Posted by Ric Garrido

Loyalty Traveler is ranked #73 in the Top 100 Travel Blogs on Technorati today. Yesterday my blog was #72, so my star is already fading. Like Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Jack in the movie “Titanic”, I’ll gloriously ride the waves at the front of the ship as King of the World today before I go under tomorrow. For the time being I’m elated to be listed in Technorati’s top 100 Travel Blogs.

 

Loyalty Traveler #73 in Top 100 travel Blogs 10-20-09

Loyalty Traveler #73 in Top 100 travel Blogs 10-20-09

 

The best aspect of the Technorati recognition is I am staying at my parent’s house in Las Vegas (going home to Monterey today) and I was able to show my mom the Technorati page with the Top 100 Travel icon. My dad asked me again, the fifth time this week, “What is a blog?”

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I happened to be reading the State of the Blogosphere 2009 report being posted each day this week on Technorati.

Reading over the SOTB2009 report, I thought to myself, “Yeah, I fit the professional blogger profile. I have a graduate degree (labor studies), work like a dog over 40 hours a week for virtually no pay, I’ve been at this for over two years, and I have launched four or five websites.”

I also fit Stephen Colbert’s moniker of “internet hobo”. I’m a bootstrapper blogger and lifestyle entrepreneur struggling to carve out a living as a travel writer and social media player in a narrow niche of the travel industry before I go bankrupt.

Only 17% of professional bloggers in the SOTB 2009 report their primary income source comes from blogging. I currently fall in the 83% who do not get their primary source of income from my blog, however, I do earn my primary meager income from writing.

After browsing through the SOTB report I read the Penelope Trunk interview and her response to the question, “What’s your advice for aspiring professional bloggers?”

“Professional blogger? Really? Think about your blog as an audience builder for selling something that has a higher margin than advertising.”

 

Some advertising revenue from my blog sounds rather nice to me at the moment.

 

technorati-blog-rank-oct-19-2009

 

Odds are against a self-employed travel writer surviving as a viable business entity. I launched a Hotels-and-Points newsletter two years ago and sold one copy after four monthly issues. Obviously I needed a new business model. Then, I moved into blogging with the basic axiom of “write it, share it with the world for free, and they will come”.

The Loyalty Traveler blog has always been planned as a way to build an audience by sharing travel tips and analysis with others who may not realize the potential of hotel loyalty programs or simply desire more information about hotel loyalty programs. The leisure traveler and/or business traveler has scarce information on the value of hotel loyalty programs validating, analyzing, and critiquing the information provided by the corporate hotel entities aside from the FlyerTalk forums and the blogs on BoardingArea, SmarterTravel, and FrequentFlier.

 

The developing aspect of my business is Loyalty Traveler’s role as a marketer of California, and more specifically the marketing of my local region in the Monterey Peninsula and San Francisco.

“Travel globally, promote locally” is a business objective of Loyalty Traveler.

My aspiration is simple, but difficult to realize.  Work independently for myself in collaboration with the travel industry, provide real value to other travelers and the hotel travel industry as a writer and educator, and create a sustainable travel-oriented business that can keep me self-employed for the next 20+ years.

I’m not trying to build an empire, just make a basic living so I can afford to continue my life in Monterey   the environmentally, aesthetically, and culturally cool area of California where I was born and would like to remain. And of course, I desire to continue traveling the world which has been much more difficult since I became entirely self-employed 30 months ago.

Travel loyalty programs have allowed me to travel well on a rather limited travel budget for the past two decades. Some call it gaming the system. I call it travel economics and getting the best value for the money you spend as a smart shopper.

The real point of Loyalty Traveler blog is to build an audience and develop a community of travelers who can help each other travel better wherever our travels take us. I am a facilitator who brings up issues in my blog. I need readers to contribute additional insight to develop and grow the information into the knowledge base we need to travel better. So please leave comments on my blog. I have met some wonderful travelers and travel industry professionals through Loyalty Traveler. It takes a community to be successful in social media.

Honestly, I am not clear how I should develop my relationship with the hotel industry. Affiliate marketing, sponsorships, accept freebies so I can stay in more hotels and have more places to write about?

I’m looking for a win-win relationship where I can market hotels, hotel travel, and the value of loyalty programs while remaining a consumer advocate.

