If you told me 20 years ago that my job would be to travel around the world as a self-employed entrepreneur, I would have thought that you were crazy.
At 29, I find myself an award-winning travel blogger, a freelance writer and social media manager/consultant. I travel around the world, working on all kinds of projects, and I couldn’t be happier. And, while my job is super freaking amazing, it does come with its own set of challenges. The hardest is that this type of work isn’t as straightforward as your typical 9-5 job. And when I say it “isn’t as straightforward,” I mean getting paid is kind of complicated.
A lot of people ask me “how do you travel the world as your job?” or “how does being a blogger work?” when what they’re really trying to ask me is: How the hell do you get paid?
The answer is that there isn’t just one way to make money as a blogger and writer. Very rarely do the opportunities just fall in your lap, and you have to constantly be hustling from all angles to have any type of consistent paycheck. Here are just some of the ways I earn a living as a freelance writer and blogger.
Believe it or not, this is where a huge chunk of my paycheck comes from, at least on a more regular basis. Larger, third-party websites try to generate as much content as possible and therefore have the most money to offer writers. Some projects I write as The Clumsy Traveler, while others are unrelated to travel altogether. Keep in mind, this work isn’t always consistent. Changing writers, editors, site structure and capping content is a regular occurrence in this industry, so it’s best to be writing for multiple outlets at once.
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Instagram Marketing and Advertising
This is probably what most people see, you know, the giant “#AD” or “#SPONSORED” at the beginning of your favorite influencer’s post. This occurs when a brand pays an influencer to post something (whether it’s copy, a photo or both) about their product or service. Depending on how many followers one has, this can be a very lucrative source of income. What influencers and their fans are constantly worried about, however, is taking any opportunity for the sake of making money. A fast-food brand may pay you more than you can dream of for a single Instagram post, but if it’s not on brand or is not in line with your core values, your audience will notice and see you as an unreliable sellout. Because this type of work is considered new — the Wild West, if you will — it’s not uncommon for brands to try to lowball you or avoid paying you altogether. This is where you need to know your worth and make sure you have a contract in place of some kind.
Similar to Instagram advertising, blog sponsorship works by writing a piece on behalf of a company, be it for monetary compensation or trade value. The beginning of my blogging career started merely on trade simply because I didn’t have a big enough audience to offer anything. Now that my audience is significantly larger, I can start charging more for a sponsored post on my website. The only issue here is that only certain brands value SEO and written content. The world is adapting to a more visual, digital space, which means this kind of work is less frequent than Instagram advertising. If your site generates enough views or has a high amount of email subscribers, it shouldn’t be too hard to find a company that finds this traffic valuable.
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Press Trips and Content Creation
This is where the fun starts–when you actually get paid to travel. Tourism boards, hotels and other travel-related companies will often send you on trips around the world with different deliverables in mind. Sometimes it’s to write about the location, to cover a story, to take pictures and advertise or to offer digital content for their own brands. These trips may or may not pay you, depending on your experience and work value.
Passive income is the easiest way to make money, though it’s probably one of the slowest depending on how you do it. Passive income can include online ads, affiliate links, e-books, selling presets, etc. The amount of money you make here works best if you have a wide audience, high readership or a loyal fanbase. It’s never a consistent source of income, though it requires the least amount of work.
Keep in mind that there are a few other options when it comes to making money as a blogger or freelance writer, but these are my main ways of making a living. Being a blogger is a fulfilling, lucrative and exciting job. Just know that the work is hard and chasing those invoices can be even harder.
Click through to read about filing taxes as a ‘digital nomad.’
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