For quite a while I have been considering to start up a travel blog and I was already looking at several different travel affiliate programs prior to writing this post. It was a pretty good coincidence that the travel niche was already up in my list of the niches for this blog at about the same time that I was looking into it for some personal projects. Talking about hitting two birds with one stone!
I have been wanting to create my own travel blog, but I just can not seem to find the necessary time to do so. I’m also still a bit apprehensive about what exactly I want ti share on the blog. While I really love to travel, I have still a lot of places to see. Still, I will give it a go, so I opened up Google Keyword Planner for a quick look at the various travel keywords that I could target.
To find the right keywords to use, I first have to put myself in the shoes of a person whom is looking to travel. If I were traveling, I would be looking for the best flights going to my destination, so I typed in “cheap flights.”
The results do contain some very good monthly search values. However, the downside is that most of they keyword combinations have a very high competition. I have also tried to add an specific destination, but the results that came out are more or less the same.
I also tried to change the keyword to “cruises” and the results are pretty much the same as with my first choice “flights”:
Others that I have tried are “tour”, “vacation packages” and “car rentals”, but the eventual results are more or less always the same as with my first keyword choice. Taking a look at the statistics of online travel, it’s not a shocker to understand such high competition for the keywords that I tried.
According to this statistics and the infographic of The World of Online Traveling, the entire travel industry earned about $160 billion dollars or so at the end of the year 2012. That amount was only bound to get much bigger year after year as users will become more savvier in using internet to book all their tickets and vacation packages.
I used UberSuggest.org to find alternative long-tail variations of the keywords that I am thinking about targeting. I wasn’t very successful. The keywords are pretty similar to each other, differing only in the destination keywords. For example, “cheap flights” brings about the following results:
My conclusions are that the best way for me to create a competitive travel niche site is to create articles about the usual general information on traveling, as well as the famous “how-to” posts and destination-specific guides/articles. Destinations will be the travel niche’s sub-niches. Having figured this out, I moved on to looking at several products and services that I can promote on my new travel website.
Travel Affiliate Programs
I first checked out ClickBank and they do have several guides about traveling to other countries and living overseas. However, they do not offer anything outstanding, so I moved on to discover several other affiliate networks.
Travelocity is a well-known online travel agency in the United States. Their service extends to many different countries across. Travelocity offer the entire nine yards: flights to hotels to many travel deals to a lot of vacation packages.
The commissions that they offer will vary depending on the service that the user purchases from their site. Flight tickets commissions are $3 each, while hotel reservations will vary from $3 to $6 based on the reservations net revenue. TraveloCity their affiliate program is offered through Commission Junction.
Ebookers is an dedicated online travel agency, but it has its main office based in the United Kingdom. Their website offers many flight and hotel reservations as well as car rentals, cruises and holiday packages.
The commissions that eBookers offer are more or less the same as what Travelocity is offering: GBP £7.50 per booked flight, 4% of the entire price for travel packages, 10% for both hotels and travel insurance and 8% for car rentals.
Expedia.com is yet another travel website based in the States. They offer exactly the same services as Travelocity, so it’s safe to to say that they are direct competitors. They also offer localized sites in various other countries outside of the United States, just like Travelocity. They also offer their affiliate program through the Expedia Affiliate Network.
The Expedia affiliate program is a private label, where you can create your very own brand, but you will provide their services. When you already have your own website or blog, then you can use their XML data feeds to easily implement their products on your site.
Expedia offers 5% commission from what they are calling the Expedia Collect Inventory at the time of booking and a further 50% from the commissions that they collect from the hotel reservations.
TripAdvisor is the best known online travel community. You can use their website to find hotel reviews, different airlines, restaurants and local tourist attractions. TripAdvisor also provides hotel and flight reservations like Expedia and Travelocity also do.
TripAdvisor their affiliate program runs through Commission Junction and they offer the affiliate a 50% commission. They also have an incentive program for their affiliates.
