How tour operators can set up a blog has been one of the most requested topics for Tourpreneur. Shane sat down with Dorene Wharton to find out
BY BEN FINCH
There are few things sadder than a dead, never-updated blog. All those grand hopes lost in a lack of time, motivation and more than a little bit of fear. How tour operators can blog has been one of the most-requested topics on the Tourpreneur Facebook group — so Shane called up Dorene Wharton from Travel Life Media and got her on the podcast to break down blogging into a few easily-digestible, bitesize chunks.
Listen to the Blogging for Tour Operators podcast here:
Tour Operators: Get over the fear and feeling of imposter syndrome when is comes to blogging.
Writing is terrifying. It just happens to be one of the hardest things to do. At first anyway. You’ve chosen your topic — something that you love or are an expert in — and now you have to put words on a blank piece of paper. There’s very little traffic, and therefore no way to measure how well you’re doing. Is it actually any good?
“All of a sudden it changes,” Dorene says. “Because imposter syndromes comes out. What if someone reads this and they don’t think it’s good enough, or what if no one reads it at all, or who am I to be writing and putting this out in the world?”
She says it took “five years of courage to finally take the time to write”.
So how do you get over that fear?
Stop caring quite so much and write. Just as the best way to become a better writer is to read, the best way to break writer’s block is to start putting words on paper. And you need to decide what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. That makes life much easier.
Setting goals makes blogging easier
Why are you even thinking about blogging? Is it, as Shane asks, to attract more business, to improve your SEO, to build credibility and authority, or just because you enjoy getting your voice out there?
Before you start, decide what your plan is, what your goals are and who your audience may be. Not only will this make it easier to get typing, it will also help define your content strategy.
If your blog is to help attract new business to your tour, then you will want to write inspiring, shareable copy for potential customers. If it’s for SEO, you’ll want copy that answers questions for the people searching on Google. You know what to write if you make these decisions at the start.
Deadlines, discipline and consistency
Setting deadlines is a necessary part of writing. If you don’t have them, then it’s easy to let everything slide until it reaches a point where it’s never going to happen. “It’s the same with any kind of content creation,” Shane says. “I’m going to publish a blog every Monday, or the first of every month, or every day and try and stick to that program.”
These deadlines also lets your audience know they can trust you to provide the content they want. Shane says: “If I just put a podcast out when I felt like it, I probably wouldn’t have that many subscribers.”
“It’s a bit like working out and going to the gym — you’ve got to write out a plan saying these are the days I’m going to blog. Not just: ‘Oh, that’s a good topic. I’ll blog about that today.’”
Analyze your stats, but not straight away
While the blog gets moving, you shouldn’t be spending too much time staring at Google Analytics. “Don’t even check the stats for a while,” Shane says and Dorene’s 100 per cent with him. Traffic may be low and demoralising. You’re probably still in the evolution stage of writing. You’re deciding what content works for you, what you’re happy writing, and learning how to blog.
Once you’ve found your voice, analytics become very important. This is when you figure out what works for your audience. What do the stats tell you about how people reacted to your content and why?
The information given to you by Google and social media tells the story of how your audience reacts to your headlines, pictures, and copy. For example, if a piece has good read times but low click throughs on social, your blog is good but your headlines and share pics need work.
Get an editor
Every writer should love being edited. It’s guaranteed that at least one of your favourite writers is forever being rescued by their editor.
All a good editor will do is make your work better. They’ll pull threads on intriguing ideas and help you explore them, and point out those that don’t work. They’ll spot mistakes and typos that you haven’t been able to because you’ve been staring at the same words all day and everything has become meaningless.
“I use an editor all the time on mine,” Dorene says. “I made the mistake of making a really bad mistake on a blog. I had just a really ridiculously horrible spelling error throughout the entire thing. And I just didn’t even see it when I was scanning and editing.”
Shane says that he’s “saved every single day by Grammarly”. Even native speakers of a language constantly make mistakes. (Sometimes the same one every single time. I have “check in or check-in” bookmarked.) For people who are writing in a second language, having a second or third pair of eyes — even if they’re digital — read everything will weed out most mistakes.
