Looking to see success with affiliate marketing for travel bloggers?
Well, you’re in luck, as in this episode of The Profitable Travel Blogger Podcast, we’ll be going over how to increase your blogging income as a travel creator through proven affiliate marketing strategies.
By the end of this episode, you’ll understand:
- why affiliate marketing is a smart way for travel bloggers to make money
- what to look for when choosing travel affiliate programs to apply for
- how to optimize your travel content to earn more affiliate income
- creative ways travel bloggers can promote affiliate partners
- how to send traffic to your affiliate links and encourage clicks
- and more!
Our guest for this episode is Yuliya Karpenko from Travelpayouts, an affiliate platform designed to help travel content creators increase their earnings.
Disclosure: This episode + post on travel blog affiliate marketing contains affiliate links to trusted partners I think you’ll love!
Affiliate Marketing For Travel Bloggers [Podcast Episode Audio]
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Resources To Help Travel Bloggers Succeed With Affiliate Marketing
Travelpayouts (use code “JESSIE2023” for a $50 bonus added to your first payout). Their platform has all of the best affiliate programs for travel bloggers: Booking.com, Viator, TripAdvisor, Agoda, GetYourGuide, DiscoverCars, Expedia, and more. Whether you’re looking for budget, adventure, accommodation, experience, or even luxury travel affiliate programs, they’ve got you covered. They even have a white label travel affiliate program if you’d like to set your site up to accept bookings and earn commissions.
Free Affiliate Marketing Audit. Travelpayouts is offering the Jessie on a Journey community a free audit, where their team will look over your website and provide suggestions for where to add affiliate links and how to optimize your affiliate marketing strategy.
Affilimate. If you’re serious about increasing your affiliate conversions, this premium platform provides tools and analytics to track conversions, understand user behavior, and improve the performance of affiliate content.
Affiliate Tables. Travel creator Shelley Marmor earns $275,000+ per year from her blog, mainly from affiliate marketing. One way she’s been able to increase her affiliate income is by creating and implementing visually stunning affiliate comparison tables on her website. The link shows you exactly how they work too!
Travel Blog Affiliate Marketing [Episode Transcript]
*Note that some sections of the interview are not included in this transcript. For the full strategy, please listen to the audio version of the podcast.
So we’ve talked about affiliate marketing before in past episodes, but what are some affiliate marketing strategies that specifically pertain to travel bloggers? Well, that is exactly what we’ll be covering in this episode.
Even more exciting, my special guest today is Yuliya Karpenko from Travelpayouts – an affiliate marketing platform geared toward helping travel bloggers monetize their sites.
She’ll be sharing how to find great travel-focused affiliate programs, advice for updating old travel guides to earn commissions, insights into creative ways travel bloggers can successfully promote affiliate partners, and more!
1. Thank you so much for taking the time to share your affiliate marketing for travel bloggers tips! To start, can you tell us more about yourself?
My name is Yuliya and I am part of the Travelpayouts team. I’ve always a had passion for travel. My mom and I used to go for a holiday every year and I looked forward to it more than Christmas and New Year combined.
I got my degree in IT management. While in school, I took some part-time jobs that would allow me to travel, including a part-time job with Travelpayouts. And I stayed with the company.
First, I worked with bloggers and website owners, talking to them about Travelpayouts and encouraging them to try it out, write reviews about the platform, mention it on their websites, and so on. That helped me understand what bloggers were looking for in the software they were using and what difficulties they faced when it came to monetizing a travel blog.
From there, I branched out into doing collabs with services and tools that travel creators use and that could be useful to Travelpayouts partners. This gave me an insight into the challenges travel creators come by in their day-to-day — which then lead me to organizing educational webinars and managing our presence at blogger conferences.
And this is where I really got the nitty gritty of monetization — placing tools, integrating best practices, choosing programs — all that.
2. Can you give us a little introduction to affiliate marketing and why it’s a smart way for travel bloggers to make money?
Affiliate marketing is a profitable relationship between online creators and brands. In our case, travel bloggers, influencers, and webmasters recommend travel services to their audiences and when the service is purchased, travel creators get commissions from brands, who otherwise would not have gotten the sale.
What I described is the CPA model — cost-per-action. But the travel niche also sees some CPC affiliates when creators get paid per click, not per purchase.
Affiliate marketing is a smart way to make money for many reasons. First, as a blogger, it gives you complete control over what products and services you advertise, which protects your reputation. Not only do you choose the brands you trust, you choose, for example, specific hotels that you recommend.
