Audrey Bergner started traveling when she was 18 years old and is now a full-time travel blogger, photographer, YouTube video maker, and freelance writer. In our interview today, Audrey shares with me how she got over 100,000 Facebook fans and why she has learned to diversity her approach to media. Enjoy!
Audrey, your Facebook fan page, That Backpacker, has over 100,000 followers. (Incredible!). Can you share a little secret about using social media?
I think the secret is consistency, sharing the right content, and being business savvy. Being consistent is important because in the world of social media there are always a million things going on, and if you fail to post regularly it’s easy to fall by the wayside. If you only post once every 6 weeks, you’re not going have much growth or engagement, and yet I see so many pages on Facebook that start out strong and slowly go silent.
Next, there’s the matter of content. I think it’s important to keep it varied. If all you are posting are links to your site, then that gets dull and repetitive. Try to change things up: post photos (visually appealing images do really well on Facebook!), write personal updates to create a human connection, share videos. If you come across a really cool article on another blog or news outlet, share it. It’s tempting to make it all about you, but part of being social means being generous with what you share. Also try to think about the types of blog posts you share on Facebook. As an example, whenever I post an article that has a lot of tips, I get a lot Facebook shares (which are different from likes). Monitoring things like this will help you gauge what type of content your followers are interested in.
Lastly, if your blog is going to be your business, you have to be willing to invest back into it to help it grow. That means targeting an audience in your niche that is interested in what you’re doing (whether that be travel or something else). I know Facebook ads were really taboo for a while, but I’m seeing more and more people using them as part of their business strategy. Facebook allows you to create highly targeted ads that help spread the message of who you are and what you do to a relevant audience. And just to be clear here, I’m not talking about buying fake followers (that’s probably the worst thing you could do for your business!), I’m talking about reaching out to a community of like-minded individuals with similar interests who will become an active part of the ongoing dialogue.
What have you learned about blogging that you didn’t know when you started? Anything you wish you’d known at the beginning?
I’ve learned that networking is a very important component in this industry. There’s only so much you can do sitting at home, in your pyjamas, typing away at a computer desk. If you want to keep your business growing, you’re going to have to get out there, shake hands, meet people, share ideas, swap business cards, and repeat. Yes, sometimes opportunities will come a-knockin’, but you also have to be willing to go out there and get ’em!
What advice would you give to someone near and dear to you who wanted to break in to the travel industry?
Blogging involves a lot more work than what you see on the homepage of a blog, so if you’re looking to get into this because it looks easy and you like the sound of all the travel perks, let me stop you right there.
For starters, travel blogging requires you to take initiative, be self-motivated, and adhere to your own deadlines. No one is going to be checking in on you to make sure you’re putting in x number of hours.
There’s also a steep learning curve; you’re going to have to teach yourself about SEO, analytics, WordPress, widgets, plugins, and all that goes on behind the scenes. (I told you there was more to it that what you see on the homepage!)
And as for the travel perks, those aren’t going to land on your lap because you’ve been blogging for 6 months. It takes quality content, a unique perspective, and consistency for you to become a trusted voice in the field. You’re going to have to put in a lot of hard work (sometimes even years!) before you start seeing results, so make sure you’re getting into this for the right reasons. At the end of the day, you really need the passion for this because that’s the driving force behind it all. I hope that doesn’t sound too harsh, I’m just being brutally honest, because after all, you want to know what you’re getting yourself into, right?
How do you balance the creative process of blogging with vlogging?
Vlogging is very fun and casual. I feel that filming YouTube videos for our travel channel is easier than creating a blog post, but that could be because I’m not the one who does all the editing – that’s Sam’s job!
One of the things I like about vlogging is that it helps fill in the gaps left by blogging. When I’m writing a blog post, there’s only so much I can convey through words and images, but with vlogging, I can take the viewer right into the heart of the action. You get to see the surroundings, the finer details, our reactions. I find video is very personable and you get to know the people you’re watching the same way you would a friend.
As for the creative process, it does take a bit longer when you’re juggling both writing and filming. Sometimes Sam and I have to walk through an area twice – first do all the filming, and then to focus on taking photos that we can use in blog posts. I guess you could say we get to see places a little better.
What’s it like being married to another travel blogger? (For those of you who don’t know, Audrey is married to Sam of Nomadic Samuel).
Haha, very convenient! I honestly feel very lucky to have met someone who shares a lot of the same goals and interests that I have. It means we’re able to work together towards them. I also think we really help balance each other out in both our travels and our work. For example, Sam enjoys scouting out accommodations and planning activities, so he takes the lead with that. I, on the other hand, am really good with logistics and navigation, so I usually end up booking our transportation and getting us to our final destination. We make a good team!
Audrey Bergner is the blogging voice behind the travel blog That Backpacker.
Interview conducted in January 2015 by Kristin Winet.