Content, content, content. The bane of any travel agent’s existence. Well, that and maybe last-minute airline cancellations. By now, you know that not only do you need to be on social media consistently creating catchy captions, but you’ve also been told you have to write blog content for your website. And if that’s not enough…ugh, send out a weekly email to your clients.
At this point, I’m betting you are gatvol (a nifty Afrikaans word to add to your vocabulary that basically means…Frig…I’ve had it up to HERE 😫).
Sorry, but this is not an article that offers relief and says…pppfffftttt, fuhgeddaboudit. You don’t need all those things. Because…you do.
What I do want to address is a common question I get from travel agents, and that is…what goes where? Can my email be my blog? Can I just use an RSS feed to announce to my clients that I have a new post on my website and skip the whole email altogether? Well, by now you know, it’s a firm NO but let me explain.
The Purpose of a Blog
If you are thinking…does anybody even read blogs anymore? You probably think you don’t. But surprisingly, most of us read a ton of blogs every day. Every time you Google whatever it is you Google…the mating patterns of killer whales perhaps, you are reading somebody’s blog.
So what’s the point of a blog again? 🤷♀️
The main purpose of a blog is to drive people to your website using an SEO strategy.
I’ll be offering tips on how to master SEO in my upcoming course, but for now, let me explain SEO in travel terms.
Say you are in London, and you hop on one of those double-decker buses to take a tour of the city’s most popular points of interest. The bus driver already has a good idea of which attractions will be a hit. He knows this because the people who have come before you have all loved them; they offer a ton to see, and hence, they are super busy.
But a good tour bus driver also knows that he might need to mix things up from time to time. He’ll want to satisfy those who are returning for a second visit. Sometimes, he might drive the bus to a newer attraction to test the waters.
You get off the bus. Take a look around. But it turns out, there is not much there and nothing worth seeing. You get back on the bus, grab your bag of Walkers crisps and wait for the next destination. The bus driver thinks…hmmm…mental note to self. I won’t take future passengers here. It’s a dud.
Think of SEO as the bus driver and your website as the attraction that’s sole purpose is to lure people in. Hopefully, once they are there, they’ll look around, find your site valuable, drop some cash, and tell all their friends.
Your blog’s primary purpose is to attract new customers to your travel services. Best of all, it’s free if you don’t count the blood, sweat and tears you expend weekly in writing the damn blog. It takes time to build up a robust website. Everybody starts with a few articles and then builds out. But you have to start somewhere.
A blog builds trust and showcases your expertise.
Imagine your client is typing into the Google search bar…” Top things to do in Tokyo,” and well, you’ve written a fantastic article on that very thing because Asia is your speciality; ideally, Google’s spider fingers will reach out and find your blog.
The client isn’t looking for you, per se. They may not even be thinking about using a travel agent at that moment. But there you are – your website, front and centre. Not only do you have the article on Tokyo, but you also have posts on Nara, Hiroshima, Kyoto and Kanazawa. The client pokes around and thinks…eeeishhh, this travel agent seems pretty knowledgeable about Japan. Plus, she’s offering a free downloadable guide to the best sushi and izakaya restaurants in town…I might just give her my email address and then…
Bammo!! Your work is done.
😞 not quite, of course. But that’s essentially the function of having a blog on your website.
The Purpose of an Email
So now you have your future client on your hook. They probably still don’t really know who you are or have any loyalty to you.
The number one reason to send out a weekly email is to foster that new relationship. Introduce yourself and offer reasons why they’d be crazy not to book their next trip to Japan with you – the Asia expert.
The Broadcast Email
The broadcast email is the email you send out to your database weekly. It’s your opportunity to wine-and-dine your potential new clients and begin to build a relationship and …sell your services.
Email marketing is one of the most effective forms of marketing in a marketer’s tool belt.
And if you are thinking…
But does anyone read emails anymore?
They do. Clearly, not all the time. People get busy. Emails sometimes land in the trash bin. It’s gut-wrenching. But every so often, someone will hit open. That is your opportunity to provide value, humour maybe, an offer they can’t refuse, and slowly, people will even look forward to receiving communications from you.
This is also the reason it’s important to be consistent. You’ll want to unleash the missive at the same time and on the same day of the week. The more consistent you are, the higher the likelihood that your emails don’t go the way of the dodo.
So what content do you put in your blog vs. what content do you add in your email?
Some experts think it’s fine to copy and paste your blog of the week into an email format and send it out. I vehemently disagree.
If a blog is meant to attract people to your site and an email is meant for building relationships and sell, then no, I don’t think it’s wise to duplicate the content.
What to write for your travel blog?
By now, you’ve already settled on your niche and what you want to focus your efforts on selling. If you are struggling with what to write, here are some tips to get your creative juices flowing.
- Go to either AnswerthePublic.com or AnswerSocrates.com and type in a travel topic. Both sites work essentially the same and offer the most searched for terms on that topic. So… if people are searching for that info, best to write a blog that addresses those questions.
