How I Make Money as a Travel Content Creator (Blogger & YouTuber)

How I make money as a cruise blogger

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If you’re reading this, you’ve probably been wondering one of two things.

  1. How do I cruise and travel so often?
  2. How do I make money?

I’m asked these and other similar questions a lot in YouTube comments, on social media and in real life. I can understand, as I’d be curious too.

This post contains affiliate links which means if you click and buy that I may make a commission, at no cost to you. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Is This My Full Time Job and How Do I Make Money?

Ilana content creator

To put it simply, yes, being a content creator is my full time job. While I started my travel blog as a hobby and side business back in 2018, I began doing this as a full time business about 2 years ago.

We take a lot of cruises for 2 reasons.

Firstly, because I genuinely think travelling by cruise ship is a great way to travel.

Secondly, by trying out different cruise ships, cruise lines and visiting different destinations, we’re able to share and bring that information back to our community.

How Do I Make Money as a Cruise Blogger?

My business earns money with a few income streams.

The main ones are:

  • ad revenue (from my website and YouTube channel)
  • affiliate income (sharing products & services I like & recommend)
  • sponsorships and brand partnerships (cruise lines, travel brands & services)
  • product sales

When it comes to online businesses, I’ve learned that there are many ways different content creators earn money. There’s no one size fits all.

If you’d like to know more, I share some information, resources and the tools I use below.

How I Became a Cruise Blogger

Being a “cruise blogger” was nothing I would have imagined doing 10 years ago. However, once I started my cruise travel blog as a passion project a few years ago, I realized that this was a viable way to earn an income online.

Even though I made no money for well over a year, I really enjoyed writing on my website and building a community on social media.

I came to find out that despite the advertisements for travel blogging courses that promise that you’ll be “traveling the world for free”, it’s actually a lot of hard work and long hours.

Fruits of My Labor

After about 18 months, I made a small side income from my blog that went into a travel savings account for cruises, as I worked full time as an early childhood educator.

That’s when I started the Life Well Cruised YouTube channel. I wasn’t sure how often I’d upload a video, but figured this was a logical next step.

We were sailing along until the pandemic (pun intended). When cruising paused we lost some wind out of our sails. Of course, we were all in the same boat 😉

Fast forward to the restart

I continued to create content throughout the pause in cruising, trying to stay positive with some humor (cruise memes) and uplifting messages to my readers and followers.

I’m not sure who needed the encouragement more, but it worked out well.

This seemed to have helped me to build a loyal following on social media and YouTube. Once the cruise industry started up, our cruise YouTube channel grew steadily. We now have over 300,000 YouTube subscribers.

What Does My Job Entail?

I use the term “cruise blogger” or “travel content creator” most often, but many people may think of me as a cruise vlogger or YouTuber, or travel influencer. I know – it might be a cringy term, but influencer marketing is a reality for many businesses these days.

My responsibilities as a travel blogger have really evolved over the years. Each week I write articles for my website, plan and film YouTube videos, plan and film short form reels videos, and social media posts.

I also manage the behind the scenes business stuff that’s far less fun, but necessary.

Family Business

I’m pretty lucky. My husband and son both work with me creating and producing content (writing and video). So, there’s no need for my husband or son to get “time off” of work, this is their job too.

We have been able to create a good family business, where we all are able to do what we love.

My Favorite Resources, Services and Products

As I mentioned, one of my income streams is affiliate marketing. Basically, I share products or services I love and recommend. When people make a purchase through my links, I make a small commission. This adds up over the course of a month.

I share things I genuinely love, and never want people to feel obligated to use my links. That said, I appreciate your support.

Travel Brands I Love

Level 8 Luggage

Life Well Cruised Luggage

I’ve been using Level 8 luggage for a couple of years. I’ve worked with Level 8 on sponsored videos and love them for their quality and price.

The quality wheels and spacious luggage is so easy to travel with!

My favorite collections are the Voyageur collection (wide handle) & Luminous Textured collection.

Recommended: Level 8 Luggage (use code LIFEWELLCRUISED10 to save 10%)

Shore Excursions Group

Shore excursions group italy tour

Shore Excursions Group is my go-to 3rd party shore excursion provider. Not only are there shore excursions well priced, but most are small group tours, which I greatly prefer over large cruise line excursions!

They have a back to ship guarantee and real cruiser reviews for many of the excursions, which gave me a lot of confidence when I booked a 7 hour tour during a recent Mediteranean cruise.

Recommended: Shore Excursion Group

Amazon Shop

Amazon Cruise Items

I love to share useful travel and cruise items, as well as cruise travel fashion finds.

Here are some of my most popular amazon lists:

My Favorite Tools as a Content Creator and YouTuber

I use a few tools that I use and recommend for content creators. I keep things simple, and this has worked for me.

