Blogging

How to Monetise Your Travel Blog? Seven ways to make money blogging

When I tell people that I want to make it as a travel blogger, many still ask HOW. How would you live off it? How would you earn and pay bills? Well I am still asking these questions myself. I am still not making actual cash, but I did get a hotel stay for a review in the gorgeous Heritance Kandalama for example. I think that is a good start for where I am with my blog anyway. Slow and steady wins the race they say. I am still working on it and trying to dip my fingers in all the pies.

One of the things I thought might help me get some direction into HOW I could possibly monetise my travel blog was attending travel related conferences such as the World Travel Market, Blogtacular, Summer in the City by Youtube and Traverse. All were held in London. I went to their educational sessions and social media panels. I also read a lot of blogging websites and e-books such as Digital Nomad Wannabe. I learnt a lot from each and it's a matter of putting everything into motion to earn, which takes longer than you might think! 

In this post, I want to share the things I have learnt from everything on all the possible ways to make money from blogging. 

How to Monetise Your Travel Blog?

How to Monetise Your Travel Blog?

Method One for Making Money Blogging: Affiliate Links

Affiliate links are when you endorse a product or a service and add a link to them and getting a percentage. This is a very slow way, but it builds up over time. It is also known as passive income because you can make money without getting involved after posting about it. The percentage you get back can be between %2 to %8. There are many programs. Unfortunately, there is not only that for everything, so you might find yourself part of a few. I have an excel document to keep up with them! The ones I use are Amazon, Adobe, Booking.com, Itunes, Shop Style and Skim Link. If you want to find a specific one just look it up with the word Affiliate. If you want more information, watch the video below because it talks about this in details. Although it's mostly about Youtube, but all the information applies on blogging too! 

Here are previous examples I have written with affiliate links that might give you some ideas:
Santorini Hijab Friendly Look book
The vlogging camera I swear by
My travel tech kit
 

Method Two for Making Money Blogging: Brand Sponsorships

Brand sponsorships are great, but they are not easy to get especially when you are starting out, but once you have an established online presences you can start approaching brand you love or you might get lucky and be approached. The company will either pay you to represent/ mention/ use/ place/ model a product or sponsor a trip/ activity/ flight or stays. Brands usually collaborate with bloggers to reach to a new audience or to spread the awareness of their brand further. Sometimes the brand wants the information only shared as a blog post, sometimes a video and sometimes on social media. More information on how to work with brands as a blogger can be found here. 

There are some companies that connect bloggers/instagramers/influencers with brands such as the Australian company Tribe. You will have to be approved though! This was recommended to me by Polka Dot Passport from personal experience. It's an app and I just started using it. Watch their video to know more. There are other companies that appeared when I looked up similar companies such as Revfluence

Method Three for Making Money Blogging: Content Creation for others

Bloggers have trained themselves in so many skill sets and they are able to produce written and visual contents for their own blogs and others. For example, I do some freelance writing on the side and I get paid per article. There is a lot of hustling involved in this one. Sometimes you have to pitch yourself and tell the company you want to write for that you are a valuable influencer that will enhance their brand. Since I started my Youtube channel, I have had a few video making requests. Have you seen my video collaboration with Skyscanner? 

Method Four for Making Money Blogging: Providing services/e-courses

When a blogger has an audience interested in something then it's only logical to create an e-course that satisfies the markets needs and bring in a steady income that will also be considered as passive income. here are a few examples of bloggers and vloggers that created e-courses that generate an income. 

1- Normadic Mat and his various ecourses such as: travel blogging, travel vlogging and travel photography on the Super Star Blogging platform. I myself took the took the Art of Travel Vlogging e-course. I would only recommend it for complete beginners though.

2- Thomas Norman with his The Travel Video Academy
3- The Travel Hack and her Blogger course. 

Method Five for Making Money Blogging: Selling merchandise

This has worked for some bloggers or vloggers where they collaborated to sell a product like (t-shirts etc) to generate some income. Examples of vloggers who have sold merchandise: 
1- Mr.Ben Brown
2- Zoella 
3- Psycho Traveller

I feel like this method requires a lot of work and someone to actually be in one location to package orders etc. I am all over the place for this to be an option for me, but it might work for you. 

Method Six for Making Money Blogging: Writing and selling books

Blog posts are all written content, so it makes sense to turn that into an e-book. Especially if there is a a useful story or some valuable advice. If you are interested in this, I would recommend reading the book Authority by Nathan Barry. I really enjoyed reading the book and he is very encouraging. I haven't written an e-book yet though, but it is something I would love to do one day.  