Priceline is a travel website made up by three major worldwide travel websites: Priceline.com, RentalCars.com and Agoda.com. Priceline offers flight, hotel and car reservations as well as boat cruises and holiday packages.
I was unable to find out the exact commissions that they provide for their affiliates, but you will have the option of joining their program through CJ as a direct partner or by being a private-label partner.
Southwest Airlines Vacations
Southwest Airlines Vacations is a part of Southwest Airlines, one of the biggest low-cost airlines of planet earth. Southwest Airlines offers the usual flights, hotels and car reservation service. On top of their vacations packages, they also offer tours, show/concert tickets and attraction passes. Southwest Airlines Their affiliate program runs through Commission Junction. They offer 2 to 4% commission per sale made.
Several Other Travel Niche Options
There are two other websites I came across in my quest that are not really travel affiliate programs, but contains some information on them. The affiliate pograms are: Tradedoubler.com and TravelDividends.com.
Travel Dividends is a website that is committed in providing information and to support every individual that is connected to and working in the travel industry. Their site contains very helpful links to several affiliate programs to support the travel niche such as airlines, land traveling and sea travel affiliate programs, as well as several cruises and tours.
Tradedoubler is an online marketing company that is based in Sweden. Tradedoubler has their offices all over the world, most of them are located in countries within Europe. I came across this company a while ago when I was looking for affiliate programs for airlines. If you are looking into promoting British Airways for example, you really have to join Tradedoubler. Unfortunately, their affiliate network only extends to Europe and to some countries in South America.
How To Get Your Travel Website Noticed
There are many other qualified link-building and working marketing methods that you can use to promote your travel blog apart from the three methods that I listed below. Luckily, the entire travel niche is a great niche where you pretty much are able to use all link-building and off-page SEO methods. I suggest that you will come up with a long-term link-building strategy, though, so that you can keep track of all your desired goals and ongoing progress.
Facebook and Twitter Marketing
It’s undeniable these days that you have to build a strong online presence, and the best way to do so is by being visible and findable on the popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. It is like the Internet’s megamall: You need to hang out there and make some noise to see and to be seen.
Create a new Facebook page for your website and share your site’s activitie. Make it a routine to share entertaining or significant pieces of information. Facebook and many other social media sites are not the right places to promote your products. These are the platforms where you can interact with your direct users and where you will build your site’s reputation.
In the context of a travel blog, you can share things like the latest news on traveling, as well as any active promos / coupons. You can also share some anecdotes on travel, or travel infographics.
To make your travel website successful, you will need plenty of fresh content to invite and retain readership. You need a good content strategy to keep your entire travel blog up to date. It also helps you when you collect good sources of reliable information for your blog.
Having a good content strategy will also help you to come up with new creative ideas for content on your blog. It does not always have to be articles. You can come up with a image gallery, a video, podcasts, or even your own infographic if you made one. You can then share your material on the social media sites to further drive traffic to your site.
Doing Press Releases
Press releases are also an excellent way to increase traffic to your blog. I actually do not think that they apply to every niche, though. Fortunately, it does apply to travel blogs. This is because traveling is dynamic and there are always enough things going on in the travel niche.
You can create press releases about special tours or vacation packages for popular destinations with links referring to your blog.
Taking Your Travel Blog To New Heights?
If you already have a travel blog where you are getting a good amount of daily traffic, then promoting the various products from the travel affiliate programs above will only add extra value to your site. It will also convert more of that traffic into earnings.
If you are considering to enter the travel niche, and you are new to affiliate marketing, then I suggest that you better think twice. There is good earning potential within this niche, but competition is very high from the existing travel websites and their blogs. Continuously putting out content (and I mean on a daily base) is going to be a challenge, particularly if you do not travel regularly yourself, or when you are not so much interested in traveling. Still, this niche looks like a fun and reliable way to earn off a travel blog..