Magellan has a social chat with award-winning blogger / journalist, Monica Stott of The Travel Hack whose vital statistics are:
Twitter: 30,000 / Facebook: 8,000 / Pinterest: 315,000 / Instagram: 11,000 / 250,000 monthly page views and 3,000 newsletter subscribers.
How did The Travel Hack get started? Why did you do it?
I started The Travel Hack in 2009 as I left the UK to travel around Asia and Australia for two years. I’d just finished uni and I wanted to be a journalist so I’d been interning with my local newspaper before I left. They’d asked me to write a blog for their website while I was away. At the time I didn’t really know what a blog was but I wanted to use the opportunity to build an online portfolio of writing for when I began applying for journalism jobs. I fell in love with blogging and the online travel community and The Travel Hack quickly grew and grew!
Do you see yourself as a blogger or a journalist – we love the play on the word Hack? How do you split your time?
I’m definitely a blogger rather than a journalist. I trained as a journalist but I was drawn to the freedom and creativity of blogging. I don’t report on other people’s stories, I create my own stories! As a blogger I wear many hats as I’m a writer, a photographer, a film maker, a social media manager, a PR, a marketer and a business development manager. There’s a lot to do but it means I never get bored! Originally I named the blog The Travel Hack based on the journalism meaning of ‘hack’ but ‘travel hacking’ (collecting points for air miles) and travel hacks (like travel tips) are much more recognisable these days.
How has The Travel Hack evolved? How do you find like-minded writers?
The Travel Hack has grown and evolved in ways I’d never imagined it could. It began with just me blogging in my spare time. At the time I worked in social media management and started working as a freelancer to make more time for blogging. Eventually I was working on The Travel Hack full time!
I then had my first son, George, and I took on a whole team of writers to help fill the gap while I wasn’t travelling. I was being offered so many amazing opportunities to travel around the world and it was fantastic to be able to send people in my place.
When looking for writers I tried to find people who were similar to me but also very different. I wanted bloggers to join the team to fill a gap that I couldn’t and specialise in areas of travel that I didn’t know about. We write for a similar audience (mostly British couples taking short holidays with a focus on affordable luxury and stylish adventure travel) but all bring something different to the table.
Which social media stream do you think has helped you the most?
Twitter has definitely helped me the most. I love the informal nature of Twitter whereby you can reach out to anyone and potentially reach hundreds of thousands of people. Getting instant responses from people all around the world is amazing so Twitter is the channel I’ve embraced the most. Pinterest has helped grow traffic to the blog in a way no other social media channel could. I have over 300,000 followers on Pinterest and it’s a huge source of traffic.
Which social media stream do you think will have the most impact in the future – live streaming, snapchat etc?
I think it’s going to be all about the live updates. People don’t want to see edited and carefully curated social streams anymore, they want to follow real people. I think Snapchat will continue to grow for younger people while older people will enjoy live streaming on Facebook.
How have you grown the Travel Hack community? What are you five tips for anyone starting out?
The Travel Hack community is amazing because it’s grown with me. When I was blogging about budget backpacking my followers were on the same wavelength. I feel like we’ve grown up together and have moved through the stages of budget holidays and weekend breaks to slightly nicer trips and the odd splash of luxury. This lovely community of people is what keeps me blogging everyday! My tips to grow a community would be:
- Have a strong niche – stick to one focus so people know what to expect
- Stay true to yourself as you never need to worry about being ‘on brand’ when you’re just being yourself
- Remember that a community is about other people more than you. Don’t just talk at people, talk with them and create conversations that keep going when you’re not there.
- Listen to your community as they’ll indirectly tell you what they want from your blog
- Embrace new technology and new social media channels. Things change quickly in the online world and you want to lead your community to new places.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
That’s a toughy! Five years ago I couldn’t have imagined I’d be where I am now so it’s difficult to even think where I’ll be in another five years. The blogging world moves so quickly!
I’d like to think The Travel Hack will still be going strong and I’ll be running it more like an editor for a magazine style website. I’m also expecting my second baby so more parenting blogging could be on the cards. I’ve also just launched an online course called The Blogger Course to help other bloggers grow their blogs into businesses, so I’m looking forward to developing this further.
Magellan Comment: We’ve worked with Monica on several occasions now and have found her to be extremely efficient, creative and honest about what she can do for a particular client. She is a great writer and photographer and particularly lovely to deal with.
Photographs courtesy of The Travel Hack.
The Travel Hack is on twitter: @TheTravelHack / on Facebook: The Travel Hack / on Pinterest: Monica Stott / Instagram: TheTravelHack
Magellan PR is on twitter: @MagellanPR / on Facebook: MagellanPR / on Pinterest: Sue Lowry / on Google+: Sue Lowry & MagellanPR and on Flickr: Sue Lowry. For more information on our company, visit www.magellan-pr.com. Follow our other blog focussing on travel in the South of England – A3 Traveller. Follow A3Traveller on Twitter: @A3Traveller.