Why Are They All Talking At Me? (The TBEX10 Experience – Day Two)
Morning Talk – Travel Porn
If that isn’t a title to start off a morning, not much else is… Gary Arndt (Everything-Everywhere) captivated the audience because he has presence, speaks dynamically and cuts to the chase. The true topic dealt with photography – the use of photos to increase traffic to your site. (It isn’t all about video – pictures have purpose.) Ultimately, the use of photographs allows your reader to travel to places they may never experience for themselves. It was equated to reading National Geographic: you buy it for the images first, the stories (behind those images) second.
Though the above insight is an important one, few other attendees have touched upon the other aspects of Mr. Arndt’s talk in their commentaries:
* Your worst photo may actually be your best for connecting the reader to your true story.
* Expensive cameras do not take the best photographs. It’s the human eye behind the lens that counts.
* Use your own pictures rather than from someone else’s site whenever possible. It’s your story you’re telling, not theirs.
* When using someone else’s work, give credit where credit is due. Place a link back to the photo owner’s site.
* Ask permission. Images on Flickr and other storage sites are not always free for the taking.
* Editing your photos is not always a bad thing. Sometimes it just creates a better image.
Session #5- Travel Writing Ethics: Freebies and Disclosure
This is the session where ‘proper behavior’ makes another appearance – but we’ll get to that.
A representative, Mary Engle, from the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) was part of this discussion and outlined the latest 2009 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising” which now includes (US) bloggers (§ 255.1 General considerations: Example 5). Those blogging from outside the US are left to deal with their own country’s regulations on such matters. (A small piece of proof the US does not actually rule the world or the internet. Phew!)
Regardless of where one’s blog originates (US, Thailand or Venus), it was the consensus of all panelists that full disclosure about most everything was necessary. If you received something for free (large or small) and you write about it, the source of that freebie should be disclosed somewhere in your entry
.Regardless of where one’s blog originates (US, Thailand or Venus), it was the consensus of all panelists that full disclosure about most everything was necessary. If you received something for free (large or small) and you write about it, the source of that freebie should be disclosed somewhere in your entry. (US citizens are subject to penalties for not doing so under these new guidelines.) The size of the freebie is of little consequence. Whether the item, hotel, trip, book, whatever was reviewed in a positive or negative light, it was given under the auspices of endorsement, testimony and/or advertising.
Most will place a small, italicized acknowledgement comment at the end of their blog – if they place one at all. (I’m guilty of the small comment myself at times.) Lola Akimade (Matador Network) recommended “weaving” the disclaimer (as it were) into the beginning paragraphs of your blog entry. By doing so, the acknowledgement is upfront and less likely to be forgotten by the author. Makes perfect sense to me and a suggestion I will follow.
All in all – the bottom line is to behave properly, be honest and give credit where credit is due. If you received something, say so. If you liked it or hated it, say so. If you question how a provider will take a negative review – contact them before publishing something as communication between parties is an asset more often than not. Remember, your opinion should not be a commodity that can be bought and/or sold because something was free – whether offered or requested.
Session #6 – SEO for Travel Blogging and Monetizing Strategies
Search engine optimization and monetizing strategies… I wish I could have taken more away from this panel. Honestly, the key words here were link exchange, link exchange and link exchange. Oh, did I mention, link exchange?! What did come through:
* Link exchange (Use all avenues available to you to link to other sites, thus increasing hits.)
* Key words (Use tools such as Google’s Keyword Tool and others to widen your reach.)
* Link photos and videos (If you use someone’s photo/video – link it back to their site in your “Photo courtesy of” comment. Besides, it’s the polite thing to do too.)
* Expand your website by creating e-books and other media.
* Create affiliate links with those who offer alternative media and programs (e-books, Amazon Associates, Google AdSense, etc.)
* Use statistical analyses to help chart what works and what does not on your site (Google Analytics, Feedburner, etc.)
Session #7 – Podcasting Demo
Craig Martin (Indie Travel Podcast) and Chris Christiansen (This Week in Travel/Amateur Traveler) described how they create their podccasts and the equipment they use. Their time was limited. It’s also not an avenue with which I am completely familiar so… For more information, please click the links to contact Craig/Linda Martin, Chris Christensen and/or Gary Arndt (This Week in Travel/Everything-Everywhere.) Thanks! (I did enjoy the discussion just the same.)
The Travel Blog Exchange 2010 Conference had quite a bit to offer and I surely did not capture it all. The above are only “snippits” for your consideration when writing your entries but I hope there is something for everyone somewhere in the mix. Whether you were an attendee or someone stumbling upon this post after the fact: Travel. Write. And most of all… Enjoy the Adventure! I know the guy pictured did – hands down.
In case you’ve missed it, click here for “Why Are They All Talking At Me? (The TBEX10 Experience – Day One)“. It’s page one of the good stuff. Really.