How I’ve Paid for Eight Years of Travel With My Blog


travel blogger dream

I first published this blog post in 2014. Back then, I was so proud of how I’d built this site into a successful business. 

Well, successful-ish

Five years ago, I was pulling in around $2,000 a month from dubious means, happily working 90-hour weeks. Yes, from that data, you can calculate that I was rocking an hourly rate of $5.50. 

But guess what?

Before I started travelling, that had been my hourly wage. 

When I decided to take a gap year, I was still in college. I worked various retail jobs, earning £4.20 an hour, or $5.40 as I did so. Once, I scored an eight-week internship over my summer break, coding particle accelerator simulators in Python and making around £3 an hour. I squeezed in my retail jobs at the weekend and worked 60 days without a day off, earning very little. 

But to me, I felt like I had so much money for travel. I was working my ass off in order to see the world for as long as possible, so I didn’t care how little I was making for so much work. I just wanted to travel for a year. 

I’ve never had a full-time job; a corporate job. After I graduated, I set out on my round-the-world trip and planned to return to the U.K. to get my PhD a year later.

So back in 2014, after three years of travel, I was stoked to be making what I believed to be a decent income for what I thought was a typical amount of work. 

Maldivian money
Flash-forward to now. To 2019. 

If have someone had told me that one day I’d be making five figures a month — six figures a year — in passive income, I would have likely passed out from the shock. If someone had told me I’d occasionally take an entire month off from work to travel or work on my mental health and that my revenue wouldn’t change in the slightest when I did so?

Man. That was the dream. That was the goal that I thought was unattainable. 

It turns out it’s now my reality. 

So I figured it was time for an update to this post. It still receives a decent amount of traffic, but it’s woefully out-of-date. 

So let me kick this post off by telling you guys all about my original blog post. 

Working from anywhere

In 2014, I was making money from several different sources: link selling (what I called “advertising”), freelance writing, freelance editing, and affiliate marketing.

The bulk of my income came from selling links. It was pretty much the only way for a mid-tier travel blogger to make money back then — or at least, it was the only way that I knew how to make money. 

It was pretty shady. 

Selling links was all about helping companies manipulate their ranking in Google — the more links you have pointing to your site, the higher you’ll rank, in theory. And so, I’d be contacted by people everyday, asking if they could buy a link to their site from my blog. For $200, I’d copy and paste their link into my site, and be paid a day later — easy money.

As I said, it’s not the most ethical of income sources, and you run the risk of being caught by Google and losing your own search traffic. I stopped selling links as soon as I began making money in other ways and it was such a relief to do so. 

Freelance writing was my saviour for a while.

I landed a gig with About.com Travel, now Trip Savvy, in 2013, and it gave me a guaranteed income of roughly $1,000 a month. All I had to do was publish eight articles a month — all about student travel — at a word count of around 800-1,200. It was simple work and would take me a week or so to bash out all the content.

I did occasional freelancing for other sites, too — writing travel technology articles for Too Many Adapters on occasion, putting together guides on Latin American food for the Latin Kitchen, and Hipmunk hired me for a few months to write a hundred-odd travel guides for the site. I was even hired to write travel guides for Facebook at one point, although they never did anything with the content. . 

Freelance editing was something that fell into my lap.

A magazine reached out to see if I wanted to edit their travel section and I leapt at the chance. It wasn’t huge money, but $300-odd for something that took me a day to do felt incredible.  

I wish I’d put more effort into generating affiliate income — promoting products and services and making a commission from any sales made through the link. Back in 2014, I had two packing lists on my site and I’d make around $30-100 a month from them. That income slowly died out and I assumed that affiliate income was only for the huge sites. I ignored it for the next few years. 

And that was about it for how I made my income. I had a few odd jobs here and there — a fellow travel blogger hired me to help with SEO work for around $500 a month. I sold a photo to a magazine. I planned somebody’s trip. And a random reader emailed me to ask for my Paypal address and sent sporadic donations through to buy me a meal every now and then. 

During a typical month, I’d make around $1000 from link selling, $1000 from freelance writing, $300 for freelance editing, and maybe $50 from affiliates. Sometimes I’d have a good month, where I’d make $2,500 from selling links and $3,000 from freelancing. It varied all the time, but probably averaged out at around $2,000 or $3,000. That was case from 2011 to 2015. 

Most importantly of all, I was happy about it. 

I wasn’t motivated by money, and took the view that if I was breaking even and able to pay to travel the world indefinitely, I didn’t need anything else in my life. koh ngai swimming pool resort

Most importantly of all, back then, I had control over where I lived my life. 

Had a series of bad months? I could move to Vietnam, spend a month in a homestay for like, $150 rent, eat $1 meals, and work on my site. I was able to travel full-time while earning so little because I was able to reduce my costs by living in cheaper parts of the world. 

I think it’s important to mention that when talking about income from travel blogging. Because while it can take a long time to start making good money, you can spend that time living in inexpensive parts of the world, spending very little, and still building up your savings. 

In 2015, though, things began to change. 

Serbian money

I landed a book deal through my travel blog, for starters. 

