Table of Contents
“The (viral) content you produce each day – videos, photos, written content – is at a premium for brands.” (Amy Jackson, Tripit.com)
My first TBEX experience in Dublin from 3-4 October, 2013. Not only did I have a very emotional experience celebrating my 30th birthday with fellow travel writers & friends (my special day coinciding with Conference Day 1 – *yay*!) – I was also really, really impressed with the degree of professional organisation & exchange that welcomed me here. Thank you, Audrey Scott & Daniel Noll for an amazingly moving closing speech: You guys are awesome, clearly leaders in your field. Thank you so much, Don George for illuminating (and humouring 😉 ) us about your particular insights into travel writing and online media editing: Your speech alone was worth travelling to Ireland for me! And finally, thank you all members of the travel industry and fellow travel writers, editors, videographers etc.: I felt honoured to meet every single one of you. Really!
“Where Travel Writers & Travel Industry Connect”: Michael Collins talks to us about successful blogger & PR relations.
“As an online travel writer, you are your own editor today. In fact, you are everything: The editor, the publisher, the designer, the distributor. You have much more control than travel writers had 10 years ago. So be the best that you can be, always.”
Yes! Where have I already heard that? Oh yeah, thank you dear Mark Richards – “Best Dad I Can Be”, for your interesting and entertaining opening speech at Travel Bloggers Unite in Rotterdam! “Content is still king, but it is delivered in a different way. It will win over absolutely everything else.” So, Michael carries on, quality writing is still the biggest issue we face as travel writers. And why is it even more important today? Because there is already so much out there .. “Write like you have been commissioned for the New York Times, all the times.” I like that. And shall keep it in mind! 😉
Today, (good) relationships with PR and tourist boards are now more important than ever. It is important to “sell what you do”. In this, MEASUREMENT is absolutely key. How relevant are you? Do you have a niche that is relevant to the client? The other side of the fence will always be thinking: “Where did my money go?” Also, Michael Collins points out, every online travel writer should virtually follow the person / PR / hotel / tourist board they want to engage with: Very often, projects and ideas are communicated first & foremost through Twitter or Facebook. In the connection travel writers and the industry have, one should be aware that the industry is thinking long term: Planning needs to happen at least two months in advance, if not (much longer). Planning for the next calendar year, for example, is already happening now during the months of September – November, so now is a good time to approach PR & tourist boards to work with for the upcoming year.
Paying bloggers for their work? – “As an online travel writer, you should always think about promoting your indivual strength to the team / industry person you are pitching to.”
At TBEX Dublin conference, I learn that paying bloggers for their work is already fairly established in the North American market, and slowly changing in Europe where paying mostly relates to trustworthiness. The industry is thinking: “Will this person deliver?” Press/ blog trips need a good mix of media to maximize output from the industry’s point of view: A person with a strong Facebook community, somebody doing perhaps radio interviews, print journalists, YouTube video specialists, Instagrammers and so on form a strong team together.
“Print content is dead because it only exists once. Online content is evergreen: Do not just share it once, share it more often! Likewise, you can propagate your own content during a phase of consolidation, or when you travel less during the year. Be The Best To Beat The Rest, and know your place in the bigger picture: Government – Tourist Boards – PR – Travel Writers – Distribution.”
Thank you very much, Michael Collins, for this highly interesting session at TBEX Dublin!
Developing Successful Travel Blogger Campaigns
Conference Day 1 is really packed with interesting information about working with the travel industry from an online travel writer’s point of view. The following points are important when establishing successful relationships with online travel writers:
- Approach bloggers from the right niche – i.e. matchmaking the audience you want to reach
- Think about what is in there for bloggers and what you as a PR can offer: Is it social media exposure, is it newsletter placement, is it further recommendations to people in the industry?
- Allow bloggers to (fully) experience your product, including authentic and unfiltered writing about the experience (“the way it is / has been”)
- Strike up formal partnerships : Social sharing, guest posts, direct booking links from websites
Thank you, @colmhanratty (firstname.lastname@example.org) for these interesting tips!
Vanessa from Turnipseedtravel then went on to talk about her experience in developing successful travel blogger campaigns with members of the tourism industry in North America. It has proved to be really interesting, particularly when looking at the learning curve that we can still strike in those cooperations here in Austria.
From a blogger’s point of view engaging with the industry, you should first think: “What it is that you want? Do you want someone to facilitate your travel? Do you want to gain exposure? Do you want to promote your niche?” Answers to these questions are vital: Do your research. Have an up-to-date presskit. Be clear on your bottom line – i.e. if you really need free accommodation on a hosted trip, go for & be clear about it. Stay flexible. Offer something new and mutually beneficial for both parties, i.e. new videos for the hotel, etc.: Add more than just a standard review. For example, offer to do interviews, photo essays, or maybe ad space on your blog. Pair up with transportation networks to get to your travel destination, for instance through the accommodation you work with. Chances are they do not have a transportation budget, but they might have an advertising budget, giving you money and reference on your website.
There are also advantages of working with small partners who only have limited resources: As a blogger, you get new stories and are able to focus on new angles to existing stories and destinations. Small businesses know each other and will keep recommending you. Creative proposals also give you a lot of individual attention: “They can vouch for you!” If you want to work with a brand, make sure you use their product or you want to, or know the destination well. “Google your date” in that sense, and do the follow up !
The Art of Freelancing: “Do not go into it with any debt.” (Mike Sowden)
Mike Sowden concluded TBEX Day 1 by talking about the “art of freelancing”. His first and foremost recommendation: “Do not go into it with any debt!” It is an exciting task to become 100% self-sustainable on (online) travel writing, but the nature of payment in the first couple of months and years becomes really erratic. If you are a freelance travel writer, you usually pay upfront and then need to make a living by earning the money back from writing. Also, he goes on to say, there is a (fine) line between arrogance and confidence. Have your level of self-confidence and sell your work, but not yourself, i.e. stay modest about who you are. Knowing your worth and identifying what you need will help you further the process. Spend the least time possible on things you don’t like. 😉
That is absolutely right, Mike! Will try and keep doing that. Thank you so much for your interesting session! I really enjoyed listening to you about the “art of storytelling” at TBU Rotterdam in May this year! I take we could all learn a great deal: See for instance what my friend & fellow culinary / creative writer Monika Fuchs from Germany has to say about TBEX Dublin 2013. Tomorrow, I will update you further about more “pearls of travel writers’ wisdom”, hence stay tuned.
Thank you everybody for their valuable tips & insights!