Grow a thick skin and learn to love criticism
“It’s a part of human nature for most of us,” Shane says. “You might get 10 compliments on your blog post, one negative comment and you just fixate on that one negative comment.”
Then there’s the posts that don’t even get any comments. “Did people not like it? What did they think? Did they not read it? So, whether you get comments or not get comments, you’re going to think something,” Dorene says.
Part of publishing is learning that criticism is a good thing. It helps you grow as a writer and avoid mistakes. Having your work edited helps because learning to be edited means learning to take criticism.
Public comments can be hurtful, particularly in the wild west of social media. There will be those that are just spiteful trolling. The best thing to do with these is ignore it and move on.
There will also be those that can feel worse than spite — when the commenter is criticising your work in good faith. These are worth engaging with, even if you don’t hammer out a response. Don’t allow them to ruin your day, but do take what’s been said and decide whether to act on it or not.
Make blogging easy for yourself
Starting a blog looks like hard work because it is. It takes time and dedication. Most fail because the work just isn’t put into it. It’s scary to write, and even more terrifying to put that out into the wild. And then you’ve got to open yourself up to criticism.
So break it up into manageable steps. Set deadlines, plan and be disciplined and the fear will begin to dissipate. It’ll never quite leave, and that’s a good thing. If you’ve lost that worry every time you hit the big button, you’ve stopped caring completely.
Allow yourself to find your voice before you worry too much about what your audience thinks. Don’t allow yourself to become demoralised. As soon as you feel confident in the content you’re publishing, take a look at the stats that show how your audience is responding to it, begin to tune the areas that need work, and suddenly the blog will begin to sing.
Be prepared for criticism and learn to love it. Get an editor to help smooth out your thoughts and spot the mistakes that you’re going to make before a piece goes live. Public comments aren’t always going to be rosy so learn what should be ignored and what should be taken on board.
Starting to put words on paper is the easiest way to get moving. If you keep writing, soon it will become second nature and the rest will come.
Dorene Wharton will join Shane on Tourpreneur next month as part of a series on blogging. This will cover the topics that tour operators could blog about
Stay Tuned for Part 2 of our Essential Blogging Strategy for Tour Operators
Dorene Wharton is the Head Marketer and Strategist at Travel Life Media, a company helping accommodation, tour, and event businesses better market their brand through multimedia and video.
Dorene has more than 25 years of experience in brand strategy, marketing, and communication through website copy. She previously worked for DW Consulting as their Business Development and Marketing Strategist and Top Drawer Creative as their Advertising and Marketing Account Director. She has a Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing and Economics from Haskayne School of Business. Her base of operations is in Columbia, where she lives with her husband while running their business with remote working and location-independent teams.
This week on Tourpreneur, Blogging Tips for Tour Operators
- Key questions to ask yourself before starting a blog
- Getting over the fear of making your voice heard
- Using blogging to improve your website SEO and build your credibility as a tour operator
- Leveraging your blog posts for other types of content
- Identifying your blog’s target audience
- The importance of discipline and consistency when blogging for your business
- What to consider when troubleshooting low-performing blog posts
- Mentally preparing yourself for constructive criticism and how to handle harsh criticism
- How blogging for your tour business can really impact your company’s growth
- The pros and cons of working with ghostwriters and guest bloggers
Some of Our Favorite Quotes about blogging for tour operators:
- “I like to think of blogging as a really good jump-off point for a lot of things.” – Dorene Wharton
- “We think the pressure is high, but the pressure is relatively low because of the nature of the medium.” – Dorene Wharton
- “Your blog doesn’t have to be a thought-leadership type of piece. It can very much be a piece that’s about giving information.” – Dorene Wharton
Check out an earlier episode with Dorene on the Tourpreneur podcast. Dorene reveals her copywriting tips for tour operators.
Connect with Dorene Wharton:
- Travel Life Media
- Travel Life Media on LinkedIn
- Travel Life Media on Instagram
- Travel Life Media on Facebook
- Travel Life Media on Twitter
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