Welcome to Ask Alexa! This is a weekly Q&A episode that is aired on Friday of each week. On episode 057 of The Break Into Travel Writing podcast: I answered your questions about the world of travel blogging, travel writing and travel photography, SEO, Social Media and more!
If you have a question about travel blogging, writing, photography or SEO, Web or Social Media for travel blogging that you would like answered on my Podcast, simply submit your question and I’ll answer it on an upcoming episode.
Welcome to the Ask Alexa Q&A. I’ve had some questions coming in via email and my facebook page, The Break into Travel Writing Podcast and following in the footsteps of Pat Flynn and Amy Porterfield – two podcasters I follow and admire, I ‘m adding this as a regular podcast that airs on Friday of each week. Click here to listen to the podcast now!
[shadowbox]Question: From Jen at longhaultrekkers.com[/shadowbox]
I’d love to know more about working with brands and tourism boards or PR agencies by starting the relationship on Twitter. I’ve heard from many that this is the best way to go about starting the connection process. What exactly does that look like and how long should we expect to court someone before seeing results? Thanks, Alexa!
The way I go about connecting with someone new and the way I recommend starting the process is:
1) Follow on Twitter and Linkedin.
2) After you follow the brand on Linkedin, you can then see the employees of the company. Scroll through the list of employees and find anyone in PR and connect with them on Linkedin and read their profile. If you click on the “contact info” button on their profile page it might list their direct email or link to a personal blog or even Twitter handle
3) then head back to Twitter and follow the employees on Twitter
4) Like the brand on Facebook and Instagram and Pinterest and any other social platforms you use. If you can find the individual employees on IG follow them here as well.
While I agree with the advice you were given that Twitter is a great platform to connect on, and I have had loads of success here, it isn’t always everyone’s favorite platform and it’s good to show you are covering all the bases. If a brand or the PR or marketing reps see you across many social channels it will show you know how to use social media.
Step 5) Without being stalkish, begin to share and comment on their posts across all social channels. I’d say once or twice a week jump in and do this. Do this for a week or two.
6) Next is engagement. Begin to ask strategic questions. If they post about a destination ask a question that helps them showcase their client or if it’s a CVB, the destination itself. So bascialaly, get social!
7) Of course, before too long ask for the correct email for marketing. Let them know you’d like to be added to their media email list and love a copy of their travel and tourism clients.
That is my basic personal method to connect with a brand, pr or a CVB on social and of course specific PR reps.
Heading back to your question, and specifically the part about “how long should we expect to court someone before seeing results”
I’d need to be clear about what results are you looking for? Do you want an invitation to a media trip? What are your goals here? Hit me up again at bitw/askalexa and let me know in more detail your goals and I’d be happy to expand on this portion!
[shadowbox]Question: From Susan Decoteau-Ferrier at GenXTraveler.com[/shadowbox]
There are experts who say shorter post and lists on a regular basis are the way to go. Others say for SEO longer posts are the answer. I can see both approaches having validity. I guess what readers want depends on the reader. But the success (or failure) may have more to do with how readers get there, such as by Google search or through social media. What do you rely on to drive traffic to your blog SEO or Social? I’m sure it is both but I imagine one more so than the other.
Susan, the first person I thought of when I read your question was Moz founder Rand Fishkin. He is not only the founder of Moz but also husband to a very successful travel blogger, Geraldine from @everywhereist, So, I headed to Twitter and asked Rand and Moz:
Short posts & lists on a regular basis or longer posts? Which is best for SEO for a travel blog?
Rand is always super great about responding to questions and he tweeted back and said, I think it depends on your audience and your strengths. If you rock at short-form, consistently interesting work, do that. And, conversely, if you’re much better at producing one big piece of content each week/month/quarter, go that route!
Let’s breakdown short vs long form. I consider short form 500-1200 words. Long-form content is typically 2,000 words or more.
To be totally honest, I have heard both approaches and I have heard arguments for both. On episode 48 I interviewed Max Hartshorne, who is the founder of GoNomad and he believes posting shorter articles more often is better than long form, less often.
