Us Brits are barking mad about our furry friends, with over 24% of us owning a dog closely followed by 17% being ‘owned by a feline’. Therefore, it’s no surprise the market for freelance writing in the pet industry is huge. New products are being launched every day and pet lovers are constantly looking for ways to improve the lives of their beloved furbabies.
The bonus, for a freelancer and pet owner like myself, is that it’s enjoyable writing about something you love and usually doesn’t involve too much research. Here are some tips if you’d like to write for one of the largest and most profitable markets out there:
Firstly, unless you have a dog like Marley or a moggy who’s changed your life similar to Street Cat Bob, nobody wants to hear about the antics of your pets in great detail, especially if – as a lot of people tend to do on Social Media – you give them language skills and weird accents. Dogs having a ‘wuffly barkday’ and cats being ‘purrfectly groomed’ are a big no-no! If you really feel the need to turn your pet into a celebrity, stick to YouTube or Instagram. By all means, write about your experiences with a health problem, training tip or new product, but from your point of view, not Fido’s.
There are always new and innovative products for pets, so check out the upcoming trends. For example, this year has seen an increase in organic, and handmade treats and breed-specific diet foods. The popularity of teacup breeds has seen an increase in the sale of dog clothes and trendy designer bags for transport. All these products need descriptions, reviews, web content and blogs to make them successful in a competitive market.
Training is something every responsible dog owner should do. You don’t have to be Cesar Milan to write about it. Write about your own experiences or interview a local rescue centre employee to get their tips. There is a world of information on the net – try writing from a different angle. Consider different environments, seasonal aspects or situations that require special training:
- ‘Training tips that could save your dog’s life in the city’;
- ‘Dog Etiquette at the beach’; and
- ‘How to train a Gun Dog’
There are also options here to write about the various methods of horse training for different sports – polo, dressage etc.
Healthcare is one of the most popular searches about pets, and, as mentioned, you don’t have to be an expert to produce work on a vast range of topics on every pet imaginable. From how to check a horse’s hooves, to why snakes shed their skin. Breed, or species-specific health issues, are always popular. Once again, try to approach things from a different angle in order to make your articles or blog posts stand out from the crowd.
Most owners have a profound interest in providing the best basic care for their pets, whether it’s how to clip your cockatoo’s claws without getting injured, how to build a playground for guinea pigs or how your pony benefits from a massage. Articles of this kind are unique – the writer explains what has worked for them. These are the tips that everyone is looking for to enhance the pet owner experience.
People love to spend time with their animals. Writing about activities and pet-friendly holidays can be a great income booster. Once again, try to mix it up, don’t just concentrate on local agility classes or cat-friendly hotels. What about, ‘How to Teach your Dog to Surf’, ‘Dog Dancing Classes’, ‘Rabbit Racing’ or ‘Yoga with Cats‘? (I kid you not!)
You can also integrate writing about equipment into this one. For instance, ‘The Top Ten Dog Sledding Harnesses’ or ‘Five Essential Items of Dog Equipment to take on your Camping Trip’.
In contradiction to my earlier comment, about nobody wanting to read the day-to-day antics of Floppy the rabbit or Fifi, the neurotic poodle. This changes when an exceptional event occurs or the human/pet relationship is extra special. There are numerous heroic pets that have a story to tell, working as military or search and rescue dogs. There are even ‘Therapy pigs and ferrets‘. (Once again, I know, unbelievable … right?)
Pets have amazing senses and can often recognise illness early and prevent seizures, actually saving lives. These stories are the ones readers are interested in.
Whatever you choose, be it a breed profile or the story of a puppy adopted by a lion, the possibilities are endless. You can overlap the topics, write seasonal articles or interview experts. Not only will you find the writing enjoyable, but, because we all love our pets, you can be sure that someone out there wants to read it.
© Donna Hepburn 2016
The hospitality industry is one of the most competitive, therefore, marketing your hotel can be a minefield if you don’t know what you’re doing. It’s worth building an extensive database along with a comprehensive marketing strategy to maximise conversion rates. There are hundreds of options, but understanding these basics will get you started.
Before embarking on a complicated marketing campaign, you should have a conversation with your current customers, and ask these questions:
Who are the people who book your hotel? Businessmen, families, young couples? It’s no good using targeted marketing if you don’t know your target.
Where did they find out about your hotel? This information helps you gather information about which avenues are most lucrative and which need more work to improve conversion rate.
What do your guests value, and care about? Finding out this information can help you find your target audience and also help improve things if certain areas are lacking. Most hotels have guests complete a satisfaction questionnaire during their stay to collate this information. Always ask for an email address as you can update them regularly with news and special offers.
You now have information and it’s time to decide where to spend your marketing budget. Online marketing is profit-driven and, if done correctly, it works. However, you need to focus your strategy and budget on platforms that bring in profit. The CEO is not interested in how many shares you have on Facebook, likes on Twitter, or how many emails have been opened. They are interested in how many bookings the hotel receives.
More often than not, Google is the starting point for anyone looking for a hotel. In that respect, AdWords can work really well in the hospitality business. You pick certain keywords that people use when searching for a hotel then create an ad using these keywords. Some are expensive so concentrate on those that emphasise your USPs (Unique Selling Points). Google have recently added new features to enhance this service for best results:
- Create a Google ‘My Business Page’ and make sure the hotel’s Google Maps is optimised.
- Join Google’s Travel Blog for travel marketers. Keep ahead of your competitors by being first to know the new features and relevant travel news.
- Highlight your features, special offers, and upcoming events. These should be highlighted in all your marketing but can be especially useful if, for example, someone is searching for a Christmas party or a naturist beach.
- Sign up for a Google Business View which Google promise to set up in five working days.
Google also has an invaluable tool for marketers within its AdWords service, which allows you to build a user list through its remarketing tag. This list can include:
- Visitors to your website made up of people who have clicked through.
- Visitors who took specific actions, either enquired or booked through the website.
- A similar user list can be automatically created by Google to target users with similar interests.
- Customer match email address lists. Hotels with a comprehensive CRM can upload bulk emails to create logical user email lists.
Email marketing and AdWords can also be extremely effective on social media platforms. The best way to engage people is to run a competition – the bigger the better! You incentivise engagement, with the opportunity to win a prize, and can generate hundreds – if not thousands – of email addresses and phone numbers with an optimised entry form. This can also give you demographic information so you focus your marketing in certain areas and generate leads interested in your hotel.
Targeting your Facebook ads to existing contacts allows you to engage with people, by name, who are aware and have interacted with your brand. All you need to do is encourage them to do so again and you can reward them by offering tailored discounts and special offers.
These are some of the simplest ways of building an email database. You can add to the list over time enabling you to remarket to previous guests as well as new contacts. Please feel free to contact us if you need help with any of your marketing content, blogs or articles.
© Donna Hepburn 2016