Admittedly I have made some errors in content, made some mis-steps in public relations, and I’ve probably been too critical of some hotels and hotel loyalty programs in public with my blog. But always I have strived to be honest and accurate, and constructive in my criticism. When aspects of my hotel experience suck I think many other frequent guests probably had a similar experience. I try and separate what I believe are one-time circumstances compared to what are likely systemic issues with a hotel or program.

I admit when I’m wrong, apologize when I go over the top (or delete, although nothing can really be deleted once it is published to the web), and I reach out to help others when and where I can. I desire to build a lasting relationship with the hotel industry as a traveler, writer, and consumer advocate. Hey hotel PR people –email me. And don’t be afraid to comment on my blog.

Loyalty Traveler blog needs to improve both technically and stylistically. That is an immediate objective. My writing needs to improve aesthetically. That is a life-long process.

I work to create trust with my readers by providing high value and accurate content. Believe me. I beat myself up whenever I realize I published a content error.

My main goal is to remain true to myself and the community of travelers seeking value for their travel dollars. Sustainable travel should allow travelers to get good value for money spent (i.e. not get ripped off). I will continue to develop Loyalty Traveler with the simple aim of providing a community of travelers informed analysis of hotel value for frequent guests.               

And that is all for my self-reflection as Loyalty Traveler blogger and entrepreneur. Anyone with teacher training knows self-reflection is a vital part of professional development.

My next blog post will be back on track with a hotel topic.

technorati-loyalty-traveler

Congratulations to:

Debbie Dubrow – Delicious Baby #1 Travel Blog 10-20-09

Heather Cowper – Heather on her Travels #9 Travel Blog 10-20-09

Gary Leff – View from the Wing  #23 Travel Blog 10-20-09

Gary Arndt – Everything, Everywhere #29 Travel Blog 10-20-09

KiwiFlyer – Musings of the Global Traveller #70 Travel Blog 10-20-09

And there are loads of other travel blogs I need to look into from the Top 100 list.

8 Responses

  1. Interesting post.

    On the technorati rating — I had never even heard of any of the top 10 blogs. Or top 20, I think (I might have missed one in scanning the list, of course). And my RSS reader has about 40 feeds in the travel category, yours being one of my favorite (because of the detailed analysis).

  2. In mid 2008 “mommy” bloggers went on my radar as the subset of travel bloggers leading viral movements and creating an incredibly active travel community in the blogosphere. Marketers drool over mommy bloggers.

    Debbie Dubrow has been on top of the mommy blogger community for quite a while.

    Heather Cowper with “Heather on her Travels” has a cool site and good writing with loads of tips for someone entering the blogosphere. I should be following more of her advice.

    RickSeaney and FareCompare blogs should be familiar to FlyerTalkers. Airfare info.

    Gadling, Jaunted, Peter Greenberg, Vagabondish, and Uptake.com Vacation Blog are large sites with a variety of travel writers backed by the bigger bucks. These are sites a travel writer can go and get work published for exposure.

    I am surprised Hotel Chatter (a site I follow), Jaunted’s sister site, is not on the Top 100 list. These sites were picked up by Conde Nast last year.

    Travel Blissful is the only top 10 site I have not read. I see Erica Johannson is a solo blogger. Cool.

    These blogs are an eclectic mix. The blogosphere is the wild west and reminds me of the punk music scene of the 1970s.

    The beauty of the blog movement is the potential to just go out and start a blog and build a community as an individual or small group with little start-up financing.

    The small site content may not be perfectly produced, the design may be rather basic, but the sense of value for a community of readers can be just as high as you will get from a corporate packaged, highly financed, content producing machine of blog writers in a large site.

  3. So you’re saying I should “package” myself as a mommy blooger? ;)

    I personally prefer the single-author home-made blogs over the more “professional” blogs that pump out post after post while trying very hard to sound cool (think Engadget or Gizmodo in the techie community). The really important stuff gets picked up somewhere else anyway, so the individual bloggers are ultimately also good filters for me.

  4. I think of a blogger like a radio dj. Find ones who play the stuff I want to hear/read.

    There are certainly lessons to be learned from mommy blogger packaging.

  5. “Some call it gaming the system. I call it travel economics”

    I may have to change my FT signature line!

    Congrats on the ranking, Ric

    Comment by jumpdogjump on October 22nd, 2009 at 2:36 pm
  6. Loyalty Traveler blog is #70 Travel Blog on Technorati today with no signs of icebergs yet. Full steam ahead!

  7. Thanks for your valuable information.

  8. Congrats on the ranking hike.Keep going.Cheers.:)

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