Blogs have gone way beyond being just a platform for self involved people to share uninteresting details of their mundane everyday life. Although there a plenty of these types of ‘journal’ around, the whole focus of blogging has changed. Businesses and entrepreneurs are using the blogging medium to promote their products and services to a massive audience.
How to use a blog to promote your vacation rental
Blogs are dynamic. This means that, unlike a website that remains static once you have got it up and running, a blog is updated regularly. There is always new content for readers to see. With a traditional website it may be costly to keep making changes each time you buy a new appliance for the cottage or take new photos; a blog is free to add to, and keep fresh. Once you begin to get visitors, they will keep coming back for more, to see what you have added and to find out what they can do on their vacation at your cottage.
You can promote local festivals, restaurants, day trip ideas, provincial parks, area attractions – in short, anything that might motivate people to come to your vacation home.
Use the blog to write short, descriptive posts about places to go and things to see in the area. Just to give you an idea, my cottage is in Eastern Ontario – in a quiet, rural area. However, within two hours of the cottage there are lots of things to do, see and experience. I just spent 10 minutes and came up with a list of things I could write about:
- A new restaurant that just opened
- A craft show or arts tour
- What’s on at the local Theatre
- Local hiking trails
- Fishing on the lake
- Best buys at the yummy bakery in the nearby town
- Music festivals
- Winter festivals
- Waterfront concerts in the local town
- Interesting Museums
- Provincial Parks in the area
- Caves and mines to visit
- Local factory outlets
- Best canoe routes from the cottage
- Local cheese factory
- Flea Market
- Wine tours in the area
- Where to take float plane trip
- Where to take a river boat or cruise
- Sugarbush festival
- Thanksgiving Fairs
- Cross country ski trails
- Farmer’s Markets
- Restaurant reviews – one for each month
- Bicycle tours
- Snowmobile trails
- Geocaching in the area
- Nature watch around the cottage
- Horse riding
- Cruise nights
- Agricultural fairs
- Military museums
- Where to watch ice hockey
- Where to ice fish
- Local breweries and wineries
- Nearby public beaches
- Santa Claus parades
- Where best to see fall colours
- Best places to take photographs
- Rodeos and stampedes
- Boat rental
- A monthly day trip giving a route and directions outlining places of interest
Including the 12 restaurant reviews I’ve got enough for at least one post a week, and could easily think of another 40 or so topics just on stuff in the local area. Then add a post or two each week talking about the cottage itself; a few book reviews; my favourite cottage recipes; traditional cottage games, and some photo posts and I’ve got a year’s worth of content.
Alison Meacham from Florida Vacation Rentals has a great blog about her villa rentals and all things Disney. Take a look and get an idea of the type of things she writes about. Alison has also created static pages where she can describe her villa and include photos.
So, where do you start? Building a blog with good content – enough of it so people will visit and spend some time reading – takes time and a bit of effort. But, it can be completely free, or involve minimal expense. I’m quite a newbie at blogs myself so will not attempt to do a beginners guide here; there are plenty out there on the web already. Here’s two I think offer a good foundation:
Robin Good’s How to Blog – A Beginners Blog Publishing Guide
A no-nonsense and straightforward article on blogging, that includes lots of links to other useful resources.
Problogger’s Blogging Tips for Beginners
Darren Rowse of Problogger is probably the top dog when it comes to writing for beginners and provides a no-nonsense guide to setting up and maintaining a blog.
While you are learning all about this new medium you will come across the word ‘monetizing’. This means doing all you can to make money from your blog. It could be by including Google Ads; reviewing books you like using an Amazon affiliate programme; even writing and selling an ebook on your site. I will come back to this in a later post.
I’m thinking of starting a new blog for my cottage. Having generated the list of things I could write about, it seems a no-brainer to get this up and running and see just how much additional traffic and interest it gets for the cottage. I have been a bit reluctant before as we have no problem finding guests to rent it, but there are a few months in the year that present a few challenges, so it might just be worthwhile. I’ll call it the Osprey Experiment – for Osprey Cottage – and keep you updated on how it’s going.
In the meantime, why not give this a whirl. If nothing else, it’ll bring you up to speed on what’s going on in the world of social media. Let me know how you get on.