HOW TO BECOME A PROFESSIONAL TRAVEL BLOGGER – STEP 4
Hey, do you have the coolest blog in the world, but nobody knows it exists? Time to push your blog to the limit and show it to the world.
In STEP 4 I will show you different ways to promote your blog. If you ask yourself: „Hey Lars, you just have a few hundred visitors per month! Why should I listen to you ?“ Good question! Liane and I worked over 10 years in sales and marketing. One thing we learned during that time is to be patient. You cannot expect to have the most known blog in the world after a few months on the market. It needs time, hard work, and luck.
I am sure our marketing strategy will have success and I hope we will have a few thousand visitors per month at the end of 2015. Cross fingers 🙂 But back to the topic. Today we want to push YOUR blog, not ours. Marketing is quite a complex topic and all I can do is giving you some advice. Ready? Let’s start.
YOUR MARKETING STRATEGY
Before you start to promote your blog, it is important to have a strategy. Who is your target audience? Just travelers? How could they benefit from your blog? Who are your competitors? WHEN will you promote WHAT on WHICH platform?
You should start to make a plan. Create a shedule, just like the ones you had in school. Write down how often and on which days you want to publish a post on your blog. Create a social media campaign. Give yourself some time to optimize your whole blog including SEO, brand awareness, and marketing effectiveness.
When does it make sense to contact companies, magazines or social media representatives? Probably not on weekends. Use this time for writing new posts and try to contact them on a Tuesday or Thursday. I know it sounds hard, but if you have a decent plan, it will make your travel blogging life soooo much easier. You should always analyse your success. If something doesn’t work, concentrate on something else (More in STEP 6). Time is the only thing in life that’s limited. Remember that.
HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR BLOG
Oh yes, everybody loves social media. Some people are kind of addicted to it and spend hours and hours on hitten the refresh button on facebook to see if something new is going on. It doesn’t matter if you are a big fan of social media or not, if you want a successful blog, at least two social media channels are a MUST HAVE!
There are a few hundred channels but you should really concentrate on just two or three. Don’t do the same mistake we did and try to be active on every social media channel. Unless you are a total nerd, it has no chance of success. Try to WORK (don’t chat around the whole time) at least one hour EVERY DAY on your social media channels. That’s enough! Social media is a great marketing tool but it is not the only one. Keep that always in mind.
Here are some social media channels you should use. (Choose at least 2 but not more than 5)
1,3 billion people use facebook. That makes it the MUST HAVE social media channel.
If you need more fans, you should NOT buy them. Don’t ask other bloggers to exchange likes. I wrote a bit about it here. If you want more fans, you should contact facebook pages with many fans and ask them to share a post of you. You probably don’t get an answer from these sites right away, but if you are patient and if you keep being nice, the chance is high to get a positive feedback.
In comparison to facebook you can tweet every 10 minutes a new tweet. Don’t be shy and use it as often as you want. If you want somebody to retweet – write RT. Use hashtags like #ttot (travel talk). By the way, also on twitter a picture makes everything a lot nicer and more attractive. A very fast way to increase your followers is to follow other travel bloggers. It’s all about giving and taking 🙂 (in comparison to facebook I recommend it for twitter).
Don’t underestimate google’s social media channel. Some people don’t use it as they think it is not worth it. Never forget, google is very clever. Every single google product works together. It definitely helps to have a google plus account!
I think it is not the best channel to get traffic to your site but Liane and I like it. If you have nice pictures you don’t want to show them just on your blog. Instagram is a very easy and fast way to publish pictuers you just took with your smartphone. If you don’t want to use Instagram, you should think about…
Some bloggers really know how to use this social media channel. We are still at the beginning, but we already like the thousands of cool pictures you can find and pin. I think pinterest has a lot of potential and you should give it a try, if you have cool pictures. However, in comparison to Instagram, it’s not all about your own pictures. A mixture of publishing own pics and pinning shots of others is the right strategy.
No need to be a professional vlogger to use youtube. It is still a great platform with hundreds of million users every day. Yes, you could go to vimeo and other video-sharing websites, but to be honest, if you want to reach a big audience with your movies, youtube is still the best way to do so.
Don’t publish the same content on every channel you use. Imagine, someone follows you on every of your channels. It is kind of annoying and he/she might leave one of them.
Each platform has its strengths. Find them and use them!
Also have a closer look on your results. If you don’t get any feedback for your post, you might have to change your strategy. Maybe the content of your post was not as good as you thought? No problem! Try out something totally different and see how your audience reacts.
You should also try different times of posting. I can’t tell you which time of the day is best for your posts but it is important that you have a schedule and that you post at the same time every day.
Also make sure your content on your blog is easy to share.
