A passion for your topic, persistence and consistency are key ingredients for a killer blog.
That’s the word from Beth Whitman, founder and editor of Wanderlust and Lipstick, a website focused on travel for women. Whitman conducted a seminar titled Five Steps to a Killer Blog at ASTA’s Travel Blogger Show in Las Vegas last week.
Every agency should have a blog, Whitman said, and blogging should be an element in your business and marketing plan.
Fortunately, you don’t need to be a tech geek to start a blog, Whitman reassured listeners. Today’s software makes it easy to launch your own. Participating in blogger forums will help you learn what works and what doesn’t work.
Finding your voice
You also don’t have to be a great writer or photographer to have a successful blog, but you do need a writing voice, Whitman said.
The best way to inject voice into your blog is to focus on your passions. “A blog can be whatever you want it to be, reflecting your interests.”
Also, she advised, “consider your ultimate goal.” For instance, agents might want to write about upcoming tours or groups they are planning.
Make the connection
It’s important to pay attention to your audience and build your blog based on what it wants, as well.
“A killer blog doesn't mean that it is the most popular but that you are making that connection with your audience and nurturing relationships with your clients,” Whitman said.
Blog recipe: 5 ingredients
Here are the elements of a killer blog, according to Whitman.
Design. You don’t have to be an artist; just look at what others are doing and incorporate design elements you like into your blog, Whitman advised. Be sure to include plenty of photos.
The design of a blog has become more important as changes in Google’s search engine have caused plain-type blogs to lose traffic, Whitman noted.
Among examples of travel blogs with good design are: jasminewanders.com, beersandbeans.com and positiveworldtravel.com, Whitman said.
Content. Bring your personality into your blog, because blogs with strong voices captivate their audiences, said Whitman. She cited as examples: www.nerdseyeview.com/blog and dooce.com.
Do be nice, Whitman cautioned, reminding agents that a blog is a public forum. “You want to present good, positive energy.”
Consistency. Decide the focus of your blog, then create and follow an editorial calendar. Blog regularly – at least twice a week.
Credibility. Use your expertise about particular destinations or types of travel. Know your stuff; check your facts, and don't post inaccurate information, Whitman said, adding that credibility is built over time.
Authenticity. Write your own material and don’t post baloney. If you use other content and contributed pieces, credit the authors and edit the articles before posting.
The blogging path
Blogging has democratized travel writing and is opening up vast new audiences for travel, Whitman said.
Whitman’s own blogging experience led her to enter the travel business. She started her blog, and now website, in 2006 as a way to express her passion for travel.
Her travel blog avocation has since grown into a tour and travel company, Wander Tours. The company aims to provide the kind of travel experiences that animate Whitman’s own wanderlust.