Why do you think social publishing's so popular and what does it take to stand out?
"First of all, what's the definition of social publishing? The way that I define social publishing as I was talking earlier in my presentation: I was speaking to some other people and mentioned social publishing, a PR agency for example. They didn't understand. They thought it was something else.
"So for me social publishing is getting to know your visitor. Engaging them in a conversation and then moderating all of the different conversations that you have with different people on a particular topic. Putting all that into some kind of an article and then talking to them about things that they want to hear.
"Why is it important? I think it's because people today can get loads of information online anyway. This is information that's user-generated content. It's information from people like them. So they want to pick from a friend or a blogger, people they identify with. So unless you can get social in your publishing they're just going to go away and they're not going to continue reading. They'll still read the traditional magazines, but they’re not going to influence. They're going to be there for the awareness part, but for the desire that's going to be from friends of these people who actually engage them in a conversation."
What have been the notable changes in how you run your travel blog since you started The Travel Magazine?
MM: "First of all it was never a travel blog and still isn't a travel blog. It's actually written in a journalistic manner and this is what I was saying earlier. It's the way that we promote the magazine that's social.
"It used to be a glossy print magazine that we stopped in 2009 when two of our major advertisers went bust. So we were faced with the challenge of actually stopping the business and we thought, "Okay, well let’s just continue the online version, improve it and concentrate on it." Today we have three times more readers online than we ever had in print.
"It's moving away from being sent on press trips, writing about destinations, putting nice photos online and expecting people to come and read it. It's now in the promotion where it's engaging people before we travel, it's engaging people even when we're there by tweeting about the destination. We’re then moderating this information that we have and publishing it.
"When you do a travel magazine, a print magazine, people can't comment on it. Well now they can comment on it. They say, “This is something we've missed, maybe we'll do it next time.” Another example is a reviewer says you shouldn't have gone to that hotel, instead he's going to another hotel and he's asking if anybody agrees with his accommodation choice.
"The major difference is today we talk a lot. Previously we just published and that was it. People would read it at an airport. The website’s a big revolution and this is why travel blogging as an industry is growing. Some of them are doing it just for fun. Some of them are doing it as a business. Some of them are still doing it out of the pleasure of talking about their travels. We do the same, except we have a professional team who are used to the audience and the type of writing."
Do you have any plans to bring The Travel Magazine to a mobile audience?
MM: "We have had the plans and it will hopefully be for this year. It will be on the basis of just downloading, but you can't necessarily interact with the mobile. We haven't got the resources and we don't think it's the right thing to do because we want to differentiate ourselves from the likes of Lastminute.com. Those guys have already invested huge amounts in their mobile applications and can really do something very special.
"At the moment we don't have that functionality. What we could do is just allow people to download content to the application and then interact with it when they're at the place. We are planning on doing that; we're just defining the structure so we're not just another 'me too’ application."
What tips do you have for fellow bloggers on how to stand out?
MM: "Niche. Finding the niche and be very fanatical about that niche. That's the only way they’re going to stand out because they have to prove they're influencers and the only way to do that is to build a name. Building a name around travel is difficult though. We got the name from when we were in print. A travel blogger today, find a niche, be fanatical about it, and talk to everyone - all the other people who are in the niche. Show that you are fanatical. Show your passion."
What does the future hold for your site?
MM: "I think mobile is one of the things that you mentioned and it's going to be huge. Another thing we're looking at is to go destination-based. A user-generated destination guide, which is at the same time moderated by the professional journalist.
"There is a lot of information out there. The users when they go, they say, "I just want something compact. I don't want to read the ‘blah blah’. I want to read the best parts of it." So we've already built this community who've created loads of information, mostly around the top ten destinations. User-generated, but moderated by the professional journalists. So that when the readers travel, they read the professional information in the way that they would've done in the magazine. Although it's the same information you'd find on a blog it's just written in different style, which is familiar to those users online."