A prolific travel writer can always consider starting his own travel site. If you know a country or a city inside out then you really can start your own site, work on drawing traffic and make money from ads. Not much money, maybe but something. And you get read.
Right now not that many people actually read content online. People flick through, they surf but the screens hurt people’s eyes and most prefer to relax with a book or magazine on the sofa. Soon though there will be flexiscreens which will feel and look like paper. Then there will be a huge revolution in the media of reading equivalent to that of music with ptp file sharing. Your website can only benefit from this.
Successful websites tend to be those with a specific theme like Ilovetimbuktu.com – that way both users and search engines will know what the site is about. If you can really offer some quality information and entertainment, it might become a niche site in that field.
There’s more to getting traffic and search engine placement than learning a bit of html and buying your domain name though. To be successful you really need to understand how google and co work, as if no one can find your site, no one will read your work (or click on your ads). So here are the basic tips:
1. Choose a catchy domain name that preferably contains the theme of your site. You can check available domains on http://www.whois.sc – try to get a .com but a .org will do.
2. Pay for a good design and get a programmer to set you up with WordPress so that you can easily manage content on your site. You can find photos from Flickr Creative Commons to use.
3. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is an incredibly complicated and tangled business but you need to know the basics of making your site popular with the search engines. Try to work out what your main keywords are e.g. “Timbuktu, travel, hotels” and make sure that your title tag (that’s at the very top of the page) your headers and your alt tags for pictures contain those words, as well as the content on the page.
4. But do not under any circumstances stuff your pages with keywords that you think will work. E.g. Timbuktu Sex Timbuktu horoscopes sex Timbuktu. Search engines are wise to this and will ban you fast.
5. Try to get as many links coming to your site as you can from other quality sites that have a similar theme to your travel site. A link from a cooking site won’t help all that much.
6. Lastly, sign up for a membership at http://www.webmasterworld.com and spend a lot of time reading the info there.
How to Make Money From Your Travel Site?
There are programs like google adsense which reads your site and places ads relevant to the content of the page on the side. Each time someone clicks the ad you make some cents. How much Google won’t tell you – they just send the cheque through each couple of months. (and yes, they can tell it’s you clicking your own ads..)
Luckily, travel sites attract some of the highest paying ads and so this can represent an income. Even if you only make $5 a day, that’s $1800 a year, every year.
Affiliates pay you when a sale is generated through your site. So you can put a booking for a hotel on your site powered by Expedia.com and each time someone books a room you get a % of the price.
It can take some experimentation to find out which affiliates will appeal to your audience but this can be a good supplementary source of income.
Sell Something Else
Perhaps the best way to make money from your travel blog is to sell something else and use your site to bring in business. For instance, if you offer guided tours of Moscow then you can set up the ultimate guide to Moscow guide with regular updates and events listings, and get custom from those who visit your site.