In early 2014, Jarryd Salem and Alesha Bradford left their native Australia to backpack from Thailand to South Africa without taking a single flight.
Since then, they have spent most of their time on the road, travelling everywhere from Mongolia to Vietnam to Tajikistan.
When they spoke with Business Insider in 2015, they were earning US$1500-$2000 a month as they travelled. In the past year, however, business has taken off, and they now earn between US$2000 and US$6000 a month.
As they have increased their income, they have made it their mission to inspire others who want to lead a similar lifestyle. One way to do that is to be transparent about exactly where the money comes from.
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“Whenever we see these articles, now we notice people are happy to say they earn money online – we earn six figures or $5000 a month or that kind of thing – but when it comes to actual details, it’s quite light,” Salem told Business Insider. “They say we have a digital product or make money through affiliates, and if you’re in the industry, you understand what that means. But if you’re not, it can be inspiring in a way … but there’s no kind of direction afterwards.”
He went on to explain that travel bloggers – including him and Bradford, who run NOMADasaurus – make their money in nine main ways:
In an affiliate partnership, a blogger links back to a retail website. When a reader follows the link and makes a purchase, the retailer pays the blogger for the referral.
NOMADasaurus makes anywhere between US$100 and US$1000 a month from referrals on products like hotels and travel insurance, but Salem says some bloggers make much more.
“We know people who make $5000, $6000, $7000 a month, and that’s just in our industry,” he says. “If you break away from that to people who focus on affiliate websites whose entire business is dedicated to one particular niche, they can earn much more.”
On a press trip, a hotel, tour company, or tourism board pays bloggers to come experience the area, service, or facility, and share it with their readers through stories, videos, and pictures.
NOMADasaurus charges US$2000 for a press trip, which is a pretty typical amount, Salem says. However, some bloggers are able to charge much more. “I’ve heard of people making $10,000 for a trip, but they’re exceptions to the rule,” he says. “They’re fantastic videographers or photographers, or people who have been in the industry since the beginning.”
It”s also common to charge a day rate – NOMADasaurus charges US$50-$100 a day. “A lot of press trips are unpaid,” Salem says. “They’re free hotels and tours and flights. You don’t get paid, but but you don’t pay anything, either. While this isn’t physical money, it does keep our personal travel costs down.”
Sponsored campaigns are similar to traditional advertising. It might include everything from banner ads on the site to blog posts and social media posts featuring the product or service.
“A startup will reach out to us and ask if we”ll write a post about what they do,” Salem explains. “Those start as low as $50, but our range is $800-$1500. We usually limit it to one post and maybe a few mentions in other articles. If possible, we always try out the product before we promote it.”
Salem moonlights as a freelance travel writer for various websites. He makes anywhere from US$20 a post to US$500 a post, depending on the post and the site. For copywriting, he earns US$150 per post. Bloggers who write for the biggest names can earn up to US$2000.
Social media promotion
Companies will also pay bloggers to run Twitter or Instagram campaigns, where the blogger takes over the company’s account to share original photos and thoughts.
Bloggers can also be hired for Twitter chats, where they hold a conversation with readers on Twitter about or related to the product or service.
Generally, NOMADasaurus makes up to US$350 for a Twitter chat, and for an Instagram takeover of a tourism board, they can earn up to US$750. “And I know that’s on the low end of the scale,” says Salem. “I know some people who make a lot more.”
NOMADasaurus doesn’t use use Google AdSense, but many bloggers do. Essentially, the service enables Google to place ads on your site, and pay you for the exposure. Salem explains that AdSense isn’t usually a large income stream, and a blogger needs a high volume of traffic to see much cash from it – usually US$200-$300 a month for a banner ad.
Photography and videography
Individual photography and videography is a major income stream for Salem and Bradford, and one they generally keep separate from the blog. Companies hire them – Bradford usually takes the lead – to take photos of their properties, and the bloggers charge for that service.
“If it’s exclusive photos, of their tour or whatever, we charge $1000 a day and they get all the photos,” Salem explains. “To purchase one photo it’s $100-$750 a photo, depending on what they want to use it for.”
Another popular income stream is digital products like ebooks or online courses, which, once produced, become sources of passive income. An ebook usually sells for US$15-$20 per copy and a travel blogger’s course for US$250-$300. Right now, NOMADasaurus doesn’t have its own digital products, but Salem is currently writing an ebook about getting into the travel blogging business. If it does well, he’ll expand into a course.
In a brand ambassadorship, the blogger is hired to represent a company through posts, advertising, social media, images for commercial use, and product reviews. NOMADasaurus is currently in talks with an adventure clothing company, and if the contract pans out, the payment will be between US$1000-$2000 a month, and the company will provide free clothing. “This is quite common for a lot of large travel bloggers,” Salem says.