When I first started my travel blogging journey, I used to LOVE seeing these types of posts! They were rare to find, because for some reason.. the online industry is so secretive about this topic!
But, when I did come across a Travel Blog Salary / Income report, I always found them to be so motivating. I would think to myself, “As long as I don’t give up and keep trying, I will get to that eventually.”
And this year, “eventually” finally happened!! Which honestly, I was pretty shocked since the travel industry is by no means “booming.” I thought it would be a few years from now that the travel industry would bounce back to what it was like pre-COVID.
I remember saying to myself, “If I could just make enough money from my blog to cover my travel expenses, I would be more than happy!” And after this year, I am thinking to myself that this could be a real career for me! Like a quit my day job type of deal!
I am here to share with you my successes throughout this year, what I have struggled with, and of course.. how much I made as a travel blogger in 2021!
Let’s dive in…
My Original Goals for 2021
It’s SO funny to look back on goals you set from a year ago, especially because I feel like my goals were so small minded in comparison to what I achieved. My goals for 2022 are going to be a little bit more, “shoot for the stars” vibe 🙂
My goals for 2021 were:
- Get into my dream ad network Mediavine (which I got accepted in April, YAY!)
- Make $10,000 for the year. This was a goal where I thought I was being a little too far-fetched.. considering I only made maybe $2,000 in 2020.
- Score my first sponsored trip where a hotel or tourism board is paying for my travels (that actually happened… pinch me!)
- Launch my first course (which I launched TWO!!)
Guys… I hit all my goals plus some during this year. And the biggest thing I learned is that I dreamed TOO SMALL! 😉
Programs that Drastically Helped my Growth This Year
Keysearch is a program / tool that drastically changed the game for me this year and last year. When 2020 hit, the travel industry pretty much flat lined. All the work I spent on my travel blog went to nothing. It was a very, very hard moment for me and I was SO close to calling it quits.
But then I thought to myself.. Most people are going to give up at this hurdle. If I am persistent and just keep going, I will jump ten steps ahead of everyone!
So, half way through 2020 I decided to dedicate everything I had to learning the ins and outs of Google SEO. I bought every E-Book you could possible imagine, paid for some courses, and WOW did it pay off!
KeySearch is the #1 tool you need if you want to learn Google SEO. It is painfully easy to use, super affordable (especially considering how much reward you get for using it), and is so accurate with looking for good keywords to rank for! I use just the “Keysearch Starter” and pay on an annual basis because you save a ton of money!
Siteground is not necessarily something was a game-changer this year (because I have had it for a few years now), but it is the gift that keeps on giving! I always run into technical issues and Siteground’s team always jumps in to save the day!
Not only that, it has sped up my site and made it more secure. Speedier site = more traffic = more money!!
If you don’t know what hosting is or don’t know if you need it, click here to read my full review on hosting with Siteground!
Tailwind is an absolute MUST if you are using Pinterest. Pinterest requires you to be fairly active on their platform, so Tailwind allows you do that without having to actually log into Pinterest every day. You can spend a few hours batching your pins one day, and be set for a few weeks!
This is something I talk about a million times in my Advanced Pinterest Strategy Course!
I started using the paid hashtag research app, Flick. It has definitely made finding niched hashtags for Instagram a million times easier! You just type in one niche hashtag and it will bring up hundreds of related hashtags. Not only that, but it shows you Light competition, medium competition and high competition, so you can choose a few from each category.
Even though Instagram is a huge pain in the butt for me, it has definitely made my life easier. There are a lot of free platforms out there for hashtag research, which I have used, but I do prefer to use Flick over those!
I really honed down on my editing style this year and created my own Lightroom Presets (which you can check those out here!). That was a big chunk of my new income stream this year as well!
Learning how to edit photos *well* I believe made a huge increase in my traffic this year. It’s hard to track that performance exactly, but Pinterest is such a visual search engine, so I believe that improving my photography skills directly correlates with my increase in Pinterest traffic!
**I always knew how to edit in Lightroom, just not WELL (looking back at old photos lol).
Biggest Changes to My Income This Year
I noticed three big changes that affected my income this year..
