Sorry kids – the chance to attend for free has passed, but check out the rest for what’s in store!
TBEX North America and TBEX Europe are coming up later this year and our very own Tim Leffel will be joining 750+ attendees to talk about travel, adventures, writing, photographing, blogging, and making a living with the combination. This year, to kick things off, we’re giving away one free registration to TBEX Europe in Athens, a $247 value. All you have to do to enter is answer one question below in the Comments and you’re entered!
You’ll see plenty of the writers, bloggers, and editors we’ve interviewed here on the Travel Writing 2.0 blog at both TBEX conferences this year, including Max Hartshorne, Sheila Scarborough, and a host of other names in the business. Click below to see some of the interviews we’ve done with this year’s speakers:
TBEX Cancun (September 11-13, 2014):
TBEX Athens (October 23-25, 2014):
To enter our giveaway, simply respond to this question in the Comments section: What has your blogging journey been like and what do you want to learn at TBEX? Be as creative and insightful as you can!
Rules: one entry per person; no writers who work for Tim or any of the above websites are eligible.
Update – Congrats to Jessica Dawdy, who will be joining me in Greece!
This prize is non-refundable or transferable and must be used at TBEX Europe in Athens. It is for registration only and does not include travel expenses or lodging.
If you read a lot of conventional wisdom articles about how to write successful blog posts, you’ll read a lot of advice that’s just plain wrong. Some people giving out this advice give it because it worked for them five years ago so they assume it’s still working now. Others are just parroting what they’re heard before, with no research or testing to back it up. If you follow all the “rules,” you’ll be average at best.
Here are the worst piles of crap:
Ask anyone who has written some epic long post that’s gone viral and they’ll tell you this is bunk. My most popular post on the Cheapest Destinations Blog is 4,803 words, for example. There are e-books for sale that are shorter than that. But don’t take my word for it. In this awesome (long) post from AppSumo founder Noah Kagan, the analysis of more than 100,000 blog posts showed the longer the post, the more it got shared.
Yeah I know, people have short attention spans on the web and they don’t like to read long blocks of text. That’s what everyone will tell you anyway.
But what kind of readers are you trying to attract? The kind that surfs the web like a squirrel on crack? Or the kind that have landed on your site because they’re actually interested in the topic?
If it’s the latter, forget the former. Go for quality visitors, not just eyeballs. Stick in a photo or subhead where it’s natural, but those who want to skim and just pick out one fact aren’t the ones who are going to sign up for your e-mail list, get your RSS feed, or value your advice. Ten seconds from now they’ll be on to something else and won’t ever remember the name of your blog. So don’t dumb down your writing to please them. Let them go.
This is actually half right. It’s good advice for search: you want the subject of the article to be the subject in your title. And not too long.
But it turns out this is terrible advice when it comes to social sharing. Just look at the success of sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. They’ve built up massive traffic and Facebook followings by posting clever titles that promise something funny, strange, or amazing if you will just click that link already. (Recent examples: “The Nipple Bikini Lets You Go Topless Without Taking It All Off,” “A Man Walked Into A McDonald’s With A Knife Sticking Out Of His Back,” “If You’re Too Grossed Out To Share This Video, Then You’re Exactly Why It Exists.”
This is bad advice for a whole host of reasons, the main one being that the time you publish a post might be the lowest readership time for your audience on social media. If most of your followers are in bed by 10 pm and your post goes live at midnight, then put the megaphone away until the morning.
Besides, based on personal experience with six different blogs and websites, at least 90% of an article’s traffic comes after it has been out at least a month. What’s the rush? The other point is, it’s better if others spread the word for you than if you do it yourself. This is especially true for Stumbleupon.
One caveat though: posting on Google+ does seem to get your post indexed faster by Google. Whether this matters or not in the long run is up for debate.
Yes, you probably will get more clicks and shares if your post has a number in it. Like it or not, top-10 lists are still popular and probably always will be. The lemmings love lists and even if they haven’t read it, they’ll retweet it.
But what good is a retweet if nobody clicks on the link? What’s the good of bringing more traffic to your site if it’s the first and last time they’ll visit–for 15 seconds?
