How to Write a Successful Vacation Rental Blog Post
- November 8, 2019|
- Mike Archer|
Creating successful content for any industry can often be more an art than a science, but with the right tools and key components in place, you can fine tune that science for the best results.
To be sure we are giving out the latest and greatest tips to help your vacation rental business succeed, we reached out to a few professional copywriters who specialize in the short term rental industry.
In this post we’ll explore a few basic tactics for doing just that, so you can get to work on creating the foundation for a successful short term rental blog post.
Know Your Audience & Target Them Specifically
Are you tailoring your content to a specific demographic, or just writing to appeal to everyone that happens to come across your content?
According to a study of 1,117 bloggers by GrowthBadger, writing for a specific audience is crucial.
If we’re listening to bloggers whose primary income comes from blogging, then yes, you should focus on a specific group of travelers.
Those could be senior citizens, families, couples, travelers on a weekend getaway, eco tourists, etc. The list goes on and on.
If you’re like most vacation rental operators, then you have a slightly diverse range of guests so you don’t need to worry about being too specific – just stick to travel and hospitality topics.
If you’re in a very focused niche like “vacation rentals for families” then that’s great. If not, that’s ok too.
Writing for your audience today is easier than ever, with so many social media channels and platforms, a little investment on the front end can help you start to ‘listen’ to your target audience effectively.
Whether that’s on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or somewhere else, you can search for vacation rental related topics and follow those ideas, themes, and influencers which will often show you exactly what your desired demographic is looking for.
Third-party platforms like HootSuite, Tweetdeck, Sprout Social, and others make the process of information mining easy and keep it all organized for you – further simplifying the process of getting into the headspace of your audience.
If you have the extra time, it’s always worthwhile to connect with real people- whether you send a quick email with a few high-level questions to a vacation rental owner about their return guests, or pick a frequent traveler’s brain over coffee about where they stay and why, these kinds of conversations can often yield actionable, usable insight for your content, and how you position it:
Expert Copywriting Tip
“I make it a regular part of my routine to check in with front line staff (reservations, customer service, housekeeping and maintenance) and ask them “What are your most frequently asked questions?”
Often, the questions they get line up with the most trafficked pages on the website – or reveal where there are gaps in information that content can help fill.”
You can also use tools like BuzzSumo to find related information that can spark content ideas – try searching phrases like ‘Beach Vacation Rental’ or other modifiers that differentiate your property.
Thinking in terms of superlatives here can help as well, for example, doing some vacation rental keyword research around terms like ‘most kid-friendly homes,’ or ‘most inclusive amenities,’ may yield ideas you haven’t thought of yet, or spark a specific niche you may be uniquely positioned to target.
As Alexa says, ‘Every vacation rental manager owns at least one superlative in their market, even if they don’t know what it is yet.’
Don’t Just Blog to Blog. Make the Post Useful, Fun & Unique
The Internet has plenty of content already.
In fact, according to this study there are roughly 2.75 MILLION new blog posts published each day on WordPress websites alone.
That’s a lot of content.
And that means the content we create has to be attention-grabbing, useful, readable, and actionable.
Some good ways to make sure your content will embody each of these qualities is to make sure it’s speaking to a potential guest’s most frequently asked question or one or two primary goals they have.
Expert Copywriting Tip
“Write about great restaurants, cool events coming up, interesting history, and popular attractions. You can highlight one or two properties per article, but it should be natural and seamless to the article’s vibe.”
In addition to highlighting unique perks, if you know of a particular pain point for renters, this can also be a particularly useful and unique starting point to create content that stands out.
Anything you can speak to that helps your target demographic solve problems and come away from the experience feeling positively will add to your content’s success.
Expert Copywriting Tip
“I dig through reviews to identify the most complimented or mentioned qualities, services or features.
I look for things like what guests are most thankful for, why they chose to book with this VRM, what will bring them back next year, and what common pain points the VRM solved. All of these things can be woven into content.”
Search data can be a huge help in discovering what bothers your audience, and what questions they’re regularly trying to answer when they set out to either research or book their next trip.
Google Analytics, Omniture, whatever you have access to, get into the details and evaluate where your users are spending the most time.
Is it a particular property page?
Maybe they’re looking for pricing and can’t find it, or certain amenities or things to do during their stay – the information is generally waiting for you if you take the time to dig in and find it.
Expert Copywriting Tip
“My Mailchimp analytics tell me if my posts are resonating with my readers.”
This data may also give you some ideas you hadn’t thought of before, such as topics to include or specifics you might be missing with your existing content that could make it stand out and speak more directly to your audience.
