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5 Years of Travel Blogging: Yes you can be sued!

By on Aug 5, 2014 in Travel Coloumn | 0 comments

As I sit here in front of my trusty laptop, the third one I’ve owned over the last 5 years, I’ve realised that my travel blog has finally come of age and that I’ve done a complete circle. You see it was about this time in 2009 that I started my first travel blog to share some of my stories with friends and family. Don’t laugh but it was originally called focus2focus.net. Don’t ask me what it meant, I was young and dumb, and just went with it. I remember the first few months where blogging was at its purest form for me; the first page views, the nervousness when you released a post and the first comments. It was addictive! The more I read about blogging, the more I absorbed. Everything from analytics, SEO, CSS, PHP, WordPress, servers, RSS, social media and the list goes on. My website was evolving rapidly and it wasn’t long before I realised my domain error and re-branded as the Travel Project. It was about this time that Lonely Planet came a knocking. Back in 2010 Lonely Planet had a great blogger platform called Blogsherpa (now defunct), they chose a group of bloggers to connect their posts with their website and they selected me. Can you imagine the doors that opened when you told businesses you were Lonely Planet affiliated? I started earning money quickly from my site. It was something that I had thought of, yet never imagined was possible this quickly. I then got hungrier to the potential of blogging and began to explore how the best of the best were performing. The answer I quickly came up with was that content is king supported by a strong readership. Sounds easy right? Write a lot and connect with people. Well it’s harder than it looks as you can’t make people follow you and writing great content in a world where a blog is created every half a second is over whelming. I struggled to keep up with the pace of other bloggers, I started to get my first angry commentators who would pick on spelling mistakes and I started to become stressed with something that was meant to be fun. Eventually I stopped and asked the question “what am I doing wrong, it shouldn’t be this hard?” After trying so many different angles and styles, I eventually came to this conclusion: Write for yourself, be genuine and everything else will follow. With this one moment it changed everything. I realised I didn’t want to be the most visited blog out there, I was happy just being me and before I knew it, a steady amount of posts were being produced and businesses were approaching me for work. So although I’m not a Sherry Otts, an Ian Mallory, a Matthew Kepnes or a Melvin Boucher, I became okay with that. These guys work so hard to achieve their web presence and they have stood the test of time because of it. There will always be blogs that come, rocket up the chart and then disappear as their authors get tired or run out of material. However the best blogs run the marathon instead of the sprint. So with this in mind, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned with you over the years   1. Blogging is a numbers game. Although blogging is as much about the writing and to some extent the travel (although it’s not as much as I’d like it to be), I’ve learned over the last five years that blogging is a numbers game. Don’t understand? Well let me explain. After you get past the honeymoon stage of your blog, where everything is exciting and you begin to get your first readers (and you will), the reality sinks in that to grow your readership base you need to find new ways to connect. Before you know it the number game begins. Google Analytics, page ranks, Alexa rankings, page views, unique page views, bounce rates, 6% keywords, klout score, the amount of followers, the list goes on. I reckon, although not everyone would admit it, every Blogger goes through this stage at one point or another. When analysis become obsession! You stop caring so much about the content and become more focused on getting that next follower or jumping up the ranking. Numbers are important however the golden rule is content is king and no matter what trick you use in the book, this one will always increase your readers.   2. Yes you can be sued! In 2013 I realised that blogging stopped being fun for me and that I had begun to over focus on the numbers, the money chasing and the stress of dealing with companies and media agencies. It all accumulated with a legal notice threatening to sue me if I didn’t change a certain article to put the company into a certain light, neither though it was a very positive article and I wrote it of my own accord (no payment). What was even more concerning was that I was also being threatened with legal action over the comments of other people on the post, which in my opinion was freedom of speech. I was subsequently asked to edit their comments. I refused of course! Ethics and integrity!! So as a lowly poor student who couldn’t fight it, I chose to refuse...

My Five Favourite Australian Tourism Adverts

By on Jun 24, 2013 in Australia, Travel Coloumn | 0 comments

Having worked in travel and tourism here in Australia for the past fifteen years, I have always enjoyed when a new Australian tourism advert is launched. The campaigns often spark debate and with every launch, I wait with bated breathe to see if the marketers do Australia the promotional  justice it deserves. Over the years there have been some fantastic campaigns that have shown off Australia in all its glory and then, there was “Where the bloody hell are you?” – lets just forget about that one shall we?  An effective campaign can not only evoke emotion within us and a sense of curiosity, however ultimately it persuades us to holiday in one destination over another. So I wanted to share with you my five favorite Australian Tourism adverts from over the last three decades that for one reason or another, have left a lasting impression on me and makes me proud to call Australia home.   Say Hello Campaign   The Red Centre   I Still Call Australia Home   You’ll Never Know, If You Never Go   There’s Nothing Like Australia   Which one is your favourite or do you prefer one that I haven’t mentioned? Let us know...

