Today I want to show you how I make money with affiliate products in the travel industry.
There are a lot of blog posts out there that talk about making money with affiliate marketing, but they’re fairly general articles (and a lot of them have little detail). Plus, they’re not travel specific.
I want to talk specifically about making money with affiliates in the travel industry.
So if you have a travel blog, this article will be the tits!
I’ve broken down what to do in 5 steps. Check em out below:
Follow These 5 Steps To Make Money With Travel Affiliates
Step 1: Decide what affiliate programs you want to promote
The first thing you need to do is decide WHAT you want to promote.
Before you write a thing!
One mistake many (most?) affiliates do is they write a blog post and then think about how to weave affiliate products in.
This is backwards.
You want to choose the product first and then build content around the product. This is much more effective in making affiliate sales.
So you need to pick products to promote first.
Common affiliate products every type of travel blog can promote are:
- travel insurance
- travel gear
In the travel industry, we’re kind of blessed with the amount of affiliate companies we can work with.
There are LOTS, if you weren’t aware.
What to do when you’re new
I recommend sticking with the popular companies like booking.com, hotels.com, viator.com, amazon.com, etc in the beginning.
When you’re new, I feel it’s better off to get your feet wet by using the proven stuff. Once you get the hang of things, you can focus on trying out the other lesser known companies to maximize your revenue.
Personally, I stick with the big guys myself, even though I’m very experienced. It works for me, and I haven’t had a big enough reason to change.
As far as choosing affiliate products to promote, I would say it’s not too difficult to choose. Because anyone going on vacation will need accommodations, transportation, ideas of what to see, do and eat, and perhaps tour recommendations.
A website like booking.com offers hotel accommodations for any type of traveler. So it makes choosing affiliate partners a lot easier because they cater to a wide audience.
Join popular affiliate networks
If you haven’t already, you want to join affiliate networks. You need to join these networks in order to promote affiliate products.
I wrote a blog post about the best affiliate networks here.
After you have your affiliate programs to promote, you want a plan to start creating content on your blog to promote the products.
The MAIN THING about creating content is to solve problems
And in order to solve problems, you need to be writing about things people actually care about and want information about.
So that leads me to step 2….
Step 2: Perform keyword research
Keyword research is essential to the life of a successful blog.
Keyword research is when you research what people are searching for in Google.
This is important because it will tell you EXACTLY what people are looking for. That is, it tells you what problems people want solved.
And it also tells you how many people are looking to solve this problem (tells you the amount of people searching for a specific term in Google every month).
Otherwise, you would never know.
You always want to be creating content about topics people actually want to read. Keyword research ensures you do that.
Example of keyword research
For example, there are 90,000 people searching for “things to do in San Francisco” per month.
That’s A LOT.
And that would 100% be an article worth writing about. Because TONS of people are interested in that topic.
I also want to add that you’re not a dummy, and it’s obvious that people are interested in finding things to do in a new city when they visit.
Of course you know that.
BUT, not every keyword is clear cut like that.
For example, It’s not so obvious how many people are wondering “why is the sky blue”.
By the way, roughly 90,000 people search for that in Google every month as well.
So, the main takeaway here is that keyword research gives you real data about what people are searching Google for.
It validates your blog topic you’re thinking about writing on.
I use keyword research for all my blog topics
Nowadays, I don’t even come up with anything to write about on my own. I just use a keyword tool to figure out what to write about. Because I KNOW for a fact people will be interested in that topic.
Keyword research will also tell you how MANY people are searching for a specific keyword. This is important, because while 90,000 people are searching for things to do in San Francisco, only about 1000 are searching for things to do in Cartagena.
This can affect your decision to blog about a topic or not.
How to pick the right keywords to make the most affiliate commissions
You want to choose keywords that have high buyer intent.
Buyer intent is how ready someone is to spend money.
A keyword like “best hotels in San Francisco” has very high buyer intent. This person is looking to book a hotel.
A keyword like “good restaurants in San Francisco” is not so clear. SOME of these people could be desperate to book a hotel, or need tour recommendations, or need a cheap flight, etc. Some of them may have already booked these things and have NO buyer intent.
Along with that, it’s not so clear what we can promote to people looking for restaurant recommendations (compared to “best hotels in San Francisco”), so this keyword isn’t “as good” in terms of making money with affiliate products.
