As promised here is Part 2 of our “Travel Blogger’s Secrets You Can Use” blog post! If you missed Part 1 be sure to click here and check out all the amazing blogging tips we covered in last week’s post. This week we’re talking about the best marketing, monetizing, and travel tips our lovely panelists, Tamara Gruber of We3Travel, Lillie Marshall of Around the World “L”, and Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend in Paris, shared at our August #NIMRI event. So let’s get started!
Top 8 Marketing/Monetizing Tips
1. Soliciting Sponsors: The emphasis should always be on the content you’re creating. “Write it, and they will come,” said Priscilla sagely, “Produce high-quality content, and they will come.”
2. Doing Business With Brands: There are a few ways a blogger can work with a brand: being contacted by people to place ads, contacting people to place ads, sponsored posts, or, if you’re lucky, a sponsored trip.“If I work with a brand or do a sponsored post, it has to be something I believe in. Once your audience doesn’t believe you, you’re done,” Priscilla warned.
“Native Advertising, which is when you have content that is already successful and then work with advertisers who would complement that content, can work very well,” said Lillie.
3. Navigating Negativity: It can be very difficult to figure out what to do when you have a bad experience as a blogger, particularly if the trip is a sponsored one. It is especially tricky because, depending on the country’s laws, you could potentially be sued for a negative review. “Contact the PR people and be sure to start with the positive things and then talk about the disappointments,” advised Priscilla, “I always give them a chance to fix it. If they do, I won’t write a bad review. If they don’t, I will offer to not write about it.”
“Steer away from negative content, even though it can be very effective. Everyone gets fired up over a bad review and they like to share it, but it doesn’t reflect very well on you and can get you into trouble,” offered Lillie.
4. Create a Community: “Facebook has become a pay-to-play platform. You can pay $5 to promote a post (and I do that sometimes), but you won’t see a big difference in your analytics. What’s really powerful is to form alliances and private Facebook groups, not just with other travel bloggers. People who like wine, food, lifestyle, even interior design share readers. The cross-pollenization that happens helps everyone grow,” Priscilla said.
5. Know Your Worth: “It depends on your reach and your demographic,” reasoned Tamara, “I have a group of travel blogger friends, and we share that information.”
“This is why you need the group mentality!” proclaimed Priscilla, “Building your blogging network is key. Whatever you do, don’t write a post for someone for free – it brings the rate for everyone down to $0. You’re time is worth something.
“I would argue that there is a value in giving content to high-traffic sites, so it can be OK to do something like that for free as long as there is some ROI. It’s a value to your resume,” Lillie said.
6. A Photo’s Worth a Thousand Shares (nope, still not right): “For me, Pinterest is very important. It drives traffic to my site, often more than google,” Tamara shared.
“Be sure to link all of your photos: photos on Google and Pinterest should link to your website and have descriptions,” Priscilla said.
“Selling your photos can also be another source of income,” Lillie pointed out.
7. Tally Your Toolbox: “Don’t be afraid to automate! Hootsuite can schedule your posts at the best time for your demographic. You could write the best blog post ever, but if no one ever reads it, it won’t matter,” explained Lillie. To find out when the ideal time for your demographic is, be sure to check out Tweepi.
“The Tail Wind app is great for automating Pinterest,” shared Tamara, “Paying a little for the right tools can be worth it.”
“Google trends is an invaluable SEO tool,” said Priscilla, “In WordPress there is a feature where you can try a bunch of different options and put them in Google Trends to see where you are in searches.”
8. Socialize, Socialize, Socialize (your media, that is): “Learn and get busy on all social media sites and thank everyone who follows (NOT by direct message),” Priscilla advised.
“The biggest mistake people make is to just stop for an extended period of time on social media,” Lille said, “Be consistent and don’t be afraid to self promote!
“Snapchat is the newest thing people must be on, although it does appeal to a younger demographic,” said Tamara, “Its important to know who your audience is and where to find them.”
Top 3 Travel Tips
“Use Trivago or another trip-cost comparison site to look for the lowest fare. Then, take a screenshot and call the hotel. They will always match it, and it’s always better to book through the hotel because they tend to have a better cancellation policy and you also will be eligible for upgrades,” advised Priscilla.
