Tips for My Fellow Travel Website Publishers

How to make more money with your website… a talk to travel bloggers at the TBEX show.

I have made a full time living from our website, since 2005. I know many of you work hard at your sites and want to do the same. I spent two years working at home and doing a full time job before the website became my only job.

Here are some fundamentals and tips:Traffic is what you need more than anything else to monetize your site. As the founders of Google would tell you, first develop content, then you’ll get traffic, then you can monetize. But first, come up with interesting articles that are useful and practical. And find people besides yourself to create them. You cannot ever have enough content, don’t stop creating it!

Avoid white type on black backgrounds and tiny type. Make your site articles focused, and use the keywords in the headlines and beginning sentences. Google plus your stories!
When you link to someone in an article, send the link and ask for a backlink. If you can get an intern bring them on board to do this. We have two interns every semester and they do this and blog and write stories.

List your site on writer’s websites, offer to pay for content, do interviews with high traffic site editors, publish book excerpts. Create post create new content EVERY DAY.

Reach out for linking partners, work on big link projects that give you a bunch of links in exchange for some on your site. Link from keywords that you know match the ones people use to find you.

Try out affiliate programs until you find the ones that work. After you get traffic from commenting, posting to Facebook, tweeting Stumbling and Pinteresting, you can start earning affiliate money. We tried all of them and my advice is—get to know the people behind the programs personally. Reach out to them, ask them how we can make more, ask them for creative ads to run in newsletters. Ask them how they work for content versus transaction sites.

Air, hotel, car rental, RTW tickets, travel insurance, Amazon are what work for us.

We find conversions best on pages with articles explaining topics like Around the World tickets, cell phone rentals and car rentals in Europe.

We find Google ads in the center of the text to be the most effective, by about 90 percent. Google link units, the one word ones, never work and the skyscrapers have minimal effect. We find the rectangle in the content and the top banner produce 90% of our revenue from Google.

We work with Travora Media who publish display ads on our site. They are looking for new partners and I can get you in touch with them. We run back up ads from AdNet the same size as Travora ads and these pay us when there are no Travora ads to run. Many ad networks will be happy to run back up to your regular display ads. To back up AdNet when there are no ads, we put in house ads for travel insurance.

Display ads don’t earn as much but they give your site the look of a real travel magazine. They are good to encourage direct advertising, which we do in the form of buttons and ad packages.
We reach out to advertisers directly and offer them a chance to have articles and packages to promote themselves on relevant pages. We have worked with Wines of Chile on a contest and another contest that gave way Around the World airline tickets and lots of other prizes,  using the display ad network to put their ads on all of our pages for a designated timeframe. Our ad network lets us run our own ads in between their ads so we can give people hundreds of thousands of pageviews over the course of a month or two months.

Working directly with advertisers yields the biggest return and doesn’t cost us commissions. Try to find tour operators, tourism boards and other entities who benefit from brand advertising…. They might not be getting direct referrals but they enhance their brand message which makes their own Google ads get clicked more and brings them more traffic, and ultimately, more leads and sales.