Who is Air Asia? A Review

By on Jan 1, 2013 in Travel Coloumn | 2 comments

A few years back I was sitting at my desk booking passengers on various cruises around the world, when I overheard the guy next to me talking to his mate about heading off on a two month South East Asian adventure, country hopping with Air Asia. This was the time when getting to remote Asia required several long days of hard going bus travel and the idea of flying anything except Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific, was questioning your sanity. With that in mind, I couldn’t help but interject and ask who is Air Asia?  His response was that they were a new airline that he had never flown before and was going to give them a trial in a few weeks time. I said if he survived, he should send me a message telling me of his experience. The good news is that he is still alive today and ever since then, I have flown with Air Asia over thirty times from locations such as Vietnam, India, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and even London.   So, who is Air Asia? Air Asia is owned by a group of private stakeholders (including Richard Branson) and was the vision of Branson’s former financial controller for Virgin Airlines, Tony Fernandes. In its current form, Air Asia has been operating for the past ten years and flies to over twenty five countries located primarily on the Asian continent. In short, Air Asia is a budget airline which hubs out of Kuala Lumpur’s Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT) which is the budget section of Kuala Lumpur’s International Airport. When I first started flying with Air Asia, LCCT was nothing more than a tin shed. However today it is crammed full of duty free shops, fast food restaurants, hotels and busy travellers. The best way to describe the standard of Air Asia is that it is similar to the likes of Easy Jet and Jetstar. The airline has a reasonable sized fleet of modern aircraft, fitted out to put bums on seats with no extra frills. I’m just shy of 6ft and I find the leg room is adequate for short haul flights; however everything else comes at an expense. From food, entertainment, blankets and seat selection, you will need to pre-order or pay on board (higher price) for everything. I found though that for most destinations out of KL, you won’t require many of these extras as you’re only in the air for a few hours. Air Asia’s on time performance is mixed. Whilst I’ve never been delayed with any flight with this airline, I have met many travellers who have been delayed or had their flights cancelled. Recent stats that I’ve found suggests that the airline has between a 60% to 70% on time performance rating for most routes. Which brings me on to safety and let’s face it, this is probably the main concern of flying any airline in South East Asia. Safety is really subjective and I don’t like to say an airline is safe or not, as I don’t have the skills or knowledge to give that advice. However from my experience working with a certain other airline based in Asia, the main issue you have to be concerned about is maintenance and where it’s completed. Now whilst I feel reasonably comfortable with maintenance done out of KL, Air Asia also has two smaller fleets hubbed out of Jakarta and Bangkok which are owned by various other airlines (branded with the Air Asia motif).  It’s worth noting that Indonesia is notorious for its maintenance, with airline licenses often being revoked by European and Australian aviation safety bodies for failing to meet standards. However currently, Air Asia flies to both Europe and Australia and if there were any safety concerns, these aviation bodies would have stepped in. Overall I feel relatively safe and comfortable (as much as you can be on a budget airline!) when flying Air Asia. It feels no different to when I use Easy Jet to fly around Europe or Jetstar in Australia. I hope this helps to give you an idea into who Air Asia is and if you’re after alternative budget flight options, check out our post on the top five budget airlines to fly in South East...

A New Travel Project In 2013

By on Dec 28, 2012 in Travel Coloumn | 0 comments

I can’t believe 2012 is almost over and on the good note, the Mayans were wrong – so I guess I get to spend a few more years travelling. It’s been 18 months since we re-launched the Travel Project and what a journey so far. I have joined an amazing travel community, met some interesting characters, read pages and pages of great content, started to make some serious headway into professional blogging and broke into the top 1,000,000 most viewed websites in the world. To any new bloggers who may be reading this, I’d like to say it was easy but it has been a hard but rewarding slog. This year also marked my very first Blogging Conference: Pro-blogger here in Melbourne. I’ve been spending the last four years blogging and wanted to finally work out if what I was doing was right? I learned heaps though and as a writer/blogger it allowed me to clear my mind and reposition what I wanted to achieve from The Travel Project. So first things first, my last word press theme was broken beyond repair and I wanted to create a new site that would allow me to write the way I want too. I’ve realised my blog isn’t a magazine or a travel factual site, however a personal blog about the experiences of balancing life and travel (don’t worry this isn’t going to become a dear diary). Have a look around, I have made some site wide changes and also added a few new features such as a section for Photo Junkets and Daily Photos. I’m also really excited to announce that in the coming months I will be releasing my first ever E-Book – stay tuned for this! Alas (I’ve always wanted to use that word), this all coincides with the ending of the Lonely Planet Blogsherpa program, as they officially close the doors on four years of partnership – this is a community wide change that will see all us Blogsherpas part ways. It’s a mixed blessing. The Blogsherpa program allowed a steady stream of visitors to The Travel Project and the prestige of saying I was a Lonely Planet Blogger, which was great when I first started blogging. There’s not many bloggers that can say they received an income from the very first post they released. However, increasingly I was finding the program frustrating and my work being underpaid for what they received in return. So all good things must come to an end. The year ahead seems promising on the travel front. Niki and I have finally got a base here in Australia and I’m looking forward to exploring a whole new section of the world – The Pacific, Eastern Australia and South America. I’m also thirty this year, and I have always imagined celebrating it in some fantastic destination – here’s the shortlist: Santiago, Japan, Indonesia (Not Bali) or Hawaii. I will also be travelling to Tasmania and hopefully New Zealand along the way and not to mention the trips home to Western Australia (surely a road trip in there). They’re going to be some great stories in these adventures and I also promise that I will come back to my India trip which left me 10kg lighter and in a hospital bed at Kuala Lumpur Airport. Looks like a busy 2013. I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year and thank everyone who has become part of The Travel Project over the past two years. This wouldn’t be as fun or rewarding without...

