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8 Ways I Make Money as a Full-Time Travel Content Creator (Tools & Resources)

This post may contain affiliate links. Purchases made through affiliate links may provide a commission for me – at no extra cost to you.

In March of 2021, I left a stable 9-5 office job in the wonderful world of Data Development to run my own business in the travel industry full-time.

I’d worked in my Data Development job for 6 years, so it was a scary decision – but I’ve never looked back.

I started creating content in the cruise world back in 2016 and worked on my blog – and later YouTube channel – in every spare minute that I had outside of work.

I never thought for a second that it would become a “proper” business – but here we are!

I built up my business for about 5 years before finally making the leap.

The cruise industry shutdown of 2020/2021 certainly did put a spanner in the works -but I didn’t let it put me off. If anything it made me more determined to succeed.

How Does My Business Make Money?

As a Travel Content Creator, I make money through membership programs, ad revenue, cruise sales, podcast sales, affiliate sales, sponsorships, and other product sales.

I describe myself as a “Travel Content Creator” for lack of a better job description.

I haven’t given myself a “Proper” job title, but I’m in charge of all areas of my business – from content creation to bookkeeping.

Income Stream #1 – Membership Services

I like to think of my YouTube channel as a TV show. Instead of having a big network investing (and controlling) the show, I have a small group that support its production. That means I can create the content you want to see.

Patreon is a website where people are able to pay monthly for access to exclusive content, not available anywhere else.

I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my Patreons and channel members.

Members get handmade, handwritten Christmas cards each year as a thank you, usually featuring my cat, Captain Hudson!

patreon christmas cards

Joining Patreon was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made for my business – both financially, and because of the community that we’ve created.

Be The First to Hear About New Projects

Is something happening I can’t talk about online? On Patreon, I share all.

Ask me Anything in Our Weekly Podcast

Want some advice on a cruise or want to chat about something non-cruise related? Here’s your opportunity.

Win Cruise Related Prices in Our Monthly Giveaways

These prices are often “money can’t buy” merchandise from cruise ships.

To learn more about Patreon, check out my page here: Emma Cruises Patreon.

I also have a very similar membership program on YouTube called “YouTube Memberships.” The perks are the same – but I do find Patreon provides a far better experience for the customer than YouTube membership.

Income Stream #2 – Ad Revenue

If you have watched any of the videos on my YouTube channel or read any articles on my website (like you are right now) you’ll have noticed that both have Ads on them.

These adverts generate income for me based on how many times they are seen.

Ad Revenue on YouTube

The adverts on YouTube videos are all controlled by Google. Google gets paid by companies to show adverts on their videos.

YouTube keeps 45% of the revenue and gives the creators of the videos 55%.

I don’t have control over the adverts that are shown on my YouTube videos.

I can decide if I want a certain type of ad to not show up – for example, I can stop Ads in the middle of my videos – but this has to be changed in the settings on each individual video.

I usually just leave the Ad settings as the default. I figure YouTube knows what it’s doing!

The amount of money received by Ad view varies based on a few factors. The audiences of some countries are worth more than other countries. The type of content the advert is shown on also affects how much it is worth.

When the 2020 pandemic hit my ‘RPM’ (Revenue Per Mille) dropped dramatically. Usually, I have companies like cruise lines advertising on my videos but they all pulled their advertising budgets, for obvious reasons. The amount of money I would get for an Ad view was 1/3rd of the normal amount. Things weren’t great!

I often get asked if it matters if somebody skips the Ads on my videos. I honestly don’t know, but the amount paid per Ad definitely isn’t worth your time watching the Ads!

Skip away! I want you to watch my content, not the Ads.

My YouTube Tech Specifications (Affiliate links)

I film my YouTube videos on:

  • Canon M50 (UK*) (USA*) with a 22mm EFM lens (UK*) (USA*)
  • DJ Osmo Pocket 2 (UK*) (USA*)
  • Insta 360*
  • iPhone 11 (UK*) (USA*)

    For years I edited on Final Cut Pro for Mac, but I started by editing on iMovie. I did this for years before I decided to upgrade.

I’ve recently changed to using Da Vinci for editing- which I love.

You’ll find the tech I use on my Amazon Storefront here: Emma Cruises Storefront.