Method Seven for Making Money Blogging: Speaking engagements

Speakers get paid at conferences and if you have an inspiring story to tell you will be invited or you can just pitch yourself to be a speaker. If you are a blogger or a traveller there are plenty of events you can go to such as Blogtacular or Traverse.  

As you can see most of these methods are even more work than just writing posts or making videos. Making an income is not straight forward, but some people love the challenge.  

Another amazing source of information is Video Influencers' Youtube channel

Over to you: Do you have any other methods to monetise your blog or vlog that you would like to share with us in the comments below?

Lessons I learnt from Traverse17

Last week I went to Traverse 17 and after attending the weekend sessions, I got a few useful tips that I thought I will share with you all here. 

Photo of the Traverse 17 London Venue 

Photo of the Traverse 17 London Venue 

Lessons I learnt from Traverse17

Traverse 17 London

This are some of the tips I learnt from the sessions I attended: 

PR YOURSELF AND YOUR BLOG – HOW TO STAND OUT THROUGH CONTENT AND CONNECTIONS
Speakers: Alexandra Delf & Susan L. Schwartz

  • When communicating with the PR team, be honest about how you feel about things.  
  • When pitching, bring new ideas to the table and be very specific on what you could provide. 
  • Have a set schedule that is clearly communicated to the PR team you are working with. For example, how long after a trip are you planning to post about the venue? 
  • When approaching the PR team for a pitch or a collaboration, be clear and give them your media kit! 
  • Media kit pointers:
    • One page concise PDF that is easy to send to a client 
    • Pictures
    • Who are you? (intro)
    • Tag lines
    • key words 
    • Add logos of people you worked with or places you stayed in even if they haven't paid 
    • Bullet points of key strengths 
    • Add interactions and feedbacks
    • Mention specific numbers 

HOW TO GAIN FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM WITHOUT LOSING YOURSELF
Speaker: Nicola Easterby

Nicola aka polka dot passport is a brilliant blogger and instagramer and she shared some of her tips with us after three years growing her audience on instagram. 

I did a whole post for this one! >> Instagram Tips and Highlights From Polkadot Passport

MONEY MAKING GAME CHANGERS
Speaker: Monica Stott

I attended a talk by Monica two years ago at Blogtacular and I found her to be very insightful. Her talk was honest and filled with tips to get people started in making money in the field of travel blogging especially that she has been a full time blogger and depending on her blog for income for a while. 

  • Charge for everything or charge for nothing

  • Set usual rates and even do packages: Video + blog post + social media 

  • Don't be scared to turn down unpaid opportunities 

  • Be clear with your deadlines 

  • Write detailed reports after collaborations to prove your influence and reach

  • Send reports to brands: After camping finishes, 2 months later, 6 months later and even 1 year later if you are tracking the reach. For example: use bitly to track links to show brands. 

  • Instead of trying to figure out your niche, ask yourself: What do you want to be the expert at? 

  • Keep on writing. You can even write 15 blogs about one destination - 1000 words each to have more content in your blog.  

  • Get you personality out there. Bloggers are different from copy writers. People want to read about people so don't just write about the facts. Write about the experience.

  • Group projects together to make the most out of your trip. 

Full Presentation slides. 

HOW TO TURN YOUR VISITORS INTO LOYAL FOLLOWERS
Speaker: Sabina Trojanova

I was very excited for this talk because of Sabina the presenter also known as Gil vs Globe. She is the creator of one of my favourite online travelling females communities Girls vs Globe. 

  • Create sharable content 
  • Be motivational 
  • Guide others and be generous with your advice 
  • Have something valuable to say 
  • Build your expertise and become an authority in your field
  • Take your audience offline and be open to arranging meet ups 

ADVANCED VIDEO EDITING WORKSHOP
Speaker: Greg Brand

This was a very cool talk about specialised video editing techniques using Adobe Premier CC such as colour grading, matching sound with video and so much more. 

  • Organise all your files before you get into Premier 
  • Create a proxy from a free software to save time 
  • Try using the "key frame" editing style 
  • Shooting flat and raw
  • You can get colour grading effects online from free softwares 

The sessions were great and had some useful gaudiness. I think the best outcome of these conferences are the connections and the blogging/vlogging friends. Content creating and digital story telling could be really lonely and having people in the same circle who share the same struggle is extremely useful. 

