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How I Make Enough Money Blogging To Travel

“My wife owns her own business… she's a blogger.” This is how Michael most often introduces me. Every time I hear it, I think “WOW!” and also “WHAT?!” It's weird and fascinating to most. And it's the same for me. I am really really proud to be a blogger. My Mom stayed with us for the past three weeks traveling to 4 different countries. We were in the car discussing our life goals. She said to me, “Do you remember what your goals were?”Β  I couldn't remember. She responded, “Ever since I can remember, you've wanted to run your own business.”

It's true. From age 5 on I was on the street corner turning my lemonade stand into a thriving bracelet and snack business that also employed the local swim team kids to help sell and create merchandise. So, a pretty big deal. Today I am a full time blogger and also run my own business selling online courses.

In September of 2016 my husband Michael and I hitched up our two dogs and two suitcases eachΒ  to move to Europe with the goal of traveling. It started out slow. We got our bearings and we are now hitting the ground running, trying to see all of Europe over the next few years.

Let me preface this by saying this isn't an easy road. The traveling or the blogging full time part. There are MANY late nights and early mornings. I don't have a car and I get my groceries by walking to the store and then carrying them home in my backpack. For me this is VERY weird. I'm used to doing things with ease (like a car). But I also LOVE this lifestyle. There are always pros and cons. And the pro of me getting a 9 Euro flight to London outweighs any hardship thus far.

With all that said, here's how I make enough money blogging to travel the world.

When did I make the switch?

In August of 2015 I was at a marketing and social media job where I worked from home. It was a good job and I felt I was definitely learning but I kept feeling like I needed to go on my own. I was making some good money blogging but I was also terrified. What if I quit my job and then I fell flat? What if it suddenly stopped or I simply didn't make enough. Instead of crossing my fingers, I sat down and wrote out a business plan. I wrote out my goals, projected revenue and various income streams. Then I wrote down how I'd do it.

I showed it to Michael to see what he thought. I didn't do this so he could “let me” (barf) quit my job. I did it because we are a team. I have been talking about blogging full time for years and I wanted to get his opinion. I then showed it to my Mom and Dad and they said, “looks good.” I felt like this was a good start. But it wasn't enough yet.

I wanted to seal the deal. I launched my first course, Instagram for Success in August of 2015 and in one night made over $7,000. While to some this might not sound like a lot, but to me, it sealed the deal. It meant that people were willing to listen to what I had to say and that my years of experience were paying off.

I have been working as a full time blogger ever since that day – and have NEVER ever looked back.

This is a picture of me working on this very post on the train from Heidelberg to Paris.

How do you live?

Michael and I have always been and will always be frugal people. We don't have a fancy house or brand name clothing or cars. We are fine with that. We find joy in travel and living life in memories. We stay in hostels or inexpensive hotels.

When I decided to go full time, I wanted to be making as much or more money from my current salary. Because of our lifestyle I knew that if I could make enough, it would work. We don't tend to spend a lot of money but we do like to save. We are very keen on saving money for our future and retirement.

This free eBook will help you build your best blog yet and help you on your way to making money.

 

How do I make money?

Let me preface this by saying this has changed over the years. I've detailed out what I spend on my blog, what helps my blog grow, and written out the various ways that you can make money blogging, but I haven't specified how I have. Today I'm going in. Let me tell you it can often feel overwhelming. But HOPEFULLY this will help you and give you some clues that will help you on your merry way. Or help you make some money.

Sponsored Posts

This is one of my favorite ways to make money blogging. I truly like working with products, services, or companies I believe in, then get paid to talk about them in a realistic way. Some of my most popular posts have even been sponsored or branded content.

The way it works is this, I either reach out or most often am approached by a company. Then, we discuss the terms and conditions and also payment for the post. This can be the tricky part since you do often need to go back and forth between the company to work out the terms and cost to you. My advice is to KNOW your worth. I think that as bloggers we more than often underestimate how much time and effort we spend to promote a product. I suggest creating a media kit that you have ready to go that you can send. If you need a good starting point, here is how you can start reaching out to potential businesses along with a free media kit template.

Here are some sponsored posts I've written: 45 Fun, Cheap Date Ideas, How to Grow Your Blog on the Go, How to Stay Alert Throughout the Day.

Courses

Although I consider this separate from making money just from my blog, I created the audience and interest because of my blog, so it's staying. This is my largest source of income. I sell online courses and also have a membership site called Blog Boss Babe (aka my baby.) This is where I spend the majority of my time to develop and teach what I know.