- Blogs could be on top highlights in a city, hidden gems, must-try local cuisines, recommended itineraries to follow. Listicles do well, ex. “Top 5 Reasons” or “Top 9 Places to stay.”
- General travel advice like packing lists, top travel tech, tips for negotiating airport security lines, how far in advance to book to secure the best deals, safety precautions to consider.
- It’s also good to add some paprika to your blog. By that I mean…spice it up. Don’t just talk about your area of expertise, but vary your topics as well. The Asian foodie lover today may very well become the wildlife photographer of tomorrow. Add in some peripheral content to pique interest and bring new clients to your site.
What to write in your email?
While it may be true, “ooooh goodie….another email,” said nobody ever. If you keep your emails fun, short and punchy, you might just get lucky and create a raving fan.
Here’s what you’ll want to include:
- Some info that allows your reader to get to know you better – you’ll want to become relatable. Storytelling works wonderfully in emails. It helps the reader get a better sense of who you are and who doesn’t love a good story?
- They can be about nothing. What you say? Who wants to read an email about nothing? Well, I would ask the creators of Seinfeld the same question. That sitcom lasted 9 years and its claim to fame was the fact that it was a sitcom about nothing.
- You’ll want to convey the fact that you are an expert in your travel niche. Choose something short and sweet, but informative. You’ll want to give your reader a quick win. A nugget that will stick with them and that they can share is always a great bet.
- A breaking news item from “behind the scenes” or how the current news stories may impact their travel plans. Anything that demonstrates that you are an expert and builds trust. Blog posts live on your website forever. Emails are ephemeral. If an email doesn’t get opened within the first few days, it’s not going to be opened so they don’t have to weather the test of time.
- Make your subscribers feel special by offering something exclusive that you don’t post elsewhere…at least not immediately. This could be some secret tip or some special offer that only they would receive as a subscriber.
- You could showcase a testimonial from a client who has just returned home.
- You could add one or two fun FAQs – you should have a wealth of FAQs to draw from. You know what they say, if one person is asking a question, chances are, others have the same question.
- And yes, you send out specials and sell on your emails. Just don’t always be selling. I good rule of thumb is to give, give, give something of value before you ask for a sale. Gary Vaynerchuk wrote an entire bestseller on this concept called, “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook.”
PRO TIP: Pay attention to your surroundings. We live in a crazy world full of interesting stories. What did you call your bestie about and laugh until your sides hurt? I’m tellin’ ya..you think you have nothing but I’m betting every day, things either frustrate you…in a funny way or make you think WTF? Write about that. I’ve written about flies, spoiled meat, embarrassing misunderstandings. Almost nothing is off-limits.
Styling an email
Many email service providers offer up templates that you can use to craft your email, but for me, it comes back to understanding the purpose of your email. Since your weekly emails are meant to promote trust and likability, an obvious ‘templated’ email just won’t do. I’ve never been a fan of coiffed looking emails. They scream…” I want to sell you something!” They feel canned to me so that’s where they go…The trash can.
What about you? Think about the emails you open vs the ones that never make it out of your promotions folder.
The goal is to build friendships. I personally cannot remember a time that I sent my bestie a fancy email with headers and footers and pretty pictures throughout.
I treat my email subscribers as friends — some are old friends and some are new. I try to picture someone on my list — I see you — and speak directly to them. It helps me keep the tone of my emails light and on point.
Where blogs are more suited for decorum and proper punctuation. With your email…you can let loose a little. Take down that bun in your hair if you have one.
How often should you email and blog?
Well, that depends on how good your content is. The more engaging your website content is,, the higher likelihood your site will be indexed and found in searches. With email, you don’t have to keep it to once a week. That’s the bare minimum. But be sure you have something worthy to say or people will begin to tune you out. I personally can’t commit to creating new and refreshing content more than I do so for me…once a week is more than enough.
PRO TIP: Never end your email or your blog without a call to action. In your email, it could be guiding your reader to your blog of the week and setting up a complimentary consultation call with you.
With your blog, maybe you ask the reader to sign up for your email list, leave a comment or forward your article to a friend. Or be like Amazon and suggest alternate articles from your archives they might like. Whatever you don’t, don’t allow the reader to come to a dead end.
Hey, if you liked this article, why not share it with a friend and leave a comment below?
Have you been listening to my thoughts?!? This is EXACTLY what I needed right now. Now if I can just get myself organized to actually write/send things regularly… 😳
Awww, thank you! And this of all the fresh content you have now to write about.
These are such great suggestions. I will be the first to admit that I really don’t optimize my blog as well as I should, but I don’t want it to feel too overtly commercialized as many do, since that was never my intention in the first place. Passive income is one thing, selling everything to your readers all the time is another.
Jen, I’ve read many of your posts and I find you have a perfect mix. I learn a lot from your blog. Keep up the great work.
I agree with many of your points and already practice them. Sending emails once a week is great, but as your said, you should have meaningful messages to get good engagement, and not subscribes.
Thanks for taking the time to read my article Shar. So apprecaited.