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Travel Bloggers’ Secrets You Can Use: Part 2

 

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.”

The Work With Me Section of the We3Travel Website

The Official “Work with Me” section of We3Travel’s About Page

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.

One of We3Travel's Pinterest boards

We3Travel on Pinterest © Photos by Tamara Gruber

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.

The Newport Interactive Marketers' Hootsuite dashboard

Here’s a look at the Newport Interactive Marketers’ Hootsuite dashboard

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.”

Snapchat logo

Snapchat! If you want to learn more about using Snapchat as a blogger, check out AdventurousKate

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

The Phoenix Resort in Belize

Balcony view from the Phoenix Resort in Belize © Photo by Lillie Marshall

Lillie’s Pick: The Phoenix in Belize “No better place for a babymoon!” 

 Kona Village Resort in Hawaii at Sunrise

The now closed Kona Village Resort in Hawaii © Photo by Tamara Grub

Tamara’s Pick: Kona Village Resort in Hawaii “Unfortunately, after 45 years, this resort was forced to permanently close their doors after the March 2011 tsunami.”

A hammock overlooking the ocean at The Bitter End Resort in BVI

The gorgeous Bitter End Resort in BVI © Photo by Priscilla Pilon

Priscilla’s Pick: The Bitter End in the British Virgin Islands “I’ve never been sponsored to stay at this hotel, but I visit every year!”  

And, of course, we had to ask about their favorite place in Newport! 

Castle Hill Inn from the sea

Castle Hill Inn from the sea © Photo by Priscilla Pilon

Priscilla’s Pick: Castle Hill Inn “They have the best lunch and the best views!” 

hotel viking

The beautiful Hotel Viking (#NIMRI venue sponsor for our annual networking event!) © Photo by Lillie Marshall

Lillie’s Pick: Hotel Viking “This is the place to go to feel like royalty!” 

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

Register for the next #NIMRI event now! 

100% Networking at Newport’s Best Sunset Spot

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:

NIM members networking under the tent 2015-07-30 19.26.04

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All the lovely snacks provided by @HotelViking!

All the lovely snacks provided by @HotelViking!

Such an amazing giveaway! Lucky #NIMRI member Pieter van Gool won 2 tickets to the Newport Jazz Festival and he had a blast!

Such an amazing giveaway! Lucky #NIMRI member Pieter van Gool won 2 tickets to the Newport Jazz Festival and he had a blast!

 

 

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Jameson on the rocks at a rainy #NIMRI. #NewportRI   A photo posted by Drink Newport – Newport, RI (@drinknewport) on

The rain couldn't dampen these #NIMRI members spirits!

The rain couldn’t dampen these #NIMRI members spirits!

 

 

And here’s our lucky winner at the Newport Jazz Festival! 

Many thanks to our venue sponsor Hotel Viking

Sue-Zimmerman

#InstagramExpert National Speaker Comes to Newport

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-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.

Perry Fagan

What Is Corporate Strategy?

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 HarvardNEW STRATEGY GROUP Founder P. Lawrence FaganBusiness 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

  1. Striving to be the best
  2. Strategy is goal-setting
  3. Strategy is innovation
  4. Being all things to all people
  5. It’s  your boss’ problem
  6. Strategy is secret
  7. Only abstract
  8. It’s academic
  9. Having one doesn’t matter, execution does
  10. 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.

Don’t miss monthly #NIMRI gatherings.

Must-Have WordPress Plugins

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:

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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.

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Matt Medeiros explains the effectiveness of WordPress plugins

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

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Thanks to the International Yacht Restoration School and Bridge Liquors for hosting!

Newport Interactive Marketing

Networking, Drinks, and Views Over Newport

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.

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A big thanks to the staff at Hotel Viking for making the event possible!

Better Businesses With Better Internet

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.

To 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.

The panelists Corriveau,  the City of Newport’s Paul Carroll, CEO of OpenWide Networks Andrew Cohill,Town of Middletown IT Director Matthew Wainright, and Stuart Freiman of Broadband RI —supportAIBPconnect’s goals and expressed hope that the people and the City of Newport will support the project as well.

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From Left: Corriveau, the City of Newport’s Paul Carroll, CEO of OpenWide Networks Andrew Cohill,Town of Middletown IT Director Matthew Wainright, Stuart Freiman of Broadband RI, and Ron Corriveau of COS Systems

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.”

Networking, Drinks, and Views Over Newport

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.

Newport Interactive Marketing

Analyzing Google Analytics With BU Instructor Jay Murphy

 

Missed March’s NIM Analyzing Google Analytics?

Jay Murphy dug into Google Analytics, showing NIM attendees how they can see who is coming to their websites and engaging with them. With this valuable information, brands can provide more specific information that attracts a greater number of followers.

Why it’s important to know who is following you

Knowing who is following your business online offers unprecedented advantages. With this information, you can clearly identify your target market as well as the customer base  you are trying to reach. You can then implement new strategies to find and attract  potential customers you have yet to reach.

Need to know more about Google Analytics? Sign up for Jay’s workshop at the Chamber of Commerce in Middletown, R.I. [Date Change: JUNE 6]

Google Analytics is a free tool that will enhance your marketing strategy. Jay covers all the basics as well as how to interpret the results and how to make solid business decisions from the data. We we’re able to explore advanced topics like how to setup features such as:

  • Dashboards
  • Integrating with Google AdWords
  • Goals and Segments and more.

This program is free, and it gives you great insights into your website traffic and marketing effectiveness.

Navigating Google’s powerful, flexible and easy-to-use features lets you see and analyze your traffic data in an entirely new way. With Google Analytics, you’re more prepared to write better-targeted ads, strengthen your marketing initiatives, and create higher-converting websites.

If you have a website and you don’t leverage Google Analytics, you’re throwing money away!