I developed courses because I was getting so many questions and wanted a way to help every blogger possible. As someone who has worked in social media and digital marketing for years and years I felt it was a good transition combined with my passion for blogging.

I myself have taken many many courses and feel they can be really beneficial to helping you grow your blog or an area you'd like to improve. I'll mention one that I love below in the affiliate section.

I think I really found my groove while teaching online courses. I truly enjoy interacting and learning from other bloggers. This has been one of my favorite ways to grow online and I truly think we all have a bit of a teacher in us.

Affiliate Sales

I love affiliate sales because I have free reign to include affiliate sales as I see fit. I got a question the other day about Affiliate vs Sponsored posts, so let me answer that first. Affiliate sales are those where you are paid a set commission when someone buys a product through your affiliate link. Sometimes a sponsored post may also have a commission structure, but usually, sponsored posts are those where you are paid a set fee for writing a post or social shares.

With affiliate links, I am generally using the product or service and then might include it in any post I see fit. For example, I am a huge advocate for Convertkit (newsletter) and Siteground (web hosting) because I use both of them. I make about 10% per sale if someone clicks on my link to buy. There is no added cost to you if you click the link. So it's a win win!

If you're interested in learning more about affiliate sales I suggest this wonderful course called Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing. Michelle makes tens of thousands of dollars each month on her affiliate sales and the course is really straightforward. You will learn to make money from it!

Another example of how affiliate sales work is this post on How Lifestyle and Travel Bloggers can use RewardStyle and LiketoKnowIt.

Social Media

While this could go under the arena of a sponsored post, I decided to separate it out. Because I often work exclusively with companies and brands for promotion on my Instagram (@heleneinbetween) I am putting it in its own category.

I tend to really like working with these types of promotions because they are easy to integrate and promote. When I first started I used to take any and everything that came my way, but now I am more selective to make sure the company or brand goes along with my purpose and even my beliefs.

Some companies I like to work with are Izea, Coopertize, and Inzpire.

Display Ads

Display ads are great because it's a very passive and easy way to make money. For anyone that views my blog, I get a very very very small amount. If they click the ad, the amount goes up slightly. While the profit on display ads is low, it's still a great way to make money on the side.

I used to work exclusively with Google ads and have tried a few companies before. I am now working with MediaVine (you need at least 50,000 pageviews a month in order to be accepted.) My only suggestion is to not overwhelm your blog with ads. IT can be distracting and the idea is to get people to stick around on your blog.

These are the 5 main ways that I make money and it's how I fund my travel. Now I'll go into what I spend.

What do I spend money on for my blog?

I've written about what I spent on my blog last year, plus the best tools for this year, but here's a quick breakdown:

Website and upkeep. I spend a lot to keep my blog the way it is. With blog design, check ups, and quality, I want to make sure my site is super easy to read and find online. I also pay for hosting, help for my site, and some other side expenses like fonts or graphics.

You might like to read: how to start a profitable lifestyle blog from scratch.

Course platform and payment system. I used to use a course platform but was so unimpressed with how it worked for my students, I developed my own. This cost more and took much more time to develop, but I love it so much more. I also use SamCart to take payments.

Travel. As a lifestyle and travel blogger, I pay for all of my travel and expenses. Unless it says sponsored or ad, I paid for it. Most of my travel is paid for by me, exclusively. I like this because it means I am in charge of where I go and I can maintain my independence and blogging “identity.” But it's very expensive, hence all the income streams above!

How long did it take you to make money?

The timeline on making money on my blog was very different from many. I had no intention of making money with my blog when I first started it. It was a creative outlet for me since I just broke my ankle (September 2012) and needed a way to vent and communicate.

Once I got into the blogging groove I was obsessed. But I didn't start making real money with sponsored posts and the like until 2013. I did get offers and took a few but realized that many of them just weren't worth it in order to make a few hundred dollars. I'll never forget when I took a blog post for feminine pads. It didn't make any sense for my audience or what I promote, at all. I always remember that I need to put my blog and audience first, rather than monetary value.

I quit my job and blogged full time in August of 2015 and haven't looked back since! While I am by no means rich, I have enough money to do the things I love and to save up for retirement (something I am passionate about for my future.)

 

With all of this said, I will say that until I SPENT money on myself, I really didn't make a lot of money. You need to give yourself permission to invest in yourself. Plain and simple. Bottom line, I think it's best when bloggers diversify their income streams and make money in various ways. The life and income of a blogger can fluctuate and this ensures that you've got at least some revenue coming in.

