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It’s no secret: Chiang Mai is one of the best cities for Digital Nomads to call home.

People flock from all over the world for the cheap cost of living, fast Internet speeds, world-class food, interesting culture, and active community of people who work online.

In total we’ve spent just about a year living in Chiang Mai*, and we have come to think of this city as a second home.

We’ve lived in 2 different apartments in Chiang Mai, ate at too many restaurants to count, adventured around northern Thailand, and made friends with other digital nomads. Oh, and we’ve spent countless hours in coworking spaces, coffee shops, and at home in our apartment, working hard on this blog.

We can say with certainty, that moving to Chiang Mai was the catalyst that took Two Wandering Soles from a hobby blog to a blog that earns us a full income.

If you’re thinking of moving to Chiang Mai to start your journey as a digital nomad, we think it’ll be an absolute game-changer. It was for us. This city seems to open doors and lead to serendipitous connections, luring many long-time digital nomads to return year after year. So even if you’ve been working remotely for years, we think you’ll find reasons to love Chiang Mai.

Moving to Chiang Mai is very easy, as there is a well-established community and it’s easy to find short-term rentals. However, there are some important things you should know before you start packing your bags; like which neighborhoods are the best for digital nomads and what time of year you should definitely not move to Chiang Mai.

And you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ve rounded up our top tips and advice we wish we would have known before we made the move.

*We moved to Chiang Mai for the first time in the fall of 2017 and stayed for 6 months. And we returned a year later in January 2019 and stayed 5 months.

Article Contents

In this information-packed guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about moving to Chiang Mai. We’ve made the move twice, and we’re here to share our experience with you so you are prepared and know what to expect.

We'll walk you through everything from how to find an apartment, to what types of visas are available, to items you'll want to pack for your move, to best coworking spaces, how to meet other digital nomads, to some cool day trips to take in the area.

We’re even sharing a custom-built map of some of our favorite spots in Chiang Mai so you can have them all in one handy place!

Clocking in at more than 15,000 words, this is literally the most comprehensive guide for moving to Chiang Mai you’ll find online. We’re sharing tons of tips and tricks, our personal favorites, exact prices, and things you won’t find anywhere else.

If you know exactly what you’re looking for, click one of the links below to be brought to that section. Otherwise, keep scrolling and you’ll find everything you need to know about making Chiang Mai your new home!

Whew! That’s a lot of information. Like we said, this is a super packed guide that’ll answer just about any question you could have about moving to Thailand. Use the navigation above to jump to the sections that interest you, or continue reading for everything you need to know.

Alright, let’s get started with the basics. So why should you consider moving to Chiang Mai in the first place? We’ll explain…

Why move to Chiang Mai, Thailand?

Life in Chiang Mai is good. Really good, actually. And we’re not the only ones who think so.

Chiang Mai has a lively and diverse community of expats from around the world. In fact, I recently read that 40,000 foreigners call this city home.

It's funny because many family members and friends at home in Minnesota had no idea why in the world we would move to Thailand in order to work. But when we told other people who work online, they totally understood.

Chiang Mai is THE place to move if you want to pursue work online. But "digital nomads" aren't the only ones flocking to this city in northern Thailand. Most of the expats we’ve met living here fall into 3 categories:

  1. Digital Nomads: This is a large category and we’ll dive into further detail later on in this guide; but this category refers to anyone working online.

  2. Teachers: This includes both those teaching English at Thai schools and those teaching at international schools (as well as those teaching online with programs like VIPKid — though they are technically “digital nomads” if they work online).

  3. Retirees: With its pleasant climate and low cost of living, Chiang Mai is a popular place for people to retire.

There are others still who are in Chiang Mai volunteering, those who are yoga instructors, or those who have opened restaurants, bars, hotels or startups. 

What makes Chiang Mai a great place for Digital Nomads?

There are several reasons Chiang Mai is such an attractive place to live for Digital Nomads.

Here are just a handful of reasons we love Chiang Mai:

  • inexpensive cost of living

  • high-speed Internet is plentiful!

  • tons of stuff to do in the city

  • beautiful countryside to explore not far from the city center

  • very safe (in fact, many solo female nomads call Chiang Mai home for that reason)

  • interesting blend of old and new (ancient temples, next to modern air-conditioned cafes means the best of both worlds!)

  • vibrant and interesting culture

  • huge community of expats/digital nomads provide a wealth of networking opportunities & the chance to make new friends

  • events going on all the time (it is almost to the point of too many things to do, that it can get in the way of getting work done!)

  • great climate for much of the year

  • good hub for exploring other parts of Thailand and Asia

  • great places to work (coffeeshops and co-working spaces)

  • short term apartment rentals are easy to find

  • amazing Thai food as well as wonderful international options too

  • easy place to be healthy (vegan/vegetarian restaurants are abundant as are yoga studios and wellness meetups)

All of these things combined make Chiang Mai a great “starter city” for your first stint as a digital nomad. And they are also reasons even the most seasoned nomads love returning to this city year after year.

The not-so-great parts of living in Chiang Mai

Living in Chiang Mai can be amazing, but it is not without its downfalls... Here are some things to consider before jumping on a plane:

  • Lots of expats: Depending on how you look at it, this can either be seen as a benefit to living in this city or a negative. But no matter your view, it has to be said that there is quite a divide between Thai people and foreigners who live here. If you want to interact with locals, you have to make an extra effort, and it can be quite easy to slip into the habit of only hanging out with other foreigners.

  • The “Digital Nomad Bro” Scene: I’m only going to touch on this briefly because I think you can find this in every Digital Nomad hub, but lemme just say this: The Digital Nomad community can be supportive and uplifting, but it can also be the opposite. There are some people out there who’ve been in the scene for years, and they can be condescending to those who are just starting out. We’ve run into this a bit, and have just learned to brush it off and spend our time with people who don’t bring us down.

  • Getting more expensive: Also, with the rise of foreigners calling Chiang Mai home, prices are rising to match the demand. Some people get upset by this, but this unavoidable as any place grows. And overall, Chiang Mai is still very affordable. Just know that the cost of living is going to be different than it was 5 years ago.

  • Burning Season: From March - April, Chiang Mai experiences what is known as “Burning Season” or “Smoky Season”. This is the driest time of the year, and farmers burning their crops paired with wildfires means the air quality can reach dangerous levels. Each year is a bit different than the last, and people are affected differently. But we can tell you after staying through part of a burning season in 2018 and basically the whole burning season in 2019, it is not enjoyable or recommended if you can avoid it.

  • Transient: Just as you’d find in any city popular with Digital Nomads, the community of foreigners can be quite transient. It can be difficult making new friends only to have to say goodbye to them in a couple weeks. But such is the life of being a Digital Nomad.

What type of visa do I need to live in Thailand?

This is a pretty important topic to understand before booking your flight, as you can’t just arrive in Thailand and stay as long as you’d wish.

We are going to walk you through the basics, but we’d encourage you to do some research of your own through your home country’s Embassy website since visa rules can vary depending on your nationality.

Also, the immigration system in Thailand is notoriously inconsistent and rules have changed in recent years.

Here are the basic visas you should know about as a Digital Nomad:

Visa Exemption or Visa on Arrival

  • Gives you 30 days

  • Your nationality determines which you qualify for

  • If you want to stay in the country longer, you must do a Border Run or a Visa Run (explained below).

Tourist Visa: Single Entry or Multiple Entry

  • Single Entry gives you 60 days and can be extended ONCE for 30 more days (90 days total)

  • Multiple Entry gives you 6 months, and can be extended ONCE for 60 days

  • You cannot apply for a tourist visa in Thailand.

Educational Visa

  • Gives you 1 year

  • You must study something (like Thai language or Muay Thai) from an accredited school

  • You must go into the immigration office every 90 days to receive your extension.

Visa Exemption OR Visa On Arrival

Planning to stay 30 days or less?

Depending on what country you’re from, there is a good chance you qualify for either a Visa Exemption or a Visa on Arrival.

Visa Exemption

  • 64 countries qualify, including the US, UK, Canada, and many more

  • Visa Exemption is Free

  • You can enter Thailand on a Visa Exemption 2 times per year if you are crossing by land or sea (see “Border Run” below). But there is no limit to how many times you enter Thailand on a Visa Exemption if you arrive by air.

Visa on Arrival

  • 19 countries qualify

  • Visa on Arrival costs 2,000 baht ($63 USD)

For both a Visa Exemption and a Visa on Arrival, you technically need to have a flight out of Thailand and be able to prove you have the equivalent of 10,000 baht ($315 USD) in your bank account. However, we have entered Thailand several times and have never been asked for this. Read more here.

Tourist Visa: Single Entry or Multiple Entry

Single Entry: For some nationalities, you can apply for an 60-day tourist visa in your home country (or another country outside of Thailand). When you enter Thailand, your 60 days begin and you cannot leave and come back without getting another visa.

You must send or bring in your passport, application, and fee to a consulate. In our experience (we have US passports) we’ve sent in our passports to the US Thai Consulate in Chicago and the process takes up to 15 days and costs $40 USD.

When your passport and visa gets returned to you, you’ll have 3 months to enter Thailand and once you enter you can stay up to 60-days (day 1 counting when you arrive).

Multiple Entry: This is a confusing visa and honestly we recommend the more straightforward single entry visa.

Some nationalities can apply for a multiple entry visa where every 60 days you must leave and come back to Thailand for a period of up to 6 month. This visa costs $200 USD and once you receive your visa your 6 months begins, unlike the single entry when it starts when you enter Thailand.

This visa might seem nice because you can come and go, but if you factor in all the extra costs for traveling every two months, you’ll might be better off just doing the single entry tourist visa.

Extending a Tourist Visa

But if you would like to stay longer on your Tourist Visa, you may apply for an extension. In order to do this, you will need to go to the immigration office, fill out the application, submit passport sized photos, and pay a fee of 1,900 baht (around $60 USD). *This is the price as of May 2019, though it may increase in time.

You may do an extension one-time on a tourist visa. So in total, you can stay 90 days.

Want more info? Here’s a great guide to getting your Thai visa extended.

When your visa runs out, many people make "visa run". This means you..

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I’m staring at an Excel spreadsheet where we track our earnings each month, and frankly, I can’t believe the number I’m looking at:

$16,389.05

Two years ago, I would have called you crazy if you said earning this much through a blog was possible. Even 6 months ago, I couldn’t have imagined this. Yet here we are, looking at a number that exhilarates me and makes me sweat at the same time.

via GIPHY

We published our very first income report last month, and it still feels super weird and scary putting all this information out there. It’s kind of like that dream where you show up to school naked. I have this urge to cover up...

But we received such an incredible response last month when we shared our earnings, that we knew it wouldn’t be the last time. We were flooded with emails, Facebook messages, and comments thanking us for being open and transparent. We heard from readers, former colleagues, family, our former teachers, and friends we haven’t heard from in years.

Knowing we were able to answer some people’s curiosities and potentially aid others in their entrepreneurial journey means so much to us.

So again, we’re pushing past the awkwardness we feel for sharing this, and we’re puttin’ it all out there. Naked and a little afraid...

April 2019 Two Wandering Soles Earnings:$16,389.05

Important Note: As we explained in our first income report, it has taken us a long time to get to this point. And our goal in sharing this number is not to boast, but to share how we make money in hopes of helping others on this journey (or to answer the question we are constantly getting asked: “So, like, how do bloggers even earn money anyway?!”)

Reading other bloggers’ income reports have helped us a great deal as we have grown our website, and we hope to give back and be a resource for others.

What April Looked Like for Us

After a short trip to the US in March for a family wedding, we returned to Chiang Mai at the beginning of April and dove headfirst into work.

Highlights:

  • Launched our Free Blogging Bootcamp Course

  • Celebrated Katie’s 31st birthday in the Thai Islands

  • Paid off 2 student loans. YAY!!! (Sadly, we still have many more…)

Blogging Course Launch

Our big project for the month was creating a Free Blogging Bootcamp! We poured hours into making this course super useful to anyone out there who wants to start a money-making blog. (If that sounds like you, sign up now!)

Vacation in the Thai Islands

Katie’s 31st birthday fell at the end of April, and thankfully we finished the course right in time to CELEBRATE! Katie’s brother came to visit us in Thailand, so we decided it was the perfect excuse for a little getaway to the islands! Scuba diving, beach days with cocktails, and NO WORK. It was blissful.

Paying off Student Loans

One of the biggest feelings of accomplishment has come from being able to put our earnings toward “adult things”, like a retirement fund (who ARE we?!) and starting to chip away at the massive iceberg that is our student loans.

via GIPHY

And while we still have lots of that iceberg left to uncover, we were able to pay off two (smaller) loans with cash this month, totally nearly $10,000. So yeah, we’re not exactly doing anything too exciting with our earnings (yet), but it feels very satisfying regardless.  

Takeaway from the month of April

Even though we took off a week for birthday celebrations and travels, we still had our highest earning month yet. We worked hard AND played hard in April, and it was one of the most rewarding months of blogging we’ve ever had. And not just because of the money.

During the month of April, we were absolutely overwhelmed (in a good way!) by the sheer number of meaningful messages we received. And honestly, those messages are a powerful form of currency as well.

Back before we were earning money on this blog, it was reader messages that kept us going. We’d be on the brink of quitting Two Wandering Soles (blogging is hard work!), and we’d get a message from someone thanking us for writing articles that helped them plan a trip to Thailand where they proposed to their girlfriend. And when we’d be ready to give up again, we’d get a message from a classroom of students who watched our video diaries from our trek to Everest Base Camp during their Geography unit.

So the month of April was extra special for us. We were reminded why we started this blog in the first place. And we closed out the month filled with gratitude, energy, and excitement for all that is to come.

We’re going to go over exactly what worked for us this month, and we’ll share what our focus is going to be in the next 30 days.

April 2019 Website Statistics

As bloggers, our income is directly related to how many people are visiting our website. So before we talk money, let’s go over our traffic for the month. We’re also sharing how much we grew compared to the last month.

  • Pageviews: 290,098 (growth of 5.4%)

  • Unique Visitors: 174,905 (growth of 4.7%)

  • Sessions: 214,981 (growth of 5.7%)

  • Social Media Followers: 28,585 (growth of 2.7%)

  • Email Subscribers: 9,422 (growth of 8.3%)

Here’s a few snapshots of our April 2019 Google Analytics. Click on any image to view them in a larger size:

TRAFFIC NUMBERS TOP TEN TRAFFIC SOURCES MOBILE VS. DESKTOP VS. TABLET TOP TRAFFIC CHANNELS Let’s Break it down!

Now that you know a little bit about why we’re sharing our income and how many people are visiting our site, let’s get to the good stuff and show you where that money came from…

Disclosure: Throughout the rest of this page there are affiliate links, and we may receive compensation if you click on a link at no cost to you, so click away as your heart desires. You can read our full advertising disclosure and privacy policy here.

Affiliates: $10,677.21

Have you heard of Affiliate Marketing? It can be a complicated thing to master, but at its core, Affiliate Marketing is simply recommending a product or service to others, and being compensated in return.

