and other content creators for the first time. You’ll be exposed to different writing and editing styles and benefit from the extra sets of eyes on your work.

While in the corporate setting, stay focused on career growth. Shadow other writers, editors, or content managers to learn what they do. You might enjoy working on a team and want to build a career within that setting.

Don’t limit yourself based on what you think you should be doing or a narrow definition of ‘travel blogger.’ These experiences will help you grow as a writer, no matter where you work next.


❏ Collect writing and editing best practices from your colleagues

❏ Work with your manager to create a professional development plan

3. Maintain Your Blog While Working

Based on your personal aspirations, you may have reached your final destination. But even if you settle into a 9-5 (or something similar), you don’t have to give up the side hustles that helped get you there.

If you are still aching for the creative freedom of being a full-time travel blogger, you can keep working toward that goal. The beauty of having a full-time job is that your schedule is more predictable, and you can use your time outside work to continue building your online presence.

Update your blog regularly with links to your new work and establish a regular cadence for your own blog. Regularly publishing blog posts will keep your existing audience engaged and help your blog build traffic.

By now, you should be settling into a more natural writing style and finding your niche in travel blogging. To grow your blog’s visibility to the point of monetization, you’ll need a strong brand and more focused, deliberately crafted content. Your audience and search engines will favor thoughtful, specific, and trustworthy blog posts.


❏ Narrow in on a niche for your blog and commit to a brand voice

❏ Develop a regular cadence for writing and publishing high-quality blog posts

Monetizing Your Travel Blog

If you’ve maintained your blog from the outset of your writing journey, you might be surprised at how much it has grown. Even modest traffic gains will make you grateful to have started when you did.

At this stage, your social media accounts should also be funneling traffic to your blog and vice versa. 

Traffic is essential for blog monetization. In short, the more traffic your blog gets, the more money you can make. Each person who visits your blog or social channels represents another opportunity for you to earn money. Below, we’ll describe the most common ways to cash in.

1. Travel Affiliate Programs

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commission on products or services you feature on your blog for another company. A common affiliate marketing arrangement is one in which a travel blogger shares a custom link to a product on their blog and receives a commission on those purchases. Affiliate marketing links are also frequently shared across social media channels. 

Most commissions are a percentage of the purchase price, referred to as pay-per-sale, but some models are pay-per-click or pay-per-lead.

There are several affiliate partner programs on the market for travel bloggers. The Viator Partner Program is an industry leader with an 8% commission per experience booked. You can learn more about the Viator Partner program here.

For more on affiliate marketing, read our in-depth post, Learn Affiliate Marketing: The Beginner’s Guide.


❏ Research affiliate marketing programs for travel bloggers, including the Viator Partner Program

❏ Determine your preferred compensation model (pay-per-sale, pay-per-click, pay-per-lead.)


2. Selling Ad Space

After your blog receives a certain amount of traffic, you’ll be eligible to sell advertising space through an ad solution like Google Adsense, Mediavine, or countless others. Think of these display ads like clickable billboards on your blog.

Google Adsense does not technically have a minimum traffic requirement. But you’ll need an audience to monetize the ads. It pays to have a steady stream of recurring traffic before starting. 

Mediavine, on the other hand, takes a more hands-on approach to ad management. They require a minimum of 50,000 monthly sessions (among other criteria) for consideration. 

Solutions are available to suit every type of blog and ad-selling tolerance. Depending on your chosen selling model, you can have as much or as little control over what ads are displayed. Just keep your audience’s onsite experience in mind as you parcel out advertising placements. You don’t want to lose monthly viewers because they can’t find your content through a sea of ads.  


❏ Research ad networks

❏ Decide what type of ads to allow or ban on your blog


3. Selling Digital Products

If your blog has garnered enough attention to use affiliate marketing or display advertising programs, you can consider yourself a subject matter expert. Take a moment to identify what unique perspective you offered your audience that made you stand out from other bloggers, and consider what your audience would be willing to pay for.

Is your specialization solo travel? Or do you chronicle your experiences as a millennial woman? You already have the content to repackage and sell. You just need to decide on the most appealing format.

Popular digital products for bloggers to sell are worksheets, e-books, guides, photography prints, and even online classes. Look to similar bloggers in your space to get inspiration and determine pricing.


❏ Determine what types of digital products would appeal to your audience

❏ Conduct competitive research to develop pricing strategies


4. Sponsored Posts

You’ve certainly seen this form of monetization on social media. A blogger dedicates an entire post to promoting a particular product or experience. The blogger receives either a free product or experience, an agreed-upon per-post rate, or a combination of both. These posts work in concert with affiliate marketing efforts because a creator can also use a custom link to receive a commission for each purchase made from their post.

These posts are compelling because they capitalize on the blogger’s authority in a specific field and their engaged audience. Like affiliate marketing, they are most effective when the product or service is related to a blogger’s subject matter expertise.

When creating a sponsored post, make sure to hold up your end of the arrangement. A good reputation will lead to more partnership opportunities and referrals.


❏ Deliver a high-quality blog or social media post in exchange for a product, service, or experience


7. Guest Blogging

As your professional network grows, you’ll meet other successful travel bloggers with their own set of loyal followers. If you are interested in diversifying your audience or want to engage with the audience of one of your blogging peers, pitch the idea of writing a guest blog post. This exchange will grow your audience and provide additional traffic to your blog that you may not have accessed otherwise.

You can also approach bloggers to write guest blog posts for your blog. While this may not necessarily grow your audience, it will provide links between the two blogs and increase your SEO authority. If the topic of the guest blog post resonates with your audience, it will also deepen their brand loyalty.

Another avenue to explore is to guest-write for more prominent travel companies. You may not be paid for your piece, but you will gain access to a massive, particular audience. When seeking writing opportunities for travel companies, draw on the skillset you developed as a freelance writer.


❏ Identify travel bloggers to partner with

❏ Pitch guest blogging ideas

❏ Identify and contact at least three travel publications about guest blogging


8. Discovering and Monetizing New Digital Channels

Most bloggers use Google Analytics to collect insights about traffic, audience behavior, and other performance indicators. A cursory exploration of Google Analytics will show you which channels direct the most traffic to your blog. It might also uncover traffic sources that you were previously unaware of.

Build strategies to grow your audiences from existing and emerging traffic sources. For example, an analysis may reveal that most of your followers discovered your content from your YouTube page instead of your Instagram account. While maintaining your Instagram strategy, you could build out your YouTube content. Further exploration might reveal that those followers like the audio element of your posts, encouraging you to start a podcast with new sponsorship opportunities.

A content and traffic audit will help you determine what channels to invest in and develop. Your audience is interested in your content, so meet them where they spend their time online.


❏ Set up Google Analytics for your blog

❏ Audit your traffic sources

❏ Build a strategy for a new digital channel (YouTube, a podcast, etc.)

❏ Explore monetization opportunities for new channels



Within the pathways we discussed- freelance writing, writing for a company, and creating your own blog- there are opportunities for every skill set and professional affinity. We hope this list helps you determine which pathway(s) to pursue based on your timeline, professional experience, and interests.

Feel empowered to move between pathways and back and forth between steps based on what you enjoy and your goals. Writing is one of few professions that enables this flexibility and mobility, so make the most of it!

Are you a travel blogger? Sign up for the Viator Partner Program and put these affiliate marketing tips into action.