It’s more ambiguous.
Deciding if you should write a blog post on a keyword you find
So should you write about it?
It depends. And that’s part of learning how to grow a travel blog. You only have so much time to blog and you need to spend your time effectively.
Blogging is also a trial and error type of gig. You may need to write a few articles like this to actually see if it’s worth it or a waste of time.
Does it get popular on social media? Are you able to rank in Google for it? And ultimately, are you able to make money from a topic like this?
Trial and error.
And then you learn.
Here are some pointers for you:
Topics like “best hotels in San Francisco” will be as competitive as hell. You basically will never rank in Google for it. So, social media is the best place to get traffic to this blog post. As well as funneling traffic to this “money page” from other articles related to tourism in San Francisco.
Topics like “best restaurants in San Francisco” need to be tested. The nice thing about a topic like this is that everyone is interested in it, so traffic potential is high. And you can funnel/siphon people that land on this article to other articles on your blog that help readers in other ways, like cheap hotel recommendations or fun tours.
The main thing to look for when you keyword research
Overall, you want to search for keywords that have a good amount of search volume combined with a reasonable amount of competition.
If the two above are good, then 100% write about it.
Try and monetize it.
You’ll want to test different affiliate products and monetize in different ways. Maybe ads is the best way to make money from this post and not affiliate products.
You’ll never truly know if affiliate products will work with a topic. It’s usually not too clear cut.
If it is, you can sure as hell bet there will be HEAVY competition in Google, and it will be difficult to rank for it. So in cases like this, social media is a great place to get traffic.
Finding keyword diamonds
The key to keyword research is finding low competition keywords that have high search volume and is monetizable. That’s the trifecta keyword.
I’m a keyword research pro. That’s my blogging super power. And I will tell you first hand that it’s like mining for gold. But when you find it, man, you will rank for it easily, you will get a lot of traffic from it, and you will make money EVERY DAY for years and years.
Example of a keyword diamond
For example, I have a keyword on my travel blog that I didn’t know at first was great. But I wrote about it, a short 700 word article, and it ended up ranking highly in Google. I make around $20 from it every single day. That article took less than 1 hour to write. I did ZERO promotion for it. I didn’t even promote it on social media. It gathered a few backlinks on its own and ranks very highly for the main keyword and many related keywords. It’s already made me over $10,000, and will continue to do so for a long time into the future. Nobody is going to outrank me for a long time because it’s not a popular keyword people are looking to write things about.
Basically, because I keyword researched, I was able to find a keyword that makes me roughly $10,000 per year. And I put in about 1 hour of work for this.
Now, obviously most keywords and blog post you write will NOT be like this. But it highlights how important keyword research is.
Step 3: Write content focused around the affiliate product
I touched on this topic already, but it needs its own step.
With your affiliate product in mind, you want to think about what topics people will be searching in Google for the relate directly to buying your product.
For example, and I shared this one already, the topic of best hotels in San Francisco is clearly perfect for promoting hotel affiliates.
You can come up with these topics off the top of your head. Keyword research is other way to come up with these topics.
Just always keep the product in mind.
How to think about the validity of a keyword
I like to tell myself, If I were to rank #1 in Google for this keyword, how would I make money from it? If the answer is “I’m not sure”, then I really need to think about the validity of this keyword.
If it’s very clear what I could promote, then that’s a potentially great blog topic to write about.
I like to write a lot of “things to do” in a city articles.
Because I know that people looking for things to do in a city are also looking to buy a lot of things, like flights, hotels, tours, etc.
These topics are really popular. Everyone writes about them. And they are kind of beaten to death.
But, people spend money around this topic. And it’s why I write about it. It’s why lots of people write about it.
Besides writing about generic travel topics that are beaten to death but work….
Building content around products
The other way you want to create the right kind of blog posts is build content specific to the product you want to promote.
For example, if you want to promote travel insurance, you want to talk about topics that relate to travel insurance.
A blog titled: Should you get travel insurance when you visit Greece?” is a great article to promote travel insurance.
