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New Way To Make Money Publishing A Travel Website

This is what we’ve been waiting for.

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ASTORIA, NYC- I thought it was spam. I received an email from a third party company saying that someone named Scott XXX wanted to send me something called a BAT and I had to sign up for something to get it. I recognized the name — Scott has been reading VBJ for many years; however, I receive third party emails using the name of someone I know all the time and most of them are either trash or spam.

So I deleted it.

Then, I kid you not, that same day Jack left this comment:

Have you thought about verifing your site for Brave Rewards so that it’s easy to send you a tip or monthly contributions…I know you have a Donate button, but Brave Rewards is just easier to use and you can be as anonymous as you want to be. If you don’t know what Brave is, it is a browser based on Chrome that rewards people BAT tokens for using the browser as they normally do. The BAT tokens can be used to tip websites, give regular monthly payments to websites, distributed evenly across the sites you view, or simply sold for money.

That is exactly what we’ve all been waiting for.

So I quickly ventured back into my trash folder, pulled up that third party email from Scott, clicked the link, and signed up.

Brave Rewards is what the internet has been begging for since 2012. In the years leading up to then it was relatively easy to make money with a blog or website that produced content that was meant to educate or entertain rather than to sell you things. We could go out and travel the world, write about it, and make enough money to keep going via ads. The travel blogging community flourished as digital nomads began roving the globe. It was a dream for most of us, a dream that came to an end for many around 2012 with Google rolling out a series of updates that gave overwhelming preference in search results to big brands over independent creators.

In other words, the travel blogging community got nuked.

Sites that were pulling in 20,000 unique visitors per day / $100k a year from search suddenly found themselves with a drizzle that could hardly sustain a pig farmer in rural China. The internet was intentionally transformed from the top down to give traffic — and money — to the big boys, and the rest of us — the very people whose work gave the world wide web its popularity — were pushed to the margins. Most travel blogs from that era went under; very few managed to adapt and survive.

The fallout left a gaping void in the heart of the internet, as interesting, unique content became more and more difficult to find. The sites of big brands and people selling crap rose to the top, and the rest faded away. The world wide web was turned into an answers engine rather than a place for exploration; the wild west was tamed, and it was replaced by the same old boring crap.

But the creators didn’t go away without a fight. I remember getting excited for a while about calls to create a more democratic way of financing the internet that focused on content which attracted interest and attention rather than keywords on a page to sell products. One suggestion was to pay sites according to their viewership — not ad clicks — and allow their readers to easily tip them with their credits that are derived from browsing the internet.

I then stopped reading about the idea, figuring that it would probably never really happen. I retreated into my own little hovel on the internet, developed my own financing model, and just keep producing content. But I was wrong — it did happen.

As Jack pointed out, it’s called Brave Rewards. Basically, they work like this:

  1. You download the Brave browser, which is based on Chrome so no surprises there.
  2. You configure your settings so that the sites that you visit receive a portion of the money your traffic makes and then browse the internet (which is the default setting).

It’s really that simple.

If you want to make it a little more complicated, you can pick and choose which sites you want to support and you can also tip sites directly.

The currency that’s used is a digital unit called a BAT, which stands for Basic Attention Token. These BAT can be cashed in for conventional currency according to the current rate of exchange, which is currently around a third of a dollar.

As you browse the internet you’re shown non-intrusive ads that don’t track you or infringe upon your privacy, and you receive 70% of the earnings derived from your traffic. So you essentially get paid for using the internet. The idea is that you will distribute these earnings to the sites you frequent, but you can just keep it for yourself if you’d prefer.

Brave Rewards browser blocking 70 ad trackers from YouTube.

Meanwhile, the Brave browser will block the trackers and other creepy elements of other, more intrusive ad networks, which makes your browsing not only more secure but faster. Perhaps the best part about this is that it blocks those annoying YouTube ads.

So you not only get better, faster internet, but the ability to make and distribute money too — it’s a win-win for both the user and the publisher.

The browser’s startup page displays your stats for the month: how many trackers and ads that were block, how much bandwidth and page load time were saved, how many BAT you’ve earned, and how many BAT you distributed to the websites you visit.

There really isn’t a good reason to not use the Brave browser. Why wouldn’t you want to use a browser that’s faster, blocks malicious trackers, and pays you? Download it here.

VBJ has made 15.80 BAT so far. I’m not sure how much this can be scaled, but I will track my progress here.


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Filed under: Blogging, Make Money, Traveling Webmaster

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3720 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

Support VBJ’s writing on this blog:

VBJ is currently in: New York City

12 comments… add one

Leave a Comment

  • VBJ August 27, 2020, 9:18 am

    That was fast. I received six tips amounting to 5.70 BAT immediately after publishing this post yesterday. I’m not sure if it was from one person or six different people, but, whatever the case, thank you, it’s very much appreciated.

