Since Cranky Concierge began in 2009, I have done very little paid advertising, mostly because I don’t think we need it. Instead, I’ve focused on using the self-built tools that I have at my disposal, particularly my blog, The Cranky Flier.
Early on, I tried some targeted Google AdWords buys, but I quickly backed off. The strategy produced no leads, and my money disappeared quickly. Of course, the reason it failed could have been my fault, but even if it had worked, I probably would have quit anyway. Why? Because business was growing organically through other channels.
At that time, the blog, which I began in 2006, was all I needed to drum up business. After people tried our flight-monitoring service, referrals surpassed the blog as the most important source of new clients. But my posts naturally continued to be a big driver, too — and that remains true today.
I’ve never tried charging for access to the blog’s content, because I don’t believe enough people would pay for it to make it worthwhile. Instead, I view the blog as an incredibly detailed resume: It showcases my knowledge and interest in the industry, and eventually that will somehow benefit me financially. For example, when I started Cranky Concierge, the blog audience helped make its launch far easier than it otherwise would have been.
But I’ve been wary about promoting the business too heavily on the blog. I write posts because I love talking about the airlines, and I don’t want people to think Cranky Flier is merely a marketing vehicle for Cranky Concierge. On the other hand, I do need to earn a living. So I need to strike a delicate balance.
Last year, I started an occasional series on the blog called “Tales From the Field,” in which I recount stories of how we’ve helped our clients. I try to post only when I can offer helpful tips to readers that they can use themselves when traveling, so the content isn’t purely promotional. And I don’t post all that often (five times in 2013). But of course, I love that it showcases what we can do for our customers.
So far, my approach seems to be working well. There are always a few readers who get angry when I do any kind of promotion on the blog. (These people also tend to be the ones who I’m guessing would never pay to read the blog. Go figure.) I’ll continue to think twice before I post about Cranky Concierge, hoping that I don’t push anyone away. My blog’s integrity comes first, yet I hope that I can continue to use the occasional post to grow our business as well.