Unemployed? Consider a travel blog business

This blog post has been inspired by below email:

Mr Mohale,

I hope you are well. I really hope you can assist me with this little exercise I’m doing pertaining to the Lilizela Tourism Awards.

In a nutshell, I would like to know how we can make these awards more newsworthy and editorially relevant to your readers:

  1. Do you have any suggestions that you think would improve coverage of them?
  2. Is there anything you think we should do differently, to make the awards even more interesting for your viewers?
  3. Were there any gaps in information provision during the run up to, and delivery of the 2014 awards, for example?

I would be exceptionally grateful if you would take a few minutes to give me your opinions and feedback. We want to make Lilizela as easy to report on as possible. Hearing how to serve you best will enable us to do so.

My reply, was:

As you’re aware…I did not attend the ceremony.

However I’ll give input as I see things…

  1. The awards are more centered around accommodation and tour operators…this focus doesn’t inspire innovation at all. Tourism is so diverse, yet when it comes to awards…only two sectors of the industry always get the spotlight.
  2. Granted hotels make the core of the industry…however they’re suppliers to the hotel industry that make it blossom and they’re not celebrated.
  3. In order to promote innovation and direct new entrepreneurs to other sectors of the tourism industry…technology in tourism should get the spotlight it deserves. Technology plays a huge role in facilitating bookings, travellers from all over the world confirm bookings with tourism products they’ve never visited before because of technology. Many unemployed tech graduates could be self employed in day one if they’re exposed to the vast business opportunities that could be explored within the tourism industry.
  4. Booking engines such as www.sa-venues.com, www.safarinow.com, www.travelstart.co.za, www.travelground.com all sell hotel beds 24hours a day and drive new business to hotels all the time. All these service providers don’t own a hotel however their products showcases empty beds throughout the world and hotel owners smile to the bank.
  5. Such innovation could also be copied to other sectors of the tourism industry that currently don’t enjoy the same exposure…like train tickets, you currently cannot book a premier classe train outside their website.
  6. Many journalists are unemployed yet we don’t niche blogs on car rentals, airlines, restaurants, backpacking, adventure travel, camping etc etc etc.

Sorry for not answering your exact questions…that is my two cents worth of contribution.

Back to the topic at hand…South Africa has too many qualified university graduates idling at home or busy sending their cv’s to prospective employers. Its a known fact that the job market cannot absorb all current unemployed university graduates.

So an answer to the unemployment situation is to create your own employment and for South Africa to stop breeding job seekers, but encourage job creators.

For the sake of this blog post, I’ll focus on content creators…that is journalists. Tourism is massive with many sectors and above all it’s one flexible industry, which is easy to make a living through it. With the internet at centre stage for promoting tourism products, tourism brands are always on the lookout to showcase their products and services.

So the best and effective way to get on the bandwagon is to narrow your focus and produce content for one sector of the tourism industry. In that way your platform will become an authority in a short space of time because you’ll be the voice of the sector. Take for an example my blog

Take for an example my blog www.tourismedition.com is too general, it covers just about anything under the tourism industry and that doesn’t make my platform an authority because my content is not focused on one sector of tourism.

An unemployed journalist needs the following to start a travel blog…

  1. Internet access – prepaid broadband is affordable…cellc starts from R89 for 1.5GB.
  2. Laptop – they’re also affordable and you can get a used one on gumtree for less than R20,00
  3. A cellphone – who doesn’t have one?
  4. A digital camera – all smartphones have built-in cameras…however you’re free to get yourself a proper camera if you like.
  5. A website – www.wordpress.com and www.blogspot.com are free of charge…good for beginners, however with time you’ll have to upgrade to your own website with a unique domain name.

Breakdown of travel blog niches worth exploring:

Car Hire

We’ve an established car hire industry…however we don’t have independent niche blogs that cater to this profitable market.

Content creation here should not be a problem since you’ll be dealing with many car hire brands, highlighting all the pitfalls prospective travellers could avoid. Become the mouthpiece of unhappy travellers.

The car hire brands would greatly benefit from your blog which attracts targeted readership and that becomes easy for them to associate with your blog. In return you’ll charge premium for advertising revenue and also generate recurring referral commission.

Blog – http://www.carrentalbuddy.com.au/blog/

Camping

I’m a huge camping fan and from my travels I’ve discovered that black South Africans DON’T camp. My family is forever the odd one out at campsites and the ONLY time we come across other blacks camping is when attending music festivals such as Bushfire, SplashyFest and OppiKoppi.

Camping gear is expensive…I’ll not beat about the rush where rands and cents are concerned. However if you invest in proper quality camping gear you’ll save on accommodation expenses on your travels.

