Traverse Cardiff Notes: Better Writing, Affiliate Marketing, Audience Profiling & Launching Digital Products

We’ve just wrapped up the Traverse blogging conference for 2016! This year, it was held in lovely Cardiff in Wales and with a good mix of blogging topics and great networking moments, there was -as usual- a lot to learn.

As you maybe know by now, I love to take notes during all the sessions and share them with you here on the blog, so let’s get into it and share my personal nuggets of wisdom with you:


Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester

Traverse this year was at the Cardiff Football Stadium, so cool, right?!


Write Better, Right Now – Abigail King (Inside the Travel Lab)

Abi kicked her action-packed presentation off with the quote “Pay Attention to the Power of Your Words”. While as bloggers we’re in a very visual market, the one thing that people still love are well written stories. And she had some great advice on how to make your words stronger and bring more impact on your blog. Here summarized in 3 tips:

  1. BE CLEAR – What is the point of your post? (you should be able to tell this in 5 words or less)
  2. CLEAN CLUTTER – Trim out adjectives (he said in a quiet voice v.s. he whispered), eliminate adverbs, banish the passive voice (the ball was kicked by him v.s. he kicked the ball), avoid word repetition
  3. BE RUTHLESS – Remove at least 10% of your first draft

She then went into the different parts of your blog and gave tips on the style and structure to improve your piece:

  1. THE PROMISE – Strong headline that is reinforced by the introduction, carried throughout the piece and delivered at the end
  2. SPICE – Add spice after being clearn on the purpose of your post and make sure it fits the promise
  3. FACTS – People love to learn, but remember that you are not wikipedia, so deliver them in your own way, or gather them in a fact box at the bottom of your post. Always check your facts!
  4. RHYTHM & BLUES – Most people read aloud in their head, as there is a rhythm that pleases us. Usually this is rhythm of 3 (‘yes we can’, ‘education, education, education’, ‘just do it’)
  5. SPEECH – This engergizes text and provides local flavour, but you don’t have to include everything someone says. Is it relevant? Does it tie in with your point and promise?
  6. INTERVIEWS – Always start with an open question to make someone at ease. The first 2 minutes is for them, after that you go on to your question without being apologetic. Avoid ‘best of / favourite / top’-questions, instead let people pick 3 things so they don’t just answer with ‘ehhhhhm’
  7. PLAY GOD – Put someone in the scene, bring inanimate objects to live and mention all the senses. Also make sure to use power words like: death, love, passion, money, power, mother, baby, child, life, living, ghost, free, trust… and YOU.
  8. VOICE – You are unique, so share your experience and stand out from the crowd. Writing badly hides your voice.
  9. THEME – People travel for emotional reasons, not for fact checking. What is the theme of your story? What is relatable for readers?
  10. AVOID – ‘very unique’, ‘only in Italy’, ‘the best’, complaining too much (always give perspective), national stereotypes and too much slang

At the end of your post, you have to deliver satisfaction, so don’t just stop at the end of the story. Bring your reader back to the real world and echo from the start. End with a teaser, quote or question and a CTA (Call to Action), for example: subscribe, read more, share, buy, join a tour. Make sure to pick just 1 CTA and keep it to the point, again, don’t be apologetic!

Still afraid to write and edit your own work? Then remember:
“You can always edit bad writing, but you cannot edit a blank page”, so keep trying and improving your writing as you go!


Read more on The Social Footprint & The Economist

All Slides from the Presentation here!


Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester
Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester



Audience Profiling for Grown Ups – Rodica Maria Lazar (UK Travel Room)

Rodica shared her experience in audience profiling with us, based on facts instead of just hunches on who your readers are (what we all do I’m sure).

Step 1 – Collect all the data on your audience that you can find. Facebook insights (always over the period of 1 year), Twitter analytics (here you can also find info on income), Pinterest (demographics, but also information on special interests your readers have), Google Analytics (you can compare the Pinterest interests with GA)

Step 2 – Put all your data into a spreadsheet, so you can find out what the age, gender, location, income group, etc. of your readers is on average. Always use 10% difference in the data you’re going to focus on, otherwise you might be narrowing down too much (for example gender: if 10% is male and 90% female, it’s clear who you focus on, if it’s just 49%, 51%, it’s too close together, so you can’t really pick on this one), for locations you can focus on the top 3 countries/cities.

Step 3 – Go to and follow the steps to learn more about your specific audience. (Only for UK) It’s free to sign up! You can then sort on either postcode or by characteristic (age, household composition or household income) to get a detailed insight into its consumer characteristics. Go through the data and compile an audience profile.

Step 4 – Always put your data in context and adjust your blog content to your findings.

Step 5 – Keep tracking your audience and do a new audit every 6 months or so.


Make sure to read Rodica’s entire post on her presentation on Linkedin

And see the video of the profiling in action on YouTube


Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester


Affiliate Marketing – Simon Heyes (Simon’s JamJar)

Simon started his presentation with the three things that he found most important when (starting out) using affiliate marketing as a monetisation option for your blog:

  1. Think about your audience
  2. Be true to your brand and blog
  3. Always be transparent

There are many affiliate programs, from affiliate networks to direct programs of a brand, but in general the set-up works similar. He used Affilinet‘s backend as an example in this presentation.

Things to look for when choosing an affiliate program:

  1. COMMISSION – What percentage of the sales prize do you get?
  2. COOKIE CAC – Time of the cookie that is placed on someone’s pc through your link, can be anything from 24h, as by Amazon, to 90 days, as by GAdventures. Clearly, the longer the cookie time, the better, because when a reader doesn’t buy something directly through your link, but comes back after a couple of days, you can then still get paid, even if they buy any other item from that website
  3. EPC (earnings per click) – You want a higher earnings per click
  4. TOOLS – What banners or other (visual) material do you get to use on your site?
  5. Most affiliate programs pay out based on sales (when someone actually buys something through your link) or leads (when you just drive traffic to a site, they don’t have to buy anything). Commission varies depending on the product being sold and they can be tiered, depending on the volume you drive.

