Cathy Winston is an award-winning blogger who created Mummy Travels in 2011 when she was pregnant with her now 4-year-old ‘mini traveller’, and continues to prove that you can travel far and wide with a young child in tow. Cathy uses her blog as a platform to offer her devoted readers advice and inspiration on while travelling across the UK, Europe, America and Caribbean. In this spotlight Cathy chats to us about why she gets a thrill from being listed in our top ten family travel ranking, working on sponsored content, using SnapChat and why live video will be the next big thing.
Why should people read your blog? What makes it different? My blog aims to answer the question of whether you can keep travelling with a baby or child in tow. I started it as a new mum four years ago without knowing the answer (thankfully it’s yes!), so readers can get a real taste of the ups and downs of family travel from the earliest months through to the start of school. I try to keep a balance between inspiring, including trips which aren’t obviously family-friendly as well, and informing, so it’s a resource for anyone looking to travel with kids. There are also some nice beach photos to brighten up rainy days.
How do you measure the success of your website? The best measure for me is anyone telling me that they’ve been inspired by the blog, that my travels with my daughter have made them confident that they can do the same with their kids. On a more practical note, I am an obsessive stat checker, from Google Analytics and Jetpack to my various social media accounts. And I still get a huge thrill whenever I make a top 10 list like Vuelio’s, or winning the Brilliance in Blogging award this summer.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to start a blog? It’s hard work but if you love writing it’s hugely rewarding. Be ready to put in a lot of time and effort, as well as learning a lot of new skills from social media to photography. If you write a travel blog, you’ll never have a holiday again either – everything will become blog fodder, and you’ll be thinking about images, video, posts wherever you visit. But being able to have your own creative corner of the internet is wonderful, and there are some incredible opportunities out here.
Don’t try to do it without your tribe: you’ll discover a wonderful blogger community along the way. I’ve made friends and met some hugely supportive bloggers, who’ve shared their tips and expertise, and helped me along the way.
How do you work with marketers and PRs? As a journalist as well as a blogger, I’ve worked with travel PRs for years and my blog work is often an extension of an existing relationship – as well as arranging trips, I also rely on their updates to keep up with the latest news and for inspiring ideas. I also work with marketers more on the commercial side of the blog, including any sponsored content, brand ambassadorships and promotional campaigns.
How do you use social media to promote and share content? What are the challenges? I use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Google + to share and promote content – I try to use them all in slightly different ways, so anyone following a different network will get an added element, whether that’s more images on Instagram and Facebook, live updates on Facebook and Twitter, extra news and stories, curated Pinterest boards of travel research and inspiration, as well as creating a travel community around the linky I co-host every week. I’m also on Snapchat (just) and have a YouTube channel. The challenges, unsurprisingly, are trying to keep everything ticking over and find the time to schedule or share as much as I’d like.
What can PRs do in working better with you? Read the blog! I get regular emails addressed to ‘Dear Minnie’ – which is my daughter’s blog pseudonym. While I don’t mind them realising it’s not her real name, a brief glance should tell that a four-year-old isn’t making the main decisions… I have to say that most of the PRs I deal with regularly are great at tailoring emails and suggestions.
What has been your blogging highlight? We have had a few fantastic experiences over the years – a trip to Antigua with Elite Island Resorts has to be one highlight, but winning the award this summer is hard to top.
What will be big in your blogosphere in the coming months? More video, including Facebook Live. Video is becoming a key part of the blog and more important to brands but my YouTube channel is due for some extra attention after focusing on other networks recently. Live video looks like it’s only going to get bigger too. From a personal point of view, my daughter starts school in September, so I’ll suddenly have to juggle term dates with trips.