25 High-Paying Affiliate Programs for Travel Bloggers
If you’ve landed here, then I’m guessing you’re trying to monetize your travel blog. In this post, I’m going to help you better understand how to make money with affiliate marketing. Specifically, I’m breaking down 25 travel affiliate programs that pay high commissions – both recurring and flat rates. Recurring rates are paid every month while flat rates are paid once. I typically target affiliate programs that have commission rates of at least 30% or a flat fee of at least $25 and up per sale.
Affiliate marketing is definitely my favorite way of making money online. You can earn a great income by recommending your favorite products to your audience without feeling sleazy – something that turned me off from traditional sales. I recently broke the $1,000 a month mark with affiliate marketing and my ultimate goal is $10,000+.
The truth about affiliate marketing in the travel niche
As a travel blogger, I must admit that earning consistent income from affiliate marketing is more difficult than in other niches. Travel is both a big commitment and a luxury for most people so they aren’t going to book a flight through your affiliate link on a whim. That said, there are specific steps you can take to maximize your affiliate income. One of them is choosing the right affiliate programs.
Note that as a traffic blogger, you don’t need to limit yourself to travel affiliate programs like hotels and luggage. Depending on your audience, you can also promote online courses, clothes, beauty products, books, and more. Gloria Atanmo of The Blog Abroad mentioned at a recent conference that she made $2,000 in a few months by simply linking to a skirt she wears often in her travel pictures. There’s really no limit to what you can monetize.
How to pick the right affiliate products
In 10 Powerful Affiliate Marketing Tips I Learned From a Millionaire, I discuss lessons I learned from Pat Flynn at Travel Con 2018. One of them is the importance of choosing products you’re knowledgeable about. Think about it: it’s pretty hard to go above and beyond to promote something you’ve never used or don’t even like. Before choosing a program, ask yourself the following four questions:
- Can I relay the problem and the promise? That is, can you succinctly describe the problem the product solves and why it’s the perfect solution to that problem?
- Could someone thank me for recommending this product to them?
- Can I answer questions about this product?
- Am I comfortable promoting this product?
I’ll add one more question:
5. Would I recommend this product to a friend?
This is an important idea I learned from McKinzie Bean, a blogger whom I interviewed about affiliate marketing. Treat your readers as friends if you want them to like you and buy from you. With that in mind, would you recommend a product you think is so-so to a friend to make a quick buck? I hope not.
Why you need to understand the consumer buying cycle
Maybe you’ve come across posts that tell you to write reviews, tutorials, and product comparisons to promote your affiliate products. Why do these types of posts convert to affiliate sales? It’s because they capture people in the evaluation phase of the consumer buying cycle. Think about the last product you purchased. What was the last step you took before you bought the product? You probably searched for reviews on Google, right?
Let’s say you’re a beginner photographer trying to decide between a Nikon and a Canon. You’d search something like Nikon D3400 vs Canon t6 to make your final decision. On page one of Google, you find a comparison post and read it. Then you click the author’s link to buy the Nikon D3400 (which is superior, by the way.)
The consumer buying cycle goes like this: Awareness>Research>Evaluation>Purchase. You want to capture consumers in the evaluation phase.
Affiliate Networks vs Affiliate Programs
When it comes to finding affiliate products to promote, there are two types of places to look:
- Affiliate programs
- Affiliate networks
What’s the difference? An affiliate program is managed by the company that sells the product. For instance, blogging courses always have affiliate programs that are run by their creators. Airbnb has its own affiliate program that’s managed by the marketing team. On the other hand, an affiliate network is a one-stop shop for thousands of affiliate programs. Within affiliate networks, there are merchants and affiliates, also known as publishers. The merchants are businesses that make their products available for affiliates, you and me, to promote in exchange for a commission. Now let’s take a look at the top affiliate networks to join.
