Authority Site Videos Websites

Why Do Most Travel Bloggers Suck At Video? And How To Fake A Good Travel Video

OK – so I’m being fighting the video monster for the last few days – with some success – and quite a steep learning curve – but at least now I can create videos! 

And I don’t even own a video camera. 

Nor am I pretty on video! 

If I can do it, anyone can. 

It goes like this. I’ve been studying the travel niche. And frankly, there is some very, very good content out there, frightening good writers with awesome stories to tell, seem to abound. But the video side of things – hmmm – a bit average to be honest. 

Now call me a chancer, but I see an opportunity. Lets face it, who doesn’t like watching travel videos? Isn’t there a whole Travel Channel on US cable TV? Don’t I watch trash like Vacation, Vacation, Vacation and Travel Gettaway – just because I want to see pretty beaches, tasty looking food, and, rarely, an idea about a new travel destination.  Its Travel Porn basically – and travel addicts want to dream.  

There is definitely an audience for travel videos. 

So why do travel bloggers, in gross generalisation, suck at video? 

Several reasons. Real video – the stuff you see on TV takes not just talent, it takes gear.  It takes more than one person. Yes you can get a thingy to attach to your camera so you can shoot picture of yourself – how silly would that look? On a beach in Thailand? Or a street in Europe. Tripods are a bulky to carry. Oh and then there’s the problem with sound. Most cameras seem to pick up sound even if you are just breathing. Great in one niche I can think off, but heavy breathing travel vids – hmmm not so much.  So you need a separate mike as well. Its starting to get heavy, and complicated. 

On the other hand pointing a 1/2 decent camera and taking a photo is something many of us can do. 

I’d already found a solution for the talking heads/screen shot video ( free up to 15minutes or $15/year) 

Now I mus admit sometimes I just get confused (is that because I’m old? … don’t answer that). I noticed people talking about product videos using something called – and I assumed that it was the funny talking cartoon thingy – wasn’t sure why that would work – but I wasn’t doing product videos anyways). Then I thought I’d just click on this animoto thing – and I was like WOW. Oh and the funny talking cartoons – they are here.

That was so easy to do – even I could do it! And the whole sound thing was got around by using music – included in the software – COOL 

But then I had a problem – I got a copyright notice from Youtube and the video started displaying Adsense – weird, and annoying. It got be looking. And I found some other issues with animoto – and some alternatives

What’s Good: 

  • lots of nice background themes available 
  • the easiest to use. 

What’s Not Good: 

  • can’t overlay text 
  • can’t control duration of slides 
  • not many themes – may get repetative 
  • can’t do voice overs 
  • can’t do HD without paying extra – or paying for the expensive $250/yr option
  • you have to use a credit card rather than paypal 
  • I had some issues with the software hanging on me – but it may have been using the Facebook login was the problem. 
  • free for up to 30sec videos 
  • $5/month ($30/year) 
  • $39 month ($249) year for white label aka ProShowWeb 

What’s Nice: 

  • there is a desktop version as well as the online version – this was initially attractive as I was having problems online with animoto – but that version included no free licensed music 
  • nice range of themes and great collection of transitions
  • creates DVD quality downloads (this wasn’t important to me) 
  • add your own watermark (white label version only). 
What’s Not To Like 
  • can’t control slide timing except at an overall level 
  • no text to voice or simple voice overs
  • no easy maps
  • quite slow to render the video – no “quick preview” option
  • some transitions and effects require extra payment
  • Free – restricted to less than 15 photos, watermarked 
  • $30/year for up to 500 photos (12 minutes)
  • $150/year whitelabel

What’s Nice: 

  • can add voice overs – does text to speech YES 
  • can add Google maps – really easy to do 
  • can add text as an overlay 
  • can change duration for everything including text slides – so I can focus on the call to action at the end of the video for long enough for someone to write the website’s name down 
  • does HD for $8/month 
  • I found this the easiest editor to get to work consistently of the three 
  • has a quick preview which means you can see what you have before you do a proper render

What’s Not: 

  • still have an issue with copyright with some of  the music with Youtube showing iTunes – but at least the Adsense ads seem to have gone. 
  • most expensive of the options 
  • Free very limited, from $5 month, $8/month HD ($49/year)
  • $299/year white label 
  • $499 reseller 

Really I like the Google maps and text to speech with Stupeflix – but I may go to ProshowWeb for the much cheaper whitelabel options. 

