You’ve heard about people who make money online or who get paid to travel the world, but you want to know: Can you do the same?
Many people want to travel, and their dream is to get paid to do it. Whether you want to be a travel content creator, a travel influencer, or both, this post will help you get started. We’ll explore the types of content you can create, how to publish it and get noticed, and how to make money doing it.
I’ve been publishing this blog for over a decade, but I only got serious about it in 2019. However, I have more than 20 years of freelancing and blogging experience under my belt – all without a “normal” full-time job. So I feel uniquely qualified to help you start down the same path!
What is a Travel Content Creator?
It probably sounds obvious, but a travel content creator is someone who creates some kind of content related to travel.
The kinds of content you can create are totally up to you! Some common ideas are writing, photography, and videos. You may also make more creative kinds of content, such as drawings and illustrations.
When choosing a type of content, consider a few things:
- What kind of content would you most enjoy creating?
- What kind of content would your audience be most likely to consume?
- How can you distribute that content and potentially make money by doing so?
For example, if you really enjoy writing, but find video creation too tedious (or daunting to even start), then you probably want to consider travel writing. You could distribute your writing in many different ways.
If you consider yourself a photographer, and you live to take photos of the amazing places you visit, then that could be a better path for you. Or if you truly love to create and consume video, which is super popular right now, then that’s gonna be your game!
Make sure you choose something that you won’t easily burn out on. If you hate to write, don’t try to become a travel writer. You might do it for a while but you’ll eventually decide you hate it and you won’t be motivated to continue. Choose something you love and you’ll be able to stick with it and have fun doing it at the same time.
What is a Travel Influencer?
A travel influencer is similar to a travel content creator, but their specific goal is to reach other people, to inspire or educate, and likely make money when people consume their content.
Influencers are generally found on social media or other online outlets, which we’ll discuss below in the section about distributing your content.
Travel influencers often work with brands to help them gain recognition for their products among the influencer’s audience. They may or may not create their own content to do so.
You may think a travel influencer has to have a recognizable name (like the Kardashians) with a million followers. While that can help, brands are often more interested in the engagement of your followers rather than the number you have. So don’t discount this path even if you’re just getting started or don’t have a huge audience (yet).
Different Ways to Create Travel Content
How you create travel content will depend on what kind of content you want to create! Let’s look at the three most common kinds of travel content, and how you would create them.
As a writer, there are lots of different ways to create and share your content. Writing blog posts is probably the most frequent, and you’ll find thousands of travel blogs across the web.
But blog posts aren’t the only thing you can write. You may choose instead to write magazine or newspaper articles. You may publish travel guides, either printed or online. You could even publish your own travel journals as a source of inspiration for others, and to share stories that resonate with your readers.
Writing is easy in the sense that it doesn’t require a lot of expensive or hard-to-carry equipment. You can use a laptop, or even a tablet or smartphone, or you can use an old-fashioned pencil and paper. (In fact, physically writing in a paper travel journal can be extremely rewarding!)
Of course, becoming a good writer takes practice and dedication. So while the tools may come easy, the talent takes time to develop.
Today’s smartphones make photography easier than it has ever been. Many content creators use nothing more than a great smartphone and editing apps/software to create amazing travel photos.
Other photographers stick with more professional mirrorless or DSLR cameras. In particular, if your content has long zoom requirements (such as wildlife photography), you may not be able to use your smartphone.
There are even some old-school photographers who still use film!
Most photographers rely on a variety of equipment. For me, that includes a DSLR camera (for now!), a variety of lenses included a telephoto lens, a recent-model iPhone, and software such as Lightroom, Topaz, and more.
When you’re traveling, keep an eye out for things you want to photograph, both for your own memories and to share with your audience. You’ll find there’s a lot of overlap. Practice your photography skills and you’ll find your content improving over time.
Videos can also be created using most modern smartphones. Although I’m not a video producer myself, I suspect most of them use a smartphone to shoot videos for both YouTube and social media. Most DSLR and mirrorless cameras can also shoot video.
(There are also dedicated cameras for video production, so if you’re really doing something professional, that might be more up your alley. I won’t try to talk about video cameras, since it’s not something I know anything about.)
For phones, investing in a smartphone gimbal or stabilizer can help reduce shake in your videos. With cameras, you’ll likely find you need a tripod to stabilize the video. Keep in mind that heavier zoom lenses require studier tripods.
Aerial photography and videography has really taken off (pun intended) lately, so a drone camera might be another thing you want to invest in.
How to Publish Your Content and Gain a Following
If you only want to create content for your own enjoyment, that’s totally fine! You may have a series of journals that you’ve kept during your travels, or a hard drive full of photos that help you relive the memories.
But if you want to gain influence and exposure as a content creator, you’ll need to publish your content somewhere so that people can find and follow you.
Here are some places to publish that amazing content you’ve created.
Your Own Blog
No matter what kind of content you create, your own blog is a place to develop your brand, tell your story, and share your content.
A blog doesn’t necessarily require you to write much. We generally think of blogs as having lots of articles (also called “posts”). But a photographer may have a blog that they only use to share their photos, with just enough writing to describe the images.
I believe every content creator should have their own blog, even if it’s not their primary source of exposure. Your own blog is something that you can control, and it’s not subject to the whims of other platforms. (Video-less photographers still trying to get exposure on Instagram know what I’m talking about!)
Some other benefits of your own blog are:
- Visitors aren’t exposed to your competitors’ content at the same time.
- If you keep a mailing list – which you absolutely should – you can collect subscribers from your blog. Try doing that from a social media account only!
