Paul Johnson is the travelling Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog, and also the Director at The Dedicated Partnership Ltd. which promotes tourism. A Luxury Travel Blog has been voted "one of the world's best travel blogs" and "best for luxury" by The Daily Telegraph and also voted #1 most influential travel blog in the world in independent research conducted by Travelocafe.
Here are Paul's answers, tips and thoughts on what it takes to become and succeed as a travel blogger today:
What advice would you give to travel bloggers who are trying to make a name for themselves?
Starting a travel blog now is a very different proposition to when I started back in 2005. Back then, it was enough to just do something different to everyone else and, in my case, that was a focus on luxury travel. Most of the other travel blogs at the time (and there weren't many) had a focus on backpacking and budget travel, so I was able to get noticed simply because I focussed on a niche that was different.
Nowadays, the world and his wife has a travel blog. There are many, many thousands of travel blogs out there, and it's not as easy to do something different, nor is at easy to get noticed if you do. I don't envy anyone trying to make a career of travel blogging if they are starting out now, considering there are so many already established and with a competitive advantage for that reason alone. What I would advise is to be in it for the long term. The rewards are not likely to come overnight. That's not to say it can't be done but realistically it is likely you'll have to work several years with little return before being able to forge a full time career in the industry.
How can travel bloggers ensure their content’s different from everything else out there?
You can't easily because there are so many travel bloggers out there, but there is always a different take on a story - perhaps an angle that is personal to you and only you, a unique perspective or a different way of covering your story.
Would you say that social media’s a vital tool for bloggers?
Yes... to be successful as a blogger, you need to get noticed and social media is an important way of getting seen. It is a dangerous game to just rely on any one source of traffic, whether it be Google or something else, so having a strong presence on your preferred social media channels is critical so that you don't have all your eggs in one basket.
Which articles/stories did far better than you expected?
On 1st April this year, I did an April Fool's post about the fictitious trend of glouchsurfing (glamorous couchsurfing). It was just a little bit of fun and I expected one or two people might have a chuckle over it, but it actually fooled an awful lot of people and was viewed over 30,000 times. You can view the post here.
As well as attracting around 500 re-tweets and 200 comments, people wrote articles about this 'new' phenomenon, and someone even registered the domain glouchsurfing.com that day!
I've also had one advertorial post achieve over a million views because the advertiser independently did a lot of paid promotion of the post.
Have you ever been surprised by a lack of interest in a piece which you thought would do really well?
Sure, some do better than others, but every post gets a minimum of 5,000 views and many over ten times that figure.
How often should a blogger be posting new content online, and should most of it be written content? Can video content be just as popular?
I think that's up to the blogger and not for me to suggest how others should run their blogs. In the case of A Luxury Travel Blog, we have a lot of content being published (around 100 articles per month), but then we also have a lot of authors (around 500 different contributors to date). Many other travel blogs might only do 2 or 3 posts in a month, but there's nothing wrong with that, just as there's nothing wrong with using video or any other media... whatever's right for the indivdual blogger, I say.
Which travel bloggers do you rate at the moment?
I know this might sound bad but I'm sorry to say I generally don't read other travel blogs. I just don't find the time what with keeping up with emails, blog posts and social media... not to mention, the actual travel part, too!