Over to you: Are there any other travel conferences that you loved or tried going to in London or other locations? 

Instagram Tips and Highlights from Polkadot Passport

This was on of the talks I enjoyed in Traverse 17 conference in London. 

HOW TO GAIN FOLLOWERS ON INSTAGRAM WITHOUT LOSING YOURSELF
Speaker: Nicola Easterby

Nicola aka polka dot passport is a brilliant blogger and instagramer and she shared some of her tips with us after three years growing her audience on instagram: 

How to post on Instagram

  • Only post high quality relevant photos

  • Photo orientation should be portraits or square. They take more of the screen, which leads to better engagement 

  • Hashtag photos. Also, find official hashtags and tag for feature accounts. 

  • Post at peak times 

Tips for better photos on Instagram

  • Content is key! 
  • Shooting during golden hour 
  • Finding unique perspectives 
  • Adding a subject to your photos 
  • Having both a foreground and a background 
  • Capture a sense of movement 

Making money on Instagram

  • Sponsored post- promote something for a brand 
  • Disclosing with a hashtag 
  • Creating product into your feed to tell a story that relates to your audience
  • Gifting / Contra exchange - only good when starting but after 10k you should get paid! 
  • Instal takeovers for brand accounts 
  • Long term ambassador roles
  • Hustle hard when you are starting. You can pitch to you dream brands 
  • DM brands asking for the PR contacts 
  • Find platforms to get noticed and to find work opportunities
    Example: tribe group for influencers. 

Let's getting gramming!
You can find me on instagram on Designer Esra

Over to you: do you have any useful tips and highlights for instagram that have worked for you? 

Instagram shadowban and how to get around it

Last week, I was very disheartened after I read all about the Instagram "Shadowban", especially that I have been experiencing a major engagement drop. My followers numbers have not changed in a whole year and my photos are only getting 100-200 likes from the same exact people (who I really appreciate btw!). I knew something was seriously wrong with instagram. I thought that was their way to push me to pay for adverts to "promote" my account. It turns out it was not only that, I have been shadow banned too! Let me tell you some more.  

Update: apparently this all was a hashtag "glitch" and it's been fixed by Instagram. Will keep monitoring my accounts to see. 

What does an instagram shadowban mean?

Basically an Instagram Shadowban means your account cannot be found using the hashtags you inserted to anyone else other than your current followers because you have used a broken or a banned hashtag. 

The whole system of Instagram relies heavily on hashtags because they are the "search words" people put to find accounts that relate to them. 

 

How Do You Know If You Have Been ShadowBanned?

  • I feel like it was clear to me before I even read anything about this. I have been on instagram since their first year in 2010, so I know how things worked normally before Facebook took over and ruined it. 
  • You can get tested in this new website: http://shadowban.azurewebsites.net/
    Their Tag line: Worried about the Instagram Shadowban? 
    You're not alone! ~4,500 people are taking the test every hour since launch (Apr 14, 2017)
    I have been checking each post after posting to see what's happening. 
  • If you have used any of those spammy services to buy followers and what not. 

Six Tips to get around the Instagram shadow ban

The main cause for this are hashtags. I think that is their way to keep the Instagram community free from spammers, but they really need to work harder to fix this because it is causing problems to everyone. As a blogger this a major disadvantage to me, but nothing I can do to change the algorithms. In the past week I have been following these tips and I feel like they helped slightly.  

  1. Delete Hashtags
    This is the most upsetting thing, but it has to be done. I am still trying to figure out which hashtags are triggering this on instagram ban, but till I do, I am being very cautious with my use. 
  2. Use two words hashtags
    I think specific hashtags are key here. Avoid all the one word generic tags like #travel #Friday #Fashion. Instead use #TravelStory #FridayThoughts #ModestFashion or something of that sort. 
  3. Switch the hashtags up
    You get blocked if you use the same hashtags all the time, so use different ones every two days or something to better your chances. 
  4. Add your "Location"
    If hashtags are refusing to cooperate, then use your location and hope to be found that way. 
  5. Engage Even More
    Instead of adding my beloved 30 hashtags, I have been searching the hashtags that I would have used. Then I like and comment photos on there.  
  6. Avoid Spammy Behaviours
    Above I told you to engage, but don't spend the day just hitting like or commenting with the same thing because that might get you banned to. 
Disclaimer: I am not an Instagram expert, but I run three accounts on there and I have been on it for the past seven years.  
Banned post on instagram because of all the one word hashtags 

Banned post on instagram because of all the one word hashtags 

Safe post on instagram after deleting the hashtags. 