I do not live lavishly but I do love my life. I work really hard and traveling isn't always easy. But man, is it worth it!

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Comments

[…] Sula has always been transparent on her blog about how she makes money. […]

I am so happy when I find other people who value travel over material things! I’m not saying I don’t purchase shoes, or a pair of jeans occasionally that are more upscale, but you better believe I get the use out of them for a good 10 years lol πŸ˜‰ Thanks for the tips girl and keep living your dreams!
xo
Amanda @ Cupcake N Dreams

This is a great post and one of my favourite things is that you’re a ‘humble’ blogger. I say that in the sense that blogging is so filled with flashy events, luxury makeup/clothes, fast cars, etc etc, but you’re just saying that you want to have a nice life and travel a bit. Keep it up!!

girl yes! thank you so so so much for saying that! It really means a lot!

You are living my dream! Hopefully one day I’ll be able to travel! Great post, thanks so much for sharing! πŸ™‚
XOXO, B

http://www.gettingchicdone.com

You are so gutsy, Helene! Thank you for sharing your blogging tips- very useful. It is an inspiration to see a blogger’s success story πŸ™‚ Out of curiosity, did your dogs have to go through a quarantine period?

A very inspiring article with some great tips! Thank you for sharing :-).

Thanks so much for sharing your tips!! These are always great to read!

Thank you so much for sharing your tips with wannabe’s like me! I’m still finding my way and I’m sooo thankfull that I came accross this blog for some direction and inspiration!

Thank you for this concise post! Though I’ve been traveling full-time I’m still not ready to see my blog as a viable income stream — i. e. invest time that I could be spending on making money now (I’m a translator) for the possibility of making money later. But your post is certainly an inspiration to take my blog a little more serious πŸ˜‰

Thank you & happy continued travels!
Carola

Thank you SO much for this post, it was so helpful!

As a totally random side note, if you don’t be mind me asking, how was the process of moving to Europe with two dogs? My boyfriend and I talk about wanting to live in Europe with our two dogs and two cats, but have heard it can be months of quarantine and thousands of dollars ?

Allie | http://www.lunavidablog.com

Thanks for the kind words! I don’t mind you asking :). I have written about this a couple of different times but not specifically about the dogs. So, we chose Germany because of the no quarantine rule. We did have some time and effort (and paperwork) to get them over here. here are some posts I’ve written: https://heleneinbetween.com/2016/09/moving-across-world.html
https://heleneinbetween.com/2016/07/were-moving-to-3.html
https://heleneinbetween.com/2017/01/day-life-living-abroad.html

You are a huge source of inspiration for me! Blogging and traveling!

well thanks so much- that means a lot!

This is such a great post.. very inspiring.. Thanks for sharing.

http://www.henatayeb.blogxpot.com

I don’t think I told you this yet but I started a blog on the WIX platform, we nee to get together and talk about that. Well – not get together but you know what i mean. I’m really liking it so far!!

One thing I really want to work on in the new year is more affiliate links in my posts. That is something I don’t take advantage of much at all

Such a great post! I’m so overwhelmed as a new blogger. I want to make it work so badly! I feel like every time I learn something or achieve something, I discover another 10 things that I need to figure out. Can’t wait to be ticking along a bit more smoothly eventually…

Sam Solomon Darling

I’ve always loved journaling as a way to capture my thoughts and travels and a friend recommended switching to blogging and posts like your are always so encouraging! It’s so overwhelming thinking how to turn this hobby into something bigger and I am so excited to read your eBook and learn. Thank you and I will probably be bugging you with questions soon!

You are so inspiring, girl! LOVE that you’ve been able to chase your dream and make it happen!

Thanks for keeping it real! This is interesting to learn about. I appreciate that you stress being frugal to build a life you love AND investing in yourself.

A little off-topic but re travel, you have to check out Hostelgeeks.com if you don’t know them already — they have a guide to 5 star hostels in Europe, and some of the places in the guide are so pretty that I want to go to random towns in the Netherlands just so I can stay there. The site is run by a digital nomad couple and they are super generous with travel tips & resources. I miss living in Europe & love reading about your travels!

