Blogger and Freelancer Karen Bryan launched her first website Europe a la Carte in 2002. Karen says “Europe a la Carte was intended to be a resource for independent travellers putting together their own holiday online and targeted at travellers who can read English and are looking for tips on the best places to visit in Europe.” In October 2006, Karen launched her travel blog, a sub domain of the original site, followed by a personal finance blog called Help Me To Save in August 2011. “It’s not wise to only depend on a single income stream if you’re self employed. I also felt I’d build up a lot of knowledge through Europe a la Carte, which I could use right from the start on another, new web site. I’ve had a lot of personal experience in stretching our family budget, as I’ve been a freelancer for decades and my husband was a contract worker. I thought I could illustrate that you can achieve a balance between saving money, planning for the future and enjoying life in through another blog, Help Me To Save. I believe that there’s a niche for Help Me To Save as a combined personal finance and lifestyle blog. The aim is to help readers set and achieve their own life and financial goals, so they can live the life they want now and in the future.”
Karen increased her social media presence in 2009 when she became a full time blogger. “Twitter has been very useful in making contacts within the online travel community, but I don’t think it reaches the travelling person in the street. I also try to be interactive and promote other people’s interesting material on Twitter and not just constantly showcase my own content. I use Twitter in conjunction with Stumble upon. If a post gets lot of likes on Stumble upon; it can bring a fair amount of traffic to your site. As my Twitter profile is @karenbryan, I can also use that Twitter stream to promote Help Me To Save posts, although I do have a separate @HelpMeToSave Twitter account.” However, Karen is not a great fan of Facebook, “I don’t find it very user friendly. However, I think Facebook is a better channel to reach outside the travel community. I have a personal profile, as well as a Europe a la Carte and Help Me To Save pages. I post several links to a random selection of posts from both my web sites to their respective Facebook pages most days and this brings some additional traffic to my blogs.”
Karen feels that she needs to be more proactive in approaching advertisers for her blogs. “In my opinion, blogs offer very effective advertising for brands. For example, readers who come to Europe a la Carte are specifically looking for information about particular European destinations and there’s still a lot of traffic to some posts which are a few years old. I’m building up Europe a la Carte so it’s one of the first ports of call for people planning a European trip. It’s going to take some time and a lot of effort to establish Help Me To Save, but my aim is for it be in the top 5 UK personal finance blogs.”
Making the Pitch: Tips and Advice for Pitching to Karen Bryan:
“Sending me press releases is a waste of time. I receive so many emails in which I’m asked to give exposure to the PRs clients for the supposed benefit of my readers! I don’t publish rehashes of press releases; I want to have original, unique content on my blog. Ideally, I’d like to receive pitches that are personal to me versus just a general email. That would demonstrate that the PR contacting me has done a bit of research into Europe a la Carte and/or Help me to Save and has thought through how we can work together. I’m not a fan of group press trips; I’d rather go on an individual trip where I can have input into my itinerary. I actually have to turn down a lot of press trips because I can’t afford the time to go plus do the write ups afterward, as I’ve a lot of other tasks such as search engine optimisation, general admin, selling advertising and also writing for another company’s travel blog (sunshine.co.uk).”
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