Trying Out Lonely Planet Again

Awhile I ago, I said I wouldn’t use Lonely Planet’s blogsherpa program. I decided to test it out again over the last few months.

My findings? It still blows.

I get about 100 visitors per month from blogsherpa. Now, it’s not a big deal. I’m only tagging posts I won’t seo so I don’t have to fight myself in the rankings but even still, this shows that the program doesn’t offer any huge benefit. Can anyone out there show they are getting substantial traffic from these?

Conclusion? I’ll tag my photos. For 100 visitors, the 3 seconds is worth it. But I won’t be tagging anything I’d like to get search traffic for now or in the future. It still is not worth it and I still find quality control issues there. Letting everyone and anyone in reduces the traffic impact and makes the system pretty pointless.

You know where I find good traffic? Thorntree. Sure, the forum is a mess and people spam it and there are silly postings like “can i find atms in thailand?” but the volume of people that use it leads to great click throughs. Whenever I post links on thorntree, I get about 100-200 people. In fact when I am active on the forum (which isn’;t often because of time issues), I can pull between 200-300 visitors per day from thorntree.

THAT is where to get traffic. Not blogsherpa. Reply to posts, put relevant links into them, and watch the clicks. Just don’t spam them with links…b/c it’s annoying.

added bonus? LP thorntree links are do-follow.

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5 Comments on “Trying Out Lonely Planet Again”

  1. AdventureRob Says:

    Nice tip, I should go on there more often, only have like 50 posts or so, may even have found your site originally through there as its the default place for people new to backpacking to go to.

  2. Stephanie Says:

    Hey Matt,

    I have a much smaller blog than you but the Blogsherpa program has been pretty great for me. They send me at least some traffic every day, sometimes quite a bit if there aren’t many articles on the location I’ve written about. The much bigger benefit has been that the LP staff has taken notice of my work. This has lead to a couple articles going up on the front page (which brought MAJOR traffic) and a couple of other neat oppurtunities which are still in the works.

    For a blog as large as yours I could see it not being terribly worth it, but for me it’s been very rewarding.

  3. Until they sort out their system and stop search engines from indexing those pages, I wouldn’t do it. It takes about 1 line of code for them to change that, and I’m a little surprised they haven’t stepped up and done so. Other networks do this as standard when they are getting FREE CONTENT from bloggers.

    It sucks because like Stephanie said, 100 clicks is fantastic when you are in the small-mid range. But it’s short term. You’re getting all your content indexed on the LP site, so you’re basically eliminating the possibility that you’ll rank high enough in the search engines to get that 100 clicks on your own (or more as you grow).

    The other thing to consider is that you never know what your “break out” post will be. You might write something that suddenly gets you 1000 search engine visits a day, but you’ve given that away assuming you’re too small to ever get that traffic. But it’s not about size, it’s about SEO. If you have 5,000 posts or 50, you can still have one that is a run away success. Blogs, like Matt’s, don’t get big without a few of these. It’s how you grow.

    To me it’s a disservice to bloggers to have a huge company like LP dangle the temptation of a little traffic in exchange for something that is vastly more valuable: building a solid backlist of posts. I don’t even think it’s their corporate plan, I think it’s just lazy IT folks who haven’t thought about the implications.

  4. Thanks for the update Matt – we really took the comments you had in your first post to heart and hopefully made the programme a little better as a result.

    We’re still in beta as we work out how things work best for both sides – in particular at the moment we’re working on ideas around the UI that can drive more people to your blog – but what we find is that you get out as much as you put in. We see significant outbound traffic on longer more detailed posts and almost no outbound traffic on posts just containing photos or very little text (like summaries) which is why we advise full posts rather than shorter posts with lots of pics.

    Your figures are certainly typical for some of the people involved in BlogSherpa, but not so of others who see referrals in the 1000s each month. Obviously we’ve still not solved the adverts on the pages, but people are now starting to see some cash, quite small, but growing and I hope that by working together we can drive those figures higher.

    We’ve also seen the first people from blogsherpa having content included in an actual LP book – fully credited with URLs to the bloggers site. That book will be out later this year. Then there’s the recent LP Consumer Panel ($50 each for the people chosen to take part), and some other bits and pieces going on in the background. The thing about the programme is that it’s about so much more than driving traffic.

    I don’t think blogsherpa is for everybody, in fact there are some blogs it’s obviously detrimental to (very few). I don’t think it’s free content – I do hope that we’re creating a way of passing value around to everybody and that we’re helping share our audience with you. But it is about working together in a full and frank way.

    Thanks again Matt, I hope you’ll continue to keep us honest and keep that feedback coming.


  5. Gayle Pescud Says:

    I find it really works for my site in that it brings in a lot of traffic that otherwise may not come our way. Our site often comes up top of Google under Lonely Planet for searches of Ghana so that’s not a bad thing. I don’t mind that our content sits there as it all leads to us so that works. It’s not a bad way of building an audience directly related to the content of the blog. Thanks!

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