On one hand, Yahoo is getting the milk for free, and on the other they're paying for the cow full-time.
The reinvigorated Yahoo Travel has a new plan to make use of both bloggers and Yahoo’s Tumblr blogging and sharing platform.
Paula Froelich, Editor-in-Chief at Yahoo Travel, says, “We want them to write about life-changing experiences on the road that is really personal to them. It’s true that we are looking to increase site traffic from this program, but we hope the stories inspires other people to take off and travel.”
The Yahoo Travel Explorers is a program that it’s calling a “travel community” made up of 50 content creators producing original stories on their own websites that they also post exclusively to a branded Tumblr page. “This is all about community. Our editorial team sets the bar high for these creators because we want to curate a community that is trusted,” said Jo Piazza, managing editor at Yahoo Travel.
To build a sense of connectivity with the editorial team and fellow creators, the program has a private Facebook group to stay up to date with topics to write about. In addition, Yahoo Travel team has organized events for the Explorers to meet each other and capture key moments to document.
Skift reached out to some of the content creators from the program and asked why they chose to be part of Yahoo Travel Explorers. Most were charmed with Froelich’s personal journey as a blogger-turned-influencer by living her dream, the golden opportunity of worldwide distribution of their content, and being hand-picked to be part of a creators group.
Voyage Vixens co-founder, Lanee Lee said, “I appreciate where Jo and Paula are taking the site, and the tone. It was refreshing.”
Stefanie Michaels is the woman behind Adventure Girl. Being a one-woman show is great but can be lonely at times. Yahoo Travel Explorers appealed to her because of the group aspect. “It’s great to be a part of a community writers,” she said.
Yahoo Travel was not 100 percent transparent with how the bloggers were being vetted or the editorial guidelines. One of the Explorers, Grant Lingel (Yahoo told Skift that he is no longer part of the program on March 25) of published a book, “Imagine” in 2009 that weaved stories from other travelers, but doesn’t have his own online presence. He said, “Honestly, I don’t know how they found me. I don’t even have a smart phone.”
If an Explorer story does well on Tumblr, or if a Yahoo editor thinks it will perform well on Yahoo, they’ll move it over to the main travel section and the writer will be paid $150. Froelich said, “I believe that it’s important to pay writers for their work. They can’t make a living off of this income, but it’s more about distribution.”
Although there are no guarantees that writers will be paid for any of the content they post on Yahoo Travel Explorer’s Tumblr page, Froelich mentioned that three to five posts per day will be moved from Tumblr to the Yahoo Travel page over the next six months.
Since the program launched, the number of stories originally posted on the creators’ websites and Tumblr page is more of a trickle. Currently, Yahoo Travel is publishing approximately one post per day, which is roughly 20 percent of the total posts on Yahoo Travel Explorer’s Tumblr account. Not all the stories are fresh from the road: the latest post about roadtrip music was from August 2013.
To protect their investment, Piazza said, “It can only appear on their sites and on our site. It cannot be syndicated anywhere else.” But that is as far as monitoring their paid dollars go.
At this phase, Explorer stories are not being tracked with any methodology to measure the quality of the content. Yahoo Travel claimed that Chartbeat will be used to track the performance of the story and separately, the team will quantify the engagement on Tumblr.
It will be difficult to gauge the popularity of these stories because Yahoo Travel Explorers are new to Tumblr, therefore an audience needs to be built before posts gain momentum to clock interactions. Less than 10 percent of the Tumblr posts have over three notes. At this point, content is being passed through arbitrarily by the editorial team.
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Photo credit: Yahoo Travel site featuring content from its new program tagged, "Yahoo Travel Explorers." Yahoo Travel