And that kind of changed my mindset when it came to success. Suddenly, I started to view myself as a successful travel blogger — one of the top travel bloggers — and I realised I could be doing a lot more with my site. It was time to start experimenting. 

While I was writing my book, I began to experiment with affiliate income. As I mentioned above, I’d always believed that you could only make money from affiliates if you were pulling in a ton of traffic. But I decided to try it out anyway. 

I started with Agoda.

I went through every blog post and at the end of each one, I added a small paragraph mentioning where I stayed and linking out to the guesthouse with an Agoda affiliate link. The first month I did this, I made $700. 

Oops

That was when things began to change. 

Indonesian rupiah

Suddenly, I realised I could be doing a hell of a lot more with my travel blog. 

I turned my focus towards affiliates and made it my primary source of income. Whenever I stay in a hotel, buy a flight, pick up travel insurance, or fall in love with a travel product, I mention it on my site and link out to it. I love this way of making money because it allows me to run my site exactly how I want to — I can travel wherever I want and write about whatever I want.

I tried my hand at advertising, too, –proper advertising, rather than link selling — signing up with Mediavine and falling in love with the company. I make good money from ads now, and as long as my traffic doesn’t tank, it’s a stable form of income. 

My book, How Not to Travel the World, launched and I’m so proud of how well it’s done! It’s tough to make money in the publishing industry, and I definitely haven’t become rich from the sales, but there are more benefits to publishing than making money. Four years after my book was released into the wild, I still spot it in bookstores all over the world. It’s a feeling that’ll never get old. 

I even launched a course, about how to overcome travel anxiety. I’ve been travelling with anxiety from day one, and I believe I know more about how to do so than anyone on the planet. I put together a 60,000 word guide on how to get out and see the world and also offer a mentorship and access to a private Facebook community. Again, this isn’t something that’s made me a ton of money, but to hear nothing but praise from the 100 participants has meant the world to me. I’m always thrilled when somebody pushes through their anxiety to explore a new country. 

An unexpected income source for me has been chasing down copyright infringements with Copytrack. It turns out people like to steal my photos. There are photos of mine that are all over the internet. Tour companies use photos of me to sell their products, pretending I was a participant of one of their offerings. Thirty African tour companies have used my photo of Zanzibar to promote their experiences. Twenty Brazilian news outlets used one of my photos of Brunei to cover news about the sultanate. That’s just scraping the surface. 

And so, I uploaded every photo I’ve taken to Copytrack and then they scour the internet to find out where those photos are being used. I take a look and decide if I want to pursue a claim against the website or not. I make a surprising amount of money from this. 

Working in the Maldives: surprisingly easy!

What about the freelancing life?

If I’m being honest, hated it. 

I hated spending time working on somebody else’s business instead of my own. I hated that it was a constant source of stress for me. I quit my editing job when I landed my book deal, and when TripSavvy let me go several years ago, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. 

I could have gone rogue and started pitching outlets rather than waiting for them to come to me, but that honestly sounds like my idea of hell. 

My income breakdown in 2019: 

  • Advertising: $2,000 a month
  • Affiliates: $9,000 a month
  • Course sales: $100 a month
  • Book royalties: $600 a month
  • Copyright infringements: $1,000 a month

Take note, of course, that this isn’t profit, but revenue. These figures don’t include taxes, blogging expenses, and the cost of travelling for 3-6 months of the year. Many of these can be substantial. 

Want to try your hand at travel blogging? Check out my detailed guide on how to start a travel blog the right way. 

Macbook rage

It’s Not As Amazing As it Sounds

I mean, it is amazing that I’ve managed to turn my travel blog into a lucrative business — especially when you consider my background is in particle physics, not writing or being creative. I love travel blogging and hope I’ll be able to continue with it for many years. 

But, there are downsides to making money this way. 

There’s little job security.

Fun fact: this year, a Google algorithm update hit my site and I lost 30% of my traffic overnight. As someone whose income has a fairly proportional relationship with traffic, that meant taking a hit to my finances. And who knows? Next month, Google could release another update that takes away an additional 60% of my traffic. It happens. It’s happened to people I know. It could happen to me. Overnight, my business could be destroyed. 

Of course, sometimes the algorithm benefits you, and your traffic might skyrocket. You never know. 

Other people target you, too, when they notice your success. When one of my blog posts started ranking first in Google, I suddenly discovered tens of thousands of links to that post from porn sites — probably bought by a travel blogging competitor that wanted to see Google penalise me. Somebody bought a dozen one-star reviews of my book. People see a post of mine is doing well and basically rewrite it themselves to try to outrank me. It’s disheartening. 

This is a stressful career and there’s very little I can do to secure my future. 

Two years ago, I developed an auto-immune disease that’s known as one of the most painful conditions a person can deal with. Combine that with my propensity for anxiety and depression and you find yourself with someone who’s sometimes unable to work for months on end. 

I don’t have access to sick pay or disability pay. And sure, my income comes in when I’m not working, but at the same time, Google penalises you for not updating your site. If I get really sick and can’t work for three months, my traffic will start to drop and so will my income, until I start publishing again. 

I try to make sensible decisions because of this. 

