Why Backyard Blogging is
Essential to Your Brand
Lola Akinmade Åkerström
Quick Introduction – Most Applicable
Writer, photographer, blogger
www.lolaakinmade.com
Editor-in-chief, Slow Travel Stock...
What we’re covering today
I. Backyard Blogging and myths surrounding it
– Why bloggers don’t want to do it
I. Reasons why ...
[ I ]
Myths of Backyard Blogging
Why bloggers don’t want to do it
Truth be told
Chances are most of
us here want to live
successfully doing
what we love through
our blogs…
Money + Flexibil...
Travel blogging reality curve
Travel blogging reality curve
TRAFFIC
COMPETITION
Travel blogging reality curve
TRAFFIC
COMPETITION
YOU
+
Thousands of
Other blogs
Travel blogging reality curve
TRAFFIC
COMPETITION
YOU
+
Thousands of
Other blogs
Where you
want to be
over time
Travel blogging reality curve
TRAFFIC
COMPETITION
YOU
+
Thousands of
Other blogs
How do YOU
get past this
hump of
generic
...
How do you get past
that hump?
Passion
Quality
Unique Voice**
Travel blogging frustration
• Many “voices” are already taken
– Budget Transportation
– Luxury Shopping
– Backpacking Spa
...
Travel blogging frustration
Ironically, these
“voices” are taken
by the same
bloggers on the
same blog trips
writing about...
And so we’re back…
TRAFFIC
COMPETITION
YOU
+
Thousands of
Other blogs
…to the
generic
hump of fluff
It's too late to be
everything to everyone.
Other blogs already jumped
on this much earlier.
And the truth is…
“Backyard Blogging”
One concept that will eventually push
you over that hump over time.
CUE IN
Backyard
Blogging means:
Documenting your
backyard → where you
live and what your
personal interests are.
In a nutshell
However…
Not many bloggers are
thrilled to or are interested
in blogging about their
cities or homebase.
WHY???
Myth 1 People will think I’ve “settled” down
The travel blogger that doesn’t travel
Myth 1 People will think I’ve “settled” down
What if your personal
situation changes and
affects the frequency
of your tra...
Myth 2 I will feel pigeonholed into a specific
region or topic
Pigeonholing will limit my opportunities
Myth 3 There are already a gazillion bloggers
in my backyard
Yes, I live in New York city
Myth 4 PR companies won’t approach me for
press/blog trips
Seriously? If that’s your
sole reason for travel
blogging (free...
Myth 5 It’s boring
I want to travel…darn it!
The travel grass
seems to always
be greener on the
other side…
doesn’t it?
Ironically,
your local tourism
board keeps flying
in bloggers and
journalists who
think the grass is
greener on YOUR
side.
[ II ]
Reasons why you should start
backyard blogging
Reason #1
Opportunity to build expertise
The problem with
most forms of
media trips is that
they’re platonic.
Meaning –> It’s challenging to
gather unique content from the
same trip with 6-14 other travel
bloggers
Other bloggers can’t
go on every media
trip your local
tourism board
organizes, but YOU
can
They don’t have
to fly you in or
put you up for 3
nights at a 5-
star hotel –
You’re already
there
Unique
advantage and
opportunity to
build and be
recognized for
regional
expertise
The reason you also want to build
expertise in a region is because
generic travel blogging is
overcrowded.
Remember this reality curve?
TRAFFIC
COMPETITION
YOU
+
Thousands of
Other blogs
Reason #2
Gain deeper access to local
resources
You can acquire more
in-depth content for
your own travel blog
than generic surface
material generated
from media trips
This will, in turn, help you solidify your personal
brand with fresh, in-depth and cool regional
content.
Reason #3
Additional source of income
Let’s be real
We love to be paid to
do what we love =
Blogging + Travel
Every tourism board
has an annual or at
least semi-annual
budget
If you have a rough
idea of what they’re
trying to accomplish,
you can get yourself
a nice chunk of that
pie
Blogging? →Ph...
Reason #4
Leads to more work
How?
– Recommendations – from
fellow bloggers/freelancers
– Existing clients – moving from
your region to other regions
– ...
Reason #5
It keeps your content fresh even if
you can’t travel
• Opportunity to build expertise
• Gain deeper access to local resources
• Additional source of income
• Leads to more wor...
Case Studies
III.
Myth-busting
Case Studies
–Summaries from Colorado, Italy,
Toronto, Indiana, New York, and
Sweden
NOTE – Will be post...