The occasional list post is a nice break that will probably get you higher short-term traffic. You could say it’s the entire reason some blogs (like The Luxury Travel Blog) get so much traffic. They’ve done lists non-stop from the start and it has worked for them. Hey, your next list post may even go viral.
But here’s the key question: do you want to be known as a writer with expertise, or a person who’s good at making lists?
Your turn: what other advice do you read all the time that hasn’t been right for you or your audience?
Cacinda Maloney has traveled every six weeks for the past nineteen years, learning a lot of tricks and tips along the way. Back in 2012, she started Pointsandtravel.com and has since become a voice for finding the best in value luxury (the place where luxurious experiences and good deals meet). She has worked with multiple tourism boards, is a founding member of the Value Luxury Network and a member of the Professional Travel Bloggers Association and the International Travel Writers Alliance. In our interview today, Cacinda tells us her thoughts on where the travel industry is going, how digital media will impact that shift, and what advice she wishes she’d been given when she started. Enjoy!
Nineteen years ago, you say you were wisely advised to travel every six weeks of your life in order to avoid burnout. Who gave you this advice, and how did you make that prophecy a reality?
Dr. Mark Radermacher, a trainer I hired for my business, gave me this amazing advice and I love to pass it on. My husband and I are both physicians and so we used this advice to keep us motivated to work hard in our practice. It worked like a charm and before you know it, we had traveled all over the world. Each trip didn’t necessarily have to be far away, we did between 3-7 international trips a year and the rest were closer to this side of the world.
Where do you see the travel industry going in the next 5, 10 years? How will digital media impact these shifts?
I see it exploding! I think more and more people will realize that they can actually see the world if they make it a priority. Digital media has made a huge impact in the industry and opened up a gap for new ways that travelers can get information. This was crucial for opening the door for this new wave of world travelers, who don’t necessarily travel like their parents once did.
What advice would you give a hopeful freelance writer about making a living travel blogging?
It can be done! It may be meager at first, but you do have that side benefit of travel! Study hard and network, learn how to tell a story, find out what interests people and write like you are telling your best friend what an amazing trip you just had. Be professional and be consistent. Never give up, if that is what you want to do.
What do you wish you had known from the start that you know now?
Being an older generation travel blogger, I wish I had more technical knowledge about computers, software and hardware. The same goes for photography. Technology is the one thing that frustrates me the most. Kids these days are trained on how to set up a website in 5th grade, so they have such a great advantage to be great travel bloggers. I was lucky, in that I knew how to run a business, had a great photography eye and knew the fundamentals of writing, so I started my blog with a business mindset right from the start.
What was the transition like from freelancer to full-time blogger? (I know you transitioned to full-time earlier this year!)
Well, I was ready for a change in my life. I had worked long and hard at the clinic for 19 years and had reached burn out. I needed a creative way to express myself, and I somehow just fell into travel writing, blogging and photography, since travel was a lifetime passion, I eased into it quite easy. In the beginning, though I was a bit unorganized and didn’t know how to spend my entire day doing this, but eventually a schedule unfolds. Before, when I was part-time travel blogging, I just wrote and edited photos every chance I had a free moment!
If you had to pick one thing, what’s the one thing you love most about travel, and why?
This may sound crazy, but it is the feeling that I get when I know I have a future trip planned. I love THAT feeling, that I have something to look forward to, to plan, to think about. Then, when I actually go on the trip, I have literally thought about each day of the trip and how it should go, so I have in my mind’s eye what will happen, yet I do allow myself some unaccounted moments! Once there too, I just don’t think about home or my troubles/worries and I just enjoy each thing that unfolds in front of me, whether it is a world-class monument, a UNESCO world heritage site, a dive trip, a new culture, crazy good food, beach or snow, it doesn’t matter. I also enjoy the people that I meet along the way; they make all the difference in a trip.
Dr. Cacinda Maloney of PointsandTravel.com is a travel writer, blogger and photographer who has traveled the world every six weeks of her life for over 19 years. Her niche is “value luxury”, where she gets the most from her travel dollars by using loyalty programs to travel for less at luxury properties. She searches for the point where luxury experiences and price intersect and she shares that information with her readers. She is price-aware, yet knows when to splurge. Connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Interview conducted in June, 2014 by Kristin Winet.