Social Media & Blogging Advice

How I Can Afford to Travel

by Drew on June 28, 2015 51 comments

The single most popular question I get from my followers is:

“How can you afford to travel?”

And I’ve literally written thousands of emails, tweets and Instagram responses, all giving the exact same answers to this question.

No, I am not rich. No, I don’t have rich parents. And no, I don’t have a huge savings account.

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DrewHow I Can Afford to Travel

Why You Need to Get on Snapchat Right Now

by Drew on June 12, 2015 6 comments

I’ve been using Snapchat for the last 3 years.  

In fact, I downloaded the app in 2012, when I was still in college, around the time when it originally launched.  Over the years, I primarily used Snapchat to send fun photos/videos to my immediate friends – and nothing else.

But that all changed about 2 months ago, when I was on a backpacking trip around India.

I remember exactly where I was when the lightbulb went off in my head — when I realized that I could build a following on Snapchat from all over the world.  I was in Jaisalmer, India on the rooftop of my hotel.  I was actually sitting in this exact spot, inside a 900 year old fort:

rsz_screen_shot_2015-06-10_at_31114_pm

Since that lightbulb went off in my head, I have been putting 90% of my social media time into building up my Snapchat following.  And it has significantly paid off, already.  And I’m just getting the ball rolling.

To all my travel blogger friends reading this– My main message in this post is this: GET ON SNAPCHAT RIGHT NOW.

With 100 million active users, Snapchat was the fastest growing application of 2014 (via Tech Crunch), and is poised to have a much bigger year in 2015.

There is a also a massive Snapchat advertisement that I just saw in the middle of Times Square, so if that doesn’t scream to you that it’s going to be the next big thing, then I don’t know what else will.

These days, I’m getting between 1 and 1.5 thousand people that view every single snap that I put on my Story. And my followers are growing at an average rate of 20-30 new faces everyday.

I am seeing higher engagement from my Snapchat than any other social media that I use.

On any given day, I am getting 10-15 snaps from random people who ask me travel questions, say hello, or tell me how I’ve inspired them to travel.

This way of connecting with people is more interactive than through Instagram posts, or by Tweeting something at me. Why? Because I can see their face in the photo or video, and it is sent immediately to my phone.   I’ve never felt such a real connection with my audience until now.

Here are a few examples of the Snaps that I get on a daily basis:

Note- In order for random people to send you Snapchats,  you must go into your settings and choose the option “Everyone can send me Snaps.”

Snapchat 1

Snapchat 2

If you’re a newbie to Snapchat, or have no clue how the app words, here is a brief breakdown: (or see this blog post for a more detailed description) 

Snapchat is a photo messaging application, where users can take photos and videos (called snaps) and send them to a controlled audience.

The app works in two ways – either the user can send a snap to their close friends (like a text message), but the snap will disappear forever after the recipient opens it. OR, the user can upload a snap to their Snap Story, which can be viewed by any random followers for exactly 24 hours after they post it.

For building a following on Snapchat, it is essential that you utilize the Snap Story.

On any snap that you take, you are allowed to draw pictures with your finger on the screen, type words up to 35 characters, and/or use fun emojis.  That’s only if you choose to do so, otherwise you can just send a normal photo/video.

The thing that sets Snapchat apart from other big social media platforms (like FB, TW, IG and Pin) — is that Snapchat offers complete privacy. There is no sharing, liking or commenting.

In other words, your Mom, your uncle Ted and your Great Aunt Sharon can’t see what you’re sending or viewing on Snapchat.

And believe it or not, Snapchat is the closest thing to communicating in real life. Just think about it, when you finish a conversation in real life, the information that you discussed is gone forever. But what happened still remains in your head as memories.

Snapchat is bound to grow exponentially in the coming months, and I highly recommend you start using it right now.

How I am using Snapchat:

On my Snap Story, I basically document my daily life and travels around the world.  I try to post anywhere from 10-15 photos/videos throughout the day.  I share anything that I think is interesting, and I also encourage others to snap me back with their reactions and/or travel questions. I try to keep it fun and entertaining.

Here is a snap that I sent in India:

Every now and then, I play interactive games with my audience.  Like this one time time, in India, I offered to send a gift card to the 17th person who Snapped me back. That game turned out to be a huge success, and I actually sent the winner a postcard (she was in Germany).

Also, I’ve made Snap Stories, asking people “Where in the world are you? Snap me back!”  I encouraged others to respond with their location, and I received an overwhelming 300+ snaps from people all over the world within 24 hours.  I managed to featured about 100 of them on my Snapchat Story for everyone to see.

Check out that story below!

This specific Snap Story was a incredible, and I got dozens of responses from people who were thrilled to be featured in my story.

Another reason why I love Snapchat so much is because it brings out my personality a lot more as opposed to other social medias like Instagram (which is just sharing photos) and twitter (which is just sharing 160 characters).

I almost like to think of my Snap Story as hosting my own Travel TV show, where my viewers are tuning in from all over the world and traveling with me “behind the scenes” directly on their phones screens.  It’s awesome!

Here is another example of my Snap Story when I was touring around the Taj Mahal in India:

How to build a following

Snapchat is a very difficult platform to build a following, because there is no sharing, liking, commenting, or discovering new users. The only way for someone to add you is to manually add your username.

Before you start building a following, I recommend following other influencers in the travel space (or just influencers in general) to see what they are doing and familiarize yourself with how the app works.

Check out this website called Snapstars.net to see a list of the biggest influencers and their Snap Stories!

With that being said, here are a few strategies for how I’ve built a following on Snapchat (in order with #1 being the most useful)

1. Use your current social media following 

In the description of your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram profiles, write a call-to-action like “Travel with me on Snapchat @yourname.

On every Instagram post I make, I write “travel with me on Snapchat @drewbinsky” in the Location bar, and I also write a call-to-action in the description of my actual post like “Come travel London with me on Snapchat!”

On Twitter, I usually tweet out something like “Follow me on Snapchat today as I will be doing _______.”  I try to tweet this a few times per week.

On Facebook, every so often, I make a post about following me on Snapchat as well.

Utilizing your current following on your already existing social media networks should be the first thing that you do to grow your Snapchat following.

2. Tell people in person

Are you with someone?  Your friends? Acquaintances? Random people that you meet at a bar?  Tell them to add you on Snapchat, and they can easily follow you around the world!

There is a cool trick to do this.  Open up Snapchat to the home screen, and you’ll notice the Snapchat logo (a white ghost) with a bunch of black dots in the background.  That is your unique code, so someone can instantly add you if they open up their Snapchat camara and put it over the code.

Here is my code.  You can try it with me to see how it works.  Just open up Snapchat, go to the camara, and put it over the white ghost. BOOM.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 4.48.48 PM

3. Get featured on big publications

I wrote a few articles about Snapchat and sent them to as many big publications as I could find.  The first one that picked up my article was Thought Catalog, and I gained at least 300 new followers from it.

I am in the process of writing another article about Snapchat for Tnooz, explaining how travel companies can market themselves on the platform.

4. Use Reddit

I’ve never experimented with Reddit, but it is extremely powerful.  It is a platform built for content to go viral.  Since I don’t already have an established profile on Reddit, I found users on fiverr.com andp aid them $5 to link my article.  This got me about 100 new followers.

Final Words

If you keep working hard to build a following, then your momentum will grow and you’ll start to see your followers increase everyday.   And eventually, if you keep sharing cool stuff, then people will tell their friends about you and your Snapchat will just spread by word of mouth.

Actually, just this morning, someone random sent me this Snapchat.  I guess I was just featured on a news outlet in Denmark! Can anyone read Danish and translate this for me?

IMG_1567

Thanks for reading, and I wish you the best of luck! Let me know if you have any questions, and don’t forget to follow my Snapchat @drewbinsky 🙂 

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DrewWhy You Need to Get on Snapchat Right Now

Snapchat 101: Marketing for Bloggers & Businesses

by Drew on April 7, 2015 59 comments

**This blog post is a complete guide for how to market yourself, how to build a following and why it’s so important to get on Snapchat right now.  Over the last 3 days, I’ve spent a combined 17 hours writing and editing this 5,500 word article using very poor wifi in India.  That’s how determined I was to get this fresh content out for you to see.  This was a much bigger post than I anticipated, but that’s okay because I am delighted to share my knowledge with you all.  In return, I will kindly ask for you to share this with anyone who you think may find it useful and comment with your thoughts/questions below. Also, feel free to follow me @drewbinsky. Thank you 🙂

Snapchat 101: Marketing for Bloggers & Businesses

This article is broken up into the following 12 sections:

1) Introduction
2) What is Snapchat?
3) Snapchat Facts
4) Why is it so Effective?
5) Snap “Chats” vs. Snap “Stories” vs. “Live Events”
6) Why Snap “Stories” are Key Marketing for Bloggers
7) Why Live Events are Key Marketing for Businesses
8) How is Snapchat Different than FB, TW and IG?
9) Why Should I use Snapchat?
10) My Own Story: How I got Started
11) What’s the Future for Snapchat?
12) How to Get Started?
13) 7 Tips for Building a Following 

1) Introduction

You know how people can become Insta-famous these days? Or become a Youtube Sensation?

Well pretty soon, you’ll be adding the word “Snapchat Star” to your vocabulary because that’s where the future is heading with this revolutionary app. (Yes, I just coined the phrase “Snapchat Star” and I will take full credibility for it in the future 😉

100 million.