    Link Reply
    • Jack August 27, 2020, 11:10 am

      That would be me. I had some extra BAT in my account just sitting there so I decided to tip it. They let you tip either 1 or 10 so I did it 6 times. :0 I was curious if it would show up as coming from the same person or not. I like the anonymity of it.

      You might want to also look at crypto donation buttons or even just leaving your crypto address below your current paypal donation button. You might want to sign up for a Bitcoin and Ethereum wallet. My favorite crypto is Stellar Lumens (XLM). It’s an extremely low fee way to send money. The easiest way to get an XLM wallet is to sign up for Keybase. It’s an encrypted chat platform with an integrated XLM wallet. Good news? Signup doesn’t require a phone number or even an email. Bad news(maybe)? It was recently bought by Zoom. I use it for my family chats.

      Link Reply
      • VBJ August 27, 2020, 11:28 am

        Sweet! Thank you. Very much appreciated.

        I will look into a crypto donation button soon. A few of those coins seem to have really proved themselves to be viable. Thanks for the suggestion!

      • VBJ August 27, 2020, 8:30 pm

        Hello Jack, You’ve been using the Brave browser much longer than I have. Did I cover everything here? Anything I missed?

      • VBJ August 28, 2020, 5:48 pm

        Hello Jack,

        I created a new thread about getting started with cryptocurrency here: https://www.vagabondjourney.com/travel-money-topic/how-to-get-started-trading-cryptocurrency/.

        If you have a moment to chime in that would be excellent. Thanks!

  • VBJ August 27, 2020, 10:32 am

    It seems as if you get BAT when you click on the ads that occasionally shoot out from upper right hand corner of the screen. It’s still pretty non-intrusive and easy to ignore if you want. But if you want to make money, just click on them. Some of their advertisers are also pretty relevant to what you’re looking at. They also block other, more annoying ads — such as the pre-roll ads on YouTube — so it’s a good trade off all the way around.

    Link Reply
    • Georgiy Romanov August 27, 2020, 3:00 pm

      Very interesting platform. I’m in the game!

      Link Reply
      • VBJ August 27, 2020, 3:55 pm


  • cryptoguy August 27, 2020, 10:05 pm

    I think Jack has a good point on setting up different coin addresses. My favorite is Tron. What’s cool about Tron is that you can stake it and earn free coins. Other coins also allow staking too. Presently I’m making close to 6% staking Tron. So having multiple coin addresses would give readers other options on donating cryptocurrency and not locking readers into just one coin that also could be at a high market price.

    My other thought is presently buying BAT and setting up a verified wallet is rather confusing. So I think there are some rough spots that will get ironed out eventually. But I like the business model idea of Brave Rewards.

    Another thought is I think the price of BAT is going to steadily climb. My call is buy and hold. 🙂

    Presently I hold all my coins in a Ledger Nano S. I stake Tron, Tezos and Cardano all from my hard wallet. Cardano you have to connect to Adalite to stake, but still all your Cardano private keys are still in your hard wallet.

    “How much can this can be scaled?” I think it’s going to be slow adoption. Unless you play hardball like the Wall Street Journal.

    That’s my two cents worth. Great article!

    Link Reply
    • VBJ August 28, 2020, 9:07 am

      Thanks for the advice! I will follow it and post updates…I’d like to learn more. Any chance that I could do a brief interview about this with you?

      Link Reply
      • cryptoguy August 28, 2020, 11:12 am

        Your welcome! Thank you for experimenting. Interview? Wish I was up to your caliber. I’ll politely decline due to lack of experience.

        Attending a blockchain meetup I questioned where is cryptocurrency actually being used in the real world. The consensus was gaming and gambling. Yeah we can do international cross border transfers, but still Western Union and the legacy systems still dominate.

        I’m thinking blockchain and crytocurrency is going to change the travel industry. Won’t be long before backpackers cross into Columbia and exchange dollars for Dash on the black market from the smart phone. Will the new new Silk Road be run on cryptocurrency? Will China beat the USA to a world reserve cryptocurrency?

        How many great writers like yourself put out good content on cryptocurrency? Billy Bambrough at Forbes is good.

        Blockchain is just now getting ready to transition into the 3rd generation. Who will win the race?

        Vagabitjourney. Walk slow. 🙂

      • VBJ August 28, 2020, 5:44 pm

        No problem at all! Thanks for the advice that you’ve given so far. However, if you would be willing to chime in a little more, I created a thread on a new section of the site about how to get started trading cryptocurrency. It’s here if you’d like to take a look:



        I agree that we could really see it being used more and more in the travel industry — global currencies are really where things seem to be going. Now that the world has pretty much adapted mobile phones and has become comfortable making mobile payments using cryptocurrency is only one small step away — especially in markets with unstable conventional currencies.

        China beating the US to a world reserve cryptocurrency is something interesting to watch. They are already creating their own digital currency, although it’s based on the yuan, so not exactly crypto but going in that direction.