For instance, you get $50 for every friend who joins your gym! (Maybe you’re doing affiliate marketing without even thinking about it…)

WHO ARE OUR AFFILIATES?

We have nearly 30 affiliate programs we work with (just added a few new ones this month!). They range from large companies like Amazon to independent tour companies we have gone through and just LOVE to promote because we had a great experience.

Here are our top-earning affiliates in the month of April (in no particular order):

LOOKING FORWARD

We added a few new affiliate programs during the month of April, so we’re excited to see how they do. It can take a few months (or sometimes longer) for affiliates to take off. Typically, we track them over the course of 6 months or so, and then we discuss whether or not they seem to be performing well.

Lesson on Affiliate Marketing: Affiliates are different, and they perform differently for each blogger.

For instance, the big programs like Booking.com and Amazon work really well for some bloggers, and it brings them the majority of their “affiliate pie”. But for us, they’re just kind of meh...

We’ve actually had the best luck working with smaller affiliate programs. We work with a couple companies that didn’t even have an affiliate system set up when we approached them. But together, we created a tracking system and have brought them tens (and one company hundreds) of thousands of dollars in business – yay for them! – and we earn a pretty decent commission – yay for us!

If you’re a blogger reading this and want to incorporate more affiliates into your repertoire, brainstorm a list of tours you’ve done that were absolutely amazing (you don’t want to recommend something you didn’t love). Email them to see if they have an affiliate system or if they’d be interested in setting one up. It’s truly a win-win, because you’ll bring them business and be compensated for it.

And the moral of the story here is you’ve gotta find out what works best for you. It takes patience, a bit of experimentation, and the courage to f

Advertising: $5,611.84

Advertising continues to be a major source of income for us. We work with Mediavine, a 3rd-party provider who basically does all the work for us. Easy, peasy!

In our income report last month, we predicted our advertising income would be lower in the month of April, and we were right.

Even though our traffic was higher in April than in March, we made less money from advertisers.

This is mainly due to two things:

  1. March is a great month advertising-wise. Since it is the end of the quarter, and the payout is slightly higher than months that are in the middle or beginning of a quarter.

  2. We toned down the number of ads on our website. Our plan is to slowly continue to decrease the amount of advertising on our website over time. We love that this is a reliable and passive income source, but we don’t want the number of ads to diminish our readers’ experience. We are working on finding a good balance for us.

LOOKING FORWARD

For the month of May, we are expecting our advertising income to stay the same, or even decrease slightly.

Advertisers tend to pay less money at the beginning of the quarter than the end of the quarter. Months that fall at the end of the quarter (March, June, September, December) earn more money.

While we plan to reduce our ad density (therefore less revenue), May can be a decent month for RPMs (“rate per mille” aka payout), so we’ll just have to see.  

Sponsored Posts / Brand Partnerships: $100

During the month of April, we did a very small partnership, which required some work on our end.

LOOKING FORWARD

Our inbox is full of inquiries of companies interested in working with us, however we are always very selective with the partnerships we move forward with.

We love partnering with brands whose values align with ours, but finding the right partnership is tricky. Also, a high quality collaboration can be very time consuming, so we have been prioritizing other (more passive) income streams, like affiliates.

That said, we are currently working on a few exciting collaborations for the coming months.

Curated Content: $0

Curated content is something we create or sell to another brand. This can be quite time-intensive, so it isn’t a huge focus of ours. But every once in a while, a good opportunity presents itself.

LOOKING FORWARD

We don’t have any curated content lined up for next month at the moment, so we don’t expect this category to be a significant part of our income. This isn’t an area we are actively trying to grow, but we are open to opportunities if they seem to be a good fit.

BONUS: Free Stuff: $0 value

As we explained in our last income report, this is a category that we are really dialing back on. We get dozens of emails each week from companies who want to send us free products or offers for free hotel stays.

Over the years, we’ve realized that these types of exchanges took a lot of time and effort on our end, with no monetary compensation. It would be awesome if we could pay for student loans in hotel stays, but until that becomes a thing, we’re trying to prioritize paid partnerships.

This isn’t to say we never will accept free travel or products in the future, but in order for it to be worthwhile for us, it has to be a very good fit.

FREE TRAVEL: $0

We traveled to the Thai islands during April, but paid for everything ourselves. This took off the pressure and made it a fun trip to celebrate Katie’s birthday rather than a “work trip”.

FREE PRODUCTS: $0 VALUE

We did not accept any free gear or products during the month of April.

Our Blogging Expenses: $717.95

Running a website can be expensive. Some of these costs happen on a monthly basis, while others are one-time expenses.

MONTHLY COSTS:
  • MailerLite: $35 – This is the service we use to send emails to our subscribers.

  • Gmail Suite: $12 – We pay for our own branded email addresses

  • Notion: $8 – Software to organize projects and tasks

  • Virtual Assistant (VA): $232 – We have a lovely assistant who helps us with tasks like managing Pinterest, working with guest authors, and optimizing our site.

  • Tailwind: $10* – Software for scheduling pins on Pinterest that we could not live without!

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If you have dreams of getting paid to travel the world, you’ve probably already considered travel blogging. But you might also be wondering exactly how much money travel bloggers earn…

Simply put, you can make a LOT of money blogging.

Technically, the limits to your earnings as a blogger are endless. There are bloggers out there consistently earning millions of dollars. But they are the exception. Many blogs never earn a single penny.

I’m going to be 100% honest with you: Blogging is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. If you’re looking to make money fast and create a passive income that you don’t have to touch, blogging is not for you.

Let me repeat: You should NOT travel blog if you want to make money fast.

Trust me, there are many other ways to earn money while you travel. Or sit in your pajamas watching Friends reruns (been there!).

However, if you are serious about blogging and are driven to earn money, you can be mega-successful. But before you pop champagne and toast to your new boujee lifestyle, you’ve gotta come up with a plan.

Our Personal Story with Monetizing our Blog

Making money as a blogger is not as straightforward as you might think. We recently shared our very first income report, and while we make a living on our blog now, it took us a while to get there. Okay, and by “a while” I mean FOREVER. We missed out on a ton of money because we made some big blogging mistakes, the biggest of which was not having a solid monetization strategy.

We didn’t really start monetizing our blog until about 2.5 years in. And even then, we weren’t doing it well. It stings knowing just how much money we left on the table. And I don’t even want to think of what we would be making now had we started earlier.

It’s not that we didn’t want to make money (I mean, who doesn’t want to make money?!)... We just didn’t understand how to do it successfully.

And quite truthfully, we didn’t know how much potential our blog had to earn money. When we started to monetize, we were getting a few hundred dollars each month that we were able to put toward student loans or fun stuff, and that felt pretty good. But with the traffic we were getting to our site (not to mention the hours of work we were pouring into it), we should have been earning thousands.

Whether you’re curious how blogger make a living or you’ve been blogging for years and want to turn it into a full-time income, in this article we’re going to divulge exactly how bloggers earn money. We’ll also talk a bit about what you need in order to star using these monetization methods.

But let’s start with the basics:

How do blogs make money?

Bloggers earn a “pie” of money each month, and there are many different slices:

These are the most popular ways bloggers earn money:

  • Affiliate Marketing: When a blogger recommends a product or service, they earn a commission when someone makes a purchase through their link.

  • Advertising: Banner or sidebar ads that earn money each time someone views them.

  • Sponsored Content: A brand pays a blogger to create content that promotes their product on the blogger’s platform. This can be in the form of a blog post, social media, videos, email campaigns, etc.

  • Commissioned Content: A blogger creates content for another source (writing, photography, video, etc.).

  • Brand Ambassadorship: Similar to Sponsored Content but more of a long-term partnership between the blogger and the brand. These campaigns can last months or even years, with a blogger promoting a product or service using a combination of blog posts, social media, videos, email campaigns, giveaways, or even in-person events.

  • Selling a Product: Selling a physical or digital product, like an e-book, a course, photos, or physical travel gear.

Other Ways Travel Bloggers Earn Money:

Public Speaking, Consulting, Leading Group Trips… the list goes on. Once you have a successful blog, many opportunities will present themselves. But most of these additional income streams come only after years of blogging and successfully monetizing using the strategies above.

It’s going to be hard to organize and sell out a group trip when you are just starting out. But after years of cultivating an audience, we know bloggers who have had big success doing this. Same with public speaking. You’re not going to get a paid speaking gig without experience.

Monetization Methods & Tips for Getting Started

Every blogger’s income looks a bit different. Each pie has a different “recipe”, if you will.

For example, the biggest slices of Two Wandering Soles’ metaphorical “pie” are affiliate marketing and advertising.

We know some bloggers who make the majority of their money writing sponsored content. And others who earn a killing by selling their own products.

What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. You need to tailor your monetization strategy to fit your strengths and work around your weaknesses. And always, always stay true to yourself and aim to be authentic in how you monetize.

Alright, let’s delve in and eat some pie! (Or something like that...)

Yes, it is possible to monetize your blog authentically, without selling your soul!

We are going over each monetization method in detail so you fully understand what it looks like and what you need in order to get started.

1. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate Marketing is where you recommend a product or service and in return for your recommendation you receive a commission of the sale.

What does Affiliate Marketing look like on a blog?

Let’s use Amazon as an example, as it is one of the simplest forms of affiliate marketing.

Let’s say you’re browsing your favorite travel blog (aka Two Wandering Soles!) and you see that we recommend packing a Steripen (literally one of our favorite devices). You click on the link and are brought to Amazon. After looking at the awesome reviews, you decide you could use this portable water sterilizer for your next trip, and you click “purchase”.

You pay the normal price, but Amazon will pay us a small commission for recommending the product. Your computer uses “cookies” and tracks which site sent you to Amazon, so even if you buy the Steripen 10 hours after reading about it, we will still get commission (Amazon has 24-hour cookies, but other programs can be up to 30- or even 90-days). The average consumer will do this entire process without any clue that the blogger who recommended the product gets a small payment.

If you think about it, affiliate marketing is everywhere around us.

For example, your gym might have a program where if you recommend it to a friend and they join, you get $50 off your next month. That’s a type of affiliate marketing. Or you use your friend’s link to get $40 off your stay at an Airbnb, and they get money off their next stay. Another example of affiliate marketing.

Both of these examples have one thing in common: Trust.

For Affiliate Marketing to work properly, people need to trust the person recommending the product. And we take this super seriously. We never recommend products that we wouldn’t personally use.

What do you need to start with affiliate marketing?
  • Website Traffic

  • Trust

The wonderful thing about affiliate marketing is that you can start this strategy from day one. Most affiliate programs will accept anyone with a decent website, so you don’t need to have a popular site to get started. However, the more traffic you have, the more money you will earn.

And for affiliate marketing to work well, your readers need to TRUST you.

Tips for Affiliate Marketing

Take inventory of what you actually love to use on your travels. Think products, websites, and tour companies.

  • Do you have a favorite pair of shoes you always travel with?

  • Do you love your backpack so much you want to tell others about it?

  • Where do you usually book your trips online?

  • What’s the one thing you can’t travel without?

Most likely, there is an affiliate program for whatever you answered above.

Tip #1: The key to affiliate marketing is to be honest. The best type of affiliate marketing is when you promote something you actually use and love because it won’t just sound like a sales pitch. Your audience is going to see that you are being genuine and will trust you.

Promoting one product you really love is going to convert much better than promoting 100 products you barely know.

Tip #2: Start by putting Amazon and hotel affiliates throughout your site, because they add up over time. But don’t rely on them to be a big chunk of your monthly pie. We typically earn a few hundred dollars each month from each, but we have found other types of affiliates to be much more lucrative.

Tip #3: Since you typically get a small commission off of the sale, try to focus on “big ticket” affiliates since you’ll get a larger payout.

Tip #4: Know your audience. Don’t go off promoting luxury cruises if your blog is about budget travel. It won’t convert because it doesn’t apply to your readers.

Tip #5: Be sure to keep track of all your affiliates. If they are not automatic payments, and be sure to follow up with them at the end of each pay period. We keep a detailed spreadsheet so we know we are getting the correct payout.

Tip #6: Also, try to set up payment methods that don’t charge a fee. PayPal (personal account) and Google Wallet are great, as is a direct bank transfer. We recently noticed that we were getting charged a large fee on one of our affiliate commissions, which turned out to be about $80 we were losing each month. We contacted the company and had them change the payment method so we didn’t throw out that extra cash.

Want more info on Affiliate Marketing? Check out our Income Report in the Affiliates section to see what are some of our top affiliate programs we use.

2. Advertising

Ads on websites can earn their owners a big part of their income if they have enough traffic. The graph above shows our earnings in one month from Mediavine, during which we made $244.52 on advertisements on our highest earning day.

What does Advertising look like on a blog?

By now, you probably know what advertising looks like on a website. They are the banner and sidebar images promoting links to things the reader is interested in.

What do you need to start with Advertising?
  • Website traffic

There are a few different advertising routes you can take, but typically you can only work with one advertising provider at a time.

When we started our blog, we had Google Adsense and it was bringing us a measly hundred bucks or so each month. And we didn’t realize there was more out there... Oh, how we are kicking ourselves now!

One of the biggest blogging mistakes was not getting on Mediavine sooner, because now it is one of our biggest pieces of pie, and it is delicious.

Before I go on to explain much more, know that you will need to apply to Mediavine before you start earning money. In order to apply for Mediavine, you must have:

  • At least 25,000 monthly sessions (you can find your sessions count in Google Analytics)

  • Quality site that’s in good standing with Google.

If you don’t fit these requirements right now, work your butt off to get there. Because when you do, you’ll see some sweet, sweet money each month.

And if you do fit these requirements, get over to their site now and apply!

Mediavine is a third-party that allows companies to bid on ad space on your site. And the wonderful thing is the lovely folks at Mediavine take care of everything for you, from ad placement to optimization. And they are a pleasure to work with. I’m not earning money by telling you this – we have just literally had such a great experience with them.

There is also a Mediavine Facebook group that is pretty great because you have a whole network of people to ask advice and talk about best practices.

AdThrive is very similar to Mediavine, and it works great for some sites (especially food blogs). You do need to have higher traffic to apply (100,000 monthly pageviews minimum), so most people begin with Mediavine. And even when they get to the traffic to apply to AdThrive, many people don’t want to leave because they are very happy with Mediavine. (That’s us at the moment!)

Tips for Advertising

Try to find the sweet spot between revenue and having a good user experience. There is a fine line between “I don’t mind these ads” and “Holy sh*t, that’s a lot of ads”, and everyone has an opinion on it. Find out what feels comfortable for you and your brand.

Takeaway:

If you fit the requirements to apply to Mediavine (and don’t mind having ads on your site), do so now! And if not, set that as a goal and apply as soon as you can. In the meantime, create great content and work on SEO to get traffic. Traffic is currency in advertising.

3. Sponsored Content
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For sponsored content, brands pay bloggers to create content that promotes their product. This can be in the form of a blog post, social media, videos, email campaigns, etc.

What does a Sponsored Content look like on a blog?