That’s the number of active monthly users that Snapchat has. Among these 100+ million users, a total of 700+ million snaps are sent every single day.  This number is on pace to reach one billion this month.

Welcome to the year 2015. A year where millennials are turning one year older, getting one year smarter, and becoming one step closer to connecting the world together.

It’s obvious to admit that my generation – us millenials (people born between 1980-2000) are completely hooked on social media. We are obsessed with sharing our life experiences with our friends, just as much as we enjoy stalking the hell out every acquaintance we make in our lives. Did you know that one out of every 4 pageviews on the internet is on Facebook? (cite)

Smartphones are the future.

We live in a time in history when many people spend more time looking at their iPhones screens then at their loved ones. We can’t go out to dinner without “checking in” on Facebook, or Instagramming a photo of our food, or using an obnoxious number of #hashtags to #Tweet about our #epic #sushi #dinner. #yummy. #sushioverload.

We are always on our phones.  If we doing have our phone in our pocket, in our purse, or next to our bed for a few hours, then we get anxious.  Maybe it’s just me more than others, but I can guarantee that most of you reading this are the same way.

Over 22% of the global population has a smartphone (resource).  In America, that number is above 64% (cite).  Both you and I know that mobile devices are slowly replacing our big computer screens. It’s happening, and it’s happening fast.

Just last year was the first time in the internet’s history that more online webpages were viewed on mobile devices than PCs (searchenginewatch.com).

When I launched my travel blog in late 2013, I was getting just 34% of my monthly visits from a mobile device. Now that number has increased to 55% in less than 2 years. Can you imagine what it will be like in the next 2 years? 75%?

In addition, other popular social media networks are getting more and more usage from mobile devices. As of February 2015, Facebook brings in 68% of it’s traffic on a mobile device, Twitter is at 86% and Pinterest is a whopping 92%.

And then, there are the Social networks that ONLY run on mobile devices, such as Instagram and Vine.   These mobile-based social media applications are becoming the future for how we connect with each other and share our experiences.

Here is a graph of this courtesy of Mashable.com

And now, there’s one more application to add into the equation. Let me introduce to you Snapchat – the fastest growing phone application of 2014 (via Tech Crunch). It’s insanely addicting, amusing and downright fun.

In my eyes, Snapchat is the most revolutionary app that we’ve seen in history, and its user base is growing bigger and more loyal by the minute.

The best part is that it’s still in the beginning stages for marketing purposes, so now is the best time to capitalize and start building a following before it becomes too commercialized.

2) What Exactly is Snapchat?

Snapchat is a photo messaging application where users can take photos and videos, and send them to a controlled audience which usually consists of their friends.

Screen Shot 2015-04-06 at 4.29.38 PMOn each photo/video, which are referred to as “snaps,” users can draw pictures with their finger, type words and/or use fun emojis on the screen. Then, after the snap is created, users are able to set a time limit for how long the recipients is able to view them (from 1-10 seconds).

And the kicker to Snapchat the most crucial feature that sets it apart from any other social media – is that after the recipient views the snap, it is gone forever and deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

This, my friends, means complete privacy.

In other words: your Mom, your uncle Steve and your best friend Suzie can’t see what you’re sending or receiving on Snapchat, unless you specifically choose to send them something.  Consider it a more fun version of text messaging. Way more fun.

This might sound hard to believe, but when you really think about it, Snapchat is the closest thing to communicating with each other in real life.  Imagine that you are meeting your friends for lunch, or simply talking to your friend on the phone. Once you leave each other and finish the conversation, the information that you discussed is gone, but what happened still remains in your head as memories.

3) Snapchat Facts (as of Jan. 2015)

– It was developed in 2011 by three Stanford students as a school project
– 700+ million snaps and videos are viewed daily
– The company was valued at $10 billion in 2014 (that number is likely doubled by now)
– Over 100 million active monthly users 
– 71% of users are under 25 years old
– 77% of U.S. college students use Snapchat daily
– Users are in 130+ countries
– The company was valued at $10 billion.
– The average age of users 15-26 years old, and the majority of users are from the USA.

**These statistics are certainty much higher now because I took them from 4 months ago.  All stats can be found on here , here and here.

4) Why is Snap Chat so Effective?

In this section, I am going to lay out 10 reasons why Snapchat has blown up so quickly and why it’s so powerful:

1) It works like a text message – Snaps immediately are sent to the recipients phone and they will receive a notification – Just like a text message, but much it’s more entertaining and fun.

2) You have extreme PRIVACY – Nobody else can see what you’re doing on Snapchat besides yourself. It’s personal. This is perhaps the most attractive feature of the app, because it sets it apart from the other major social media platforms.

3) You don’t need wifi to send snaps – This is crucial especially for us travelers who don’t always have access to strong wifi on the road. You can take as many snaps as you want, and save them on the app to resend when you do have access to wifi. I’ve been doing this in on my current trip in India and it’s been working magically.

4) It’s quick and to the point – There is no bullshit with Snapchat. You send a photo/video, and the recipient views it. No advertisements, no re-Snapping, no sharing. That’s it.

5) It’s fun –Snapchat is a more FUN way to communicate with your friends and followers than just standard texting.  The same way that watching videos is more fun than reading blog posts.

6) It’s Customizable – After you take the photo or video, you are able to choose any color and draw freely on the screen with your finger. You also have the option to write up to 31 characters on the screen. Better yet, you can use emojis and put them anywhere on the screen and make them as big or small as you want. There are unlimited options to customize your snaps!

7) Users will Anticipation Your Snaps – If you are somewhat entertaining and creative with your snaps, then people will start looking forward to your next post. Just like Instagram.

8) Photo + Video Option – While photos are nice, videos are much more powerful. You are allowed up to 10 seconds of video to send.

9) It’s addicting – You know how Tinder can be addicting? Yeah, Snapchat has 100 million active monthly users. People who are on it can’t seem to stop (I’m guilty of it too).

10) It’s behind the scenes – My favorite part about Snapchat is that you are essentially filming your life experiences behind the scenes! Nothing is planned or staged.  People are seeing content exactly how you are seeing it in real life. It offers an incredibly your viewers a unique perspective, almost as if they are standing next to you.

11) 100% user engagement –  When someone is viewing a snapchat, their finger must be touching the screen at all times or the snap will disappear. Therefore, you can be 100% certain that you have the full attention of your viewers when they are opening your snaps. This is unlike Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where users quickly scroll through their newsfeeds and hardly retain anything unless it pops out or catches their eye. 

5) Snap “Chats” vs. Snap “Stories” vs “Live Events?’

Knowing the difference between sending a regular Snap “Chat” vs. posting a snap to your Snap “Story” vs. watching a “Live Event” is critical to understand how the app works.

Regular Snap ‘Chat’–  These are just photos/videos that you send to only your friends

After you take the photo/video, you will check the box next to all the names of your friends who you wish to send the photo/video to (it can be one friend or it can be one hundred). After the recipient views your snap, it will instantly be deleted from Snapchat’s servers.

Snap Story- This is still created by you, the user, by taking Photos/videos in a timeline and uploading them stitched up together in sequence.  Your Story can be viewed by your friends + random “followers” for a period of 24 hours.

Sometime in mid-2014, the Snap “Story” was launched and it is the KEY to building a following. Let me repeat, your Snap Story is the KEY to building a following. It’s the meat and bones of what you will be doing to market yourself, so pay attention very closely.

Basically with Snap Stories, users will still take photos/videos like normal, but they will choose the option to add it to “My Story,” where it becomes stitched together in a timeline to your previous photos/videos “AKA Your Story.” The content in your Snap Story will NOT be deleted immediately after the recipient sees it, but instead, it will stay active for 24 hours before disappearing. So, the recipient can view your story as many times as they want within one full day.

**In the Snapchat settings, there is option to have your story viewed by only “ Your Friends” or publicly viewed by “Everyone.” This is basically a privacy setting just like Instagram has to make your account private or public. You must check the box to show that “Everyone” can view your story otherwise they will be blocked! 

Live EventsThese are the same concept as Snap Stories, but with many people contributing to the story instead of one user only.  Live Events are usually stories of big events currently happening around the world and all users of Snapchat are able to see them, which make them primetime real estate for businesses.

In these Live Events, anyone in attendance of the event is allowed to submit their photos/videos to the thread and only the best/most entertaining snaps will be chosen (by the Snapchat team) and featured on the “Live Event” for every Snapchatter to view around the world. It’s like a conglomeration of random videos taken from people at the event. Live Events usually consist of 20-30 short videos (10 seconds or less).

With “Live Events,” Snapchat users don’t have to specifically follow these events because they will automatically show up on the app, and its their choice whether to view it or not. The “Live Events” disappear away after 24 hours, so you can’t miss out or it’ll be gone! It’s almost like you are carrying around a mini TV in your pocket all day long.

Which is exactly Snapchat’s goal.  

Through “Live Events,”  Snapchat has ambitious plans to overtake Television.

6) Why Snap “Stories” are KEY Marketing for bloggers

The launch of the “Snap Story” was the biggest game changer in the history of the app.

This is because you are now able to obtain random “followers” who will be able to view all of your “Snap Stories.”  Now, you are able to send your snaps to a bigger audience than just your immediate friends. This is the exact same idea as being able to get “followers” on your personal Facebook account as opposed to accepting people’s friend request.