Safe post on instagram after deleting the hashtags. 



Over to you: Do you feel like you have been affected by all of this? Do you have any other tips to get around the ban?

The Vlogging Camera I swear by (Review for Canon G 7X) + Travel Camera Recommendations 

When I decided to get on Youtube, I decided to get a more portable camera other than my profession (but heavy!!) Nikon D7100. I looked around and basically read every possible review. Until I found Canon G7X. I was a little worried because it was almost 500GBP, but after using it for a year, I can highly recommend it! About 95% of my videos are all filmed with this camera, so take a look at my YouTube channel Arabian Wanderess to see the video quality if you need more video examples. 

Six things I personally love about Canon G7X

  • One. The Flip Screen!!
    Omg this is so essential when I am vlogging you have no idea! I can see how I look and exactly what I am filming.
  • Two. The Weight!!
    It's such a light and portable camera. It fits the smallest purses I have. I don't even feel like I am carrying it. 
  • Three. The Wifi function!!
    I haven't taken any photos on my phone in AGES! The quality of Iphone photos just do not compare to the photos I take with this camera. The wifi function makes it so easy to transfer the photos from the camera to the phone using the Canon app. It takes me less than a minute to connect, upload and share on social media! My camera instagram photos are getting lots of love! You can give them some love too! 
  • Four. The low light performance (Night filming)
    This is another great thing! My biggest worry was if this camera would still preform well. It does work nicely at night for the most part. I had to fix the yellow saturation of some videos on Premier Pro, but it's quiet good. It's good for photos as well. Take a look at my London after Midnight Photos. All were taken with this camera. I think it's quiet powerful. Unfortunately, this camera can't seem to take stunning photos of the moon or stars, but that's another story. For a compact camera, it's mind blowing!     
  • Five. The baby tripods! (Great to take photos when you are travelling solo!)
    This is very helpful! When I am travelling light and for a short time, I only pack one of these Joby tripod with me. They are versatile and can bend and etc. When I was travelling in Sri Lanka, I took my solo dreamy beach photos (like the one below) by using the Joby tripod and the Remote Live View Shooting function (accessible in the free Canon phone app). 
Buy this tripod 

Buy this tripod 

  • Six. Remote Live View Shooting Function (For Quick Stop Motion Films)
    As I just mentioned in the previous point the Remote Live View Shooting, which is accessible through the Free Canon phone app is a life saver for taking travel photos if you are travelling solo OR for stop motion films! 
    ** Check the video below and forward to 2:54 to see the stop motion I included using this camera and the Remote Live View Shooting. 

Extra Tip: I bought two extra batteries from Amazon, so I stay longer on the road without worrying about the battery life! 

Another Tip: I got the wind muffler to get better quality sound. 

Also another thing you might want: a camera protective case! I got my poor camera scratched so many times until I got a case! Like a whole year later. 

Cheaper Travel Camera Recommendation

By the way, if you are looking for a cheaper alternative to the Canon G7x reviewed above and you don't really care for vlogging or flip screens and you want a light, reliable, good quality camera with the phone app then the Canon Powershot SX610 is going to be a great option for you. I bought it for my sister as a birthday present and she loves it. The quality of her photos are so much better than a phone camera. 

Note: if you are considering buying any of these practical and reliable travel bags, please consider getting them through the links provided in on this page. That will give us a little commission with no extra cost to you. These little commissions help this blog grow and continue. Thank you for your support.  

More Posts that you might enjoy: 

- Practical and Reliable Duffle and Tote Travel bags for your solo travels

- Eight reasons every Muslim woman should travel solo at least once

- How to take pictures of yourself when travelling solo

Over to you: What camera are you taking with you on holidays? and which one would you love to buy? 

Travel Blogging and Social Media hashtags and feature accounts

As we all know, being on social media is crucial especially for bloggers and artists because that's the main way people find out about us. As a travel blogger, it's good to have visibility via specific hashtags and features. These are the ones I find most useful for Instagram. Keep in mind that I keep my caption clean from these hashtags and only use my own, but add them in the comments below to give a neater look to the photos. 

Top Travel Hashtags

Daily Travel hashtag: #TravelTuesday #WanderlustWednesday 

General Travel hashtags: #travel #wanderlust #explore #travelfind #discover #instatravel #traveljunkie 

use: season, day, county, city, occasion as well. 

