That time I spoke at Google + why brands should work with travel bloggers

That time I spoke at Google + why brand should work with bloggersA few weeks ago I was incredibly honoured and excited to be invited to Google HQ in London. I was asked to speak on a panel focusing on the opportunities and challenges for travel brands.

When on Earth did this happen? When did I become the kind of person to speak on panels? But apparently I am and apparently I do so I immediately accepted and started thinking about what I’d be asked.

There were lots of different brands present during the day and they were all there to learn more about online marketing. Basically, the wanted to know how to use the internet to promote their company.

You can’t talk about online promotion without mentioning bloggers these days so I was thrilled to be there representing the travel blogger community.

Thankfully, I wasn’t asked any sneaky or difficult questions. Most people were interested (or a little confused) about what a travel blogger is. Of course, everyone wanted to know how I actually earn a living and lots of people were intrigued to know how they could work with bloggers and how it could benefit their company.

A note to bloggers: Almost everyone at the event wanted to know how they could work with bloggers reaching the 50+ market. They say there are too many bloggers talking about the budget backpacking sector and not enough talking about travel for older generations. These are the people who actually have some money to travel so if you’re looking for a travel blogging niche, this is it!

I’m not going to go into all the details from the day (this is a travel blog and I’m indulging my inner geek) but I thought I’d answer a couple of questions I was asked again and again and again. So just in case you’re wondering…

Why brands should work with travel bloggers

What is a travel blogger?

A travel blogger can be thought of like an online, interactive journalist who shares a more personal view on their experiences. A blogger is someone who creates online content – whether it’s stories, videos, photos or factual articles and guides – and publishes it to their own website.

Their audience can then comment on the content and the interactive phase of creation begins. Maybe a reader has a specific question the blogger can answer or the reader has something to say that adds value to the article.

Bloggers usually put more of the personality into their content so it feels more like you’re following a friend.

Bloggers attract readers who are like-minded. After a while you feel like you know the blogger so you trust their recommendations and know you will enjoy similar things to them.

If you’re still completely baffled by the concept of blogging, it may be because you’ve never come across a blog you can relate to. I tried to explain blogging to my brother who has no interest in travel so he doesn’t ‘get’ The Travel Hack. He just didn’t understand blogging at all. And then one day he discovered a male lifestyle blogger with an interest in cars and motorbikes and serious DIY and he suddenly ‘got it’. Ahhh, this was a guy he could relate to and trust and he enjoyed reading about his rally driving adventures and how he fixed his lawn mower using an old motorbike.

 

Why do brands work with travel bloggers?

When the perfect blogger and the perfect brand team up it can be a match made in heaven. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved; the brand, the blogger and, most importantly, the blog reader.

Let’s say there’s a blogger who blogs about nothing but city break holidays. They will have built up an audience interested in city breaks. This is a network of people who want to be sold city breaks. So a company that sells city breaks will want to work with the blogger to reach the network of readers. The blogger then writes about city breaks, the reader enjoys the content and considers booking their next city break through that company.

It’s like working with a niche magazine to target a particular audience.

 

Why would I work with a blogger over a journalist?

This isn’t about bloggers vs journalists, bloggers and journalists are different. Bloggers have targeted, niche audiences and can often help you grow your social media following as they’re very active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest.

Journalists are likely to write one article and it may be featured in a publication with high circulation figures. This has the potential to reach a lot of people, usually more than a blog ever could, but a week after publication it’s unlikely many people will read it.

The benefit of online content is that it stays around forever. If anything, it will receive more and more pageviews as time goes on as the website grows and Google realises that site is an authority on a particular topic. I went to Iceland more than a year ago and my Iceland blog posts now receive more traffic than ever.

 

How do I choose a blogger to work with?

There are so many bloggers out there it can be overwhelming when you start researching the right blogger for your brand. I’ve done a lot of blogger outreach work with different companies to help them choose the right blogger because many companies don’t have the rescources to spend days searching the internet.

A couple of things you want to look for are:

  • Their audience – is it the audience you’re targeting?
  • The quality of their content – Are they producing quality content?
  • Their pageviews – Don’t be afraid to ask for their pageviews and unique monthly users. I’d be wary if a blogger is reluctant to share this information.
  • Their social following – Don’t just look at numbers, look at engagement. They may have 50,000 Facebook followers but is anyone liking, sharing or commenting on their posts?

That time I spoke at Google and why brands should work with travel bloggers

 And finally, this is another interesting point for any bloggers reading this…

The importance of YouTube

There was a big focus on YouTube during the day. One of the heads of YouTube travel gave a talk about YouTube and began with a poll:

“Raise your hand if you’ve bought and read a newspaper in the last two weeks.”

A couple of hands at the back were raised and we all agreed we barely remembered the last time we bought a newspaper.

“Raise your hand if you’ve watched a video on YouTube in the last two weeks.”