I usually live stream using my iPhone but for higher quality streams I use the below:

A Canon RP (UK*) (USA*) with a 17-40mm lens (UK*) (USA*) using a lens mount adapter (UK*) (USA*) and an Elgato Capture Card (UK*) (USA*).

For lighting, I use a Neewer 18-inch ring light. This is what I have my camera in the middle of when filming (UK*) (USA*) and two Neewer soft box lights (UK*) (USA*).

Emma Cruises YouTube set up

Stock Footage and Thumbnail Editing

For years I used the free version of “Canva” but now I use the plan that costs $156 (£125) per year.

I edit all of my thumbnails on Canva.

There are a few features on the paid version that I use a lot. Canva has LOTS of stock videos and photos that I often use.

Canva is by far the easiest way I’ve found to edit thumbnails – I can’t fault it at all.

Check out Canva here.

My stock footage comes from a website called Envato Elements*.

They have all kinds of really niche videos. There aren’t lots of cruise-related videos, but that’s not really what I use it for.

I mostly use stock videos when I need something generic like somebody packing a suitcase, or eating an apple.

Envato Elements costs roughly $260 (£174) per year.

To run my live streams I use Streamyard. Streamyard is pretty basic in what it does, but it allows me to add comments to the screen, invite guests and play videos.

That’s really all that I need – I like how simple it is. I’ve been using Streamyard since March 2020.

I have the professional Streamyard plan, so that I can broadcast in HD. It costs $480 (£380) per year.

Ad Revenue On My Website

The Ads on my website work in a similar way.

My website is self-hosted WordPress. My theme is Mediavine’s Trellis.

The ads are personalised and controlled by the viewing habits of the person looking at the page.

If you’re somebody who’s been looking at lots of hats recently, you might see adverts for hats. For me – it’s mostly cruises. No surprises there!

The ads also depend on the content of the page. Occasionally the Ads will be something funny – I wrote a post recently about shaving my head for a cancer support charity and the Ads were all for electric razors!

The Ads on my website are currently run by the ad network Mediavine.

I did use Ezoic for ads for a while, but I find Mediavine to be so much better.

I can’t recommend Mediavine enough. If you’re at the 50,000 sessions per month level that Mediavine requires, I’d definitely encourage you to apply.

Mediavine also controls the ‘subscribe’ boxes you’ll see popping up on my website. I use these so that I can send my readers weekly update emails.

If you’re not already getting our emails, sign up here: Emma Cruises.

Income Stream #3 – Consultation Services

I used to do a lot of “one to one” consultations – mostly with other people wanting to grow their YouTube channel or build a business similar to the one that I have.

I have now decided to close intake on new consultations, as I’m working on a couple of longer-term projects that are taking up more of my time.

All my consultations are run using Zoom. I have a premium Zoom subscription costing around $150 (£120) per year.

There is a free plan with Zoom, but I needed to be able to host longer meetings for my consultations.

Projects that I work on are usually with companies outside of the cruise industry who need advice and guidance.

I either charge by the hour, or am on a retainer as an advisor – depending on the project.

The consultations are scheduled using a company called Calendly. Calendly links with my Zoom account and lets people book a time slot that is available when they purchase a consultation.

Income Stream #4 – Cruise Sales

UK Bookings

For the last couple of years, I’ve worked with Travel Counsellors, a UK travel agency to book cruises for my audience.

I work with an agent, also called Emma, and we make up the two halves of “Team Emma.”

emma cruises book a cruise

I was reluctant to work with a travel agency for many years. I used to use lots of different agencies over the years and didn’t really see any benefit of one agency above the other. I think I’ve tried most of the major cruise agencies in the UK.

After I found Emma – and booked multiple cruises with her, I realised that Travel Counsellors were always going to be my recommendation and agent of choice.

I love having Emma there to talk to the cruise lines for me – she’s always there to sort out any problems that I have. Travel Counsellors also have a really cool App where I can pay for my cruise fare on my phone. That really suits me.

2020 and 2021 were very tricky years for travel agencies. This has now become one of my favourite parts of my business. Talking to people when they’ve come back from a great cruise that we’ve booked, is amazing.

If you’re from the UK and would like to book through us, please fill in our cruise quote form here:

Book a Cruise.