Authority Site

Authority Site Building – May Update

OK I’m going to be posting a regular update on the progress of my travel authority site. The updates will probably be about monthly – unless something huge comes along. Frankly monitoring this sort of project more than monthly means I’d probably be doing too much talking and not enough doing – if you know what I mean. 

Hey at the end of it when I’m making thousands a month from my travel site – maybe I’ll pull all these together and flog the ebook to you guys! 

Until them – I’ll try to explain what I’m doing, and more importantly – why. I know making the transition from niche, anonymous site, to being out there with a site with your name on it is daunting for many. Well its daunting for me to, but frankly if I can do it, anyone can. Can I do it? No flipping idea, but I’m going to try, stick around for the ride! 

Background on my Authority Site 

I’ve written about my overall business plan for this site before. 

I initially registered the domain on 1 June 2011. I registered it to be the “home” for my self-published books. As I’ve said before I’d found getting organic rankings for a travel site is tough going. I didn’t do much with the site – tossed a little content on and let it sit. If found some very long tail keywords, and wrote about 7 posts. I then published nothing for two months, then I did a few more posts in September, then again nothing until March.  

Meanwhile I did a few guest posts and other hmm… “self promotional advertising” – and voila my search traffic started building steadily from 146 visits in January to 946 in March (so far my record month for search). This dropped a bit in April – why? Not actually sure, the Penguin debacle was late enough in the month to not have a huge effect in the statistics. More likely its the seasonality of the search terms (hard to know without a year or two of good data). 

BTW If I was doing this again I’m not sure I’d use my name in the site’s url again (for frigs sake this is the second time I’ve done this – you’d think I’d learn!). In the unlikely event that I want to sell it, the branding issue would be a problem. 

Authority Site Statistics 

Customers, Traffic? Where are they?
Food Vendor, Phuket, Thailand

24/04/12 07/05/12
PR 3.00 2
Google Indx 197.00 225
Alex Rank 749,511.00 435779
Alexa Rank US 271,824.00  
Reputation 118.00 129
SEM Rush Rank 1,999,856.00       199856,00
Domain Authority 32.00 33
MozRank 4.91 4.56
Page Authority 43.00 44
FB Likes   61
Weekly Reach   137
Twitter followers   61
List Subscribers   58
Uniques (last 30 days)   1138
Page Views   2509
Pages/Visit   1.94
Visit Duration            2:24min
Bounce Rate   63.00%

Frankly I don’t know enough about the social to know what is good or bad about it! I noticed the page rank had dropped a couple of days ago with the latest PR update but apart from that every other metric seems to be going in the right direction. 

What am I aiming at with these metrics? I’m aiming to get into one of the many “top 100 travel blogs” lists. Nomadic Samuel’s seems to have an objective list of requirements –  and I don’t think I’m a million miles off of making his cut off.  I also think there is a very much a snow ball effect with social media. If you have no friends or followers no one wants to go first (in fact if the site had been really brand new and I hadn’t got around to creating and ignoring the Facebook pages months ago-  just buy some likes will have plenty of people offering that service) 

