Hi folks! In this post, I’ll tell you about some of the best affiliate networks and influencer platforms for travel bloggers that I have discovered and used throughout the last 6 years of travel blogging.
This post's overview:
- 1 A little bit of my story
- 2 The importance of affiliate networks
- 3 The best affiliate networks for travel bloggers
- 4 Other ways of making money as a travel blogger: influencer networks
- 5 The best Influence Networks for bloggers | Best blogging networks
- 6 The best way to land deals with brands and tourism boards as a travel blogger
A little bit of my story
If you’re new here, hi, I’m Liza! I started this blog over 6 years ago. For me, it was a way of connecting with my friends and family, who I left behind, when moving to a new country. I wanted to share my adventures and itineraries and slowly, I got a grasp of it and started writing proper itineraries and sharing all our travel tips. Slowly, this blog has become my second job. While I had periods of time, when I worked on the blog full-time, most of the time, I had a regular 9-6 full-time job. That meant, that I could only work on this blog whenever I had some spare time: after work, on weekends, while commuting and even in the airplanes (is it just me or the airplanes make me oddly productive?).
When I started the blog, luckily, my then-boyfriend (and now husband) Pepe (short for Jose) helped with introducing me to WordPress and the world of self-hosting. Since Tripsget was self-hosted, I could apply for Google Adsense right away, so I could earn a little bit of extra money to use to pay for hosting and other expenses.
However, of course, it took me a lot of time, nearly a couple of years to start earning anything from this blog. I made a lot of mistakes and one of them was not focusing on affiliate marketing from the very beginning.
By the way, if you’re curious about my travel blogging journey and mistakes, here’s a series of posts I wrote on Tripsget’s anniversaries: e.g. what I Iearned from 1 year of travel blogging; Tripsget turns 2: what I have learned; things I learned from 5 years of travel blogging & my main travel blogging mistakes.
The importance of affiliate networks
When people ask about the first thing someone should do after creating a travel blog, I usually say “apply for affiliate networks”. I made a mistake of not getting enrolled in any affiliate networks and well, to be completely honest, I didn’t really focus on affiliate marketing until year four or even year five of travel blogging.
At first, I thought that it would not be worth all the work of applying to different programs, generating the links and adding them to my posts. Then, I didn’t know where to place the links so people would be clicking on them and booking things through them. And finally, when I got enough monthly page views after applying a successful Pinterest strategy, I started getting $300-400 per month from the ads running on the blog and was over the moon about it. I thought I don’t need any affiliate links, since I can just grow the blog with Pinterest and increase the income from the ads.
Fast forward 3 years and a totally changed mindset and I now make almost the same from my affiliate links as I make from the ads, which is crazy! And I feel like there is even room to grow.
The best affiliate networks for travel bloggers
Having tried multiple affiliate networks throughout the last few years, I can say that I found a perfect one that didn’t exist when I started out (otherwise, I would have definitely joined because it’s way easier to use than other affiliate networks). This network is called Travel Payouts and it’s targeted specifically at travel bloggers.
Travel Payouts is great for both beginner bloggers and expert travel bloggers who want to save some time generating links and prefer faster payouts. As a beginner blogger, you can join various programs and I found that the acceptance there is generally way higher compared to other travel affiliate networks.
What I also like about Travel Payouts is the easiness of link generation (it literally takes 10-15 seconds, while on Awin, I was spending 5 minutes to build one link) and the variety and number of different travel partners they have on the program. They also have a really good dashboard, where you can track all your pending bookings and incoming payments.
Since Travel Payouts isn’t such a huge company like Awin and they only work with travel and lifestyle bloggers and publications, they also have a very good customer service – they reply and help you almost right away.
You can join Travel Payouts here >
The next affiliate network that I often use and really like is Skimlinks. While it’s targeted at lifestyle bloggers and publications, there are plenty of merchants onboarded on Skimlinks that are very useful for travel bloggers. For example, I link to most Expedia hotels and Airbnb experiences though Skimlinks. When I link to clothing brands, cosmetic stores or grocery stores, I also use Skimlinks. You can install their plugin that converts all the links to affiliate links automatically, which will save you a lot of time if you’re a busy person. The downside: the commission is usually a bit lower compared to what you would get if you go direct, that’s why I’m part of Booking.com and Amazon affiliate programs as well and don’t link to them via Skimlinks.