With over 3,900 affiliate programs, ShareASale is one of the world’s largest affiliate networks. ShareASale is home to companies in every industry from travel to beauty. Whether you’re new to affiliate marketing or advanced, you’ll find tons of products to promote on this network. Some of the companies I promote from ShareASale are Allianz Global Insurance, Skyscanner, and Sally Beauty. As with all affiliate networks, signing up for ShareASale is completely free.
2. Commission Junction
Commission Junction is an affiliate network with over 1,500 merchants. Every year the company pays out $1.1 billion in affiliate commissions. Some of the Commission Junction merchants in the travel niche include GoPro, Intercontinental Group, and Priceline.
3. Amazon Associates
Amazon Associates is the world’s largest affiliate network, with over 1 million products. It’s easy to sign up for this network, which makes it a great place to start for beginners. The downside with Amazon is that commission rates, which go up to 10%, are lower than other affiliate networks. That said, there are bloggers who make $100,000 a year with Amazon Associates using various traffic and product bundling strategies.
4. Flex Offers
Flex Offers has 12,000 advertisers in a wide range of industries. The great thing about Flex Offers is that it’s pay-per-lead, not pay-per-sale like the other affiliate networks. What does that mean? It just means that you get paying for referring leads, or customers, whether or not they actually make a purchase. Pay-per-lead commissions are always lower than pay-per-sale commissions, but you scale this income by driving more traffic (which means more potential leads). You can earn up to 50% commissions, and you also get an affiliate manager to guide you for free.
5. ShopStyle Collective
Travel and fashion are a natural pairing so ShopStyle Collective is a great affiliate network for style-conscious travel bloggers. Let’s say you write a post like What To Pack For Spain in the Summer, you can build widgets with links to summer dresses, sandals, totes, and other items that would interest your audience. ShopStyle Collective
Airline affiliate programs
Travelers are always looking for a bargain on flights. For me, Skyscanner is the best site for booking discounted flights. On many occasions, I have found flights between European countries for less than $30. I also booked a round-trip flight from Los Angeles to Tokyo for $500. I promote Skyscanner on my Travel Essentials Page and in every destination guide I write. Skyscanner pays a 50% commission for all referrals – flights, car rentals, and flight + hotel deals.
Expedia has a popular affiliate program that you can sign up for both via their website and Commission Junction. The company provides tools and support to help you promote their flights, hotels, vacation deals, and car rentals. Commissions are 6% per sale.
Priceline is another travel booking site with a generous affiliate program. You earn around 3% commissions for recommending hotels, car rentals, flights, and vacation packages. The benefits of joining this affiliate network are access to a specialized account manager and 24/7 customer service.
Hotel affiliate programs
Airbnb is one of the largest accommodation booking sites in the world. The company has an exclusive affiliate program to bloggers with at least 1 million monthly page visits. If you don’t have those numbers yet, don’t worry. You can join their referral program to earn credit for every friend who books a place through your link. Through their referral program, you can earn up to $95 per booking and a max of $5000 in travel credit. The affiliate program doesn’t have a specified commission structure so it’s probably customized for each affiliate. This is a good breakdown of the difference between the affiliate and referral programs.
Booking.com is my go-to site for booking hotels at rock bottom prices. I promote it in any posts where there is mention of accommodation. For instance, in my post reviewing The Bonham Hotel in Edinburgh, I share a blurb about Booking.com and offer my discount code.
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Travel tour affiliate programs
11. Get Your Guide Tours
Get Your Guide is a company that offers personalized, guided tours of top tourist attractions around the world. From Versailles to Machu Picchu, Get Your Guide has thousands of tours on virtually every continent. You can insert text or banner links into your posts to direct readers to relevant tours and earn a commission for each sale. There’s also a GetYourGuide WordPress app that makes it super easy to install widgets in your posts, sidebars, and other areas of your site.
