Top tips on writing travel apps

With the media scene changing faster than a roller derby, travel writers are amongst the many journalists struggling to find ways to secure their income in uncharted waters.

Writer, photographer and acquisitions editor for Sutro Media, Kim Grant was a key note speaker at the Australian Society of Travel Writers Annual Conference held at the Novotel Lombok in October. Kim, who has produced about 400 apps, shared her tips on how to make the most of the app world and make money out of your own expertise.

According to Kim the pathways to assured success begin with stellar content.  That’s good news for good writers!

She says having a niche and specialities are important as, in the online world, the only thing you control is your content, writing and expression and you can't market poor content.

While traveller writers are good at providing information, it's not hard to see there is an overflow of travel information available. So now information is just not enough, it's all about context and giving the big picture. Kim's tip is to step back and give an overall perspective to create the most valuable content.

What else should you do? 

  • Aim to provide curated links from your app to other content to create rich multi media. 
  • Link out of your work or it will look really flat. 
  • Signal you are on top of things with dynamic updates.
  • You only have a few minutes to grab the reader or they will delete your app .Pitch how easy the app is to navigate early and strongly.
  • Building a community is easier with more users. Content + community = good content

For all this to work well, you need to live in your speciality world. (Guess that makes all that dining out I do even more worthwhile.)

Kim says it's important to build up a network of magazine connections that can help you promote your app. Success is not so much about luck, but more about hard work.

Social media is vital. Don't dabble, build a presence, be persistent and consistent. Pick two platforms from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pintrist and focus on these.

Kim advises giving away your content for free. All Apple cares about is that apps are downloaded.

She says people love free content and free apps are downloaded 5-15 times more than paid apps, but gain traction in the market place. People then stick in and play and that's where you can earn money. You  can give away a product to get a paying customer or sell an app for $3 and only get .90 cents.

Even if the money isn't there right now, Kim says this is where the game is being played.

She suggests giving away 350 entries for free where the user has to upgrade to get extra content. The extra content might be more photos, the ability to save favourites, or even the opportunity to feed the author. (I like that option.)

Show me the money! 

So how do you monetize an app? 

*Booking referrals
*Google ads
*Daily deals
*Sponsorships for ads

Mobile monetization is a rapidly growing opportunity. While it is now only 10  per cent of internet traffic, Kim says within five years it will be 25 per cent.

It takes time but if you follow your heart’s content and own the space, you will make money from writing an app and end up with a guaranteed income stream.

How to promote your app

*Reviews and ratings
*Collaborate with other colleagues - establish a group and work on establishing each other.
*Need a brand name - have to keep feeding the beast
*Promo codes
*Nurture iTunes - change the photos every season. 

Kim’s final advice was pick and choose what you spend your time on. It's all grey.

Disclaimer: E,d+bK was attending the Australian Society of Travel Writers annual conference which was sponsored by Novotel Lombok and Garuda Airlines.