How I actually make money as a travel blogger

Last year, I wrote this nice article about how I make money travel blogging. Well, it’s time to reveal some truth!

Truth #1: Every travel blogger will mention the same things, more or less.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt reading, and the information is true, too. But they are so popular and so well mentioned that they almost become cliché when people talk about the topic.

Simply put, you don’t get anything new.

Truth #2: Although they are ways I earned money, they are NOT the best ones to earn most of the money, to be honest.

So, what is the best, you ask. Here in this blog post, I will show you how I ACTUALLY make money as a travel blogger. No cliché granted!

How I make money as a travel blogger

1. Freelance columnist (since 2012)

I started this job in 2012 after my friend introduced me to the Editor-in-chief of Travellive Magazine – a famous bilingual travel magazine in the market, and Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam. These two were the very first magazines I wrote for, and they have become my best clients ever since.

At that time I suffered from my corporate life at Schneider Electric Vietnam. It was a nice job with a good salary, of course, but I just didn’t find joy in it. Sunday became awkward as it meant I had to go to work on Monday. You know, when you have THAT feeling, it’s time for a change.

I realised that writing was my passion. Back to 2012, nobody really got the idea of freelancing or blogging or anything like that, neither did my mother. My mother – a typical Asian mother – didn’t support the idea of quitting my job, travelling around and freelancing. Not at all.

So, I kept suffering from my job for a while, until I found a job announcement on the Internet. It was exactly the company that was in charge of Harper’s Bazaar Vietnam that wanted to find a travel editor for the online version of one of their magazines.

I took the leap and applied immediately. Long story short, I finally switched my job, from a corporate world to media and publishing, and worked there for almost two years until I moved to Sweden to pursue my Master degree in Communication in 2014.

During that time, I’ve built a strong network of content producers, editors, marketers, etc. in Vietnam, ranging from the publishing industry to the travel one. They have helped me get in contact with potential clients and score regular orders from Vietnam.

Now I mainly write about travelling in Europe, food, culture and lifestyle.

2. Translator (2012 – 2014)

It was a nice freelance job that helped me earn extra money, especially when I was still living in Vietnam.

After moving to Sweden, I stopped taking clients as my studies abroad were hard enough. I just didn’t have time to do it, nor did I want to do it genuinely.

Quick update of 2019: I’ve been back to this job since I’m now a full-time time travel blogger, I just have to take every single opportunity that comes to me!

3. Travel blogger (from 2017)

I stared Misa’s Travel Blog (this blog) in 2016, but not until 2017 that I started to actually earn money as a travel blogger.

It took me a sweet one year to learn everything from scratch, including web building, SEO, blogging, SoMe, WordPress-ing, et cetera et cetera… After all that stuff plus days and nights creating new content, engaging on SoMe platforms, building my community, I scored my very first client, a visa service agency.

I charged them $30 for a post. Yes, thirty dollars, you read it right. But please keep in my that an average salary in Vietnam is about $350 and you’ll get the point.

But of course, $30 was nothing. It was nothing compared to the expensive living cost here in Norway. However, it was the feeling of finally making money from your hobby that was worth it.

Fast forward, I’ve got more clients ever since and raised my charge, duh! Yet I can never get the same feeling as I scored the first client anymore.

Until now, this is my second biggest income. Although it’s not stable as I’m not that famous to score sponsored post on a monthly basis, it still counts.

4. Tour planner (2017 – 2018)

Over the years, I gained the trust of my frequent readers and also those who found and read my blog. I started to get DM asking about planning trips to Europe, what to do, where to eat, hotels recommendation, etc.

In the beginning, it was OK to answer because I also wanted to gain more followers and readers on all my platforms, until one day…

A girl dropped me a DM asking if I could make a plan for her and her boyfriend’s trip to Europe, and how much I would charge. Wow, a new idea just appeared in my head, “Can I really charge people for planning their trip to Europe?”

And the answer is “Yes!”

Just like the first sponsor client mentioned above, I charged her peanuts. But think: Thank her, I’ve discovered another way to finance myself and the blog. Does it count a win-win?

I earned quite well from this job until August 2018 that I had to give it a break due to my giving birth to our second baby.

Quick update of 2019: I am now back with this service! Do you want me to help you design your perfect first-time European travel itinerary? Drop me an email and we’ll discuss more!

5. Travel content creator (since 2018)

2018 was my good year to learn new things. One of them was to become a content marketer within the travel industry.

Through some connection from Vietnam, I got a remote job of web content coordinator for one of the biggest travel agencies in my home country.

When I first started, I totally had no idea about content marketing. I just wrote because I enjoy doing it, and I can earn money doing it. After a while, I began to learn more about content marketing and became hooked by it. I also realised that what I’ve done with my travel, was actually content marketing, considering me myself as a product/brand!

By the end of 2018, I’ve secured enough clients to make sure that my income plus my husband’s salary was enough for our frugal living in the countryside.

I then registered my content marketing company in Norway to make sure that I pay enough tax for the country. At the moment, this is totally a one-man-show: I’m the owner slash sales person slash writer slash photo editor slash whatever. And THIS is my biggest income as a travel blogger.

Is it hard trying to do all these things? Yes, of course, it’s hard. But hey, there is no job on Earth that can guarantee you money without working hard, right?

So, these are my five ways to make money as a travel blogger. Of course, there are alternatives like selling your photos, being VA (virtual assistant), teaching languages, coding, app developing, and so on. Give it a try and see how far it can take you and your blog to!

I hope you find this article useful as it can give you a clear vision of how you can make money as a travel blogger, but not by placing ads or doing affiliate marketing.
For those who are considering being a digital nomad or full-time travel blogger, I hope you find inspiration by reading my blog, and good luck with your choice!


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