“Tuesday is the best day to book airlines usually,” shared Tamara.
“People would pay a lot of money to stay in your home in beautiful Newport so rent it out on Airbnb to get money for travel and also find places to stay in yourself!” Lillie suggested.
All-Time Favorite Hotel
And, of course, we had to ask about their favorite place in Newport!
Here’s what #NIMRI members were saying on Instagram and Twitter:
Great turnout at #NIMRI! A photo posted by Suzanne McDonald (@newportinteract) on
Learning about travel blogging at #NIMRI at @ParlorNewport. #NewportRI A photo posted by The Newport Blast (@thenewportblast) on
Many thanks to our venue sponsor Parlor Kitchen & Bar
Wow! We covered so much incredible information at our August 12 event, Travel Bloggers’ Secrets You Can Use. Our three amazing panelists, Tamara Gruber of We3Travel, Lillie Marshall of Around the World “L”, and Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend in Paris shared invaluable insights about blogging, marketing, monetizing, and, of course, traveling. We wanted to put together a couple of posts summing up all the best tips for any of you who might not have been able to make it or any #NIMRI members who want to refresh on what they learned. Part 1 will cover a little bit of background about our panelists and their top blogging tips. Stay tuned for Part 2 next week!
How They Got Started
Tamara Gruber: “After a family trip, I was telling a friend everything I’d learned about traveling as a family, and she said ‘you should share this,'” explained Tamara. And thus We3Travel was born. Tamara Gruber’s blog centers around family travel and her family of three have traveled all over the world, from the cathedrals of Europe to the rainforests of Costa Rica. We3Travel was recently named one of the Top 20 Family Travel Blogs in 2015 by Holiday Lettings (a company owned by TripAdvisor). “I try to research trips and make itinerary suggestions that everyone can get something out of,” said Tamara, “Showing kids the world is a gift that we give to them.”
Lillie Marshall: “I started at age 27, sleeping in $10 broom closets because I wanted to travel the world,” said Lillie. Around the World “L” which began in 2009, has covered everything from nomadic budget traveler trips to luxury family travel, now that its creator, Lillie Marshall, is married with a young son (and another on the way! Congrats Lillie!!). She works as an English teacher in Boston, and runs TeachingTraveling.com, a blog that interviews “Teacher-Travelers.” Lillie has one of the largest social media followings of any teacher in the world and Around the World “L” has been consistently selected for Top 100 Travel Blog rankings. She was also recently invited to attend White House Travel Bloggers Summit on Study Abroad and Global Engagement.
Priscilla Pilon: “When I first started writing my blog I didn’t realize other people could see it. I made it for my friends and family. The first time I got a comment from a stranger, I was like ‘who is this?!’,” laughed Priscilla Pilon of The Weekend In Paris. Priscilla has traveled the world, but is an admitted Paris addict. In addition to her own blog, she is the Travel Editor for The Daily Basics (the editor of which she actually met at a #NIMRI event!), as well as a contributor for Upscale Living Magazine, The Daily Meal, and Travel Squire.
Top 6 Blogging Tips
1. Preferred Platform: Lillie, Tamara and Priscilla all recommend WordPress as a blogging platform. “You can really create your own identity since there are so many themes to choose from and they’re so easy to customize,” said Lillie, “and there are so many useful plugins!”
2. Traversing the Themes: Sifting through the bazillion or so WordPress themes can be a bit intimidating but it helps if you know want you want it to look like. Magazine-ish? Newspaper-ish? Word-driven? Photo-driven?
“Your theme must work with Google Analytics. Some older themes don’t,” Priscilla warned, “So, to be safe, don’t choose one that’s more than 3 years old. It also must be mobile responsive. If it isn’t it will be downgraded by Google.” In addition, 80% of internet users access the web through their smartphone. That is big chunk of your target audience who wouldn’t be able to access your website. However, if you already have an older WordPress site you don’t want to change, or you totally fall in love with an older theme the WP touch plugin can make it mobile responsive.
3. Camera of Choice: Priscilla uses a Nikon D5300, but many bloggers, including Lillie and Tamara, are moving from a big DSLR to smaller mirrorless cameras. Lillie chose the Sony Alpha 5100, and Tamara has both a Mirrorless Olympus and a Go Pro. “I also love to use my iPhone!” exclaimed Tamara.
