Kerwin’s Korner: March 2014 – My Monthly Activity Report

Kerwin's Korner March 2014I’ve been meaning to start this for sometime now, but have not. Initially, I wanted it to be a Monthly Income Report, but I think a Monthly Activity Report works for now and will see where it heads. Maybe you’ll hate it and see no value in it and thus I’ll stop doing it or you’ll love it and want more. Let me know what you think though by leaving a comment below after you’ve read it, but only after you’ve read it. The goal is to inspire and stimulate you, so here goes.

Business Cards

Business Card May 2014I’m fresh out of business cards, so I made slight modifications and ordered new cards. This is my fifth iteration now. I keep making changes as my business model changes and I receive feedback. When I hand someone my card, I watch their reaction and listen carefully if they have any comments. Once I handed someone my card and they asked me what is my name. A clear sign that my name was not prominent enough. I fixed that as quickly as possible and dumped those cards. You have to be observant and adapt to feedback quickly. I use Vistaprint for all my cards.

Conferences

I’m very big on conferences so I tend to plan my stays with friends around that time. I get to see my friends and spend time with their families. A win-win for all involved. It’s fun being a nomad in that respect. Here are my conferences for March 2014.

New York Times Travel Show

Models at Atlantic City, NJ booth at Times Travel ShowI decided to hang out with one of my high school friends who live in the Bronx around this time. It’s always fun hanging with them and seeing my godsons as well. I can’t go to New York and not visit.

You can always apply for a Press pass for this event. If you qualify, there is no charge. The event brings together DMOs from mostly the Caribbean and local U.S. This year, Atlantic City, NJ had a large presence with their DOAC promotion. One cool event was a better form of speed dating. This allowed the DMOs to come to our tables and talk with us. As such, I was able to talk with several of them within an hour and a half (Barbados, Cayman Islands, Curaçao, Martinique and the USVI). These are now excellent contacts and will serve as great information for my readership.

It was freezing cold during this New York visit, but I took time out to do a Walks of New York walk with Jeff Dobbins. I had not realized that I knew so little about New York, even though I lived there for about six years or so until I did this walk. My favorite part of the walk was the visit to Grand Central station plus an inside look at the being renovated St. Patrick’s Cathedral. If you are in New York, I highly recommend it.

Blogger Match up in Asia

I had signed up for this new service to be able to get in touch with DMOs from the Asia side of things. I have readers always asking about this part of the world so I need to develop contacts and become proficient. I had signed up and totally forgotten about it. I did receive an invite to fill out the forms to qualify for attendance, but totally missed the “you are invited to apply” email. Once I saw it, I quickly filled it out and am now awaiting a response.

If you want to sign up for Blogger Match Up program, head over to http://bloggermatchup.com/sign-up/.

ProBlogger Event

Welcome to Pro Blogger 2013I think, that this is one of the most hotly contested blogger conference tickets ever. Typically, within minutes of being available they disappear. For 2014, I missed the first offering as I was out of money, but was able to catch the second wave. No idea how I’m getting to Gold Coast, Australia just yet, but I’ll figure it out. Last year I got a great deal flying on Delta and booking a hotel together and may try that again this year. The year before, I just could not find anything that was worthwhile, but I did buy the virtual ticket so enjoyed the content. I got frequent flyer miles for the trip and also got upgrade to Business Class on the Sydney to Los Angeles, CA segment on the way back. It helped that I was already Gold Medallion status on Delta Airlines too.

Besides the obvious, networking, one great thing about this conference is that you get to apply for press trips setup by Queensland Tourism. I attended last year and was able to do one of the trips. I had a chance to explore the Gold Coast area, visiting attraction such as Warner Brothers Movie World, Paradise Jet Boating and the Tamborine Rainforest Skywalk as well as cycling along the beach then having breakfast at one of the local places. I now have great information for my readers who want to visit the Gold Coast area.

This year is no exception and you can see what they are offering here. Even if I don’t get one of the slots, I now have some great ideas of trips to do for myself and to suggest to my readers, plus I now have the great resource of the Tourism office. Either way I win in my book.

It’s too late for this year, unless someone cancels for the event, which does happen. You can keep an eye out for any extra tickets here. Oh, Darren provides a virtual ticket, so you can hear all the presentations. They are not live, but almost live. Somehow he manages to upload the audio and sometimes the presentations within hours after they are presented. You have to purchase a virtual ticket though to make this happen when they become available closer to the event.

ITB

ITB 2014 in BerlinI journeyed to Berlin, Germany to visit two friends who live in the city and also took the opportunity to visit the ITB Berlin Show. It’s fun being a nomad with friends worldwide. This turned out to be a very productive conference, I met two key contacts that I’ve wanted for a while and ran into random people plus rekindled friendships with other travel bloggers as well as meeting new travel bloggers.