Booking.com Affiliate Program
Booking.com Affiliate Program is my holy grail. Since this was the first program I took seriously, I’ve been using it the longest and it’s probably the best performing affiliate program for me now. While there are different aspects of the program and different products you can advertise, I mostly use it to link to the hotels.
Amazon Affiliate Program
As I mentioned before, I’m also a part of Amazon Affiliate program, but somehow, I couldn’t make it work very well for me. I just get some really tiny payouts from time to time and I think that’s probably because my main audience is UK-based and doesn’t buy as much on Amazon, as folks in the US do. There is a way to avoid all the hassle and just link to Amazon through Skimlinks, which, I think, could be good if you’re just starting out.
Other affiliate programs that might be useful for travel bloggers
There are other networks like Rakuten, AWIN, LTK, which you can join, but as I don’t use them, I can’t really recommend them at all. My advice here’s is start small and focus on 1-2 or maximum 3 networks before figuring out which ones work for you and if you feel like you outgrow them, you can join other affiliate networks as well!
Other ways of making money as a travel blogger: influencer networks
When people usually get into travel blogging, they don’t just start a travel blog. Everybody I know including myself also immediately created a couple of Social Media platforms. Now, when I was starting out, Tik Tok did’t exist and a lot of people were doing Facebook pages and Twitter instead.
Which Social Media platforms should you use as a travel blogger
When people ask which social media platforms should they use as travel bloggers, there is really no right or wrong answer. However, you should probably focus on 1-2 platforms, instead of setting up 5 different accounts and trying to grow them. Also, there is really no point in trying to grow a network you don’t like and use yourself. I’ve seen people trying to grow their Instagram for years, when, in reality, they didn’t even like taking photos and uploading stories, it just felt so unnatural for them, but for some reason, they just kept going.
You can find a travel audience on any platform, from Instagram to Pinterest, you just need to figure out, which one you enjoy growing.
If you’re a fan of Tik Tok, it’s wonderful! There are so many brand opportunities associated with Tik Tok now. If you prefer Instagram – that’s also a good idea, however, you need to focus on reels.
You can also focus on YouTube – it still has a huge niche and a lot of opportunities or even Pinterest – I’ve never gotten a deal by being discovered on Pinterest, however, I use it as an additional network as it’s great for generating traffic to your blog, especially when you’re just starting out!
Facebook is good for older audiences and for building communities and encouraging conversations. Twitter, in my opinion, is only good for complaining about missing orders and delayed flights 🙂
The best Influence Networks for bloggers | Best blogging networks
Most Influencer networks have some sort of minimal threshold of followers you need to reach to be able to join. In case of some platforms, it’s just 1000, while other ones require at least 10k.
Oh and what is an influence network, by the way? It’s a website, which sort connects bloggers to advertisers or brands. Every single influence network is different and has different rules. I can’t say it’s easy to be matched to the advertisers via influence networks for travel bloggers, but it’s worth giving a try. It’s much easier for fashion and beauty as there always new clothing brands trying to get wider reach, but in case of travel, not many travel companies actually post any opportunities there.
However, you can try your luck with some of them. Here are the ones I used before and was successful on a couple of occasions:
Tribe works primarily with Instagram and Tik Tok influencers and it has a lot of campaigns posted there. You need to produce content based on a brief and if the brand likes it, they would pay for it. The downside is that you end up spending a lot of time producing content and only get accepted on a couple of occasions.
You can join Tribe and get a little bonus if you use this link >
Zine is another blogging network that is extremely popular among bloggers. It’s targeted at the US bloggers, however, there are opportunities for UK and Canadian bloggers as well.
The Blogger Programme
The Blogger Programme is mainly targeting UK bloggers, however, they recently started expanding to the US as well. They mostly focus on gifting opportunities, however, sometimes, there are interesting briefs posted for travel bloggers as well.
Finally, another platform that publishes tasks and briefs for bloggers, including travel bloggers is Influencer. Influencer is one of the oldest platforms and it still managed to survive until these days, which is impressive (most platforms I used before have already disappeared from the face of the Earth).
The best way to land deals with brands and tourism boards as a travel blogger
Finally, here’s the last tip from me on how to land deals with other brands and tourism boards (besides pitching yourself) and that is attending travel conferences. The ones like Traverse and TBEX focus on educating early-stage bloggers, while the other ones like Travel Media and World Travel Market are very good for connecting with tourism boards that are keen on working with bloggers!
If you have any questions, feel free to DM me at @lizatripsget – I might be able to help!