4. A Word For Every Thousand Pictures (wait, that’s not right) : “People are captivated first by a photo,” Priscilla explained, “I like to pick the pictures first, then write the story. I took 8,000 photos on my recent trip to Africa and narrowed that down to about 20 for my article. Obviously you can’t fit all of your pictures in one post, but it is nice to build up a big media library so you can share the other photos on social media or in a later article.”
5. Feelings on Freelancing: “I think freelancing can be a little bit dangerous because you are putting all of this effort into someone else’s site. However, it’s different for everyone, and some people get a lot out of it,” Lillie said.
“I focused first on building my own blog and my own presence before moving into freelancing,” explained Tamara.
“You can get some street cred if you’re writing for other sources, but you have to have a thick skin. I was sending out 20 pitches and getting 19 no’s and 1 positive response. It makes you doubt yourself, but once you get going and they know your reputation, you’ll get 19 yes’,” shared Priscilla, “Just make sure you promise appropriately and over-deliver. Also, be on time!”
6. Share with Care: It isn’t a good idea to post things live in case of stalkers, and never post pictures of children without their parent’s permission. “I write about family travel, but for the longest time I didn’t use my daughter’s name,” shared Tamara, “Finally, it became too awkward writing ‘my daughter’ over and over, but it is something to be cautious about.”
“Make sure that what you’re posting is not traceable to you or where you live, and that it’s appropriate,” advised Lille, “Beware of geo-tagging!”
Next week our travel bloggers top marketing/monetizing and travel tips!
Many thanks to our venue sponsor Parlor Kitchen & Bar
On July 30th, Newport Interactive Marketers held our annual networking event on the Rooftop of the Hotel Viking, Newport’s Best Sunset Spot, which overlooks Newport Harbor. Unfortunately, we were a bit short on sun but that didn’t stop our #NIMRI members. It was an extraordinary success despite the downpour and having everyone huddled together under the tent just made the networking easier!
Our annual rooftop 100% networking event was co-hosted by:
Here’s some of our favorite moments from that rainy night:
— Pieter van Gool (@vanGoolPieter) July 31, 2015
Happy to be at the hotel Viking in Newport Rhode Island for the totally networking NIGHT for #NIMRI #hotelviking @debgoeschel @suebzimmerman @newportinteract @cwetalk A photo posted by Artist, Maker Of Joy 🎨🌀🌸🔨 (@gailahlers) on
Jameson on the rocks at a rainy #NIMRI. #NewportRI A photo posted by Drink Newport – Newport, RI (@drinknewport) on
And here’s our lucky winner at the Newport Jazz Festival!
Many thanks to our venue sponsor Hotel Viking
Instagram = opportunity for your brand, whether you’re a shop or a B2B. Find out how to make Instagram pay off from the leading #InstagramExpert who just spoke at Social Media Marketing World in San Diego. And she’s coming to teach you, here in Newport, for FREE.
Google and Facebook also value visual storytelling, but Instagram is now the fastest-growing social media platform. Now is the time to make Instagram work for your brand or businesses.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to learn
- Ways to make Instagram a part of your comprehensive social media marketing plan
- How to get started on Instagram and have a strategy to support you
- How to generate leads and foster a community for business growth
Plus, see what you can do that’s worked for small businesses and big brands to gain maximum exposure on Instagram and beyond.
Meet The #InstagramExpert Sue B. Zimmerman
Sue B. Zimmerman is the #instagramexpert, founder of Insta-Results (the world’s first comprehensive online Instagram course) and author of the #1 e-book Instagram Basics for Your Business. She’s a popular CreativeLive instructor, powerful speaker on prominent stages like #SMMW15, and highly sought-after business coach. She’s passionate about teaching entrepreneurs, business execs, and marketing professionals. She teaches how to easily leverage the power of Instagram to get tangible business results. A serial entrepreneur, Sue B. has started more than 18 businesses, including her own boutique SueB Do, Boxer Rebellion, and Sue B. Zimmerman Enterprise. With her extensive knowledge in social media and 30+ years of business experience, it’s Sue B.’s mission to teach, mentor, and empower others to be highly successful entrepreneurs.