Viator is another guided tour company I’ve used often in the past. They offer plenty of day trips, in particular. I haven’t promoted them as much as Get Your Guide, but I’m always looking for ways to incorporate new affiliates. One way is to write a review of a trip you took and then use that as an opportunity to talk about the company.
Travel insurance affiliate programs
13. Allianz Global Insurance
The Travel insurance industry presents another opportunity to monetize your content. I’ve been using Allianz Global Insurance for most of my solo travels so I promote their policies to my readers. The company pays commissions of up to $25 per qualified sale.
14. World Nomads
World Nomads is another leader in the market for travel insurance. I’ve never used it so I don’t promote it. If you have experience with World Nomads, then it would be a great affiliate to add to your travel essentials page. The company also assigns you a specialized program manager.
15. Tep Wireless
Tep Wireless is a UK-based telecom company that provides portable WiFi for international travelers. Their main product, called a Teppy, provides 4G wifi for at least 6 hours and works in over 100 countries. If you don’t have an international data plan, then portable wifi will make your life and your travels much easier. I’ve been using this device for almost a year so I promote it to my readers through their referral program. For every sale or rental, I earn a $20 flat fee.
Skyroam is an alternative for Tep Wireless. The company has an affiliate program that pays a 10% commission for every sale or rental. To promote a portable wifi device, you may consider filming a video tutorial to show users how it works and how easy it is to use.
DJI is a leading brand for aerial photography – aka drones – and has gained a lot of popularity over the years. The company pays a 5% commission, but considering how expensive their products are, the commissions add up. For instance, the DJI Inspire 2 Quadcopter costs $4,300. For every sale, you earn $230.
18. The Business of Travel Blogging
The Business of Travel Blogging, the first blogging course I purchased, is a great start for a blogging newbie with zero technical or business experience. It was created by Nomadic Matt, who gets over a million monthly visitors to his blog. He has also written a New York Times Best Seller about budget travel. The Business of Travel Blogging is a 10-week step by step guide to creating a travel blog from scratch.
The course costs $249 and has a 40% commission rate. That means you earn $102 for every new student you refer. If the student buys other courses when they click your link, you earn a commission for those as well. This is the list of topics covered in the course. You can only become an affiliate after you’ve completed the course.
19. Traffic Transformation Guide
The Traffic Transformation Guide course is a step-by-step breakdown of how Lena Gott from Mommy Minded Mommy went from 17k to 400k page views in just 10 months. This course is a must if you’ve been trying everything to grow your traffic and not seeing results. It is a goldmine of information and strategies that will help you get unstuck.
The Traffic Transformation Guide is the most comprehensive of all the courses I’ve taken about growing blog traffic. In 102 pages, Lena walks you through 21 strategies she has used to skyrocket her blog traffic after feeling stuck for years. The e-book costs $79, and the affiliate program pays 30% for each sale.
20. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing
When it comes to affiliate marketing, there is no better expert than Michelle Schroeder-Gardner of Making Sense of Cents. She consistently makes $100,000/month and even made $300,000 from ONE post. Given Michelle’s results, of course, I had to learn what she was doing.
In Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, Michelle explains the ins and outs of affiliate marketing, from the legal aspects to the best strategies to drive conversions. This is a text-based course that comes with workbooks and actionable steps to implement what you’ve learned. Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing also comes with eight bonuses, including private coaching. If you take the course, you can sign up for its affiliate programs and earn 40% in commissions. The course costs $197.
Siteground is the web hosting service I’ve been using since April 2018. It has the highest satisfaction rate among regular consumers – online entrepreneurs, small business owners, web developers, and other impartial users. I stress regular consumers because that’s the group you should pay the most attention to when you’re shopping for a hosting service. Bloggers have a monetary incentive to promote web hosting services. I don’t want you to take my word for it. Look at what others like you have to say about using Siteground.