1. People will think I’ve “settled” down
2. I will feel pigeonholed into a specific region or topic
3. There are already a...
MythBuster 1 – Kara Williams
Location – Colorado
-Colorado Gal with the Vacation Gals - thevacationgals.com
-Started out a...
Words from Kara Williams
Thoughts
-  I am DELIGHTED when I'm pegged as the "travel writer who knows about Colorado" - 
aga...
MythBuster 2 – Natalie Taylor
Location – Toronto
- Known as a Toronto Expert – www.nearafar.com
-Written and contributed t...
Words from Natalie Taylor
Thoughts
- I became a local expert on TO for AFAR and won their hometown contest. From there, I ...
MythBuster 3 – Carol Cain
Location – New York
- Award-winning travel blogger behind Girl Gone Travel –
www.girlgonetravel....
Words from Carol Cain
Thoughts
I think I stood out because I am not afraid to admit that I am not as cool as everyone in N...
MythBuster 4 – Emma Taveri
Location – Brindisi, Italy
- Force behind Brindisi is MY Destination -
www.brindisimydestinatio...
Words from Emma Taveri
Thoughts
It's very common to have a destination blog / website about famous destinations, but very ...
MythBuster 5 – Nicole Wiltrout
Location – Indiana
- Indiana Blogger behind Arrows Sent Forth –
www.arrowssentforth.com
-Wr...
Words from Nicole Wiltrout
Thoughts
The beauty of a personal blog is that while I CHOSE to write about Indiana often (beca...
MythBuster 6 – Lola A. (Mig!)
Location – Sweden/Scandinavia
- Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm –
www.slowtravelsto...
Words from Lola A. Åkerström
Thoughts
Destination association has helped carve out a side niche for me as well as opened d...
[ IV ]
Steps to get you started /
building key relationships
Backyard Blogging 101
Tip #1
Focus on your interests
first
Love readers = yourself, not more than
yourself
Focus on your own interests
Focus on what naturally
piques your interest
Focus on what turns you on
when you’re not travel...
Backyard Blogging 101
Tip #2
Take creative risks
…and don’t be afraid to fail at them
Tips for backyard blogging creativity
• Look at your daily non-traveling life
• Look at your basic habits
• Assess your ot...
• Hobby -> You love to cook
• Creative idea -> Include
fresh recipes and blog posts
about your local markets
Examples
Examples
• Habit -> You’re obsessed
with coffee
• Creative idea -> Write posts
about your café conquests
around your town ...
The Key is…
Focusing on your non-travel
interests so you don’t get bored.
Focusing on your natural
interests which also ma...
Quick show of hands
How many of you have met with the
tourism board* of your home base?
* - If your base actually has a to...
Do they know who YOU
are?
Are they aware you
exist as a blogger in
their backyard?
Backyard Blogging 101
Tip #3
Contact your
tourism board or
DMO* already
*DMO – Destination Marketing Organization
Tips
– Send a letter of introduction
– Send any and all links to blog posts about
your location to their press contact.
Bu...
Tips
– Start engaging with them via social media.
– Attend local press events and subscribe to
newsletters.
– Propose a co...
REMEMBER THESE?
How to get over that
hump?
Passion
Quality
Unique Voice
Passion is what keeps you going when
you still can’t see the light at the end
of your blogging tunnel.
Quality naturally improves when you
know what you’re talking about
because you’re genuinely interested
in it.
A Unique Voice is what sets you apart
by telling those untold stories only
you can tell because those everyday
experiences...
The more you start
approaching travel blogging
as writing about place and
experiences as opposed to
just your travels, the...
QUESTIONS?
Twitter - @LolaAkinmade
Portfolio – www.akinmade.com
Blog – www.lolaakinmade.com
Facebook - www.facebook.com/Ge...
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Why Backyard Blogging is Essential to Your Brand

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Writing generic destination information won't make you stand out as a blogger anymore. Additionally, most bloggers are not constant nomads and have a home base.

"Becoming a Backyard Blogger" means also specializing in your current location and this session will give you concrete reasons why this is important. While bloggers always want to be on the road experiencing someplace new, solid and more lucrative opportunities often lurk in their backyard.

With case studies from Toronto, Sweden, and other destinations, we will illustrate how writing locally has yielded better results in being recognized as well as tangible benefits beyond your base.