I put almost half of my profit into my pension. I invest as much as I possibly can into low-cost index funds. I’m saving for a house deposit. I spend very little on clothes or going out. I try to prepare for the worst because nobody knows what the future holds. 

Final Thoughts

Doing what I do is tough, but possible — I tell everyone that who messages me about making money with a travel blog. 

While the market is more saturated than ever, there are more opportunities for making money, too.

The key is to always keep evolving.

I’m already planning on trying new things out over the coming year. I’m going to start offering a travel blog critique service, write a book on how to make money with affiliate marketing, and I’m even thinking about starting a new blog. I’m toying with the idea of setting up a Patreon where I offer readers rewards, from postcards to monthly video Q&As to stories I’ll never share publicly. 

 

Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll answer them in the comments below!

 

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117 Comments

  1. Michael
    January 28, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, I am sure you’ve heard of Timothy Ferriss’s book, “Four Hour Work Week”. I’d encourage you to make this a regular read so that you’re always on the lookout for ways to turn what you are doing into a source of passive income. It might take some focus, but it will allow for you to increase the amount of free time and enjoyment you can get from your travels.

    Michael

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Yeah, at the moment I don’t see many opportunities to automate what I do. 90% of my time is spent freelance writing, and I’m being paid to write those articles, so it’s not really something I can outsource. I am, however, hoping that my investment in book writing will lead to some form of passive income by the end of the year :-). I’d be thrilled to work less hours!

  2. January 28, 2014
    Reply

    Great post Lauren! I’m constantly telling people that blogging isn’t this magical world where we just get paid to write and exist. This shit is hard work! All the e-mails, editing, taking and editing pictures, updating various social media networks multiple times a day, replying to comments. It might not SOUND like much, but like you, there are days I don’t get a break. It really irks me when people think that’s its easy, or that people blog only for money.

    Anyway, awesome post as usual. Can’t wait for your book!

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Sheryll! I know that a lot of my friends back home think I just sit down for a couple of hours a day to write a post and then spend the rest of my time skipping along a tropical beach with a mojito in hand :-)

  3. January 28, 2014
    Reply

    I think it’s a very British thing to be private about money, so I understand where you’re coming from but it’s good that you’re no longer like that. Can I ask how long it took you to start making money?

    Being able to travel full-time as you do is my dream, but I’m struggling to think of posts to write as I haven’t actually had that many travel experiences yet, and won’t be able to start travelling properly (as in backpacking) until next summer. Do you have any ideas on what I could write about?

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      I’d never thought about it being a British thing but I think that’s probably true! :-)

      Hmm, I’d been blogging for four months when I first started making money. I, too, struggled with post ideas before I left and only posted a couple of times a month because of this. I wrote about past trips, the planning stages of my trip (where I was going, what vaccines I was getting, how I was selling everything I owned, when I bought my backpack) and the fears I had.

  4. January 28, 2014
    Reply

    Ah thank you for this post, very interesting and much more inspiring. I kind of relate to the long of hours of working since I dropped out of a career and started my own business as a travel counsellor. All points are very helpful for me for my future plans. I will be looking forward to your first newsletter :)

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Anne Marie! It’s true, the downside of self-employment is that you make your own hours and it’s very hard to switch off your computer and step outside when you’re in control!

  5. Rebecca
    January 28, 2014
    Reply

    I see this being a common trend with most successful bloggers/ digital nomads. Whilst reading these blogs always makes their life seem so desirable without realizing the work evolved. Since I started my travel blog and freelance design business I have started to completely understand the amount of work evolved… and that’s whilst i’m not on the road.

    great article thanks for sharing. very inspiring

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Absolutely. When you just write about the travel side of things and don’t write about the work aspect it makes it seem like all you ever do is travel. I think it’s good you started your business and blog before you left so you won’t lose valuable travel time learning the ropes :-). I was always glad I started my site six months before I left otherwise I don’t think I’d be writing it today!

  6. Chris
    January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Great article Lauren! I received a heap of emails too that prompted me to write a similar post…I think more bloggers should be more open and show people how to join the club!

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Chris! I was so afraid of writing about money because so few travel bloggers do so — I thought there was a super-secret reason why everyone kept quiet so I did, too! I want to be honest with my readers, though, and I know that so many people were curious about how I sustain my travels.

  7. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing, as fellow travel bloggers still in their first year of travel we love to hear what others are doing. We are planning on a two year rtw but if we can figure out how to make money and keep going we will :-)

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Good luck, Hannah! Try lots of different things and see what works :-)

  8. Brittany
    January 28, 2014
    Reply

    I love this Lauren! Thank you for sharing. You have been a big source of inspiration for all of us travel bloggers around the world :)

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, thank you so much, Brittany! That means so much to me :-)

  9. Stephanie
    January 28, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for this article Lauren. I think that many travel bloggers long to be location independent and make all their money online (I sure do!). Well done! I’m sure its worth the 90 hour weeks to travel this beautiful world and have complete freedom!

    Now I just need to move my eggs in to more baskets…

    • January 29, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Steph! I try to remind myself on a daily basis that three years ago this was my ultimate dream — to be able to travel the world and make money from anywhere. If somebody had told me a few years ago that I’d one day be doing this I would have cried with disbelief and excitement. Now, it doesn’t seem so exciting so it’s important to remember and be grateful for what I’m doing.

