How to Make Money Blogging and Why Focussing on Fam Trips is Bad

This is another post for my Indonesian readers. If you’re not Indonesian, it might not be so relevant. 

Terjemahkan dengan tombol ini.

A few days ago I wrote a big rant about how familiarisation trips (fam trips)/media trips in Indonesia were a big deal and everyone seemed to want to be a part of it. It makes sense. You enjoy writing. You enjoy travelling. Some big company or government agency wants to give you a free trip so you can enjoy the two things you love doing anyway!

It all sounds great until you figure out that you can’t pay your bills with free trips. And that means if you’re focus is on getting free trips, you’ll never really travel to where you want. You’ll always be travelling to where they want. And what do you get from it? A lousy free trip and a lot of homework. So I wanted to discuss today why I think focussing on free trips is a bad idea and what alternatives there are.

Everyone loves free things. Free trips, free food and products. Bloggers get this stuff all the time. The problem is that you can become a slave to the corporations giving those free things and you lose a lot of the flexibility that blogging is supposed to give you. So while take free trips and accepting free products is OK, I wouldn’t recommend this being the focus of your blogging efforts. If you really want flexibility while blogging, you should look at how to make money. (In other words, don’t suck up to tourism Indonesia, go out on your own and find new ways to make money)

There are few ways to make money blogging, but most of them also tie in with a big social media profile and a lot of visitors to your blog. With this in mind, you need to work on your personal brand, building a big following and getting the attention of lots of people (more on this in another post)

Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts have a bad name in the blogging world because it basically means brands are paying bloggers to advertise their product in an editorial way. It’s often an endorsement. It’s sometimes just about getting backlinks.

In the old days of SEO, companies used to pay bloggers a lot of money to buy backlinks on their blogs. Why? Because google uses links as a signal to ranking websites. The more links pointing to your website from someone else’s website, the higher your ranking. But because this system was being abused by brands buying links on people’s sites in order to boost their rankings, google cracked down a few years back (by tweaking the algorithm). Paid links on people’s blogs have almost stopped, except in Indonesia. Lots of brands in Indonesia still buy links on people’s blogs in the disguise of a sponsored post. I don’t know why they still do it here, but they do.

So if you’re comfortable with doing these sorts of posts for brands, you need to decide how much to charge. We have had some brands offering as little as Rp. 100.000 for a post. We would never accept this. Why? Because when you accept these low offers, you are telling the world that you are a low class blogger. If you accept Rp. 100.000, you will be known as a blogger willing to accept anything. It’s a bad image. And once you have this image, it’s very difficult to then start charging Rp. 1.000.000

So what should you charge? I recommend to people to start at between Rp. 1.500.000 & Rp. 2.000.000 and negotiate. Sure, most brands want posts for Rp. 100.000, but I’d much rather have 1 sponsored post on my blog for Rp. 2.000.000 than 20 sponsored posts on my blog for Rp. 100.000. And the brand gets a lot more benefit from me if I’m only putting 1 sponsored post on my blog every few months rather than lots of them.

My best advice is: Don’t undersell yourself. Don’t be tempted by small amounts of money. Value your blog and your work much higher and people will also value you at the same level.


There are all sorts of different advertising options for blogs, but Google Adsense is the easiest to implement. You will be paid based on how many visitors your blog gets, what sort of visitors they are (rich/poor), the type of website you have. You need a lot of visitors on a travel blog to earn Rp. 1.000.000 per month with ads. But most of the top Indonesian travel bloggers will easily get Rp. 1.000.000 from google ads, but they have a lot of page views per month.

Affiliate Sales

Affiliate sales is basically the system of getting a commission when someone buys something through your site. There a lots of affiliate programs you can sign up to, but you’ll have to experiment to see which one is the best for you. Again, it’s difficult to make a lot of money on this, but it is possible to get a little bit of side income. You should aim for Rp. 1.000.000 per month on this, but everyone’s results vary. It’s tough to earn good money here. Many online shops in Indonesia offer affiliate programs — just google “affiliate Lazada” or the name of an online shop and you can find out more.

Sponsored Tweets and Instagram

This is a big one in Indonesia. When we first started our website, we were told to offer our sponsored tweet services for Rp. 150 per follower. Back in 2012/2013, this worked so well and we earned a bit of money from this. But today, the situation is different and sponsored tweets earn a lot less money. Still, a lot of people are earning between Rp. 100.000 and Rp. 1.000.000 per sponsored tweet (some a lot more than this). The trend nowadays is to buy a packet of 10 tweets and you give the company a bunch of free tweets as well.

Instagram is similar, but the problem is that buying 10 instagram posts is impractical. Most people charge a lot more for an instagram post than a tweet. Maybe double or 3x.

You need to work on boosting your social media profiles. It’s hard to do, but it’s worth putting effort into.

Freelance Writing

Now we move onto earning money outside blogging. Freelance writing can really earn you enough money to give up your full time job, especially if you combine it with the money you earn above. The problem is, getting paid freelance writing work in Indonesia requires you to have a high profile. This means you need to increase your following on social media, get a lot more views on your blog and start pitching your articles to editors of magazines and newspapers. If you’re successful, it wouldn’t be unusual to earn Rp. 5.000.000 per month doing this.

So, there you have it. Another English language rant for my Indonesian followers basically throwing out there some ideas on how to make money from your blog rather than taking free trips all the time.

If you are earning money through your blog and no full time job, you can still go on lots of trips. It’s just that the trips will be to places that you choose, not to places some company or tourist organisation chooses.

Please let me know your thoughts in the comments! You can write in Indonesian and I will understand it. 🙂

One reply on “How to Make Money Blogging and Why Focussing on Fam Trips is Bad”

Salam kenal mas Adam, saya sudah menulis blog tentang traveling sejak tahun 2013 dengan tujuan sharing pengalaman tapi saya gak konsisten menulis akhirnya blognya tidak berkembang. Tetapi tahun 2016 saya semangat kembali menulis blog dan membranding ulang blog dan social media saya meskipun saya punya keterbatasan ilmu IT dan waktu karena saya kerja kantoran (mengajar di institusi pendidikan). Saya traveling dengan uang sendiri dan hanya bisa dilakukan saat libur kantor tapi saya senang melakukannya. Mungkin untuk menjadi full time blogger/fulltime traveler atau menjadikan blog sebagai sumber penghasilan masih sulit bagi saya tapi saya mau belajar. Saya suka traveling dan menulis di blog, fokus saya bukan untuk mendapatkan free fam trip tapi menjadi traveler yang menginspirasi lewat tulisan. Kalau dimasa yang akan datang saya jadi terkenal (hahaha, kayak artis saja) sehingga dikontrak perusahaan atau brand ya udah itu bonus jadi travel blogger kalau gak pernah terkenal ya tidak apa-apa, saya akan tetap lanjut traveling dan menulis di blog. Go Pinky Go Happy.

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