Understanding Professional Travel Blogging: Explained with a Case Study

Understanding Professional Travel Blogging: Explained with a Case Study

Travel blogging is easy, professional travel blogging is not. It's quite easy to save some money, travel the world and write about it on a travel blog.

The stories to share come in swift, as travel itself is so rich on experiences. Family and friends love to hear from the road, and thanks to social media, share those stories with their friends.

That's how a blog starts to grow. Google search helps to build up traffic and sooner or later a talented travel blogger increases the reach of the blog, at least if there is a minimum of quality in the content and the site itself.

At some point the blogger will see more potential and might decide to make it a profession and run the blog full time. What many don't realize is, that it is something else to run a business and actually a media company. Most new potential professional travel bloggers do not have a big enough budget to invest into their business and can 'only' come up with their time and talent. And the time is suddenly a very critical point, as it's very tough to run a company while traveling. After a couple of months they have to give up again and focus on earning money elsewhere, maybe as a writer, virtual assistant, social media manager, or head back to their former jobs.

Still it's possible to make a living out of travel blogging, if you are hard working, invest more hours than a typical 9 – 5 job, are willing to lose out on many other things for years, be up for working 3-5 years until it really starts to pay back and if you are full of passion for what you do. This all and other things is far more than just traveling the world.

This is not an easy time! If it would be easy, everyone would do it.

 

Supported by many amazing people, Travel Dudes played a major role in creating this new professional travel influencer industry. Travel Dudes evolved and is nowadays your Social Travel platform and is run by a really good team. Over the years we built up an audience, which now reaches over 4,000,000 people per month via the site and its different channels. So we are not a travel blog and still we do blog and share our personal travel experiences. We are media partner of the very successful iambassador campaigns, but we as well run our own social media campaigns.

Just recently we have been in Ljubljana, Slovenia and finished an outstanding trip. From the moment we arrived I realized that we were up to something special, but it took a few more weeks for us to prove this, as we have finished the campaign and can share the numbers of our report.

I will share the reach and engagement of our 7 day campaign with you. Those numbers are very impressive, but there is something else which made this trip special. This was probably the first time that there was a team of 4 travel bloggers on a single campaign who only focused to create and share content for one single site.

This is a new step of professional travel blogging, but actually also a step back!

A step back? Really? Why?

Let's start with the step forward first.

We had one videographer who produced 6 videos. Another team member focused on writing over 28 articles (inclusive many links) and one person's job was to organize the campaign and making sure that the different social media channels would get enough content and working out a strategy.

Everyone of the team uploaded photos to the server, which then were shared by our social media manager, making sure that each individual post and photo gets the best exposure possible.

We do not 'just' share something online. We have for each site and channel an own strategy, so that we can deliver really good results. Though that alone does not do the trick, as you also need the right quality content.

 

To get the content we needed, we created our own itinerary. This one was packed, but it was us who decided what we can handle, what we can promote best and what not. This was all in partnership with the Ljubljana tourism board who trusted and believed in us. We got their support and tips to create a fitting itinerary, still always having in mind what general message they wanted to promote. Yes, obviously a campaign, a press or blog trip got the aim to promote a destination. But it was our choice what activities we wanted to do and we also had our own budget for meals, so that we even chose the restaurants. That way we were able to create inspiring content with our own voice.

Most of the time we were on own. OK, not really, as we had all the different guided tours. But it was important to us to keep the trip as natural as possible. We did only things what every other traveler can also do and experience. Usually we had 1-2 guided parts per day, but still always a lot of time to explore the city and region ourselves.

Not a single day... not even a single hour was a holiday. We were extremely busy and rested only during a couple of hours of sleep per night. Still we had a lot of fun and enjoyed this trip to the fullest. My own private holiday would look similar, just not so packed.

These are major parts of the success recipe.

 

Stats & Numbers

Views: 524,086 (Twitter, Facebook)
Engagement: 70,769 (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram)
Clicks: 50,879 (Facebook)
Video views: 37,882

estimated Earned Social Media Online Value: > € 110,000

The Views are the actual number of people who had our Ljubljana content visible in their timeline. So those numbers are NOT Opportunities-To-See, but actual views. We got these stats directly from the original sites where they have been published. We looked at the stat's of each individual post and listed the results in a spreadsheet. We did not even check the views of replies or other posts, but only focused on the image posts we shared. So the actual result should even be higher.

