When trying to find the perfect affiliate marketing niche, many people find themselves gravitating towards the travel industry. When someone is able to succeed with affiliate marketing in the travel niche, it can be insanely profitable. People often spend thousands of dollars on vacations, so even if you only earn a small commission percentage through an affiliate program, it can often stack up to quite a bit of income.
The problem most people have with the travel niche as it pertains to affiliate marketing is the competition. When you perform a Google search in the travel related industry, you see the same big players show up all the time. Sites like PriceLine.com, Hotels.com, and other sites funded by million dollar ad campaigns flood the search results. So clearly it’s a niche that can’t be won. Right? Wrong.
First, I’d like to give you some pointers on how to succeed in the travel industry as an affiliate marketer. Once I do that, I will show you a case study of a very successful affiliate marketer that you’ve probably never heard of. This case study isn’t something that was started this year or even 5 years ago. This site has been up and running for well over a decade and has seen consistent long-term traffic and revenue, almost 100% driven by organic search.
So let’s dive in, shall we?
The Travel Niche Is NOT Oversaturated
First of all, I want to get one myth out of the way. The travel industry is not, nor has it ever been oversaturated with affiliate marketers. Sure, there are plenty of individuals attempting to make money in the travel industry with zero success… But you’re going to do things differently. And sure, there are enormous corporate run websites that you as an individual will probably never be able to compete with… But you’re gaol won’t be to compete with them.
You see, one of the most difficult aspects of affiliate marketing is finding that perfect balance. You need a niche that has enough people searching for information, but you also need to have a limited amount of competition. Once you find that sweet spot, you can develop a site that can actually compete in the travel industry.
Let’s get into more details on that right now.
How To Choose A Niche Within’ The Travel Industry Niche
The best thing to do in the travel industry is to start broad and then narrow down your idea into a very specific area. For this example, let’s use the state of Wisconsin. The state of Wisconsin certainly doesn’t compare to the tourism in other states like Florida or Hawaii, but In 2014, visitors to Wisconsin spent $11.4 billion. Just imagine if you could only tap into a tiny percentage of that! The potential is enormous!
However, if you attempt to create a website about Wisconsin travel destinations, you would be buried in all the noise. Wisconsin is a big state with a lot of tourist destinations, so what if you narrowed down even further?
There’s a nice spot in Wisconsin that is a great regional tourist destination called Door County, Wisconsin. Doing some basic research online, I found out that Door County, Wisconsin receives approximately $31.8 million per year in revenue from tourism.
So, what if you focused your site specifically on Door County, Wisconsin? This is not a travel destination most of the national brands focus on. Where they focus on broad based search terms, you can focus on very specific search terms related specifically to Door County.
How To Quickly Analyze Thousands Of Search Terms
Ok, so in our example, we’ve decided to create a site about Door County, Wisconsin. However, when we search for things like Door County Wisconsin Hotels in Google, we are greeted with some pretty tough competition. Sites like Expedia.com and DoorCounty.com rank at the top with a lot of other big players following closely behind. How could you possibly compete with this??
Simple. You don’t.
Assuming your affiliate marketing site is an information based site, there would be no reason for you to compete for keywords like Door County Hotels or Door County Car Rentals. Instead, you want to go after all the search terms the big dogs aren’t going after.
To do this, you’ll need to perform some keyword analysis. There are many keyword research tools out there, but there is a brand new keyword research tool I LOVE right now and it’s totally free. Check it out on SERPS.com here.
Now, with that keyword tool, we can just type in Door County into the search box and see what comes up. Go ahead and do that now…
You will notice on the list, there are many keywords with a decent search volume that you may not have ever considered before. Check out ‘door county trolley’ as an example. Or what about ‘Door County Weddings’? You’ll also notice a lot of keywords related to snowmobiling and fishing.