Virtually every hand in the room was raised.

Of course, YouTube is owned by Google so there’s bound to be some bias but that’s the kind of poll you can’t argue with.

We all already knew traditional media has been dying out for a long time and is being replaced by interactive content. And some of the most popular online content isn’t made by ‘professionals’, it’s made by any old Joe Bloggs on the street.

This exercise highlighted the importance of video content and showed that it’s not just 16 year olds glued to YouTube. Everyone is. So if you’re still trying to fight it, it’s time to stop!

Massive thanks to Google for inviting me along for the day and showing me around Google HQ – those offices are amazing!


Read more:

Blogstock Blogging festival and how bloggers can work with travel brands and PRs

A week in the life of a travel blogger

How bloggers get free products

Brands I’ve worked with

If you’d like any more information, feel free to get in touch – [email protected]


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TheTravelHack

Monica is the founder and editor of The Travel Hack. She began the blog in 2009 when she left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. She's now a professional blogger and has travelled around the world in search of stylish adventure travel. Monica has recently had her second baby and is determined to prove that travelling with a baby is possible!

SHOWHIDE Comments (25)
    1. I know! I was even asked if I could take my parents on a few blog trips and then blog about it! There are some really, really good mature travel bloggers and most of them can write really well but lots of them struggle with photography and design.

  1. Interesting read, especially around the niche blogs. As a blogger I would say we first need to find our own entity and understand what are we really interested in and focus on that particular topic. If we are genuine that will be the best way to attract and keep in touch with readers that share the same interests. Everything above that I would say it’s the cherry in the cake 🙂

  2. If I’m honest, I’m not usually a fan of when travel bloggers recap on their blog conferences or talks they’ve gone to (I prefer the lovely photos and valuable info instead) but I always read yours Monica. You only include the most interesting and important information and it’s always right to the point. Congrats on being invited to speak!

    1. Ah thanks Jess, I’m so glad you enjoy reading them. I agree, I try to read lots of reviews from the conferences I can’t attend but I find most people don’t include any valuable information. I don’t know if they’re reluctant to share or if they don’t realise they’ve published 500 words of wishy-washy statements!?

  3. So cool you go to speak at Google! I’m still finding my niche and finding what kind of audience I’m targeting. Right now I can only focus on being myself and being genuine and hope that people enjoy my adventures 🙂

  4. Darn – I’ve got about 20 more years before I can write for the 50+ market! But hey…five more years and I’ll be writing for emptynesters in their mid-30’s. Bet there’s a HUGE market for that group. 😉 Ha! I’ve resigned myself to the fact that my age and stage in life will never match up with those of practically anyone else until we hit retirement.

    Moving on…congrats on the opportunity to speak at this! What an honor. They certainly chose the right person, too. You know what you’re doing and you do it well. I love that!

  5. My Dad keeps threatening to start his own blog. Maybe this will encourage him…. he’d be super niche as well. He’s over 50 AND my step-mother is severely disabled and requires accessible travel opportunities which are very few and far between.

    1. Let’s hope so. I think a lot of people don’t understand blogging until they find a blog they can relate to and then it’s like ‘ahh, light bulb moment’. Until then it’s just a weird collection of personal photos!

  6. Interesting about the 50+ – there’s a few of us ‘older’ bloggers around now. Do you think I should change my blog name to The Travel Biddy! I definitely need to get into vlogging – will have to give it a try in Vietnam this month. Have a lovely Christmas Mon 🙂

    1. I can never imagine you being a biddy, Suzanne! (But if you ever were – there’s definitely a market for it 😉 )
      Looking forward to seeing your vlog from Vietnam and I hope you have a fabulous Christmas!

  7. Very interested and encouraged that so many are looking for bloggers geared towards the 50+ market. I have mixed feelings about hitting the big five O in February (and getting older in general) but I have to say life just keeps getting better! Not thought about specifically aiming my blog at an older generation, I rather assumed they would simply be more interested in the same things I am but will keep in mind.

  8. Congrats that you were invited to speak at GoogleUK. I live in the SF bay area near Google HQ and would love to hear a panel about why brands should work with travel bloggers. I’m a journalist and travel blogger specializing in equestrian travel – Writing Horseback. I also fit the 50+ market and am always open to partnering with brands that I can stand behind.
    Thanks for sharing your top takeaway tips from this panel discussion.

  9. Gotta love the whole “travel blogger” explanation… I’ve done it maaaaany times myself. I think it’s awesome that there is a community of brands looking to work with our type of bloggers, and I’d love to hear more about how you’ve gotten in touch with them Monica! And the YouTube idea! BRILLIANT!

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The Travel Hack

The Travel Hack is a blog about stylish adventure travel and affordable luxury.

We believe luxurious travel can be affordable and isn't just for the rich. Follow along with our worldwide adventures as we share our trips and tips for incredible travel experiences on a modest budget.