Content creating in this niche is galore…there is a multitude of camping brands with products for days.

The starting point would be to educate and inspire the wide untapped black community that doesn’t camp. Camping does not have an age limit…anyone who loves the outdoors is a potential client.

Blog – http://thecampsiteblog.com/

Airlines

South African has the biggest airport in the African continent…therefore OR Tambo International Airport is always abuzz with aircrafts coming and going. We also have a thriving low cost industry with its own unique challenges.

Why not become the authority blog exclusively focused on this industry and generate regular income with referral commission for every bookings your blog generates?

Blog – http://crankyflier.com/

Hotels

We have hotels in every corner of the country…from no star to five/six stars. These properties all provide a fertile ground for generating engaging content. The industry right now is reaching saturation level, yet more hotels are being established.

Hotel guests just love complaining…maybe you could also tap into that consumer affairs corner.

Again hotels offer offer recurring referral commission on bookings generated through your blog. Besides that, you could add a jobs board to list vacant hotel jobs or classifieds for hotels to sell unwanted items and charge a listing fee.

Blog – http://hotelmarketing.com/

Adventure

bungee jumping is not for everyone…however they’re diehard fans who travel the world to explore adventure activities in each country they visit. Your role would be to highlight all the offerings found throughout the country.

In most cases these adventure activities are offered by hotels or next to hotels…so it becomes easy to generate referral commission on bookings.

Blog – http://expertvagabond.com/

Rail

The Blue Train and Rovos Rail are for the well heeled, however we’ve the Premier Classes which is not too far off with their offering which is affordable to the masses. Now this is a gig you would tap into and showcase what South Africa has to offer in turns of hotels on wheels to the rest of the world.

The market is there…though not massive.

Blog – http://www.raileurope.com

Restaurants

Who doesn’t eat? Just like hotels…the sky is a limit with this sector of the industry, content ideas are endless.  South Africa is blessed with restaurants of all sorts accommodating all budgets. From fast foods to fine dining establishments, we’ve it all.

I love fine food and though am yet to discover Cape Town, am aware that the wine route is the home of fine dining in South Africa.

You can include a jobs board to list vacant jobs from restaurants around the country, include a directory where eateries list their establishments for a yearly fee. Run a daily deals offering and promote restaurant specials. Run an events calendar and charge a listing fee to promote forthcoming restaurant events.

Blog – http://www.andyhayler.com/

4×4 Vehicles

All popular car brands…have their 4X4s which are used for travelling. In December we drove from Johannesburg to Swakopmund…we were driving a sedan and came across loads of Toyota Fortuners from Johannesburg. Car brands will be happy to associate with your blog to showcase their vehicles.

This is a good niche for petrol heads who love cars and exploring them. You’ll get to test drive cars and give your honest reviews and tips. Such a platform would be patronised by both vehicle brands and prospective vehicle owners.

Blog – http://www.fourwheeler.com/

Backpacking

Backpacking is well established in South Africa, just like camping…however it’s not popular within the black community. After camping, backpacking is the cheapest way of travelling without breaking the bank. Backpacking hostels are spread throughout the country, though Cape Town enjoys the most concentration.

Showcasing this industry in detail is where the opportunity currently exist…travel bloggers get to highlight a backpacking facility only once they’ve overnight there, however we don’t have a dedicated backpacking blog solely created to celebrate the industry.

Blog – http://gobackpacking.com/

travel photo

Photo by Sean MacEntee

Game Parks

South Africa is well endowed with game reserves, from those owned and managed by the government to privately owned. In general government game reserves are cheaper compared to privately owned. By cheap…I’m referring entry fees and game drives. While privately owned and managed game reserves cater to the well-heeled traveller, their offering tends to be worth the price charged…since the wildlife is aplenty and facilities are premium as well.

Be prepared to run the course…Rome wasn’t built in a day. Give yourself six months of regular content generation without an income. Look at the bigger picture and not overnight success. Once your blog starts getting traction with readers, it becomes easy to start thinking of ways to monetise your website and they’re multiple ways to be explored.

Blog – http://travel4wildlife.com/

Ways to make money from your travel blog:

  1. Selling advertising spot – its the best known and practiced way of making money from a blog…however it’s not the best paying one.
  2. Affiliate marketing – promoting travel products/brands in return for referral commission on every booking generated from your blog.
  3. Jobs board, directory, classifieds – with all these methods, you charge users a listing fee…which is attractive since their ads will expire overtime and charge again.
  4. Selling your skill – you may use your blogging skills and write on their behalf wherever you’re commissioned.
  5. Create own product – you can create ebooks, branded t-shirts and related merchandise for a profit.
  6. Host industry events – you may host annual branded events and sell tickets.

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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