      Good luck with your egg moving! :-)

  10. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    This is great, Lauren! I know people always hesitate to talk when it comes to money — so glad you’re open to sharing your secrets. Traveling planning for others, I should really consider that. Although we only get 500+ questions from friends.. I’d feel weird charging them. LOL.

    Your photography is awesome! I’d totally buy your stuff ;)

    • February 2, 2014
      Reply

      I never charge my friends for travel advice BUT I’ve found that my friends are the people who never thank me when I take hours out of my day to help so I’ve stopped being so in-depth in my responses!

  11. Lauren I’ve been reading your blog for about a year now and what makes it so appealing is how frank and honest you are. No doubt you work hard for your money, and you certainly haven’t chosen an easy path. I’m sure many of your readers will be inspired by this post!

    • February 2, 2014
      Reply

      Oh, thank you so much, Michelle! I try to be honest about both the good and bad sides of travel :-)

  12. Ali
    January 29, 2014
    Reply

    I’m really looking forward to reading your book. The crazy stuff that happens to you that you’ve actually blogged about is insane, I can only imagine what incidents you’ve saved for your book that we haven’t read about yet.

    Money is a tough thing. I can completely understand why so many people want to know how you make a living and sustain yourself while traveling, but I also really understand the reluctance to talk about how much you earn. I think it’s great you’re going to open up about it a little more because maybe it’ll show some people they really can do what they’re dreaming of, and it’ll show others that they aren’t cut out for that kind of lifestyle.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Ali! That’s exactly why I decided to go ahead with the newsletter — I wanted to help others who were thinking of doing the same, as well as showing them the reality of doing something like this.

  13. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for this great post Lauren. I’m new to the blogging world and love reading other bloggers experiences so I can learn from them. I look forward to reading both your books when they come out, especially the one on anxiety.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Jen! :-)

  14. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing Lauren. This is also something I am struggling with. My passion is in self-development and spirituality…but how I make money is by day-trading futures contracts online. I really don’t want to be known as a day-trader..I would rather be known for my writing, and ultimately would like it to be my main gig. Many people also have this idea that spiritual people should be poor. Just trying to find that balance. Hope all is well.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      No problem, Ivan. I struggle with this, too because I’m never 100% sure what my passion is — it seems to change a lot :-). For now, though, I’m happy with what I do. Good luck with making the transition :-)

  15. eleina
    January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Im also a nomad, but I dont make money at all, or work for it. You dont need much of it… Maybe yes if I was in Asia side, it’s different, but then again I know many other nomads who lives without any income for many years, travelling around the world, while I have choosen one country for now , waiting when I feel next country calling me.
    Good luck on your adventures, but, yes, dont be too much with computer, digital nomad life is not really being so free. Still commitments!

    big hug from fellow nomad-sister.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for the support, Eleina, and that’s amazing to hear that you don’t need money at all to travel. I actually had a friend who had done similar for around 10 years and I never fully understood how it was possible!

      I’m working on less laptop time :-)

  16. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Great post Lauren. I cannot wait to read your book!

  17. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Gurl, I couldn’t imagine doing the 60 hour+ work weeks that you do! I’m more of a settle down, earn a salary, then get up and travel (and then repeat) kind of type, but whatever works for you. I used to feel awkward about the money question too, especially from wide-eyed brand new bloggers who thought they’d start raking in the cash as soon as they hit publish on their first post. Doesn’t work like that. Anyway keep on doing your thing, and keep inspiring.

    Sending you love and light.

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, I definitely see the appeal of settling down to work and then travelling without any worries — especially when that base is in Taiwan! I just can’t think of anything I’d like to do for work, though. The thought of teaching terrifies me!

  18. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    I am so looking forward to you talking more about income. There are a lot of things I always wonder about bloggers, that I do not ask because I think it’s tacky to ask about money.

    I never had any idea how much work goes into having a blog until I started one. I thought I would just write and post. I honestly didn’t realize I would have to learn how to use WordPress, or constantly Google to try and find out how the hell do you format that…or what a plug in even was. I am at eleven months and I still regularly cry to my WordPress loving friend for HELP MEEEEEEEEEEEE I CAN’T MY BLOG SNIFF SNIFF I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WHINE HELP ME WAAHHHHHHHHH.

    I also think it’s great that you help people plan trips. I am a planning maniac. I’ve found that when people think they are asking you a general question about making plans, they don’t realize that what they are asking you to do is spend a significant amount of time doing research to answer their question.

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Hahahaha! Yeah, I was very much like that when I first started blogging. I managed to completely break my site several times, in fact! Don’t worry, in a year or so you’ll be an expert and answering other people’s questions :-)

      I agree about the planning. I’ll often receive emails from people who are going to a region for six months and want to know where to go, which guesthouses to stay in, which activities they should do, how they should get around, what they should take with them, how much it’ll cost — not realising that it’ll take me something like ten hours to answer all their questions!

  19. January 29, 2014
    Reply

    Fantastic post Lauren! Thank you for sharing. Love reading about how people find a way to do what they love!

