Many people dream of earning money with their own passion. Since travel and outdoor activities are among the most popular leisure activities, there are now countless travel, hiking and sports blogs on the German-language web. But is it really so easy to make a profession out of passion??
I have been self-employed on the internet for over 15 years now. At the end of 2014, I launched my first online travel agency as part of a travel affiliate program. I invested a lot of work and money in my self-employment and was successful after only a few months. But what worked quickly then is very difficult today. The competition on the Internet is extremely high, which is why small websites are hardly ranked by the search engines and only very poorly.
A strong website – the prerequisite to making money online
To be successful on the Internet and earn money, you need to build a strong website. However, this wasn’t easy back in 2004, because the competition in the online travel market was very high.
Another possibility is to specialize for a niche market. I found this out very quickly and placed cheap ads on Google Adwords. I was most successful with popular hotels on the Mediterranean, on the Canary Islands, on the Turkish Riviera or in Egypt. I had many package bookings for upscale hotels like Hotel Costa Calero in Lanzarote and made a lot of money.
Unfortunately, this was soon no longer a niche, because the large and medium-sized travel portals also discovered it and placed expensive ads, which were unprofitable for me. I found another small niche and with these ads I was successful up to the Corona pandemic.
In 2012, I invested more money to strengthen my most important travel portal. I hired a freelancer to take care of the link building. This worked very well in the beginning and the travel portal was easy to find with strong search terms and had 1.000 to 3.000 visitors a day. Unfortunately, the success was only short term. Today I would apply for a professional agency like PerformanceLiebe to drive link building forward.
Most important ranking factors for a strong blog
There are many ranking factors that are necessary with search engines in order to be found well. Among the most important and most work-intensive from my point of view are the linkbuiliding and content creation.
The bloggers who write out of passion usually have many good articles. However, they hardly care about backlinks from external sites (this also applies to my blog). The blog comments are already the first small step, but they are not enough. They are usually set to nofollow and hardly count. Therefore, many, possibly high-quality and topic-relevant backlinks are necessary to build a strong blog. Link building can be very tedious because most bloggers are not interested in exchanging links. It is especially difficult in the beginning when your blog is very weak. Those who have some money to invest can therefore consider finding a provider who takes care of linking.
Other factors like web hosting, content management system and on-page optimization are less problematic and not as labor intensive. WordPress offers a free CMS that can be conveniently and inexpensively set up with a variety of providers as a WordPress hosting package.
Earn money with your own blog – opportunities
The road to a strong blog with at least 1000 visitors a day is long and requires not only a lot of work, but also a lot of patience and perseverance. If you succeed, you have several ways to make money. Among the most important:
1. Cooperate with large and medium-sized companies
The large and medium-sized companies have a certain budget for collaborations with great bloggers. The small companies are usually looking for cheap advertising opportunities and offer free products to bloggers, as I observe on Instagram.
The forms of cooperation are sponsored articles, paid posts on Instagram, press trips and free articles.
2. Earn money with affiliate links
Another income opportunity is affiliate links, for example the Amazon affiliate program. However, these are small commissions and only from 3.000 blog readers a day you can expect 200-500 euros a month.
3. Earn money with Google Adsense ads
If you have a blog with a lot of visitors, you can also place ads from Google-Adsense. However, the earnings are even lower than with Amazon’s affiliate program.
4. Earn money with your own book
If you have done something special, such as the 4500-km long-distance hike on the legendary Pacific Crest trail in the U.S., you can write a travelogue and try to market it directly through your blog. Some well-known travel and outdoor bloggers write books about their experiences on hikes, world tours, solo trips, or with tips for specific destinations.
5. Earn money with coaching and courses
Some bloggers and Instagrammers offer coaching on various topics such as hiking, running, triathlon, overcoming anxiety or making money with your passion. The trained photographers create photo online courses. Both can be marketed through your own blog.