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 $1,500-$2,000 a month as they travelled. In the past year, however, their site NOMADasaurus has taken off, and they now earn as much as $6,000 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 honest about what being a travel blogger actually means.
“The idea that you get paid to travel is a common thing, but that’s not necessarily the truth,” Salem told Business Insider. “We never get paid to travel — we get paid to work.”
Salem explained that travel bloggers typically make money in nine primary ways:
- Affiliate partnerships
- Press trips
- Sponsored campaigns
- Freelance writing
- Social media promotion
- Google AdSense
- Photography and videography
- Digital products
- Brand ambassadorships
The one thing all of those income streams have in common? They’re work.
“If the tourism board of a country is paying us $2,000, they’re not paying us to go on a holiday. They’re paying to take photos, write articles, and promote on social media,” said Salem. He finds that readers tend not to think about the years of marketing and building social media profiles and paying for site hosting that get a blogger to the point where they might be paid to visit somewhere.
“There are so many travel bloggers where it feels like every single post they put up is ‘I love this new backpack!’ ‘Thanks for putting me up!’ A lot of that is paid or you’re getting a free stay, and it’s easy to look at that and think they’re always sponsored,” Salem said. “But people don’t really understand the amount of work that got to the point of a hotel putting you up for free or lending you a camera to review. People think it’s one big holiday, but it’s really not.”
However, Salem said he wouldn’t trade his current line of work for another. “It’s easy to become jaded when your passion becomes your work,” he said. “We travelled for years before we started the blog — we picked up odd jobs. The truth is, right now we’re in Thailand, then off to Argentina, then Antarctica. It is a lot of work, but we get to move our office around. We wouldn’t change it for anything.”
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