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Dan! :-)

  20. Laura
    January 30, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for sharing! I actually am fascinated with personal finance and wish it were the social norm to openly discuss things like income, spending, savings and investing more often. In fact I just wrote about budgeting. It sounds like you’re doing a great job with diversifying your income sources and experimenting with new ways to make money. Can’t wait to hear more about the book!

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you! I think part of the reason why I’ve been reluctant to write this post is because not many people write about their finances in detail, so it feels like I’m doing something risky by speaking out!

  21. January 30, 2014
    Reply

    Fabulous article Lauren, it was a great read. I’m like you and believe that you should never ask anyone what they earn, it is nobody else’s business. Yet having said that whenever I see people blog about how much money they make online I’d drawn in. It is indeed of big appeal for so many people.

    You clearly love what you do and work so hard at it. It is anything but passive income.

    Yet with all that I love the way you conclude this blog post.

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much! You’re right, it’s nowhere near passive income but I’m planning on moving a little more in that direction this year. I’m hoping that book writing will help :-). Either way, I’m happy doing what I do.

  22. Jason
    January 30, 2014
    Reply

    Former Physicist here. I think many of us, except the few who actually excel in the profession, end up traveling the world and never truly make use of what we learned (at least not directly). I often wonder how I could leverage my physics background, but I feel overwhelmed by how much of it I’ve forgotten.

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Hey, Jason. I’m the same — I can’t believe how much I’ve forgotten from just taking two years off! I feel like I’d need to study for a year to re-teach myself my degree. Like you, I’d love to utilise it in some way but I just don’t know how.

  23. Jeff
    January 31, 2014
    Reply

    Amazing post Lauren. May be i should consider one or two things i usually ignore in your list that will boost my earnings.

    • January 31, 2014
      Reply

      Try as many things as you can think of and see what works :-)

  24. January 31, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! I’ve been following your blog for a little while now but never commented before.

    I cannot wait to read your book, I love all the stories that you’ve shared on the site, some have nearly reduced me to tears before!

    • January 31, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks for leaving a comment, Catherine! :-) I’m not sure if nearly reducing you to tears is a good or a bad thing!

  25. Davide about ways of making money
    January 31, 2014
    Reply

    I’m still trying to figure out my own way of financing my travels. My website is growing exponentially, but I’m still making peanuts as you said and working 15 hours per day. That’s not what I was looking for, I need a change!

    • January 31, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, I think a lot of people think making money while travel blogging is an easy path to riches when it’s pretty much the complete opposite!

  26. January 31, 2014
    Reply

    I think most people think travel bloggers live off a massive inheritance to enable all the travelling. I always find that when you tell them that you do normal work (just from the road), they seem almost disappointed. :-)

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, absolutely. I’ve received some horrible, aggressive emails from people calling me a spoilt little brat who’s living off her parents’ money. It’s infuriating because I’d never ask my parents for money and I work really hard to support myself! I get why they make the assumption, though.

  27. Runaway Brit
    February 1, 2014
    Reply

    Great post (as ever) and I LOVE the fact that you are being transparent about your finances. It is rather a British thing to be so private about how much money you earn, but I am slowly becoming more open. Here in Sweden there is an authorised website where you can look up any registered tax-payer’s salary. Crazy!

    I think it is natural for people to want to ask a Digital Nomad/Travel Blogger how much they earn. If they are constantly reading inspirational “If I can do this, then YOU can too!” posts, then they are going to want to know the exact numbers. However, there is a tendency for these same bloggers to give evasive answers when people ask where the money comes from, and I find it hard to trust them. What exactly does “I earn my money off (insert main blog name) and various other sites” mean? What are these ‘various other sites’ they speak of? Seems to me that they are not proud of their work on these other sites if they don’t want to name them.

    I am looking forward to your newsletter as I have been playing with the idea of supporting myself online for a while yet, but I am not yet sure if I should. As an English teacher, I can work anywhere in the world (and have: Tokyo, Saigon, Stockholm so far) – usually with furnished accommodation, flights home and full medical care provided – and can use the 15 weeks of paid vacation (plus weekends and National Holidays) for travelling. Changing that for a 60 hour week and unpaid holidays seems crazy, although I would love the freedom of being my own boss.

    Having just signed a two-year contract for a job in Mumbai (leave in July!!) it will be a while before I can think about it again now, but I’ll be able to save enough by then to give it a go if I’m feeling so inspired. Can’t wait to read the newsletter.

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Elaine. Wow, Mumbai?! That’s so exciting! :-)

      I’m shocked to hear about the website in Sweden — people would go crazy if they tried to do something like that in the UK! I try to steer away from the whole “you can do this too!” side of things, because I think a lot of people couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to, do this. The evasive answers (various different sites) usually means sites set up purely for advertising, with outsourced, low quality content that people wouldn’t want their regular readers to see.

      Hope you find the newsletter helpful! :-)

  28. February 2, 2014
    Reply

    This is a very well-written post about something that I think most people would find private. Good for you for having the courage to write about your finances. Part of me still feels like it is no one else’s business. If you are able to be location independent and do what you love, then who am I to question the means by which you are doing that?