Over 1 billion Snapchat Stories are viewed every day (resource).

Snap Stories offer a VERY interesting and effective way to market your product/service to your target audience by coming up with fun stories. Keep in mind that Snap Stories is still a very new feature – just about one year old – so that’s why it hasn’t yet become commercialized. Now is a perfect time to jump on it.

For example, Audi partnered with The Onion to Snapchat the last Superbowl Live on their Snap Story.

During the game, the two companies sent funny photos with captions of their emotions as the game progressed.  Within the 4 hours of the Superbowl game, Audi’s Snapchat followers grew by more than 5,500 people.  While this might not sound like a lot to you, remember that this was one of the first marketing atttempts ever on the platform.  And those 5,500 are 100% engaged customers. Imagine the potential in the future.

Here is a look at some of the photos in my recent Snap Stories in India, which were viewed by over 200 eyeballs. I try to keep them funny and give people a look behind the scenes of my life in India.

7) Why “Live Events” are KEY Marketing for Businesses

Businesses are just beginning to jump all over Live Events. 

In my opinion, viewing “Live Events” on Snapchat is way more entertaining that watching TV because it offers a unique behind the scenes perspective from the snapper’s point of view,  and it’s less time consuming.

For example, my alma mater college, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, played in the National Championship game for College basketball yesterday.   I am currently in India right now, so I was unable to watch the game on TV.  So, I turned to Snapchat and saw that there was a Live Event titled “National Championship NCAA.” Bingo.

This Live Event consisted of videos that were taken by random shapchatters who were actually in attendance of the game. The entire Live Story was about 3 minutes long with about 15-20 short videos, covering the highlights of the game and showed the fans celebrate. There was even people taking snaps in the locker rooms of the players behind the scenes and adding it to the Live Event. Of course, with the influx of snaps trying to be in the Live Event, there is a team on Snapchat who choses the best ones to show.

Having the entire basketball game recapped in 3 minutes on my cell phone, from the perspective of people who were physically at the game, is a revolutionary concept.

It was both entertaining and fun to watch, and a GREAT way to experience the game without watching it on TV.   I truly felt like I was at the game as I was watching this Live Event in my fingertips.

Another example of a Live Event was at the Grammy Music Awards a few weeks ago. I was unable to watch the awards on TV, and honestly I didn’t even care to watch it in full, so I just turned to the Live Event on Snapchat and I got much shorter and unique perspective of the event.  Most of the snaps were taken of the movie stars backstage and it was really amazing.

With millions of anxious Snapchatters on hand, these Live Events are emerging as primetime marketing spaces for businesses to get noticed.

In fact just now, for the first time ever, I saw a 10 second advertisement for a movie on the Snap Event for the National Championship basketball game. It’s just getting started.

In the past, I’ve also seen Live Stories dedicated to campaigns or raising awareness for something. Like there was one little boy with cancer, and they had a Live Event dedicated to him where people wore the color yellow and

Other examples of Live Events that I’ve seen in the past are:
– The Super Bowl
– St. Patricks Day (from users in Dublin)
– National Australian Day (from users inSydney)
– College Spring Breaks
– LA Life (from random users doing random/cool things in LA)
– Beach Bums (from users the world)
– T.G.I.F. (from users around the world)
– Cricket World Cup (from users in Sydney)

8) How is Snapchat Different than FB, IG, TW, G+ and Pin?

There are 5 major differences that I came up with between Snapchat and the other BIG 5 social media platforms of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest. (Keep in mind that these will likely change in the near future as Snapchat develops)

1) Snapchat has is no “stream” of content. No photos or videos are automatically displayed publicly in a vertical newsfeed to scroll through. Each snap is viewed individually from each other, and only seen by the user.

2) Snap Stories disappear after 24 hours. Snap Stories nearly act like a live event, because if you miss the story after 1 day, then you’ll never get the chance to see it again. This is perhaps the most exciting part of the app!

3) The Snapchat audience is 100% engaged. You can be completely certain that the recipient is looking at your content, because their finger must be on the screen for the snap to play. With Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you never know how many people actually saw your stuff or just glanced their eyeballs past it in the busy stream.

4) There are no likes, comments or shares. Once you view the snap, it’s history. You can’t share it publicly with anyone else. It’s 100% private.

5) There is no “search” or “discover” option to find your favorite celebrities or role models. On every other social media, it is extremely easy to find famous people by typing their name in the search bar.   Snapchat doesn’t have this option (yet), so it remains exclusive.

9) Why Should I Get on Snapchat?

If you’re still not convinced to use Snapchat to help build your brand, then this section is for you. This is where I turn into a salesman.

The bottom line is this: Marketers need to be where people are paying attention.   After all, that’s how us bloggers make money right? The more we build up our readership, the more that companies want to work with us to promote their product/service.

Consider this formula: The more people paying attention to our website => the more attractive we become for marketers =>the more opportunities to work together => more $. 

Snapchat works in the same exact way.

“But Drew, my blog readers and target audience aren’t between 15-26 years old and they aren’t from the USA. So, I don’t think Snapchat will be useful for me…”

Not so fast! You might want to rethink that over again.

I do realize that Snapchat is more effective if your followers are American millennials (say between 18-30 years old), because this is the biggest demographic of the app’s users. However, that’s not to say that the app won’t stop going viral around the world. And trust me, it is happening fast.

Snapchat users currently exist in over 135 countries worldwide.  Snapchat is the #1 application on the iPhone app store in 13 countries, and #2 in 15 different countries.  Additionally, over 50% of smartphone users in Norway have Snapchat installed on their phones (resource).

To give you a better perspective of how much potential Snapchat has, consider this:

Right now as you’re reading this, I consider Snapchat to be in the same stage as Facebook was in 2006, or what Twitter was in 2008 or Instagram in 2012. It’s just getting started. The “boom” is yet to happen.

Just think about the beginning stages of other popular social networks that started in America – like Facebook, Twitter, Tinder, Instagram, Pinterest, Google +, Vine, Tumblr, etc. Each one started off within a small American demographic, and later spread to all corners of the globe. Am I right?

Therefore, it is in your best interest to get on Snapchat immediately, before the HUGE wave hits where everyone and their grandmothers are using it. Get on it before brands start to ruin it.

And if your target audience does happen to be American teenagers and young adults, then consider yourself extra lucky. There is massive potential for you.

But the real question that you might be wondering is this: Can you really make an influence on people’s travel decisions form Snapchat? Can you actually convince people to visit a destination?

The answer is yes, obviously.

Just like big Instagrammers are getting paid BIG BUCKS to go on press trips around the world to help promote other companies, the same thing will happen for upcoming SnapChatStars. But Instagram is just photos, and Snapchat is videos. Which one do you think has more potential to be an effective means for marketing?

This is not my prediction – that future SnapChatStars will soon get paid big bucks to go on press trips. It’s a fact. I know this because it’s already happening.

Some of the top Snapchat Stars are already making up to $100K per week (resource).

Jerome Jarre, Shaun McBride and Chris Carmichael have become the world’s first Snapchat stars, having a combines total of 2 million followers.  This trio is earning six-figure paychecks WEEKLY from brands that are trying to build a staying audience on a disappearing medium.

Shaun McBride, better known by his Snapchat name of @Shaundouras, is one of the first big SnapChatStars. He has hundreds of thousands of followers viewing his daily Snap Stories, and as a result, he’s been working with major companies like Disney, Major League Soccer and Taco Bell to help them market.

In this article, I learned that Disney was about to launch their own Snapchat account, so the company paid @Shaundouras a pretty penny to go to the theme park, make a fun Snap Story, and help them get noticed by all his users.

Let me summarize:  A guy got paid thousands of dollars to go to Disneyland, take a few video selfies of him on his phone and upload it to Snapchat, and BOOM that was it.

How cool does that sound? Are you convinced yet?

Since I started traveling around India exactly one month ago, I’ve been pushing my Snapchat account and I’ve already had enormous success.  I am averaging 10-15 new followers everyday, and I’ve been receiving positive feedback from my fans about my Snap Stories.  Some people emailed me and told me that they want to come to India after seeing how much fun I am having!  And other random people are starting to send me snapchats in response to my Story.  Like this one you see below. I just got it, and it’s amazing.

Furthermore, I am confident that if I can secure several thousand Snapchat followers within the next year, then music festivals will start paying me to attend them and make awesome Snap Stories. Once my followers (of young partiers) view my story and see how much fun I’m having, they will be convinced to buy their ticket and join the fun.

This should all make perfect sense to you. It’s not rocket science.

10) My Story: How I Got Started

I guess you can call me a veteran Snapchat user.

I first downloaded the app when I was in college in 2012. At the time, it was brand spankin’ new and I didn’t really know what I was doing. I initially thought that Snapchat was a way for young guys and girls to sext each with naked photos and videos. And to be honest, that is probably one of the reasons why the app had so much immediate success at the start.

I didn’t use the app much for about a year after I downloaded it. Over time, I gradually jumped on the bandwagon when most of my friends were using it as a fun way to communicate and send photos.

From early 2013 until about a month ago, I was frequently using Snapchat to share clips of my travels to my friends back home. It was the best way for me to stay in touch with them and keep them informed on my journey around the world. Several of my friends have given me positive feedback like how amazing my Snapchats were, and how they felt that they were right there traveling by my side me.

And then, it hit me.