The whole list of content is listed in our report to the client, including each single post's reach and engagement. That way our client can see that the numbers are real and they can take a look at those themselves.

We had a huge engagement, which nicely affected the Earned Media Value.

 

Obviously it's tough to understand and to realize that this result is solid, as the numbers we delivered are very high, especially if you would compare those to the costs of the campaign.

That's why we are happy to help with the detailed list of our promotion and explain our results.

The Earned Media Value is a result of the reach and engagement of our social media activity and was calculated by an algorithm which compares our reach and engagement with the advertising prices (Paid Media Value) from social media platforms. Those advertising prices represent a mix of different post types (image, video, external/internal links...) and also include prices focused on reach and engagement. Like that it's possible to get a solid result.

The Paid Media Value is what it would cost to have the reach and engagement via advertising. This value is far less (around €40,000) and in our case still more than the actual costs of this campaign. The Earned Media is based on that, but includes factors like the trust an influencer has build up, the Word-of-Mouth-Marketing and also the Owned Media, the work to built up the channels and audience. If the Paid Media increases, the Earned Media does as well, as the Earned Media is seen as far more valuable, especially in the travel industry.

 

But you could take a far easier comparison. Imagine Adidas would have had the chance to directly engage with their product in a football stadium. Not just maybe the opportunity that someone might have seen their banner advertising during a football match, but directly interacted with them.

We filled a “stadium” with 524,086 seats, showing our content and had 70,769 people interacting with the “product”. You can maybe imagine how much Adidas would pay for this!

In the digital world we live with numbers, which are hard to grab and understand, as they are so high. Then we have the digital value, which is extremely low, compared to traditional media prices. You see many media companies struggling with the situation they have created themselves, by selling online services underneath usual prices. In the past and even today it's still a standard price to pay more than $100,000 for a full size advertising page in a printed magazine/newspaper with a circulation of around 800,000, not even knowing who opened the page and really seeing the advertising. No way that digital prices are even a bit close to that.

But in the digital age you have media companies offering a far higher exposure and value, and not being able to pay a proper team. If a YouTuber, travel blogger or any other influencer reaches a huge audience, like only big publications had in the past, they should in theory be able to pay a big team of 20-50 experts (full time) to help to run their business. That's only in theory and only a few can afford a virtual assistant and even less can afford some further help, as digital prices are too low.

 

Does digital media need print advertising prices? No!

It's actually not needed for digital media to have those highly overpriced advertising rates. There are no expensive printer machines, which easily cost over €1 million each. The distribution is also far cheaper on the digital market. All you need are developers and servers. The costs of writers, editors etc simply stay, no matter if it's print or digital.

So each publication should actually have no problem to offer their content completely for free, if their advertising prices would increase only slightly more to what was paid in the past for print.

 

Should the industry have an interest to pay more? Yes!

First of all, the industry is looking for exposure. Exposure is nowadays found digitally, but if digital can't make a living, then there is less options for exposure. So far the options are still there and cheap, but the quality of media content decreases a lot already.

In the past a publication was able to send out 2-3 people to create quality content for a magazine with a circulation of around 20,000 readers. There were still another 20 people in the office working full time to run that magazine.

A professional travel blogger has to do all this by himself, still reaching a far bigger audience while being on the road, producing content and sharing it. But who is a professional travel blogger? It's easy to give yourself this name and to buy a few readers and followers. But this is a complete different topic...  We are proud that we can say that we mainly work with organic reach.

 

With our Ljubljana campaign we were very happy to go a step backwards, towards how traditional media was handling a trip like this. We had a team of 3 in the destination producing far more content than usual and in a very good quality, as each person was able to focus only on their type of content. With this we raised the level of professional travel blogging at the same time, as the focus of all 3 people was on a single site.

So we went a step towards the future, by going a step backwards.

But to achieve this we had to work very hard and for many years, driven by passion and always focusing on our strengths, supported by an amazing community who all share the love for travel.