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Adam. I’ve deliberately never written a post that was like “this is easy! You can do this, too!” but regardless, people are still intrigued as to how I support my travels.

  29. February 3, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for this, Lauren. These income breakdown posts from travel bloggers are some of my favorites. While I’m not a full-time traveler, I have tried to blog & travel & it is sooo much harder than it looks!! So it’s always impressive to see someone else making it work.

    The one thing that always baffles me…when someone like yourself says they work 90 hour weeks (or now 50 or 60). I often work 90+hours from my home base which when you break it down means 9am-midnight, 6 days/week. Add in eating & sleeping (plus commuting) & there can’t possibly be time for anything else like say, actual travel!! I still haven’t gotten a satisfactory answer from a travel blogger on how this actually works??? Perhaps you can be the one to enlighten me? I mean even a 60 hr week only gives you a couple hours exploration time per day.

    • February 3, 2014
      Reply

      No worries, Becky, I’m glad you could find it useful!

      Sure. So 90 hours a week is roughly 13 hours a day (I’d work 7 days a week). For me, that’s working 8am – 1pm and then 2pm – 10pm. When I do these crazy 90 hour weeks it’s usually because I have a huge deadline to meet at the end of the month, have no travel plans and can just sit in front of my laptop all day. So, when I do this I’m renting an apartment for a couple of months and can spend a week working without feeling the need to get out an explore.

      I now travel pretty slowly. I’m just finishing a 6 month stint in Mexico, where I visited just three different cities. When I’m basing myself somewhere for two months, I have plenty of time to see and do everything I want, even if it’s just for a few hours a day :-)

  30. February 3, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for the quick response! Ok so sometimes you have crazy weeks & then you might have a “break” (as in, less than 13 hrs work/day or 10 hrs work or whatever). & since you’re in one place for so long, you accrue enough of these breaks that you do ultimately get enough sightseeing in. Am I on the right track?

    My problem with travel blogging is…since I don’t travel full-time, I tend to move quickly & am just trying to soak up as much as possible. I feel REALLY guilty when I spend, say 1 of just 3 days in a location on my laptop & my husband doesn’t like it either! The result is that I’m still blogging about a trip that ended almost 2 months ago. It’s just so much easier to work when you’re staying in one place!

    Thanks again for demystifying!

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Yep, pretty much. It’s not as regimented, though, and it’s not like I track every hour I work. If I want to take a day off I will, without worrying if I’ve worked enough that week :-)

      Finding a work-travel balance is really tough, though. I think it depends on how long the trip is, too. If I was going away for a month I’d probably stop blogging for that time and then catch up once I was home. With limited time in a place, you don’t want to end up regretting staying in when you could have been out exploring.

  31. Cycrazy
    February 4, 2014
    Reply

    Love the idea of doing this and contemplated doing this several times. Then I had a baby girl and wouldn’t trade places with you for 1 second. I will continue to live in Iowa and watch my girl grow. It is amazing. That beats world travel for me.

    • February 5, 2014
      Reply

      Great! I wouldn’t change places with you either :-)

  32. February 6, 2014
    Reply

    I have always found it weird in this industry that it seems to be ok to flat out ask someone how much money they earn. I can’t think of any other industry where it is the norm.

    Soon we will be getting emails asking us how old we are, how much we weigh, do you believe in God and how many people have you slept with? ;)

    • February 12, 2014
      Reply

      Hahaha, exactly! I’m always shocked by some of the questions I receive by email — I’d never ask anybody how much money they earned, especially if I’d had zero contact with them up until then!

  33. February 9, 2014
    Reply

    Kind of you indeed to share this – perhaps a post about the craziest money/travel planning questions you’ve received over the years? I’m sure your book will continue your usual humor and honesty, which is part of the reason I’ve kept reading here. Looking forward to its release!

    • February 12, 2014
      Reply

      I should definitely write one of those posts! I’ve received some ridiculous questions :-)

  34. Thanks for sharing this… it is hard to talk about money but it is pretty useful for people who are trying to figure out if travel blogging is a financially feasible option in the future (myself included)! It’s important to know the amount of work that goes into being a travel blogger.

    • February 12, 2014
      Reply

      No worries, Caitlin, I’m glad you could find it helpful! It’s definitely tough to make it as a travel blogger (and it’s getting harder all the time) but it’s not impossible. It just takes a lot of time and effort :-)

  35. February 12, 2014
    Reply

    Thanks for the insight. :o) You have given me a few more ideas how to make money whilst on the road. I am hoping to do another big trip towards the end of the year, my last one I only made $4 on advertising LOL Hopefully next time I will do better.

    • February 12, 2014
      Reply

      Good luck, Becks! As you build more of an audience you should find that advertisers will start getting in touch with you.

  36. Alex
    February 12, 2014
    Reply

    Keep up the good work. Nomadic life can be tough but you are living everyone’s dream!! It totally beat sitting on the 20th floor of some random building for entire years of your life. Congrats!!

    • February 12, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Alex! :-)

  37. February 13, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren, this is AMAZING! I launched by travel blog 6 months ago and now it’s finally starting to gain traction. After reading this article, I now have the motivation and confidence to follow similar footsteps as yours- To travel the world and blog about it :)

    Cheers and happy travels!

