Donna Hull, creator and blogger for My Itchy Travel Feet, is celebrated in the online travel community for her travel tips and advice for baby boomers. She has expanded her reach across various online markets and has created a name for herself in the online travel community, thanks to incredible posts on the My Itchy Travel Feet blog.
We were honored to get the inside scoop from Donna on the online travel community and interview her on her blogging success.
See below for this exclusive interview (*NOTE: All images in this post were provided by Donna Hull):
Tell us a little bit about your blog, My Itchy Travel Feet, and the inspiration behind creating it.
My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel offers advice for the active boomer traveler. It’s based upon my personal travel experiences and that of my husband, Alan, who is the blog’s photographer. I started My Itchy Travel Feet three years ago, partly as a platform for my freelance writing business. But I also realized that active baby boomer travelers had no place to go on the Internet for firsthand travel advice aimed at our generation. At that time, most of the blogs targeted towards boomers were about long term care, retirement issues, and sedentary, senior travel. Nowhere did I find information for the type of trips that most of my boomer friends were experiencing—vibrant, active, and inquisitive journeys.
What benefits do travelers receive from using blogs as their main source of travel research as oppose to magazines and other travel publications?
Blogs are a great resource for firsthand travel information. Learning about a blogger’s personal travel experience at a destination that I’m researching gives a different perspective from a magazine article or guidebook. But I don’t believe in using one main source for travel research. To me, it’s all a big stew of travel information—guidebooks, magazine articles, and blog posts. If I mix it all together, I come up with a well-planned trip.
How do you drive targeted traffic to your blog? Specifically, what types of online marketing tools do you use and what results have you seen from each?
I think it’s important to try a group of online marketing tools, and then narrow it down to the two or three that work best in the blogger’s circumstance. No matter what type of online marketing tools you use, the emphasis should be on the value that you bring to your reader. What information would help them plan their trip? I ask myself that question every time I write a blog post, tweet about a topic, or publish a link on our Facebook page.
Since I’m appealing to a baby boomer audience, Facebook is a big part of my online marketing because it is so popular with boomers. The My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook is a lively mix of travel deals and information that appeals to active baby boomers. I keep a loose editorial calendar. The entries are based upon press releases, previous blog posts from My Itchy Travel Feet, photos from our trips, and links to other travel sites and blogs, depending on the theme that I’m promoting. Our page has over 2,100 fans, many of whom subscribe to our newsletter or click over to posts at My Itchy Travel Feet.
Twitter is also valuable, but mainly for connecting with travel providers and my travel blogging peers. I tweet about travel information of interest to baby boomers that I find through Google Alerts, as well as posting links to current blog posts from My Itchy Travel Feet. Through twitter, I’ve been invited to visit destinations or try new travel products. Editors have offered paid writing jobs after discovering me on Twitter.
I also participate on forums where baby boomers are talking about travel, such as Eons and AARP. This is more time consuming but establishes me as an authority on boomer travel. I answer questions without pushing my own blog. When it’s appropriate (and the forum allows it), I’ll post a link to a blog post at My Itchy Travel Feet that the forum member will find helpful. Although I don’t receive as much traffic from participating on forums, I’m definitely reaching my target audience.
What does the My Itchy Travel Feet blog provide for travelers? Specifically, how does it help travelers explore the world?
Through blog posts, photos, and videos, I’m showing boomer what it’s like to go there and do that. And because my travel experience is so varied, I can write about a luxury cruise one day and four-wheeling in the Colorado Mountains on another. Since I’m not some super athlete or adventurer, My Itchy Travel Feet also shows the typical boomer that, yes, you can do that, too.
In your opinion, what does the future of travel hold in store for travel blogs? Do you think travelers will use them more as their main source of research?
It’s become so easy to publish travel blogs that we’re going to continue to see a proliferation of them. Blogs that offer quality writing, good photographs, accurate information, and unbiased reporting will be the ones that travelers seek out as they research trips. However, I don’t think there will be any one main source for travel research—it’s still a combination of blogs, informational sites, magazine articles, and guidebooks. And don’t forget about the more literary travel blogs. They may not be focused on travel planning but they offer a slice-of-life picture that you can’t get on pure travel information sites.
About Donna Hull and My Itchy Travel Feet:
Donna L. Hull writes about active travel for baby boomers at My Itchy Travel Feet, The Baby Boomer’s Guide to Travel, a 2011 Bloggies finalist and selected as the #1 Baby Boomer Blog for 2010 by BeASuccessfulEntrepreneur.com, The Arizona/Montana based freelance writer and photographer is the baby boomer travel expert for Humana’s boomer site, REAL for Me. She also reviews lodging at Uptake.com. and writes about boomer travel for LivingBetterAfter50+.com.
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