And you also choose where and how you recommend it — whether it’s a link, banner, or widget, or if it’s in every article or just some. You could even opt to work with white label affiliate programs if you wish.
Unlike banner ads, you know exactly what you are putting on your website.
Second, and this one is closest to my heart, affiliate marketing is a way for you to make money that enriches your content and makes it more valuable for your audience. You promote only the products that are relevant to your readers.
This type of monetization is native to your content. You still write informative articles and there is no need to shoe-horn in any ads or add banners.
Additionally, affiliate marketing can be fairly low-maintenance compared to working with brands or selling digital products. Once the tools are added to the article, all you need to do is take care of SEO and update the article yearly. This is still work, but in many cases less work.
3. So before a travel blogger starts promoting an affiliate partner, they first need to apply to join their affiliate program. What are some of your top tips for finding great travel affiliate programs to promote?
There several things to keep in mind when choosing an affiliate program:
Does it work with your type of blog traffic and source? If you’re a large travel creator with increased blog traffic, then most brands would love to work with you! Though, you should still check if they have minimum traffic-requirements.
Enjoy social media and spend more time there? If you only have a social media page, then you would need to check with a particular brand whether they accept socials or not. Luckily, there are plenty of travel affiliate programs for Instagram, TikTok, and more, but you’ll need to check.
Note that this research is easier done within an affiliate platform or a network because everything is in one place and is clearly stated — and because sometimes the rules are more relaxed than in direct programs.
Does your audience trust the brand? Sometimes you gauge that from the demographics of your audience, sometimes you can find research done by the brand itself, and sometimes you just have to experiment.
What is their commission structure and cookie lifetime? For some services, cookies are more important than for others.
4. Okay, so let’s say a blogger has joined a few affiliate programs and they now want to update some of their older travel guides to bring in affiliate income. What are some tips for updating these guides?
The answer is to audit these older travel guides — and I’d even say to rummage meticulously through them — to see if any relevant affiliate programs fit into the content.
Just read through the content, slowly scrolling down each page, and highlight any spots that describe travel actions that took place but don’t have any affiliate links. These could be things like:
- staying in hotels
- going to a museum
- any mention of transportation — and we aren’t just talking about flights, but also carpooling, bus tickets, and airport transfers.
Airport transfers are an especially smart affiliate focus. If you suspect your readers aren’t adventurous enough to deal with the public transport in Poland, then offering a transfer from the airport to the hotel can really come in handy for them.
Here are some other affiliate marketing tips to keep in mind as you do this:
Realize that more is not more with affiliate links. If there are too many in the article, it can cause suspicion or just not grab attention. A good rule of thumb is two affiliate links per paragraph.
Affiliate program relevance is key. If the piece of content is about accommodation, insert relevant accommodation links to it, not flight tickets, not activities.
Flight ticket links should only be added to the paragraph about how you flew there.
You can also make a summary at the top of the article with all the major links for those busy readers.
Create a hub page with your favorite travel brands and use affiliate links. You can add this list to your blog menu, your website footer, or to the bottom of every article.
When doing this, be less specific. This is not the place for deeplinks. You can check out this guide on how to make a resource page for more information on how to do it properly.
And if you’d like someone to help you with auditing your website and maximizing your profit from affiliate marketing then sign up for the Travelpayouts Free Affiliate Audit. We really have a brilliant team doing the audits. They will analyze your site and give you advice on where to place additional tools, what travel blog affiliate programs to join, and more.
5. As we’re talking about how to make money as a travel affiliate, are there any types of content that tend to lead to more affiliate income than others?
The content that works best captures motivated traffic. To tailor and promote that kind of content you will have to focus on finding niche keywords and keywords that attract buyers.
Keyword research is indeed everything, but it’s not as difficult as the word “research” makes it sound.
In short, you need keywords that indicate purchase intent. For example, “What’s the best time to visit Thailand” doesn’t indicate that someone is about to book a trip. These informational keywords are useful for building a loyal audience, not making money.
An example of a keyword with purchase intent is when a person searches for “tickets from New York to Paris”.
Basically, if a keyword phrase includes the words “buy”, “book”, “purchase” or “order” that’s one of the clearest indicators of intent.
Also, any keyword that includes brand and product names — for instance, “Air France” or “Best Western” — usually means that person has got a desire to travel.
