How to monetize blogging

08 November 2011

Having doubled the room capacity after the first session of Social Travel Market we were treated to some very frank and honest opinions from travel companies working with bloggers such as Roundtheworldflights and Sunvil and from the travel bloggers earning money from blogging such as Andy Jarosz at 501places.
 
Stuart Lodge from Roundtheworldflights
Stuart has recruited a number of travel bloggers and shared his view that “if after a month of publishing the clicks are less than the cost of one of your top performing adwords then you are winning”.
 
Three key takeaways
Stuart shared the following:
 
1. Good writers cost money
2. They are open to deals
3. Expect to pay £100-150 for a 4-500 word blog although bulk deals are possible.
He said you can pay less than this for a rehash of something if it has been published in the press recently.
 
He strongly urged bloggers to put a media pack on their site so that travel companies can quickly determine whether they would be a suitable partner to work with.
 
He suggested the following sites for finding bloggers:
Twitter, Travelllll.com, The Travel Editor, Weekend supplements/Travel Magazines.
 
There was also some discussion and doubt about the usefulness of Klout for providing any reliable measure of a blogger’s influence, given that you can push your scores up very quickly without any real effort.
 
What articles work best?
 
1. Integrated articles which are on a sub domain of your main site.
2. Planning is important and he now has some articles getting over 50,000 hits.
3. Unique destination content is good and works best
 
What do we expect now?
Stuart mentioned that he had achieved the following results with their blogs:

 
  1. Increased site stickiness and higher visit times.
  2. Lower bounce rate – 33% to under 1%
  3. Authority in the market which enhances their brand reputation.
 
Stuart said that you do become a curator of editors and you need to think like an editor but recommended that you do not interfere too much.
 
Andy Jarosz – 501places
Andy Jarosz then proceeded to talk about the art of  “Flogging Blogging”.

 
 
Andy started off writing quirky stories for Discount London which then became more product based and are now linked to the site.
 
He was then asked to write a guest blog for Tourdust and to invite his readers of his blog at 501places into Tour Dust.
 
Iberostar then contacted Andy as a group of bloggers to write a blog on a theme  about TV programmes shown about their countries featured.
 
At the start of 2011 Sunvil asked Andy to write a blog for them called Sunvil Traveller and Andy writes a story a week on Latin America. Andy supports the post with tweets and on his own site aswell and he shares his readers with his clients.
He has also written for VTravelled aswell.
 
Noel Josephides from Sunvil Holidays
Noel then proceeded to share his learnings on social media. Sunvil focus on Greece, Namibia, Zambia, Portugal with sales of £25million and carry 25,000 passengers a year.
 
£200,000 spent on producing brochure
£70,000 on PR
£52,000 on advertising and PPC
15% of their capacity on Greece is booked online
 
Noel shared that they have 429,999 visitors who spend 4.43 minutes on the site with a bounce rate of 30.82% They employ a SEO agency and have 300 Twitter followers and 300 Facebook fans.
 
Blogging has helped them to optimise their sites. They used to create whacky tours which created lots of media attention but did not sell but drove traffic to the site and then they still got the business as the customer booked a normal tour instead.
 
During the question time the topic proceeded to user generated content from customers and how you can integrate this into the site given the importance of customer reviews which are more trusted than other types of content.
 
During a quick survey of the large audience it was interesting to note that only a few members of audience actually pay bloggers and only a few bloggers were actually getting paid for their travel writing. This suggests that the industry has a long way to evolve so that it works for both parties financially.
 
One audience member asked about the use of video and Stuart said video is expensive to create although they had been successful with 325,000 views on their YouTube channel.
It was clear that several audience members were struggling to find out how to find the right type of blogger as one audience member from a travel company in Brazil was trying to find someone to write about youth and sports market.
 
One tricky topic that got discussed was how your structure the deal with writers regarding intellectual property. Stuart claimed that they are able to use their blogger material across all our sites and bloggers agree not to provide the content to their competitors.
 
The optimum length for a blog was suggested to be 4-500 words and image resolution 640x480 jpeg.
 
The world of blogging is still evolving and more business models will emerge which create the right combination of content for the different market segments looking for bloggers. Already I noticed that there are a number of bloggers specialising in video blogs aswell as key regions.
 
Watch this space for our next blog on the whys and wherefores of video blogging and the Silk Road Blogger Challenge and Treasure Trail event last night.
 
 
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