Exactly 4 weeks ago, when I started traveling around India, a light bulb went off in my head.

I had finally realized the potential of this app, and how I can use it to build a massive following all over the world. I realized that Snapchat was (and still is) a brand new concept to most people, and marketers/advertisers haven’t crowded the platform yet.

So just one month ago, I started figuring out how to build a following on Snapchat. Pretty soon, I was having a large amount of random peoples viewing my Snap Stories regularly (in addition to my close friends).  In the last 30 days, I’ve been averaging 10-15 new followers per day who view every single snap of mine.  That is over 300 new Snapchat followers in my first month of marketing myself, when I still don’t know exactly what I’m doing.

You can below how many eyeballs viewed each snap in my story.  This screenshot was taken in the middle of the life-span of the story (24 hours total), so those numbers were even higher before the story disappeared.

By the statistics, my Snapchat following has been growing 8X faster than my email list, which is “so important” according to all of the snarky media heads and bloggers out there.  So, I’ve decided to stop putting attention to my email list, and attack Snapchat at full throttle.  For some of you, this may sound risky, but for me, it’s exciting as hell.  This app has a crazy amount of potential and the ROI that I’m already seeing from it is much higher than trying to build my email list.

11) What’s Next for Snapchat’s Future?

There is no doubt that Snapchat will continue to grow, which means that they are going to make adjustments and add new features in the future. Much like Facebook and Twitter and Instagram did in their beginning stages.

I think that Snapchat’s biggest asset is the personal stress-free user experience, so in my opinion, they would be stupid to change that aspect. I don’t see anybody being able to “like” or “share” snaps in the future, because then the platform would just turn into another version a Facebook.

However, what will likely change is the user being able to see more accurate analytics and insights from your followers.

As of right now, the only two insights that users can get see are:
– how many eyeballs viewed your snaps
– who (if anyone) took a screenshot of your photo/video

In the near future, however, I think that we will be able to see how many “followers” you have, which countries your viewers are coming form, how old they are, and more.

I also think that Snapchat will add new features as they continue to grow. In fact, they just added a new section called “Discover,” in which big media channels and news stations (BBC, Discovery Channel, MTV, ESPN, etc) can share their content. It’s just big media consumption. 

12) How to get started?

It’s pretty simple.

Simply download the app, create a username, add your friends from your contact lists, and start sending and receiving snaps. Snapchat knows which people in your contact list have downloaded the app (by signing up with their phone number), so you can choose whether to automatically import your contacts or hand select them one by one. 

13) 7 Tips for Building a Following

As of right now, it’s not that easy for people to discover you on Snapchat. There is no re-snap option to “share with your friends,” or there is no “find friends” feature.”  It’s much more difficult to build a following on Snapchat the other BIG 5 networks.

But don’t be discouraged just yet. Here are 7 useful tips for building a following on Snapchat.

1) See what others are doing – Watch your favorite personalities and other SnapChatStars. See what they do to engage with their audience.  I know all bloggers actively stalk other bloggers in their niche to see what they are doing.  I am guilty of this everyday. What is business without competition anyways?

To start, here are some really popular celebrities on Snapchat.

2) Have fun with it – Show people that you like to have fun. If you do this right, then you will create a good experience with everyone.

3) Use your current social media accounts to leverage yourself. Make call-to-actions on all of your accounts.  I have been scheduling 1-2 tweets per day telling people to follow my Snapchat. I’ve also been posting Facebook posts statuses it, and asking people to follow me at the bottom of every Instagram post.

4) Be creative – Think about your Snap Stories in a linear sense, because people will be viewing your content in the same order that you took the snaps. Decide on which type of story you want to share, whether it be a long narrative from a sporting event, or short fun photos of your everyday life, or videos of you dancing to EDM at a nightclub.

5) Be consistent – try to get feedback from your fans and keep your “style” the same.  This same strategy applies for Instagram.  If you just upload a bunch of random things at random times, then people won’t know what to expect.

6) Just be yourself – If you just be yourself and don’t try to hard to put on a show, then people will  and become more attracted and start to spread the world to their friends. If you are entertaining and are doing cool shit, then you will get followers. Trust me, it has been happening to me and it can happen to you, too. Be normal.

7) Think outside the box. Remember the guy I told you about named Shaun McBride with a huge following? He is a master at this.

In a recent Snap Story, Shaun created a Jurasnap Park, playing off of Jurassic Park, full of all of his friends. He invited his followers to take a selfie, draw themselves into a dinosaur and send it back to him. Then, Shaun took screenshots of his favorites and reposted all the dinosaur snaps of his fans on Twitter for the world to see. This was VERY smart because his fans now felt involved because it was a group project, rather than a project he just did on his own. I saw the story on this article.

So what do you say? Do you want to be the next SnapChatStar with me?

Thanks for reading! Please comment with your thoughts, questions and concerns below. 

If you enjoyed this post, then you might like my other posts where I give my Social Media Advice.

AND LASTLY:

Don’t forget to follow me on Snapchat @drewbinsky!

 

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DrewSnapchat 101: Marketing for Bloggers & Businesses

How I got 35K Followers in the Last 4 Months

by Drew on April 1, 2015 57 comments

This post is a sequel to “How I Got 10K Followers in <7 Months” – which is the most popular article I’ve ever written on The Hungry Partier (21K+ views).

If you haven’t read that post yet, then I suggest reading it before startingthis one, because it is the nuts and bolts for using specific tactics each SM account.  If you don’t read it before attacking this one, then that’s like watching Spider Man 2 before Spider Man 1.  Uncool.

Since I wrote that post last November, my social media reach has been growing exponentially.  Just a few weeks ago, I was named the 30th Most Influential Travel Blogger on social media by Rise.Global. The criteria was based off influencing people on the 5 major social media platforms via followers, likes, comments and shares.

I wrote the first version of this post to share my knowledge with other travel bloggers, businesses, and anyone else who wants to rapidly build their following on social media. At the time, I was still a newbie at social media, hustling for hours everyday and doing all that I felt was necessary.

However, since then, I have learned from my mistakes and the process has become much smoother.   Without realizing it, social media has become my full-time job. I now consider myself an expert at manipulating each network and using it to its full potential. And in this post, I am going to share with you some of the most important things I’ve picked up since hitting the 10K followers mark.

Here were my social media numbers when I wrote my first social media post on November 21, 2014:

1. Twitter– 3,039 followers
2. Instagram– 2,267 followers
3. Pinterest– 2,121 followers
4. Facebook– 514 followers
5. Google Plus– 2,131 followers

And here are my current numbers now, as of March 28, 2015:

1. Twitter– 22,750 followers
2. Instagram– 12,310 followers
3. Pinterest– 3,814 followers
4. Facebook– 2,007 followers
5. Google Plus– 2,743 followers

I also want to stress that I still haven’t paid for a single follower, and I don’t use any black hat tactics. Every follower that I have obtained is a REAL person with a real beating heart. If you are only interested in skyrocketing you numbers (and you don’t care about engagement), then I suggest that you stop reading this right now and just pay a few hundred bucks to get thousands of fake robot followers on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And good luck with that.

Also, there is a reason why my twitter Twitter and Instagram took off faster than the others, and I will explain in detail later in this post.

Kindly note that the overall strategies for building each social network that I taught you in version 1 are almost exactly the same, so I won’t waste my time repeating them in this article.  Instead, I will give a fresh review of how to use each social network to its full potential, share with you what I think is working, and explain how I see the platform evolving in the future.  After that, I will share my 3 biggest pieces of advice that I have picked up from working full-time on social media.

Another thing that I’d like to share is that I haven’t spent any more time to build my accounts.  This gets MUCH easier with time, as you’ll become smarter and you’ll learn which tactics work best. And my engagement levels have gone above and beyond what they were a few months ago as well.

Lastly, I’d like to bring to your attention the other blog posts that I’ve written social media over the last few months. They are called:
– What’s the Real ROI of Social Media for Bloggers?
– How to Make a Post go Viral
– 7 Twitter Tips from a Guy who has 500K+ Followers

Alright, so here is round two of my advice for “How I Got 35K Followers in the Last 4 Months.”

Disclaimer: Please keep in mind that everything you read is from my own personal experiences. Kindly take my advice for what it’s worth. There are many variables that go into promoting yourself on social media (i.e. different niches, men vs. women, website functionality, photo quality, frequency of posting, etc), so the overall success for someone will likely be different than for someone else. 

1. Google plus is dead

Long story short, stop using Google Plus. My traffic from Google Plus has been steadily declining month after month, and now it has just become a waste of my time.

Why has it crashed?  I don’t really know to be honest with you.  But I’m thinking that whatever the reason is, Google doesn’t want to admit their failure, so they just keep it hanging around for as long as they can.

However, this wasn’t really the case when I wrote version 1 of this article. At that time, Google plus was actually doing okay.  I was getting several hundred hits a month from posting photos and links to my blog.  Also, when people would find one of my posts from a Google search, my Google Plus photo of my face would show up next to my article. Well, they took that away.

And when I used to write guests post for companies, I was able to get credibility under the “contributor for” section (which helped with SEO and Domain Authority), but that’s no longer the case.

Nowadays, when I look at my latest monthly statistics, I only got a measly 26 referrals from Google Plus. Compare that with 4,170 monthly referrals from Pinterest or 2,237 from Facebook or 2,151 from Twitter, and it puts the measly power of Google Plus into perspective.  The only good thing that came from Google Plus is “Google Hangouts,” which is a better alternative to Skype.