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Why Backyard Blogging is Essential to Your Brand

  1. 1. Why Backyard Blogging is Essential to Your Brand Lola Akinmade Åkerström
  2. 2. Quick Introduction – Most Applicable Writer, photographer, blogger www.lolaakinmade.com Editor-in-chief, Slow Travel Stockholm www.slowtravelstockholm.com Freelance writer for Sweden.se www.sweden.se Freelancer photographer, Sweden’s official image bank http://imagebank.sweden.se PhotoBlogger for Sweden’s official Site for two years http://blogs.sweden.se/photo
  3. 3. What we’re covering today I. Backyard Blogging and myths surrounding it – Why bloggers don’t want to do it I. Reasons why you should start backyard blogging II. Case Studies –Colorado, Italy, Toronto, Indiana, New York, and Sweden I. Steps to get you started/building key relationships
  4. 4. [ I ] Myths of Backyard Blogging Why bloggers don’t want to do it
  5. 5. Truth be told Chances are most of us here want to live successfully doing what we love through our blogs… Money + Flexibility = More Travel
  6. 6. Travel blogging reality curve
  7. 7. Travel blogging reality curve TRAFFIC COMPETITION
  8. 8. Travel blogging reality curve TRAFFIC COMPETITION YOU + Thousands of Other blogs
  9. 9. Travel blogging reality curve TRAFFIC COMPETITION YOU + Thousands of Other blogs Where you want to be over time
  10. 10. Travel blogging reality curve TRAFFIC COMPETITION YOU + Thousands of Other blogs How do YOU get past this hump of generic fluff?
  11. 11. How do you get past that hump? Passion Quality Unique Voice**
  12. 12. Travel blogging frustration • Many “voices” are already taken – Budget Transportation – Luxury Shopping – Backpacking Spa – Slow travel Boutique – Food Family – Adventure Local expert
  13. 13. Travel blogging frustration Ironically, these “voices” are taken by the same bloggers on the same blog trips writing about the same things.
  14. 14. And so we’re back… TRAFFIC COMPETITION YOU + Thousands of Other blogs …to the generic hump of fluff
  15. 15. It's too late to be everything to everyone. Other blogs already jumped on this much earlier. And the truth is…
  16. 16. “Backyard Blogging” One concept that will eventually push you over that hump over time. CUE IN
  17. 17. Backyard Blogging means: Documenting your backyard → where you live and what your personal interests are. In a nutshell
  18. 18. However… Not many bloggers are thrilled to or are interested in blogging about their cities or homebase. WHY???
  19. 19. Myth 1 People will think I’ve “settled” down The travel blogger that doesn’t travel
  20. 20. Myth 1 People will think I’ve “settled” down What if your personal situation changes and affects the frequency of your travels? Will you be grasping for content for your blog?
  21. 21. Myth 2 I will feel pigeonholed into a specific region or topic Pigeonholing will limit my opportunities
  22. 22. Myth 3 There are already a gazillion bloggers in my backyard Yes, I live in New York city
  23. 23. Myth 4 PR companies won’t approach me for press/blog trips Seriously? If that’s your sole reason for travel blogging (free trips), please make the hump smaller by leaving…
  24. 24. Myth 5 It’s boring I want to travel…darn it!
  25. 25. The travel grass seems to always be greener on the other side… doesn’t it?
  26. 26. Ironically, your local tourism board keeps flying in bloggers and journalists who think the grass is greener on YOUR side.
  27. 27. [ II ] Reasons why you should start backyard blogging
  28. 28. Reason #1 Opportunity to build expertise
  29. 29. The problem with most forms of media trips is that they’re platonic.
  30. 30. Meaning –> It’s challenging to gather unique content from the same trip with 6-14 other travel bloggers
  31. 31. Other bloggers can’t go on every media trip your local tourism board organizes, but YOU can
  32. 32. They don’t have to fly you in or put you up for 3 nights at a 5- star hotel – You’re already there
  33. 33. Unique advantage and opportunity to build and be recognized for regional expertise
  34. 34. The reason you also want to build expertise in a region is because generic travel blogging is overcrowded.
  35. 35. Remember this reality curve? TRAFFIC COMPETITION YOU + Thousands of Other blogs
  36. 36. Reason #2 Gain deeper access to local resources
  37. 37. You can acquire more in-depth content for your own travel blog than generic surface material generated from media trips
  38. 38. This will, in turn, help you solidify your personal brand with fresh, in-depth and cool regional content.
  39. 39. Reason #3 Additional source of income
  40. 40. Let’s be real We love to be paid to do what we love = Blogging + Travel
  41. 41. Every tourism board has an annual or at least semi-annual budget
  42. 42. If you have a rough idea of what they’re trying to accomplish, you can get yourself a nice chunk of that pie Blogging? →Photography? → Social media? → Copywriting?
