How I make money with my travel blog
I don’t usually write about blogging on milanostyle.com but I have had some recent questions from readers and in this article, I would like to answer the question “How does a blogger make money?”
If you are a beginner blogger, you will find a lot of blog coaching articles telling you how to make money blogging by giving you general information like “join Google Ad Sense” or “join an affiliate network” as if by simply adding links on your page you will start earning tons of cash. Many promise that you will make thousands of dollars blogging and then you can sit back, relax and live on a passive income.
There is nothing passive about passive income! There are so many other ways to earn money with a blog and throughout my blogging career, I have discovered sources of income I had never thought of. Mastering affiliate programs can be a great source of income, but there are other ways to make money with a blog in addition to banners and affiliate networks.
Here is the story of my blog, milanostyle.com and how I make a living from it.
I have been blogging on milanostyle.com for over 15 years. Like many bloggers I started my blog to share my interests. MilanoStyle.com is about my life living in Milan and travelling in Italy and around Europe.
I started out writing about my favorite cafes, restaurants, and shops. On the blog I share stories about Italian culture and living in Italy as an expat. I wanted to share my experiences with family and friends back home. Then a funny thing started happening, people I didn’t even know were writing to me asking for travel advice and general information on how to get around and what to visit in Milan.
People contacting me through the website asking question is how my personalized itinerary planning service got started. There is a lot of free information on the internet, but not everyone has the time to search for it. The information available online is overwhelming, but having personal assistance and local knowledge is useful and valuable. For example, how to get to the center from Milano Malpensa airport or finding the best activities for children in Milan or which train to take to visit Lake Como.
The personalized itinerary planning service is very simple; I ask the user to complete a form with detailed questions and then create a personal pdf download. From the initial questionnaire, I try to understand their needs and concerns and personal preferences. If needed, I can follow up with more questions. I create a personalized guide and itinerary which they download online.
I am not a travel agent and do not claim to be, I only give my personal recommendations as if I were advising my sister or a good friend. Travel agents often contact me for local insights as well. I once assisted in organizing a tour in Mini Coppers followed by dinner at a luxury villa for 35 people!
Many people write in asking about hotels. When I pass a nice hotel, I go in and ask if I can look around. Surprisingly, many places are accommodating and will even show me a room. Of course, I haven’t visited every hotel in the city, but I can let the user know if it’s in a good neighborhood, if its accessible to public transportation, or if it is near the activities they have planned. One woman wrote to me asking for a hotel recommendation. She was going to a wedding and confessed that she didn’t want to stay in the same place as the other guests but wanted to stay nearby. With the Booking.com affiliate program, I earn a small commission if the user decides to book a room.
Tickets, Activities and Tours
Travelers to Milan are always looking for tickets, activities and tours. The most popular things to do and see in Milan are the Rooftop Visit of the Duomo, tickets to the Last Supper by Da Vinci, and a day trip to Lake Como. I use different travel programs, but I find that the graphics, images, and widgets from GetYourGuide.com are the most attractive. To become a GetYourGuide.com affiliate is easy and installation on the website is easy too.
Many American travelers are intimidated by driving in a foreign country and prefer to travel by train, but Europeans will either drive from their home country or rent a car at the airport. Booking.com also has a car rental affiliate called RentalCarsConnect.com. Flights and train travel can be booked online with programs like Expedia but I admit I have not pursued trying to earn money with transportation. Finding cheap flight deals and following it up with promotion is very time consuming.
Native Content Marketing and Sponsored Content
Native content means having a blogger write about your company or service from their unique point of view and share it with their niche audience. Sometimes I am invited to try a tour, stay at a hotel or review an app. I also collaborate with companies in Italy and abroad by publishing featured articles or guest posts.
Milanostyle.com has been online for many years and has built a niche audience of over 8000 email and push subscribers, has earned an excellent online reputation and top 10 search engine rankings. This is due to consistent, quality content, the relationship I have created with my audience, and the behind the scenes SEO magic done by SeoTravelContent.com. The team at SeoTravelContent.com monitor my website performance and consult me on how best to word and present my content.
It may go against good business sense, but I am quite selective. I will only promote a company or service which I believe will be valuable and beneficial for my readers. All sponsored content is tagged with #ad or #adv.
I write and sell e-books and travel guides on my blog and on Amazon. In addition to the personalized travel guides, I have created a series of downloads that help travelers coming to Italy.
I also write freelance features on travel in Italy, Italian culture, and lifestyle for magazines and other blogs. My work has been published in HuffPost, Lux Afrique, Wellum, Italo-Americano, Verde Natura, Forbes Travel Guide and more. See my portfolio here.
I also ghost-write for other blogs. My ghost-writing is published anonymously but that is the nature of ghost writing. Contact me if you need a hand!
I am an avid cellphone photographer and two years ago I got a Cannon Powershot SX730HS. My photos have been used on multiple websites and print publications. Blog owners, publications and content creators can license my photos via Picfair.com. My images are labeled under the name ITM (Italy Travel & More).
Sometimes I get requests for gigs I had not even thought of. Through connections I have made with the readers and sponsors, I have been invited to officiate weddings, be a spokesperson at corporate events, be a mystery guest and mystery shopper for hospitality quality control, asked to scout locations for photo shoots and I have been asked to speak at schools. It’s very exciting to get a surprise request through the blog. Contact me if I can help you with anything!
To sum it up, there are more ways to earn money from your blog than just affiliate links and banner ads.
My advice for new bloggers is:
- Understand what your readers are really interested in and give them more
- Think about other skills you have and how you can create a service from it
- Consider outsourcing your skills to others
I hope this helped and answered your question about making money with a blog. Feel free to send me your questions and inquiries.