Christina Vidal is the Founder of luxury travel blog JetsetChristina where she works with luxury travel brands across the globe. She has built an amazing community of luxury travel enthusiasts and has become one the most useful travel resources online. JetsetChristina has been featured in Travel & Leisure, Forbes, Oprah Magazine, and The Sun UK.
Christina is also the Founder of swimwear line Watercolors Swim, a leading swim brand known for it’s fun, feminine, playful, ultra-flattering swimwear.
Christina joins the podcast to discuss how she became a full-time travel blogger and walks us through her entire story. She talks extensively about how to get into the luxury travel niche as a new influencer as well as her best tips for growing your blog traffic. Christina also dives into the process of creating Watercolors Swim from the initial idea, manufacturing, and distribution.
What were you doing before becoming a luxury travel blogger and starting your swimwear brand?
“I graduated college in 2012 from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.” Christina shares, “I was a journalism major, I always loved writing and traveled growing up. I love to travel and I studied abroad at Semester at Sea in college.” – Where Christina wrote her first blog.
In the podcast, Christina reflects on how random students on the ship would approach her and say “Are you Christina Vidal? My Mom is following your blog every day!’”
“I had no concept that could be a thing! I thought I was just talking to my friends and family. Instead, I amassed this really quality audience of parents that were googling ‘Semester at Sea’ and vicariously finding out what they’re kids were up to through me. I was kind of mind blown. I thought ‘I could really reach people through this.’”
After graduating from college, Christina went straight into work with Google. “Everyone was saying to me, ‘What a dream job with Google’, and I was like ‘I am so bored.’ I was so unimpressed by the 9-5 world, I felt so unchallenged. I wasn’t using my skill set of writing, journalism, and creativity and I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder for 20 years before I could use them.”
From Google to Luxury Travel Blogger
Christina started her Jetset Christina blog, which we all know her for today, while sat in her Google cubicle. Having visited 35 countries before the age of 22, she was the girl people were emailing for travel recommendations. “I had always traveled, so people would reach out for travel recommendations and I would send these long emails and Google sheets. By the hundredth time I had done that, I thought ‘It would be so much easier if I just had a blog.”
“At the time, in 2013, most blogs were ‘me-me-me’ and they were successful, but I never wanted Jetset Christina to be like that.” Christina wanted her blog to provide useful, actionable tips, which was different at the time. She found a gap between “the Lonely Planet-type-guides and the personal blogs that went in-depth about their vacation.”
“I was kinda bored with that, like ‘I don’t want to read about your vacation, just tell me where I need to go!’ So I just channeled that into my blog and made it a priority to be useful. Then that lead into Instagram, which grew separately and was cool to see.”
What does your blog SEO optimizing process look like?
“I will preface this by saying I’m no expert. I know when I do something right and I do something wrong,” Christina laughs.
“Google’s algorithm has changed. I think Google rewards conversational voice in writing. I have the number one blog post right now for ‘Bali Honeymoon’, it’s awesome. That blog post opens with ‘Okay friends – a ton of you have slid into my DM’s on Instagram.’ I just think people want to read posts from someone who feels like a friend. Like someone you know is recommending places to you. You trust that a lot more than an ‘expert’ who has been to Bali once and are not in your demographic, or have a completely different style of travel.”
In the episode, Christina dives a little deeper into Google’s algorithm and how she believes it’s changing, as well as how she feels your style of writing is just as useful as SEO. Christina also suggests that ‘longer posts, with lots of information, do better,’ and she shares her method of how to title a blog post well.
Do you find you get more brand collaborations from your blog or your Instagram?
“Usually, my biggest partners are travel brands like resorts or Expedia, and those partnerships are almost always a combination of blog and Instagram. I’m always shocked when brands want just Instagram because I think the blog is so much more valuable.” Christina explains, “Since having Watercolors I know how important backlinks and blog posts are for brands. But I feel like, honestly, a lot of brands are missing that. It’s a gap right now and I think that’s going to change. People are going to value blogs more and more.”
Christina compares Instagram as ‘The inspirational platform’, and blogs as ‘The actionable platform.’ We feel that!
You are in the luxury travel space, did it start out like that?
In the episode, Christina shares how she ‘totally fell into the luxury space’ but advises that when you try to break into any niche “the most important thing you can do, as an influencer, is to be authentic. It’s about figuring out who you can connect with. Then understand who you are at your core. Who are you to your friends? And then scale that to an audience who aren’t your friends, but you’re still yourself with and they feel like they know you.”
Christina also shares how some of her favorite influencers are those “who are just so refreshingly them.” Like @TheSkinnyConfidential and @LindsaySilb,” Who we also love, and have had on the podcast… talking about growing an IG audience through authenticity!
What did the process of launching your swimwear business look like?
“Six months before we launched, I went to Columbia with 30 swimsuits. My fiancé was out designing men’s swimwear there because he knew Columbia has amazing swim fabrics. One-pieces were the beginning of Watercolors, but making those one-pieces started years before they were ever created.” Christina begins, “I’ve always loved swimwear as a luxury travel blogger, but even before that, I was a competitive swimmer growing up. I didn’t want to make Watercolors into a racing suit but I knew one-pieces and swimwear from an early age.”
“When I became a travel blogger I was wearing swimwear, working with a tonne of bikini brands. I think I was able to understand swimwear a tonne better than most people,” Christina proudly admits. “I wear a swimsuit almost 300 days out of a year so I knew what I liked, what I didn’t like, and what wasn’t out there in the market that I would want. The ideas were flowing way before it actually became a reality. I knew I wanted fun, stand-out-on-the-beach swimwear, I wanted to make it pop. I had a lot of fun making my designs.”
Is there an average profit margin behind e-commerce brands, or for swimwear in particular?
“I think it’s very different for every product, even our one-piece costs a different price to our two pieces. When we were pricing, we had to take into account returns for swimwear. Our return rate is lower than the average, but the average swimwear return rate is 35%, so that’s a lot. Shipping each way is expensive, so you have to take that into account with pricing as well as. Obviously, the actual price of the suit too, and that is so much more in places like Columbia, where there’s a better quality of fabrics. Then you have to take into account packaging, shipping, warehousing, and all of that fulfillment aspect.”
Christina also discusses advertisements vs organic sales in the episode; why she thinks slow and steady growth on Instagram is better; her future plans for Watercolors Swim and so much more. Tune in to the podcast to hear more of this powerhouse’s story.
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- Christina's Instagram: https://www.jetsetchristina.com/
- Christina's blog: https://www.instagram.com/jetsetchristina/
- Shop Watercolors Swim: https://www.kennyflowers.com/collections/watercolors-swimwear