I did also stay at the  Wombats City Hostel so I could check it out having heard about it from a fellow travel blogger. The hostel is well run, clean and has ensuite rooms (toilet and showers in the room). I too would recommend this joint.

Medical Insurance

As I do not have medical insurance, I have to sign up by March 31, 2014, so I did just in the nick of time. I still have to call back and complete the application as the systems were down. I actually have travel insurance which does cover medical as long as I’m 100 miles or more from Houston.

Monetization – Affiliate Signups

This is my month of signing up for affiliates. Well all my months will be checking out affiliates. This is a great way to fund your blogging ventures. This month was pretty tough. Here’s what happened:

I got this notice from Mad Ads Media Network after submitting an application on Feb. 26, 2014. Looks like I have a lot of work to do.

We regret to inform you, but we’re unable to accept your site into the Mad Ads Media network at this time.

Reason:
Unfortunately at this time, this site fails to meet our traffic requirements. You are encouraged to reapply when the site reaches an 800k Alexa rank. 

We encourage you to make the required changes and to submit your site for approval again.

Thank You,
MadAdsMedia.com Publisher Team

Linkoffers.com

I signed up with Linkoffers.com which is a service that allows you to chose credit card offers. It’s a very tough approval process that is based on the content on your site as well as the traffic. Hopefully I’ll get approved. I signed up for this service as my audience is a travel audience and I tell them how to get miles from credit card offers.

Avangate Affiliate program

Screenflow by TeleStreamI signed up with this company as they host the affiliate program for Screenflow for the Mac from Telestream. This piece of software allow you to record your screen as well as edit videos. I use it to edit my travel videos as well as create instructional videos for travelblogger101.com as well as showing travelers how to do something. Check out Screenflow.

Madmimi

Mad Mimi Email MarketingThis is yet another email marketing tool; yes there are many of these. I’ve not used Mad Mimi, but in looking at it, its another alternative on the low end of the scale. It starts out at $10/month and goes up from there. Aweber is $19/month for 500 subscribers and then it scales up from there. You can try Aweber, which is what I use, you can try it for $1 for the first month.

LinkVehicle

LinkVehicle is an affiliate network to earn money for your blog. I met these guys in Las Vegas at NMX and signed up then. I only got approved this month. I’ve not started using them as yet, but will check them out and advise. You enter information about what you would like to promote and what you will charge. They then go find advertisers that want to reach your audience and pay what you are asking.

Expedia Affiliate Network (EAN)

This is like having a complete booking engine on your site. The back engine is from Expedia.com. You also have options to change the colors so it matches your site. This is good to make money if you are trying to get your users to use your systems to book flights, cars and hotels, plus attractions.

LeadPages Affiliate program

This is a cool piece of software. I use it to create my offer pages. I’ve had it for almost a year now and love it. They have varying levels of sign up to meet your budget. The good thing is that you can easily create your pages without having to hire a programmer. The pages are very appealing as well. You can see a page I’m setting up here for a new project. Check out Leadpages.net for more details.

Affiliate Window Affiliate

This is the company has several affiliate programs. To keep out people who are not serious they have you pay 5 USD up front on applying, but that is credit to your account once approved. I had mixed feelings about this at first, but they had an advertiser whom I wanted to work with; Virgin Trains, so I signed up. If they have an advertiser that you want to use, you can sign up here as well.

Virgin Trains

They are handled by Affiliate Window, hence the reason for signing up. I’m starting to provide more content for my readers and ground travel is one of them. As such, I’m signing up with the different train services to make this happen. I’ve actually taken Virgin Trains before and love their service, so this works for me.

Affilinet

I signed up with this company as Deutsche Bahn uses them to manage their affilaite program. This vendor ties in with my offerings for train information for my readers. Check them out here.

Running for Office

I was nominated for a position with the Professional Travel Bloggers Association and I accepted the nomination as I know I can help to enhance our profession.

Outsourcing

Elance.comI have a current developer, but he’s gone missing. I do need to continue providing functionality for my users especially with new partners, so I placed an ad on elance.com and Odesk.com for an API programmer. I’ve not yet hired someone, but will do that soon. I highly recommend that you outsource the things that are repetitive and that you are not an expert. This frees you up to do the things that works best for you.

