…which brings me, untimely, to my next post. If making money with travel blogs is next to impossible, what’s the alternative? (Apart from selling your soul to some Blue Chip monster of course).
Well the people that make money in travel are not round-the-world bloggers rattling off peremptory posts about the status of their digestive system from far flung corners of the globe. They are people who live in great cities/countries and take the time to build a fantastic resource for tourists/travellers to use whenever they plan on visiting.
You could say they build a travel website, rather than keep a travel blog/diary, but then again the difference between a website and a blog is artificial at best… the main difference is that, by focusing on one place the websites of these (far smarter) travel writers become a useful resource which they can brand and sell, and one will perform much better on Search Engines for their niche (although ‘niche’ is a rather broad term for those that cover every aspect of visiting London or Paris for example). Write a 100 pages of content about a small town in Italy and you’ve quite possibly got a leading website on your hands (and suddenly every restaurant, hotel and bar owner in town will want to talk to you). Write one post about every night out you had in South America, Australia and South East Asia and you’ve got an enjoyable, but ultimately next to worthless, site.
The example I am going to cite of a successful travel site is one I used to work for – www.cracow-life.com. By learning a bit about search engines, and by ranking well for key terms like Cracow hotels, Cracow apartments, Cracow restaurants, Cracow stag weekends (the list is endless!) you can make money either from advertisers, or – slightly more complicated – via bookings. Eg. tourists book a hotel via your website and you make 5-20% commission (depending on how much work you do). If you’re top of the tree for the term ‘City Hotels’, you’ll be very very rich in no time at all. (Ok, maybe not for ‘Yerevan hotels‘ but for any mid-sized, vaguely touristy destination).
Unfortunately a lot of people worked this out a long time ago. Which is why with any major destination you’ll be swimming uphill… esp. on key commercial terms like hotels/apartments etc. Being a glutton for punishment that hasn’t stopped me from trying to take on one of the biggest tourist cities there is – Barcelona. I’ve been working on Barcelona Life for nearly two years now and it’s more less been paying the rent on a small room in the city (half the time I work in BCN, the other half in London) for most of that time. It’s been tough and I have been effing poor most months. Really effing poor! But now I have over 25,000 visitors to my site every month and I’ve got great positions on Google.com for loads of key terms like restaurants in Barcelona, Barcelona guided tours and Spanish courses in Barcelona, all of which are potential money earners if you can back that up with some sales skills. You can also make money on strange niche terms – like “Barcelona deep sea fishing” or “Opium Mar VIP guestlist“… the opportunities are, well not quite endless, but much more than selling a few links on a travel blog.
So there you go! The good news is that, back at the HQ of Cracow Life they’ve been busy working on a franchise model which means anyone can take advantage of their great brand, technology and know-how. Of course you need to pay a bit for the privilege (yeah, there’s always a catch!), but if you’re serious about making money with travel websites the headstart working with them with give you – over going it alone – is enormous! (Think a brand that already exists across Europe – check Berlin Life and Moscow Life; great technologies, including Google maps, social media links, embedded videos and, coming soon, iPhone apps; lots of links to help you with your SEO… your site will quickly be visible on Google.com, which is vital to your chances of success; and a community of other team members across the world sharing knowledge and tips).
My advice to anyone looking to start a business in the travel media industry would be to pick a city that is perhaps a little lesser known and get in contact – only an idiot like me would attempt Barcelona, but somewhere like Valencia even might be very lucrative much quicker. Drop me a line if you have any questions and I’ll put you in touch with the head honcho, who is looking for franchise partners right now:)