Airline and hotel affiliate programs are not for travel blogs

To be honest, this post is already belated, before it had to be written. But it’s probably only now that I’ve finally gotten it all figured out in my head about making money on travel blogging. I already wrote a post somehow Don't start a travel blog (I mean for making money), but there was a little on a different topic - like there is search traffic, and there is reader traffic, they say, either write info-articles, or be original. Read, if not already, this post is a kind of continuation-addition.

And now I would like to talk about the fact that depending on the format of the site (site, blog, portal), you can rely only on a certain type of monetization, and that affiliate programs for all air tickets and hotels are not initially suitable for classic travel blogs. This is the harsh truth of life, and it is confirmed by many bloggers who earn almost nothing from flights and hotels. Take the same Aviaseels, from which most of the incomes are small, while the TOP of payments from the mailing contains three-digit amounts.

The content of the article

Error in the map widget

So, many people know that there was an error in the map widget at Aviaseels (they reported this in the mailing list), which is why some partners (including us) have been making pretty good money for some time. But then this bug was fixed and earnings returned to normal. For example, our income from Aviasales (that is, Travelpayouts) returned to the amount of 5-15 thousand rubles per month, as it was before. I immediately started going to other travel sites, blogs, trying to figure out who else was using what, who was earning how much, and I wrote off someone personally..

Let me remind you that the bug was that any visitor received cookies with a partner number, even if the visitor did not click on the map widget. That is, all visitors left the blog with Aviaseels cookies. Thanks to an error in the map widget, I noticed an interesting fact - most of those who came to the blog already knew about Aviaseels. That is why there were a lot of sales with a bug, and almost no sales without a bug..

What does this mean? That the traffic on the travel blog is like buying air tickets, yes, but not through your blog. That is, either visitors do it from other sites, or they directly go to the sites of search engines (aviaseels, skyscanner), knowing the address of the search engine in advance, brands are well-known.

What does this mean for travel blogs? The fact that typical travel blog content is not suitable for air ticket sales. And in fact, it concerns not only tickets, but also other travel partnerships. Because people coming from Yandex / Google to your blog should potentially be ready to buy a ticket and are currently looking for it. It can be both completely newbies and those who are looking for specifics. Do you have a lot of articles for beginners? And are there many specific thematic articles (on the topic of air tickets / hotels / excursions) on classic travel blogs??

Affiliate programs are not suitable for travel blogs

This is the conclusion that can be drawn regarding travel blogging affiliate programs. Now I'll tell you in more detail why I think so. I call a classic travel blog an author's blog with travel reports, beautiful photographs, and, as a rule, a small percentage of information. Or, in other words, this is entertaining reading, when the author travels to different countries and shares his impressions.

Travel affiliate programs are not suitable for travel blogs

Travel affiliate programs are not suitable for travel blogs

Such a classic travel blog is read mainly by several categories of people, but it all comes down to the fact that for the most part they do not need air tickets / hotels / excursions, or they know how to buy them without you (independent travelers or the same bloggers). As a result, people read interesting reading, and you do not earn anything. A good example of classic travel blogs is LJ, many top bloggers have high traffic (5-20 thousand unique), but there is no sense in terms of affiliate programs, the traffic is not the same.

If you take our blog, then from a certain point we began to pay most of our attention to informational posts that are not interesting to regular readers (not reading), but bring search traffic. But in order for this to be of greater use, ideally, it is generally necessary to turn the blog completely into an information site (or a portal with users), because neither tickets nor hotels are sold in personal articles and travel reports. In my experience, just recommendations «they say we buy tickets here» do not work at all. It is necessary that the person who is now in search of this very ticket should come initially. I think it is obvious that this other content should be on the blog, from which the blog will cease to be a blog, the format of the site is changing. And here we are not even talking about informational content, but content for a specific affiliate program..

I’ll even say more. I have a small website (not a blog) with about 30 articles about air tickets and related topics. Traffic is scanty 20-50 people a day, but this traffic brings earnings of 1-5 thousand rubles / month, while a life-trip with its attendance of 6000-7000 per day brings only 5 times more (although the attendance is 100 times higher ). See how much the envelope is different. And does it make sense then to deal with air tickets on the blog? Isn't it even easier to write articles for that site so that labor costs will pay off faster?.

