Struggling to get your content out there?
If so… you’ve come to the right place.
Because no matter how fantastic your website may be, the sad fact is…
Great Travel Content – No Matter How Brilliant – Goes Unread Every Day!
Until someone reads it… finds value in it… and shares with others, your content exists in a black hole.
Therefore, instead of publishing content and “hoping” it goes viral, use the following 101 methods to get the word out about your travel blog.
#1. Interview prominent travel bloggers. Many will oblige, and some will link back to your interview.
#2. Get interviewed on other sites. Recently finished a whirlwind tour of Africa? Or how about a seventeen day hike through the Himalaya? Other bloggers would LOVE to interview you about this!
#3. Do a roundup of travel authors/bloggers/journalists. Then create an interview series and release it on your site. Tell each interviewee about it and ask them to share with their audience.
Give Stuff Away
#4. Give your product away. Just wrote an eBook about getting jobs on cruise ships? Send it out to bloggers and ask for an honest review. Larger bloggers will probably ask for $300 – $500 for this.
#5. Give business cards away. Use VistaPrint to create business cards for cheap, then hand them out to everyone you meet on your travels.
#6. Invite people to “test drive” your upcoming product. Ask 50 people to try it out, then give them the finished product for free. Be sure to thank them for testing it, and let them how much their input helped!
#7. Include branded merchandise in gift bags. When you attend a travel conference, put branded items in their giveaways (sort of like the Academy Awards, but cheaper). If they don’t have a gift bag (most do) then just leave your free stuff at the back of the room or hand them out to people. Of course, don’t act like a tout, just offer it and move on!
#8. Give free products/merchandise to your biggest fans. Someone talk you up on Twitter? Send them some free swag. And better still, don’t mention it ahead of time… the surprise makes it much more powerful!
#9. Stand in Times Square (or other popular place) and offer free swag. Make it connect with your brand for maximum effect. For example, if your travel site is about learning languages, give away free one-sheets of popular phrases in different languages.
#10. Give your images away. Chances are you’ve got stacks of photos from around the world. Offer them for free on Flickr in exchange for a link.
Networking and Public Events
Alternatively, use the following phrase in Google to find local conferences:
“travel conference” (year) (city/state)
For example: “travel conference” 2012 California
#12. Host a free event. This can be online or offline. Host a webinar around a specific travel topic (e.g., planning for a round-the-world trip) and invite other prominent travel writers to sit on the panel.
#13. Teach a class. I’ve had great success teaching classes at local community colleges. Not only do you get to build your brand, you also get paid ;). Teach a class around online marketing, blogging, writing, travel, wine, food, etc.
Anything that relates back to your website will make an interesting topic.
Provide Free Content
#14. Guest post on other blogs. Use this guest posting guide to find, pitch and land guest posts on popular travel websites.
#15. Create valuable “how-to” videos. Do you readers know how to find cheap flights to Europe? How about the proper pronunciation of Spanish phrases? In just a few minutes you can show them (rather than tell).
#16. Build and share infographics. An infographic is a visually appealing display of data. This library has a collection of incredible looking examples, which should help inspire you.
By their very nature, killer infographics need two things: interesting data and compelling design. While you can hire a designer to make a truly unique looking one, there are several free tools you can use to make interesting presentations.
For example, you can use Many Eyes – which is run by IBM – to create interesting maps like this one. Use Dipity.com to create timelines like this one on Russian history. Once you’ve created an infographic put it on infographic sharing sites, write a press release and notify other bloggers to help get the word out.
#17. Hold a Q&A session with your fans. Let your readers know you’ll be answering their questions on a specific topic. For example, if you write about traveling through South America, you could hold a live Q&A session via your blog comments or Webex. Not only does this help you build authority, it helps you better understand *who* your readers are and *what* they care about.
#18. Conduct a survey of your readers and publish the results. Ask your readers where they’ve traveled to, compile the results and create an infographic about it (see #16).
#19. Release a free-to-republish report. Write an informative report about your travels and give it away on your site. Contact other travel writers and let them offer it on their site. They can slap their logo on the report, so long as they keep your author bio and content intact. This method works really, really well.
#20. Make a “best-of” list… with a twist. Create a list of awards like “Top 10 Europe Bloggers” or “Top 100 Travel Authors” and post it on your site. Then, contact each person you cite and give them a simple badge which has your site name (and hopefully a link back to your site).