- It strengthens your brand, from photos of yourself to a domain name that matches your brand name.
Writers can also distribute content on Medium.com, a website for writers and readers. This is a good way to get exposure for your writing, especially if you can get content accepted to Medium publications.
Medium allows you to monetize your writing too, and many people have made a great income using Medium. Readers pay a small fee to subscribe, and your revenue comes out of that platform fee.
Video producers can share content in a number of places, but the most obvious one (other than social media, mentioned next) is on YouTube. YouTube is the de facto standard for almost any kind of video.
Hosting video on your own website can be expensive, as files are large, requiring lots of storage space, and bandwidth (transferring data across the internet) costs money. Putting them on Youtube helps them get found, and if you also have a blog, you can embed your YouTube videos on your website too. (Did you know Youtube.com is the second-most visited website in the world, after Google?)
Social media is probably the most common type of outlet for travel influencers. This is because the platforms have such a larger number of users, and influencers can interact with their community using the tools provided.
Here are some common social media platforms for different types of content.
- Instagram – once a photo-sharing platform, Instagram now features video even more than photos. But both are still common. I would also bet that Instagram still is the most desirable platform for brands wanting to work with influencers.
- TikTok – designed for short-form video, this platform is one of the most recent entries but has experienced tremendous growth. It’s so popular that Instagram, Facebook, and even YouTube have followed suit with support for short-form videos. This is the place to be if you make travel videos. Another note: it’s easy to use the same video across multiple platforms.
- Facebook – the largest social media network that exists, this platform has somewhat declined in popularity since it made its algorithm particularly difficult for “pages” aka brands. It also skews towards an older crowd, but if that describes your audience, it may be worth investing some time in.
- Twitter – yep, people still use Twitter! You can share photos and video, but of course, your tweets are limited to 280 characters. So where you may see Instagram captions that are almost blog posts themselves, you won’t see this on Twitter, unless it’s done as a series of tweets. Twitter is best used to interact with your audience rather than to drive traffic, but if your audience is engaged, you can still recommend brands and products to them when done in a conversational way.
Some other platforms are LinkedIn, for job hunters and business connections; Vero, a newer photography-based platform; and 500px, also for photos.
No matter what network(s) you choose, you need to learn how to use them and dedicate time to interacting with the community that you build on each platform.
Producing Content for Others
You don’t have to be responsible for publishing your own content, especially if you’re not trying to be an influencer. You can produce content that gets exposed in more traditional ways.
For example, writers may contribute travel pieces to magazines and newspapers, or even to other people’s blogs, and get paid for their writing.
Photographers can get hired to produce images (or videos) for destinations, such as hotels, who pay for their travel expenses as well as for the resulting photos or videos provided to them for their own use.
How to Monetize Your Travel Content
Here’s the nitty gritty – getting paid to produce travel content.
If you’re writing your own blog, the two most common ways to monetize it are to serve ads or to link to affiliate products. Sponsored content is still around, but less popular than it used to be, while brand partnerships are big in social media.
Selling Ad Space
To serve ads, you may work out private arrangements with companies to advertise on your blog. This is the most profitable way to earn money from ads, but also the hardest to manage. Many people use an ad network instead, such as Google Adsense, Ezoic, or Mediavine. The ad network displays ads for its customers, and you get a cut of the money they earn. If you have enough traffic, this can be quite lucrative and could even replace a full-time income.
Affiliate marketing means you link to a product for sale, and if someone clicks your link and then buys the product, you earn a commission.
Not just any links work, though; you need to apply to become an affiliate and then use special links that track traffic coming from your website. That’s how the seller (or affiliate company) knows to pay you!
Again, your earnings will be dependent on your traffic, but also on the products you promote.
Sponsored Blog Content
Sponsored blog content is where someone pays you to publish content on your blog that benefits them. Examples include a guest post used to drive traffic to their website via links, or a review to convince people to buy their product.
Generally you will be paid for the content they provide, or you will be paid more to write it yourself. There are specific rules you need to follow relating to sponsored content, to prevent your website from being penalized by Google.
Similar to sponsored blog content, there is sponsored social media content, usually in the form of brand partnerships. This is where a brand – such as a hotel, a tourism board, or a travel-related product – wishes to promote its offerings to your followers.
Like sponsored blog content, the content could be created by the brand or by yourself, but usually the photos are your own, because that suggests more of an endorsement and resonates better with your audience than a photo or video the brand provides. In exchange for your posting the sponsored content, they will pay you as well.
A Note About Payment
With any of these options, you may be paid in actual money. You might simply be paid by being given a free product, or your travel expenses to a particular destination might be covered as well. Many times it’s a combination of these.
It’s up to you to determine whether your time is worth what’s being offered. Feel free to negotiate, and to turn down sponsorships that you don’t feel are worth your time. Finally, make sure all payment (whether cash or freebies) are outlined in advance and agreed to in writing. The more specific your contract, the better it will cover any misunderstandings!
As you can see, there are many ways to be a travel content creator. Whether you choose to monetize your efforts by being a travel influencer or running your own blog, is up to you.
You’ll typically get out of this what you put into it. Don’t be afraid to start slow, if you want, or go ahead and jump in with both feet if your finances and risk-taking principles allow!
Did you like this post? Here are some other related posts you may find useful:
5 Ideas to Monetize Your Travel Blog – This post will help you turn your new or existing blog into a revenue stream. Find out different ways to use your blog to supplement or even replace your regular income.
Build an Amazing Travel Photography Business with Social Media – If you want to build a following on social media, particularly as a photographer, here’s how.