Before I went to Australia, I had the distinct impression I knew what a thong was. And it was certainly not something you expected to get free with the purchase of a t-shirt. Not as a bloke anyway. After my year of Australian shenanigans though, I was comfortable with the thought of a thong being something you slung around your foot rather than a piece of floss for your nether regions.
Imagine my surprise therefore when I went over the pond from Australia to New Zealand, to learn that the Kiwis have a whole other word for foot apparel besides thong, that being the Jandal. Which circuitously allows me to introduce today’s jandal flaunting interview subjects, Cole and Adela of Four Jandals.
Hailing, you’ve guessed it, from New Zealand, Cole and Adela are big into adventure travel. Doing insane things in the name of fun is, after all, what Kiwis do. Today they’re sharing their travel blogging story, and tips for success. Enjoy!
Hello Cole and Adela! Tell us a bit about yourselves and your jandal wearing adventures!
We are New Zealand's travel blogging couple and have been travelling the world with our trusty jandals (Kiwi slang for flip flops) for the last 3 years. We provide travel tips, advice and adventure stories for backpacking couples who are about to travel the world themselves.
Why did you first start writing a travel blog?
We actually started a traditional notebook travel diary when we drove 18,000 km across Canada and USA. We wanted to keep our parents updated on our travels so started writing online and it has grown from there.
What are your dreams for your blog?
Cole has just started to work on the blog full time and so we are really excited to see what happens over the next 6 months as he can commit more time to it. We would love to be one of the leading online resources for travelling couples who are searching for travel tips to help out their own adventures.
What has been the best thing about having a travel blog?
I think in years to come we are going to really appreciate having the blog to look back at our own travel adventures. It's quite hard to keep track of where you have been, who you have met and what wild adventures we got up to. Having the blog gives us a place to remember these for ourselves.
Do you follow any metrics in terms of traffic analysis / site ranking, and how important do you think these are?
Until about 2 months ago we were checking google analytics on a daily basis. Now its only about once a week just to see where our traffic comes from so that we can focus on that area if it proves worthwhile. Would love to understand a lot more about what actually works but this comes with a lot more investment.
Which social networks are you active on, and what tips would you give for success on these?
We are really active on Twitter, our Facebook page and more recently Instagram. The key is to make it really personal and post a lot. It seems that the more we do the higher our interaction is which makes sense. There probably is a point of over-saturation but I don't think we are there yet.
What other techniques have you used to improve your traffic, and how successful have these been?
Haven't really tried anything out of the ordinary apart from trying to connect with like minded travel bloggers. The key to our recent growth (tripling of traffic in the last couple of months) has been through networking. We have met some amazing bloggers through press trips, conferences and through social media which has given our blog a lot more exposure.
You (Cole) recently undertook to focus on the blog and social media full time. What's that all about?
After only 3 months of running the blog I quickly realised that this is what I want to do full time. Since then I have had to work a full time job plus do the blog. It was killing our travels and even mine and Adelas relationship. So when we started travelling again this summer in Europe we decided that I would work full time on the blog and see where it takes us. Really looking forward to investing a full working week on the blog!
How do you split the work of running a travel blog between the two of you?
We really don't have any systems in place but are quickly realising that we need to. Up till now Cole has done all the social media and most of the writing while Adela has helped write posts and network with PR, bloggers and advertisers. Now that Cole is working full time we will reassess how we do it all and hopefully sort out a proper system!
What have you found to be the hardest thing about running a travel blog, and how do you overcome this?
Sitting down at the end of a hard day of travelling and turning on the computer is a killer. All we want to do is sleep or read a book, instead we do social media, emails and write posts. A lot of sleepless hours and testing times have led us to the success we have seen lately.
If you started your blog today, what would you differently?
Honestly, not sure that I would change anything. It has been a huge learning curve but by doing things wrong (like we still do) it has helped us see what works and what doesn't. Every blog is different because it is the personality of the bloggers that creates the stories. So what works for one person won't always work for another. Just find your voice and stick at it. Hard work and sacrifices are the only way to success in this cutthroat business of blogging.
Does your blog generate any form of income, and if so, how did you achieve this?
We get a bit of money through advertisers who have approached us. Hopefully it is going to be enough for us to pay our bills but we have a few ideas how we will generate income in the future such as consulting and creating eBooks.
If you have questions or problems with your site, where do you go to find answers?
We usually jump onto the Global Bloggers Network or Business of Blogging Facebook groups with our questions. Someone somewhere has usually suffered the same problem so we can usually get a quick response. The only problem is that lately there has been a lot of bitchiness in those groups so we have contributed less and less. I can't understand why we don't all help each other out more but I guess when you run your blog as a business it is bound to happen as everyone is competing against one another!
Travel blogging is becoming more and more popular. How do you differentiate yourself in such a crowded market?
Great question and unfortunately we don't have an answer. The only thing we do differently to other blogs is that we write ours. I guess people are interested enough to keep reading but it honestly surprises me when people say they have read the blog and love it.
And finally, what key advice would you give to people running, or thinking about setting up, their own travel blog?
Do it straight away but only write it for yourself to record your travels. If success or opportunities come out of it then grab them with both hands and run with it. Lastly, as everyone always says, don't get into blogging to make money it is the wrong reason.
Massive thanks to Cole and Adela for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’ve got any further questions for them, feel free to pop them in the comments below. Otherwise, don’t forget to check out their adventure travel blog, follow them on Twitter, and like their Facebook page!