IncPlan.net works with Start-Ups from all over the globe. We find it incredibly exciting to work with people who are pursuing their dreams with energy and success. The Start-Up Spotlight Profile series shares the stories of these dynamic achievers. Today we would like to present our Entrepreneur of the Week, Jeanne Oliver, CEO of Croatia Traveller.
Before launching her website, www.croatiatraveller.com in 2005, Jeanne had been traveling and writing about travel for many years. Her first job was writing about Croatia for Lonely Planet in 1996 when the country was just getting on its feet after the bitter separation from former Yugoslavia. She was enchanted with the country and went on to write the first guidebook in English about Croatia followed by three more editions.
Jeanne spent the next decade on the road writing guides to Paris, Amsterdam, the Cote d’Azur, Normandy, Crete, Greek islands, Germany and Slovenia. Eventually it became clear that people were doing a lot of travel planning on the web and Jeanne became intrigued by the possibilities of providing travel information online. It offered several important advantages over guidebook work: she could retain ownership of her content and be in complete control over how the content was presented.
She chose Croatia because of her familiarity with the country after writing about it for so many years. Also, it was clear that Croatia was on track to becoming a major travel destination. Launching croatiatraveller.com was a daunting challenge at first. In addition to learning the formidable technology behind running a website, there was the matter of design and of writing many pages of content illustrated with photos. Websites also need to be marketed to appear highly in Google’s search pages. It’s called “search engine optimization” and is a tricky skill to master. Then there is the question of monetization: an online guide is a wonderful thing but the idea was to make a living from it.
To earn money from an informational website requires many thousands of visitors a day and that takes time to develop. Jeanne’s business plan was to rank highly in Google and then provide visitors the opportunity to click on relevant Google ads or to reserve accommodation, car rentals, flights and tours through her affiliate partners.
For the first two years, Croatia Traveller was a lot of work with very little to show for it. As the number of pages increased however, visitor numbers also increased and with it the earnings. Over the years, revenue grew from pocket money to a side income to a very good income. Jeanne was finally able to “retire” from writing guidebooks and devote herself exclusively to updating, maintaining, marketing and expanding www.croatiatraveller.com as well as launching two new websites:www.frenchrivieratraveller.com and www.riviera-beaches.com.
Not that the work has gotten any easier with time! The advent of social media has expanded the marketing opportunities and has become essential to attracting new visitors. Many more players have entered the lucrative online travel business (especially in Croatia), making the field highly competitive. In a continuing effort to eradicate spammers, Google’s formula for ranking websites has become increasingly complex and unpredictable.
The sheer variety of tasks involved in running her business–writing, design, technology, photography, marketing-ensures that boredom will never set in. To aspiring web entrepreneurs, Jeanne emphasizes the importance of making yourself an authority on a subject that fascinates you. There’s a lot of information out there but real knowledge conveyed with passion and enthusiasm is most likely to find an enduring audience.
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