  43. 43. Reason #4 Leads to more work
  44. 44. How? – Recommendations – from fellow bloggers/freelancers – Existing clients – moving from your region to other regions – Your tourism board – They have tons of contacts in the travel industry -> airlines, lodging, other DMOs
  45. 45. Reason #5 It keeps your content fresh even if you can’t travel
  46. 46. • Opportunity to build expertise • Gain deeper access to local resources • Additional source of income • Leads to more work • Keeps your content fresh Quick recap of benefits
  47. 47. Case Studies
  48. 48. III. Myth-busting Case Studies –Summaries from Colorado, Italy, Toronto, Indiana, New York, and Sweden NOTE – Will be posting the full case studies on my blog too.
  49. 49. 1. People will think I’ve “settled” down 2. I will feel pigeonholed into a specific region or topic 3. There are already a gazillion bloggers in my backyard 4. PR companies won’t approach me for press/blog trips 5. It’s boring Remember those myths of backyard blogging?
  50. 50. MythBuster 1 – Kara Williams Location – Colorado -Colorado Gal with the Vacation Gals - thevacationgals.com -Started out as Aspen Expert -Written numerous articles & guidebook chapters: Fodor’s, Ski Canada, Luxury Las Vegas, American Eagle Latitudes, to name a few -Monthly column in the Denver Post -Led to more work covering other locales (within and outside Colorado) -> Expedia @karasw
  51. 51. Words from Kara Williams Thoughts -  I am DELIGHTED when I'm pegged as the "travel writer who knows about Colorado" -  again, more money in my bank account when editors find me via search with assignments  about Colorado (which, are, frankly, easy for me to write because I know the destination  well). - Other bloggers who know my "niche" recommend me for work (I got the Fodor's guidebook  gig because a FB friend shared the job listing with me). Advice - Get over it. You might want to be known for your exciting, far-flung travels all over the  world, but if you want to have STEADY content for your blog OR if you want to be paid for  your expert knowledge of your hometown, make yourself known as a local expert. 
  52. 52. MythBuster 2 – Natalie Taylor Location – Toronto - Known as a Toronto Expert – www.nearafar.com -Written and contributed to Toronto Tourism including writing fact sheets - Featured blogger for Toronto Tourism -Written for publications such as Blackbook Magazine and Design Lines -Led to more work and assignments with AFAR @nearafar
  53. 53. Words from Natalie Taylor Thoughts - I became a local expert on TO for AFAR and won their hometown contest. From there, I  became an ambassador and am now writing a digital Toronto guide for them.  In August, I  went to Taiwan on assignment for AFAR to do in book advertorial and social media  promotion for them. #taiwanafar Advice - Blogging about Toronto helped me with my personal brand because people associated me  with the city because I wrote about it on a consistent basis and would give visitors personal  tours. From there, if anyone had questions about TO, they would send them to me. Word of  mouth! 
  54. 54. MythBuster 3 – Carol Cain Location – New York - Award-winning travel blogger behind Girl Gone Travel – www.girlgonetravel.com -Written and contributed to various brands including Expedia Viewfinder and is a NYC Correspondent for Forbes Travel Guide - Formerly NYCityMama; Writes about multi-cultural activities and aspects of travel - Nominated by Nickelodeon as one of the best NYC blogs @CarolACain
  55. 55. Words from Carol Cain Thoughts I think I stood out because I am not afraid to admit that I am not as cool as everyone in NYC  likes to say they are, and that I am always looking for a good deal. I highlight things about the  city that are real experiences for those who live here – good and bad – but that still make me  proud to be from here. And I am not ashamed to call myself a tourist in my own town  because this opens me up to learn so much more.  Advice It is normal to take for granted the place that you call home, but there is a reason why people  visit. Put yourself in that mindset. I think a lot of places are way more interesting than their  residents give them credit for, and there's great value in being a source of information.
  56. 56. MythBuster 4 – Emma Taveri Location – Brindisi, Italy - Force behind Brindisi is MY Destination - www.brindisimydestination.com -After years in London, Rome, and Milan, decided to leave her manager role and big city life for good and go back home to Brindisi to follow her dreams and passion. - Organized the very first “Blogger Experience” trip to Brindisi which was a success - http://www.brindisimydestination.com/en/blogger- experience/ @EmmaTaveri
  57. 57. Words from Emma Taveri Thoughts It's very common to have a destination blog / website about famous destinations, but very  hard to have one about an emerging destination. This is my mission, and it's being very  successful so far. The success of the Blogger Experience Trip and what happened next (conference  invitations and support from local authorities) lead me to the decision to proceed with a  destination blog where I also talk about my personal life and promote my destination through my story of the girl who came back, through the connection with my friends from  all over the world and friends in my town.