When a blogger is good, you won’t even notice what you’re reading is sponsored content. The reference to a product is placed in a well written article or social post that you, as the reader, will have no idea the blogger got paid to write it. But then there is the other end of the spectrum where it’s painfully obvious the blogger is getting paid and doesn’t care how the post looks.

Please aim to be the former. You will lose trust in your followers if you continue to spam them with links and products.

One way to tell if a social media post is sponsored is in the captions there is a hashtag of #ad or #sponsored. Not all influencers do this but they are “supposed to” disclose if they are being #paid to promote.

For blog articles, there will be a small disclaimer either at the top or bottom of the page stating something like, “Thanks to XYZ travel company for hosting us on this tour. As always, all opinions are our own.” That short disclaimer is the tell-tale sign that the blogger got the experience for free, or they were paid to write it.

What do you need to start with Sponsored Content?
  • Website traffic

  • Social Media following (and high engagement)

Typically influencers with a large reach will be approached by brands to create sponsored content. But it doesn’t hurt pitching to brands an idea of how you would like to work together.

Tips for Sponsored Articles

There are plenty of influencer marketing sites out there if you want to see which brands are looking for sponsored content. Here are a few of them:

Most travel brands are interested in sponsored content being on a website or on Instagram.

Word of the wise: Be wary not to add too many sponsored articles or post to you feeds. Your audience takes time to grow and more importantly gain their trust. You don’t want to spam them with a bunch of products and services that they may or may not be interested. The money may seem nice, but your audience can lose interest very quickly if you blast too many products at them. Try to only promote 1-3 products per month.

Note on Influencers vs. Bloggers: Even though these jobs overlap, they aren’t the same. It’s kinda like those Venn diagrams we all made in grade school. Bloggers typically earn the majority of their income from traffic to their website.

An influencers’ strength is in their social media following, and they earn money based on the number of followers instead of website traffic. (Often, they earn money through brand partnerships or selling products, like Lightroom presets).

4. Commissioned Content

This is when you create content — an article, photography, or video — for a brand to use on their website or social channels for their marketing purposes.

If you find the right company, this could be a great way not only be paid to write something, but you could also get a backlink from a high authority site.

What does Commissioned Content look like?

Sometimes a brand will want to purchase the rights to content you have already created. For example, you have a sweet shot wearing their jacket, and they want to use it for marketing purposes. This can be an easy way to earn money on something that you’ve already created.

Other times, they may want you to create new content for them.

In both cases, your work will be featured on THEIR WEBSITE (or social channels), not yours. This is the biggest difference between commissioned content and sponsored content. The nice thing is you don’t necessarily have to work on promoting it to your audience.

However, you are not building your traffic or portfolio when working on commissioned content. You are working for someone else’s brand and getting paid for it. So it is important to not only focus on this monetization method if your goal is to grow your own brand.

What do you need to get commissioned Content?
  • Portfolio of writing, photography, videography

  • Often times, you might have a previous relationship with the brand (already promoting it on your website and social channels)

Sometimes having a large audience helps a brand find you, however, the content won’t be shared with your following, so numbers don’t always matter when talking about commissioned content.

Tips for Commissioned Content

Be sure you have a contract set up so you and the brand are on the same terms for how they can use the content you create. If possible, ask for a backlink to your website, as this can give your site high authority “link juice”!

5. Brand Ambassadorship

Brand ambassadorships are similar to sponsored content, however, this is a long-term partnership rather than a one-time promotion.

What does a Brand Ambassador look like on a blog?

The blogger essentially becomes a marketing avenue for the brand and these relationships last anywhere from a few months to several years.

The brand and the blogger will sign a contract that determines exact deliverables, length of agreement, expectations of both parties, and payment terms.

Brands tend to want more social media content, but can request blog articles as well.

What do you need to start a Brand Ambassadorship?
  • Website traffic

  • Social Media following (and high engagement)

  • Often times, you might have a previous relationship with the brand (already promoting it on your website and social channels)

This typically takes a long time to develop a relationship with a brand. As a blogger..

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Starting a travel blog was the best thing we’ve ever done. We get to work together on something we love, and we aren’t just limited to 2 weeks of vacation a year. This job has brought us all over the world, and we’ve been able to make good money doing it.

But let me tell you, travel blogging isn’t easy. There have been many times we almost quit. And I’m not gonna sugarcoat it: Blogging requires a lot of hard work.

But if you aren’t afraid of the nitty-gritty and you’re ready to put in the hours, WE BELIEVE IN YOU. There are a lot of blogs out there, but if you produce quality content, you can rise up in this crowded space and be very successful.

This article is going to walk you through the steps to creating a blog. And not just any old blog… one that is primed to make you money (like more than $14,000 per month!). 

We’ve been in your shoes, and we know your time is valuable. We don’t intend to waste it, so be sure you read the points below before getting started.

Before delving into this process…

We would highly (HIGHLY!) recommend you start by reading this article where we pull back the curtains, wipe away the bullshit, and give you a peek into the world of travel blogging so you can decide if it’s really for you. Because it’s honestly not for everyone. And I wouldn’t want you to devote the time to making a blog if you’re not on board with everything we discuss in that article…

What makes this article different

There are a lot of articles out there on how to create a travel blog, but quite frankly, a lot of them leave out some essential pieces.

We have found most of them tend to follow a very similar, cookie-cutter process. And coming from two people who have spent 5+ years blogging, we’ll tell you there are some very important things being left out in the majority of these articles. Go check some out, and you might notice what we’re talking about.

Our mission… If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you already know that we don’t ever write articles that just skim the surface… (not our thing). We aim to answer ALL the questions and equip our readers with everything they need for their travels – or in this case, for building a blog. So you better believe this article is going to go deeper than most of the other ones you’ll find on the Internet.

A Note on Transparency

It is our core mission to be 100% honest and transparent in everything we write.

In this article, we are not only recommending products that will make us money. We are showing you the whole picture so you can make the best decisions for yourself. And whether you choose a product or service we earn commission on or not, it is our main goal for you to be HAPPY and on your way to starting a money-making blog.

But yes, we do have some affiliate links in this article. (Read Below)

Disclaimer: There are affiliates in this article, which means we may get a small commission if you purchase a service or product we recommend. It costs you nothing extra, and we ONLY ever recommend products we love or would personally use ourselves.

Already have a blog?

If you already have a blog up and running, that’s AMAZING *cue virtual bear hug*! Drop a comment with your URL in the comments and we’ll take a look and maybe even give you a couple pointers!

There are some things in this article that you’ve likely already mastered (high five!), but I bet there are one or two of these steps that you could work on. Trust me, it took us a couple years to really say we had it all down.

Pay close attention to #1, 2, 9, 11 and 12! We think those steps are often overlooked by bloggers who are just getting started, so give those a read.

Pin for later!

This article is a BEAST. And it will be super helpful if you actually take the time to do each step. Be sure to bookmark this page or pin it for later, so you don’t lose your place.

   

Alright, let’s get right down to the stuff you came for…

1. Determine Your Purpose

Determining your purpose is going to shape all other steps in this guide. Getting clear on your goals will give you motivation and perspective. It can be the driving force that shapes your success, so take this step seriously.

Take a moment to picture your blog in 6 to 12 months from now. What do you see? And answer this question honestly:

What will the main purpose of your blog be: Hobby Blogging or Blogging Business?

Hobby Blogging

Is this blog a fun thing to do on the side? A place for you to let out your thoughts. Share your advice. Document your stories and photos? Something you genuinely enjoy?

Starting hobby blog is great way to have a creative outlet and share your passions with those around you. Sometimes it can generate a bit of moolah, but making money is not your goal.

Blogging as a Business

Or are you hoping for your blog to generate money? Do you see it as a side business? Will you be spending hours researching and learning new skills for this blog?

If you picture this blog as a business, what do you expect out of your blog in a year? What kinds of realistic goals can you accomplish?

Maybe you’d be happy with a few hundred dollars each month to put toward your mortgage or debt. Or perhaps you want this to eventually be a business that generates a full-time income.

Personal Note: Our dream starting out was for our blog to make enough money to pay our monthly (yet sizable!) student loan payment.

Takeaways:
  • What is your purpose for your blog? Write down your goal.

  • Are you going to create a hobby blog or a blog for business?

2. Find Your Niche

There are literally millions of blogs out there today. Hundreds of millions, actually. And the numbers are increasing every single day. Every hour.

We’re not sharing this to discourage you, but instead to illustrate just how important it is for you to stand out if you want to be a successful blogger.

The good news is this: Even if every single human being on earth had a blog, yours would still be unique. You are the only one with your voice and your story. So start by focusing on what you know and what you’re passionate about. It will make this journey SO much easier and more rewarding. Trust us.

Choosing a Niche

When you say you want to start a “travel blog”, that is the category, not the niche. For a niche, you need to get more specific still.

For instance, your niche could be “campervan travel around the world”.

Here are some examples of niches that could fit in the Travel category. Notice how some are quite general, while others are very specific:

  • traveling around the world while working odd jobs through WorkAway

  • traveling with children on a budget

  • going on cruises as a solo traveler

  • street food around the world

  • hiking around the world

  • travel hacking (how to use airline miles and lounges)

  • gay/lesbian travel (especially focusing on countries where it’s taboo)

  • staying fit on your travels

  • high-end travel as a young, solo traveler

  • world travel with a focus on epic hikes

  • vegan/celiac travel

  • travel focused on local dishes and learning how to cook them

  • slow travel (spending months exploring off the beaten path places most tourists don’t see)

  • super honest travel advice (calling out overrated places)

  • create art for each place you travel (poetry, painting, custom map, etc.)

Those are just some examples, but the options are endless.

Don’t fall into the trap of copying what you see as being “popular” just because you can’t choose. You’ll fall into the white noise of all the others out there with the same niche if it’s not something you are truly 100% passionate about.

And even if the niche you choose is saturated, brainstorm how you can put your own unique spin on it.

For example: There might be lots of other family travel bloggers, but your children will do project-based learning on your travels, which you will share on your blog.

Why is it important to choose a niche?

In the world of blogging, being an master on a certain topic is one of the fastest ways to grow.

  1. Google is more likely to view you as an authority if you blog about a specific topic. This means you will be able to rank in Google search results more easily if you cover one topic as opposed to 8.

  2. Your audience is more likely to stay engaged and trust you if you stick to one area of expertise, like responsible travel, rather than covering an array of topics, like travel and recipes and cruises and makeup and lifestyle. You can’t be an expert on it all, and people are less likely to trust you if you claim to know it all.

  3. People will stay on your site longer, because everything relates to them. Imagine going to a website for Mexico travel advice, and you see links for a Mexico Packing list, and top Aztec ruins in Mexico, and best food to try in Mexico. You might click around because it all relates to you!

Do I have to choose a niche right away?

We recommend pinning down your niche right away if possible because:

  • It can help determine the name of your website.

  • It might determine your logo and branding.

  • It might even shape how you make money, and fuel your success.

  • It will also help you paint a better picture of who your audience is, and will help you write with them in mind.

There are many benefits to choosing your niche right away, but if you just can’t think of something right now, don’t get too discouraged. This technically can come later. It did for us.

Our personal story: When we first started blogging, we had no clue that choosing a niche was something we should do. So we just started writing. After about a year, we realized most of our writing in some way came back to sharing how travelers can make better decisions on the road: Booking the trekking company to Machu Picchu that pays porters fair wages, and how to tell if the Amazon lodge you’re staying in is harming the environment. Boom. We discovered our niche.

The niche of Two Wandering Soles is “adventurous and responsible travel”. We seek off the beaten path adventures, and share how others can travel the world in a way that leaves a positive impact on the environment and communities they visit.

But we had lost some ground during that year in which we weren’t writing with our niche in mind. Over the next year, we did a bit of site redesigning to fit our niche, updated our logo, and started to hone in our voice. Imagine if we had done that from the start… We would have been much further ahead.

Takeaways:
  • Choose a niche that fits your personality and experience.

  • The earlier you pick a niche, the better you can hone in your voice and find an audience.

  • Picking a niche right away can help shape your site’s design and even your domain.

3. Choose a Blog Name

Choosing the name of your blog is a biggie, but it can be pretty fun too if you know where to start. Your blog name is important because it can determine how you are viewed by your audience, other bloggers and brands you want to work with. Your blog name is the first thing people see on your site and you want it to leave a lasting impression.

It is essentially YOUR BRAND.

We’re walking you through some tips and strategies that will help you choose a perfect name for your blog. (And a name that you won’t regret 5 years down the road…)

How to Choose a Blog Name (that doesn’t Suck!)

Takeaways:

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is my blog name easy to say and read?

  • Is it memorable?

  • Is it timeless?

  • Does it describe what my blog is about?

Investment: around $25 per year for purchasing a domain name (Or FREE if you use Squarespace. More on this in a moment…)

4. Pick a Blogging Platform

Alright, here’s where things start to get REAL. This is where you’re going to make an investment, so it can feel a little overwhelming at first. But trust us, making this leap is the start of something amazing!

Let’s discuss how to choose the platform on which you will build your blog. There are a few options out there, but for this article, we’re going to talk about the 2 most popular platforms for blogging.

1. WordPress

This is without a doubt the most popular platform for bloggers. WordPress is a Content Management System (CMS), which means that you are in charge of all aspects of your website, from managing security, to doing site updates, to keeping on top of your hosting provider and plugins. This allows you the ultimate freedom, but comes with more responsibility for staying on top of everything.

Pros:

  • WordPress gives you the most freedom to customize your website any which way you choose!

  • Plus, it’s the most well-known by web designers, so if you plan to hire someone to do the design work for you, they will most likely be very familiar with this platform.

Cons:

  • The downside of WordPress is that it has a steep learning curve at first. You will need to set aside time to learn coding and working with the platform itself. Once you get it down, though, it shouldn’t be too much of an obstacle.

  • Another thing to consider about WordPress is that you will have to work with several “plugins” and you will have to manually manage them to make sure they’re updated and working properly, or they can negatively impact your site. With the right plugins though, you can do some really cool stuff on your website!

2. Squarespace

This is another platform that works well for blogging, and one of the biggest positives is that it’s super easy to use. Squarespace is a Website Builder, which means it takes care of a lot of things for you — from your hosting, security, updates and SEO tools. This makes it easy to manage everything, yet leaves you with some limitations.

Pros:

  • With Squarespace, “what you see is what you get!” AKA: What you see when you type is how your pages will look when they are published.

  • It’s always optimized for mobile (which is very important!).

  • You really have no reason to learn coding, and you won’t have to deal with individual plugins like you would with WordPress.

  • Squarespace also provides the hosting for you, so you will not need to go through a hosting provider. It truly is a one-stop-shop, and you’ll never have to worry about “buggy” plugins or your hosting provider having glitches, sending your site offline.

  • Plus, there is 24/7 customer service, which can be very helpful, especially when you’re first getting started.

Cons:

  • The ease of use does come with some limitations. For instance, you won’t be able to customize nearly as much as you would on WordPress.

  • Also, being that it is not as popular as WordPress, it’ll be more difficult to find skilled designers (though we have a good recommendation if you need one!).