On Site Content 

  • 32 new posts 
  • 2 pages 
Really? I’m surprised – I managed to average a post a day – and quite pleased! Did I publish crap? No I don’t think so, as this is a subject I know very well, so far everything I’ve written is based on personal experience.  As I’ve said before I’m publishing three main types of content:
  • content for the armchair traveller
  • “how to’s” for the serious traveller
  • and photos 
I’m not yet getting a whole lot of feedback – but my doing little else than promoting my content on Facebook, I started to get some significant traffic from there.  Well significantly more anyways! 
This is the tough bit – and why so many bloggers fail. If you are writing and hoping to get any engagement, you really need to wait for at least a year. My most heavily trafficked posts don’t have ANY comments – searchers don’t seem to comment in this niche. My fellow travel bloggers are the ones interacting, that’s not my final audience, but its a start. 
Now one of the things I’ve never had on any site is an “Editiorial Calendar” ie a regular publishing schedule. But for social traffic – I can see the advantage. So I did a couple of things: 
  • I installed a plugin called WordPress Editorial Calendar. Its a drag and drop interface which allows you to plan and manage posts easily. 
  • I did some research and discovered that the most popular time to read your emails is 9am. Given that most of my readers are from the US – I know schedule my “social” posts to publish at 9am EST, on a week day. Remember only some of my posts show on my “travel blog” page, the search engine focussed stuff gets published as its written. 
  • The pages are effectively the content on the category pages. I’m really only doing them as pages because it keeps them out of my RSS feed and makes it easy for me to find them. 
  • I also installed a plugin that automatically creates an index of a page based on sub-title tags: Table of Contents Plus

How To Build Social Media Engagement 

Well if anyone has the passive income solution to this one I’m all ears!  I think this is one of the biggest hurdles for many Internet Marketers. I’m applying a really simple strategy. I basically go looking for bloggers in my niche. I comment on their sites, and I comment on their site’s facebook page. If they respond I do it again.  I don’t pick the “leaders” in the niche. I go to their sites sure, but its not them I’m targetting, they don’t need me. Instead I am picking on their followers, who also have travel blogs. The wannabes if you like. The people at my own level are far more likely to respond and reciprocate than the “big boys”. 

I’m nice, and most people are nice back. Its strategy that worked bloody well for Griz and Court in this niche – I see no reason why it shouldn’t work in travel – because people are people. 

I’m also in several “membership groups” around travel.  Why? For the networking. Yeah really that nasty N-word. Why the heck does networking matter – well for the links I just described above!  My being members of those groups I’ve so far found an advertiser who spent over $400 with me (for 10 minutes work), plus I’m part of a nice guest posting set-up which should give me lots of exposure at the end of this month. 

Why Am I Building Social Media Engagement 

Yeah I would have asked that a month back too! Why? For the money of course.  As you no doubt already know social traffic won’t make you rich clicking Adsense ads. However social engagement is something that advertisers are looking for when they are considering working with a travel site. Not all, true. Some, maybe many, just want to see their keywords on your page and Page Rank. 

But the more discerning actually want figures that prove you have an audience. Because that’s the audience they want to reach. 

Personally I’m diversifying – I’ll take their money whether they want my audience or my page rank 🙂 

Well I hope this series will be of some use to someone out there. Its pretty funny – when I hang out with bloggers they are dead scared of all this “SEO stuff”, when I hang out with IMers they are dead scared of “social media stuff”. 

Actually neither is rocket science, you just need to figure out an approach, and do it! 

Authority Site Rants Websites

Pick Myself Up, Dust Myself Off, Start All Over Again

Thank you. The last email I sent out to the list was rather long, and had bad words in it. Frankly, I was not sure how it would go down. Given the choice I’d rather have put it on the blog, but there are some conversations I’m not prepared to have “out in the open” any more. If you want to know WTF I’m talking about – sign up for the list (under this post). Its the only truly G-monster proof place I have to chat. (No I don’t believe that Facebook pages are secure either, whatever their privacy settings).  

What I got was a ton of replies – some from people I’m pretty sure have never actually commented here.  Thank you. Its nice to hear that I am sometimes useful. 