If you’d like recommendations of courses that I’ve taken or paid services I use to create content, please let me know and I’ll be happy to add this.

Canva

I use Canva Pro to create my YouTube thumbnails, Pinterest Pins and even my Facebook memes and graphics. I started with the free service and upgraded later to the paid version.

The following items are sold on Amazon, which means that I earn a commission from qualifying purchases.

Ring Light

I use a simple ring light with an iphone tripod to film my YouTube videos. I keep this set up in my YouTube studio/home office.

Portable Light

I use this portable light for when we’re traveling. This one works really well for food videos, as cruise ship restaurants can be dim.

Microphone

I use a simple, but good quality microphone when filming with my iPhone 14 pro max.

My Unsolicited Advice for Aspiring Content Creators

I’ll share a philosophy that has served me well.

Have goals to keep motivated and celebrate small and bigger wins! This is really important, but especially during the stage when you’re not earning much money.

We’re each on our own path and there’s no point comparing someone else’s to yours. Everyone’s goals are different and there are many different ways to make money in content creation.

Be happy for other’s success. This doesn’t take anything away from you. After all, there are many stars in the sky.

Keep learning and making small improvements. There’s no such thing as perfect, but we can all improve a little over what we did in the past.

Be unique. On YouTube in particular, being “yourself” is so important. Unlike written content and Instagram, it seems like viewers can truly see you on YouTube. This is the time to embrace your unique personality, interests and skills and connect with your viewers.

Be grateful. This is an incredible time to be alive. We have more opportunities to travel, to create content, to earn a living and to connect with people than ever before.

Have questions?

I wrote this article to shed some light on how I earn money and work as a travel content creator. If there’s something I didn’t answer or you have any additional questions, please let me know in the comments below.

Happy Cruising!

Ilana

If you enjoy this post please don’t keep it to yourself ;-). Please feel free to share on Facebook or Pinterest (share buttons at the top). Thanks so much!

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12 Comments

  1. Debi Schlatter
    June 6, 2024 / 2:09 am

    thank you so much for sharing. I am hoping to try to start but I am having a hard time narrowing down what my subject would be. I love to travel and love teaching. Maybe I will figure it out someday.
    What is the best way to start a website?

    • June 8, 2024 / 4:47 pm

      Glad this was helpful. My blog/website is on WordPress and the first “host” I used was Bluehost. You’ll need this service for a website. I googled it and found instructions on the basic set up, but then did pay to join a course which was a help. The course isn’t active anymore, but one that is believe is reputable is Income School (no affiliation, just sharing experience from others I know). They have free videos on YouTube.Good luck no matter what you decide 🙂

  2. June 9, 2024 / 3:08 am

    Great write up and thanks for being so open and honest. I have a very new and small travel blog and YouTube channel. I have been following you and other cruise bloggers for over a year. You help keep me motivated and on track.

    • June 9, 2024 / 2:42 pm

      Congrats to you on starting and what you’ve accomplished so far! Wishing you much success 🙂

  3. June 9, 2024 / 7:32 am

    This is such great information. I recently started up my content to get back in the YouTube game but things have changed from 6 years ago! All of this was helpful and came at the perfect time, thank you, Ilana for being open and willing to help others!

    • June 9, 2024 / 2:44 pm

      I’m so glad this was helpful Sherri. It’s true there have been a lot of changes, but the good news is there are more people on the platforms :-). Wishing you lots of success!

  4. Alice Beilman
    June 9, 2024 / 2:10 pm

    I’d like to share with you what drew me to your articles, your YouTube and Life Well Cruised. First, I’m a researcher, I research everything to death before I jump in and I’m going on my first Cruise this July.
    The first thing I did was start a Pinterest board. I was drawn to your articles because of your clear and concise way of communicating. But then I saw you had a YouTube channel. I have seen many many many different travel YouTube videos. However, here’s what you do that I feel sets you apart.
    You create and focus on community! People love feeling apart of your travel community. We feel encouraged, equipped and included! Thank you for what you do!❤️

    • June 9, 2024 / 2:46 pm

      Your words mean a lot to me! For me, community (and people sharing and helping each other) is an important part of what I do and enjoy! Thanks for being here and taking time to comment 🙂

  5. Mylène Letourneau
    June 9, 2024 / 7:19 pm

    Great Post Ilana !
    I’ve never cruised but you make me want to try it!
    You were a wonderful educator for my little one so I feel blessed to know you IRL and you are as genuine and beautiful and your videos.

    • June 17, 2024 / 6:06 pm

      Aew thanks Mylene, those are the kindest words I could ever hear! Lovely to have known your family IRL too!

  6. Richard G
    June 10, 2024 / 2:15 am

    Love to see a fellow xxx do so well. Wonderful that your husband and son work with you.

    • June 17, 2024 / 6:05 pm

      Thanks so much Richard, I appreciate your kind words!

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