This was such an amazing and helpful post! I’ve accepted a few offers for product instead of payment and i’m starting to want to move to monetary payments as well. It’s such an exciting and new world opening up!

great post helene!!! i had no clue about blogger boss babe…i need to get into that!!! πŸ™‚

Helene, this post was so helpful to read! We are getting to a point where we want to start monetizing, and honestly, all your posts are big motivators for me. Reading your blogging story + your advice is such a gift to all of us who are seeking inspiration for our blogs!

http://www.amillennialmarriage.com/

Great post. I am just starting out my blog answer this gave me some great direction and encouragement. Thank you and never stop traveling!! How amazing that you are able to do that.

Brilliant post, I loved reading it! I tend to just make pocket money from my blog, and only through sponsored posts, I haven’t yet ventured into affiliate links! I can’t imagine going full time, so it would be more of a case of just doing a little more each year to make it more profitable. Alice xxx

http://www.woodenwindowsills.co.uk

Affiliate links are seriously the bomb!! And I didn’t go full time for years (as you can see) but I will say it was so worth it for me!

Loved this post so much, Helene! So inspiring, and we definitely learned a few tips along the way! Your blog is beautiful and so creative..we can’t wait to see where all you go next! xoxo

http://www.awhimsywonderland.com

thank you so so much! That truly means a lot!

Wow! I’m feeling overwhelmed by all the stuff I need to be doing on my blog! But thank you for providing all this helpful information, you really are awesome. I enjoy reading your posts so much!

Don’t feel overwhelmed! know this takes time, you can do it little by little – I certainly did!

Helene, you are such an inspiration and I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts. I wish I would have started commenting sooner, because I think it’s important to let people know when they’ve done something to help or inspire you in some way.

I’ve been working at making my business a passive income only business and things have been going great. Your blog inspires me to keep pushing so that my husband and I can begin traveling full-time. With the way things are going, something that I once thought was just a dream, will soon be a reality!

Oh Tiddyany you are so so kind. thank you so so much. Thank you for this comment- it means the world! And I am SO thrilled to hear that!!

You inspire me to quit my job, but the whole mortgage payment thing scares me…! (insert wide eye emoji) x 1 million – do you guys think you’ll stay in Europe long term? I hope you’re living it up over there!! πŸ™‚

The plan is to be here 2- 3 years but the way we are going we HAVE to do 3 – just so much to see and do!

This was such an interesting post to read, I feel like most bloggers don’t usually share this kind of information on their posts – it’s great to see how honest and straight forward you are! x

Ariadna || RAWR BOWS

well glad you liked it! that really means a lot!

Great info! I have lived frugally for 5 years now and it is so amazing what you can do with that extra cash. Thanks for sharing!

it really is incredible how much you can save up!!

I love what you said about living frugally. Experiences definitely matter more for me, too. πŸ™‚ Side note: I love all your sweaters! They look so cozy.

haha alllll of the sweaters πŸ™‚

You’re such an inspiration! I love it!!!

you are too kind, YOU are an inspiration too πŸ™‚

Love this! Thanks for being so open to share what you’ve learned. Can’t wait to read your e-book! πŸ™‚
http://www.wonderlandsam.com

yay! can’t wait to hear what you think Samantha!

Any tips on how to approach sponsors? I’d love that! Have you tried it with your travels yet?

Good question!!! Yes, this post might help: https://heleneinbetween.com/2016/01/how-bloggers-can-reach-out-to.html and I have! Slowly, very slowly

Wonderful post; and well done on making the money you need to live a travel-filled life it sounds like you love and appreciate!

Well thank you so so much for saying that! I do have a lotttt of fun but I hope to continue saving πŸ™‚

Thanks for detailing all that out, and recommending some products/companies you work with… I haven’t thought about making money from my blog (yet), but it’d be cool to do it one day, perhaps!

Flora

http://www.theeverchanginghome.com

It can be a lot of work, but man blogging is the best! and one day it is fun to make some money from all that work πŸ™‚

This is such a great post, and you’ve outlined all of these items so well. I cannot believe you made 7k OVERNIGHT from the course. While I love the idea of a course, I just don’t have much interest doing that myself, but I love your content. I’m such a fan of your content, especially your courses. I love everything you’ve always written about. It’s so REAL! xx adaatude.com

Well thanks so much girl! I really appreciate that feedback- it means so much, especially coming from such an accomplished blogger! Thank you!!

Pinning this! So much good info!

you’re the best! thanks girl!

Girl, I am so impressed by you. Your work ethic is astounding and I really need to push myself to be half the motivated person you are! I’m so impressed by you and your ability to get ish done. You rock!

you are too good to me. thanks for this sweet comment!

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