A Sneak Peek

By on Nov 13, 2012 in Travel Coloumn | 0 comments

Over the last couple of months you might have noticed my travel posts have slowed down on the Travel Project. First up, I’m still writing, still travelling and still enjoying being part of this awesome travel blogging community. However I’ve been working on a brand new project which I wanted to share with you today. A project that I’m hoping will bring Travel Bloggers from all around the world to the forefront of travel content. A couple of months back I was searching for posts on Oman. I noticed when searching Google that I found it really hard just to find all the travel blogging posts relating to this Middle Eastern Country. Either the posts weren’t SEO’d very well and never appeared, or the giants like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet had monopolized it so well that I would have to start heading to page three and four. I visited a few of my favourite blogs, however found nothing – Oman is a bit of a random destination I suppose. So it got me thinking, “how could I search every blog in the world at once?” And what if there was a way to bring the worlds blogs together for the benefit of our growing profession? One giant collaborative sharing program. As individual bloggers we may struggle to stand out (especially considering over 1 million travel posts are released daily) however collectively we could be a force to be reckoned with. With all this in mind, I set to work designing a new platform that I believe will bring travel bloggers to the party – allowing us to compete with the likes of the big travel sites for the better of our profession and for more visibility. It wouldn’t matter if you couldn’t write SEO content, you only posted once a week or if you have 10  followers – as every post would be just as important as another. I wanted to provide a platform for the world to find our travel posts. I also thought that as Bloggers represent the BEST and most honest source of information, readers will be rewarded with content that isn’t outdated or full of PR rubbish! So I want to introduce to you our new site – Trip’inion.  The site is not live yet and still in Beta, however as of this afternoon I will be begin taking our first fifty signups into the beta program ready for the initial launch in the coming month. I’ve offered this first on the travel project, as many of the people who read this site have great blogs in my opinion, are valuable members of the travel community and I would love you all to be part of this. You know all those times when a site starts up and you wished you were part of it right at the start – well this is one those moments! If you’re interested, head over to www.tripinion.com to find out how it works and if you’re still keen, just hit the signup button. Please feel free to share this post and thanks for all your...

“I think we should plan a holiday”

By on Oct 22, 2012 in Travel Coloumn | 0 comments

This morning at breakfast, Niki said the magic words: ‘I think we should plan a holiday”. After the initial dance around the room in a Gangnam style pony trot (I know you’ve tried it), my mind then turns to the destination. Oh the possibilities! My mind wanders to Kenya, Iceland or even the Philippines. I think of daring adventures, mountains to climb, food to try and the crazy shit that’s going to happen to me as I go travelling. Instantly my brain goes into overload and I start thinking of all the amazing places that we could travel to. Then a little voice pops up and like most husbands, I start wondering what I can get away with here? Does she mean a romantic week in the Victorian Alps or could I persuade her to do some insane trekking in Nepal? This is dangerous territory for any man – play it right and I could be off on an epic adventure, play it wrong and I’m going to be hauled into some spa resort in Daylesford saying “I don’t think it’s a good idea to be waxing there!” It then gets even better! Niki confirms my inner most desires, “Let’s leave Victoria” she says. At this point I’m dancing two  legged cow hind style (think gravy boat ad) to “I like the way you move”, all whilst declaring that she is the love of my life. This is it, a new project for me to think about! Weighing up my options, I decided to offer a small selection of countries that would be suitable for our relaxing adventure: Antarctica, Cuba or Argentina. Just before I get them out Niki thoughtfully says “I’ve heard Tasmania is good this time of year”……insert an awkward silence here…….before continuing on and saying “Yeah its cheap, off the mainland, and you’ll love it Peter.” Falling off my Gangnam pony, which had stopped mid routine. I coughed, apologized, and questioned if I have misheard  as “I thought you said Tasmania?” I hadn’t heard wrong. Back tracking, I could see my epic plans fall before my eyes and not to mention the waxing pain coming my way.  I needed to make her idea sound great yet give her a real viable alternative – New Zealand. My first pitch was “Tasmania is nice, but hey lets go to New Zealand instead, they have hobbits!” Niki gave me a deep intense look that questioned my sanity, before shooting me down in a glorious ball of flames. Epic fail on my behalf for thinking that I could persuade her with my geekiness. Mumbling under my breathe something along the lines of “you might of won the battle…”,  I asked her to leave it with me under the premise of going away to cost Tasmania up. Hopefully buying myself some time for my second attempt at persuasion. I wonder how much flights to New Zealand cost….. What do you think – Tasmania or New Zealand? Lets us know...