Blogger Spotlight: Dr. Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog
Behind every great luxury blog, you will find a great story. Luxury bloggers are real people, not machines, and to successfully work with them, we recommend you get to know them a little better. Through our years at LuxeInACity, we have talked, collaborated and exchanged ideas with dozens of great bloggers from around the world.
Since bloggers rarely talk about themselves – they tend to talk about everyone else instead – we hope to showcase their skills, expertises and opinions in this blog series.
Get to know them, learn from them and hopefully you will find an innovative way to collaborate with them.
Today’s blogger is Dr. Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog. With over 25 years of experience in the travel industry, he is a repository of knowledge for the discerning traveler, whether you want to find out about charming hotels, gourmet restaurants or other finer facets of travel. The Daily Telegraph named A Luxury Travel Blog as one of the world’s best travel blogs, and that’s not for nothing – today it attracts more than 400,000 unique visitors per month. And the popularity is only increasing.
Let’s take a look at what he has to say about luxury travel.
1. Every blogger has a different story on how they got started blogging. What is yours?
I started with A Luxury Travel Blog ( www.aluxurytravelblog.com ) back in 2005. In blogging terms, this makes me quite an early adopter and probably accounts, at least in part, for the site’s huge success. Prior to that (and still to this day), I have been a Director of The Dedicated Partnership Ltd. ( www.dedicate.co.uk ), which specialises in internet marketing for the tourist industry). I had been dabbling with a personal blog for a year or so prior to this and saw that most travel blogs at the time were backpackers documenting their travels. My interests lay in luxury travel, which didn’t seem to be catered for well by blogs, and the rest is history. Today, A Luxury Travel Blog is widely regarded as one of the most successful luxury travel blogs out there. It was voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” by The Daily Telegraph and “best for luxury” and now enjoys in excess of half a million unique visitors per month. (Few travel blogs even achieve a tenth of this figure.) I am also a Director at Kendal Holiday Cottages Ltd. ( www.kendalcottages.com ).
2. Like most successful bloggers, you probably receive hundreds of emails per month from luxury brands who want you to share their story. What makes you decide to work with a brand over the other?
Actually, in my case – and I’m not exaggerating – I get thousands per month, not hundreds! What makes me decide to work with someone is the nature of the approach and the suitability of the proposal. Those that contact us are referred to our guidelines that explains a variety of ways in which they can work with us. Many take no notice of the guidelines and just fire off a press release. Others will pitch some kind of counter-proposal which doesn’t interest us. A minority (sadly) take time to go through the material we send them and carefully pitch in accordance with the site’s guidelines. If the fit is there, it’s the latter we choose to work with.
3. What is your take on press releases? Do you like receiving them or do you simply discard them?
A big no-no. We don’t like receiving them and we state as much in our guidelines, yet so many still insist on sending them or adding us to their mailing list to receive all future releases. On receiving a release, we remind people of our guidelines for pitching to us. If they still persist after that, we just mark any such emails as spam (which is ultimately bad news for the PR company as all their emails to us then won’t be seen at all).
Picture it from the blogger’s point of view: assuming the blog is popular, the blogger is getting lots of these on a daily basis. Adding to an already busy inbox with unwanted releases is only going to serve to irritate and make a poor first impression with the blogger. Furthermore, press releases – by their very nature – are invariably duplicate content (something which Google isn’t too thrilled about) so any blogger worth their salt will find little incentive in copying and pasting content from press releases.
4. What would make you choose to work with a brand on a giveaway campaign on your site?
First and foremost, I’d be looking at whether the giveaway is a good fit for the site. Secondly, I’d be looking more closely at the prize itself – is it attractive and of significant value? If it’s not, it’s less likely to generate interest with readers of the blog, and so that would be of less interest to me. I would also be looking at whether the prize is open to all – we have a worldwide audience so a prize of two nights in a luxury hotel in Barcelona, say, is only really appealing if flights and transfers are included. I don’t like to run giveaways where the winner might have to spend money (on flights, for instance) in order to take up their prize.
5. If a brand wants to reach you, what channel should they use? Do you prefer email, social media or another means of communication?
They should use the contact form on our site – >www.aluxurytravelblog.com/contact-us
6. In your mind, what makes a successful blogger outreach program? Is it the incentive, the brand itself or the relationship you already have with the brand?
All can be a factor but, perhaps most importantly of all, is how it is pitched and how good a match it is.
7. What is the coolest gift you have received from a luxury brand in a blogger outreach program?
A trip across Nepal and into India with Land Rover in 2013, trialling the brand new Range Rover Hybrid (it wasn’t even available to the public until the following year). We even got to go on an Everest flight as part of the trip.
8. Of all the social media channels you engage on, which one do you prefer and why?
Probably Facebook although we have an even greater following on Twitter. I just find the interface more intuitive, easier to use and less overwhelmed by ‘noise’.
9. Which social media channels does your audience interact with the most?
Facebook and Twitter. We’re also semi-active on Google+, LinkedIn and Pinterest, but it’s Facebook and Twitter where we have the greatest following (over half a million followers across the two combined) so that’s where we also tend to have the greatest engagement.
10. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful on social media?
A lot of time, dedication and devotion, where possible, to individual, personal relationships. Constant, on-topic engagement is key to continued social media success.
11. Do you monitor your Klout score on a daily/weekly basis? Do you think this social ranking is of any real value to luxury brands?
No, I pay no real attention to Klout although, because I’m a member of a blogging association that uses it in their database, I am aware that my own score is seemingly rather favourable.
12. What is the main reason you blog on a daily basis? Is it for pleasure, for business or for both?
For both. It’s for business (my blog is my full time job) but I’m lucky in that I love my job, so it’s a pleasure also.
13. Apart from blogging, do you offer additional services to luxury brands who choose to work with you?
Yes, I offer online marketing consultancy services for the tourist industry. This can cover anything from helping with website analyses, SEO analyses, travel writing, travel photography and social media training and assistance.
14. Do you think luxury brands should understand that blogging is also a business for some?
Yes! For serious bloggers, it is very much a business. I think brands are slowly waking up to the fact that some bloggers carry a hugely significant influence.
15. Do you manage more than one blog? If so, which ones?
I have run several blogs in the past but currently I am focusing purely on A Luxury Travel Blog. Keep an eye out for www.aluxuryfashionblog.com and www.aluxuryhomeblog.com too – when the time is right, I might just launch them also. I also oversee the content on blogs for a few travel-related clients.
Follow Paul’s new adventures on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Or, get in touch with him via the site’s contact form. Or, if you are feeling a little shy, reach out to us for an introduction.
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Tags: blogger, blogger spotlight, Luxury Blog, luxury blogger