Something is missing from our website.
Have you noticed?
When you load the homepage, there are no ads in the sidebar anymore.
There is no pop-up requesting your email (we never had one anyway).
There is no box that fills your screen, requesting for you to like us on Facebook.
When you look around, you also won’t find any more posts from us profiling hotels where we have enjoyed a complimentary stay, reviewing products we have been sent for free, or writing about press trips we have been on.
We are going in a different direction with our travel blog.
Don’t get me wrong, we have done those types of posts in the past.
When we first started travel blogging, we did what we thought travel bloggers were supposed to do.
(After all, all of the hype around travel blogging is about how it allows you to travel for free, right?)
We arranged for free tours and hotels in exchange for featuring these businesses on our blog. We accepted free products and we took money for sponsored posts. It resulted in blog posts like this, which are okay I guess but are essentially advertorials and don’t reflect our personalities at all.
We never enjoyed this type of travel blogging. So, we’ve made the decision going forward to do things differently by removing all ads, sponsored posts and other promotional materials from Global Goose.
Here are some of the reasons why:
We want to make honest recommendations
In his blog post, “Why You Shouldn’t Trust Travel Bloggers,” Lee writes:
“There is nothing wrong with advertising, right? Celebrities often appear on our TV screens trying to sell us products they have been paid to promote. The problem with social influencers and bloggers, is they are rarely upfront about why they are giving such recommendations. It makes it very difficult to discern what advice they are being paid to give you, and what advice is from their own experience.”
We want to be able to give honest advice and recommendations, so that whenever you read something on Global Goose you know that it’s actually something we use and trust.
What I don’t want to do is recommend a hotel to you simply because they gave us a free stay. I don’t want to review a travel product because we got it for free. We don’t want to recommend a travel experience to you because we are getting a kick back or a commission from it.
When we do that we essentially become copywriters, crafting advertising content for the brand that we are partnered with.
(There’s nothing wrong with being a copywriter, it’s what I do all day long for my clients. But I want to keep that separate from my blog.)
The business of sponsored posts, press trips and freebies for bloggers is HUGE. Major companies partner with “influencers” all the time and there is a plethora of information online (and in “blogging courses”) about how to get those big juicy sponsorships for your blog.
But we aren’t interested in it.
The whole point of starting our own blog is so that we could have our own voice and share our honest thoughts, not so we could sell you stuff.
Anything we recommend here on Global Goose from now on will be something that we paid for ourselves and enjoyed enough to tell you about.
Sponsored posts don’t tell the whole picture
If we were to rave about a hotel where we stayed for free and were pampered by the staff, how accurately would our account reflect the actual experience of the average guest staying there?
The truth is that if you accept a free stay somewhere in exchange for writing a blog about it, your account of the experience won’t be objective. If you go on a Press Trip to a destination, it will be a carefully curated experience that is designed to give the the best possible impression of that destination.
It will NOT reflect the experience that the average traveler would have when going there themselves.
I don’t want to rave about what an amazing time I had somewhere, when I was on a free trip organized just for me with the intention that I will promote it to my readers.
As Nomadic Matt writes:
“Having been on paid trips in the past, I know my experience on that trip is NOT the experience a regular consumer will have. I get special treatment, seven-star meals, direct access to a manager in case anything goes wrong, and wine and food in my room. Being pampered is definitely going to make you love a place a lot more.”
The same goes for reviews of free products
You perceive a product a lot differently when you receive it for free.
A clothing company sent me some “travel pants” and I was pretty excited about them at first. However, 6 months later I had to amend the blog post I wrote with a note. These pants, which retail at over $200 per pair, had already fallen apart. Since I got them for free I didn’t care, but if I had paid full price for them I would have been pissed.
Essentially, I don’t want to recommend products to you that I wouldn’t pay for myself with my own money.
(And I really don’t want to promote something crap just because I got it for free!)
We admire the Travelfish.org approach
Travelfish is one of the very best websites out there about backpacking in Southeast Asia. It has an encyclopedic wealth of information and I’ve used it many times to research destinations in that part of the world.
While they do have some affiliate partnerships with booking websites, a few on-page ads and an annual subscription option that they make their money from… they are very clear on that they do not run any advertorials, sponsored posts or paid content whatsoever.
Also, on their disclosure page they say:
“Travelfish pays its own way every time. Without exception. Neither Travelfish.org nor Travelfish.org authors accept any form of complimentary service, discount or other gratuity in return for any form of coverage—positive, negative or in-between. There are no exceptions to this. None. No weasel words here!”
I LOVE this – because it means that when I see a hostel or hotel recommended on TravelFish it means that it is there because the author really wanted to recommend it, not because they got a free stay.
We want to have this same level of transparency and authenticity.
But isn’t the point of travel blogging to make money?
I think, for a long time, I felt like our blog needed to be making money in order to feel legitimate. Even though it was only a small trickle, the income that the blog generated made my time working on it feel justified.
But at what cost?
Lee and I realised that by focusing on our blog’s income, we weren’t seeing the bigger picture. You see:
- We make 97% of our income from my work as a freelance writer.
- Global Goose serves as a writing portfolio that demonstrates my expertise in travel and my writing skills.
- Therefore, the better the blog becomes, the more it helps me get freelance writing gigs (even if the blog itself doesn’t make any money)
As soon as we made the mental shift to looking at it in this way, it made perfect sense. The goal of Global Goose isn’t to make money, it’s to be a platform to share our travel experiences and knowledge with the world.
By removing the things that were making us money, such as sidebar ads and sponsored posts, we could improve the blog and make it much more enjoyable for the reader.
Sometimes I wonder how much our ads and sponsored posts made visitors cringe.
For the little trickle of income we made from advertising, how much were we annoying our readers?
Could we offer a better website viewing experience, if we were willing to give up on the small bit of money the blog was earning us?
I know that excessive ads, pop-ups, email opt-ins and promotional crap on websites often makes me hit the back button and never go back again. Based on this, I only assume that many others feel the same way.
I want to write for Global Goose without thinking about money
All day long, I’m a freelance writer – a hired pen.
I work for several different clients. My services include everything from web copy to blogs to promotional emails to brochure content and more.
I LOVE my job. Adapting my voice and writing style to suit the different brands I write for is an interesting challenge. It’s a lot of fun to use the power of my words to highlight what my clients offer.
But when I write here, I want this to be my little corner of the internet where no one is paying me. Where my words are my own and I’m not trying to sell or promote anything.
Aiden from FreebornAiden.com writes:
“Travel blogging began life as the ultimate, DIY, punk antidote to the long held monopoly of the travel agents. However, just like the Sex Pistols signed for EMI, the wretched travel agents got their greasy mitts back in, bought us out and we became part of the system.”
As Nate from Yomadic writes in this brilliant article:
“If you’re going to blog, why not make it matter. Make it count. Find your voice. Write content for yourself, and your audience, not for your corporate sponsors.”
There are a few sponsored posts left on the site. When these yearly contracts expire we won’t be offering the option for renewal. We will be removing the links or deleting the posts.
In the future, all new posts published on Global Goose will have no monetary motivations going on behind the scenes. We are excited about this. We hope you continue to follow us and enjoy what we have to share with you.
What do you think about advertising and sponsored content on travel blogs?
We’d love to hear your opinion on this… what are your thoughts when you see sponsored posts or influencers recommending products? Let us know in the comments below.
Why I’m Concerned About Travel Blogging – a fantastic article on this topic by one of my favourite bloggers, Wandering Earl.