Top Travel Feature Accounts

Might be a good idea to start with smaller accounts because bigger ones get 100s of tags a day. 

#LPTraveller @lonelyplanettraveller 
#BBCTravel or #LoveTheWorld @bbc_travel
#WeLiveToExplore @WeLiveToExplore
#wonderful_places @wonderful_places
#TheGlobeWanderer @TheGlobeWanderer
#beautifuldestinations @beautifuldestinations
#IPulledOverForThis @IPulledOverForThis
#PassionPassport @PassionPassport
#TLPicks @travelandleisure
#discoverearth @discoverearth
#darlingescapes @darlingescapes

Top Travel Feature Accounts and Hashtags Specifically for London

#ThisisLondon @London
#london4all #london4all_video @london4all
#TopLondonPhoto @TopLondonPhoto
#London_only @London_only
#lotiloves @londontheinside
#timeoutlondon @timeoutlondon

Top Travel Feature Accounts specifically for females

This photo was featured on @Globelletravels  and there are a number of travelling females account that support and empower such as: #Girlsborntotravel @Girlsborntotravel , #girlsmeetglobe @girlsmeetglobe , #girlsLOVEtravel @girlslovetravel , #femmetravel @femmetravel, #TheTravelWomen @TheTravelWomen

Top Travel Feature Accounts specifically for Muslim and/or Arab travellers:

The photo below was featured on #361.world @361.world 
There is also #muslimtravelers @muslimtravelers 

Muslim Travellers on instagram

For Feetlfies (feet selfies) for when you are travelling and when you are home: 

#fwarabs @fwarabs

#fromwhereIstand #FWIS @fromwhereIstand

#Ihavethisthingwithfloors @Ihavethisthingwithfloors

#Ihavethisthingwithtiles @Ihavethisthingwithtiles

PS. remember that if you are using brands/products or you are in a place that owns a social media account you should tag them too! 

connect with me on insta @designeresra

Over to you: What are your favourite travel hashtags and accounts? 

"Creativity For A Cause" Mentoring Session

Hi everyone! 

If you have been following the blog, then you know that I was invited to be one of the mentors for the "Creativity for a Cause" campaign with Philadelphia. I also gave a motivational talk to some of the students in Dar Al Hekma University in April 2016 to encourage them to put their ideas forward for the campaign. The campaign received many entries. In May 2016, eight ideas were shortlisted and qualified for the semi finals. The mentors and I gave presentations and support to the participants and their ideas. Afterwards, the participants filmed their ideas to be available for public votes. It was a fun day with everyone. Here's the feature aired on MBC1 and the presentation I gave below! :) 

Full Episode (88) is available on Shahid.net

Here is the presentation I gave & the slides. Hope you find it useful! There is so much to be said on the subject, but here's a glimpse from my personal experience.  

Over to you: What are your favourite business start up tips?

My First Travel Vlog

Hi everyone, 

For some reason, I am not crazy over videos, but I have been talking myself into making some videos especially for some of the unique destinations that I was fortunate to visit such as Iran

Making a travel video was the hardest thing I have done in my blogging career. Some might laugh, but I am serious. It was weeks and weeks of agony. The process started from the trip. I had to be conscious during my trip and take more videos because I usually just take photos and write about the places. I had to discard a lot of videos I took because they were shaky, unclear and some were even taken with a dirty lens! :O

Then came editing!

Here are some of the challenges I faced while making the video and some of my solutions: 

  • Choosing the right footage. I had to choose from four devices. 
  • Writing a voice over to match. 
  • Picking a mic to record my voice over because the built in mic was too weak and caused an echo. I ended up buying the snowball mic from Blue Microphones because it had over 600 positive reviews.  
  • Choosing Music that I am allowed to use. That was really stressful and just settled for a track from the free Youtube Audio Library.    
  • Editing! This dilemma took the longest. I started with making the movie on iMovies and the audio on GarageBand. I worked them both, but then bringing the movie and the audio together was painful, so I followed Super Kat's advice and I switched to Adobe Premier Pro and that just saved my life and made the process much quicker. (I spent an extra 5 hours, but they were good 5 hours).  
Adobe Premiere Pro

I was very excited when I finally finished the editing. I know the video still needs to be better, but that's my first one and I am hoping it will get easier the more I do it. Now, I leave you with it! 

Feel free to share any vlogging making tips in the comments below!