  • Another downside to Squarespace is that it tends to be a bit slower than WordPress, especially if you have large image sizes (though you can speed things up by compressing images and saving them at optimal sizes).

What about Wix?

This platform is better suited for very basic websites, like a restaurant who has a homepage, a menu and an “about us” sections. It can be a good choice for business owners who don’t plan to use their website as a blog.

Which is better: WordPress or Squarespace?

Simply put, Google doesn’t care which one you use. The platform that is best for YOU is a personal thing.

You’ll see nearly every blogger recommending WordPress, and it is a great choice. It’s by far the most popular platform out there, and as long as you make the effort to familiarize yourself with it, you will likely be a fan.

For a lot of people, WordPress will be the best option. But it is not the ONLY option. Often times people dismiss Squarespace without having any experience with the platform themselves. 

Good to know: There is affiliate commission to be made in..

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When you’re about to start a travel website, creating your blog name can feel damn near overwhelming. And we’re going to be honest; naming your blog is a big deal.

You want your site name to be:

Memorable + Easy to Pronounce + Describes Your Site + Shows personality

If you create a money-making blog, the name you choose will become the face of your brand. It will be on your business cards and the name of your LLC. It will be the phrase you say over and over and over again when you meet new people.

You’ll want it to be a perfect balance of memorable and timeless and creative. You want it to show your personality while representing what it is your site is about. And you sure as hell don’t want it to be something you’ll grow sick of.

Have we mentioned naming your blog comes with a lot of pressure?!

But before you start sweating and let your panic convince you to just give up altogether, we’ve got good news: Choosing a blog name can be fun if you have some strategies up your sleeve. It can be a chance to get creative, and it is the start of something big.

We’ve got you covered with tried and true techniques to help you in the brainstorming process. Plus, we’re going to go over some huge mistakes that you definitely don’t want to make when you name your blog.

Note: For the purpose of this article, we are focusing on travel blogs, but these steps and techniques can be used to create a domain for any type of website.

Get your paper and pen ready, because we’re gonna walk you through the steps that’ll help you come up with a perfect name for your blog!

Step #1: Old Fashioned Brain Dump

We’d recommend by starting the good old fashioned way: Get out a piece of paper and a pen and start jotting down words, phrases, whatever comes to mind.

If you’re creating a travel blog, what types of words come to mind when you think of travel? What feelings come up? What places? What items? Think of as many words as you can that describe travel.

Do it in stream-of-consciousness and don’t think. Don’t judge. Just write.

And now think about yourself… How would your friends describe you? Do you have nicknames? What are your interests? What do you look like? What’s your favorite food? What do you ALWAYS pack?

Fill up a whole page of words: Adjectives, Verbs, Nouns. ALL the words. Include words that are both literal AND abstract.

By the end of this exercise, you should have an entire page (at least!) filled up with a variety of words and phrases.

Step #2: Get out your Thesaurus

Now, get out a thesaurus. Well let’s be real, since you likely don’t have an actual thesaurus lying around, head to Thesaurus.com (or the app!), and go through the list you just wrote down. For each word or phrase, write down at least 3 synonyms you find in the thesaurus.

For us, the word “soles” came as we wrote down synonyms to “feet”. We probably never would have thought of this word right away, so it’s important not to skip this step.

Try these tips for adding more creative words to your list:

Translate some words into another language

Speak another language? You could go through some of the words from your list and translate them. This could be especially cool with a travel blog because it connects your website in a global way.

But I would tell you to be a bit cautious if you plan to do this… Choose a language you have some connection to. Did you grow up speaking French? Are you starting your travels in Spanish-speaking countries? You will need to explain the name of your blog time and time again, so make sure you have some connection to the words.

Or find a word in another language that has no English counterpart. We have a whole list of unique “travel words” that come from other languages that relate to travel.

Add words with cool definitions to the mix

Have you ever heard a pretty-sounding word and then you read the definition, and it’s just as beautiful? Like “serendipity” or “aurora”…

For instance, our friends Naomi and Dustin have an Instagram account called “Irie to Aurora” which sounds beautiful and has a really cool meaning.

  • Irie: state of feeling good; positive vibes (comes from Jamaican Creole)

  • Aurora: dawn; can also refer to Northern Lights

Do some digging online, and you’ll surely be able to find a handful of words to add to your brainstorm list.

Check out this list of words with beautiful definitions.

Add in your name

This was a pretty popular blog-naming tactic a handful of years ago, and a lot of the OG travel bloggers followed this format:

Adjective + First Name

Examples: Nomadic Matt, Wandering Earl, Adventurous Kate

You could even take it a little further and put your name into a phrase, like “Alex in Wanderland”.

This can be an easy way to come up with a domain that represents you and explains what your site is about. However, this is hardly a new tactic. It has been done again and again, so it’s not all that unique anymore. Before diving too far into this rabbit hole, do a quick search of “your first name + travel blog” and see how many other sites pop up.

If your first name doesn’t work, consider using your last name. Sometimes it works really well! Two examples of couples using their last name:

  • Last name: Peakes = "Traveling Peakes”

  • Last name: Law = “Laws of Travel”

But for those of us with last names that are not very easy to fit into a sentence, like Diederichs (Katie) and Zweber (Ben), this technique doesn’t really work so well… if at all.

Step #3: Mix & Match

Now, you have a HUGE list of words.

It’s time to start making different combinations with all the words on your paper. And don’t shy away from combining words that are seemingly unrelated.

For instance, these blog names combine two words that are not related, yet they work together to describe the website very well:

  • Practical + Wanderlust = Practical Wanderlust: The combination of 2 contradictory words is powerful here and illustrates that this blog gives down-to-earth travel tips.

  • Blonde + Abroad = The Blonde Abroad: These words are unrelated, yet we can assume this blog will be from the perspective of a woman who travels. We might also assume there is a focus on beauty or fashion since appearance is referenced in the name.

If you want some help visualizing different combinations, try typing some of the words from your list into the search bar on NameMesh.com.

Some of the combinations it will come up with are strange, but it can be a good tool to use during the brainstorming process.

Plus, it will tell you whether or not the domains are available, so you won’t get attached to a URL that is already taken.

Try Alliterations

This was one of those literary devices that you were quizzed on in high school (I should know, I used to be a 9th grade English teacher!). And it might come in handy as you come up with a name for your blog.

Alliterations: a phrase with the same letter (or sound) at the beginning of each word.

One of the most famous examples of this is, “Sally sells sea shells by the sea shore”.

This can be a fun tactic to use, and it can create a blog name that is easy to remember. Check out that list of words and try to connect some that start with the same letter.

  • The Broke Backpacker

  • Jen on a Jet Plane

  • Hippie in Heels

  • Passion Passport

Don’t force it too much. Not every word in your title needs to start with the same letter. And also, make sure it still means something. Just because you make an alliteration doesn’t mean it’s a good blog name.

To Connect or not to connect…

Once you’ve chosen 2-3 words, you may choose to add in connecting words, like “the”, “a”, “with”, etc.

You could go the opposite direction — à la Eat, Pray, Love — and simply combine words with no connectors. You could even go a step further and smush two words together to create your own, like Nomadasaurus.

For example, when we did this exercise, the words we liked were “Wandering” and “Soles”. We added “Two” at the beginning, but we just as easily could have made it “our wandering soles” or “the wandering soles”. Or we simply could have left our name: “Wandering Soles” with no connecting words at all.

Step #4: Play on Words

One way to make your blog name memorable is to make a play on words. For instance, our blog name, Two Wandering Soles, is a pun. (SOLES means feet, get it?!)

Know that creating a play on words can make your name memorable, but it can also be confusing. So try not to be too far-fetched; the simpler the better.

Add onto the word

You can used a Prefix or Suffix to change the words slightly to be more unique. Something like:

  • Adding -ly, Example: Dream + ly = Dreamly

  • Adding -ation, Example: Travel + ation = Travelation

  • Adding -ize, Example: Nomad + ize = Nomadize

  • Adding un- , Example: Un + travel = Untravel (kind of sounds like “unravel”!)

  • Adding pro- , Example: Pro + dreamer = Prodreamer

Add a letter

Some successful bloggers have just added a letter to a common travel term and voilà, a new travel blog name is born. Here are two examples:

  • y + travel = yTravel Blog (like why not?)

  • planet + D = The Planet D blog (their names both start with the letter D)

Make up a word

Do you have two words in mind and can’t decide on which one? Try making up a new word! Check out Wordoid and start combining words to see if they work out.

Think Logically and for SEO

As you are expanding on or making up new words, try to have in mind the common phrases you want your brand to be represented by. This will not only help you with SEO (search engine optimization) but it will make you more credible when talking other people.

For example, Globe Guide or Travel with Purpose, you get a good feel from the name of what their message is about and they include keywords so it gives a little boost in search engines.

Step #5: Start eliminating…

At this point, you should have a list of different potential blog names, and it’s time to start making cuts. Cross out any that are:

  • Hard to pronounce

  • Difficult to spell

  • Boring

  • Don’t describe your website

Step #6: Think about the tone

Once you have a handful of viable blog names, really take a moment to consider what kind of tone you want your website to have…

Authoritative? Fun? Down to Earth? Spunky?

And think about your potential audience. Will you be writing for budget backpackers or couples who prefer luxury travel? They are going to lean toward different names.

  • Expert Vagabond will appeal more to long-term budget travelers.

  • Caviar and Cashmere will draw those interested in luxury.

Go through your list of names and cross out any that don’t evoke the emotion you want to spark. Circle the ones that do.

Next Steps…

At this point, you should have a list of some potential blog names that are creative, describe your website, and fit your desired tone.

But before your purchase your domain, be sure you keep reading. We’re going over what mistakes you should be sure to avoid when naming your blog.

Blog Name Mistakes to Avoid

We’ve known some bloggers who have made some big mistakes when choosing their website name. Some have even said that they feel like their blog name has hindered their success. So why don’t they just change their name? Although it is possible, switching domains and rebranding is a pain in the ass.

So avoid some of the major mistakes from the start so you don’t have to worry about it in the future.

Step #7: Size really does matter

And bigger is not better in this case.

When it comes to your blog name, make sure it’s not too long. Our advice would be to keep it to a maximum of 4 words. But also consider the length of each word, too. Using connecting words like “the”, “a”, or “and” isn’t going to add much length. But if you have 3 really long words in your title, it can be a problem.

Even our blog name is too long to be a handle on Twitter, which only allows a total of 15 characters.

Two Wandering Soles had to be compressed to @2WanderingSoles, and even then, it just barely fit.

So if you have a longer blog name in mind, brainstorm some shorter options for social media handles, and maybe even consider shortening it altogether.

Step #8: Make sure it’s not already taken

First things first: Before you get 100% set on a domain name, you want to be positive it is not already taken.

How to check if your domain name is taken: Funny enough, there are whole blog posts out there on this, but it’s really simple:

  1. Take your blog name (no spaces) and put “.com” (or whatever “dot something”) after it, and put in your search bar and press enter.

  2. That’s it!

If it’s taken, you’ll know right away because you’ll land on a website. If you get a 404 Error, then that probably means it available! Yay!

And also, check if it’s available on social media. Look into if the Instagram handles and Facebook pages already exist for your new blog name as well.

If you’re set on a blog name and the handles are already taken, there are ways to work around it, like shorting words or using underscores and periods. However, consider how this will affect your branding if there’s already an active account with your name.

Step #9: Time Travel Test

Fast forward 5 years from now. Imagine where you want to be. Who you want to be. And ask yourself this: Will this blog name still represent you?

For instance, let’s say your name is Johanna and want to write about solo female travel, and the domain you have in mind is “Solo Jo”. This would be a great domain for many reasons: It’s easy to remember, it represents you, it has a fun tone, and it in some way explains what the site is about.

But let’s also say for the purpose of this exercise that in 5 years, you have a partner. Will you still want to focus on solo travel even when your life changes? Maybe you will, and that’s fantastic. Sharing the importance of solo travel even while in a relationship would be a rad niche. However, it is going to be difficult to shift your focus from solo female travel to couple travel if the word “solo” is in your domain. This isn’t to say it can’t be done, but there will be roadblocks.

Step #10: Be cautious about “Place Names”

We’d recommend staying away from putting a place name in your domain for travel blogs.

There are some very successful bloggers who have tied their websites to a location: 2 Weeks in Costa Rica and Tieland to Thailand, for example. Being that the country name is in the URL, they can often rank a little easier for those destinations, so this can actually be a good strategy for some people.

But what happens when you want to write about other places? What happens when you move out of Thailand or Costa Rica? This will be a problem that you will encounter down the road, and you will likely start kicking yourself for choosing a location-specific domain.

If you don’t intend to be tied to one place forever, we’d recommend staying away from place names.

Step #11: How does it sound?

A word might have a beautiful definition (see Step #4), yet it might not sound very good when spoken out loud.

For example: Ataraxia = a state of peace and calm; emotional tranquility.

This word has a beautiful meaning, but a blog named “Ataraxia Adventures” sounds unmistakably like “Anorexia Adventures”, and is not going to communicate the message you want to send very well.

If one of your ideas doesn’t truly sound right, just eliminate it. This will no doubt cause problems.

Step #12: Consider the spelling

This is a point we can talk about from experience! If you haven’t noticed, the name of our blog, “Two Wandering Soles” is a play on words.

Soles is spelled to mean “feet”, but when spoken, most people assume it is “Souls”, like spirits.

Just about every time we tell someone our site name out loud, we need to follow up with “spelled S-O-L-E-S, like feet”. It used to annoy me, but I’ve come to take it as an opportunity to explain the pun and (hopefully) make our name more memorable.

If you plan to use your name as part of your domain and you have a non-traditional spelling (like Kaytie instead of Katie), it’s not necessarily a death sentence to your website, but just be prepared to explain it and spell it out on the regular.

There are some major brands who have been very successful with “different” spellings, like Tumblr and Chick Fil-A, and sometimes this unique spelling is even a big part of their branding.

One more thing to think about: American spelling vs. British spelling. Will you use “Traveler” or “Traveller” in your blog name?

Step #13: How does it read as a URL?

When all the words are squished together in URL form, does the meaning change? This is one most people never think about. When you choose a blog name, you see it the way you want to. And you might miss something big…

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So you want to be a travel blogger? You’re not the only one. Our inbox is currently flooded with people reaching out asking for tips on how to start a travel blog.

It sounds dreamy, right? Traveling the world, sharing your experiences, and getting paid to do it.

Travel Blogging is truly my dream job, and I truly love doing what I do. Most mornings, I wake up and pinch myself that this is my life.

BUT there are so many things I wish I would have know when we first started out. There are so many misconceptions out there about blogging, and I bet there’s a lot you don’t know about this industry.

Being a Travel Blogger doesn’t mean all your days are spent lounging in the sun on a pineapple floaty, like the image above would have you believe… Disappointing, I know.

Today we’re pulling back the curtain.

We’re wiping away the glamorous facade of free hotel stays and unlimited freedom, and we’re giving you an inside look at what it’s really like being a travel blogger. The ugly parts nobody talks about. The daily struggles only us bloggers know. And the beautiful parts too, because there are many.

