Meet blogger – Natalie Roos (tailsofamermaid.com)

I normally profile feature hotel staff sharing their journey into their chosen tourism career, but today it’s a little bit different in that I’m shining the spotlight on other travel bloggers. The aim with featuring travel bloggers is to inspire aspirant bloggers to learn how to run a travel blog professionally and make money.

Blogging as a career option offers many opportunities, is flexible with low barrier to entry. You can run a travel blog with a combination of the following content formats…photographs, videos, podcast and text.

Tails Of A Mermaid is a travel and lifestyle blog written by 20-something Capetonian, Natalie Roos. Natalie loves all the good things in life; food, wine, travel and Cape Town, but she is particularly interested in promoting local and African travel for 20-somethings, promoting the fact that solo female travel in South Africa, Africa and indeed the world, is safe, easy and affordable.

Her travel interests lie in discovering the local food and lifestyle and living like the locals do. An adventure-seeker at heart, Natalie has been known to bungy jump off the highest bridges of the world, slip and fall hiking down to waterfalls and eat street food in India.

Natalie promotes the blog and her lifestyle on Social Media through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Professionally, Natalie works as a freelance blogger, Social Media strategist and consultant.  Before going freelance, Natalie worked in tourism, as a Social Media Manager and blog contributor for Cape Town Tourism. You can see her content on their website here.

Image taken at the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai in 2013

Image taken at the Dhobi Ghat in Mumbai in 2013

Describe your travel blog and niche is it targeting?

My blog speaks to people who want to follow a lifestyle, rather than a publication. I write stories about my life, from my point of view, with someone like myself as the reader in mind. I’m not writing a magazine, so my stories are true to my own sense of humour and really just about a girl, who likes to do nice things, travel and eat A LOT.

What inspired the creation of your travel blog?

My blog started out organically four years ago as a place to share and tell stories. I have always loved travel more than anything on Earth, so the decision to go freelance was partly due to the fact that I wanted to spend more time travelling and writing about it.

How is your blog monetized?

I work on a campaign basis. Brands or companies who I work with will pay me to create original, useful content that will incorporate their brand. I only ever work with brands that I would use anyway, so the storytelling and the inclusion of these brands in my lifestyle is completely natural. I also don’t make all my money off my blog – I work as a Social Media Specialist too.

What challenges do you encounter running a travel blog?

I think mainly that it is very competitive. Travel is incredibly sought-after and so are the assignments, and the guys who are the real, travel blogging super stars are serious about the business and do not take lightly to newbies entering their turf.

Lucky for me, my blog has a core following and I will always be a “lifestyle blogger” – travelling is part of my life and a big part at that, but I’m not competing with the major players.

Is your travel blog a hobby or business and why?

It’s both. It’s a hobby because I love it and it’s a business because I make some of my money off it. It’s not a business in the “business is business” dog-eat-dog kind of way, because I can afford for it to be a passion project, supplementing my lifestyle.

How is content for your travel blog generated?

I travel as much as I can. I’m always on short trips locally and I try to travel overseas at the very least once a year. I don’t re-publish content or post editorial content or press releases. Every bit of content that gets posted on the blog is an experience I’ve had.

What major milestones has your travel blog achieved in recent years that make you proud?

My blog has made me proud many times, outside of the travel feature. I’ve been featured in magazines like Cleo, Marie Claire and Cosmopolitan, from giving advice on festivals, to offering hair and makeup tips.

My biggest travel assignment so far is my involvement in Stellenbosch Wine Routes’ #Stellenblog campaign, where I will be exploring the gorgeous winelands for a week with some of the top travel bloggers in the world.

What content format is your travel blog mostly using and why?

It’s very ad-hoc, because it takes it’s cue from my life. So I will visit India and write a series of stories that inspire me, ranging from what to pack, to 10 things I want the world to know about India, to a story about yoga tourism.

How is your travel blog promoted on social media and which platforms attract best results?

I always share stories to Facebook and to Twitter at least 3 times. On Instagram, I post images of my trip in real-time, which generates interest, so that by the time I’m back home and my stories have been written, readers are interested to know more.

Can you share one failure that you have experienced running a travel blog and what lesson did you learn?

I have had failures where I might have over promised and not been able to deliver. Now I am very strict about the promises I make, and I make sure that they are promises I keep.

I also learned not to be too busy being a blogger to actually enjoy and experience the destination. You need to really feel a place to be able to write about it, so switch off while you’re there are soak it in.

Are you involved in any collaboration projects with other travel bloggers?

The #Stellenblog campaign is in collaboration with the iambassador collective. But because I am so interested in solo female travel, I am happy to work alone.

What is your pet peeve about travel blogging and why?

I think my pet peeve is bloggers who over-saturate. Sometimes it feels like they are just re-posting and re-purposing and their platform feels like a magazine. My personal opinion is that I read blogs because I am interested in the person, so I want them to keep their content personal.

Author: Muzi Mohale

Hi there, am your host and I blog about the tourism industry in South Africa. You're also welcome to contribute your expert content on matters affecting the industry. You can reach me on muzi[at]tourismedition.com

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