In essence, you can become an authority in just one of these areas or you can create a site that becomes an authority in several of them. If I was planning a wedding in Door County, Wisconsin and came across a website dedicated JUST to weddings in Door County, Wisconsin, I would be very pleased. That’s not something Priceline or Orbitz can replicate very easily.
Finding The Perfect Balance
You now have a decision to make. Do you want to have a site that is about a destination in general? Or do you wan to focus on just one type of tourist?
What I mean is, if you wanted to focus on Door County, Wisconsin in general (hotels, fishing, snowmobiling, weddings, restaurants, and everything else), it would take you a long time and many, many, many, many hours of work for you to truly become an authority site about Door County. In that case, you might want to consider going after an even smaller tourist destination in Wisconsin.
However, if you wanted to focus on just one aspect of Door County, like say, fishing in Door County, you have the potential to become an authority much faster, even though it’s a smaller niche. You could create a site all about the best fishing guides, bait and tackle stores, the different lakes and where the fish like to hide, the rules and regulations on the lakes, etc. You could build a site with thousands of pages just on fishing in Door County, Wisconsin. You could probably even create a forum, Facebook group, and build an entire community just centered around fishing in Door County. That is a much more achievable goal than competing in a more broad market.
The advantage to going broad, of course, is that the earnings potential is much higher. The disadvantage is the number of competitors and the time it will take you to get there, if you ever even make it that far.
The advantage to going narrow is you can see success much quicker, but you probably can’t make as much as if you went more broad.
What I usually recommend is to go with a narrow target audience (people who like to fish in Door County, in this case) and if you find the need to expand, create other sites that do the same thing in other niche areas (weddings in door county, skiing in door county, etc.).
When you go really narrow and focus on one specific group of people, advertising becomes easier and more targeted, plus your website visitors will love you and view you as an expert. You should try to make people feel as if you built the website just for them. “Going on a fishing trip to Door County? Here, I made this site just for you! It has everything you need to have an awesome fishing trip!”
So, go back to the SERPS.com keyword tool and this time, type in ‘Door County Fishing’. Check out all those ideas you can write about! Jus this one little niche is enough for an entire site, easily.
Plus, you don’t have to stop just at fishing. People who go on fishing trips need a place to stay, a way to get around, and would be interested in other forms of entertainment while they are there. The monetization potential is massive and expands out from just fishing. You simply acquire that audience and make fishing the main focus of the site. From there, you can help show them the best places to stay on the best lakes with the best boat rentals and then show them the best places to party or relax after a day on the lake. Pretty cool, right?!
A Live Case Study
Now, we’ve mostly focused on the Door County example, but that is just a hypothetical example. What about a real life example that you can actually look at?
You got it!
Check out the website Anguilla-Beaches.com. That website was started in 2002 by an 11 year old girl. In about 1 year after she began that site, she started earning a small income. These days, she’s an adult and it’s her full-time income. Instead of focusing on big Caribbean travel destinations, she focused on the small island of Anguilla, her families favorite travel destination. Her family ended up moving to the island and she saw it as a great way to make some money by building an info-based site about the area. She has since become somewhat of a local celebrity as she has helped many local businesses acquire customers.
Nora, the sites founder, does not even have to rely on affiliate marketing partnerships anymore. She sends referrals to local businesses in exchange for finders fees and even sells her own island discount card.
Once the site was built up, she only began maintaining the site a few hours per week, but just look at how stable her website traffic has been over the years. It doesn’t appear that Priceline.com or any of the other major travel brands have impacted her business whatsoever. Why? Because she’s not Priceline.com and she’s proud of that. In essence, she really doesn’t have any competition at all. She’s unique and has used that to her advantage.
Some Final Thoughts About Affiliate Marketing In The Travel Industry
If you have a desire to succeed with affiliate marketing in the travel industry, don’t be too put off by the competition. If you follow some of the tips given in this article and find that perfect niche in the perfect location, there is no reason why you can’t be just as successful as the 11 year old girl who started Anguilla-Beaches.com.