A Word of Warning: Before you read this, I want to tell you that some of this might not be what you want to hear (especially if you’re thinking of starting a travel blog). It might sting a little and get your spirits down, but I promise that if you are serious about blogging and want to be successful at it, you need to hear this before you buy your domain and start designing a logo.

Alright, are you ready for this is a raw and real, no bullshit rundown of what it’s actually like being a travel blogger?! 

I sure wish someone had sat me down, gave me a mug of tea and calmly told me what I’m about to tell you…

1. Being a full-time blogger is hard f*%$ing work. 

There are still quite a few people out there that think blogging is a “cute hobby” where people write down their feelings online instead of in a physical diary. While that might have been widely true in the days of Xanga (remember that?!), today is a whole different story.

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We have had so many conversations with people over the years — strangers, friends, and even family members — where it’s clear they just don’t understand the amount of work we pour into our blog.

Blogging is a business, and successful bloggers work hard – often more than 40 hours a week (doing much more than just writing an online journal).

Which brings me to my next point…

2. If you want to be a successful blogger, you must treat it like a business.

Essentially, there are 2 types of blogs:

  • Hobby Blog: Blogs that don’t earn much money (or any at all!). The purpose of this type of blog is that it brings the author joy, and it is fun!

  • Blogging Business: Blogs that earn the owner a living. This might be their full income, or it might be a supplemental income in addition to their full-time job. But it is a significant amount of money. (Hint: Check out our income report to see how much money travel bloggers can make.)

If it is your goal to have the latter, you need to treat your blog as a business: You need to set deadlines. You need to operate professionally. You need to dedicate time (lots of time!) to your blog. You need to have a plan. You need to learn from people who have been blogging for a while. You need to invest in your business, with time or money (or better yet: both).

It’s easy to skim through this and nod along, but it’s an entirely different thing to put it all into action. At your core, you have to be incredibly self-disciplined and committed to making your blog succeed. Because if you’re not, you might as well just stick with hobby blogging.

Let me just take a moment to say, there’s nothing wrong with aspiring to be a hobby blogger. We live in an age where it seems everyone is trying to turn their hobby into a side hustle: Selling knit hats on Etsy or (gasp!) getting paid to write about travel. But it’s totally fine if you just want to blog for fun.

3. Blogging isn’t just about good writing and pretty photos.

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A lot of people email us saying, “People always say I’m a great writer and that I should start a blog.” But here’s something most people don’t consider: Just because you love to write doesn’t mean you’ll love blogging.

Wouldn’t it be nice if all you had to do was write a killer article and add photos and BOOM: People would come to your site, like mosquitoes to exposed ankles.

That would be a dream come true for me because I went to university for journalism, graphic design, and photography. Basically a “Blogging Degree”, right?

Umm, not exactly. Those things are just a fraction of travel blogging. I’m not so great at many other aspects. [Enter Ben: Former engineer and MBA who has the analytical and data-driven brain I’ve been missing my entire life!]

Simply typing articles and pressing “publish” is going to bring in zero dollars. ZERO. So it’s important you understand what else is involved with blogging. Keep reading, because we’re about to spill…

4. There are aspects of blogging that aren’t fun.

Coding, optimizing SEO, keyword research, building backlinks, affiliate marketing strategizing, comparing analytics, creating captivating email funnels…

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These are just a few of the things I don’t love about blogging. There’s a hell of a lot more, but I don’t want to bore you (too much).

Did you know about all these bits of the business? If so, great; you’re coming into this with a lot more knowledge than we did.

But if some of these terms are making you scratch your head, there’s likely still a lot you’ll need to learn. And in order to be successful, you’re going to have to be okay rolling up your sleeves and doing the boring stuff.

5. The image of a laptop by the beach (or a pool) is a lie.

I’m gonna let you in on a secret… This photo was STAGED *gasp*! There’s no way I’d actually work on my laptop this close to water!

If your idea of being a travel blogger involves a lot of hammocks and mojitos, I am about to shatter your illusion…

There are days like that. But sometimes it seems like they are rare.

The image of working on your laptop from the beach is a beautiful one. And the whole “digital nomad” movement seems to be based off the idea that having a remote job means your days aren’t spent in an office, but rather at a pool with a daiquiri in hand. It’s easy to sell that image, but it’s not exactly true.

Blogging, just like most remote jobs, give you lots of freedom, but it also requires hard work. More often than not in a cafe or co-working space rather than on the beach. Trust me, sand and laptops don’t mix well. And neither does sun glare.

As a travel blogger, you will have a mix of excitement-filled days where you wander around new cities and go on epic adventures; but there are normal days too, where you spend the majority of your time behind a laptop.

6. Blogging is NOT a way to get rich fast.

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In fact, when you’re first starting out, you’re going to need to work for free. Yes, for FREE.

You’ll also need to invest your own money for your domain and hosting. And that’s just the minimum. Some people choose to hire designers or take courses to accelerate their growth.

Even if you monetize quickly, there will be times in the beginning where you’ll spend hours upon hours working, and see a big fat zero in your bank account.

Here’s my advice: DO NOT start a blog (travel or otherwise) if you are simply looking for an “easy way to earn money while traveling”. There are plenty of easier, quicker ways to earn a living while still giving you the flexibility to be remote.

Take a look at these remote jobs that will give you the flexibility to work wherever you want, but have a quicker path to a decent income.

7. You’ll likely need to have a second job for a while.

Unless you have a nice chunk of change saved up (or have a partner with a great income), you’ll likely be working another job while you start your blog.

We now generate our full income from this travel blog, but it didn’t come easily (or quickly!). Throughout most of this journey, we’ve held other jobs — we taught English in Korea and worked at a ski resort in Washington state. And we’ve held a few different location-independent jobs that helped us earn money while traipsing around the world: Ben taught English online through VIPKID. I did freelance graphic design, copywriting, email marketing, and even managed social media accounts.

It wasn’t until just recently — 5 years in — that we let go of our parachutes (aka other jobs) and decided to free fall with this blog as our only source of income. Maybe that’s a bad analogy…

I’m not saying it will take you as long as it took us to make a decent living. We made a ton of mistakes along the way, and could have had a much faster path to success. But sometimes it takes even longer than 5 years… And some bloggers never quit their other jobs because they just don’t want to lose the steady (and reliable) income. Either way, there’s a good chance you’ll have to spend some time balancing blogging with other work.

8. The market is SUPER saturated, but…

I hate to break it to you, but the travel blogging market is super saturated, and getting more and more saturated by the day.

But wipe that sweat off your brow, because here’s the good news: Just because the market is a crowded one, doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence to a new blog.

It was pretty saturated when we started, too. You can carve your way into the high rankings in Google, but it takes time, patience, and (lots of) hard work.

And being that there are so many travel blogs out there, it makes it all that more important to create quality content and have a personality that stands out from the pack.

BE MEMORABLE.

Be yourself. Get vulnerable. Hone in your voice. Don’t be afraid to be controversial. Or goofy. Share the ups AND the downs. Stand up for what you believe. Share your stories.

Make your audience feel like they know the real you.

9. Blogging and Instagramming are 2 different jobs.

You know the whole “a square is a rectangle, but a rectangle is not a square” saying that was pounded into you during elementary geometry?

Well, it’s kind of the same thing with Blogs and Instagram: Bloggers usually have an Instagram account, and Instagrammers typically have a blog. But they are 2 different jobs:

  • Bloggers focus on writing content and monetizing through a website (affiliate marketing, advertising, etc.) and growing traffic. Posting on Instagram builds brand awareness and community. Income is derived from website traffic.

  • Instagram Influencers focus on creating content for a social media platform (like Instagram) and growing this following. And their monetization strategy often focuses on sponsored content on this platform. A blog is their secondary focus and serves as more or less a landing page and a way to collect audience emails or sell a product, like Lightroom presets. Income is derived from social media following.

Bloggers and Social Media Influencers are often lumped into the same category. But if you want to be successful in the industry, it’s important to understand the differences.

Determine which medium you want to monetize. There can (and should!) be overlap. But these are two completely separate jobs with different purposes. Prioritizing one will give you focus and will help aid in your success.

10. Blogging is an industry that’s constantly changing. And you’ve gotta keep up.

What it took to be a successful blogger 10 years ago was vastly different than today. Even when we started back in 2014, blogging was a whole different world. We ranked for articles that Google would never notice today.

Blogging in 2019 is going to look different from 2020. And you better believe that 5 years from now, things will be much different still. This is an industry where you can’t just put in the time learning now, then coast by and expect to earn a completely passive income.

In order to keep up, you need to stay up to date with trends, algorithms and technology. As a blogger, you will need to commit yourself to constant learning.

11. Blogging while traveling is hard to balance.

Real Talk: Traveling and Blogging at the same time is downright exhausting.

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Travel blogging requires a delicate balance that we have very, very slowly learned how to manage. It definitely didn’t come naturally. And we’re still far from perfect.

Any time we talk with other travel bloggers, we all eventually start talking about how difficult it is to travel AND blog at the same time.

Planning things to do, booking hotels and transportation, going out and doing stuff, meeting other travelers…. Add to that writing articles, optimizing SEO, posting on social media, replying to emails, pitching to companies, sticking to partnership deadlines, creating newsletters and email funnels. Whew! My heart is racing just typing that sentence.

We’ve done long-term trips while trying to produce content, and it ultimately leads us to become stressed and worn out. We actually have found that we produce our best work and grow our blog the quickest when we’re not traveling at all.

Which brings me to my next point…

12. You don’t have to ALWAYS be traveling.

People often ask us how we will continue to be travel bloggers if we someday “settle down” and buy a house. Ben and I usually give each other a smirk, and just say, oh we’ll figure it out. But the truth is having a real home base is going to make this job SO much easier.

Whenever we are settled in one spot we absolutely crush our goals and are far better bloggers than when we’re actually traveling. (This is why we’ve been basing ourselves in Chiang Mai and Bali during the last year and a half.)

And trust me, there’s no way we’ll run out of content. I have somewhere around 75 articles saved as drafts right now that mayyyybe I’ll have time to get to when we’re “settled down”.

Oh, and can we also talk about the fact that even when we do have a home, that doesn’t mean we’re not going to just STOP traveling. I mean, traveling is a passion of ours — one that we intend to continue pursuing even if we do have a picket fence someday. And it’s also our job, so like, we have to keep doing it, ya know…

Learn this lesson from us: You DO NOT need to travel full time to be a travel blogger. And actually, long-term travel can make growing your blog hard.

13. Free Travel isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be.

I know what you’re thinking: Did she really just use the words “free” and “travel” in the same sentence and say it’s not all that great?

Bear with me for a minute…

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A lot of new bloggers (ourselves included!) get all starry-eyed at the prospect of free travel.

Getting a complimentary hotel stay or whale-watching trip or backpack sounds awesome — and most of the time it is — but it is also a lot of work. With a rise in the number of influencers, companies often expect quite a bit of value in exchange for a free experience or product.

In the past, we’ve spent countless hours editing photos, creating videos, and typing up thoughtful articles for no monetary compensation. And you know what we’ve realized? It’s just not worth it (in most cases). I don’t know about you, but our student loans can’t be paid in Mariott credit or in packing cubes.

When you’re just starting out as a blogger, it can be a great way to build your portfolio and gain exposure. We’ve been able to have a lot of wonderful experiences this way, and you can too. But if you want this to be your full-time job, free travel shouldn’t be the core reason you start a travel blog.

14. Blogging is a job you’ll constantly have to explain (and sometimes defend).

Blogging is still a very new profession – one the general public knows very little about it. So if you intend to make blogging your full-time job, be prepared to explain. And defend.

I recently went down the foxhole of a forum on one of the blogging Facebook groups we’re part of. In one particular thread, someone asked this:

There were 54 comments replying to this question. And roughly 90% of the bloggers who replied explained they don’t refer to themselves as “bloggers” at all.

Instead, people used terms like “website owner”, “content creator”, “digital publisher”, “travel writer”… the list goes on. This illustrates how many people in the industry have had their fair share of Doubting Debbies, and feel like people take them more seriously when they call themselves something other than a “blogger”.

While we still proudly call ourselves Bloggers (in most situations), it can be downright exhausting explaining what we do. And we often feel like we have to defend it as being a “real job”.

Most of the time people are simply curious how, in fact, you’re able to make money online. But sometimes it feels as if they expect you to divulge exactly how you earn your money in a concise 1-minute explanation over drinks, whereas asking the same questions to an accountant or an engineer would be seen as straight up rude.

So if you plan to become a full-time blogger, get ready to answer all sorts of Facebook messages from people you haven’t spoken with since high school asking, “How do you afford to travel so much when you don’t have a job?”.

Get ready to defend your job when that guy at a networking event uses air quotes when he says, “Ah, you’re a “travel blogger”… but what do you really do?”

And get ready to tell your neighbor’s cousin that, yes, you do have a job.

15. There will be moments where you want to quit.

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Trust me when I say there will come points where you wonder if you should just stop. Throw in the towel. Hold up the white flag. Or whatever they say.

Over the years, we have had so many of these moments. There have been tears and fights. Self-doubt and frustration. We’ve been close (really close) to quitting more times than I’d like to admit.

But each time when we step back, we realize that blogging has become a part of us. It is something we love. It is our passion, and that’s why it affects us so much.

There will be ups and downs. Good days and bad days. So it is essential that you actually love what you’re blogging about. If you don’t, those voices that tell you, “quitting would be so much easier” will eventually get the best of you.

But if your blog truly is your passion, you can tell those voices to “back the eff off”, put your head down and get back to work.

Now that you’ve stuck with me through the scary stuff, here’s the good news:

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Let us start by saying this is the most uncomfortable article we’ve ever written, and pressing “publish” was harder than it has ever been before. You see, we both grew up in Midwest USA, a place where modesty is praised, and talking about money is taboo. Just like sex and colonoscopies.

But here we are, about to divulge how much money we earned in the last month…

The Minnesotan in both of us is squirming around trying to avoid this topic altogether, the way you try to avoid eye contact with that creepy guy at the bar. If I’m being totally honest, I’m petrified this article will come across as us bragging (God forbid!), which is not our intention at all.

So why are we sharing our income in the first place? Well, there are a handful of reasons...

1) You asked for it

We are constantly asked by friends, family, and even complete strangers: “How do you even make money on a blog?” At first, this question bothered me. Why did people feel they had the right to ask how much we make, and how we make it? It felt like a very private thing that everyone seemed to want to know.

But over the last year, I’ve done a lot of reflecting, and I have come to understand and actually appreciate the questions. I mean, wasn’t I asking the very same questions just a few years ago? Instead of asking people directly to their face, I was asking Google. But it’s the same, really.

Blogging is a very new type of job, and most of the time people just want to know how it’s actually possible to make money on a website. This is not a question that can be answered in a simple, one-sentence response. So in a way, this income report is an answer to all those people who have asked.

2) To inspire & educate aspiring bloggers!

