“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!
Hi Elena, thanks for including me in the post and glad you picked up some tips. Hope you enjoyed the conference and Dublin. Colm
It is my pleasure and I have to thank you !! Hope to see you again soon in the near future and learn off some more tips you have in stall for us. 😉
Meanwhile, I do hope you enjoy having a look around “creativelena.com”! Best wishes, Elena!
Great summary! Nice to read the other tips and tricks of the speakers where I haven’t been.
Thank you so much for your feedback! It was GREAT to spend time together and hang out !!! You must definitely come and visit us here in Austria soon. See you and good luck for all your projects 😀
The comments here about paid bloggers seem off to me. Paying bloggers for coverage guarantees… coverage. But not quality, and for this reader, the ranking for trust goes DOWN when I’ve learned a blogger has been paid to cover a destination on a personal blog. That’s call pay for play or advertorial, and it’s rarely trustworthy content.
If the New York Times is the gold standard for quality, take note: Their policy is to avoid hiring writers who have taken any comps for three years before writing for them.
At the intersection of taking money for coverage and writing NYT status work is… well, not much, really. Sometimes, you’ll find a blogger who’s got the spine to maintain editorial integrity while on PR payroll, and sometimes, you’ll find PR with the faith to stay out of blogger’s content, but mostly, the goal is copy that the NYT wouldn’t touch. Something to consider.
Sorry I missed the chance to meet you — the husband family is aus die Steiermark — though my German is rusty, it’s always fun to meet more Austrians.
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply to the comments I made in my above article. As mentioned in my introduction, I am reflecting what speakers have told us during the sessions. I do agree, though, that there is currently a big discussion concerning editorial integrity when on sponsored trips – here in the German-speaking market, we have therefore established a so-called “Reiseblogger-Kodex” as well as maintaining quality writing criteria through the “PDRB – Plattform Deutschsprachige Reiseblogger”. I would love to talk further on this with you, and hope you will visit Austria any time soon again – Styria is a wonderful region to go to, and maybe we shall see you there?
Take care and best of luck,
I’d love to see a copy of that, German is fine, and I’ve got an in-house ubersetzer — send it my way? pam @ nerdseyeview dot com.
Good on you for the in-house Übersetzer! The code is published here: http://reiseblogger-kodex.com/
I look forward to your feedback on that. Have a great day!
Hi! Just thought I would leave my two cents here as well. Normally ethical Journalism means not only being unbiased but also avoiding the appearance of bias. So regardless of whether it influences your writing, you should not accept any payment or gifts. However, in today’s market most travel Journalists are forced to accept commercially-funded trips because media companies can no longer afford to send them. It’s a very tricky but interesting debate!
On another note, thanks for the TBEX summary, Elena!
Thank you very much for taking the time to visit my blog and leave your comment here. I do agree there is a big debate about the ethics of (online) journalism, and I am really interested to see what the future will hold. Thanks again for your feedback!
Best wishes and I look forward to staying in touch,
Thank you for the positive review and a very detailed wrap up post from TBEX Dublin Elena!
You are most welcome, Rick! Hope to see you again at another TBEX conference in the years to come 🙂
It was a great TBEX indeed! We’re so happy to met you! Thanks for the love!
It was a pleasure meeting you too and we will be in touch for the future! Exciting 😀
Best wishes back to living / surviving in your small German Dorf, hehe. Do come and visit here in Austria, too!
Thanks so much for attending that session on freelancing, Elena. Confession: I’ve been published a few reputable places but on the whole? I lack experience as a freelancer. My 10 mins at the beginning were kinda based on that – which is why I virtually attacked Mr Farley with the microphone. I’m glad I did – he gave some great tips.
I’ve been trying to sum up TBEX Dublin for a week or so now, and the best word I can come up (which is imperfect, not all-encompassing, but somewhere near the truth, I think) is “humble”. I really do believe the right kind of confidence gets you where you want to go, and it’s perfectly possible to be confident to the point of looking reckless and *still* remain humble and non-arrogant. I saw a lot of that in Dublin. It’s how both good art and good business happen.
And if you’re not a little scared going into something, the stakes aren’t high enough, so…why are you doing it? 😉
Humble words 😀 Thanks so much for swinging by, I really appreciate your feedback on my article.
Yes, I do agree that good art and good business go very well together, and I have met inspiring, charismatic people along these lines over the last couple of years.
The right level of confidence is exactly what you need, and I think a good portion of social empathy, too. Feeling and understanding the actual needs of the other half, be it business or personal relationships, will certainly go a long way.
Looking forward to meeting you again soon and meanwhile wishing you safe travels,
Αppreciate the recommenԁation. Will try it out.
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I am glad you are finding my tips and article useful!
Thanks for swinging by and hope you enjoy reading more about my tips & travels 🙂