Missed this great talk? Learn more about video & visuals and more via the NIM media library!
Become a NIM $upporting member for access to the vast video library of past presentations and watch at your convenience.
Newport Interactive Marketers took a broader approach to its usual new-media focus to welcome Harvard Business School’s approach to developing a strategy for your brand.
NEW STRATEGY GROUP Founder P. Lawrence Fagan earned an MBA from HarvardBusiness School, where he spent 11 years researching corporate and organization strategy, six years as a member of the HBS research faculty.
While at HBS, Mr. Fagan contributed to the development of a general theory of organizations and authored numerous business case studies, several of them bestsellers. Subsequently, he worked nine years as a strategy leader causing breakthroughs for clients in diverse industries and geographies with Monitor Company, HBS Executive Education, the Corporate Learning division of Harvard Business Publishing, and independently.
What Is Corporate Strategy?
Strategy is an integrated set of choices an enterprise makes to create a unique and valuable position in market space.
Unfortunately, employees seldom know or understand the corporate strategy.
A study in Australia found that 70% of the company doesn’t “get it” when their CEO talks about strategy.
According to Fagan, we are living in strategy’s dark age. We are so busy with daily tasks that we don’t see the big picture and to develop something that is effective. You must see the big picture.
10 Fatal Misconceptions About Strategy
- Striving to be the best
- Strategy is goal-setting
- Strategy is innovation
- Being all things to all people
- It’s your boss’ problem
- Strategy is secret
- Only abstract
- It’s academic
- Having one doesn’t matter, execution does
- It’s a form of measurement
Strategy and Purpose Are Not the Same
- Purpose: Our call to action
- Values: Our beliefs and code of conduct
- Vision: The immediate future we are creating for the company
- Strategy: The choices we make to build unique and valuable positioning in our markets, enabling us to win.
- Metrics: How we track the performance
The Universal Structure
- A goal that is singular, time-delimited
- A clear advantage to customers, in specific geographies with a winning proposition
- Activity Set – degree of vertical integration, interlinked activities
The Key to Strategy
- If you can’t turn a goal to action, it doesn’t exist
- You must offer something unique and different: If you’re for everybody, you’re for nobody
- You’ve identified a set of problems on customers’ behalf and owning those problems for them – that’s the key!
How to Be Different
- You must always be different. Different in ways that matter to your target customers.
- Deliver reliably on your offering. Don’t say one thing and deliver another. Be reliably different.
What Is Your Winning Proposition?
What is uniquely yours to say?
Paint a portrait to the customer to articulate your value proposition.
For example, what is the unique winning proposition of Coke Zero?
First, determine Coke Zero’s unique qualities and the target audience.
- Zero calories
- For people who like Coke
- Dieting, health conscious
Now, craft your unique winning proposition Only Coke Zero gives you zero calories with the same great taste.
On Tuesday, August 13th, WordPress expert Matt Medeiros highlighted “Must-Have WordPress Plugins” to the Newport Interactive Marketers audience at the International Yacht Restoration School.
To better understand the difference, Matt explained the relationship between a website, WordPress, and plugins in this analogy:
Website : iPhone
WordPress : iOs software
Plugins : Apps
Before installing, make sure that your web host can support a lot of bandwidth in the long run. Once your web host is set up, do thorough research on any plugins you are considering for your site: read reviews, check the number of installations and the dates of the most recent updates. Staying up to date for safety’s sake avoids malware, site lag, and loss of data.
Free and Premium versions are available. Although free ones are great because they’re “accessible, fast and free,” Matt pointed out that there is a difference between Free and Premium—Premium is better.
Premium plugins have more features, better quality, great support, longer product cycle and higher compatibility. If you get what you pay for, it’s worth paying for premium plugins for contact forms and e-commerce.