#21. “Build a 101” list. Similar to #20, this approach is usually perceived as the “final word” on a given subject. In fact, I put this list together because I wanted a master resource myself!
And if you’ve read this far, consider linking to this page, sharing on Facebook or retweeting
Create Valuable Tools, and Share Them
#22. Create a WordPress plugin. Hire a developer to create one your audience will love. For example, travelers love to share photos… how about a plugin which lets them post their Flickr photos directly to their blog?
#23. Develop a Firefox/Chrome extension. Be sure to include a support page and download instructions for this. Hire a developer from eLance or Guru.com.
#24. Develop a WordPress theme. People love free themes, and travelers would love to create their own travel site with just a few mouseclicks. Design the theme for them (or pay someone to do it) and include a small “Designed by (YOU)” in the footer.
#25. Hold a competition for the best content. Have your readers submit their stories/videos/slogans, etc. and give a prize to the winner.
What kind of prize? Well you could…
#26. Give away something money can’t buy. How about offering a free one-on-one consultation to the winner of your competition?
#27. Give something valuable away for free. Nomadic Matt offered a free flight to Alaska to his readers (thanks to his prodigious amount frequent flyer miles). Think about what you could give away to your readers… the resulting buzz and links could be worth much, much more in return.
Better still, you could…
#28. Get a sponsor for your competition. In NomadicMatt’s case, G Adventures agree to pay for a 15 day trip through Alaska. Think about how much buzz Matt got for that… and it didn’t cost him a cent.
#29. Offer free ad space as a prize. Whoever wins can advertise their site – or whatever else – for a month.
#30. Hold a competition on Twitter. In order for people to enter your contest, they must first tweet about it. While I’m not a fan of forcing social response, this method has worked for others.
#31. Get people to “Like” your site. On the Trekity blog we let users vote for their favorite destinations by hitting the “Like” button. Not only does this let us keep score of our readers’ favorites, it helps build our social presence as well.
Content Syndication: Much Sexier Than It Sounds
#32. Submit a press release. Done correctly, press releases will get your travel site noticed by top-notch websites like Yahoo News, DailyFinance, NewsVine, SFGate and many others.
PRWeb is undoubtedly the leader for press release distribution… free press release sites don’t offer nearly the coverage. You get what you pay for.
#33. Track who publishes your press release, and offer them free content. Using PRWeb you can track this easily. Otherwise, go to Google and type in your press release’s title in quotation marks to find who’s republishing your stuff.
#34. Write and submit articles to article directories. Ezine let you write content and submit it for free. When publishers choose to use your article, your bio (and link to your site) is included at the end. Note: This tactic is not as powerful as it was once, but still worth pursuing on a limited scale.
#35. Do a “cross post” with other sites. Guest posting takes time. So does adding content to your site. But when you agree to a cross post, you get the best of both worlds: you write a post for them, and they write a post for you. You both get fresh content while gaining free exposure to each other’s readers.
This can be very powerful.
#36. Create a mini-net of sites. Let’s say that you’re site is about traveling in Europe. You could create min sites (either on separate domains or on Blogspot, HubPages or Squidoo) about each individual country. This lets you create hyper-focused “mini sites” while still promoting your major site.
#37. Submit your site to DMOZ. This human-edited directory only selects the best sites. They’re free to submit to, and deliver traffic and authority to your site if accepted. Don’t hold your breath on responses; they may take up to six months to review your site.
#38. Submit to the Yahoo! Directory. OK, it’s not cheap ($297 per year) but this highly authoritative directory does pass a lot of authority (for SEO purposes) and helps you establish credibility.
Is it really worth the price tag? I don’t use it, but highly respected SEO gurus like Aaron Wall recommend it.
#39. Create your own directory. Ever visited JohnnyJet.com? It’s a giant directory related to all things travel. You could create something like this on your own site (but more specific) and tell other websites you’ve included them.
If possible, create a badge (e.g. “Approved by YOUR SITE”) and give it to every site you mention.
#40. Submit to RSS feed directories. If you’re using WordPress (or other popular CMS) your site automatically creates a feed. Submit the feed’s link to major feed directories who syndicate your content.
Better still, other site’s will use this feed and (hopefully) link back to your site.