  58. 58. MythBuster 5 – Nicole Wiltrout Location – Indiana - Indiana Blogger behind Arrows Sent Forth – www.arrowssentforth.com -Written and contributed to Visit Indiana as paid expert blogger. - Worked with brands such as Expedia and HomeAway. -Recently moved to England and now has a weekly column called “Dispatches from England” for Anglotopia, one of the world's largest websites devoted to British culture. @ArrowsSentForth
  59. 59. Words from Nicole Wiltrout Thoughts The beauty of a personal blog is that while I CHOSE to write about Indiana often (because my  family spent more time traveling Indiana than we did elsewhere), I also CHOSE to write about  our travels outside of Indiana as often as I wanted. I never lost readers because I wrote about  both types of "travel.“ Advice I don't really see a reason not to write about where you live, unless you don't enjoy it or like  it. (And if so, move!) ;) Often, those are the easiest posts for me to write because I know the  destination so well. And I think readers really appreciate and seek out the type of first-hand  knowledge that only a local can provide.
  60. 60. MythBuster 6 – Lola A. (Mig!) Location – Sweden/Scandinavia - Editor-in-chief of Slow Travel Stockholm – www.slowtravelstockholm.com -Freelance for Sweden’s official site – www.sweden.se -Photographer for Sweden’s official image bank and also their photoblogger for 2 years documenting everyday Sweden. -Written for Visit Sweden and Visit Stockholm, worked with other local brands and have relationships with tourism boards from Swedish Lapland to Gothenburg and the Sami. @LolaAkinmade
  61. 61. Words from Lola A. Åkerström Thoughts Destination association has helped carve out a side niche for me as well as opened doors and brought in more income and helped me build cultural expertise. I’ve had many editors contact me out of the blue for Stockholm/Sweden content and fellow bloggers/freelancers have forwarded me work or made recommendations. Advice Blogging is all about diversifying as well and solidifying your brand. There are opportunities in your backyard. There’s a reason why Visit Sweden keeps flying in bloggers and journalists to cover the country. It’s absolutely gorgeous in many ways.
  62. 62. [ IV ] Steps to get you started / building key relationships
  63. 63. Backyard Blogging 101 Tip #1 Focus on your interests first Love readers = yourself, not more than yourself
  64. 64. Focus on your own interests Focus on what naturally piques your interest Focus on what turns you on when you’re not traveling Backyard Blogging 101
  65. 65. Backyard Blogging 101 Tip #2 Take creative risks …and don’t be afraid to fail at them
  66. 66. Tips for backyard blogging creativity • Look at your daily non-traveling life • Look at your basic habits • Assess your other skills • Subscribe to your local lifestyle newspapers or newsletters
  67. 67. • Hobby -> You love to cook • Creative idea -> Include fresh recipes and blog posts about your local markets Examples
  68. 68. Examples • Habit -> You’re obsessed with coffee • Creative idea -> Write posts about your café conquests around your town or city
  69. 69. The Key is… Focusing on your non-travel interests so you don’t get bored. Focusing on your natural interests which also make you stand out from the gazillion bloggers in your backyard.
  70. 70. Quick show of hands How many of you have met with the tourism board* of your home base? * - If your base actually has a tourism board
  71. 71. Do they know who YOU are? Are they aware you exist as a blogger in their backyard?
  72. 72. Backyard Blogging 101 Tip #3 Contact your tourism board or DMO* already *DMO – Destination Marketing Organization
  73. 73. Tips – Send a letter of introduction – Send any and all links to blog posts about your location to their press contact. Building local DMO relationships
  74. 74. Tips – Start engaging with them via social media. – Attend local press events and subscribe to newsletters. – Propose a cool partnership idea Building local DMO relationships
  75. 75. REMEMBER THESE? How to get over that hump? Passion Quality Unique Voice
  76. 76. Passion is what keeps you going when you still can’t see the light at the end of your blogging tunnel.
  77. 77. Quality naturally improves when you know what you’re talking about because you’re genuinely interested in it.
  78. 78. A Unique Voice is what sets you apart by telling those untold stories only you can tell because those everyday experiences are local and closer to you than one-off stories from far- flung places.
  79. 79. The more you start approaching travel blogging as writing about place and experiences as opposed to just your travels, the less important the destination itself becomes.
  80. 80. QUESTIONS? Twitter - @LolaAkinmade Portfolio – www.akinmade.com Blog – www.lolaakinmade.com Facebook - www.facebook.com/GeotravelersNiche

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