We’ve found income reports incredibly helpful as we’ve grown our blog to what it is today. And honestly, there were many times we would have given up had we not known that it is in fact possible to make a living – a good living – as a blogger. We can only hope that this income report is valuable to other aspiring bloggers out there. This is the biggest reason we’re opening up about money.

If you’re an aspiring blogger, we have a whole lotta blogging information coming your way. If you want to be one of the first to know when we publish, send us your email here and we’ll shoot you the links straight to your inbox this week.

3) Accountability

Plain and simple. Two Wandering Soles is a business, and just like any company out there, we have financial goals that we want to strive towards. This little corner of our website is where we can hold ourselves accountable.

We plan to continue sharing income reports in some form, and it will be interesting to look back on this journey of ours.

4) We’re proud of how far we’ve come

A couple years ago, we would not have been able to fathom earning what we are right now on a blog we created ourselves. And for that, we are proud.

Real talk… We find ourselves constantly having to justify our job. So often in fact, that we have an “elevator speech” of sorts. When we tell people we’re travel bloggers, we see the eye rolls and the looks of, “Oh, that’s cute. I wonder when they’ll get a ‘real job’.” When other people don’t take you seriously, it’s hard to take yourself seriously. Trust me.

This road to earning a full-time income on our blog hasn’t been an easy one. We’ve had our fair share of struggles and we’ve made every mistake out there. So I guess in a way, pressing “publish” on this income report is a big milestone for us. And kind of a way to congratulate ourselves for not letting those eye rolls get in our heads (too much).

While we may have come a long way, we are far from done. There are many bloggers out there earning far more than us, showing us that there really is no limit to our dreams. And we still see a very long road ahead of us to get where we want to be.

Without further adieu, let’s start talkin’ numbers…

March 2019 Two Wandering Soles Earnings:$14,179.97

(And we only worked 10 full days during the month of March!)

That number looks good right now, but it hasn’t always been like that. This is our highest-earning month yet.

Our blog earning history… We’ve been blogging (on and off) for the past 5 years. But in October 2017, we moved to Chiang Mai and decided to give it our all and become “full time travel bloggers”. That said, we still had “side jobs” to help pay the bills as we began this uncertain path.

In January 2019, we finally let go of all other jobs we were working so we could devote 100% of our energy into this blog. And let me tell you, we have been seeing the benefits ever since.

Here’s our Monthly Earnings chart from the last year of full-time blogging:

What March looked like for us

One of the best parts about blogging is that even when we take time off, we’re still earning money.

During the month of March, we traveled to the US for a friend’s birthday celebration in Nashville and a family wedding in Minnesota. So in total, we only worked 9 days during this month. But it has taken a long time – a really long time! – to get to this point. And when we take time off, we typically make up for it with long work days or putting in hours on the weekend. It’s just nice that we can be flexible about when and where we work.

March 2019 Website Statistics

Before we can talk about how we earned our income, we have to go over our traffic for the month, as our income is directly related to how many people are visiting our website.

  • Pageviews: 275,008

  • Unique Visitors: 167,044

  • Sessions: 203,332

  • Social Media Followers: 27,830

  • Email Subscribers: 8,695

Here’s a few snapshots of our March 2019 Google Analytics. Click on any image to view them in a larger size:

Traffic Numbers Top Ten Traffic Sources Mobile vs. Desktop vs. Tablet Top Traffic Channels

It’s important to understand that when it comes to blogging, your earnings are almost all based on work you’ve done in the past. I mean, we have been building this traffic over the last 5 years.

Breakdown of our earnings

Now that you know a little bit about why we’re sharing our income and how many people are visiting our site, let’s get to the good stuff and show you where that money came from…

Disclosure: This page contains affiliate links, and we may receive compensation if you click on a link at no cost to you, so click away as your heart desires. You can read our full advertising disclosure and privacy policy here.

Affiliates: $8,141.59

Have you heard of Affiliate Marketing? It can be a complicated thing to master, but at its core, Affiliate Marketing is simply recommending a product or service to others, and being compensated in return.

Who are our affiliates

We have more than 25 affiliate programs we work with, from large companies like Amazon to independent tour companies we have gone through and just LOVE to promote because we had a great experience, like Desafio Canyoning tour in Costa Rica.

Here are our top-earning affiliates in the month of March (in no particular order):

Looking Forward

One thing we are focusing on with affiliate programs is to make sure we are diversifying, as many affiliates have a high season where they earn us money easily, and a low season where our earnings are significantly lower. Next month, we are adding a few new affiliate programs to our arsenal that we’re excited about.

Advertising: $5,838.38

Another big chunk of our income this month was advertising. We work with Mediavine, 3-party provider who basically does all the work for us.

The wonderful thing about advertising income is it is more or less passive. And each month since we installed it 1.5 years ago, it has raked in a pretty penny with basically no work from us. That said, it took us years of hard work to gain the traffic necessary to make advertising a sustainable income source.

Why Mediavine? Not only does Mediavine have some of the highest RPM’s (rate per million) in the industry, they are always coming out new tools to help their bloggers. Their customer service has always been impeccable and the massive Mediavine community of other bloggers is invaluable because of their knowledge and support. Can you tell we love Mediavine?!

Looking forward

Next month, we expect our advertising income to be lower for a couple of reasons.

  1. March is an especially good month for advertising because it’s the last month of the quarter, so ads have an increased RPM and earn more money. April is the beginning of the quarter, so the RPM rate is lower. This cyclical pattern is important to keep in mind as we forecast our income throughout the year.

  2. We’re planning to lower (slightly) the number/frequency of the ads on our website, as we want to find a balance between creating a good user experience while also not losing too much money.  

Sponsored Posts / Brand Partnerships: $0

During the month of March, we didn’t have any brand partnerships or sponsored posts. Our inbox is full of inquiries of companies interested in working with us, however we are very selective with the partnerships we move forward with.

We love partnering with brands whose values align with ours, but finding the right partnership is tricky. Also, a high quality collaboration can be very time consuming, so we have been prioritizing other (more passive) income streams.

Looking Forward

We have a few collaborations for the coming months, so in the future, this will be a portion of our income again.

Curated Content: $200

Curated content is something we create or sell to another brand. This can be quite time-intensive, so it isn’t a huge focus of ours. But every once in a while, a good opportunity presents itself.

In the month of March, we sold the rights for one of our photos to be printed in Outside Magazine. It isn’t a huge amount of money, but it was cool to see one of our photos in print. And the photo was already taken, so it required basically no work on our end.

Looking Forward

We don’t have any curated content lined up for next month at the moment, so we don’t expect this category to be a significant part of our income. This isn’t an area we are actively trying to grow, but we are open to opportunities if they seem to be a good fit.

BONUS: Free Stuff: $409.80 value*

*This is not included in our $14,179.97 earnings.

When we first started blogging, this category was super exciting to us. I still remember when we got our first free trip – a caving and fishing trip in South Korea. It was a $200 value for each of us, so we felt pretty damn cool. That was the first little feeling of “making it as a blogger”.

Now nearly 5 years later, we get a handful of emails a day from companies who want to send us their product or have us stay at their property. Over the years, we have received comped hotel rooms and experiences as well as free gear, all in exchange for our thoughts (whether good or bad). However, we are very much scaling back this type of partnership.

We take pride in all our work, and often spend hours creating content for these “free exchanges”. Often times, we felt the value we provided was worth far more than what we were getting in return.

Some travel bloggers include this in their reports as income, however, we are simply including it as a bonus section. I don’t know about you, but our student loans can’t be paid in backpacks or hotel stays. Those damn debtors only accept cash, so yeah... we will never include free stuff in our income total.

Free travel: $0

We didn’t do any travel during the month of March (other than a trip to the US for a family wedding!).

Free Products: $409.80 value

This month we only accepted products from 2 companies (that we are already fans of and have personally purchased in the past):

Our Blogging Expenses: $1,364.95

Running a website can be expensive. Some of these costs happen on a monthly basis, while others are one-time expenses.

Monthly Costs:
  • MailerLite: $35 – This is the service we use to send emails to our subscribers.

  • Gmail Suite: $10 – We pay for our own branded email addresses

  • Notion: $8 – Software to organize projects and tasks

  • Virtual Assistant (VA): $119 – We have a lovely assistant who helps us with tasks like managing Pinterest, working with guest authors, and optimizing our site.

  • Tailwind: $10* – Software for scheduling pins on Pinterest that we could not live without!

  • KeySearch: $8.45* – Game-changing online tool that assists in finding keywords

  • Hosting/Domain: $17.50* – The cost of just keeping this website live

  • Epidemic Sound: $15 – Royalty free music our YouTube videos

  • Amazon Prime: $10* – We use this for the cloud storage for our thousands of photos! (Plus, the quick delivery comes in handy when we’re back home in the US.)

  • Photoshop & Lightroom: $10 – Photo editing software

*monthly cost of annual payment

One-Time Payment:
  • New Vlogging Camera: $700 – We bought a new camera specifically for shooting videos -- Yay!

  • Web Designer: $400 – We hired a web designer in the month of March and are working on a site redesign, which should be complete in about a month. Super excited for this! (Note: This is just the deposit on a $1,200 project. We will be paying the remainder next month.)

  • Creative Market: $22 – We purchased the rights to a new font to use in our updated website design.

Our Net Earnings March 2019: $12,815.02

After you subtract our website expenses, we netted a total of $12,815.02 for the month of March 2019.

Lesson Learned this month

Let go of your parachutes and you will fly.

Blogging is not a get rich quick job. And up until a few months ago, we were both doing other jobs on the side — Ben taught English on video chats though VIPKID, and I did freelance graphic design, writing, email marketing, and managed another brand’s social media.

They were great opportunities and ways to earn money remotely. But we realized they were sucking up time and energy we could be putting toward growing our own website. So in late 2018, we decided to slowly drop all of these jobs to focus only on Two Wandering Soles. January 2019 was the last month I earned a paycheck from someone else.

It was hard to let go of those safety nets — money that we knew was coming in..

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Traveling to Scotland has been our bucket list for years, and we can’t wait to get there someday (hopefully soon). From trying haggis, hearing bagpipe melodies, visiting fairy-tale castles, taking epic road trips to seeing men in kilts, we have a HUGE list of things to do in Scotland.

So when our Scottish friends, Peter and Lauren from Our So Called Life, reached out to see if they could write an article about their home country, we were super excited. Get ready to read a locals perspective of the best places to visit in Scotland.

By Guest Authors: Peter and Lauren from Our So Called Life

A country famed for things like Nessie (Loch Ness monster), haggis and men in kilts, but there’s a lot more to it than just those things.

We are extremely lucky to call Scotland home.

The great thing about Scotland is how accessible everywhere is with each of the major cities around 3 hours away from each other. This means that if you’re coming over to visit, you can potentially pack in a lot to a relatively short trip.

But where do you begin with planning an itinerary?

Read Next: How to Plan for a New Trip Overseas

Well, we’re here to help you by giving you a rundown of each of the best places in Scotland to visit and why each offers a completely different experience to visitors.

Getting around is pretty easy too. You can hop on trains, local buses or hire a car to travel from place to place.

So where should you go when visiting Scotland?

1. Edinburgh for history

One of the top spots for tourists and probably the busiest of all the cities in terms of visitors.

Hundreds of thousands of people flock from all over the world to visit this city for plenty of reasons. From it being the city where J.K. Rowling crafted the enchanting world of the Harry Potter books right through to the rich history that surrounds almost every building in the city centre.

Head into the medieval old town and see some of the top tourist attractions like Edinburgh Castle and Mary Kings Close, a hidden street underneath the city that allows you to experience what life was like back in the 16th and 17th century in Edinburgh.

The new town is filled with Georgian architecture. Walking along Princes Street, the main shopping street that is overlooked by the castle, you’ll be greeted by some incredible architecture like the current Jenners building and the beautiful Balmoral Hotel which holds many restaurants including the Michelin Starred “Number 1” restaurant.

The best part about Edinburgh is that most of the historical tourist attractions are within easy walking distance of each other.

You could spend days here and still not have seen all of the attractions on offer, but it’s definitely somewhere that should be added to your itinerary.

Top things to do in Edinburgh
  • You can’t visit Edinburgh and not take a wander around Edinburgh Castle.

  • Get the fright of your life in the Edinburgh Dungeon

  • Wander up Calton Hill just at the top of Princes Street and take in beautiful views over the city and beyond.

  • Visit the Elephant House and see where J.K. Rowling penned the Harry Potter books. (Oh and visit the nearby Greyfriars Kirkyard and see how many character names you can find amongst the headstones.)

Best Budget friendly place to stay in Edinburgh:

Situated in the heart of the old town is the Edinburgh Backpackers hostel on Cockburn. You literally couldn’t be any more city centre if you tried with this hostel. With plenty of things to see, do and places to eat nearby it offers the easiest place for exploring this magical city.

2. Glasgow for music, shopping, and culture

Hopping on a train and heading just 50 miles to the west of Edinburgh and you’ll come to the largest city in Scotland, Glasgow.

Potentially my personal favorite city in Scotland, it’s a city that is constantly changing and offers plenty for everyone to do regardless of your interests.

The music scene in Glasgow is a personal highlight with many fantastic venues like the Hydro, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut, and the iconic Glasgow Barrowlands.

If music isn’t your thing, then you could head to somewhere like the Kelvingrove museum and take a look around the 22 different galleries on offer. One of the biggest benefits of adding the Kelvingrove museum to your list is that it’s completely free to visit.

Glasgow is also excellent for a bit of retail therapy. With the main shopping streets of Sauchiehall, Buchanan, and Argyll giving shoppers a wide variety of choice. You’ll also find plenty of independent stores scattered all over the city too.

Oh and don’t forget to do the Mural trail for a bit of incredible street art too.

Top things to do in Glasgow
  • Head to Kelvingrove Museum and spend hours wandering the endless galleries and exhibits.

  • See a gig at Barrowlands

  • Head to The Barras on the weekend and browse the hundreds of stalls of locals and merchants selling their wares.

  • Visit Ashton Lane and Hidden Lane over in the West End.

Coolest Place to Stay in Glasgow

If you’re looking for somewhere to stay that’s completely different to anywhere else in the city then definitely check out CitizenM. Located right in the city centre and just minutes walk from the bus station and main shopping area this hotel is definitely one worth checking out for those who enjoy a different experience. (P.S. The beds literally go from wall to wall.)

3. Inverness for gateway to the highlands

Head up North from Glasgow through the stunning highlands and you’ll come to the most northern city of Inverness.

This beautiful city is the beginning of one of the biggest draws to Scotland in recent years, the North Coast 500.

The North Coast 500 or NC500 as it’s often called, is Scotland’s answer to the iconic Route 66. Driving this road takes you through 516 miles of the most incredible Scottish landscapes with stops along the way in many little villages and sights with plenty of things to see and do.

Perhaps whilst driving this road you could do a little wild camping since it’s legal in Scotland to pitch your tent most places that are considered unenclosed land. Just make sure that you leave no trace and adhere to the wild camping laws.

Heading back into Inverness and you’ll be treated to things like Inverness Castle, the Cathedral and be sure to pop into the Victorian Market whilst you’re there too.