So if I were you, I would just completely give up on Google Plus as a means for building traffic to your site, which is actually a relief because it’s one less thing to think about 🙂

2. Pinterest is still #1 for traffic

Pinterest is still the best social network for bringing new faces to your site.

My Pinterest engagement levels have been steadily increasing month after month. Last month, I got 4,170 referrals from Pinterest alone, compared to 3,653 the month before, and 2,893 the month before that.   Pinterest remains the best for bringing new people to my site, by continuing to post unique photos across several group boards per day in my niche (check version 1 for more explanation).

Remember, Pinterest is best used only for referrals via photos that you post on group boards. Your followers aren’t as important, so don’t get caught up with the numbers. Just keep focusing on getting access to popular group boards (with several thousands followers), and posting high quality photos on those boards daily with a LINK to your desired blog post.

For a more detailed explanation of how to get access to group boards and more, please see version 1.

3. Instagram is KING for building a reputation

Instagram is the best social network for connecting with people and building a positive reputation with your readers.

Instagram is without question the social network that I’ve had the MOST success with so far. On my last 10 Instagram photos, I got an average of 454 likes and 33 comments.  This is nearly double the engagement than I got just 3 months ago, and it’s far superior to any other social network that I use.

But with Instagram, please understand that you won’t get any direct website traffic (because there are no clickable hyperlinks allowed in your posts). But that’s OKAY! It will all come around in the end.  I get daily emails from people who first discovered me on Instagram, who then checked out my blog later on their own time.

Instagram is all about building credibility, and interacting with your followers via comments. It’s about building a solid reputation.  It’s about getting people excited to see each of your photos.

In addition, Instagram is the network in which I think you can have the biggest influence on your readers. It also grows the fastest. It seems like once you hit certain thresholds of followers (5K and 10K), then more and more random people will start finding you. Maybe it’s because your account will get promoted, or because your photos will show up under the “recommended people to follow,” but trust me that more random people will start to find you!

Bottom line: Spend most of your time building Instagram, because I think it has the most potential for the future.

4. Facebook is slowly on the decline

This is not just my opinion, but it seems to be the general consensus for all bloggers/businesses… Facebook is tumbling downhill.

Facebook is the most volatile and unpredictable social media out there, as their regulations and algorithms change almost daily.  Yes, it’s very annoying, but it’s also understandable when you have a website that is THIS powerful.  1 out of every 4 webpages on the internet is on Facebook.

And let me be the first to admit that I still struggle with Facebook. I am no expert. My likers count just reached 2,000, which is much less than many other bloggers in my niche.

But there is no doubt that the organic reach of Facebook posts have been decreasing day by day.  Now, Facebook is making you pay money to “boost posts,” which means that they will show up on more news feeds that you specifically target. Basically, the more money you pay, the more news feeds that your post will be shown on.  If you don’t pay, then your posts will be hidden…  Which leads me to this conclusion: Even as my FB followers are increasing, my posts visibility is decreasing. Facebook is the ONLY social network that is like this.

That being said, Facebook is far from dead. I still continue to post 2-3 daily photos from my travels, and my engagement levels are doing alright. I have given in and now I pay to boost certain posts, and it’s been working.

But when you decide to boost a post, be smart about it. I usually will throw $5 at posts that are already doing well organically and that have a link to my blog in them. This way, I can maximize traffic juice to my blog.

Also, some of my most viewed posts on Facebook are simply links that I share from other reputable news sources (Huff post, CNN) and other big travel blogs. Give it a try and see what works best for you.

I am anxiously waiting to see what surprises that Facebook will throw in the mix in the near future.

5. Twitter is too automated, but still effective

Twitter, in my eyes, is slowly turning into a marketing scheme. I just hit 22K followers, and my engagement levels aren’t much different than they were at 10K. Ok, well maybe they are going up a little bit; I got 2,151 referrals this month compared to 1,751 last month, but it’s hard to judge when I am only getting a few likes/comments/retweets per tweet. It’s nothing consistent.

The most frustrating part about Twitter is that each Tweet lasts only an average of ~15 minutes before it goes too far down in the stream of Tweets. That’s ridiculous when I compare that to my Facebook posts which last days, or my Pinterest posts which can stay active for months!

Also, I am sick and tired of getting automated tweets from people. So many times after I follow someone, I get a tweet back @me like “Hi There! Want to plan the best trip abroad? Check out my new travel app called ____” Blah. Blah. Blah.

I feel like I am dealing with more robots than people on Twitter.   And I will admit that I am a bit guilty of this as well. I have an automated plugin that tweets out one of my blog posts every day, and every time someone follows me, I send them a direct message saying thank you.

I know that many of you will disagree with me on Twitter (and that’s ok). But I am just not seeing the return on investment that I imagined.

Next, I will share with you my 3 biggest SM tips for moving forward: 

1. Reply to EVERY comment.

This is the #1 most important piece of advice that I will give you. This is also what I spend 75% of my time with social media nowadays. Reply to every comment, no matter where it comes from!

It doesn’t matter whether the comment is on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, blog posts or emails.  You should actively be engaging with your audience and answer their questions and comments. And when you’re responding to them, it’s important to just be yourself; act like you would if you were sitting face to face with them. Remember that people follow you for who you are, so don’t change that.

Why? Because this is how you build strong relationship and connect with people. This is what keeps people coming back for more, and what makes them tell their friends about your blog.  I recommend to ask questions in your posts and encourage people to respond. You could even give away a small prize like a postcard or something (which I did and it worked really well).

Just a few weeks ago in Goa, India, one of my IG followers commented on my photo saying that she was also in Goa and wanted to meet me. I responded and we decided to hang out and party together with her friends.  And then when I was just in Mumbai, one of my Instagram followers also wanted to show me around her city, so we hung out and it was great!   It’s such a great feeling- that people are starting to find me instead of me finding them.

Here are photos with my new friends from Instagram:

And this only happened because I replied to their comments.

2. Post often and consistently 

This is perhaps the biggest tip to boost your engagement levels across all networks.

I used to post only 1 photos/ tweet per day. I would post them at random times, whenever I was online or when I felt like sharing something.

But then when I started scheduling all of my posts, I realized that MANY more people saw my posts. My engagement levels (likes + comments + shares) skyrocketed.

Be consistent when you post. Check your Google Analytics to find out where the majority of your target audience is coming from and post in the morning and evening in their time zone. In my case, most of my audience are Americans, so I post everything according to Eastern Time Zone.

Also, post more often then you think, and do it in intervals. I used to think that I was being “annoying” and that people would be sick of hearing from me. Well, I’m sure that was likely the case for a very tiny portion of my followers, but those people could just stop following me and then who cares after that.

But the number of followers that you will GAIN are much higher than the amount you will LOSE when you post frequently. Trust me.

How often should you post?

Here is my posting schedule for each network. This is what I’ve found to work best for me and my engagement. Feel free to copy it or find out what works best for you on your own:

Facebook: 3 photos everyday. 9AM, 3PM, 10PM EST. (Facebook is the easiest to schedule your posts on, just set the time and date. And you can do as many as you want)

Instagram: 2 photos everyday, always 12 hours apart. I try to aim for 7AM and 7PM EST.

Twitter: I tweet about 5-7 times a day, spread out every 2 hours.   Some of them are automated from my old blog posts, some come from Triberr, and most come from my fingertips.

Pinterest: Post 1 unique photo to 10 group boards per day (with a link to my blog).  That is 10 photos in total.  All photos are posted from 6-9PM EST.

3. Hire a VA to do all the busy work

Social media is a lot of work.  If you want to build your numbers at a fast rate, then it’s impossible to do everything all by yourself.  The work never ends.

So I recommend you to hire a VA (virtual assistant) to split the job with you!

Are you aware that there are people waiting for you in the Philippines, or Bangladesh, or Romania, who will work efficiently for dirt cheap. You can find them on Odesk, Elance or Fiverr.

I have been working with the same Filipino guy for 15 months, and we have a very good relationship. In fact, I just visited him in Manila a few weeks ago and he took me out to party!

But before you hire someone, make sure you:
– Check that they are fluent in English
– Find out their background
– See examples of their previous work
– Check if they have good feedback and read what others are saying about them
– Give them some “test work” and see how efficient they are
– Write them DETAILED notes about exactly what you want them to do for you. Have them follow step by step.
– Don’t pay them more than $3 per hour (there are thousands who will work for cheaper)

If you can do all of things things that I mentioned in this article, then I can promise you that your followers will grow at a MUCH faster rate and you’ll be on your way to success.

If you don’t have the energy to do all of these things, or you need some more assistance, then I now offer private social media consulting at very affordable rates. Contact me if interested.

And don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any more questions! I am always happy to help you out 🙂

Good luck and please comment below! 

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DrewHow I got 35K Followers in the Last 4 Months

What’s the Real ROI of Social Media for Bloggers?

by Drew on February 16, 2015 14 comments

Whether you’ll admit it or not, we are living in the age of the internet & social media.

The Boston Global Consulting firm recently predicted that the internet economy will be valued at $4.2 trillion dollars in 2016, where social media plays a large role. In fact, if the internet economy was a national economy, then it would rank 5th behind only the U.S., China, Japan and India.

Moreover, a projected 3 billion people will be active on the internet in 2016, with a whopping 2 billion using social media (30% of the world’s population).