Also, keywords can be more generic, like “good 3-star hotels in Boston”.
So if you have a travel blog with tons of articles without travel affiliate links, I suggest that you start with articles that rank in Google for buyer intent keywords. That is a fantastic affiliate marketing strategy.
6. What are some creative ways travel bloggers can promote affiliate links to encourage sales?
Create a hub page. Something like “brands and services I recommend” with a short description of each — like Agoda for hotels, WayAway for flights, Sony for your camera, etc. These are some of the best travel blogger affiliate programs, too.
Or you could do something like “what you need to plan your trip” and detail the steps you take to plan your trip with relevant affiliate links.
Create a quiz optimized for affiliate links. Interactive content works wonders for engagement on all platforms really. Think Buzzfeed-style but practical, and with a list of affiliate links at the end.
An example would be “What’s the perfect itinerary for your Istanbul trip?” At the end, one person might get rental cars and hotel recommendations, another would get guided tours, and the third maybe an affiliate link to a package tour company.
Newsletter or email bootcamp. You can recommend your favorite travel brands with affiliate links in your email newsletter footer, or even create a free challenge where you drip out a strategy over a set number of days and include affiliate partners as part of it.
7. Okay, let’s continue this discuss about promotion – specifically getting traffic to affiliate optimized-content. What are some top sources of free traffic that travel bloggers can tap into to see success with their affiliate strategy?
SEO is obvious but it really works. It’s worth the effort if you do it right.
Recently, a lot of creators that I work with swear by Pinterest. If you enjoy the platform, it’s worth trying out. Interestingly, a large portion of Pinterest’s audience falls into a high-income demographic — so there isn’t just traffic potential, there is commission potential there.
TikTok can work for those who are targeting an audience under 30. The caveat is that you can’t post links there, but you can direct people to your link in bio — which you can optimize with affiliate links.
Niche forums also provide a possibility to get traffic to your website. Just like with Q&A websites, it’s important to engage in the conversation and share expertise while naturally inserting a link to your blog.
But do be respectful of community rules. Nothing is worse than getting banned from a subreddit for posting a link after lurking for a year.
8. What are some common mistakes you see travel bloggers make when implementing an affiliate strategy?
Not optimizing their blog posts for buyer intent keywords. I see a lot of great websites, with very well-written content, that just don’t have buyer intent built in.
I remember this website with dozens of articles about whether and to what degree each city is safe. It gets a ton of traffic, but the only avenue for monetization there is ads. And the income potential is just not the same.
Linking to websites without joining their affiliate programs. And I think it’s a shame since they could have been rewarded for their labor. It happens because people are working with direct travel affiliate programs, and don’t want to join yet another because of all of the hustle.
That is a great reason to try an affiliate platform like Travelpayouts where you can join as many programs as you like, manage them from one place, and get a single payout for them all.
The website or article doesn’t appear in search results. I’ve seen several high-potential websites that don’t appear in search. One was closed for crawlers. The owner just forgot to delete a certain line of code after the site went live to make sure it got crawled.
Also, sometimes a specific article may have affiliate links, but isn’t being crawled or it breaks Google’s rules because it has pieces that were copied word for word. Google hates duplicate content, so make sure everything you write is original.
9. What are the most important things travel bloggers should keep in mind to see success with affiliate marketing?
Keep your affairs in order — your site has to load in a blink, your pictures should be high quality, and your updates regular. In fact, you should update your high-traffic posts once a year and maybe even more frequently if there are changes in the destination.
Additionally, find ways to optimize your efforts. What programs work best? What tools? Is it easier for you to work with brands directly or does an affiliate platform like Travelpayouts save you time. Figure it out and cut your (time) costs, so to speak.
Finally, focus on creating SEO-friendly content and choose topics with buyer intent keywords in mind. Yes, social media can generate traffic but it is a lot of work and it’s constant work. SEO is much more evergreen.
10. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom! Before we sign off, please let everyone know where they can find you.
- [email protected]
- Travelpayouts website. Again, anyone who uses code JESSIE2023 will get a bonus $50 on top of their first payout
- Free Affiliate Marketing Audit
Alright, now I hope you enjoyed this episode. I hope you feel inspired and empowered to create a profitable affiliate strategy for your travel blog.
Don’t forget to grab access to the free travel blogging resource library that I’ve linked here. There are a ton of resources in there on growing your community and increasing your blogging profits.
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