Top things to do in Inverness
  • Take a tour around Inverness Castle

  • Head to the Victorian Market and browse the independent shops inside.

  • Inverness Cathedral is set on the edge of the river and offers breathtaking architecture both inside and out.

  • Who visits Scotland and doesn’t want to spot Nessie? Take a short trip down to Loch Ness and see if you can spot this magical creature.

  • Visit the Culloden Battlefield and learn about the history of one of the most pivotal battles in Scottish history.

Wild Camp near Inverness

Scotland is unique in a way that it allows you to wild camp in most places as long as you adhere to the wild camping rules and leave no trace of your stay. So why not save some money and pack a tent to pitch. Imagine waking up to beautiful views with absolutely nobody around you in the Scottish Highlands. Bliss!

Related: 7 Easy and Healthy Camping Recipes

4. Hebrides for beaches

Now I can’t do a post on the best places in Scotland and not include the Outer Hebrides.

Recently included in the 2019 “Must Visit” list by Airbnb, this is somewhere that you really should try and visit if you have the time to.

A short ferry ride from Ullapool or an even shorter flight from most of the airports in the country and you’ll be on an island that has some of the most incredible beaches in the world that could rival the most tropical of climates. Our personal favorite has to be Luskentyre with the golden sands, bright blue water and a stunning backdrop of mountains across the water. Oh and keep an eye out for the wild horses that roam the beach too.

If you’re heading over to Lewis and Harris then be sure to spend some time exploring the rich history on offer by visiting the Black Houses, the Callanish standing stones and Carloway Broch and also spend some time listening to some of the locals talking in their preferred language of Gaelic.

Top things to do in the Outer Hebrides
  • See the Black Houses

  • Visit the standing stones from 2000 years ago

  • Hire a bike and cycle from Lewis to Harris on the Hebridean Way

  • Picnic on the beaches

  • Be sure to try the local delicacy of Charles MacLeod Black Pudding!

Luxury Croft in Harris

If you’re looking for a bit of luxury and want somewhere completely unique to stay when visiting then you definitely need to check out the Blue Reef Croft in Scarista. With panoramic views from the living area looking out onto the beautiful landscape, this is somewhere that offers accommodation like no other on the island.

5. Dundee for design

Now another of my favorite cities that has really come on leaps and bounds in recent years due to having millions spent on regeneration projects is Dundee.

Home to the first V&A museum to be built outside of London it is a city that offers countless things for visitors to see and do.

The V&A is by far the most standout piece in the city having been constructed on the waterfront and having taken influence from not only the surroundings but it has an almost ship-like feel to it.

Dundee is also home to many other pieces of beautiful architecture like the McManus Galleries, The Courier building and St Paul’s Cathedral in the city centre. The great thing about Dundee is that everything is relatively close together meaning that you don’t need to travel far to see each of the sights on offer.

Alternatively, you could head up to Dundee Law which is an extinct volcano in the city where at the top give you 360-degree panoramic views over the top of the city and beyond.

Top things to do in Dundee
  • Visit the incredible V&A museum

  • Wander around the McManus Galleries and learn about the history of Dundee

  • Grab a rainbow bagel at Flame Tree cafe

  • Pose with Desperate Dan (See if you can find Oor Wullie nearby too)

  • Hop aboard the RRS Discovery and learn about the Antarctic voyages in the past

Best boutique hotel in Dundee

Recently opened and set in the renovated building of an old textile mill is the Indigo Hotel in Dundee. Just minutes from the city center and with views that look over the River Tay, this hotel offers an experience using local products to give you a glimpse into the history of the city...

6. Aberdeenshire for castles

Aberdeenshire is an area quite often missed out of many of the itineraries that you see online of people who are planning to visit Scotland and it’s a shame really as there’s plenty on offer in the area.

Aberdeenshire is home to countless castles, both ruined and perfectly preserved giving you the best of both.

For those more interested in ruined castles, there’s both Slains castle which is the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula and the more tourist-friendly Dunnottar Castle which played a big part in the history of Scotland due to its strategic positioning and defensive merits.

If ruined castles aren’t really your thing then why not visit some of the fairytale-like pink castles in the region like Craigievar castle which is meant to have been the inspiration behind the now iconic Disney logo.

The area is actually home to over 300 castles which is more per acre than anywhere else in the UK!

Top things to do in Aberdeenshire
  • Hire a car and drive the Castle trail

  • Dolphin watch at Torry Battery

  • Walk through the old fishing village of Footdee

  • Do the Nuart mural trail and see some stunning street murals.

Glamping in Aberdeenshire

For another truly unique experience in Aberdeenshire then why not head to Rosehearty and visit Down on the Farm where you could book yourself into a restored vintage railway carriage for the night. Possibly one of the most quirky places to stay in Aberdeenshire that we know of.

So as you can hopefully see, Scotland really does have something to offer everyone who plans to visit, it’s just sometimes hard to pick out where you want to visit when you’re here.

With some careful planning, I’m pretty sure that you could pack in a whole lot to your trip.

Going to Scotland soon? Save this on Pinterest!


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Peter and Lauren are two professionals working full time and based in Scotland who do their best to experience the world with whatever opportunity they have to do so. Whether it’s a short day trip somewhere nearby, a weekend away in a European city or an adventure halfway around the world.

You can learn more about them and their adventures over at Our So Called Life or by following them on Instagram @oursocalledtravels.

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With wide-open roads and epic viewpoints around every corner, renting a car in Iceland is the ultimate way to explore this island nation. Download a sweet audiobook, pack your favorite snacks, and get ready for a road trip of a lifetime!

Actually, hold up! We’re getting ahead of ourselves...

There are some important things – really important things, actually – that you need to know before you hire a car in Iceland. Things that could cost you thousands of dollars if you’re not aware.

Renting a car in Iceland is different than many other countries, and even if you’re a pro at car rentals you might be surprised. Don’t worry; we’re about to go over everything you need to know about car hire in Iceland so you’re super prepared and have an unforgettable road trip!

Before we delve into the nitty gritty, let’s go over why you should get an Iceland rental car in the first place...

Why should I rent a car in Iceland?

Whether you hire a car or rent a campervan, being behind the wheel gives you a sense of freedom you wouldn’t have otherwise. Many of Iceland’s most scenic spots are far from any town, and you simply won’t be able to get to them without your own mode of transportation. 

Plus, with few public transportation options outside the city limits of Reykjavik, your best alternatives would be a bus tour, where you have no control over the schedule, or hitchhiking, which gives you basically no control of your travels. (Though if you’re up for it, hitchhiking through Iceland could be quite the adventure!)

Sitting in the drivers seat, or having a partner who’s driving (cough, cough, Ben!), gives you the freedom to discover hidden waterfalls, remote black sand beaches, and hot springs that only the locals know about.

Alright, are you convinced? Let’s get started planning the road trip of your dreams!

Are you ready to pick you rental car? Jump down the article to see which rental car company we recommend your trip to Iceland.

Essential Tips for Driving in Iceland

Driving in Iceland might be different from what you’re used to. We’re going over all the important stuff, from things you need to know about gas stations in Iceland, to

1. Understand Gas Stations in Iceland

Let’s talk about GAS, baby!

It’s not the sexiest subject to talk about, but it’s an important one.

a) Gas is expensive. I mean, it has to be shipped into this island country, so I can understand why. I’m not gonna go into too much more detail other than to say at the time of writing this article (April 2019) the price of gas in Iceland was 225.7 ISK per liter ($1.84 USD). That works out to be just shy of $7 USD per gallon. Ouch! Be sure to take the high gas prices into account when planning your Iceland travel budget.

b) Gas stations are generally open 24 hours a day. However, there’s a but… The building itself will be closed at night, usually around 8 p.m. (some are open as late as 10 or 11 p.m.). You can still fill up at the pump using a card. But read the next point, because it’s a biggie…

c) Know your PIN number. At gas stations in Iceland, you’ll be asked to type in your pin at the pump. If you’re using a credit card that doesn’t have a pin, you will be declined! If this happens, you can simply walk inside and hand your credit card to an employee who can authenticate it for you. However, if you’re trying to fill up at night or early in the morning, you’ll be outta luck. We’d recommend bringing a back up debit card (with a pin!) for this purpose!

2. Don’t let your tank get empty

While we’re on the subject of fillin’ yer tank, let me indulge with an anecdote...

When I was a teenager, I used to do this thing where I’d let my tank go past empty before filling up. Every single time. It drove my parents nuts. I had other things I’d rather spend money on, like clothes and makeup and food and movies and, well, just about anything besides gas.

Lesson: Don’t be like 16-year-old Katie. (For many reasons…)

In Iceland, there are many stretches of road (once you get outside Reykjavik and Ring Road) where you won’t see another soul. This is usually a good thing, and likely part of the reason you’re visiting Iceland. However, if your gas tank is nearing empty, it can be a nerve-wracking ride until you find a petrol station.

So you’re driving along with a tank that’s half full when you pass by a gas station. What do you do?! Flip a U-turn and go fill up! Don’t risk it.

3. Watch your speed

This is an important one. (Be sure you read it!)

While driving in Iceland, be sure to be extra cautious about your speed. For safety reasons, obviously, but also because there are speed traps set up around the country just waiting to catch drivers over the limit and give them hefty fines.

More often than not, it won’t be a police officer flashing their lights that’ll let you know you’re in trouble. Instead, it will be cameras that detect your speed and flag you. If you’re not paying attention, you might never even notice them.

No, this does not mean you’re approaching a photogenic landscape! It means you are about to pass a speed camera. Don’t slow down and you’ll get a ticket!

How to spot the speed cameras: Before every camera, there is a blue sign to warn motorists. (pictured left)

The sign is in Icelandic, so take a good look at it and memorize it so you know when you see one!

It’s also good to know that all tunnels in Iceland have at least one speed camera (if not more!), so be sure you follow the 70-kilometer speed limit in tunnels.

Speed Limits in Iceland

The highest speed limit you’ll find is 90 kilometers per hour on highways. That’s about 56 miles per hour, folks. It’s going to feel kind of slow if you’re used to highways in the US, like we are.

Always look for signs with the speed limit posted, but here are some general rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • 90 km per hour on highways (Nowhere in Iceland are you allowed to drive faster than this.)

  • 80 km per hour on gravel roads

  • 70 km per hour in tunnels

Speeding Fines are high (Like really high!)

Find out just how expensive the speeding fees are on this website (They’re pricy, like $670 USD for going 13 mph over). It will give you an idea of what to expect for fines depending on the speed limit and how much faster you’re driving. Spoiler Alert: The fine increases exponentially the higher above the limit you’re going!

Note: The site is in Icelandic, but you can select the option to translate the page.

What if you get a speeding ticket?

If you’re pulled over by a cop, you may be expected to pay your fine on the spot using a credit or debit card. We’ve read that some police officers will also give you the option of mailing in the payment later (though the fine will be higher).

If a camera catches you speeding, you’ll receive a ticket by mail. Rental car companies are required by law to disclose your information to police. It might take a few weeks before you receive the bad news.

The Internet is full of forums and threads from people who returned from a lovely vacation in Iceland, only to find out they owe more than $1,000 USD in speeding tickets a month later.

While information varies a bit, it seems that there is a “discount” offered for those who pay their fine by a certain date. It also seems that some people brag about not ever paying their fine. We’re not going to debate the unethical nature of this, so instead we’ll just leave you with our advice...

DON’T SPEED, DAMNIT.

Put on that sweet, sweet cruise control (fingers crossed your vehicle has this function!) and respect the speed limits.

Sure, you might see locals speeding, but they tend to know where the speed traps are and can slow down in time. They also have a better understanding on how to handle the Icelandic roads, which might be quite different from what you’re used to.

Plan your trip with enough time so you don’t have to speed. Simple as that!

Oh, and while we nearing the point of sounding like your mother, please wear your seatbelt too, it’s the law in Iceland!

4. Be prepared for sudden changes in weather

The weather in Iceland is notoriously fickle. Sunshine in the morning, wind by noon, rain storm in the evening, and snow at night.

There’s a joke amongst Icelanders that says “if you don’t like the weather, wait 5 minutes.”

If you’ve got a long drive ahead of you, there’s a good chance you’ll experience different weather patterns. Keep up to date with the forecast by checking before your drive. This website breaks down road and weather conditions by region, which is helpful.

And be prepared for winds. Strong winds. On those open roads with no trees to shield your car, they can seem brutal.

Warning: Be very careful when you open your car door in high winds, as it can catch!

5. Know the protocol at single-lane bridges

Highway 1 has quite a few single-lane bridges, and there’s a good chance you might wind up at one at the same time as another car.

The general rule to follow is the car that’s closest to the bridge will have the right of way while the other waits for them to cross. However, it’s a good idea to slow down just in case that other driver isn’t as prepared as you (and hasn’t read this article!).  

6. Watch out for Livestock

Why did the sheep cross the road?

Because she COULD, damnit.

In the Icelandic countryside, many livestock roam freely, uninhibited by fences. Sheep, cattle, horses, you name it.

Yes, this is a real thing you need to look out for when driving in Iceland. In fact, in some regions of Iceland, there are reports that 2 to 3 sheep or lambs are struck in day. Don’t be that person. Watch the road, especially when you are driving through an area where you see livestock roaming.

7. Get ready to drive on unpaved roads 

Iceland has more than 8,000 miles of roads, fewer than 3,000 miles of which are paved. That means you will most definitely be driving on some unsealed roads during your trip in Iceland.

For the most part this shouldn’t be too big of a deal. Simply observe the reduced speed limits on gravel roads (80 km / hour).

Good to know: One of the most common places for accidents in Iceland is when a paved road turns to gravel, as a car can easily skid out of control. Avoid this by reducing your speed as you approach the unpaved section.

Unpaved roads tend to be a bit more narrow than their paved sisters and brothers, so pay extra careful attention to oncoming traffic.

Also, avoid damage to your windshield by not getting too close to the car in front of you. This will prevent small rocks from flying up and creating one of those awful spider web cracks.

8. Know where you can (and can’t!) drive

If you’re renting a regular 2-wheel-drive vehicle, listen up… There are some roads you cannot drive on. And I’m not just saying you shouldn’t drive on them. You literally CAN’T because a) it’s illegal, and b) your car will not make it. Oh, and your insurance will not cover anything that happens on these roads, since you are there illegally. Have I made my point? Good…

So how do you know which roads to avoid? Luckily, it’s easy. Just don’t go on any “F-roads”.

What the efF are “F-Roads”?!

In the US, these are akin to “fire roads”, and they’re really not maintained at all. These mountain roads bring you into the backcountry, and can lead to some epic adventures.

If you want to really get off the beaten path in Iceland, be sure to rent a 4x4 vehicle so you can legally (and safely!) drive on the F-roads! Oh, and read this guide on how to drive in the highlands.

It’s also worth noting that F-Roads aren’t open all year long. These mountain roads are only open during the summer months, typically June/July - September (or after the first snow). Check the current conditions here.

