How To Become A Professional Travel Blogger – Going Pro

How to become a professional travel blogger 2

Exactly 10,731,924 people (give or take a few) have started a travel blog. Of those, maybe (just my best guess here), a couple thousand are professional travel blogs. Admittedly, I may be a little off on the numbers, but the point is this: there’s a whack-load of travel blogs out there, both professional and not.

We started The Barefoot Nomad back in 2008 (which is roughly equivalent to the mid-Jurassic Period in Internet years). For a few years we chugged along, writing occasional updates on our travels for the handful of people who read them (Hi Mom!)

Somewhere along the way, more and more people started reading our stuff, and we decided to make a business out of it.

Straight up, it’s been a rocky road at times, and I think we’ve survived largely due to our love of what we do, sheer stubbornness and working hard to be seen as professionals. There’s a world of competition out there (remember those 10,731,924 other travel blogs?), and you really need to have a solid, professional image to make you stand out.

This post is written for travel bloggers who are looking for advice on how to become a professional travel blogger. In it we’re going to talk about:

  • how to take the next step to become a professional travel blogger (and how to up your game if you already consider yourself a professional travel blogger)
  • how to make money as a travel blogger

First, though, what makes a travel blogger professional?

We could spend a lot of time arguing the fine points of this, but a professional in any field is someone who gets paid, while someone doing the same thing as a hobbyist does not.

So, at least for our purpose today, a professional travel blogger gets paid for his or her work.

Making money as a travel blogger

There are a lot of different ways to make money as a blogger. Some of the more common ways are placing ads on your site, using affiliate links (where you get paid a percentage of any products you sell) and working with tourism boards, hotels and travel companies to promote their destination or product.

In this post, we’re going to focus on working with sponsors, travel brands and tourism boards.

As of a few years ago, there were really no companies that worked specifically to connect travel bloggers to travel brands and tourism organizations. Most companies that connect bloggers to brands focus on mommy blogs or technology. They occasionally have travel-related campaigns, but they’re few and far between.

Many bloggers contact tourism boards (often called DMOs or Destination Marketing Organizations) and travel brands directly. We’ve done this in the past, and have forged some great relationships, but it’s also a time consuming process.

Personally, we like to do a mixture of working with influencer networks, and working with brands and tourism organizations directly.

Whether you’re working with a company or contacting tourism boards and brands directly, you’ll need to show that you’re serious about what you do, and set yourself apart from other bloggers. Here are some tips and skills that we think are essential for a professional travel blogger.

Tips and skills for professional travel bloggers

Media Kit

A media kit is like a resume for your blog. It’s a great way to introduce your blog to potential sponsors and advertisers. You can create a pretty digital media kit using something like Joomag, or go old school and use Microsoft PowerPoint or Word to create one.

You can also buy some beautiful media kit templates on Etsy.

Katy Widrick (who’s not a travel blogger), has some great advice for building a media kit. Check out these excellent sample media kits from travel bloggers at Travel with BenderVelvet Escape, Travels of Adam and TravelDudes.

Tip: Make sure that you include your media kit (or at least mention that advertisers can contact you to see your media kit) in your Advertising/Work with Us page on your blog.

Join Organizations

Joining an organization can be a way of giving yourself some credibility as a professional. While there are others, the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) is well known in the industry.

Go to Conferences

Conferences are a fantastic way to get your name known as a professional travel blogger, connect with sponsors and advertisers, and also to get hands on education on many blogging topics.

TBEX is the biggest travel blogging conference out there right now, and usually holds both a North American and a European conference every year.

Learn to Write a Pitch Letter

Well, these days, it’s almost always a pitch email, and not a letter, but the idea’s the same. You’re probably going to be contacting a potential advertiser or tourism board at some point, so it’s a great idea to have your pitch well honed. You’ll likely even use a version of your pitch letter when you’re working with a company that connects you to travel brands and tourism boards.

There are literally dozens of books about writing pitches out there, so I’m not going to go into details, except for one crucial tip: always make your pitch about what you can do for the advertiser. No one cares if you want a sponsored trip or free stay; they care how working with you and publishing on your blog can help their business.

Here are a few good resources to get you started:

Get your name out there

I am not a natural marketer, so this one’s always been tough for me. Here are a couple of ways I’ve found to help you get your name out there as a professional travel blogger.

Submit your name to travel blogging lists. These can be lists of travel bloggers in your country, top 100 blogs or for your specific niche (e.g. food or over 50 travel). You’ll have to do a bit of Googling on this one, and keep your eyes open, but when an opportunity arises, throw your hat in the ring. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take, right? (Many thanks to my fellow Canuck Wayne Gretzky for that one).