Pitches

Fellow travel blogger, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom from geotraveler’s niche, has inspired me to document my pitches. She does a great job here. From conferences, referrals, etc. I sent out twenty-five pitches. This is a combination of hotels, tourist boards and reservation systems. You really have to do pitches, otherwise your business will not grow. Afterall, you do have to keep the lights on, right? The pitches were to people I met face to face as well as those to whom I was referred. Each month, I will endeavor to give you a good idea of what I’ve done in this realm. Here are the stats:

25 Pitches sent

8 responses received
2 – success; one granted me access to the system I needed, the other sent additional information requested
1 – success; will contact me once project is ready
1 – Works with bloggers from a specific country only
2 – Reviewing my proposal; awaiting decision
2 – Waiting for me to setup a time to talk with them (ArrivalGuides.com and Sixt.com)

17 – Awaiting a response
17 – followups sent

Tools

SimplyMeasured.com

I subscribe to Ian Cleary’s blog Razorsocial.com as its chock full of really good social media marketing content. I’ve also met Ian on to separate occasions and the guy is really an inspiration, plus he really knows social media. I recommend checking out his stuff. He mentioned a few tools in one of this newsletters and and one of them Simplymeasured.com, is pretty good. There is a 14-day free trial so you can see if it matches your needs otherwise its $500/month; pricey, but it depends on how you value what you want to measure and what additional business that can bring you. I tested out a few of the reports and loved them; no money to subscribe at this moment though.

WebinarJam

This is a tool that competes with a few other online streaming tools. It uses Google Hangout as its backend. I will check it out and see what gives. I had bought MeetingBurner about a year ago, but its not working out for me, so I’m dropping it. My aim is to use this software to hold live events with my readers where we can talk about a destination, share ideas, tips, etc. Plus it can then replay the broadcast at the reader’s convenience. So check out WebinarJam and see if it will help you in your travel blogger business.

Blogging Finances

I’m a big fan of Pat Flynn over at SmartPassiveIncome.com. He has solid information and is actually a great person in person; met him a few few times at blogging conferences. He’s create a new podcast called AskPat where you can ask him questions about blogging. It actually inspired me to finally implement my AskKerwin.com service where users can ask me travel questions. So watch out for that. Well, he had an offer to try Freshbooks for 60 days instead of the normal 30 days. So I took him up on it as I’m still looking for something to keep track of the books. I think the offer has changed now as its just for 30 days without entering a credit card, so still a good deal. Hop over to AskPat.com.

Flew Norwegian Air

Norwegian Air Boeing 787-8 nose in OSLOn my way back from Berlin, I had the pleasure of flying Norwegian Air from Berlin-Schonenfeld (SXF) to Oslo, Norway (OSL) and then onto Fort Lauderdale, Fl (FLL). This flight was a great price at just under $300. You do have to pay for your bag and food, but even with that you can’t beat the price to cross the Atlantic. Especially when you cross in a new Boeing 787-8. Check them out at Norwegian.com.

casey zeman building your audience with live vide 3/18

Sixt contacts

At ITB, I was able to get a brochure that has contact information for Sixt sales and marketing teams worldwide. If you are interested in working with Sixt, please let me know the country via email and I can send you the contact information for that representative.

myDriver.com

myDriver BWM and Chauffeur in Berlin, GermanyWhile visiting ITB, I met the folks from myDriver. This is a division of Sixt that offers three types of luxury cars (Mercedes, BWM and Audi) for local ground transportation. Berlin is one of the cities they serve, so I decided to test it out. Besides they gave me a 25 EUR certificate to try them. My trip from my friend’s house to the Berlin-Schonenfeld airport was abut 34 EUR, but the drive was sweet as I was picked up in a BMW 520d and had my personal chauffeur. I actually took a local train to a stop that was closer to the airport in order to minimize the cost and that worked well. The car had magazines, a charging unit for my phone and two bottles of water. The drive was polite and ontime. Plus, he gave me a 10 EUR coupon to use for my next trip. I highly recommend using them if you are in one of the cities they serve.

March 2014 Expenses

ItemAmountType
FounderFly (emarketing course)9.95Monthly
Payloadz (ebook distribution/hosting)14.95Monthly
Hostgator (Website Hosting)15.94Monthly
Hostgator (Website Hosting)15.94Monthly
Hostgator (Website Hosting)15.94Monthly
Lujure Media (Facebook Page)15.00Monthly
Wishlist (Membership site software)20.00Monthly
Outsourcing27.00
Meeting Burner (streaming service)39.95Monthly
Reel Marketing Insider (Video Marketing Course)49.00Monthly
Aweber (email marketing software)69.00Monthly
T-Mobile (phone service)82.16Monthly
Sub Total374.83
Webinar Software297.00One time
Problogger Event358.42One time
Sub Total755.42
Grand Total1,130.25

March 2014 Income

ItemAmountDescription
Amazon Royalties9.80Kindle Books
Passrider Series - How To Book Hotels in London, England9.36Ebook
Membership Site89.52
Total108.68
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