Laurel Robbins is a travel blogger and Twitter aficionado–and with good reason: she’s got over 45,000 followers! In our interview today, Laurel talks about the value of learning how to properly use social media, what she’ll be talking about at the upcoming TBEX conference, and what she wish she’d known starting out. Enjoy!
Laurel, you say you’re a “Conversation Starter, Twitter Aficionado and Social Media Time Optimizer.” How did you get into social media and how did you see its value early on?
I was into Facebook from my first day of blogging, but it took me months to get into Twitter. I thought it was a complete waste of time and didn’t see the value. Then I figured out it wasn’t Twitter, it was the way I was using it. Since changing the way I used Twitter, it’s become my favorite social media platform and my #1 source of sales referrals.
What inspired you to start Monkeys and Mountains? What has that journey been like for you?
When I moved from Canada to Germany I asked myself what my dream job would be if I could do anything, and the answer was “travel blogger”. I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded like a lot of fun! Turns out I was right! It is a lot of fun, but it’s also a LOT of work – way more than I had anticipated. Like any career journey, it’s had it’s ups and downs, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.
What do you wish you’d known about blogging when you started?
That it’s very difficult to make a living solely from Google AdSense and affiliate marketing – especially when you’re just starting out. That was my income generation strategy, which needless to say was not successful and needed a complete overhaul.
In your opinion, where is the use of social media heading in the travel industry in the next 5, 10 years?
I think there is a tremendous opportunity for real-time targeted engagement with travelers, i.e. reaching out to them when they’re on a trip and offering them an incentive for a particular tour or service while they’re in a particular destination.
What advice do you have for bloggers wishing to “make it” in the industry in terms of how to spread their time between traveling, blogging, writing, and interacting with social media? How can one person balance it all without sacrificing, let’s say, the quality of the content?
Find your unique selling point and hone it like crazy. You can not be amazing at everything, so pick one thing to really excel at – something that will make you stand out from the thousands of other travel bloggers. It will save you a ton of time – since you will be really focused on one thing not 10 things. It’s fine to be just “good” or even “OK” at some of the other stuff, as long as you’re really good at one thing.
The other thing is have digital detox days. You need it more than you realize. It’s easy to think that you have to be connected 24/7 and that your followers will miss you if you disappear for a few days. In reality they probably won’t and if they do well hey, they’ll be really happy that you’re back! It’s important to be real and remember that we’re travel bloggers – we’re not saving people’s lives.
You’re going to be speaking at TBEX Athens in October. Can you give our readers a sneak peek at what you’ll be talking about?
I will be sharing practical advanced Twitter techniques that can help you grow your followers and make Twitter your #1 source for client referrals. I realize that bloggers and the travel industry are already using Twitter so my presentation doesn’t cover the basic stuff, but the more advanced tips and techniques that most bloggers/travel industry professionals are too busy to investigate or implement. I’ve tested my presentation on a few bloggers already and they were really surprised at how much they learned given that they’re active Twitter users. That’s what I’m going for – really practical tips that bloggers and the travel industry can implement quickly to get better results in minutes a day!
Laurel Robbins is a social media time optimizer and Twitter aficionado with over 45,000 followers @Laurel_Robbins. She’s also the founder of Monkeys and Mountains, an award-winning outdoor and adventure blog. When not tweeting or traveling, you can find her in the mountains, which is most weekends!