Include Photos (better yet; include other media)
You’re representing your location so use high-quality photos and plenty of them. (But don’t overlook site speed)
Using images and other forms of non-text media in your content has numerous benefits.
Here’s just a few:
- It breaks up the text of your post to make it more user friendly and easier to read.
- It can provide an attention-grabbing image and focal point when the post is shared on social media platforms, which leads to higher engagement.
- A blogger survey conducted by Orbit Media found that bloggers who include some form of visual content experience better results than those that don’t include visuals.
There’s also this:
Articles with relevant images get 94% more views than articles without images…
(Source: MDG Advertising)
High-quality images are just a few ideas to help you diversify your content – videos, interactive graphics or info-graphics can be especially consumable for audiences while providing a memorable, informative experience.
Expert Copywriting Tip
“Review Google analytics and select the best photos — photos are equally important to the copy.”
Charts, graphs, and graphics are all relatively easy ways to help break up content and get information in front of your audience quickly and easily.
You can think outside the box here too, and doing so will usually yield big results – if information can be provided in a visual way, find a way to do it.
Additionally, some methods for making content more digestible is to take an information-heavy topic and break it down into a series.
This way, you can focus individual posts on something narrow and specific to target some of those longer-tail, more qualified visitors.
For example, rather than an activity guide for everything there is to do in your location, you might consider breaking it down by digestible topics of interest (10 or fewer.)
These might be ‘places to go on a rainy day,’ ‘pet-friendly spots,’ ‘family-friendly activities,’ ‘action and adventure activities’, or ‘favorite local photography spots,’ etc.
Create A Click-Worthy, Attention-Grabbing Headline & Title
Having a catchy title is crucial to getting people to click on it from the search engines as well as getting high levels of engagement on social media.
This study by CoSchedule analyzed over 1 million headlines and published the results.
Wondering how you can tell if your headline qualifies? There’s even a tool to analyze them for EMV or “Emotional Marketing Value.”
To get you started, think of the few ideas or takeaways readers are likely to gain from your content and then frame the title around those, keeping in mind the emotions these ideas are likely to elicit.
Sticking to shorter titles and headers is also a good rule of thumb, as less is often more where web content is concerned.
Additionally, using the title to set expectations can generate more engagement.
For example, if you provide the number of helpful hints a prospective guest can expect from a certain post, or any other quantifiable promise, they’ll be more likely to engage since they can quickly and easily make a judgement about:
A. Whether they have the time to spend looking at it and,
B. The overall benefits of reading it.
Unlikely or unexpected comparisons can make titles interesting and memorable, and anything off-beat, contrary, or quirky is often more ‘sticky’ for audiences.
Simply – creativity is your friend, so let your imagination go, see where it takes you, and then edit down a few choices to try.
Which leads us to our next point – testing.
It’s hard to know what will resonate with your specific audience, which is why A/B testing can be so informative.
Write several different variations of headlines, maybe one is a more fact-based headline and one is more playful, then run a simple A/B test using Optimizely or another testing platform.
In short order, you’ll see which headlines attract more attention and engagement, which yields important information about your audience’s preferences and tendencies for consuming online content.
And this, in turn, can point you in the right direction for your title and headline’s voice, tone, and style.
To keep your audience reading, break up posts with subheads, images, pull quotes, social embeds, and other visual separators so the result is easily scanned for the desired information.
Promote Your Content
Promoting your content using several different platforms and methods is the best way to gain the reach needed to generate traffic and engagement.
However, posting your article once or twice on social media isn’t going to work because the organic reach of social media is at an all time low.
Paid methods are also popular in promoting your content.
If you’re spending money for paid advertising, you’ll want to at least consider creating custom landing pages and/or specific gated content that can help improve click-through rates.
As with creating content, knowing your audience’s online preferences will help you target your promotion and distribution activities more effectively.
For example, maybe you know your audience spends more time on twitter than Facebook, or maybe they lean toward Pinterest, using analytics data here can help you spend your advertising dollars wisely for the best ROI.
Pinterest can be a very useful and sometimes overlooked tool for sharing blogs. Pins ‘live’ forever and generally have a respectable click-through rate.
Expert Copywriting Tip
“I recently learned to “treat Pinterest like a search engine and not social media” which changed everything.”
– Wendy Bixby, Content Marketing Specialist & Founder; WendyBixby.com
Targeting your audience where they already spend time online also allows you to create more authentic, platform-specific content, which can improve engagement and the likelihood that content will be shared around the platform.
These are just a few of the basics to help you build a foundation for your blog posts, and how to promote them for maximum exposure.
Just like your property, and your audience, the content you create for them will have its own unique qualities – it’s up to you to find them and capitalize on them.