Blogger Talk: Monetizing Expertise

bloggerAs travel bloggers and social media influencers, we share a passion for travel and we know we’re good at it. So good in fact that our inbox and social media networks often get flooded with requests from people asking for help. Does the following sound familiar, “I just read your post on Iceland, and I’m headed there for a week with my family. Could you give me some advice on what I should do and see each day?” or “You live in New York, where are some off-the-beaten path places to go?”

I’m sure like fellow bloggers, I want to respond to these individual requests and help as much as I can, but sometimes I simply can’t – mainly due to time constraints and not having tools at my disposal to make a great, personalized itinerary or save all my responses.

That all just changed. Meet Fuzzy Compass, a new company I just started using that’s helping me turn all these requests into a business.

Fuzzy Compass gives travel influencers the ability to monetize their audience they’ve worked so hard to build relationships with by delivering 1:1 advice and getting paid to do it. What I particularly like about it, too, is that you can let people know about the off-the-beaten path or cozy places that a guide may not know about.

I caught up with the Fuzzy Compass CEO and fellow traveler, Sasha Hoffman, recently to give me all the details on how and why she started the company.

sasha hoffmanWhy did you start the company?
I’ve traveled to over 75 countries and I spend about 30+ hours planning those trips. I love going to places like Tanzania, the Azores and other off-the-beaten path destinations, but the problem is it’s hard to find trusted, up to date, personalized advice for those types of places. We’ve all been that person reading 50 TripAdvisor reviews to find the writer who sounds the most like us or having 30 different tabs open to aggregate the kitchen sink of info on a place then parse through it. I realized a long time ago how valuable it was to speak with someone on the ground, not just a local but a travel professional, who could give an unbiased view tailored to me. TripAdvisor and guide books cannot compete with what influencers know. Last year I saved $6,000 on a safari by paying a blogger $50 to give me a recommendation on a safari operator to use (the $6k was the difference between the price quoted in the US and the one from an operator I talked to directly on the ground they connected me with). It took them 5 minutes to make that intro and it provided me with a lifetime of memories. For busy millennial working professionals and families, spending 1% of their trip cost to get tailored advice not only saves time but also guarantees a much higher quality vacation optimized for the types of things that bring them joy. For many, the planning process is enjoyable, we’re not trying to replace that, we’re just enhancing it.

fuzzy compassWhat does Fuzzy Compass do?
Fuzzy Compass provides influencers with a simple tool suite to offer one-on-one, personalized advice in any combination of Q&A, complete trip outlines and phone consultations and charge a fee to do it. The Fuzzy Compass technology:

    Provides influencers with a custom author page where they can list what services they want to offer (itineraries / Q&A etc), how much they charge and turnaround time
    Houses all customer requests in a simple dashboard where you can see who requested it, what type of help they need and pertinent details about them and their trip
    Facilitates payment from anywhere in the world. We accept credit cards and deposit money via direct deposit or check
    Allows you to drop content and photos into enticing itinerary and Q&A templates to ensure all your responses are beautiful and mobile-friendly
    Files every response into a catalog of answers that is easily accessed when you get similar requests to increase your efficiency
    Supplies marketing tools, including links and buttons, for promoting your services on your site and across social media

detailedDashboardHow does it work for the consumer?
1) Consumers are re-directed to your author page from a direct link on your website / social media or our site
2) They submit a request. They can either buy a custom itinerary and fill out information about themselves such as their interests, travel style and so forth or they can ask you a series of questions (e.g., where is the best place to watch sunset). Everything is a la carte pricing so consumers can choose how much help they need
3) You’ll then get notified via email of a new request and log into our dashboard to fulfill it
4) Use our tools to create beautiful responses and submit it to the customer
5) They get an email telling them their response is ready to be viewed and can buy additional questions or ask for changes based on any further help they need

How does the pricing work and how do I get paid?
You set your own prices and turnaround time. As an example, if you want to charge $50 for a 3 day itinerary and promise the customer you’ll respond to their request within 5 days, you can do that. Once you’ve finished fulfilling a request, payment is sent your way.

polishedTemplatesCan consumers book through you?
We offer the ability to book hotels directly. To the extent someone wants to book their entire itinerary, we have a network of operators and agents we can send the itinerary to to help book. We’re looking to bring as much of this onto our platform so influencers can recoup money for all the recommendations they make that turn into bookings. It’s important that influencers be paid for delivering custom advice but to the extent that customer then wants to book, we’d like to make it as simple as possible for them to do so. Many of the recommendations being made are for safari vendors and other operators that don’t have websites or do online booking. Thus, moving that process online is something we’re working on.

Who is good candidate to use Fuzzy Compass?
Travel and food bloggers, photojournalists, travel writers and other travel influencers with a significant following. Right now, we primarily work with influencers who have expertise in a specific destination or two and who already have significant traffic to their site (and requests).

What can influencers expect to gain?
1) It’s a better way to engage with your audience on a 1:1 basis
2) In many cases, people are already requesting your help, you just haven’t had the incentive to respond – now you do
3) A new, more lucrative income stream. Ditch the banner ads and sponsored post and become a travel consultant
4) As we aggregate lots of influencers onto one platform, we’re able to do brand partnerships and other deals to help give exposure and new business that is hard to do indiviudally

receiveYourResponseDo you send leads directly to influencers?
Yes. Right now, Fuzzy Compass gets inbounds daily directly from customers looking to be matched with influencers in specific destinations. To the extent you fit the profile of the type of person they are looking to talk to (same age demo + interests), we’ll send them to your author page to buy a service.

What is the fee?
There is no fee to sign up or to use the service. When you get a request, we take 20% of the transaction amount and send you the rest.

Go from blogger to travel consultant today, and start using Fuzzy Compass to make some extra $$$. Check out www.fuzzycompass.com/influencer for more details or email info@fuzzycompass.com!

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