Paul Johnson is the editor of and top contributor to A Luxury Travel Blog, one of the leading luxury travel blogs on the internet. In today’s interview, Paul, who has a PhD in Glaciology, discusses the growth of the blog and how his work in consulting and marketing have helped him create his luxury brand.
Tell us about A Luxury Travel Blog beyond the numbers: what’s your mission and what differentiates yours from other luxury travel blogs?
Our mission with A Luxury Travel Blog is quite simple – to be the leading blog in that niche. We are different from other luxury travel blogs in that we combine luxury travel news, our own first-hand experiences and the expertise of others from within the luxury travel industry. A Luxury Travel Blog is also far more active than most other luxury travel blogs with new material being added every day, and often multiple times a day.
What was your history before becoming a travel editor and blogger?
My academic background is in Geography and Geology, which was followed by a PhD in Glaciology for which I spent time working in Greenland. My personal background is also in tourism, having been a Partner in a family-run, luxury self-catering business which has since been sold. When I was writing up my PhD thesis (a long time ago now!) was when the Web first came along, and so I started dabbling then, doing Web design and marketing for the tourist industry. I am now a Director of The Dedicated Partnership Ltd., which is an internet marketing company for the tourist industry, and A Luxury Travel Blog is a site run by that company. I am also a Director at Kendal Holiday Cottages Ltd.
What are your top sources of income from the blog and has that changed much over the years?
The main source of income from the blog is from graphical ads down the right hand side. This has always been the primary source.
Much of your editorial is from outside contributors looking for exposure or links. What are some of the drawbacks of accepting all that outside material and what common mistakes do guest bloggers make?
There is a slight misconception with the blog that it is a predominantly multi-author blog but, of the 6,000 posts on the blog, I have authored approximately 5,000 of them. Having said that, this is gradually changing and, more recently, more and more people have been getting involved. The drawbacks are you find yourself managing others (or at least their content) more, rather than producing your own content, but this is obviously counter-balanced by increasing the amount of information that we can offer to our readers. The most common mistake guest bloggers make is not following our guest blogging guidelines and trying to insert spammy, anchor-rich text links in their posts. Too much focus on getting a link and not on producing good quality content and I am just not interested in that.
The perfect guest blogger for A Luxury Travel Blog is someone who…
…focuses on producing quality content.
New media crystal ball time: how do you see your job, your income, and your blog changing in the next five years?
My job currently is not just the blog, but also looking after the online marketing for a number of tourism clients as well as doing a lot of in-house affiliate marketing within the travel industry. That said, in the last 12 months, there has been a major shift in emphasis towards the blog and I see this continuing for the foreseeable future. People are increasingly recognizing the value of blogs and the contribution that – the good ones, at least – make to the Web, so hopefully the site’s growth will be coupled with an increase in income. Whether this will still be the case in 5 years, I wouldn’t like to say as things can change so quickly in the online world, but I hope so.
You get hosted a lot by destinations and hotels, but let’s say you’ve got unlimited funds to spend on a luxury vacation anywhere in the world. Where would you go and why?
Right now, I’d probably like to return to where we went on honeymoon, but this time with our children. We honeymooned in Tanzania and really enjoyed our visits to some top lodges in the Serengeti, Ngorongoro and at Lake Manyara, followed by a fantastic stay on a barefoot island off Zanzibar. Our children are now of an age where I think they would properly appreciate and remember an experience like that so it would be a lovely trip to share with them.
Paul Johnson is the editor of – and chief contributor to – A Luxury Travel Blog ( www.aluxurytravelblog.com ), probably the Web’s leading blog devoted to luxury travel. With a monthly readership of more than 130,000 unique visitors, over a quarter of million Twitter followers and some 50,000 Facebook ‘likes’, With more than 25 years’ experience in the tourist industry, Paul has established a site that is a ‘first stop’ for anyone with discerning travel tastes.
Interview conducted in September, 2013 by Tim Leffel and edited by Kristin Mock.