Need I say more about the widespread of social media?

The Millennials (people born from 1980-2000) are downright obsessed with sharing our experiences with our friends.   We are the generation of social media.

We are constantly glued to our smart phone screens.  We are always thinking about which photo to share on Instagram, or what our next Facebook status should be.  We can’t take a trip abroad, or pass our law exam, without publicly letting the world know.  We can’t even go to dinner without flipping through our Facebook feeds.

And while our obsession with social media can largely be an issue as much as it is an addiction, I only see this trend growing in the future as the world is becoming more connected with every single post.

How does social media relate to businesses? 

Social media has emerged as an important role in marketing, advertising and business strategies.  It has become a huge factor in the way that companies spend their money, with fresh dollars being allocated towards big social media budgets.

This is because businesses have realized the potential and reach that SM can provide to their target market.

But in order for ROI (Return on investment) to be positive, social media campaigns must to be done correctly.  If you screw something up, then the ROI will get ugly and your reputation can potentially go down the drain.

An example of a perfect social media campaign was when National Geographic recently launched a contest on Facebook, where fans could experience the thrill of having their own photo on a National Geographic magazine.  This encouraged people to upload photos of themselves on Facebook and tag National Geographic – resulting in a huge increase of followers. This campaign was genius because so many new faces jumped on board, and the majority of them are staying updated with whatever Nat Geo has to say on Facebook.

If you want to know more social media campaigns that worked, then check out the most brilliant social media campaigns of 2014.

On the flip side, a poorly run social media campaign can turn into a disaster quickly.

So what about social media for travel bloggers?

When it comes to building our social media networks, the biggest difference between us (bloggers) and them (big companies) is a budget.  We simply cannot afford to spend several thousand dollars to make big social media campaigns.

 

So then, what is the real ROI of social media in the long run? Is it worth investing hours of our time everyday? Is it really bringing people to buy our products?

The answer is yes to everything.  

Social media is absolutely worth every second of time that you invest into it.  I know this from experience.

*The next sentence that you are about to read is the most important sentence in this entire blog post.*

–> Building relationships is the key ROI of social media. <–

What is a “relationship” in terms of social media?

In my definition, a relationship = an interaction or engagement with another person or company on any social media platform.  It can be a follow, a like, a retweet, a comment, a share, a message or a repin.  Basically, acknowledging someones existence and adding them into your personal network is a relationship on social media.

Every single day, I average anywhere between 500-800 new relationships (considering Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Google+).

What’s the benefit of building relationships?

Any new relationship on social media has the potential to turn in to one of the following:
– travel buddies
– companions
– life-long friends
– future business partners
– referrals
– business deals
– new opportunities
– or simply just internet friends from around the world

I know this because all of the above situations have happened to me.  In fact, just last week, I posted on my FB page that I am traveling to India in March and I asked people if they had any connections in Goa, Mumbai or Delhi.   About 5 minutes later, this message showed up in my inbox…

Screen Shot 2015-02-06 at 7.02.12 PM

BOOM!  Just like that, a new relationship was formed and a new opportunity came my way.

It’s important to be consistent

The key to building relationships is staying consistent and providing value to your followers.  If you don’t do these things, then people will lose interest in you very quickly.

I put in about 3 hours of work everyday building my social media networks.  In the first 7 months since I launched my blog, I gained 10K followers.  In the next 4 months, I gained 20K. Everything has been done organically.  I have figured out the key strategies for each social network, and I try to stay as consistent as possible.   My network is rapidly expanding.  Yes, it’s a lot of work, but it has substantially paid off already.

Don’t worry about ROI in the form of money

The biggest mistake that everyone makes is immediately looking for ROI in the form of money, as opposed to letting money come naturally.  Too many people think that if they don’t make any sales after a few Twitter promotions or FB posts, then it’s a waste of time.

That’s completely false.

Stop looking for ROI in the form of money, and start realizing the potential of building relationships first. Patience is key.

If you provide consistent and quality content, and you remain patient, then building you social media network WILL result into financial benefits down the road.

Here is the formula for how this works:

Grow your social media followers => Get more blog traffic => Become more valuable for advertisers => Make money and get opportunities.

It’s a simple formula, and trust me that it works.

Over the last 30 days, I have had over 5,000 visits on my blog just from social media networks.  Can you see how the dollar bills will eventually begin to roll in once this 5K turns into 30K?

In conclusion, I hope that you will use this blog post as motivation to keep building your social media networks and I hope you realize the importance that social media has for bloggers like you .  As internet usage grows more popular in the future, I strongly think that growing your social media network will continue to provide new and exciting opportunities.  Just remember, build relationships first, and the money will come naturally. 

As always, contact me if you need any help with social media or more blogging advice! 

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DrewWhat’s the Real ROI of Social Media for Bloggers?

The Reality of Being a Full-Time Blogger is NOT easy

by Drew on February 5, 2015 27 comments

From an outsider’s perspective, travel blogging must appear to be pretty simple.  All you have to do is write about your travels, post awesome photos, and retweet whatever BBC Travel says…  Right?

WRONG.

Being a full-time blogger requires more work than you could possibly imagine.  And the truth is I’ve never worked harder in my life.

Never.  Not for any college exam, not during any internship, and not for my current job teaching English in South Korea.

Over the last calendar year, I’ve been blogging for an average of 6 hours per day.  Including weekends.  That is over 40 hours a week.  Some days I work 0 hours, while others I work 12.  My fingers frequently have aches and pains from typing so much.

Here is a breakdown of what I do on a daily basis:
(30%) – Social media networking (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest)
(15%) – Writing new posts
(15%) – Responding to emails, comments, messages, FB posts and tweets
(10%) – Dealing with tech issues
(10%) – Pitching myself to advertisers, hotels, and travel companies
(5%) –  Learning new skills like SEO, Photoshop and Google AdWords
(5%) –  Editing movies for my Youtube Channel
(10%)Other:  Tracking financials, reading other blogs, managing my VAs, reaching out to other bloggers for advice, writing guest posts on other sites

If you’re a visual person, then see the pie chart below:

Keep in mind that these are just the basics that make up the majority of my daily work load.  There are plenty of other things that I do.  In one way or another, I find ways to stay productive.

I have no time off. 

I can’t remember the last time that I went to bed without thinking about what article to write next, which photo to post on Instagram, or how I can improve my blog.  On my free days, I try to bang out as many articles as I can.  And when I am traveling, I am constantly taking photos and thinking about how I can use them to get the most engagement out of my readers.  It’s truly a nonstop process.

Here is my current to-do list on my desk:

You must understand that travel blogging is an extremely competitive industry.

I estimate that there are several thousand people who take travel blogging seriously in the world.  And they are all working toward the same goals -> to build a massive following, to travel the world (for free) and to make an influence on people’s lives.

So I constantly ask myself, “How can I stand out from the field?”  What will make people want to read my site?

This is perhaps the biggest challenge of travel blogging.

So here are 4 useful tips for how I separate myself from the rest.

Key #1: Be Myself

One of the ways to stand out is to show my personality in my writing.  My old posts were too generic such as, “10 Things to do in Vienna.”

But once I started bringing out my opinions and personality more, my engagement has gone way up. The reason being that people can connect with me on a more personal level.

Key #2: Stay with my niche

When I first started blogging, I wrote about anything “travel related” that I could think of.  It was messy.  But as my blog has evolved, I’ve started writing more about my niche, which is partying around the world, encouraging people to step out of their comfort zones and showing people how they can also live a life like this.  Another niche that I’ve used is the lifestyle in Korea, because I lived and taught English there for 18 months.

You have to be an expert in your niche.

Key #3: Build off momentum 

It’s hard to take a week off blogging, or ever a few days.  It’s important to build off the momentum from my recent blog articles and social media posts.   If one of my tweets goes viral, then it’s essential to follow up with more amazing content to keep people on their toes.

Key #4: Stay consistent

I must consistently provide, entertain and share quality content to my readers.

Timing is crucial – especially in regards to social media.  For example, on Instagram, I ALWAYS post on the same time schedule (usually between 7-10 PM EST).  This way, people will look forward to my upcoming posts.

I know this all sounds like exhausting, but to be honest with you,

I love travel blogging 

I am 23 years old and I am extremely happy with the life that I live.  I have already created work that enables me to do the thing that I love most: travel the world.  I am able to work remotely from anywhere on the planet with a wifi connection.

Which is exactly what I plan on doing in 2015.  I will be traveling full-time this year using 100% earnings from by blog and bonuses from teaching English.

I like to think of travel blogging as the best ongoing project in the world.  There is always – ALWAYS – something I can be doing to improve.  I love this challenge.

I can’t imagine doing anything else right now.  I would go mentally insane if I was stuck behind a cubicle.  I couldn’t handle a boss telling me what to do.  The corporate world is just not for me.

I am a digital nomad – a location-independent entrepreneur, and I plan on being this for eternity.

I’m not trying to crush your dreams of becoming a travel blogger.

You can absolutely do it too, and I encourage you all to try it out.  The hardest part about blogging is the start. Once you get the ball rolling, the momentum builds quickly and you’ll make adjustments to improve.

But before you start your blog, know what your overall goal is.  There’s a huge difference between a travel diary and a travel blog.  It’s called an audience.   If you choose to have a diary, then that requires very little work (other than writing.)  However, for those who want to have a public website and grow your following around the world and make money, then consider yourself warned for what you are getting into.

