It’s been said the key to becoming an expert in any field is to practice that specific task for 10,000 hours. But that’s a lot of time and your schedule is tight, so instead of dumping that massive workload on you, we talk to the experts, we glean the most valuable morsels of their expertise, and then we condense that knowledge into one informative and entertaining 10-minute nugget. Today we’re talking with and learning from Dr. Paul Johnson, the man behind A Luxury Travel Blog, a popular online destination that focuses on the finer aspects of travel. Join us as we discuss the keys to blogging success, marketing, and how even a Holiday Inn stay can be luxurious.
1. Did you start off your blog knowing you wanted to focus on the finer aspects of travel?
Yes, that was always the plan, hence the name.
2. What type of content have you discovered works best for drawing traffic to your site?
I find the blog post title is all important. It’s what goes out on our social media channels so it needs to be something that really entices people to click. I find that top 10 style lists work well, as does extreme, over-the-top luxury, or anything that’s particularly topical or a little quirky.
3. How did the worldwide recession and the slow recovery affect your traffic?
That’s an interesting one for me, really. The recession has had a very positive effect upon the blog and its traffic, at least indirectly. Much of my work had become focused on affiliate marketing and, while I still continue to do this, it’s not as lucrative as it once was due to changes that have happened with search. For this reason, I found myself turning my attention to A Luxury Travel Blog more and more, in preference to our affiliate marketing activities, hence its growth.
4. How important is social media to the success of your blog?
Hugely. Collectively we have more than a quarter of a million followers on various social media channels, and that’s currently increasing at a rate of around 20,000 a month.
5. How do you define what luxury travel is? Because I gotta tell ya, I stayed at a Holiday Inn recently in Central Florida that had both an outdoor AND indoor pool!
Luxury is different things to different people. So if you feel that Holiday Inn was the ‘bee’s knees’ for you, then that was luxury! Many people will equate luxury with expensive, but for me it’s much more than that. It’s more about service and attention to detail, and people going that extra mile for you.
6. I read that you have a team of more than 250 writers? That’s a startling number! Is this guest blogging at its most prolific?
There are actually more than 300 now, and a total of around 6,000 posts on the blog. I’m not sure it’s guest blogging at its most prolific but it’s certainly an appealing aspect of our site to many in the travel industry due to the levels of exposure we can offer.
7. What’s the most amazing trip you’ve taken? Besides that Central Florida Holiday Inn (if you’ve been there).
I’m sorry, I’ve not been to the Central Florida Holiday Inn… it sounds like I’m missing out! My most amazing trip? That’s a tough call but I’d have to go with our honeymoon – we went and stayed in various places on safari in Tanzania, followed by a private island, barefoot stay off the northeast coast of Zanzibar.
8. There are a ton of travel blogs out there. What do you recommend for the new site that’s struggling to gain traction?
I have actually done a blog post on this very subject. Anyone starting a travel blog now is unlikely to see overnight success, so one of the first key ingredients is a perseverance to succeed (item 6 in that list of top tips).
9. How do you go about marketing your blog?
I am a director at The Dedicated Partnership Ltd., and so my day job is in online tourism marketing. In the case of A Luxury Travel Blog, we take a two-pronged approach to the marketing by 1) creating quality content (some might not see this in itself as a marketing activity, but it makes the marketing so much easier that I think it can be considered a marketing activity in its own right) and 2) through social media (primarily Twitter and Facebook). Traffic from Google, Google+, Pinterest, etc. is a bonus, but not our primary marketing activity or source of traffic for this particular site.
10. I see you’re from Kendal, Cumbria in the UK. If we ever visit that region, what should we be sure to see or taste?
Well, first off, let me tell you where you must stay! Kendal Cottages. In the interest of transparency, I should mention I’m a director of this company also, but it’s a lovely spot on the river and in the center of town, with a lovely view out towards Kendal Castle.
As for what you should see, well, we are sandwiched between two of England’s most beautiful National Parks — the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales — so explore those areas and see some of England’s most stunning scenery.
As for taste, a visit to Kendal wouldn’t be complete without trying Kendal mint cake. It’s not to everyone’s liking but it’s famous for having been used on the first successful ascent of Everest. In terms of restaurants, a couple of our favorites in the town include the New Moon Restaurant and Déjà Vu.
For everything from a gourmet guide to Rome to the Wife Carrying World Championships in Finland, be sure to check out Paul’s blog. Thanks for the time, doctor!