Go to Print
#41. Publish a book. While you may not make as much money, credibility for printed authors is much higher than strictly eBooks. Plus, you can always sell print versions at speaking engagements to increase revenue. You can either print it yourself or work with a publisher.
#42. Publish your photos and content. You know those “coffee table” books about travel? The ones which are filled with pretty pictures with short descriptions about each? You probably already have the photos (and maybe the content) for a short book like this. Print them out and mail them to prominent bloggers/ travel writers.
Or better still…
#43. Deliver hard copies to local businesses. Lots of ‘em. And preferably companies which are tech-savvy (e.g. Google in Mountain View) or travel oriented (e.g. your local major travel agency).
Best bet? Find a company which is both (e.g. Travelocity’s headquarters) and drop off dozens of copies around break rooms.
Answer Questions on Forums and Q&A Sites
#44. Provide VALUABLE responses on Yahoo! Answers and link back to your site if applicable.
#45. Same with Google Groups.
#46. Comment on related travel forums. Thorn Tree, Frommers Forums and TravelPod all have active forums. To find more specific ones go to Google and type in “YOUR MARKET” forums. Once there, answer questions and refer back to your site if applicable.
#48 List your site on Wikipedia. If your website has been around for a while, or you’ve published a book, consider writing a brief page on Wikipedia. If this proves difficult, add your site in the “Resources” section on existing pages. Hopefully the WikiNazis will let that pass.
#49. Stalk people on Twitter. Not really… but… in order to succeed with Twitter you do need to have followers.
Here’s a simple tip to help: whenever you do a guest post, include your Twitter bio. Assuming your content resonates, two things will happen: first, you’ll gain a few new followers; and secondly, people will retweet your content to others.
Now here’s what you do: go to Twitter Search and type in the name of your guest post. It will show everyone who has recently retweeted it. Then… follow each of those people. Chances are, a percentage of them will follow you back. Do this enough times and you’ll have a much larger Twitter following.
And speaking of Twitter:
#50. Use Ping.fm (or Hootsuite) to save time. Either service lets you post content to multiple social networks from one simple interface. It’s a tremendous time saver and helps you manage multiple platforms with ease.
#51. Use Google Adwords. Easily the biggest beast in the market, Google Adwords only costs you money when someone clicks on your ad. Problem is, the travel market is hyper-competitive and you can pay a lot for that click.
#52. Facebook ads. These are growing in popularity and – relative to Adwords – remains cheaper on a per click basis. Since most travelers have Facebook pages, this is a natural place to consider advertising. Remember, however, you should use paid advertising to drive people to offers (ie, something that will put money back into your pocket) unless you’re still trying to raise brand awareness.
In that case…
#53 Advertise on StumbleUpon. Unlike Google or Facebook – which require you to create ads –StumbleUpon puts uses directly on your website. So in this case, your website is your ad… so it better be good.
StumbleUpon users – affectionately known as “Stumblers”- have a notoriously short attention span. After all, the whole purpose of the site is to find new websites. If your website isn’t compelling enough, they’ll move on.
But StumbleUpon is a great resource for launching your website. It helps you build brand awareness (it helped significantly with Trekity) when your site is brand new.
Plus, as that paid traffic views and votes your site up, you’ll hopefully get free traffic from other users as it moves up in StumbleUpon’s rankings.
Get the Press Involved
#54. Hold a press event. We’ve already covered press releases (#32), but this is a different animal entirely. You know how Apple always releases their products with a huge marketing blitz? You can do the same. Contact any reporters/bloggers you know and let them know about your new product/website. Offer it for free to any journalist who wants to interview you.
#55. Answer HARO questions. Help A Reporter Out – or HARO for short – sends you three emails a day with reporters requests for interviews. You can respond to them and position yourself as an authority. This is a great way to build relationships with travel journalists.
Of course this is a two way street, which means you should…
#56. Post questions on HARO. If you’re looking to write a travel piece, submit your request through HARO. Chances are, you’ll meet several experts in the area, and you can develop longstanding relationships with them.
#57. Sign up for PR wire services. These sites list what journalists are looking for, and like HARO, can help you build an impressive list of press contacts.
#58. Sponsor a HARO listing. For $300 you can access between 5,000 – 10,000 travel journalists and site owners. Would this be a great resource for a new travel site to advertise on?
