Why We Don’t Have Ads or Sponsored Posts on Global Goose

Something is missing from our website.

Have you noticed?

When you load the homepage, there are no ads in the sidebar anymore.

There is no pop-up requesting your email (we never had one anyway).

There is no box that fills your screen, requesting for you to like us on Facebook.

When you look around, you also won’t find any more posts from us profiling hotels where we have enjoyed a complimentary stay, reviewing products we have been sent for free, or writing about press trips we have been on.

We are going in a different direction with our travel blog.

Don’t get me wrong, we have done those types of posts in the past.

When we first started travel blogging, we did what we thought travel bloggers were supposed to do.

(After all, all of the hype around travel blogging is about how it allows you to travel for free, right?)

We arranged for free tours and hotels in exchange for featuring these businesses on our blog. We accepted free products and we took money for sponsored posts. It resulted in blog posts like this, which are okay I guess but are essentially advertorials and don’t reflect our personalities at all.

We never enjoyed this type of travel blogging. So, we’ve made the decision going forward to do things differently by removing all ads, sponsored posts and other promotional materials from Global Goose.

Here are some of the reasons why:

We want to make honest recommendations

In his blog post, “Why You Shouldn’t Trust Travel Bloggers,” Lee writes:

There is nothing wrong with advertising, right? Celebrities often appear on our TV screens trying to sell us products they have been paid to promote. The problem with social influencers and bloggers, is they are rarely upfront about why they are giving such recommendations. It makes it very difficult to discern what advice they are being paid to give you, and what advice is from their own experience.”

We want to be able to give honest advice and recommendations, so that whenever you read something on Global Goose you know that it’s actually something we use and trust.

We don’t want to recommend a hotel to you simply because they gave us a free stay. We don’t want to review a travel product because we got it for free. We don’t want to recommend a travel experience to you because we are getting a kick back or a commission from it.

When we do that we essentially become copywriters, crafting advertising content for the brand that we are partnered with.

(There’s nothing wrong with being a copywriter, it’s what I do all day long for my clients. But I want to keep that separate from my blog.)

The business of sponsored posts, press trips and freebies for bloggers is HUGE. Major companies partner with “influencers” all the time and there is a plethora of information online (and in “blogging courses”) about how to get those big juicy sponsorships for your blog.

But we aren’t interested in it.

The whole point of starting our own blog is so that we could have our own voice and share our honest thoughts, not so we could sell you stuff.

make money while you travel
Doing some writing work in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Aiden from FreebornAiden.com writes:

“Travel blogging began life as the ultimate, DIY, punk antidote to the long held monopoly of the travel agents. However, just like the Sex Pistols signed for EMI, the wretched travel agents got their greasy mitts back in, bought us out and we became part of the system.”

(From 9.5 Reasons to Never Trust a Travel Blogger)

Rest assured that anything we recommend here on Global Goose from now on will be something that we paid for ourselves and enjoyed enough to tell you about.

Sponsored posts don’t tell the whole picture

If we were to rave about a hotel where we stayed for free and were pampered by the staff, how accurately would our account reflect the actual experience of the average guest staying there?

The truth is that if you accept a free stay somewhere in exchange for writing a blog about it, your account of the experience won’t be objective. If you go on a Press Trip to a destination, it will be a carefully curated experience that is designed to give the the best possible impression of that destination.

It will NOT reflect the experience that the average traveler would have when going there themselves.

The pool at our resort in Sri Lanka
The pool at our resort in Sri Lanka

I don’t want to rave about what an amazing time I had somewhere, when I was on a free trip organized just for me with the intention that I will promote it to my readers.

As Nomadic Matt writes:

“Having been on paid trips in the past, I know my experience on that trip is NOT the experience a regular consumer will have. I get special treatment, seven-star meals, direct access to a manager in case anything goes wrong, and wine and food in my room. Being pampered is definitely going to make you love a place a lot more.”

Also, when it come to product reviews and recommendations – you perceive a product a lot differently when you receive it for free.

I was sent a couple pairs of “travel pants” from a clothing company and I was pretty excited about them at first. However, 6 months later I had to amend the blog post I wrote with a note. These pants, which retail at over $200 per pair, had already fallen apart. Since I got them for free I didn’t care, but if I had paid full price for them I would have been pissed.

Comfortable pants, but they didn’t last long.

Essentially, I don’t want to recommend products to you that I wouldn’t pay for myself with my own money.

(And I really don’t want to promote something crap just because I got it for free!)

We admire the Travelfish.org approach

Travelfish is one of the very best websites out there about backpacking in Southeast Asia. It has an encyclopedic wealth of information and I’ve used it many times to research destinations in that part of the world.

While they do have some affiliate partnerships with booking websites, a few on-page ads and an annual subscription option that they make their money from… they are very clear on that they do not run any advertorials, sponsored posts or paid content whatsoever.

Also, on their disclosure page they say:

“Travelfish pays its own way every time. Without exception. Neither Travelfish.org nor Travelfish.org authors accept any form of complimentary service, discount or other gratuity in return for any form of coverage—positive, negative or in-between. There are no exceptions to this. None. No weasel words here!”