Sign up for HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Reporters (and brands) use HARO to find expert sources for their stories. Keep an eye on the requests, and you just might find yourself quoted in a news story or magazine. The basic membership is free, and you’ll get emails in your inbox at a dizzying frequency.

Give sponsors a way to contact you

Make sure that you have a way for potential partners to contact you on your blog, whether that’s a contact form or masked email address (e.g., admin at thebarefootnomad dot com). (You mask the email address to prevent spammer bots from finding your email and putting you on spam lists).

Conduct yourself with professionalism

If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck, chances are it’s a duck. If you act like a professional, word will get out, and people will want to work with you. Return emails and phone calls on time. Deliver (actually, over deliver) on any promises you make. Do all the things you expect a professional would do, and then do a little bit more.

Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear your take on what it takes to be a professional travel blogger.

49 Responses

  1. Valen-This Way Paradise

    These are great tips. Both Haro and themidgame have been useful to me. Another tip I’d offer is to take writing courses, as well-written articles are what drives traffic to a blog in the first place.

  2. sarah

    I’m always looking for good advice on how to be a more professional blogger and you have some great tips here. I’m familiar with the Midgame and have actually already set up my profile so I’m excited to see the results.

  3. Franca

    Great tips guys! There is much to be done to became a serious professional travel blogger, it’s good that you share your tips to everyone 🙂

  4. alison @GreenWithRenvy

    These are great tips, thanks. I am always curious about how others are making it work in the world of travel blogging, and had not heard of themidgame. Will check it out.

  5. Anne

    Thanks for a great article. I am one of those people who does travel blogging part time and this year I have started to shift to becoming a professional travel blogger, plus setting up a second website which is more commercially focused on the travel blogging industry. It has been an interesting journey so far and I still have lots to learn!

  6. Jo

    I normally describe myself as “semi professional” but maybe I need to do a rethink! Great post

  7. Sandra

    Thank you for the great tips. I’m a 9 to 5er who dreams of being a professional travel and photography blogger, so all and any help is always appreciated. I have a profile on The Midgame. ..working on getting my numbers up now so that I can get into the game.

    Keep up the great work! !

  8. DJ Yabis | Dream Euro Trip

    I’d like to add that besides the Media Kit, the design and look of your website is also another way to differentiate yourself from hobby bloggers and convey yourself as a professional.

  9. Casey @ A Cruising Couple

    Great post with great tips! We’re on the Midgame and have received great monetary results. In our opinion it’s a great way to increase your authority and take blogging to the next level. And it’s only just the beginning. Who knows what will come from it 🙂

  10. Darnell Jackson

    Awesome post thanks for sharing always wondered how people got into the travel blogging niche gotta share it w my online peeps and real friends.

  11. Marta Kulesza

    Very insightful post. The more I read about professional travel blogging the more it seems like a hard work, I guess that is why so many don’t make it through the first year. 10 Million blogs, I would have never thought!
    I am treating mine as a hobby for now and as a channel for showcasing my photos and I already see that it takes a lot of time. It is not easy if you also have a full time job, but I am going to be travelling full time soon, so I am looking forward to investing a bit more time in the blog. Thanks for sharing the wisdom!

  12. Rachel

    Thanks for the great tips ! My dream is to be a professional travel blogger – but I definitely fall into the non-professional category atm ! Maybe one day…. lol

  13. Si

    I hadn’t heard of The Mid Game but now I’ve signed up, because I’m always looking to make a little bit of money for my travel blogging efforts. However, as a professional journalist, sometimes it can be disheartening to write on my travel blog for free (or a paltry sum of money) when proper companies pay me a decent living to write for them. Thanks for this.

  14. Andy

    Thanks Micki,

    You given me some different approaches that I haven’t found on other ‘how to blog professionally’ posts. Great tips. I need all the help I can get!

  15. Heidi Wagoner

    Great Tips Micki! We are paving our way in that direction now and enjoying it. Thanks for the tips and we will check out theMindGame today.

  16. Richard S.

    It is truly amazing when you manage to get paid through your blog for something you are passionate about. However, there are so many travel blogs out there today that it is very difficult to make your stories and articles outstanding in such crowd. I think the way is to put as much of your personality to the blog as possible, pen and capture your journey with all your heart, be patient and, afterwards, success comes naturally. Fingers crossed for you!