    Drew

  38. February 15, 2014
    Reply

    Thank you for this article. On one hand it makes me feel better that it’s normal to not be successful within six minutes of launching your blog. On the other hand, really, I can’t make a million in six minutes? :)

    • February 20, 2014
      Reply

      Wouldn’t that be great?! It does take an awful lot of hard work to build a successful blog, but I believe that being able to do what you love, and do it from anywhere, makes it worth it :-)

  39. February 15, 2014
    Reply

    Excellent breakdown, really useful for new travel bloggers like me – thank you for sharing!

    • February 20, 2014
      Reply

      Glad you found it useful, Charlie! :-)

  40. February 18, 2014
    Reply

    Super informative article Lauren! As a fairly new blogger a lot of this was very helpful. I’ve known that I would not ever want to use ads because it just feels inauthentic. I’m glad to hear the same from someone who tried it previously.

    I look forward to keeping up with your progress as a blogger and a writer. Cheers.

    • February 20, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Matt! Glad to hear you found it helpful :-)

  41. February 27, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren,

    Your blog has been a great inspiration for me. I am beginning by baby steps towards being able to travel full time and be able to do it sustain-ably.

    Cheers,
    Supreeth.

    • March 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Supreeth! I’m please I could help :-)

  42. Savio Meireles
    March 2, 2014
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for sharing your stories and ideas.

    You just gained a fan. I’m sharing your article on my twitter right now !

    @saviomeireles

    Just keep travelling !

    Savio Meireles.

    • March 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thank you so much, Savio! :-)

  43. Steven
    March 2, 2014
    Reply

    For someone with an anxiety issue? You should be the poster child for anxiety? Cause to go through life the way you are, is amazing! Thanks for explaining what it takes to travel the world. Nothing like I thought it was. Just assumed you was from a wealthy upbringing? Will be very interested in reading your first book.

    • March 5, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks, Steven! A lot of people just assume I’m super-rich but my life is actually just a result of an awful lot of hard work :-)

  44. Cristina
    March 29, 2014
    Reply

    Hello Lauren!

    I have to say this article is not only useful for travel bloggers!! I truly enjoyed reading it and I feel quite identified with most of the things you said. Three months ago I started blogging about “American lifestyle from the point of view of a Spanish girl” as I had been 9 months living in the US and I’m originally from Barcelona, Spain. I know 3 months is not much time, but everyday I feel more and more this is what I want to do with my life and I’ve been moving around a lot to find a way to finance my writting. I’m gonna start soon freelancing and I’m also offering some personal consulting services for my readers in topics related to “travelling to the US”.

    Sorry, when I get caught in writing about the blog, I can’t stop! Just really wanted to thank you for this post :)

    Best of luck!

    Cristina

    • November 14, 2015
      Reply

      Hi Cristina! Glad to hear you found the post helpful. I think consulting sounds like a great idea.

  45. Sofie
    May 2, 2014
    Reply

    Hm, I actually thought I’d commented on this one already! Strange:)
    To be honest, I love reading how other bloggers work crazy weeks. I work crazy weeks myself and it helps knowing that that’s what it takes to succeed.
    I’m still working a full time job as well and not nearly there yet, but I’m pushing through.

    • November 22, 2015
      Reply

      Thanks, Sofie! Fortunately, I’ve been able to cut down the amount of hours I work way down these days :-) but it definitely takes some hard work in the beginning!

  46. Felicia
    May 18, 2014
    Reply

    chanced upon your blog while i was doing research on trips to Cambodia. I love your blog, you are such a inspiration, keep doing what you do :)

    Love from Singapore :)

    • July 30, 2014
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Felicia! :-)

  47. June 7, 2014
    Reply

    Just found your site after searching for travel anxiety on Twitter. My girlfriend and I are hoping to launch a blog soon based around travel and anxiety. It seems after reading this post that you’ll also be launching something similar too. That’s kind of great but also kind of demoralising! Haha. Obviously you’re way ahead of the game when it comes to such things, but maybe when we both launch we’ll be able to help each other out in some way. We’ll see!

    • June 24, 2014
      Reply

      No worries, Dan! Let me know when you’ve launched your site and I’ll take a look at it :-)

  48. Kelly
    September 8, 2014
    Reply

    Lauren

    I’ve just started researching for my RTW trip starting next September! But your article has been very helpful and interesting. I’m going to read more of your stuff. Any ideas where I should start my trip? Leaving from the UK. I want to cover all 4 corners of the globe in 2 years. xxxx

    • September 9, 2014
      Reply

      I started my trip in Eastern Europe and loved it! I hadn’t been to the region before but it felt like an easy introduction to travel. It was still Europe so didn’t feel as intimidating as somewhere like Asia, where I’d never been, but it was still different enough from Western Europe to keep me interested. Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Turkey are some of my favourite countries from that region.

  49. Anthony Vazquez
    March 23, 2015
    Reply

    Know I feel bad about asking you about how to manage money while traveling. I will look for your book and learn about the do’s and don’ts while traveling. Thank you so much, and I admire your courage and patience!