9. Don’t EVER drive off the road

It is illegal to go “off roading” in Iceland. The ecosystem on this volcanic island is incredibly fragile, and your car’s tires will do damage that can take many, many years to heal.

Be a responsible traveler, and stick to the roads!

Guide to Renting a Car in Iceland Which Iceland car rental company is the best?

It’s honestly overwhelming when you start to look at all the rental car companies in Iceland. There are a lot to choose from, and we always suggest looking around for the best rates, and also taking into account the service you’ll be getting in exchange.

We personally like using RentalCars.com wherever we are in the world because it allows us to compare the prices and offerings of many different rental providers. You can also use a bunch of different filter options to narrow down what it is you’re looking for.

Another huge perk to using RentalCars.com is that there is free cancellation up to 48 hours before you pick up your vehicle.

Don’t wait until the last minute

All cars must be imported to this island nation, which means there’s not a ton of vehicles just sitting around waiting for you to score a great last minute rental deal.

As tourism to Iceland has risen in the past decade, rental car companies are trying to keep up with the demand. However, during the busy times of year, there just straight up aren’t enough (good quality) vehicles for all the people who want to rent. If you wait until the last minute, not only are you not going to get a deal, but you won’t have much to choose from: Think an old clunker with manual transmission.

As we mentioned above, one of the benefits of booking through RentalCars.com is the free cancellation policy (up to 48 hours before your trip!). So just go ahead and book it so you’re not outta luck...

Understand Car Rental Insurance in Iceland

No matter where in the world you’re renting a car, you’re always going to have to make decisions about whether or not to turn down the insurance.

But in Iceland, it seems to be even more confusing than normal.

CDW. Super CDW. Sand and Ash? Gravel?

Umm, what the heck does all that even mean? Let’s break it down:

Collision/Damage Waiver (CDW): Most rental car companies include this, but if you read closely it’s basically a wavier that you’ll pay the deductible if anything happens to the car. This can be anywhere from $1,500 to $3,000 if there is damage on the car. Be sure to read the fine print.

What about theft? While not impossible, the crime rate in Iceland is incredibly low. Like really, really low. It’s a small islands country, so people aren’t going to get very far with a stolen vehicle, after all. Plus, since you should always travel with travel insurance (like we do!) you will be covered for theft.

Super CDW (SCDW): It’s a CDW that can fly and shoot laser beams from it’s eyes. Okay, maybe not, but it will decrease your deductible if you have any damage but you pay more per day. The deductible can decrease down to $250 but you have to pay around $10 per day.

Gravel Insurance: Coverage beyond the CDW and SCDW that is specifically for gravel and rocks hitting the car leaving dents. Typically is $5 per day and not a bad idea if you are going on F-roads.

Sand and Ash Protection (SAAP) Insurance: This is coverage for if your car gets “sandblasted” in a wind storm, and not covered by SCDW or CDW. This really depends on the weather during your travels, which can be predicted. You can look at the forecast before you leave (sometimes even when you arrive) and decide if you want the coverage. If you’re really concerned about it, you can purchase this, but I would not get it. Just avoid the storms and volcanoes, I guess.

Random Note: Cross rivers at your own risk in Iceland, as this is not covered by insurance.

“My credit card has rental car insurance, so I should be fine, right?”

Well, you’ll have to read the fine print of our credit card agreement. Some policies make you decline all other forms of insurance while only cover you as a secondary insurance. If you do decide with just the coverage on your credit card, make sure to pay for the rental hire in Iceland on that specific card.

“Travel Insurance should cover car rental damage, right?”

I just checked our travel insurance policy from Allianz Travel, and YES they do cover rental car damage. The person on the travel insurance has to be the one on the rental agreement and the damage has to be reported withing 24 hours of the incident, but it appears to be covered.

You can also call Allianz Travel to double check (they have excellent customer service when..

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How would you like to work from anywhere? In a coffeeshop in Milan, from a hammock in Cabo, from a hostel in Vietnam, or from a cute egg chair in Costa Rica (like the photo above!)… You’ve got Internet? You can work!

The so-called “laptop lifestyle” allows you the ultimate freedom to decide when and where you work. Never again will you have to sit in traffic on your daily commute or punch in and out at exactly 9 and 5.

You can work while traveling… // Photo credit: Ashley Uzer

The Digital Nomad movement is absolutely exploding right now and it’s not going away anytime soon. In fact, it’s only going to continue to grow as technology makes it possible for more and more jobs to be done remotely.

So how can you get in on this whole Digital Nomad thing? How can you make money while traveling around the world? And what exactly is a “Digital Nomad”? (Don’t worry, you’re not the only one wondering!)

…and you can make new friends all over the world! // Photo credit: Amanda Pointer

If working remotely is remotely of interest to you (see what I did there?!), you’ve come to the right place. We’re sharing the top Digital Nomad jobs, plus, we’ve gone to the experts and asked them for their best advice on how you can get started.

But first off, let’s talk basics:

What is a Digital Nomad?Someone who has a location-independent job, which allows them to work from anywhere in the world.

Debbie from The Offbeat Life podcast proves that being a Digital Nomad means you really can work from anywhere!

  • Does this whole work-from-anywhere thing sound appealing to you?

  • Do you dream of living in cities around the world while actually making money?

  • Are you currently traveling with dwindling funds and you want to extend the adventure?

If you’re nodding your head, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going over 30 Digital Nomad Jobs and talking to people in each position. And by “people” I mean WOMEN. Badass, strong, independent, brave, hard-working women, I might add. These women come from all over the world, and each has a unique story.

Each DN lady featured in this article is explaining what her location-independent job entails and what her daily life looks like. And if any of these remote jobs pique your interest, you’re in luck, because these women are all sharing how you can get started and create the lifestyle of your dreams.

That’s me proving you can even work from a jungle lodge with super greasy hair. Sweet, huh?!

Why did we feature only women in this article?

Why the heck not?! But more specifically, the Digital Nomad movement has historically been spearheaded by men, and their stories are being told more widely. Even doing a quick search of “Digital Nomad Jobs” brought me to articles dominated mostly by men. So we decided to create a space that showcases only female voices.

Alright, are you ready to be inspired? You might wanna get out a notebook and pen to jot down ideas that intrigue you. And some wine for good measure. I bet there are some remotejobs listed here that you never even knew existed!

BONUS! Stick around to the end of the article and find some Helpful Digital Nomad Resources that these women recommend. I even learned about some great tools I didn’t know about! Plus, these ladies are sharing some wise words of advice they wish they would have known before taking the leap. It is a must read for anyone interested in the Digital Nomad Lifestyle!

As a Digital Nomad, you can even bring your work with you to Tahiti…

Reality Check

This whole Digital Nomad thing sounds dreamy, right? Alright, let me step in and be the Bad Cop for a minute and clear a couple things up… Working remotely certainly has its perks, but it’s not all sunshine and cappuccinos. We wrote all about the not so pretty side of becoming a Digital Nomad because we owe it to you to show you the whole picture — ugly parts and all. So before making any hasty decisions, READ IT. Seriously, do it.

And if you’re still starry-eyed when you’re done, come back to this article because it is going to inspire the crap outta you. And it’ll give you actionable steps you can take to start plotting your journey to becoming a full-fledged Digital Nomad.

…or you can work from inside a van. The choice is yours!

Digital Nomad Job List

While there are many jobs covered in this article, we do want to point out there truly is no limit to the types digital nomad jobs out there. It would be nearly impossible to make a list of them all. We’ve even known people who have literally invented their own job (there are a couple featured in this list!). This is a list of some of the most common jobs for digital nomads, as well as those that are easy to get started with.

So even if you don’t see your dream job on this list, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. It simply means you might have to create your own roadmap.

Digital Nomad Job List Categories

Jump to the category that intrigues you most, or just keep reading through them all to be inspired!

Writing

If you love writing, you’re in luck because there are many remote jobs centered around this skill, and they are relatively easy to get started in, even without a ton of experience.

1. Blogger
  • What is a Blogger? Someone who has a website where they share information on a specific topic, such as food, health, finance, parenting, or travel (to name a few examples!).

  • How do Bloggers make money? Advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsorships, selling products, etc.

Blogging Expert: Katie Diederichs, from Minnesota, USA

Hey guys, it’s me — one half of Two Wandering Soles (aka the website you’re on right now!). Maybe you’ve been following us for a while, or perhaps this is your first visit. Either way, I’m so happy to share a bit about my journey to becoming a Digital Nomad with you.

My husband, Ben, and I started this little website back in 2014 as a way to share our travels with family and friends. While we started it just for fun, today (a little more than 5 years later!) it is our sole source of income, and full-time job.

Describe your job as a Blogger

My goal as a travel blogger is to share helpful and down-to-earth advice that inspires and helps my audience (YOU!) plan the trips of their dreams. While I have a travel blog, there are endless subjects you can blog about and earn (good!) money — food, fitness, finance, lifestyle, parenting, and crafting are just a few!

There is a lot more to being a blogger than simply writing articles and posting pretty pictures to Instagram. While that is certainly a large part of what bloggers do, we also need to know the ins and outs of SEO, affiliate marketing and brand partnerships (just to name just a few of the not so glamorous tasks!).

How Can Others Get Started As A Blogger?

Get started by creating a website and diving in. Don’t worry about making it perfect right away; that will come with time. Commit yourself to learn everything you can about blogging, and know that this is not a “get rich quick” scheme. You have to be in it for the long run. Here are some helpful tips for aspiring bloggers:

  • Pick a topic that you are passionate about. Blogging is not a fast money-maker, so if you don’t care about what you’re writing about and aren’t getting paid for it (right away), you’re going to lose interest quickly. Trust me.

  • Hone in on your unique voice, because this is what readers will identify with. Even though it can be tempting to copy other successful bloggers, DON’T. Let your soul shine through.

  • Start building an email list from Day 1. This is such an important part of building a community and a revenue stream, but most of the time, bloggers make the mistake of not starting this for many months or even years (we’re guilty!).

  • Come up with a monetization strategy, but know that you will need to build traffic over time before you ever start making money.

How long have you been a Digital Nomad? A year and a half. Sort of… We’ve been blogging, traveling and living abroad for more than 5 years now; but I’d say our Digital Nomad journey didn’t start until the fall of 2017. Before that, the blog was either a side project while we worked odd jobs around the world, or we were traveling and not really working that much. I didn’t consider myself a “Digital Nomad” until we moved to Chiang Mai and committed to working full time on Two Wandering Soles.

Where have you lived as a digital nomad? Chiang Mai, Thailand and Canggu, Bali 

Which was your favorite and why? While I’ve loved both for different reasons, I love the community of like-minded people and networking opportunities in Chiang Mai.

Why do you love being a digital nomad?

Being able to work remotely has given me unlimited freedom. Ben and I are able to travel and work at the same time, which is actually harder than it sounds, but a blessing nonetheless. This lifestyle has also introduced me to some of the most interesting and passionate people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

An interesting tidbit about Katie… Before we started earning a full income on this blog, Ben and I worked many jobs to make ends meet (and to continue paying our student loans!). We’ve worked as English teachers in Korea, taught English online through VIPKID, worked at a ski resort in Washington state, did freelance writing and graphic design gigs, and worked as a social media manager. Phew!

Interested in learning more? If you want to get to know more about me (and my partner, Ben), head to our About Us page! Oh, and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

2. Copywriter
  • What is a Freelance Copywriter? Someone who writes text for the purpose of marketing or advertising. Working on a freelance basis means you can work with several clients at once, sometimes on short-term projects, and perhaps long term if it is a good partnership.

  • How do Copywriters make money? Each client will sign a contract, and when the writing is approved, the copywriter will be paid. When working on a freelance basis, it is important to establish a contract ahead of time.

Freelance Copywriting Expert: Lilly van der Hoek, from Amsterdam, The Netherlands

I’m Lilly: A Pokémon lover, book nerd and digital nomad! I started my journey last year when my boyfriend and I decided that we wanted more than our country could offer. We always felt like we finished the game there, battled the endboss and now wanted to go to the next level: the world.

Describe your job as a copywriter

If something needs to be written, I’m your girl. That’s usually how I describe copywriting. I mostly write texts for websites (like homepages, contact pages, etc.) and blogs for small (web)shop owners.

Copywriting has two sides: the creative side and the technical, goal-oriented side. As a copywriter, your writing has to be engaging and creative but it also serves a purpose. You need to be SEO savvy and make sure certain goals are met. Does a client want more visitors, sales, engagement? There are multiple things to take into consideration and that’s what I like!

How Can Others Get Started As A Copywriter?

It sounds almost cliché, but reach out to your people! We all know someone (who knows someone) who has a small business. And while most business owners are kick-ass entrepreneurs, a lot of them don’t have time (or skills) to work on their website. (Tip: you can also use LinkedIn to find these entrepreneurs).

How long have you been a digital nomad? One year

Where have you lived as a digital nomad? Bangkok, Cyberjaya (Malaysia), Canggu and Chiang Mai.

Which was your favorite and why? Bali and Malaysia! On Bali I was productive, ate delicious food and met great people. While Malaysia is open/diverse, crazy gorgeous and has people who treat you like a local.

Why do you love being a digital nomad/remote worker?

Every decision we make, we make consciously. We ask ourselves: ‘what do you want to do now, where do you want to eat, what place do you want to go’. Back home, you usually think in ‘have to’s’ and ‘must do’s’. Making deliberate choices that are your own is what happiness and freedom are all about!

Fun tidbit about Lilly… I’ve started a personal and exciting project: creating a website for women, femmes, transgenders and non-binaries to learn about intersectional feminism! It’s meant to give people the tools to smash the white patriarchy and live their best lives. Exciting!

#2) Agency Copywriter Expert: Mandy Tinglert, from the UK

I’d been building my online business for a year or so when a shared bottle of wine with my Swedish husband led to discussions about how humdrum life had become. A vote for Brexit was the catalyst we needed to ditch our less than inspiring life in search for something new. We got rid of all our belongings, removed our son from school and boarded our first flight.

DESCRIBE YOUR JOB AS A COPYWRITER

As a copywriter, I write to convert. My job is to write marketing blurb that uses persuasive language and compels people to take action. I have to get into the head of the customer or client and understand what the problems are that the product or service I’m writing about solves. I also have to understand the brand identity and tone they want to convey their message in. I enjoy getting into ‘character’.

How Can Others Get Started As A Copywriter?
  • Write Daily: Know that it’s going to take time and consistency. You need to be writing every day, even if you’re not so good to begin with and even if nobody else sees it. The daily practice is what builds your repertoire and helps you to pull out ideas when you most need them.

  • Read Lots: Reading a variety of books helps you to understand how different techniques are applied in writing. How do authors build intensity? What words do they use to describe emotions? Where can you find examples of the hero’s journey?

  • Pick a Niche: Decide what area you’d like to write for. Is there a subject you’re passionate about or already have a lot of knowledge in? Start there and start writing about it. Once you’re up and running you can expand to other niche’s or choose to specialize in one area of copywriting. Keep it simple to begin with.

  • Network: Join a couple of great Facebook groups and consume everything posted and the replies. Some of my most amazing lightbulb moments have come from The Copywriter Club and

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