TravelCon is a travel blogging conference hosted by Nomadic Matt. I went to TravelCon 2019 not knowing what to expect. It was my first large scale travel conference…
OMG I WAS SO NERVOUS! I can’t wait to tell you everything about TravelCon 2019 to help you decide if TravelCon 2020 is right for you!
I will spill ALL the tea and share absolutely everything I learned at TravelCon 2019. Also, the logistics of the trip, my biggest takeaways, favorite quotes, and whether I think the travel blogging conference is worth the shmoney.
This post is sponsored by Worldpackers and may contain affiliate links. If you use my links, I get a small percentage without costing you a thing. Thank you for using my links and supporting my blog! xoxo
First, let’s get the logistics out of the way.
TravelCon location: The Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA.
Where I stayed: The Westin Copley Place, Boston, MA.
Hotel Cost: $249/night x 4 nights + fees= $1,323.04/3 people = $441
- Note: The Hostel International Boston is $70/night ($288 total with fees for a dorm bed) for a cheaper option. Personally, I think paying a little more was TOTALLY worth it. Being able to take an elevator to my room and lay in a comfy bed during breaks = priceless.
Flight: $220 roundtrip with United Airline
TravelCon Cost: $399
- Note: there were a bunch of people who bought their conference ticket and could not go anymore. You can find a cheaper tickets if you take a chance and wait for those people to sell their tickets on the TravelCon Facebook group.
Total Cost: $1,060 (+$200 on food/entertainment)
What’s Included?: 7 keynote speakers, 7 workshops, 1 lunch, daily coffee, 1 photography/writing bonus workshop, 1 happy hour, and open bar at night meet-ups.
Goals + Workshop Takeaways
I went to the conference with the following (blog) goals:
- Learn More About SEO
- Create Passive Income
- Have a Successful YouTube Channel
- Start a Podcast/Be a Better Interviewer
- Write a Book
Here are my takeaways associated with those five goals:
Goal #1: Learn More About SEO
SEO is something I’m sure all bloggers have stumbled upon. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of increasing organic targeted traffic to your site. SEO involves making sure a website is user friendly, high quality, technically sound, accessible, etc.
Workshop: SEO for Travel Blogs by Kaitlin McMichael
- Make sure your site is…
- Mobile-friendly (most users are mobile users)
- Fast loading (5 seconds or under to load your page)
- Use plugins sparingly
- Recommended plugins: SEO by Yoast, WP Smush (pictures)
- Optimize your photos using a plugin or webresizer.com (large photos slow down your site)
- Use Google Analytics and Google Search Console to see the SEO health of your website
- Use internal and external links within blog posts
- Blog titles: avoid vague titles like “My Summer Vacation”
- If someone was handed the title of your blog post, they should be able to know what the article will be about. Instead use: “Budget Friendly Summer Vacation to Peru and Bolivia”
- Participate in interviews, podcasts, videos, and events to create traffic to your site
Click here to be directed to Kaitlin McMichael’s site where you can download her full presentation.
Goal #2: Create Passive Income
AKA make money in your sleep. Many successful bloggers list affiliate marketing as one of their largest streams of income. Affiliate marketing is the process of earning commission off someone else’s product or service. It can be as simple as giving your friend your Uber referral code.
Workshop: Affiliate Marketing by Roberto Blake
- Use an affiliate code for EVERYTHING.
- My main takeaway was to look at everything you are using (hosting service, plugins, camera, travel insurance, etc.) and share those things to your audience using affiliate codes.
- But really. Right now, create a list of EVERYTHING you use. Most of the time we are recommending things to our audience without even realizing, why not get paid for it?
- Recommended Affiliate programs:
- Convert Kit
- Travel Credit Cards
- Express VPN
- Anything associated with your brand
- Use your affiliate links in every piece of content. Marinate the two. Example: Guide to Traveling South Korea. Share your affiliate link to Skyscanner for flights or Trip Advisor for hotels or travel equipment that you bought off Amazon.
Goal #3: Have a Successful YouTube Channel
The latest blogging trend is video and audio content. There are 1.8 billion monthly YouTube users. YouTube is the second largest search engine and the third most visited online site after Google and Facebook (Brandwatch.com). Aside from popularity, it is a place where brands and content creators have a large earning potential. Creators are using ads and affiliate marketing on YouTube to make a living.
I recently started a YouTube channel. Last month, I created an interview series featuring Chicagoan female travel bloggers. Click here to check out the interviews where they spill all their blogging secrets!
Workshop: YouTube Monetization: How to Make Big Bucks With Your Videos by Kristen Sarah, Siya Zarrabi, and Mike Corey
- How you Create Value to Brands
- As a YouTuber, you are a production company + marketing agency for brands. This was a huge mindset shift for me. If you are promoting a product or service on your channel, you are providing professional services. You deserve to get paid!
- How To Monetize
- YouTube Ads
- Ad payout depends on how many views your video gets and the style of ads you put on your video.
- Note: YouTube ads are somewhat like pocket change or small bonuses for YouTubers. It isn’t where they get the bulk of their income.
- Sell your videos (drone videos/short clips/pictures) as stock footage
- Mike Corey mentioned he was able to sell unique video content for $50/second AND MY MIND WAS BLOWN!
