Our ‘Influencer of the Week’ series highlights the influencers who are kicking up a storm in the online world, with their brilliant blog content, impressive social media sorcery and general awesomeness! If you would like to be featured as an ‘Influencer of the Week’ in the future, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for consideration.
1. What made you start your own blog?
Walter: At my ‘day job’ as online project manager I was tasked to come up with a social media strategy in 2010. Working as a web specialist since 1994 everyone thought I would know. I actually had no clue…
But I quickly researched that you should choose your niche and revolve your activities around your own platform, i.e a self hosted blog, using social networks to promote the blog content. I felt that I would only understand the underlying ramifications once I run my own blog. As an avid traveler I had a photo or two sitting on my hard drive so I decided this would be my niche and therefore started a travel blog. It first was a social media learning project, really…
2. What do you think makes for a great influencer?
Katja: We try to come up with authentic travelogues. We often flatter hotels or suppliers. But we mean it. We try to prove their awesome offerings with compelling photography and video.
We also try to stay focused and true to our niche about designer and boutique hotels. That makes it easier for our followers to know what to expect from our blog.
3. What kind of value do you think bloggers and influencers provide nowadays?
Walter: Bloggers and influencers are businesses’ new marketing department. Readers don’t trust advertisements. If they see them at all, that is… Especially in travel you trust your friends and their personal recommendations. Here’s where bloggers come in: Only relatively few people may know us but when they come across our reviews on Google or other networks they will quickly find that we are independent reviewers, even when we get invited.
Katja: We try to act like a travel PR representative because we enjoyed a place and want to hint others to these hidden gems. In the best case this means additional bookings. We’ve heard from numerous people that they followed our recommendations and enjoyed them, too 😉
4. Do you have any tips for newbie bloggers on how to increase your reach and become a trusted influencer in your field?
Walter: Persistence is a key factor. It took us a full year of hard work until we got the first feedback whatsoever. But then you also need good communications skills and an outgoing character. A visually appealing blog is a plus. Solid SEO and other technical knowledge is a game changer. And stellar photography helps a lot, especially with Google and Google+
5. What has been the highlight of your blogging career so far?
Katja: Your first press trip as a travel blogger is an obvious milestone. In the meantime we got invited to amazing places throughout Asia, Europe and South America.
Another highlight is your first printed travelogue. We got featured in a U.S. magazine and on SWISS Airlines’ board magazine just recently.
Walter: Rising analytics stats is a nice thing but getting invited to go places is serious feedback that your blog is gaining the right attention 😉
6. What is the most difficult part about blogging that many people may not realize?
Walter: Blogging is tough work, especially travel blogging. You basically trade your cubicle for a mobile office. You not only publish hard to get content, you also need to promote it as hard as you can on a consistent basis. Travel blogging has NOTHING to do with hanging out on nice beaches enjoying cool drinks. If you ever do that, it’s for the purpose of a good selfie that you use to illustrate a well crafted post.
Katja: We usually travel with two laptops, three or more cameras and potentially a heavy tripod… We try to give our travelogues a relaxed vacation style look but there’s a full-fledged office type organization behind the scenes!
7. What kind of opportunities have you had as a result of your blogging success?
Walter: When we get invited to review hotels or destinations we usually get to talk to the according managers. They not only show us around and explain their premises’ highlights but also hint us to special experiences.
Katja: One of the more spectacular experiences included the Chef’s Table at a Portuguese hotel or the dinner in a local wine cellar in Portugal, too.
Walter: Joining SWISS Airlines’ and Iceland Air’s respective inaugural flights to new destinations was a highlight, too. SWISS threw a spectacular gala dinner in Singapore, their newest destination.
8. What has been the most memorable or important piece of advice you received as a (beginner) blogger?
Walter: Choosing your niche wisely and narrowing it down to a certain aspect may be an important one. With the WordPress CMS alone generating 42 million+ new posts each month you need to make sure to stand out in some way or another. Being a topic specialist is one option we chose.
9. What kind of future do you see for your blog?
Katja: Travel blogging is so tough we can’t see it as our full-time job. It’s just too much work for too little income. We still use our blog as a social network training ground as we try to figure out what works and what doesn’t on different outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Flickr, Instagram and the likes.
Walter: We also try to stay on top of Google’s algorithm updates in order to garner as many organic visitors as possible to our publication. If we could make a few more dollars off of our advertising efforts we could afford a new camera lens every now and then but we can’t see the blog paying off for a decent living. We’ll have to keep our day jobs for now.
Katja: And then that’s a good thing, too, as it allows us to be very picky about our travel gigs. We will only write once a hotel or pr manager convinces us of their offering.
10. Finally, who are the bloggers that influence you?
Walter: Paul from aluxurytravelblog.com is doing an amazing job regarding PR for his blog and probably also monetization. In my eyes he runs the Huffington Post of the travel blogs.
Becky and Gray from GlobalGrasshopper.com run a similarly successful model.
And since you guys are in Santiago de Chile you should probably meet with Emily from emilyinchile.com. I love her humorous takes 😉
Walter is a travel addict, passionate photographer and blogger. By working with international tour operators he has learned the ins and outs of the travel industry. His formal education in architecture has taught him how to take photographs with an artistic edge. Additionally, his acquired web skills make the publication of their travel blog effortless.
Co-author and co-traveller Katja not only is a vivid copywriter but also the driving force behind travelmemo’s booking desk. She researches the attractive venues and oversees the booking agreements. There is not a single detail that will escape her (lovely green) eyes.