Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of interviewing Paul Johnson, who runs the popular website A Luxury Travel Blog. Paul has worked in the travel industry for more than 25 years and has travelled the world extensively. He is also a Director of The Dedicated Partnership Ltd., an online tourism marketing company with a client base that includes some of the finest hotels in the world.
1. Tell us a little about yourself: Who are you? Where are you from?
My name is Paul Johnson and I am Editor of A Luxury Travel Blog. I was born in Manchester in the UK, but have lived on the edge of the beautiful Lake District National Park since I was about 15 years old. I studied for a Bachelor of Science Joint Honors degree in Geography and Geology, before doing a PhD in Glaciology. Whilst working on the latter, the World Wide Web began to emerge and I got involved in creating and marketing travel-related websites.
2. You run a successful luxury travel blog. Why did you choose this niche?
When blogging first came along, I was running (and still run) an internet marketing business that caters specifically for the tourist industry. I have always been interested in travel ever since childhood, and have worked in the tourist industry for almost 30 years now. I started blogging in the mid 1990s, when it was still in its infancy, and I was at a stage in my life where my backpacking days were largely behind me, so had a growing interest in the luxury end of the market, hence the blog. Today, A Luxury Travel Blog is one of the most visited travel blogs in the world, voted “one of the world’s best travel blogs” and “best for luxury” by The Daily Telegraph, and has around half a million followers on Twitter, and another quarter of a million on Facebook.
3. Is your blog addressing a more affluent audience?
Yes, of course, and this is borne out in the statistics. Quantcast analyses our traffic and reports that there’s a very strong skew within our demographics towards higher earners.
4. Do you feel that blogging takes time away from your social and/or family life?
Actually, no. Although I work very long hours, I get to choose when and where I work. If I want to take a few hours out to watch my children take part in an event at school, I can (and do!). Also, because of the nature of my job, I often get to travel with my family and spend time with them even when I’m ‘on the job’. Last Summer, for example, we all went on safari in South Africa and were able to spend some really great quality time together. We do quite a few trips together each year.
5. How difficult is it for the new bloggers to make a name for themselves in this oversaturated market? Any advice?
Incredibly difficult nowadays, I think. There are so many travel bloggers out there now, and they all have a headstart on any newcomers to the industry. They have content, they have traffic and they have social media followers – all things you don’t have when you start from scratch. Without wishing to discourage anyone, to ‘make it’ nowadays from a standing start is going to be really hard. You’ll most likely need to be a great writer and a great marketer, but also be doing something really original and unique… and you’d probably need to go at it full time and be prepared to work for a few years before you see true progress. I certainly wouldn’t envy anyone starting out now.
6. What is the one thing that is too large or impractical to travel with that you wish you could take with you when you travel?
Our dog (if we’re traveling overseas).
7. What is your most memorable travel experience?
Our honeymoon in Tanzania… having an elephant pass our vehicle so closely that you could (if it was wise) reach out and touch it… the peace and solitude of Greenland… the look on our children’s faces when, without warning, the owner wanted us to show us his resort in Lithuania from a helicopter… the wonderful smiles from children in Nepal … there have been too many wonderful experiences for me to pick just one.
8. Are there any countries that you would never consider visiting and why?
Any warzone… for obvious reasons.
9. What is your greatest passion?
10. What is your favorite quote (not necessarily related to travel)?
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the things you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the Trade Winds in your sails.” (Mark Twain)
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