Uh… yeah, it would.
#59. Call your local press. This sounds simple… and it is. Call up your local news agencies – tv, radio and print – and let them know you’re available to answer questions anytime.
Create and Promote Products
#60. Write a tutorial and sell it. Guidebooks, travel hacks, language tutorials… all of these are things that people will buy. Create a product you can sell on your site, then promote using tactics on this page.
#61. Recruit affiliates. Contact other bloggers/travel writers and let them know about your new product. More importantly… offer them a commission whenever they refer a buyer. Not only will you earn more links and buzz, you’ll probably make extra income. Popular affiliate sites include e-junkie and Clickbank.
#62. List your product on affiliate networks. Both e-Junkie and Clickbank lets you list your product in their marketplace. As it grows in popularity, other affiliates are more likely to see your product and promote.
#63. Hold special sales. A 48 hour discount or Chinese New Year special… whatever. Discounts will help drive sales and generate buzz.
#64. List your product with AppSumo. This site is like Groupon but with digital goods. Once you’ve got an established track record of sales, send it out to their email list with a special time-sensitive discount and watch the sales come in.
#66. Create a wicked newsletter. When someone visits your site, give them a very good reason to sign up for your newsletter (e.g. a free guide, list of tips, insider discounts on travel, etc.). Once you’ve done that, write a series of automated emails which offer more valuable content – as well as links to your new content.
For a few reasons. First, it helps maintain contact with your readers and, secondly, those clicks back to your website increases your overall page views (which means you can charge more for advertising). Vagabondish’s daily newsletter is chock full of great tips. It also drives readers (like me) back to their site again and again.
#67 Pay people to write for you. You can either pay a flat fee out of pocket, a rev-share model (for example, you and the writer split the ad revenue 50-50) or a combination of the two.
Help Improve Your Community
#68. Donate proceeds to charity. You can create a product and offer the first month’s revenue to your favorite charity. You can offer a certain percentage of ad revenue or match each donation dollar to dollar (up to a specified limit, of course).
#69. Help local companies. Offer your services a writer/blogger/programmer/linguist or anything else. Then write it up on your website, tell journalists about it, etc.
#70. Help your community. Help build a house, tutor underprivileged kids or volunteer at your local soup kitchen, then write about your experiences. Let the press know you’re writing an “expose” based on what you see.
#71. Give away local community awards. If you write about England, give shout-outs to local humanitarians. Then contact each individual/organization and let them know you’ve cited them.
Use Design to Gain Exposure
#72. Find a great designer and pay them.
#73. Develop a site layout which is unique and useful for your readers. For example, we developed Trekity so users could find destinations based on when or where they wanted to go and what they were interested in. This unique approach helped users find places they wouldn’t ordinarily discover, and resulted in extra media buzz.
Look at your travel site now and ask yourself: “how can I make this easier/better for my readers?” Then hire a developer to make it happen.
#74. Submit your site to you design showcases. CSS Vault and CSSDrive are two great places to start. Here’s 16 more. Remember, these sites are for designers, who tend to be very well connected online. Gaining their appreciation can multiply quickly.
Get Crazy: Off the Wall Ideas
#75. Paint your car and drive across the country (or continent). Can you imagine how many people will see your car on a cross-country drive? Hundreds of thousands. And chances are, several will ask you about your site, which gives you a great excuse to talk about it!
#76. Change internet cafes wallpaper/homepage to your website. This may be very short-term, but if your site is interesting enough it may stick.
#77. Post flyers inside hostels in every town you visit.
#78. Mail postcards to every friend on Facebook. Include your website’s logo and address on it.
#79. Sponsor a cock-fight*. Record it on video and add a “brought to you by…” underneath.
#80. Film children saying your website’s name. Everywhere you travel to, ask local kids to say it, then put a series of them together in a video, or make it the “catch phrase” of all your video work.
And speaking of video:
Video Marketing for Travel
#81. Film every beach you visit. Try and go for a panoramic view of the ocean, sand and all the good and bad bits. Beaches are notoriously difficult to write about after awhile, and a video lets readers experience it for themselves.
#82. Record locals cooking. Create an ongoing series of looking street food and upload them to YouTube or host them directly on your site.