- Affiliate Marketing
- Include links in your captions
- Sell Merchandise
- Example: Roberto Blake links merchandise ads on his videos.
- YouTube Ads
- YouTube Prefers:
- 12-15 minute videos
- Scheduled Posts
- Post 2x/week (or more)
- Use closed captions
- Current YouTube Trend
- Go to English speaking countries where locals will watch your videos. For example, many bloggers are going to Pakistan and India because there is a huge market of locals who will watch their content.
Goal #4: Start a Podcast + Become a #bossass Interviewer
Like I said before, video and audio content are gaining momentum. I’m not sure if I’ll start a podcast tomorrow, but it’s definitely a future goal and something on my mind. Jordan Harbinger hosts a popular interview-based podcast called “The Jordan Harbinger” show. Jordan didn’t use any powerpoint slides or visuals during his presentation and yet it was my favorite workshop. He’s captivating, honest, and a cool human.
Workshop: How to Host a Killer Interview by Jordan Harbinger
- Great guests + preparation = killer interview
- “You can be the greatest host of all time, but if you’re guest is boring, the interview will suck.” Jordan said something along those lines. He also encouraged tossing an interview if it sucks. It’s not worth posting. Move on!
- Over prepare, do not wing it!
- Ask your guest what they like to talk about
- Read bad reviews about your guest
- Listen to past interviews on your guest
- Send over instructions beforehand so they can be prepared
- Don’t send a list of questions
- During Interview
- Make sure there are no distractions (phone, TV, cat, etc) on both ends
- Chat for 5 minutes and start the interview naturally. The audience should feel like they are joining mid conversation and listening in on your organic conversation.
- Don’t ask questions like “how did you get to where you are today?” Questions where you, as a host, don’t need to be there. Questions where the guest could potentially ramble for hours without you. Think of more thought-out questions.
Goal #5: Write and Self Publish a Book
I haven’t started writing a book, but it’s on my list. It’s a natural progression for bloggers to eventually write a book. Nowadays, it’s easier than ever. Many writers are choosing to self publish their own books and skipping the publishing company all together. Erica Virvo works for Nomadic Matt and has published 12 ebooks on Amazon!
My key takeaways are a simplified version of Erica’s powerpoint notes. I didn’t include everything because to be honest, it was a bit overwhelming. I recommend taking it one step at a time and researching as you go.
Workshop: Write and Self Publish Your Book by Erica Virvo
Steps To Self Publishing a Book
- Pick an Idea
- Creat mindmaps + brainstorm
- Write your book
- Use google docs, apple pages, or scrivener (app)
- Kindle Format
- You have to format your book for Kindle. Erica says it’s a tedious process and recommends outsourcing the task. Hire someone off Fiver to make things easier!
- Name your book
- Resource: pickfu.com
- Create the cover
- Again, you can outsource using Fiver or Upwork.
- Collect e-mails
- Build an e-mail list
- Offer something free in exchange for their e-mail address (create funnels)
- Audio book + Paperback
Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Kirsten, Glo, and Cheryl: the coolest women on the planet.
Kirsten Rich, The Blonde Abroad
- First of all, Kirsten has a “million-dollar blog.” She started as a backpacker and has since created a blog, all female travel escapes, a creative marketing agency, and e-courses. She is a brilliant businesswoman.
- She says, “know your ‘why’ for creating and maintaining your blog. What excites you? Why should people give a shit? What’s your value?”
- Study the industry. Ask yourself, how am I different? How can I do it differently?
Gloria Atanmo, The Blog Abroad
- Post “learn from me content” and not “look at me” content. If someone feels icky about their life after reading your content, you have failed as an influencer.
- “If you’re writing for everyone, you’re not writing for anyone.” Be clear on who your audience is.
- Write down all your revenue streams and rank them from 1-10. If something is causing you a lot of stress but isn’t leading you to $$$, leave it behind.
- You don’t need to be an expert, you just need to know more than the average person. Write your truth.
Cheryl Strayed, Author
- “Why are you telling this story? Art is not about you, it’s about us.”
- “Every time outside your comfort zone is a new experience. You have to learn over and over again.”
- “You need to venture out to find who you are.”
- Her book: Wild
Okay, But Was it Worth it?
Short answer: YES!!!!
I think the biggest gain from going to a travel blogging conference is being around people that get you. They understand how you feel and validate your creative career or side hustle. The face-to-face time with like-minded people is priceless. I would pay $399 to simply hang out with 800 bloggers again for 3 days. The workshops and speakers were an added bonus. So, yes, the conference was 100% worth every penny. I would recommend it to all travel bloggers or anyone who wants to get into the blogging world. If you are debating whether to come or not, COME! JOIN THE PARTY!
The conference was exhausting, inspirational, and transformative. I met life-long blogging friends and planted seeds for future collaborations.
Thank you to everyone I met and special thanks to Nomadic Matt and his team for putting on an amazing conference!!! Cheers to TravelCon 2020!
Can’t Make it? Take The Business of Travel Blogging Course Instead!
Have plans or not able to finance the trip this year? I also recommend Nomadic Matt’s The Business of Travel Blogging course! It’s a great way to get a lot of the information at a cheaper cost.
Thanks for reading! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments! If you’d like to hear about my review of my first blogging conference in Chicago, IL, click here. xoxo
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