However, you can make money on affiliate programs. Everyone saw the top 10 payments in the Aviasales affiliate mailing list with three-digit amounts. I'm sure there is not a single blogger there 🙂 Most likely, there are solid affiliates and owners of aviation mathematics sites (including GS). In one of the webinars, it was just about this. Thus, we bloggers are promoting such services almost free of charge, creating an image and brand for them with our recommendations, and affiliates skim all the cream. Somehow it turns out that way, and there is no particular point in putting an affiliate program if the blog is classic.

Earnings for a classic travel blog

After a few years of blogging, my conclusion is that for travel blogging, only Adsense, selling personal services and direct advertisers are suitable. Moreover, Adsense does not show very good results, because according to our statistics, personal posts and posts about attractions bring the least, that is, Adsense is also more for information projects, but it's good that at least the information does not need to be sharpened strictly for affiliate programs, a wider topic ... True, the envelope on the context is the worse, the more the advertisement is not relevant to the content..

If you look at the top LiveJournal blogs, then almost everyone makes money on direct advertisers. These can be advertising posts, brand mentions, product testing, etc. True, you have to be top-notch in order for companies to want to cooperate with you for reasonable money. That is, we are not talking about search traffic, but about a large permanent audience. Moreover, it is in LJ that it is easier to type than on a standalone blog.

Naturally, this does not mean at all that you do not need to try anything else, I do not discourage you if someone does not understand. Perhaps something will work out, but maybe not. Although the key point here is precisely «sample» and set a goal to make money, if any. It's just that many are blogging for the sake of the soul, and somewhere in the depths of this very soul they hope for earnings, which will arise by itself. So, this does not happen along the way 🙂

Thus, if you want to make money on affiliate programs (flights, hotels, excursions, insurance) - focus not on your blog and your personal impressions, but on information, that is, create a guide / portal / reference book. If you do not like this approach (because it is no longer as interesting as blogging), then increase your readership in order to be able to sell your own services (guide, consultations, info courses) and place advertisements from direct advertisers (service reviews, service testing and goods).

What are we going to do

I myself am now in search of a solution for our blog, or rather a concept. On the one hand, I do not want to make a completely information portal (content farm) out of a blog, because initially it was conceived as a personal blog, and I like the format of a personal blog, even if it is half informational. On the other hand, blogging without effective monetary return is hard, because you need to eat something. Moreover, we rarely travel nowadays, so there is nothing left but to write informational posts 🙂

The total earnings are still at the level that allow you to live off the blog, but you need to do something exactly, especially since the ruble exchange rate leaves much to be desired and in general, ideally, you need to move away from ruble income (some affiliate programs pay only in rubles). Good that Adsense is now in bucks, at least some diversification.

As I already said, there are thoughts about separating the topic of special children (and part of the personal) into a separate site, and even such a site has already been made in reality, but for now there will be just a division of the subscription, which is almost ready, we will start testing with this. Let's see what comes of this, maybe it will be enough.

I started testing various hotel affiliate programs again: I removed Hotellook, put Booking for 3 months, just replaced it with Agoda, then I'll try Hotelscombined. I have tested this all before, but from time to time it seems necessary to try again, since the Internet changes, traffic changes, and what was profitable a couple of years ago may not be profitable now. Booking, by the way, turned out to be so-so, probably due to the fact that it does not store cookies for a day (Agoda stores 365 days). I also tried the excursion affiliate program Sputnik and it didn’t go like train tickets (there is a bit of such traffic). Reduced the space occupied by air tickets, there is still Whitelabel to check out, maybe the envelope will grow with it. Also, I will soon be working on my website about flights, which I abandoned, perhaps, if I do it, it will be more confusing..

In short, from not site affairs, but money. At one time I was lucky, I thought for a long time, but I managed to partially go into dollars, so the loss of savings is not very large (although the rise in prices is annoying, we need to earn more now). Plus, I began to keep money on deposits (including foreign currency), use a credit card and more profitable cards abroad, cashbacks - it turned out to be a profit too, albeit small.

P.S. Please share in the comments your experience of earning money on affiliate programs, what went wrong, what was not, and what are the reasons. Maybe you need to test something else from partner programs ...