In addition to explaining the basics, Matt also shared his favorite WordPress plugins:
- Ultimate Coming Soon Page
- Redirection– great for transitioning domain change to WordPress
- Yoast– WordPress SEO and Video SEO
- BackWPup-Wordpress backup plugin
- BackUp Buddy– premium version of BackWPup
- Gravity Forms– premium, very powerful; creates contact forms and can create users
- W3 Total Cache-“cache-ing” helps server, which ultimately helps drive the bottom line for business
- Paid Membership Pro– available in free version and premium version
- Responsive WordPress Slider by Soliloquy
- WooCommerce– E-commerce plugin, also provides extensions for shipping
- bbPress– “be all, end all” discussion platform for WordPress
- JetPack-“a single plugin that does a thousand things”; it has its own analytics and has the capability to cache images and speed up load time
- WPtouch– premium mobile version of WordPress site
- Powerpress– the only one for podcasts
**Can’t find a plugin you want? Matt advises to have a developer create it
On Tuesday, July 24th, #NIMRI hosted its annual networking event on the rooftop of Hotel Viking. Professionals from Rhode Island & across New England enjoyed a summer evening in Newport & connected with new faces.
A big thanks to the staff at Hotel Viking for making the event possible!
On Tuesday, June 25th, a panel of four local professionals spoke at the launch party for AIBPconnect at The Firehouse Theater. Each panelist explained how the project has the potential to grow the Newport economy and improve the quality of life for residents and business owners—NIM is recognized as a great center of leadership to get the people involved.
The Aquidneck Island Broadband Project (AIBP) aims to provide public access to the fiber optic network that is already on Aquidneck Island, bringing better, faster Internet to homes and businesses. It’s no secret that the Internet speed on the Island can be very slow and it’s becoming more of an issue as the use of Cloud-based services rise and the number of stay-at-home businesses and work-from-home professionals increases.
o move AIBPconnect forward, the nonprofit needs to gather internet speed data from Aquidneck Island residents. Ron Corriveau of COS Systems explained that gathering a baseline of data can provide tangible proof that there is a need for access to the fiber optics network, OSHEAN or a comparable network. The more residents who take the speed test, the more evidence can be recovered, and the faster fiber-based broadband internet will boost the island’s economy.
AIBPconnect’s success would address several business growth limitations on Aquidneck Island:
Lack of attention from business located over the bridges — Aquidneck Island needs to attract businesses to the area. An increased amount of businesses would result in a stronger local economy and would require stronger political will. “If you can get the political will to move forward, it’s not particularly difficult” to have officials support a cause, Freiman said. To “position [Newport] ahead of the century,” Carroll says, “the Island must provide a competitive advantage and vital tools for businesses to flourish.”
Lack of support for Cloud-based services — As technology relies more and more on Cloud-based services, a better broadband system needs to be in place. One fact the panel reiterated was a percentage of businesses on Aquidneck Island are run from home and/or are international companies. According to Cohill, an estimated 5 to 10 percent of Newport residents work from home full-time and 15 to 20 percent work from home part-time. Cohill stressed “neighborhoods and businesses have to deliver “business-class services to individual homes.”
Measuring “asymmetrical speed” is one component of AIBPconnect’s speed test. Asymmetrical speed occurs when the download speed and the upload speed are different. It’s not a good thing, because it disrupts the efficiency of Cloud speed. If you use popular services like Skype, Google+ Hangouts, or web conferencing, this is the source of your lag and poor quality.
Lack of education among the community about Internet options like fiber optics — The main challenge of bringing fiber optics to Aquidneck Island is raising awareness about it. The problem exists, it is just a matter of letting people know that there is a solution.
Freiman pointed out that “expanding the quality of infrastructure and making sure everyone has access to the internet” is one of Rhode Island’s state goals. Some of the poorest communities in the United States have improved because they invested in better broadband systems. Across the United Statescommunities are seeing smart growth from high-speed broadband.
Although a fiber optics system would benefit Aquidneck Island, it doesn’t necessarily mean that ‘if you build it, they will come, ’you have to show them’ ” concrete evidence that it will improve the quality of life at home and increase efficiency for business. “We need to start doing it all together,” by working with closely residents and officials, Middletown IT director Wainright said.“It’s a step in the right direction.”
Newport Interactive Marketers gathered on Hotel Viking’s rooftop for the annual Networking, Drinks & Views night. Attendees were encouraged to network and catch up over free light appetizers and drink specials.
Missed this great talk? Learn more about video & visuals and more via the NIM media library!
Become a NIM $upporting member, if you aren’t already, for access to the vast video library of past presentations and watch from your device at your convenience.