  50. Ant
    July 26, 2016
    Reply

    Hi Lauren

    I love your blog, your adventures sound pretty amazing and reading about them makes me want to read more. I’m starting my own long term travels in September and I’m hoping to create a life of travel through the creation of my own blog/brand. This article has sure opened my eyes up to some of the possibilities to make it happen :)

    • July 26, 2016
      Reply

      Thanks so much, Ant! And you’re in luck — I’m going to be posting an updated version of how I fund my travels in a couple of weeks!

  51. October 23, 2016
    Reply

    I have many interesting breathtaking photos from my travels.Many are from Central Asia and Central America.
    How can I reach the point to be contacted by some travel magazine in a same fashion you did.
    How to advertise my photos to say?
    Should I protect them somehow with a logo?
    I mean,anybody can claim the ownership of a photograph,especially now in virtual era.
    Thank you for your time.

    • October 23, 2016
      Reply

      Work on building an audience, whether that’s through a travel blog or an Instagram account. People will start taking notice once other people also start taking notice. I didn’t do anything to be contacted — someone just stumbled across my site and asked if they could use my photo in their magazine.

      Don’t protect them with a watermark, because it’ll just make them look ugly. If someone wants to steal your photo, they’ll do it regardless of whether your logo is on it. They can just crop it out or photoshop the watermark out. Just accept that it might happen, but it most likely won’t.

  52. July 28, 2017
    Reply

    love the quality of your post. Beside amazon , there are many other affiliates site you can earn recurring passive income

    • July 28, 2017
      Reply

      Oh, yes, this definitely needs an update! Anything you can think of can usually be something you can affiliate for — hotels, flights, travel insurance, backpacks, etc. Agoda and World Nomads do well for me these days.

  53. August 24, 2017
    Reply

    Hi,

    Last august I set out for long term travel, and from February of that year through to October when I launched my blog, I must have read this post 20 times.
    And I can completely agree on being brought up about keeping money confidential but now I find myself becoming much more open about it in an attempt to understand how to continue travelling for longer!

    • August 24, 2017
      Reply

      Oh, I feel bad about that, as this post is massively out of date! I definitely need to update it now :-)

  54. August 29, 2017
    Reply

    Yes please update it when you get chance. I’m keen to know any tips you have for making money while travelling, especially from your blog and working remotely doing freelance writing gigs. I think I asked you a question about how you got in to that on another post but I can’t remember which one it was on and so can’t find your response. Not sure if there’s an add in for such things but it would be really useful to get an email notification when you reply to comments.

  55. January 19, 2018
    Reply

    great article, you are living the dream Lauren! I just traveled the world for two years and would love to share some of my articles with you to possibly review for your Blogosphere Magazine. How would I go about that? Thanks!

    • January 20, 2018
      Reply

      Ah, sorry! I no longer work for them. You should be able to contact the new travel editor through their website though.

  56. Alex
    December 31, 2018
    Reply

    Haha, you must be very busy in a good way – though many of use would still love to see an updated version of this! Thank you very much for sharing what you have so far. Thinking of finally starting my own travel blog and this gave me a few good ideas.

    • January 5, 2019
      Reply

      Yes, I do need to update it! These days, I work around 10-20 hours a week and make six figures a year in passive income! Travel blogging has definitely become more lucrative for me.

  57. November 23, 2019
    Reply

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for the great insights.One question though – Do you use some plugin to automatically place ( and decide positions of ) in-article ads or do you insert ads on every post manually deciding their positions based on overall appearance ?

    • November 24, 2019
      Reply

      Mediavine has a plugin that automatically places the ads throughout your blog posts. Before I was with them, I did it with the Quick Adsense plugin.

  58. February 15, 2020
    Reply

    This was very helpful! I am currently taking steps to build my blog but I’ve already been traveling and documenting my journey on Instagram and youtube. At the end of 2019, I realised having a blog would bring my income to new heights! Even with the simple tip of affiliate links for accommodations was amazing because I ALWAYS to tours on youtube of the places I stay! I’m definitely looking at affiliate links differently after reading this! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • March 15, 2020
      Reply

      Oh yay! Yeah, affiliate links have been the number one thing that has increased my income, so I always recommend getting started on them sooner rather than later :-)

  59. Dr Nazim Zaman
    August 6, 2020
    Reply

    Hi Lauren
    I’m not interested in blogging and initially came to your page for the info on Pacific island holiday planning. However reading your accounts of travel and your business I feel I have to write to you. Your honesty and enthusiasm shine through your writing and I for one am very impressed as these qualities are so rare anywhere leave alone on travel blogs. As a PhD holder from UK myself I can understand the tremendous courage to take your career decisions. You are certainly an inspiring individual and I wish you the best in your future endeavours. Now I must return to thinking about arranging family holidays in a COVID affected world.

  60. LAURHITE
    September 10, 2020
    Reply

    Lauren
    Thank you for your transparent post on traveling blogging. Sharing the challenges from tracking down stolen photos, to the never-ending Google Monster machine that must be fed, to the backlinking game, you gave a real and honest account of this work. Not what people see on Instagram feeds.

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