Amanda Williams Interview: Content During COVID

amanda headshot

After what felt like the longest and shortest year all at once, we can’t believe it’s now Q1 and a new year is here. Even throughout a global pandemic that continues on, our Mediavine publishers keep amazing us with their perseverance and resilience!

They impress us because instead of giving up, they worked hard, listened to their audience, stayed visible, updated old content and created new posts — while still sharing their expertise and skills to help others learn and grow.

Similar to our Publisher Interview series, Traffic Case Study and Trellis Case Studies, our Content During Covid series also shares success stories of how our MVPs started their blogs, their best posts, top traffic sources, plus how Mediavine has helped shape their businesses and lives for the better.

The difference with this series is that it focuses on how our over 7,600 and constantly growing list of publishers keep adjusting their strategy during Covid to create content that’s helpful and relevant, all while increasing their traffic.

Join us for our interview with Amanda of A Dangerous Business, a site all about showing people how to fit more travel and adventure into the lifestyle they already have.

We’re excited to have Amanda on the blog, so please say hello and learn how her goal of wanting to share about global destinations and bucket list-style trips, to show people how they can realistically replicate these adventures themselves, helped her achieve the goal of increasing her revenue.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your family and your everyday life.

I’m a full-time travel blogger who calls Cleveland, Ohio home. Since I am not traveling at the moment, I’ve had to tap into all my non-work hobbies as much as possible.

These include binging all sorts of things on Netflix, Hulu and Disney+, going on walks with my husband, trying to find spaces to do yoga, reading, eating lots of cookies and obviously dreaming about the day we’ll be able to travel again.

How did you get started blogging?

I started my main blog, A Dangerous Business, as a hobby back in 2010. At the time I was working full-time as a copy editor at a small newspaper, and I was just looking for a place to write as a creative outlet.

The blog organically grew fairly quickly, and it was my full-time job by the end of 2015. I was just as surprised as anyone and continue to be humbled by my good fortune at being able to turn my passion into a career.

How long have you been a Mediavine publisher? How did you first hear about us? What drew you to Mediavine as a partner for display advertising?

I joined Mediavine in April 2017. I had some blogger friends who were also joining, and I was tired of not making a lot of ad revenue using other methods.

My second site, a niche travel site called Cleveland Traveler, qualified for Mediavine back in December 2019. It’s been so exciting to see my business grow, and a lot of that is thanks to Mediavine!

Describe your experience with Mediavine. What do you love about working with us?

Mediavine genuinely cares about the success of its publishers. Not just in terms of how much money they make, but also in a broader sense.

I feel like the Mediavine team really cares about me as a person, and about providing me with tools and resources that help in so many aspects of my business.

When people ask me why I like Mediavine so much, I never talk to them about RPMs, fill rates or anything you’d normally expect to talk about in regards to an ad network.

Instead, I share about the awesome Publisher Support team members I know, the free educational resources and videos, as well as the warm, fuzzy feeling I get from being part of this network.

Joining Mediavine is one of the best decisions I ever made for my business!

How has your content strategy changed since COVID-19?

Well, as someone who usually writes 100% about travel, you can imagine that it’s been a bit of a struggle! Luckily, with 10 years of content under my belt, I’ve been able to identify certain types of posts that some people are still looking for now.

People aren’t searching for road trip itineraries or city guides in the numbers they normally would be, but they’re still interested in reading interesting facts about different parts of the world, looking at beautiful photos and thinking about how they can scratch that travel itch from home.

I haven’t been publishing as much as I normally do, and I’ve stopped writing detailed travel guides for the time being. On social media I also promote more aspirational posts and use messaging that suggests my content is to be used for inspiration — once people start traveling again.

What new content have you specifically created for this time?

I’ve tried to branch out into content that is relevant now, but that I might be able to tweak later so it can still be evergreen and relevant to my site.

On A Dangerous Business, I’ve published posts about travel activities you can do at home and how people can support the travel industry even when they can’t travel.

I think the most fun project though, has been the “Drinking Around the World Around the House” series my husband and I did. We chose 7 cocktails connected to the 7 continents, and made them in 7 different rooms in our house. We put the series up on Instagram Stories first and it was so popular that I turned it into a blog post — with recipe cards and everything.

On Cleveland Traveler, I’ve been using this time to publish more informational content about the city like fun facts, movies filmed in Cleveland, Cleveland gifts you can buy, etc.

What existing content is doing well right now? Have you updated it in light of the pandemic?

On my main site, I have a couple “fun facts” posts that are still performing well in search, so I wrote new ones like this one about Scotland fun facts.

I also updated a post about working remotely to include some tips for working from home.

Otherwise, the content that is still performing okay has just been left as-is. People are still searching for some US destinations and finding some of my content on Pinterest.

How are you engaging with your audience during this time?

I’m still using social media almost like normal. The types of content I’m sharing are slightly different.

I’m doing “Armchair Travel” features on my A Dangerous Business Facebook page for example, and sharing more cat and cocktail content on my Instagram Stories.

I’ve definitely noticed that people are still online, and MOST of them want to hear from me while they dream about travel now, so that’s at least been encouraging.

What is your biggest traffic source and what strategies have you used to make that your top traffic source?

My biggest traffic source is Google, and SEO has been my top strategy, although I’m not especially obsessive about keyword research.

I’m lucky that the age and authority of my domain usually give me a boost when I publish new content.

Do you have any advice for bloggers on how to pivot their content during this time to try and grow their traffic?

I guess the main advice I have to give is don’t force it. Dig into your analytics and see if what types of content people are still searching for and reading. If you’re able to create more content like that, great, if not don’t force it.

I also wouldn’t necessarily recommend writing content that’s completely outside of your normal niche or area(s) of expertise. It will be confusing to Google in the long run, and also may be confusing to your current readers.

If you want to share different types of content during quarantine, I recommend trying it out on social media first to see how your audience responds.

Even though this may be a challenging time for a lot of publishers, it’s actually a great opportunity to get to know your readers on a more personal level. A lot of people really WANT to talk right now, so encourage conversations and ask them questions. Find out what they want and need.

Maybe you’ll come up with an entirely new content idea, or perhaps even a whole new income stream!

The last thing I want to say is that it’s also okay if you’re NOT being super productive during this time. I’ve struggled a lot with motivation, and with comparing myself to others who are pivoting their entire businesses throughout all of this.

I couldn’t motivate myself to do things that didn’t feel authentic to me, whether that was writing new types of content I wasn’t excited about or trying to come up with ideas for new income streams.

At the end of the day, I have to just let myself do what I know and that’s to write and talk honestly about travel.

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