On May 22 of 2012, I bought Wordpress Travel Deluxe Pro Website Package. It was a WP theme that would use the Hotels Combined affiliate program as an hotel booker. I had to join that affiliate program to make money but the theme allowed to show Amazon, eBay or other banners too. Still, the main goal was for visitors to search for a deal when booking a hotel.
I bought a new domain and spend a lot of hours and money for content. With the WP theme, domain, paid traffic, SEO and content, I estimate I spent around $250+ in the first few months and more in targeted PPV(Pay per view) traffic/SEO over the years. I followed the instructions given by the seller of the theme.
Because I am bilingual, I also added the French side on my site. Yes, Hotels Combined allowed for that.
PPV Traffic Part 1
At first I could see the potential using PPV direct traffic. In May/June, I had $0.02/$0.03 visitor value since it converted. I was earning 1.5 to 2 times the money I paid in PPV. From memory, I paid around $0.017 per view. The PPV company closed this year so I can see the real total stats.
But in July/August, it dropped to $0.01 thus above my PPV cost. So, I stopped sending directly PPV.
Seeing that it may take longer, I waited for the SEO to kick in and targeted a few cities with PPV that I was sending to the content. It did not lead to earnings to the booking side of the site.
PPV Traffic Part 2
I tried again PPV in October 2014 by sending directly to the booking side but with $0.00 return. I tried
PPV Traffic Part 3
Since I now have a banner traffic service (misfan.com), I created 200 x 200 banners (CPM) and 468x60 (CPC) that I display on my 5 web 2.0, dating sites and other sites. The traffic was sent directly to 3 cities and one general. Again, $0.00 return. At least, I know visitors click on the banners. :)
My Big Earnings
After that much investment, do you think that I had earned back my money? Unfortunately a big NO! I only made $37.44 from 2012 to 2017. The bulk was made in the first 4 months. In May of 2013, I earned a big $0.16.
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
The Hotels Combined affiliate program has a threshold of $100 and it's important like you can read below.
Since I was reevaluating my domains, I decided not to renew that travel domain and move the original content to one of the Web 2.0 site in that niche. I am using eBay on that one and banner ads from my traffic service.
Because of this reason, I logged in to close my account with the Hotels Combined affiliate program. You have to contact them to close your account. So, I politely asked to be paid my $37.44 I legitimately earned. By 2 times, they refused directing me to their Affiliate Agreement. They did give me the choice to stay.
I know that fraud is a big problem with affiliate program owners and the reason for that threshold. If it was my case, I would have been kicked out a long time ago. I even raised the point that I am closing because of no return and I wanted to recoup part of the money I invested. But they don't pay below the $100 threshold even for that reason(closing an account).
Let's say you were paid the first few times but you decide to change niche or stop doing Internet Marketing(IM). You earned $80.00 so far but you can say Bye-Bye to that money!
For the first months I was with them, they made money off my hard work. For me it was a dud and I accept that. That's IM. But if you add all the IMers that doesn't get paid, Hotels Combined makes a big profit from their hard work by not paying them. That's not a way to run an affiliate program and shame on them!
I hoped you read the fine print before joining any affiliate programs.