I had been writing travel articles for a website that uses a secret pay calculation to determine how much I’m paid. Every time they reconfigured the calculator, my pay decreased. And worse, I had to abide by their rules and publish my articles using clunky non-flexible software.
I wanted my own blog, one that I had more control over, but I had no idea how to go about starting one. Then Great Escape Publishing introduced the Money-Making Travel Blogs program. I signed up right away, and within a couple of months my blog was up and my first article posted. I e-mailed invitations to family and friends asking them to subscribe. Then I created a Facebook page to complement my blog and began posting links to my articles. It wasn’t long before my articles began appearing in Google searches, complete strangers began subscribing, and I started to realize the perks of blogging.
The blog focuses on my local region, so I sent e-mails to tourism bureaus throughout the area, telling them about it and asking for information on attractions and events. I not only got information, but I started getting invitations for weekend no-charge trips, too.
It’s expensive to travel. The cost of weekend trips adds up when you pay for a hotel, meals, attractions, and gas. However, on these little-to-no-charge press trips, accommodations, attractions, and most meals are complimentary, so the only expense is transportation.
Last year I took 17 trips, and my husband was invited to come along on most of them. Sometimes we’re escorted by a tourism representative, sometimes we meet just for an introduction and a nice meal, and sometimes we’re on our own. We always get the V.I.P. treatment, from private guided tours to a room in the area’s nicest accommodations, and I often get gift baskets filled with premium items, chocolates, wine, or whatever the area is known for. I’ve even been given a designer tote bag and gift certificates to outlet mall stores.
More benefits have come from networking with tourism folks. I was invited to speak at my state’s Governor’s Conference on Tourism as part of a media panel. Besides attending the entire conference for free, I received several additional trip offers. I am also now a blogger for my state tourism website.
As soon as I get back from a trip—and sometimes before I’m back—I start blogging about the places I’ve visited. I send links to my hosts, and more often than not, they share the links on their social media sites, resulting in lots of page views — and often, more blog subscribers or social media followers.
Once I got into a routine of posting blog articles regularly and had a decent number of readers, I added Google AdSense to my blog. Now I get paid whenever someone clicks on one of the ads. As my readership grows, my profits from these ads will continue to rise, too.
In the meantime, I’m packing for another no-charge trip coming up this weekend and continuing to add more trips for 2014 to my calendar.
If you’ve dreamed of starting your own blog, you just have to go for it and…
- Do it now. The best time to start anything is now. The faster you get your blog up, the faster you can start enjoying the perks and profits.
- Don’t be afraid to ask. The tourism industry realizes that hosting a writer is cheap advertising for them, so once you have an established blog, they’re happy to wine and dine you. All you have to do is inquire. In the first year my blog was up, I was given thousands of dollars’ worth of perks. I stayed in hotels I never would have been able to afford on my own, ate at fancy restaurants, and was treated to activities that people pay a lot of money for, like zip-lining and parasailing
- Promote, promote, promote. Social networking is key for your blog; I’ve gotten a good amount of new followers just from social media posts. And while I’ve just started adding advertising to my blog, I plan to look at additional opportunities to boost my ad revenue and earn more cash in addition to all my travel perks.
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up today here and we’ll send you a report, Get Paid to Travel as a Travel Writer, completely FREE.]