I have a story for you:
I went to Greece a couple years ago and got extremely sick. Some sort of stomach flu. I had just arrived in Mykonos and it got so bad I had to visit a hospital. The pubic hospital couldn’t do much for me, so I was moved to a private hospital. They said I had a fever and couldn’t even fly to go home if I wanted to. I spent an entire day on my back in the hospital getting fluids pumped back into my body. The stomach pain was excruciating. And I didn’t even fully recover for about 8 days. I had to PAY roughly $1000 for the one day private hospital visit. And guess what, I had travel insurance! When I got home, I got it all sorted and got reimbursed.
Thank god for travel insurance right!
Now, this is a true story.
I should actually write about it in a blog post now that I think about it…. 🙂
But the point of this example is to think about the PRODUCT first. And then think about what type of content you can write around promoting this product.
In this example, talking about my personal experience with how travel insurance saved me $1000 is an excellent way to promote travel insurance.
Promoting affiliate products is seamless when done right
Promoting the product in this article is sooooo easy and makes a lot of sense when done this way.
Again, choosing the product FIRST and then writing content based on the product is a much more effective way to write blog posts that are geared towards making affiliate commissions, compared to writing about “neat neighborhoods to walk around in Barcelona” and then trying to figure out how to make affiliate sales with that.
Step 4// Talk about the products you want to promote A LOT
In general, the more you talk about something, the more it likely it is that it will catch the readers attention.
You do want to balance it between being too promotional and coming off like you just want to make sales.
That’s obviously bad.
And I think that’s what most people are afraid of when they begin promoting affiliate offers.
But I feel like MOST people don’t promote enough actually.
From most blog posts I read from travel bloggers, I see so many places and areas where they could be monetizing their blogs more effectively.
How I make money with travel affiliate products
On blog posts that aren’t clearly about a specific affiliate product, I sprinkle affiliate links throughout the blog post.
I could have 5-20 affiliate links.
That sounds like a lot?
It just need to look natural.
Weave them in here and there throughout your blog post.
I’ll have links to my other blog posts, links to other websites, and links to affiliate products sprinkled everywhere.
And the really nice thing specific with travel affiliate products is that these products are so relevant to everyone. One thing you don’t want to do is direct readers to places they don’t want to go. It’s unlikely you’ll be doing that when you say “these are the best budget hotels near the center of San Francisco”, and then link to a hotel booking site.
The main takeaway
To make more affiliate commissions, promote affiliate products more.
Find an excuse to include it in your blog post.
You can easily make a “passing statement” like saying “I walked out of my budget hotel” and went straight to the beach down the road. You can link “budget hotel” to booking.com :).
Step 5// Always collect email addresses
Collecting emails is like the most important thing you can do with your blog.
Okay, there’s a lot of important things…. but honestly, collecting emails like easily top 3.
I just think most people don’t know how important it is because they don’t know how effective email marketing is.
Email marketing might sound like some businessy word, and maybe it is, but the idea of it is really simple and you don’t need any business know how to relate to it.
You ALWAYS need to be trying to get your readers emails.
Why is it so damn important?
Because you will explode your income with emails.
The reason email is king
Emails allow you to keep in touch with your readers. It allows you to build a stronger relationship with your readers. Ultimately, it builds trust with your readers. And you need trust to sell things (whether your own or affiliate).
With your email list, you can promote anything.
As long what you are promoting to your readers is relevant to them (that is they are interested in it), they will love hearing from you.
Example of promoting affiliate offers through email
If you had a blog post about traveling through Greece, you want to collect emails in your Greece blog posts. You can teach them something important about traveling through Greece, your experience in Greece, or whatever else, every day (this is 100% automated through your email service provider).
And once your readers learn all this great info from you, and like you and trust you more, you can drop affiliate links in your emails wherever it makes sense.
Many of your email subscribers will take your recommendations. In fact, your email subscribers the MOST LIKELY people to take your recommendations, especially after you’ve given them so much free value.
You can talk about tours they can do, travel insurance in Greece, cheap places to find flights in Greece, must have travel gear in Greece, etc.
With an email autoresponder, you write these emails ONCE and then they will be automatically delivered to any reader who signs up. It’s all automated. And you make a shit load of money when you do it right.
It’s the best way to make affiliate income with your blog.
It’s truly the secret weapon of blogging that most people don’t fully utilize.
Any questions about monetizing a travel blog?
Got any questions…?
Did I leave anything out or do you need anything clarified? Let me know in the comment section below!