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Tips from Travel Blogging Experts.

This week I had the privilege of meeting some of the world’s greatest travel bloggers. Firstly at a Cape Town Tourism event surrounding their #lovecapetown campaign, and on Saturday at the Getaway Travel Blogger’s conference.

Having met the super talented and lovely Nellie Huang from Wild Junket awhile back, it was quite a treat to be able to meet three other travel bloggers such as Melvin from Travel Dudes, Keith Jenkins from Velvet Escape and Matt Long from Landlopers and gain insight into their profession. And what a profession it is. For many it is the ultimate dream- to travel the world, tell stories through words and photography and get paid to do it. Whilst each one has their specific niche which comes across through the travel blogs, they each have no less than 15 000 followers on twitter and get asked to visit countries in every corner of the earth. Aside from their priceless advice to us budding journalists, publishers and bloggers, I really came away so inspired and thrilled I got to meet such wonderful individuals.

Here are a few words of advice from the International Travel Bloggers:

Keith Jenkins (velvetescape) spoke about how travel bloggers are changing the media landscape. He commented that as a professional travel blogger, you need to have an online personality and inject a lot of your own personality into your work. You will need to have multiple skills, be internet savvy, use social networks and become a niche expert. Keith himself is known to simultaneously type on his laptop whilst tweeting in the other over breakfast. Some of the benefits of working with travel bloggers include immediacy, multimedia exposure, long shelf-life, interaction, trust and we can serve as destination ambassadors. He encouraged bloggers to capture people’s imaginations as images are very powerful.

Melvin (Traveldudes) chatted about utilising social media channels. Having 85 000 followers on twitter, Melvin has made tweeting his job. He focuses on making his travel blog a community of people who share great content and tweet about it. He suggests that bloggers use many forms of social media such as facebook, twitter, stumble upon and instagram. Place tweet, share buttons on your site beside each article and make it simple as possible for people to share your articles. Even when tweeting, take note of what you’re placing in your tweeting. Shorten links – can be used if you choose. Make sure you include blog title, blog link, state that it’s via you (great to list your own twitter handle) and hashtag your subjects eg: travel, backpacking. Leave space for people to comment in your tweet. When tweeting promote your own content, chat and using lists can be very helpful especially as your followers increase. Be professional, get a business card.

Nellie Huang (WildJunket) enlightened us about “travel writing that drives traffic.” She suggests that you find your niche. Find a topic that interests you and that’s trendy and find out if there is any competition in that specific area. Find your own voice. Allow your writing to reflect your personality, include your own observations and opinions, don’t be afraid to get personal and don’t write like a fact-checker. That’s precisely why Wikipedia is there. You should also use social media to find travel trends and write about it. Search Google keywords and use them in your content and titles. And cover current news, festivals and events eg: Olympics. In your blog posts, use attention-grabbing headlines because if that isn’t good, don’t bother writing the rest. Have compelling beginnings and make use of quotes, punch-lines and anecdotes. Use headings in your middle section and have continuity throughout. At the end, ask your readers and question to encourage further engagement. She suggests that in order to bring your story to life, you need to introduce characters to humanize the story, use all your senses and don’t show, tell.

Matt Long (Landlopers) spoke on “Travel partnerships: How to work with brands and destinations.” When approaching brands as a travel blogger, you want to present yourself as a professional. After all this is new territory and you have the ability to work on multiple platforms, gain social influence and add real value as a partner. He encouraged each blogger to compile a media kit which would inform people on what you’re about as a brand. It’s helpful to do research on the brand you may represent to see if you have a synergy and same values and also provide results and feedback post-campaign.

It was a long day filled with mounds of information, but everyone stuck around for the entertaining talks and of course the cocktail party afterwards. What a day of networking, learning, connecting and being inspired. I look forward to many more of these.

Travel Bloggers unite: Matt Long ( Landlopers), Alberto Molero & Nellie Huang ( Wildjunket), Keith Jenkins (velvetescape), Lauren Manuel ( TheTravelManuel) and Melvin Boecher (Traveldudes).

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