Guest post by The Travel Tart.
My name's Anthony, and I’m the blogger and author at The Travel Tart – Offbeat Tales From A Travel Addict. I write about the funny, offbeat and downright strange aspects of world travel today.
As you can gather by the name and picture I don’t take myself too seriously. Yes, that's me in the photo! But I’d like to share with you some awesome lessons that I've learnt over the past couple of years blogging about having a crack at something you love doing by giving first.
Sounds strange, but bear with me.
For some background, I love travelling, and I caught the travel bug after being sent to a former war zone – Kosovo – in 2001 for work. I experienced so many confronting things, but I loved interacting with the different people and cultures there for a month, and I was hooked on travel for life. Since then, I’ve traveled to 40 odd countries, but that’s nowhere near enough. That travel bug will never go away!
Blogging From Slow Beginnings
I started The Travel Tart blog because I was frustrated with how traditional media worked, and I saw the huge potential of travel blogging after meeting many inspiring people at a Blogging Conference in Indonesia. I didn't have a blog at the time: I was writing travel articles for a travel agent’s website, so I decided to have a go on my own and start a blog.
At the end of 2008, I could barely register my domain name. I had to ask one of my geeky engineer mates to help me do it. Then one of my IT geek friends installed WordPress for me, but it took me a while to figure out how it worked. The first theme I used was an ugly piece of junk. But the ugliest blog on the net is better than the perfectly planned website that isn’t on the net.
Since I've started blogging, I set a goal of taking consistent action, posting on my blog around two to three times per week. I deliberately went for the funny or offbeat angle of travel as a point of differentiation, because I noticed that was a gap in the travel blog market. But I've found it’s easier to be yourself and blog in your own style than it is to copy someone else. And the feedback I've received is that because I’m not so serious, this draws people back to my blog because I’m different. Travel is meant to be fun anyway.
The More Good Stuff You Send Out, The More You Get Back
After a while, I started to have an increase in contacts from all over the place – other travel bloggers, hotel websites, and other travel related industries. This made me realize that there are so many opportunities out there in the online world that I had no comprehension of before I started travel blogging. They were offering things like giveaways on my blog, free accommodation in exchange for blog posts, and all sorts of things. I wondered if this could extend to maybe scoring the odd trip here in there.
Then I discovered Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how this could drive long-term Internet traffic to my blog. I applied SEO to all my blog posts, and noticed that I was getting long-term search traffic. For example, Google the terms ‘Funny Travel Blogger’ or ‘Australian Travel Blogger’ and guess who pops up.
After a while of building an online profile and becoming a Z grade Internet celebrity, I decided to see if I could feed my travel addiction via some sponsored trips. How awesome would it be to do something you love with someone else picking up the bill?
Sounds great, but this wasn't my line of thinking. I wanted to offer something first that would add great value to someone else's business.
What do I mean by this? I approached travel related people, and SHOWED them how I could add value to their business. I explained and de-mystified the Internet, and provided evidence like traffic graphs on how I can target keywords to make ensure long-term search engine traffic that has an indefinite shelf life.
Remember, traditional media like radio, TV and print media like newspapers and magazines have a limited shelf life. I became a nerd and even wrote a report showing traffic stats, which proved what I said I could do. I included traffic graphs, lists of keywords and their search engine position, and the monthly global keyword search volume.
For each trip, I pumped out a tonne of content – around 20-30 blog posts, plus used Twitter, Facebook and loads of other social media. I wrote the posts on my blog, with links back to them for every post. This has led to tens of thousands of page views on my site for each trip.
I wasn't ‘paid’ for the trips but I was given loads of freebies such as airfares, accommodation, meals, activities worth thousand of dollars.
This approach is now opening more opportunities and more travel related businesses are contacting me. I never thought of the opportunities that are out there on the net for bloggers before I started blogging, and I’m still blown away.
ALWAYS create a WIN:WIN situation
The people I partner with WIN because they have a source of indefinite internet traffic (and promotion) relating to their brand, and I WIN because I get to do the things I love doing.
Twitter has been amazing for me. Most of the people behind the travel related Twitter accounts are public relations workers. They’re watching, and if you keep taking action, you will be noticed.
The key to getting blogging perks is to be persistent and consistent, and back up what you say with results. But make sure your primary aim is to help the other person out first.
The moral of the story is ALWAYS play WIN:WIN – not just when it’s convenient. This good karma will come back to you more than what you give out, and will lead to more opportunities than you could ever imagine.
The Importance of Experience
Remember, these trips I’ve already done are building up a track record. So the more you build a track record doing something you love doing, the more likely you are to attract more of the same.
Always offer something back that is worth many times more in applied value. In my case, this is providing long term, steady Internet traffic.
My next goal is to somehow make a living from The Travel Tart. I’m taking action to make this happen.
The most important take home message is – just have a crack at what you love doing and play the WIN:WIN game – you never know where it might take you. The Internet is an amazing medium, so take advantage of it and see where you go.
My WIN:WIN Proposition for you!
Oh, by the way – in terms of the WIN:WIN thing – I’ve featured the funny travel photos from people around the world. I always link back to their site (if they have one) and their Twitter profile, or anything else that want a link for.
So how is this a WIN:WIN situation? I get to show some awesome and funny content on TheTravelTart.com, and someone else receives long-term internet traffic!
So, if you’re interested, leave me a message here about your funny travel photo and I’ll link back to your site and Twitter profile!
See what I mean? WIN:WIN!
What's your dream for your blog? What opportunities do you hope your blog will open up for you?
Anthony is the author of The Travel Tart – Offbeat Tales From A Travel Addict. The Travel Tart is a blog about the funny, offbeat, and downright strange aspects of world travel today. Anthony enjoys risking his life by employing barely road-worthy forms of transport such as African mini-buses, suicidal Cairo cabs, and flatulent camels.
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