Anton Diaz’s blog, OurAwesomePlanet.com, which he started in 2005, is the No. 1 food and travel media in the Philippines with millions of followers and readers. His advocacy is to promote the “Food and Travel Secrets of a Destination” and to inspire Filipinos to live an awesome life in the Philippines. Like a continuing autobiography of his family’s food and travel adventures, Anton created the blog as a love letter to his four sons—Aidan, Joshua, Raphael and Yugi. In 2015 when he realized that the kids were not reading the blog, he started doing video stories. The boys watch the videos over and over again. This motivated him to start his Facebook and Youtube video channels and adopt a mobile-video first approach to digital storytelling. He joins us this week to talk about his career as a travel blogger and plans for the future.
What did you do before you became a blogger and how did you make that transition to this becoming your real job?
I was the chief information officer of Procter & Gamble Philippines for 12+ years before I quit my day job and worked on my blog full time in 2008. It was hard to make the transition because the mindset of being an accomplished professional employee is quite different from being an online creative entrepreneur. I had to learn how to create consistent cash flow, provide value with my products and services to solve a problem of the community, and how to price influence and branding intangibles.
What were the secrets of your success that took you from being an unknown to having more than 100,000 unique visitors each month?
We now get 300,000+ uniques per month and I can attribute it to three things:
- Consistent & Relevant Content – We make sure to publish regular content (5x a week) but deeper and more insightful storytelling and very relevant to the audience at that point of time. This requires expertise and immersion of the domain that you want to talk about every day without getting tired of talking about it.
- Counter-Intuitive Branded Posts – You have to be counter-intuitive with your posts meaning don’t follow the direction where everyone else is going. Go to the paths less traveled or make your own path. Don’t be tempted to follow fads (trends that don’t last like the hipster trend), or link-bait shallow articles because you would only last until your last successful trendy post.
- Collaborate – Make sure to have a win-win collaboration and not overdo it at the expense of the relationship. Don’t just do a round-up post but think about how you can make 1+1 = 3 with the combination of your strengths, expertise, and audience. Go for iconic posts that would define your collaborative relationship.
What sets Our Awesome Planet apart from other travel blogs, especially since you are up against many other popular family travel bloggers plus the high number of bloggers from the Philippines?
What sets us apart is that we are known as an expert on three lifestyle domains: Food—the restaurant scene; Travel—the Philippines and International Destinations; and Family Travel—with four boys! It’s quite tricky to combine the different domains and avoid sounding like a Jack of all Trades versus a real expert on each of the domains—all at the same time.
You have spoken at TBEX a couple times on the importance of video for reaching the younger generations of travelers. What are the first steps a writer should take if they haven’t done much video before?
Start with story-boarding a story with a three-act structure and envision how the video storytelling would go. You can use your mobile phone as a video camera. Then start with an easy editing software like iMovie on your laptop an online service like Animoto to get you started with video editing your story.
Go for a minimum of three minutes for video. Three minutes is now the minimum video length by Facebook so that you can monetize with ad breaks. Publish your videos regularly starting with one a week. Then do a streak of videos daily to build your following and influence.
Which videos of yours have been the most popular on YouTube and are they different than the ones that have been most popular on your Facebook page?
Dramatic drone shots do very well in Facebook but fail miserably on YouTube so we just use it as a transition piece. Popularity or view counts are important for brands and for monetization. But as a storyteller, what is most important is audience retention throughout the video.
YouTube videos are usually what appears in searches versus Facebook videos which are more focused on engaging human stories.
Fast-forward five years from now and you’re hopefully still running one of the most popular travel blogs in the world. But what’s different in the travel media world if you look into your crystal ball?
I would like to have a travel super media app to make it easy to document our travel adventures with the help of AI and AR to tell more stories with ease as it happens.
Anton was recognized as one of Go Negosyo’s Inspiring Young Filipino Entrepreneur Awardees in 2010 and was featured in its 7th book, “Go Negosyo’s 50 Inspiring Stories of Young Entrepreneurs,” in 2011. In 2015, he received the first Tourism Star Award for Media from the Department of Tourism for his invaluable contribution in promoting Philippine cuisine and destinations through his blog. Our Awesome Planet is recognized as one of the world’s Top 50 Travel Blogs. Follow Anton on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.
Interview conucted by Tim Leffel, posted by Terri Marshall.