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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! 

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!

matt-medeiros

Must-Have WordPress Plugins

WordPress expert Matt Medeiros highlighted “Must-Have WordPress Plugins” to the Newport Interactive Marketers audience at the International Yacht Restoration School. Some of the topics discussed included:

  • Search Engine Optimization
  • E-mail newsletter signups
  • Photo sliders
  • E-commerce
  • Membership site
  • Security
  • Backup & more

Meet WordPress Plugins Expert, Matt Medeiros

matt-medeiros
Matt is the Co-founder of SlocumStudio.com, a leading WordPress agency. Also, he is the co-host of popular WordPress podcasts MattReport, PressThis and Week in WordPress.

 

 

 

 

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.

What A Website Should Really Cost: A Look Into NIM’s October Event

From wanting to launch a knitting site, to running a marketing firm, Marketers from all sides of business came hear just what this month’s panel had to say. Newport Interactive Marketers’ wrapped up 2012 focusing on websites. What are the must-haves? How to save money on site development? What type of expert help do you need and can you afford it?

The panelists answered questions from those who’ve never had a website, to those who create websites professionally. Meet the Panel:

 John Picozzi

   Senior Web Developer at Rubic Design + Interactive, John is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University and holds a bachelor’s degree in web design and e-commerce as well as an associates degree in web development. John is highly skilled across all areas of website development and design: from server-side coding, to content layout, and site architecture. He comes to Rubic Design + Interactive from the advertising and PR industry where he built and maintained web solutions for national brands like CVSCaremark, Marriott International, and Dunkin Donuts.

Matt Medeiros

  Co-founder of Slocum Studio, WordPress architect, business development, blogger at MattReport.com, and inbound marketer. Helping others on the web.

Sean Walther

  Sean Walther is a freelance web developer and has been doing what he loves for almost 15 years. Recently Sean has been specializing in WordPress deployments, but has a varied history with many types of web technologies.  Prior to his current freelance role, Sean was the CTO of a web development firm in Boston for 3 years. Sean is a graduate of Boston University, with a BA in computer science.

 David Englund

owner of Englund Studio. Founded in 2002 offering graphic design and illustration services, Englund Studio has since been the winner of both the Webmasters Award and the American Design Award for creative website design. Improving customer interaction and attraction through WEO (Web Experience Optimization) is a vital concern. Englund Studio has created custom websites, WordPress sites, mobile sites, blogs, and squeeze pages for customer lead generation. David is preparing to launch a podcast show called Marketing Differently.

 

Key takeaways from October’s Newport Interactive Marketers

  • You get what you pay for. If you’re willing to pay more, you’re going to get more. So what is more: a more custom website, to a more involved developer who can plan for where your business is headed.
  • Those with smaller budgets were able to learn about alternatives, such as website templates, which allow you to develop and update your own website, using a platforms such as WordPress. But be sure to purchase your own domain, such as NewportInteractiveMarketers.com.
  • Another cost effective way of having an online presence without breaking the budget, would be working with a designer who can put together a basic website without any extensive plug-ins or features. Lindsay Logan from WOMA design, a Newport Marketer, talked about ways that she personally helps clients with this and how it is less costly than most options.

 

Website considerations BEFORE meeting with a developer

  • Know your audience. What are they looking for in a website? Know the main draw of your audience and emphasize it in your website. Should that be the focus of your website that is easy to access on the home page.
  • Bring a list of competitor’s websites and examples of the similarities and differences you want.
  • It’s not what you want to see on the site, it’s what your viewers need to see. Do what’s best for your business & let web designers help you, after all you’re paying for their expertise!
  • Come with a theme to start out. Panelists warned against free themes, like Theme Forest due to malicious or sloppy code.

 

Where do you want to be in two years?

  • Don’t be afraid to tell the person your working with, your budget. If you have a smaller budget like $1,500 then maybe craigslist or WordPress is better for you. It’s important let them know these things and you can discuss the best options within your budget range.
  • Designers, Developers, Marketers, SEO, and content strategists are all incorporated into the FULL process of designing a website: Keep in mind that this is what you’re paying for and discuss what each will be able to do for you. Know what you’re paying for and let them know what you want from them.

 What sparked debate?

WordPress & Drupal

  • Is WordPress good? Yes. Small budget? Go for it. Test it out. Use if for a year, higher income – then spend the money. Website = Virtual salesperson.
  • WordPress does not have a great online ecommerce store, where as Drupal does.
  • WordPress plug-in options: fantastic! Includes: Contact for 7, advanced custom fields, designer clients (extra forms on pages), WD Photo Kit, Contact 17.
  • You always have the option to pay for it. Why pay for it when you can get it for free? Support! You get what you pay for.
  • Web developer should have no excuse or at least a good reason not to have a WordPress up and running for you.

Audience’s questions answered:

Is the cost is going up or down?

The prices of websites have gone down because now there are free options to creating websites and many people are able to do it themselves with these options.

Why go local in choosing a developer?

Go Local! Meet with designers face to face and get to know the person that’s helping to develop your business. Also, be able to receive training on how to use and update the website! You want to know the where about of your developer, constant contact is key, especially when you’re paying for it.

What are the price ranges that our panelists are charging their clients?

They currently start looking at projects in the $1,500 as a starter. And average prices range from 5,000 to 10,000.

What is the value that developers add to the price?

The value that developers give to the price is time. They take care of it, maintain it, and spend the most time with the website’s construction and maintenance.

What are some key components a website should have?

  • Blog OR consistently updated with content
  • News Letter
  • Email options but not a barrier to website, always keep your website accessible without effort by your viewers.
  • Search Bar & Social Media Icons
  • Should you have a feed of social media? Depends on whether or not you’re social media is a key part of your business and whether or not it is a good outlet that would be appealing to your customers.
  • Definitely Images and Video – CRITICAL. Less reading and more media.

 

And remember, a website is a virtual sales person, so take your time and make sure it’s saying exactly what you want it to say!