1) Getting into Bigger Ad Networks
The biggest changes to my income this year was getting accepted into larger ad networks. Ad revenue for a blogger is typically the largest portion of income and that was something I was lacking because my traffic wasn’t big enough to get into big ad networks in 2020!
Prior to this year, I was just in Google Adsense (which is literally a joke) and was lucky to make $100.00 a month HA!
Well, the end of 2020 I finally hit 10,000 monthly visitors and got accepted into Ezoic. I loved Ezoic so much and made pretty good money, but my time with them was brief because my traffic exploded the first quarter of the year and I ended up getting into Mediavine in April.
2) I stopped obsessing so much about Instagram
In 2020 I finally hit 10,000 followers, which was a magic number for swipe up links and looking good for brands / tourism boards. So when 2021 rolled around, I analyzed what was working for me, what my long term goals were, and what was actually bringing me in rewards for my time.
I realized that Instagram is a very exhausting platform that does not provide that many benefits. The chances of me getting huge numbers of followers when I am not a full time traveler were very slim. Plus, I knew I did not want to be an “Instagram Influencer” who has to show up on Instagram daily, travel all the time to stay relevant, and hunt for brands to pay me to promote them.
I took a HUGE step back from Instagram, where I would go months without posting a single thing. It was honestly soo refreshing and gave me so much time to focus on my website. Which, I think paid off!
The biggest advice I can give you is to focus on your site’s traffic (not obsess over social media followers which is a HUGE waste of time in my opinion) and get into Mediavine! You need to have 50,000 monthly Pageviews to get accepted, which seems like a lot but I know you can do it!!
3) Switching my Lightroom Presets to Etsy
Another big change was launching my Lightroom Presets! I focused a good amount of time launching those and have many preset packs up on Etsy.
Honestly, I think going into 2022 I need to dedicate more time to creating more preset packs, because there are so many bloggers who make $20,000 a month (yes, a month) selling presets on Etsy. So, I really need to set aside some time each month to grow that side of my business next year!
Something I learned this year is how seasonal travel planning in. From late spring to early fall, traffic is BEAUTIFUL. I’m talking 120,000 Pageviews per month kind of traffic.
But once school is back in session, the weather gets colder, and the holidays start coming around, traffic drops to around 50,000 – 60,000 Pageviews per month. I spent many hours *freaking out* at what I was doing wrong and why my numbers dropped so much, but learned from other bloggers that this is super normal. So I will finally relax once spring rolls around and that is confirmed, ha!
PLUS, with all these COVID variants popping up, you can directly see that affect your site’s traffic. For example, when the Delta and Omicron Variant were headlining in the news, I would immediately see a huge dip in my traffic.
Here’s a graph from Google Analytics showing the huge difference between 2020 and 2021 in my traffic channels. Like I said previously, I dedicated most of 2020 to learning and implementing Google SEO and you can see the drastic difference that made in 2021.
2020: 63.4% Traffic Coming from Social Channels (AKA Pinterest)
2021: 65.3% Traffic Coming from Organic Search (AKA Google)
Travel Blog Salary – Income Break Down
The moment you’ve been waiting for… my income for 2021! I am pretty proud of these numbers especially considering I barely made $2,000 in 2020 lol!
Affiliate Income: $4,114.00
Lightroom Preset Sales: $3,505.00
Vacation Planning Service & Course Sales: $516.00
** Sponsored Trips / Travel Trade: ~ $8,000.00 in Value
Want to learn how to score sponsored travel?! I have a full course teaching you everything I know! Click here to check it out! 🙂
Total Income For 2021: $36,573.00
My goal when starting my travel blog was to make every single income stream 100% passive income. This means that I am making consistent and reliable income without trading my time for it!
I work on my blog maybe a few hours a week (yes, I still work a 9-5) and this is what it brings in. Which I think is pretty amazing! 🙂
How I Plan to Increase my Income Next Year
Courses are something I always had planned for my blog, but I wanted to make sure I knew enough about this industry and had enough success myself before feeling qualified enough to teach. I also promised myself that any course I created would be filled with actionable tips (not motivational “fluff”) and wouldn’t be too expensive for new bloggers!