I LOVE this – because it means that when I see a hostel or hotel recommended on TravelFish it means that it is there because the author really wanted to recommend it, not because they got a free stay.

We want to have this same level of transparency and authenticity.

But isn’t the point of travel blogging to make money?

I think, for a long time, I felt like our blog needed to be making money in order to feel legitimate. Even though it was only a small trickle, the income that the blog generated made my time working on it feel justified.

But at what cost?

Lee and I realised that by focusing on our blog’s income, we weren’t seeing the bigger picture. You see:

  • We make 97% of our income from my work as a freelance writer.
  • Global Goose serves as a writing portfolio that demonstrates my expertise in travel and my writing skills.
  • Therefore, the better the blog becomes, the more it helps me get freelance writing gigs (even if the blog itself doesn’t make any money)

As soon as we made the mental shift to looking at it in this way, it made perfect sense. The goal of Global Goose isn’t to make money, it’s to be a platform to share our travel experiences and knowledge with the world.

By removing the things that were making us money, such as sidebar ads and sponsored posts, we could improve the blog and make it much more enjoyable for the reader.

After all, sometimes I wonder how many people have visited our website and were turned off by the ads and the sponsored posts.

For the little trickle of income we made from advertising, how much were we annoying our visitors?

Could we offer a better website viewing experience, if we were willing to give up on the small bit of money the blog was earning us?

I know that excessive ads, pop-ups, email opt-ins and promotional crap on websites often makes me hit the back button and never go back again. I can only assume that many others feel the same way.  

I want to write for Global Goose without thinking about money

All day long, I’m a freelance writer – a hired pen.

I work for several different clients, writing everything from web copy to blogs to promotional emails to brochure content and more.

I LOVE my job. I love the challenge of adapting my voice and writing style to suit each of the different brands I write for. I love using the power of my words to highlight what my clients have to offer their customers.

But when I write for Global Goose, I want this to be my little corner of the internet where no one is paying me. Where my words are my own and I’m not trying to sell or promote anything.

As Nate from Yomadic writes in this brilliant article:

“If you’re going to blog, why not make it matter. Make it count. Find your voice. Write content for yourself, and your audience, not for your corporate sponsors.”

As of now, there are a few sponsored posts left on the site. When these yearly contracts expire we won’t be offering the option for renewal and we will be removing the links or deleting the posts.

In the future, all new posts published on Global Goose will have no monetary motivations going on behind the scenes. We are excited about this and we hope you continue to follow us and enjoy what we have to share with you. 

What do you think about advertising and sponsored content on travel blogs?

We’d love to hear your opinion on this… what are your thoughts when you see sponsored posts or influencers recommending products? Let us know in the comments below.

Further Reading:

Why I’m Concerned About Travel Blogging – a fantastic article on this topic by one of my favourite bloggers, Wandering Earl.

This excellent New York Times article about the business of blogging

Its time to address the elephant in the room: Influencers don’t really influence anything or anyone!

No One Actually Gets “Paid to Travel The World”

Kelly Dunning

A Canadian freelance writer with a love of art, culture, literature and adventure, Kelly loves exploring foreign lands and expressing her experiences through the power of the written word.

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14 Comments

  1. Wow! This is so refreshing to hear. I am sick of trying to read travel blog posts that are hammered with Media Vine ads or where it’s so obvious the writer has never even been there but has done armchair research instead. I am taking a similar approach with a recently launched website about writing where I’m giving away my knowledge and anything I create for free. I’m expecting this blog to have a positive flow on effect to my content strategy and consulting business.

    1. Thanks for your support, Sandra! I agree, some blogs are becoming difficult to read because they have so many ads filling the page! I’m glad that you are starting a website to share your knowledge freely as well – I wish you all the best with it!

  2. Yes! This is such a better approach. Travel blogs have become so bland – always going to the same overtouristed areas (because that’e where the sponsors are) writing the same vanilla things. Glad to see a different approach where it becomes again about real travel and exploration, about good and honest writing. Beat of luck!

  3. Yes. This. Also, I’m really tired of seeing ads ALL OVER websites – even within articles, like every paragraph or so. It’s hard to see the forest for the trees. Not all travel writers earn money in other ways, so I know that what works for one will not work for another. For myself? Thanks for keeping the reader experience clean and ad-free.

    1. Thanks Jessie. Yes, I’m aware that the fact I earn a living from my freelance writing puts me in a position where I don’t have to make money from my blog, so I can afford to make it ad free. But I really agree with you, some blogs have so much advertising that it takes away from the reader experience and I end up just clicking away.

  4. Love it! Looking forward to reading more, and about topics that are more fun for you to write about!

  5. This is my first time on this website and I am so glad I found it and that you are going ad free. Its so calm reading here. So quiet, I can just read and enjoy and plan my trips. Thank you .

    1. Thank you, Kaone! I’m so glad you found us and that you are enjoying the blog. I hope we can offer you helpful info for planning your trips. Where are you heading next? 😀

  6. Beautiful pictures! Glad to hear you’re willing to maintain an authentic, unfiltered blog about your adventures.

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