Most people who start travel blogs with the intention to build an audience will give up after a year.  They’ll quit when they wonder why they’re not getting as much traction and recognition as other bloggers.  Most people just aren’t willing to put in a lot of fucking hard work.   Do you have what it takes? 

Please contact me if you want advice on blogging!

Want to read more about what it takes to be a travel blogger?  Check out what other top bloggers have said about this topic.  

Planet D – Do You Want to Be a Travel Blogger? Read On..
Mapping Megan – Life as a Travel Blogger
Finding the Universe– How to Become a Professional Travel Blogger
Adventurous Kate – The Reality of Professional Blogging
Gary Ardnt Interview – What Gary Can Teach You About Travel Blogging

 

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DrewThe Reality of Being a Full-Time Blogger is NOT easy

How to Make a Post go VIRAL

by Drew on December 29, 2014 22 comments

vi·ral adjective \ˈvī-rəl\ = quickly and widely spread or popularized, especially by person-to-person electronic communication

In today’s world, it almost seems like we use the word viral in our daily conversation:

” Dude, did you see that viral video of that girl twerking?”
” What’s the name of that viral song by Avicii?”
” Some guy made a viral video around the world with his go pro selfie stick!”

And with the increasingly popular websites of YouTube, BuzzFeed and Reddit, it appears that viral content will continue to blow up the world for years to come.   

Quick: How many viral Youtube videos can you think of off the top of your head?  

For me, it’s the Annoying Orange, Charlie Bit My Finger, The Evolution of Dance, and the Harlem Shake.  I bet you’ve seen all of them.

So how can we translate this into the blogging world?

If we (bloggers) share one common goal, it would be to connect with as many people around the world as possible.

After all, isn’t that the reason why we started blogging in the first place?  To share our thoughts and experiences to the public? To encourage and inspire others how they can, too, live a life of travel?

Luckily for us, it only takes ONE viral post to spread your message to thousands (if not millions) of people around the world.  It takes ONE viral post to take your blog to the next level.  But doing this is not as easy as it sounds.  

It’s important to note that every blogger has his/her own definition of “viral,”  because we all specialize in different niches, have different social media followers and attract different audiences.  

Maybe you consider a viral post to be 300 views in the first 24 hours? Maybe it’s 30,000 views?  Maybe it’s 100 retweets on Twitter? or 250 repins on Pinterest?  It’s necessary to set goals by defining “viral,” then and set out to reach them. 

In my case, I consider a viral post on The Hungry Partier to get 2,000 views within 24 hours.  

I accomplished my first viral post just a few months ago, after writing over 215 articles on my website over the last year.  And ironically, the viral post has nothing to do with traveling, eating or partying!

The post is called How I Got 10K Real Followers in <7 Months. It’s basically a social media guide with strategies to help other bloggers build a following across the 5 major social media platforms.  It currently has over 5,000 views, 45 comments and has been shared over 300 times over social media.  

Although my blog has recently picked up steam (largely due to that post), I do realize that my reach is miniscule compared to the other to top-dogs out there, who attract 5X as many monthly visitors as I have. 

Which is exactly why I decided to interview 4 of the top travel bloggers in the world, to uncover their secrets and get advice about creating viral posts. 

The 4 bloggers that I interviewed were:  Sabrina from Just One Way Ticket, Agness from eTramping, Vanessa from Wander Onwards and Megan from Mapping Megan.  You can read their expert advice below 🙂 

*Here are my quick takeaways to create viral posts:
– Good content is always king
– Write about things that you really know and understand

– Contact big FB pages and other big companies to see if they will share it with their audience
– Writing about a controversial topic starts conversations and is more likely to get shared

– Before you start, do research and what other posts are out there about the topic
– Use SEO techniques to make sure your post shows up on the first page of Google (for targeted keywords)
– Filipinos love social media, so consider writing about the Philippines

Sabrina from Just One Way Ticket

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 3.06.32 AMSabrina Iovino is the blogger behind JustOneWayTicket.com, an inspiring travel blog focused on her travel experiences (and disasters).

Sabrina is half German, half Italian and has traveled to more than 50 countries around the globe. She left her home Germany in 2008 and has been traveling and living in Asia for most of the time.  She’s currently in Hong Kong. 

1) Please introduce the post and tell what it’s about. 

My very first blog post was called 10 Reasons why you should travel to the Philippines and became one of my most successful blog posts ever with almost 20,000 shares on Social Media und over 170,000 page views. The article was about my favorite country, the Philippines, and I wanted to encourage more travelers to visit this beautiful country.

2) Why do you think it went viral? Was it lucky, or did you use strategies?

It was my first blog entry, so I probably poured all my heart into it. But beside I really do love the Philippines. It’s easier to write good content about something when you’re passionate about it. The blog post went viral within days after my website was online. First I only had Filipinos on my site. The locals of the Philippines are not only very proud people, they’re also social butterflies.

3) Which tips can you give other bloggers to create viral posts?

Before you start writing a new blog post about something, do research. Check what other bloggers/writers have written about that subjects. Check all those articles you find on Google search page 01. Study their keywords. Then write your own article. You need to beat whats already on page 1, make sure to write more information, add better images and make your post more valuable than any other blog post that have written about this subject before.

After I published my article, I spent a whole week promoting it on Social Media. I reach out to very influential people and share my content with them. I check Facebook for huge pages with over 100,000 fans and check if they could benefit from my content. Some people might call that spamming, but the thing is if your article is valuable, people will share it. Always give your best and ask yourself every time “Is this an article I am proud of? Is this something I would share? Is this article helpful?” If not, edit it and try better.

4) Share some stats about the post. 

The article got over 170,000 page views, 19,924 shares on Facebook, over 700 times tweeted and over 400 comments on the article itself.

Agness from Etramping

Screen Shot 2014-12-26 at 2.48.22 PMAgness and Cez, the travel duo behind eTramping, are best friends and travel companions from Poland.

These two are sharing their budget travel tips on how to Travel the World with $25 in your Pocket.  Since 2011, they have been traveling the world while teaching English in different Asian countries such as China, Thailand or Cambodia. They are both photography passionate obsessed with Chinese cuisine and Culture.

1) Please introduce the post and tell what it’s about. 

The most controversial post published on eTramping is called “I would rather go hungry that eat Filipino street food again”.

It was uploaded in March 17, 2014 and it criticizes the quality of Filipino street food me and Cez sampled when travelling across the Philippines in February (Banaue, Cebu, Bohol and Manila). The food has been described as “ gross and oily”, “packed with salt and sugar.” Surprisingly, a readymade firestorm dreamed up in viral heaven as many Pinoys thought it was a gross insult to their culture (a hashtag #PinprickedPinoyPride has been used habitually when sharing the post on Twitter and Facebook).

2) Why do you think it went viral? Was it lucky, or did you use strategies?

The post went viral as Filipinos turned out to be way too sensitive about their cuisine. They could not face the criticism, so they started sharing the post on Facebook. We did not use any strategies.

3) Which tips can you give other bloggers to create viral posts?

Be honest and do not be afraid of criticizing things . If you did not like anything, just say that! Travelling is all about ups and downs and disappointments. If a certain place/person did not meet up to your expectations, go ahead and say that to your readers.

4) Share some stats about the post.

Just within two days, the post has generated 679 (moderated) comments (with more waiting in the wings), it has been shared by 602 people across Twitter, 83 times on Google+ and it has been liked by 37K. Although thousands of Filipinos found the piece highly offensive and flooded our travel website with irate comments and offensive messages, the blog in fact beneficiated with such bad publicity: increased number of good quality links pointed towards eTramping, an increase in the number of new Facebook likes (1.000 in two days) and Followers (2.000 in less than 2 days) on eTramping’s social media channels, higher SEO metrics, traffic boost and a huge support from fellow travel bloggers who mostly agreed with the blog post based on their culinary experience of Filipino food.

Vanessa from Wander Onwards

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 2.48.07 AMVanessa is the curator behind WanderOnwards.  

She is an India-looking Mexican who speaks Chinese, badly, and has yet to find a permanent “home.”  Cali grown and Boston educated, she’s traveled to 36 states in America but prefers to be overseas.  She struggles to find excitement in a typical 9-5 job and has ventured onwards in search of adventure, treasure, and a final resting place for her wandering mind. Her writing is sarcastic, but contagious, and she has no problem openly sharing her opinions with the world. 

1) Please introduce the post and tell what it’s about. 

I was behind the post “23 Things to do Other Than Get Engaged Before You’re 23.” It’s a satire about how young weddings are ridiculous because there’s just so many other things to do with your spare time. It’s a bit controversial… to Americans. Europe thought it was hilarious. 

2) Why do you think it went viral? Was it lucky, or did you use strategies?

It was total luck, but I think it spoke to so many people and that’s why it went viral. I did use strategies some strategies I.e. Catchy title, posting in young groups/forums, etc. it’s all about knowing where your “base” is and how to reach them. 

3) Which tips can you give other bloggers to create viral posts?

Don’t fake who you are. The Internet can tell. I am sarcastic as hell and I play to my strengths when I write. Second, don’t underestimate the power of SEO. Be THE FIRST listing when people google “young marriage” and people will look. 

4) Share some stats about the post.

The post received 5.2 million hits in two days and was ripped off by Huffington Post and other platforms who I don’t care to mention so that’s why I’ll never know for sure how big it got. Some people even edited their repost… Cough… HuffingPost.