A few days after I wrote my last post my premier travel site got damaged by the rampaging bird aka Google’s Penguin update – maybe. Its weird – its going up and down in the SERPS like front page, not in the top 100, and repeat. Not just for one search term – for ALL of them! There used to be a sandbox when Google wouldn’t  rank a site for anything for the first 6 months, maybe 12. That gradually faded over the last few years – maybe its been replaced by this ping pong effect? Making me dizzy anyways – was always crap at table tennis.  

Tent on Display, Greytown, New Zealand
No I am not sleeping in it - I just though it looked cute

For the record I hadn’t used BMR on this site, but I’ve done some guest posts plus some good quality articles on relevant sites with key word anchored in-content text links. I’m seeing “phuket or koh samui” go between zero and 8 visitors a day. It was back to 3 yesterday. And when I check Google via proxy I’m sitting at #4 behind Frommers, Lonely Planet (legit publishing houses) and – none of which I’d argue with. The page is better than it was yesterday where a bunch of hotel results were showing (not consolidators actual properties) which had both terms in their address, i.e. they had a hotel on each island – that’s not the answer to a query which is really the searcher asking which place has the better weather, or the better nightlife, or easier to get to. 

BTW the very best information I’ve seen to date on Penguin was  on a blog I’d never heard of before, Microsite Masters – who actually analysed the data they collect for clients and reported the results of Penguin here The only thing I object to is the word “easy”  in their title. None are particular “easy” – but some are actionable so I will be implementing some. 

Which brings me back to the point of this post – yeah this post has a point. 

A New Business Direction – I’m Out of Diversifying Niche Sites 

Yeah – Google all those sites you just slammed – you can have them. But I will be getting my travel site back thank you very much. 

But I do think its time for a bit of a change of direction. My 2012 internet marketing business plan just went out the window.  I’m not looking for new niches, and I’m not creating pure Adsense or Amazon affiliate sites anymore. I think its the high road to nothing.  

Yes I have a cash flow problem – I guess some of you do to.  If I hit payout with Adsense this month I’ll be surprised.  I’m hurting financially. Let’s be honest here, I have partner who earns good money, and who can more than afford to support me, I won’t be in a tent any time soon. But I want him to retire.  I could cash in some investments, but we’re not looking at losing our home, and I forever thankful that I live in a socialist paradise that considers cheap medical care one of the basics of a civilized society.  And the frigging US$ keeps collapsing against the NZ$, thanks a lot forex markets. 

I can’t afford to wait 12 months, or even 6 months to replace my income. I want to be earning $5000 month by the end of the year. This year. 2012

But the game just changed – and its adapt or die time. So I’m adapting. 

I will be focussing on two niches – this one and travel.  

This site just changed – its not about making hundreds of niche sites and ranking in Google and making money. 

Its about what I’m going to do to rank  in the travel vertical (I think that’s the marketing jargon).  I’m turning around some of the stuff that I’ve been adamantly against for years. I am going to try to be “branded” and a leader in the travel niche. I am going to be chasing social media traffic. But not exclusively. I’m taking what I know about SEO and I’m applying it to this business.  I figure the general approach will work in any niche that you know well, certainly doesn’t have to be travel. 

Do I have a blue print? No not really.  I’m pretty much doing what I described in my making money with a travel blog post. 

This site? Well its now about building a G-monster proof authority website that makes money. Without the cult of personality bullshit which seems to accompany so much of this.  

I’m going to achieve this while remaining an introvert, who doesn’t want to go on a speaking tour, become the go-to authority for daytime TV in the niche, and frankly isn’t interested in getting out of their PJs before midday.  

Its about taking the stuff that the blogging crowd has been talking about for years: “write and they will come”, “social media matters”, “the money is in the list”, blah, blah, taking the good bits – yes there are some good bits, and combining those with the best of SEO. 

After all how hard can it be?

You might want to stick around for the ride. 

You see I figure if I can make this work anyone bloody can! 

So hang around – and sign up for the sodding list – because there is definitely going to be stuff I don’t want to talk about in front of the G-monster. 

The passive income dream ain’t dead – but I think we just saw the end of the beginning.