On the other hand a lot of people try to sell their SEO “expertise” for good money. It seems SEO is the key to your success and a lot of beginners fall into the trap that you just need SEO and traffic flies in. Don’t listen to those so called “experts”! I worked 10 years in Marketing and SEO is NOT the key. However you should have a decent SEO plug in for your blog and write in a NORMAL SEO friendly way. I talked about it in STEP 3.
To make a long story short. You need SEO as it is important to make your blog more visible on search engines but you should not concentrate just on that!
Travel Trade shows
Trade shows are super to get in contact with the travel blogging industry. You meet a lot of interesting people and potential partners. In my “last life” I was attenting loads of travel trade shows and I highly recommend the ITB in Berlin and the WTM in London. These are, in my eyes, the biggest and best shows and if you have the possibility to visit one of them, you should do so.
But there are also smaller trade shows and conferences regarding the travel industry. I am sure there are a few around your destination every year.
Here are some tips, if you want to visit trade shows and conferences.
- Dress appropriately – (No Hawaii shirt even if you have a travel blog)
- Be polite and behave like a professional business man/woman
- Make a shedule and plan your visit in advance
- Take plenty of business cards
- Make a follow up, if you meet important people
Articles and interviews in magazines
This is the best way to get your blog noticed (in my opinion). There are thousands of webpages that need a good story or great tips. CNN Travel, National Geographic or Lonely Planet might be a bit too big for the start, try others. Wanderlust, Huffington post or hostelworld for example. Send them an email or go and call them directly. Ask in a professional way if they are interested in a guest post or an interview etc.
The big advantage is the short way from their webpage to your blog. Usually it is just one click to your own homepage, facebook, or twitter account. It is super easy for readers to get to the author’s blog. Ask your publisher, if they can link to as many of your social media channels as possible. You can also contact a magazine and ask if they can retweet a certain tweet or share a post on their facebook page. Give it a try!
We work in an online world but there are still millions of great magazines out there who need good stories as well. Start with your local newspaper and, if you keep going, you might end up seeing your story in the NY times. Contact every magazine that fits to your niche. Funny golf ball BoB, for example, found a big fan with a journalist of the GolfJournal – the biggest golf magazine in Germany – and some months later a six-pages-special about BoB’s travel adventures was published. Have a look here.
Of course, the way to your blog is a bit more complicated as people don’t have a direct link they can click on, but if you have an interesting story to tell, the readers will visit your blog for sure. A lot of people think offline magazines are dying but I think it is still a great way to reach many potential readers.
No matter if you want to be published in online or offline magazines, it is important to be patient. If you just find an email adress that says info@… you should try to call someone of the magazine and ask for the right contact person. It can be a very long way until you get published in a magazine and usually magazines prefer travel bloggers who are famous already, but as long as you don’t try it, you don’t have a chance. As always, just make sure you act like a professional and deliver what you promised!
Join the community
There are also many other groups that fit to your niche. Join them!
Be an active commentator
Many beginners love to surf in the internet and to visit other travel blogs. They heard it might be a good idea to leave a comment (especially if it is with comment luv) as they get traffic on their own blog. Okay – this could be a way to get your blog noticed but only, if you comment something useful. If you want to comment on other travel blogs, follow these simple rules:
- READ the post
- Only comment something that refers to the post
- Don’t write short comments like. „Cool post“ or „Thanks for the information“
- Don’t comment that you have a better post on the same topic
- Don’t be rude
- It is important to respond to all comments on YOUR own blog (especially in the beginning). This is an easy way to get loyal followers.
EXTRA MARKETING TOOLS
There are so many ways to promote your blog that I can’t write about all of them in a detailed way. However, I don’t want to hide these ideas from you; here a brief overview of some further tools:
- Make stickers of your blog and leave them EVERYWERE
- Create an infographic (e.g. piktochart.com)
- Interview other bloggers
- Give interviews to other travels bloggers
- Write a book or a free e-book
- Offer free courses or seminars regarding your niche
- Offer a free lecture of your travels in your hometown
- Make a celeb like your blog (I know this is hard 🙂 )
- Get on many blogrolls as possible
- Give free webinars
- Talk about your blog
- Distribute business cards
- Use rss feeds
- Make a raffle
- Create your own travel blogger group or forum
As you can see, there are many many ways to get your name and your blog out there. It is all up to you. YOU have to decide how much time (and money) you want to invest in your marketing strategy. I recommend to set up a cool blog first and to start with some guest posts. Give yourself some time and you will see your traffic will increase.
Questions? Suggestions? Complaints? Leave a comment and I might answer 😛 Next stop: How to make money with your blog… I am sure to see you there 🙂