  17. Alicia Dredge

    I have seen there are a lot of emerging travel bloggers, but after few articles they lost somewhere in the crowd. Travel blogging is not for everyone, but this profession is meant for only for those who has a real passion for traveling rather than just being a tourist.

  18. - Jasmine

    Great post – i have only started out blogging a few months ago and it has been the best thing i have ever done 🙂 i love it , thank you for this post its very helpful 🙂

  19. Wally

    Great tips! This article helps to think about in which direction you want to take your blog. Keep up the good work!

  20. Londoner Kate

    Thanks for all of these resources, so helpful. I think some bloggers try so hard to become ‘professional’ that they lose the passion and it become a chore.

  21. Jonny Duncan

    Some good advice. I am not a ‘professional’ travel blogger, but I do love writing about my adventures, and as some have stated in other comments, It’s important to have passion in what you write, to put your personality into it, and in the end if money starts to come from that then it’s great.

  22. Mister

    Wow! This article answered a lot of questions I had about becoming a professional travel blogger, thanks! I did find a couple of links that ended on 404 pages. Odd, seeing as how the article is only a couple of months old.

    Can’t wait to work my way through the suggestions & links!

  23. Taylor

    I am currently in week three of my solo year around the world, and thus in week three of blogging! I am a writer and travel enthusiasts and I am blogging not to make money but to document my stories, experiences, and pictures.

    That being said, since I am putting in such a great effort to deliver really high quality posts to my family and friends (and they seem to be loving it) I wouldn’t mind capitalizing on this work! So, thanks for this post, it was really informative and exactly what I needed to read at this moment!


  24. Cyrus Janssen

    This was one of the most helpful posts I have ever read about travel blogging. Thank you for the recommendation of themidgame. Excellent website and resource. Thank you for sharing this valuable information and making it available to everyone at an affordable cost (free!). Happy Travels! ~ Cyrus

  25. Jonny Blair

    Great website here and full of advice on this post in particular. I’d be really surprised if there were thousands of professional travel bloggers though. There are only a few hundred of us in the actual PTBA, I kind of expected if anyone was serious about being a professional travel blogger they would have signed up. Most bloggers start with a big dream, travel and blog for 6 months then give up. Only those who stick at it will actually succeed. Safe travels. Jonny

  26. thewelltravelledman

    Well written and very interesting, I really like the up to date and online statistics – my concern at this stage is how to consistently increase the following! We have had a month with over 2,000 visitors and another with only 300 visitors, so consistency and determination is key!

    Travel blogger number 10,731,925:

  27. Michel

    Great blogpost but I feel…
    How travel bloggers miss out on exposure and opportunities when traveling to other countries. A little number of travel bloggers are announcing travel plans in advance, but why? Think about it what could happen when travel bloggers announce with a press release for example that they travel to let’s say Australia …
    When they get a press release maybe the editor of a local paper invites you for an interview to talk about your Australian travel experiences
    Or a TV channel wants to follow you to make a documentary movie about your experiences or a radio station wants to talk with you why you chose the destination
    Maybe Hotels invite you to discover what they have to offer for free or in exchange for a mention in your blog-posting
    Or local businesses want to make a deal with you – so a surf shop will give you a rental free board so you can write about your surf experience with a board from this surf shop and share it on social media
    Or even the government tourist department could be interested in somehow working with you to promote the destination
    Or just it might be a way for people to get in touch with you and to meet up during your trip – this could grow your community for sure too
    All these might be opportunities that are missed out by travel bloggers by not openly announcing their travel plans before they visit a country.
    Tell me below what you think about this?

  28. Alla

    Thank you for the tips. I’m a newbie blogger and found a few new tips on your site that I haven’t seen before. Will definitely have to give HARO a try. Thanks again!

  29. Marie Skillicorn

    Thanks for a fab article. I’m just getting into the game. Not sure if professional blogging is going to be for me, but if our version of how to travel the world for a year with family inspires others then it’s worth the effort. If we can make a little on the way….. then it’s a bonus. It’s certainly something to think about 😊

  30. AArti

    Thank you for all the wonderful information, this may be the most information for us novice travel bloggers that I’ve come across to in one place!

    • Charles Kosman

      Hi Lindsay. Some of the best proven tips for growing an audience is guest posting on other blogs, writing articles for companies and engaging in social media. A guaranteed solution is posting high quality posts with good information that people are searching for. It might take a while to grow an audience but that’s where determination comes in. Hope that helps and good luck on your site!


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