Banners are on their way out: they don’t work on mobile, flash is especially bad on mobile, half of the affiliates don’t update their banners, they aren’t responsive, they are often generic… so best tip: go for links only! And to be even more specific: use deep links, where you can create your own links and give them a reference so you can track exactly which one brings in the most.

When you use affiliate links, make sure to mark them as no-follow, as such: <a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>text</a>. There are also WordPress plugins for this, so you just have to tick a box to mark the link as nofollow.

Tool Suggestions:


All Slides from the Presentation here!


Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester

Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester

Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester


How to Launch Your Digital Product and Make 4500£ in Two Weeks – Ximena de la Serna (

With a lot of energy and passion, Ximena gave a great presentation, my personal favourite of Traverse because it was so relevant for me (I’m working on creating an online video course for Pinterest, as you might know).

She developed her own 4K launch formula for both digital as physical products and shared the steps of this formula with us. Here you go:

You don’t need a big list to start making money from it, but you need one for sure, so start with it RIGHT AWAY! Make your list used to weekly free valuable content. This can be a mix of unique content and links to blog posts or videos that are valuable.

During your pre-launch period, you broadcast to your entire list that you are going to host a free webinar / training related to your product and send people to a page where they can sign up for this. This will place them on a new list marked in the backend as ‘interested in product’

For 1 hour (or 45/30 minutes, but enough to bring value), you host a value-packed webinar on a topic related to your product. The first 45 minutes is just bringing value, value, value: tips that people can use right away to see results. The last 15 minutes is sale time, where you tell people that while they can already see results with the tips provided, there is more that they can purchase.

You record this webinar (if you do this via Google Hangouts (that you have set to private before recording), this can be done automatically), download it and upload it to Vimeo Pro to embed on a dedicated page on your site where it will be available for replay for 2 weeks only. Then it will disappear! For the rest of the launch period, you send traffic to this page.

After the 2 weeks, you do a live Q&A Webinar that you promote to your list at least 4 days before the launch of your product. In that webinar, you send them again to that landing page with the 1st webinar, as on the bottom of that page, there is a link where they can say YES to buying your product. Make sure to send at least 3 emails to your list about the webinar (as people are busy and will always forget): one that it’s on today, one that it’s on in 1 hour and one that it’s on in 15 minutes.


During the 2 week launch, you create weekly YouTube videos and blog post content in which you send people to your list. Make sure to let them know that the price they’re going to pay now for your product is the lowest price ever and that it’s never going to be this cheap again. (And stick to that, never, ever lower your prices. Your product will only increase in value over the years as you keep adding and/or updating content)


Post one picture to Instagram each day announcing a live lesson on Periscope that they can go follow for 20 minutes (remember that 20 minute of content here will be about a week of content in your course!) + 10 minutes of Q&A. This will be done for 30 days in total. All these Periscopes will be saved and packaged up to add to your product as bonus material.

Don’t forget to also here prompt people to sign up to the free recorded webinar and let them enter the funnel.


This is not a necessary step, but can definitely be beneficial. You can set one up 1 week before the live webinar. Make sure to select the ‘increase conversions’ option. Choose at least 4 different graphic options for those 2 weeks and adjust later to stop running the ones that perform less. Target at 10.000-15.000 people.

All of the people that sign up through this ad will go in your ‘people who are interested in my product’ list, and they will probably buy later, not right away.



Should I have a money-back guarantee? Yes, but always let people know that if they want their money back, they’re going to get a lot of questions to find out why. Make sure in your landing/sales pages, you actively prevent some people from buying, so that when they do buy, they know it’s going to be valuable for them.

Which membership plugin do you use? S2 Members Plugin for WordPress (

What type of bonuses do you give? Access to a secret Facebook Group and Monthly live calls with members, but also a “Sandwhich Bonus”: 1 bonus that makes them ready for the course (your bundle of Periscope videos for example) and 1 bonus that will give people something for after that course (something that answers the questions ‘what now?’)

Can you do a webinar when your product is not ready? Yes, you can use the questions raised in this webinar to answer in your course, you can start getting awareness, and create excitement. You can even already let people buy the course in advance against a super-low 1-time only price (let them know the course is not ready, but it will be) and with that you can also see right away if there will be interest in it. If not, you can refund everyone.


Traverse Cardiff Blogging Conference Notes | The Travel Tester

Ximena also sells her Periscope video pack seperately



The Travel Tester || Your Turn

And so far for my Conference Notes from Traverse Cardiff 2016!! Interested to learn more about Blogging? Here are some of my best Conference Notes from the past years:



Traverse Newcastle – Freelance, SEO, Legal & Publishing Projects

Meet the Blogger Amsterdam – Blog Empires, Viral Content & Community Building

NBE Helsinki – 7 Signs your might be a Professional Blogger

TBEX Athens – Social Media, Branding, Productivity

TBEX Athens – Twitter, Pitching & Freelancing

TBEX Dublin – Freelance, Newsletter, Blog Positioning, Contests, Community & Quality Content

TBU Nantes – Blogging as a Business

TBU Rotterdam – Customised Blog Trips & Pitching

TBU Rotterdam – Beyond the Blog, Selling Yourself & Making Money from your Content

TBU Rotterdam – Niche Blogging: Budget Travel

TBU Rotterdam – Storytelling, Knowing your Audience & PR

WTM London – Creative Destination Marketing

TBDI Rimini – Strategy, Storytelling, Professional Blogging, Blogger Trips

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