U.S. Bookings

In 2022 I expanded my agency network to partner with an agent in the US. It took me quite a while to find the right company – but I’m confident that I now have.

Cruises are booked through “Travel with Brigitte” – a family-run travel agency based in Texas

If you’re in the US (or Canada) and are looking to book a cruise, you can book through us here: Book a Cruise.

Working with the US agency has taught me a LOT about how different cruise bookings are in the UK to the U.S.

Income Stream #5 – Affiliate Sales

I am a member of multiple affiliate programs and you’ll often see on my website links that say (affiliate link) beside them.

Affiliate links are links where I receive a commission if a person buys through the link. The commission comes from the company -not from the customer – so links don’t cost any more for a customer to use.

A great example of this is the map that I have in the background of my YouTube videos. The company that makes these maps has an affiliate program so anybody can make a commission on the sales made through their link.

When I’m asked on YouTube about the map – I share the affiliate link which is then tracked.

You’ll find affiliate links in quite a few of my posts. If I am linking to a company I’ll usually see if they have an affiliate program set up, if they don’t, I’ll often work with the company to create one.

Amazon have one of the biggest affiliate programs and I have an “influencer storefront” here, this is basically a collection of my recommended products: Emma Cruises Storefront.

Income Stream #6 – Sponsored Content

Sponsorships are where a company will pay, usually, a fixed amount, to have some time within a YouTube video or some space on a post.

An example of a sponsored post would be this, sponsored by Ambassador Cruise Line:

Everything We Know About The UK’s Newest Cruise Line – Ambassador Cruise Line.

All sponsored blog content has to be disclosed in the first sentence of any post, and with the “paid promotion” button on YouTube.

The same idea works with social media sponsorships.

I recently worked with Norwegian Cruise Line to create content for their YouTube channel. Below is one of the videos I made for them.

Norwegian achieved over 1 million views from the content I created during my trip on Norwegian Prima.

If you are interested in working with me, please email [email protected].

If you’re reading this and are interested in brand partnerships, I highly recommend this course by Creator Wizard, it taught me everything I know and taking the courses was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Income Stream #7 – Course Sales

For those interested in cruising on a budget, I send out a free course via email:

“Join our cruise masterclass today and I’ll send you a series of emails showing you everything you need to know about cruising. From where to go, how to book and what to avoid onboard, you’ll be a cruising expert in no time!”

You can sign up to receive these free emails here.

Having people’s email addresses works well for me, as I don’t have to rely on other platforms, like Facebook or YouTube.

These platforms could be shut down at any time without warning, but I could still reach my audience via email if necessary.

This also enables me to send newsletters out weekly to my audience, so they know what I have been doing. It gives them links to my latest videos and articles. They can, of course, unsubscribe at any time.

How is The Course Run?

The course is run via a series of free emails – or I do have an audio version – which I charge for.

Some people like to actually hear me giving them advice, rather than just reading the information. They can listen to it in the car, whilst they do the housework, whilst on a cruise – anywhere!

Click on the link below to find out more about the podcast version of the course:

What Is Actually In The Course?

My course is a series of emails or podcasts, that go through everything somebody needs to know to cruise as cheaply as I do – without any other ‘fluff’.

Where to go, what to pack, when to book – and much, much more!

Income Stream #8 – Merchandise and Product Sales

I have a store where I sell T-shirts and other products that I have designed.

I have SO much fun creating these and I release a new product or design most weeks.

EmmaCruisesShop.com

emma cruises tshirts

I tested lots of T-shirt types when designing this product. I’m so happy I have now found what I think is the “perfect” T-shirt. These are so comfortable, so if I’m flying long distances, these are the T-shirts I wear.

The fabric is light enough so that it doesn’t feel heavy – but it is heavy enough so that it isn’t at all see-through. It’s long enough that it never rides up. It also washes really well. 

If you try and catch my live streams on Fridays at 5 pm UK time (11 am Central Time USA) I often give a discount code for 10% off the T-shirt I am wearing!

About Me

If you’d like to know more about me, check out the “About Me” page here.

I talk about why I started this website and share some very cool media mentions.

Taking a Cruise: Recommendations and Resources

Get Captain Hudson
Book a Cruise
Get Travel Insurance
Emma Cruises Shop
My Favourite Bags – Mia Tui

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