Siteground’s affiliate commission structure is lucrative. Take a look:
Leadpages is one of the tools I can’t live without in my business. In a nutshell, it’s an online platform where you can create webinars, opt-in forms, and landing pages. A landing page is a single page that you use to promote an offer. I used LeadPages to create a landing page to promote my free affiliate marketing course. Landing pages are a smart way to capture new email subscribers. They read your offer, sign up, and join your email list. The great thing about Leadpages is that it’s so versatile. There are over 150 templates to choose from. You can even use Leadpages to create a mini-site to showcase a portfolio.
With Leadpages’ affiliate program, you earn 30% for every new sale and a recurring commission of 25% for every subsequent payment. Here’s a breakdown of their commission structure:
23. Deposit Photos
DepositPhotos is a stock photo service that gives you access to millions (yes, millions) of royalty free photos. I pay $19.99 per month for the basic plan and get 30 downloads. Having professional quality photos is a must for any serious blogger. I use stock photos for everything from blog posts to landing pages to Pinterest pins.
Since I started using professional stock photos in my Pinterest pins, my traffic has grown from 700 to 20k! That’s why I promote Deposit Photos to my readers. DepositPhotos’ affiliate program pays between 30% to 90% in commissions from new customer sign-ups.
I use PicMonkey to make professional quality pins to promote my blog posts and affiliate products. It comes with over 200 fonts and many unique features, such as layers, textures, and enhancement tools. PicMonkey isn’t as complicated to learn as Photoshop, but you can use it to produce photoshop-quality graphics.
PicMonkey offers two monthly plans – Basic and Pro. The Basic plan costs $5.99 per month when you pay annually and $7.99 per month when you pay every month. The Pro plan costs $8.99 per month and is automatically billed annually. With PicMonkey’s affiliate program, you earn a 50% commission on each referral’s first month’s payment and 25% recurring commissions on all future payments.
Convertkit is an email service provider you can use to manage your email subscribers. The most valuable asset you can have as a blogger is an engaged email list. Your email list is your own, and it’s the most direct way to communicate with your audience. To manage your email list, you need an email service provider. Convertkit is great because it was specifically designed for bloggers. I switched from AWeber and couldn’t be happier.
There you have it – top affiliate programs to skyrocket your travel blogging income. Feel free to comment with any questions or feedback!
Top recommended affiliate marketing resources
Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing (Course)
Michelle Schroeder Gardner is the queen of affiliate marketing. The founder of the personal finance blog Making Sense of Cents, consistently makes over $100k a month in affiliate sales. She has a comprehensive course, Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing, that breaks down the exact knowledge and tactics she uses to make $100,000 a month in passive income. It’s packed with proven strategies to build up your affiliate marketing empire. Plus it comes with information about the legal aspects, exercises to brainstorm ideas, workbooks to put your learning to practice, and tons of bonus guides.
Pin To Profits – Affiliate Marketing (Course)
Pinterest is a visual search engine with 250 million users who are actively looking to buy things. That’s what makes it a gold mine for affiliate marketers. Put your affiliate products in front of them and they just may click and buy them…in droves. Pin To Profits – Affiliate Marketing is a course that teaches you how to make affiliate sales on Pinterest. Created by Pinterest strategist and mommy blogger, Mckinzie Bean, the video-based course shows you the steps to create click-worthy pins for your affiliate products. It also teaches you how to promote those pins to the right boards so that your target audience sees them.
Pretty Links (Plugin)
The Pretty Links plugin is a must for bloggers. I use it to shorten and track all my affiliate links all in one place. Before getting this plugin, I would save all my raw affiliate links on a spreadsheet and then copy and paste them whenever I needed them. Now, I’ve shortened my affiliate links so that they take the form: www.somtoseeks.com/nameofaffiliateproduct. This has made it so much easier to insert affiliate links into my post because I know most of them by heart. Ast the same time, I can check the Pretty Links plugin to see how many views and clicks my affiliate links are getting. This information helps me to determine if my promotional strategies are working.