#83. Make a short documentary. Cram as much info as possible into 60 seconds, and have it be a recurring series on your site. For example: “Bangkok in 60 Seconds” or “Austin, Texas in 60 Seconds.” Share these videos with relevant websites.
#84. Interview other travel writers at conferences. Both you and the other writer should promote these to your readers.
#85. Record hotel rooms. Oyster does this with their photo fake-out series. Record the hotel room in detail and share it with your readers.
#86. Make an “exclusive” video. Did you get invited backstage for a concert? Record and share it!
Miscellaneous: 15 Ideas Which Didn’t Fit Anywhere Else
#87. Build a syndicate. As you develop relationships with other bloggers, agree collectively to promote each other’s content/events/products at specific intervals. For example, in February the eight writers in your syndicate agree to promote writer #1, then #2 in March, etc.
If you’re interested in something like this – and you’ve got killer content – let me know.
#88. Create quizzes for your readers. How many South American countries can you name? How about a quiz on European beers? Quizzes are a great way to interact with your readers.
#89. Monitor and shape your reputation. Set up Google alerts for your personal and website name. Whenever someone mentions either online, you receive an email notification. Respond to questions and thank others for their kind words.
#90. Win an award. If you’re website really shines, submit it to a number of competitions for travel and/or blogs. Even an honorable mention will help get your name out there.
#91. Take good news and run with it. The Everywhereist, written by fellow copywriter-turned-travel writer Geraldine, was named one of Time Magazine’s top 25 blogs of 2011.
Know how I know that? Because it’s in her blog title.
Reviews and Testimonials
#92. Leave reviews on everything. Did you recently read Earl’s Guide to Working on Cruise Ships? Book a flight with HipMunk? Whatever the case, leave a review and – if applicable – a testimonial. Often times the authors will turn it into a link back to your site.
#93. Link out to good stuff. Not only does it add value to your own content, it lets other writers know you appreciate what they’re doing. Also, many WordPress users are automatically notified when news links to their stuff appears… which may send them over to check you out.
#94. Create product lists on Amazon. Compile a best-of series like “Best Travel Gear for Cambodia” or “The Ultimate Packing Guide for Flashpackers” and reference your site where applicable.
And speaking of which…
#95. Review products on Amazon. Travelers love gear and gadgets, right? Then post your reviews of these products (especially if you use them on #94) and cite your expertise with a link back to a specific article on your site.
Using (or Changing) Your Personality
#96. Become a hero. Choose a cause – like how terribly underpaid travel writers are – and become its champion. Write about it frequently and get others involved in the discussion.
#97. Become a villain. Challenge a widely-held belief – like travel writers are underpaid – and back it up. Chances are, this will spark on a debate and engage more readers.
#98. Write as your alter ego. My father – who used to write a sports column – would occasionally write as his cat. Changing your personality frees up creativity and (if done correctly) provides a refreshing change of pace for your readers.
#99. Debate with another writer. Find someone you respectfully disagree with and ask them to debate their point on your website.
#100. Create a separate blog entirely. Do you have a related passion which doesn’t fit on your existing site? Create another one and cross-promote the two.
For example, I co-created Trekity with my wife, and wanted a place to share my thoughts on marketing and promotion in regards to travel writing.
Which is why you’re here
You see, having two sites helps keep things fresh. It also helps you keep you laser-focused on each site. If I didn’t launch TBA… well… Trekity would be filled with 4,500 word posts like this one about marketing (something 99% of travelers don’t care about).
Instead, I get to have both discussions – with travelers and travel writers – in their appropriate venues.
Maybe you should, too.
And the final “magnifier” is…
#101. Link to this post. If you do, I’ll include a link back to your travel site or blog. Is that fair or what?
In conclusion, I hope you’ve enjoyed this guide. It’s a series of techniques I’ve used over the past few years and found great success with.
I hope you do, too.
And remember: none of these tactics exists in a vacuum. Combine any number of them for maximum results.
For example, interview a travel writer, then post it on your site, then share it with other bloggers, then write a press release about it, then offer free content to sites who pick up your press release, then bookmark it on major networking sites and then…
You get the picture.
Now get to work
To your travel success,
*You realize I’m kidding, right?
PS: Did I miss any? Of COURSE I did! This is just the tip of the iceberg… so let us all know what other methods you could use to promote your travel site in the comments below!
And don’t forget to link to this page. Sharing is oh-so-good for karma.