I mean really, what was even the point then?

Megan from Mapping Megan

Screen Shot 2014-12-28 at 3.11.42 AMMegan is an Australian Journalist, and the founder and Senior Editor of Mapping Megan – an award-winning adventure travel blog bringing you the latest in adventure travel from all over the globe. 

With the main aim of inspiring others to embark on their own worldwide adventure, Megan and husband Mike believe travel has the potential to inspire change in people, and in turn inspire change in the world. They embraced travel as a lifestyle in 2007, and are dedicated to documenting their journey and observations through entertaining, candid articles and brilliant photography. 

Adrenaline junkies and incredibly active travellers, from mountain biking the most dangerous road in the world (Bolivia), to skydiving over the Swiss Alps and summiting Mt Kilimanjaro, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list. 

1) Please introduce the post and tell what it’s about.

The name of the post is Travel to Savannah, Georgia.

Savannah is an inspiring city, and it only took one short weekend trip for me to fall completely head over heels in love with it. And what do most people do after falling madly, deeply in love? They shout it from the rooftops. Though I didn’t have a rooftop – I had a blog, so I shouted it from that instead.

Savahhah had left such an impression on me, that after returning home, I sat down and wrote the most glowing review I have ever written for a city. I said it’s beauty and charm is like something from the pages of a fairytale. I said it was a more romantic city than Paris, more friendly than Australia, and with more character than London. I described how walking the streets put me on a natural high. I put Savannah on one of the highest pedestals, aiming to inspire other travelers to visit with a highly descriptive article about my love affair with the city (though I was only there for a day and a half so it was more of a passionate fling!!

2) Why do you think it went viral? Was it lucky, or did you use strategies?

The article went viral as a result of strategy on my part. After having published, I shot “Visit Savannah” a message on facebook with the link to my article and asked if they would kindly consider sharing it on their facebook page to over 153,000 fans. They did, and it was a huge help for the the success of this blog post.

3) Which tips can you give other bloggers to create viral posts?

Reaching out to others with a large social media following who may be interested in your posts is a fantastic way to make content go viral. Don’t expect everyone to share or even respond to you, but on the rare chance they do, you may just strike gold. When approaching a tourism operator or large page on facebook, I like to keep the tone of my communication very polite and friendly, introducing myself first, linking to the post, and kindly asking them to consider sharing it. Here is exactly what I wrote to Visit Savannah as an example:

Hey guys!

I’m an Australian travel blogger and absolutely LOVE Savannah! 

I was wondering if you were interested in sharing my recent blog post on the city on your facebook wall? (It’s been lighting up twitter over the last few days!)

http://www.mappingmegan.com/travel-savannah/

I would really appreciate it – I love Savannah! My facebook page is called “Mapping Megan” if you were happy to tag my page if you share the link. 

Hope you’re having a great weekend!

Meg

4) Share some stats about the post.

Within 24 hours,  this post become the most popular on my website, with over 1,000 facebook shares and 30+ comments.

However, the post was recently knocked off it’s #1 spot as the most popular post on my website – overtaken by “The Sexiest Male Travelers Alive 2014” – this went viral purely because sex sells!!
Huge Thanks to Sabrina, Vanessa, Agness and Megan for sharing!!

Please help me make this post go viral!  Share this with your blogger friends, and comment with your thoughts below 🙂

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DrewHow to Make a Post go VIRAL

7 Twitter Tips from a Twitter Pro @Mrscotteddy

by Drew on December 17, 2014 5 comments

This post is intended to be a helpful resource for travel bloggers, travel companies and fellow wanderlusters who want to use Twitter to its full potential. 

Let’s face it – we are all playing the same Twitter game.  We try to build up as much of a following as possible, and use it as a resource to promote our blog/business.  

But are your followers engaging with your content?  

Having 1,000 engaging followers is better than having 100,000 people who don’t do a damn thing. Engaging followers are people who interact with you by retweeting, favoriting, and sharing your tweets.  

Twitter has 271 million monthly active users, and it’s becoming more crowded by the second.  How will you stand out from the crowd? How will you attract engaging followers? 

Over the last 12 months, I’ve spent a lot of time building my Twitter account.  As I am writing this post, my Twitter account just hit 10K followers– my first milestone! 

In the first 10 months of building my account, I only managed to get 4K followers.  However, in the last 2 months, I have attracted over 6K new followers without spending any additional time.   I am also starting to see my engagement levels go up as well. 

How did I more than double my followers in the last 2 months? 

As I was struggling to grow, I unexpectedly came in touch with a guy named Scott.

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 6.40.21 PMYou may know him as @MrScottEddy, because chances are that you’ve come across his Twitter account.  He has 547,000 followers.

Five hundred and forty-seven thousand people. If Scott’s followers were an American city, it would rank the 33rd most populous city behind Albuquerque, New Mexico. 

Scott is a consultant, public speaker, and serial entrepreneur who has been living overseas since 1999 (he currently resides in Thailand).  He is a work-a-holic and a complete master of his own life and business. 

On Twitter, Scott is one of the biggest travel influencers in the world.  He uses the platform to share his life experiences and connect with people from all corners of the globe. He gets an average of 17,000 retweets per week, and his account grows by a whopping 400 people every day. 

If anyone knows what he’s talking about in the Twitter world, then it’s Mr. Scott himself.

I was lucky enough to receive some Twitter consultation with Scott via Skype. His strategies have given me the extra push that I needed to grow my audience and promote my blog on Twitter. 

For the remainder of this post, I’m going to share with you 7 key principles that Scott told me.  I am confident that these strategies will get you more engaging followers, which will ultimately boost your website traffic and/or sales.  If I got 6K new followers in the last 2 months, then why can’t you? 

*Are you looking to build your other social media accounts? If so, see my exclusive tips for Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook and Google Plus on this blog post that has received over 4,000 views.

1) Follow the right people

Scott suggests to find similar accounts to yours, then engage and follow the people that follow them.  He said that there is a good chance that 50% of the people will follow you back.  

Look for people in your target market in specific lists.  Scott told me to look through his travel lists to find active people to follow.   Find big accounts in the lists, look under who follows them, and follow the first 20 people. Repeat for 10 people every day. 

2) It’s all about the lists

I had no idea about lists on Twitter before Scott mentioned them to me.  They are the hidden gem of Twitter! 

Basically, lists are a curated group of Twitter users.  You can create your own lists or subscribe to lists created by others.  They are sort of like separate categories to organize your followers, and viewing them will only show a you a stream of users from that list.

You can use lists to follow people’s tweets without literally “following” them.  Also, if someone doesn’t follow you back, then just add them to a list instead of wasting a follow back on them.  You can have several lists for your favorite celebrities, news sources, etc.  

It’s much easier organize Twitter this way. 

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 6.42.10 PM

3) Find out who is talking

Find people who engage in Twitter conversations, and jump in with your thoughts!  That’s the beauty of Twitter, than you can have a LIVE conversation with any person at any given time- no matter where in the world you are.  

So look under your competitors accounts, and see who is actively engaging with them.  Then, jump in on the conversation and follow all of those people.  Remember, engaging followers are most important.

4) Don’t worry about your follower/following ratio

Unless you’re Eminem, Russell Wilson, Tom Cruise, Dj Tiesto- or anyone else on this level of fame, then it doesn’t matter how many people that you are following.

Many people’s Twitter strategy is to follow as little people as possible, while trying to get as many followers as possible.  This makes you look like a badass, right? I certainly thought this way too, until Scott showed me otherwise.

This approach is all wrong.

Scott is following 590K people, to his 547K followers.  

His advice is to follow  back everyone who is following you to create the best relationship possible.  There is a better chance of connecting with people this way. 

I asked him if any of his clients were concerned about his follower/following ratio, he said not at all. 

5) Provide Value

Scott’s advice here was to always over-deliver.  

Many people, including myself, have the tendency to second-guess yourself before you send out a tweet.  You think that you shouldn’t be too repetitive.  You don’t want to annoy your followers.  

Well, try to think the opposite. 

Chances are that nobody even saw your last tweet(s) unless they are stalking you.  So keep them coming at a consistent and fresh rate.

Scott said, “If you’re going for a global audience, you gotta feed the global audience.” 

6) Unfollow People Who Don’t Follow you back

If someone doesn’t follow you back, then why waste a follow on them? Simpy throw them onto one of your lists and you can still see their tweets without following them.

This is very important that you understand the power of lists on Twitter.  Start using them right now!  

Use Just Unfollow to find out which people don’t follow you back, and simply unfollow them in bulk.  It’s simple, and effective.

7) Stay consistent and use your manners

Try to be consistent with the things that you are tweeting.  Stay in your niche, otherwise you will be all over the place.  If you continue to provide value on a consistent level, then people will always look forward to your next tweet.

Scott also told me how important it is to be open and kind.  He said that he treats Twitter the same way that he grew up- with manners.  Be polite, thoughtful and friendly.

Think of getting a new follower the exact same as meeting someone in real life.  How would you treat them?  How would you speak to them?  

Now, replicate that in your tweets 🙂 

Thanks you for reading!  

**You can thank Scott by following him on Twitter @mrscotteddyand it would be great to connect with you as well @drewbinsky7.

Do you have any tips to add to this list?  

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Drew7 Twitter Tips from a Twitter Pro @Mrscotteddy