Travel blogs and the elusive audience

14 Sep

Two resources, Affiliate Marketing for Beginners and Why Your Website Sucks have me thinking about what travel blog visitors are like. And what they like. And what they would like. And what I’d like from them.

As we prepare for a massive change in structure on the Indie Travel Podcast website, I’m thinking a lot about organisation: finding places to add value for readers, making information easy to find, and increasing the chance for us to make money. In that order.

These two resources have me thinking about the ideal visitor. Why your website sucks asks you to identify one person that would be a perfect match to your product (the example is a holiday spot) and how you’d communicate with them.

Who is the ideal visitor to your website? Who are you writing to?

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners makes me wonder what would motivate those visitors to click an affiliate link. It’s got me holding in mind that it’s not my job to sell the product … That’s the job of the landing page, whether it’s an ebook or a flight aggregator. It’s just my job to send interested traffic.

I would posit that most travel blog readers are not travelling soon. Our readers love us: our stories, our voice, our destinations, but they might never visit the places we’re talking about. They might never take a one-year career break or even take that week-long trip to the Cinque Terre. They might just want to read stories.

Here’s the thing: If travel blog readers are in the research part of the buying cycle, there’s not much point doing hard sales. There’s little to gain from pushing a product down our reader’s throats. Rather, by giving ideas and inspiration that keep them coming back, they’ll be more likely to take your advice and recommendations. And, of course, you’ll have a healthy dose of affiliate programs behind the products you’d naturally recommend.

But you can’t recommend products to people you don’t know. Will a backpacker bus, self-drive rental or a luxury coach tour best serve my reader? If I don’t know my ideal reader, how can I make ideal recommendations?

If you create no community, no passion, no voice you don’t have much chance of recommending great solutions which fit people’s needs. And you don’t make money travel blogging.

Chime in below. Do you have the perfect affiliate offer but no passionate audience? Are your readers passionate, but always browsing and never buying? Is there nothing you’d feel comfortable recommending to your blog readers?

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