Towards the end of 2021, I felt I had enough knowledge, trial & error, and success to begin teaching other how to achieve the same! In the last few months of the year, I created two courses: Advanced Pinterest Strategy & Scoring Sponsored Travel.
- Pinterest is the platform that got me into Ezoic, started getting my consistent traffic to my site, and helped me grow my Instagram to 10,000 followers! I seriously owe everything to Pinterest, but I’m not going to lie.. it’s a tricky algorithm to master! But… I did it 😉 Click here to check out my Advanced Pinterest Strategy Course!
2. I went on MANY sponsored trips this year where I am getting flown out to dream destinations (like Maui, Napa & Florida Keys) with all expenses paid. I perfected my pitching email, created unique ways to stand out from other “influencers,” and had tons of experience with these types of deals. You can check out my Scoring Sponsored Travel Course here!
Since these launched within the last few months of the year, I did not have much time to market these (especially on my website). Most of next year I plan to create tons of useful free content on my site to help promote the courses. I also hope to launch a few more courses on topics like Photography & Google SEO!
Sponsored posts are similar to what you see on Instagram with influencers promoting a product. However, bloggers can do this as well by posting sponsored blog posts on their website promoting a company / product.
I always avoided doing this because I really wanted to focus on building my sites traffic with authentic travel content first, but now that I have healthy traffic levels, I can begin accepting sponsored posts.
I will definitely be very picky with these because they are a heck of a lot of work and because the trust of my audience is SO SO important to me. I know every influencer always says that, but seriously. My audience’s trust is more important than any small amount of money I can make from a sponsored blog post.
These types of posts can range from $500 – $1,500 per blog post, so there is definitely room for a little bump in income from these in the upcoming year!
Increase in Traffic
Obviously I am hoping the more I travel and the more I write, the more traffic I will get. I also am hoping that I continue to learn & improve, which will bring better quality content to my audience.
All of these factors I hope will bring in more traffic than the year before, which directly correlates with my ad & affiliate revenue.
Being in Mediavine for a Full Year
I did not get accepted and get my first pay check from Mediavine until the middle of 2021. I know that being in Mediavine for a full year will obviously increase my annual income! If I make an average of $3,500 a month on ad revenue (which is not a far fetched thought), that will drastically increase from my average of $1,703.00 from 2021!
Making more Preset Packs on Etsy
There are some crazy success stories out their about people selling their presets on Etsy. When I switched my presets over to Etsy end of 2020, I definitely saw a big bump in passive income.
After I launched my shop, I planned to get new preset packs up monthly and… well, that didn’t happen lol. I haven’t touched it since and even though I make a nice passive income from it, I don’t think it would be too much work to double the number of presets and (hopefully) double my income!
My Goals for 2022
- Make at least $60,000 – Yes, that’s a pretty big jump. But I do think it’s possible! Most of my income from 2021 came from only May – August, so I think being in Mediavine a full year plus the addition to courses to my income stream I can definitely get there.
- Really focus on growing my “How to Become a Travel Blogger” site with creating loads of free content & promoting my courses! Maybe get my second site into Ezoic or Mediavine? 😉
- Launch my Google SEO Course (which I know is going to be SO useful for other bloggers)!
- Introduce Travel Blogging Consulting where I give one-on-one help to new bloggers!
- Agree to do a few Sponsored Blog Posts.
- Get to 20,000 Instagram Followers (not a huge goal of mine because Instagram is not my big focus for my business, but would make it easier to score sponsored travel). If you want to be friends on Instagram, click here to check me out! 🙂
Okay, that’s a wrap! I hope sharing my travel blog salary gives you the motivation to go after this crazy dream of yours. I hate to sound cheesy, but you can seriously do anything that you don’t give up on. It’s not IF you ever reach your goal, its just a matter of WHEN!
Here are some FREE guides I think you would love:
- How to get more Monthly Viewers on Pinterest
- How to Skyrocket your Monthly Viewers on Pinterest in 5 Easy Steps
- A Travel Bloggers Top 5 Editing Tips!
If you’re a new travel blogger and you want to take the first step in monetizing your site, be sure to sign up for my COMPLETELY FREE 5 day bootcamp! It’s better to get everything set up from the beginning so you don’t have to go back and fix it later.