While it may seem hard to believe, long form content is said to be shared more frequently than short-form pieces. In a blog post published on The Huffington Post in June 2014, written by BuzzSumo founder, Noah Kagan, he shared, “The longer the content, the more shares it gets and here he is referring to posts with 3,000-10,000 words. ”
Barb Dittert from Volume Nine, said Blog posts under 1,000 words, social media content, infographics, and listicles are perfect examples of short form content. Online users have a tendency to scan through this content, rather than reading every last word. Also, an important point is that short form content is more mobile-friendly than its long form counterpart, allowing it to reach more people.
With all of that said, here is my two cents. I’d focus on 3 factors.
- Who is your audience? Do a bit of research. Check which of your blog posts are getting the most social shares and comments. The longer or shorter posts? If you haven’t written both forms for your site – schedule this and then do a comparison. A tool to test this out is with a heat map. I think there are a bunch of companies that offer this service, but one I know personally is Tim Ash of SiteTuners who offers a heat map simulation tool from his other company, AttentionWizard. I think it’s $1 for 10 maps or pages. What this does is show you where your visitors are looking. Meaning you can see where they stop scrolling down or when they stop reading your articles. If you want to try it out, it’s attentionwizard.com and this would be a good test to show you what your website visitors like best.
- What percentage of your readers are on mobile? Check your analytics and this might give you some insight as you whether short or long form is the best approach for your audience.
- I also believe Consistency is key factor here as well.
And, ultimately you have to write the content!
If you can pump out shorter articles of 500-800 words and consistently post to your blog several days a week. If long form is your wheelhouse, then post longer pieces once every week or two. It’s better to get the content out than postpone posting because you are struggling with the format.
Getting back to the bottom line question; do I use SEO or social for traffic. I rely on social and specifically Twitter and StumbleUpon. I also rely on my email list and newsletters for traffic as well as creating strong opt-ins to continue to grow my email list.
Tweetable: Great question from @ about whether SEO or social drives more web traffic via @writetotravel podcast http://bit.ly/1QMFUop
[shadowbox]Question: From Megan MacNee of www.facebook.com/traveling9to5er/[/shadowbox]
How do you handle editing your own writing? What are tips for becoming a better self-editor?
Megan, as I began to make my list of suggestions, I also looked over my notes for my interview with Don George on Episode 52, where he gave a ton of great advice about writing and editing. If you haven’t take a listen to that episode for a ton of great tips.
I also created a cheat sheet for you. If you head to BITW/selfediting you can download all the tips to perfect your self editing techniques.
But, in the meantime, Let me share some of my favorites!
- My #1 tip is to read your writing out loud.It’s amazing how different you will hear the piece compared to reading it silently. Look for spots where you stumble over the words and obvious issues with grammar, spelling and structure.
- Read your article to another person.Find someone who has a few minutes and read the article out loud. It’s a very interesting process and you’ll be amazed that you will begin to hear the article from the listeners point of view! Make edits as you read.
- Keep an eye out for passive voice. Overuse of passive voice is one of those things that can jump off the page to an editor as inexperience. Like adverbs and initial pronouns, sometimes you can use passive voice for a specific purpose and it will be perfect, but overuse will almost always weaken your writing.
- Don George recommends reading Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style.
- Don also suggests that you should always give yourself time to put a piece of writing away. Get away from it for at least a day or three so that you come back to it with somewhat fresh eyes. It just reads differently when you are out of the moment of writing it. He also suggests, if you’re a beginning writer, he encourages you to join a writers group, where people with different perspectives can read your work and comment on it. If you can’t find one, start one.
So, for anyone who would like the cheat sheet with all the self editing tips, head to BITW/selfediting or bitw/episode57 where you will also find a link to download all the list to perfect your self editing techniques.
Tweetable: Great question from @ about self editing tips via @writetotravel podcast http://bit.ly/1QMFUop
That is it for today! If you have a question about travel blogging, writing, photography or SEO, Web or Social Media for travel blogging that you would like answered on my Podcast, simply submit your question to bitw/askalexa and I’ll answer it on an upcoming episode.
Great question from @longhaultrekker about connecting with PR on Twitter via @writetotravel podcast http://bit.ly/1QMFUop #travelblogger [Click To Tweet]
Great question from @ about whether SEO or social drives more web traffic via @writetotravel podcast http://bit.ly/1QMFUop [Click to Tweet]
Great question from @ about self editing tips via @writetotravel podcast http://bit.ly/1QMFUop [Click to Tweet]
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