It seems like every romantic place online has been written about a gazillion times, at least I thought so. But my cohort reeeeally wanted a site about romantic places in California, especially for us older folks. So I started looking, and yes, there were a lot of sites about San Francisco and la Jolla and Montecito and other places, but none of them focused on the romantic aspects of those places. Gee willikers, I thought, here was a wide open area.
So our site came into being. We called it “California Rendezvous”. You won’t find it online anymore. When I moved to Oregon, I signed my rights over to my business partner who let it go. That was several years ago. It was sad because this site really had incredible potential. But now that potential is yours if you care to pursue it, and may I note that the same approach will work just dandy for nearly any geographical location. (Incidentally, my former business partner has approved this post, so feel comfortable using anything here.)
(Yes, you are welcome to be inspired by this design if you like!)
Here are some pointers. You are welcome to pick and choose, and of course to add your own ideas.
Choose A Variety Of Places That Are Romantic
There’s the local hamburger joint on the main drag, yes. But there might also be a hamburger joint with a garden patio adjacent to a creek.
Hotels are rarely romantic, except for a few wonderful exceptions, like those with a view of the ocean. Bed and breakfast places are far more likely to be romantic.
An afternoon tea at an exquisite resort is soooo romantic, so elegant.
A picnic in a charming hideaway in the woods is quite special.
Special gardens, like the orchid gardens of Camarillo and the begonia gardens in Capitola are so charming, and yes, romantic.
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Let Your Mascot Do The Talking
Goodness knows, I am not photogenic. It took roughly 500 shots to get the picture you see on the bio page — lol. So we got a wonderful mascot. We both fell in love with this huge, nearly life size plush lion, that we promptly dubbed “Kingsley”.
We took Kingsley everywhere. On our first trip with Kingsley, we were unpacking at a hotel, taking Kingsley out of the trunk. A little girl wandered over, eyes as big as saucers, asking if she could pet the lion. We introduced her to Kingsley, and they both had a special moment. This “special moment” repeated many many times; everyone loved Kingsley.
Kingsley came to be increasingly identified with this site. His picture was everywhere. He wrote the blog posts. And, most importantly, he got a pride of hundreds of little lions. One of them is pictured above. We tied a blue ribbon around each little lion’s neck, imprinted with “California Rendezvous”. Everywhere we went, we gave out little lions. We bought them by the gross, and loved giving out every single one. People’s eyes always lit up when we handed them a little lion.
Giving out little lions also made it a lot easier to get permission from individuals to take their pictures. (Note: Yes, you will need written permission from every individual.)
Go Visit Every Romantic Place That You Recommend
First, you need to know first hand that it really is romantic.
Establish contacts in the area, people you can contact to keep up to date on changes.
Plan your trip in advance, and accept invitations for lunch or dinner, or even overnight stays. This is one of the real perks of doing a site like this. Give restaurateurs and B&B managers an opportunity to review your site before you show up; let them discover for themselves what a benefit it would be to be on your site.
Take your own photos — it will save you tons of money when you don’t have to buy them. Also, your destination spots may have images that you can use for free as well.
There are slews of ways to make legitimate income on a romantic website. Here are some to consider:
This may be the most obvious income stream. If you feature one Hilton Hotel, let Hilton have the option of placing real advertising on your site so that other Hiltons might reap some benefit too.
Any time you feature any place, that place may want to advertise. We did not, however, require it. Our goal was to give a great experience to the site visitor so we wanted the freedom to feature any and all places that seemed romantic. One way a place might advertise is to become the logo for a section of your site, such as the logo for your section on “lakeside restaurants” or “magical gardens”. If you do that, be sure to disclose it in your Advertising Policy.
This site has huge potential for site sponsorship. Create a column with only the “site sponsors”, a very limited number of them. This column will appear on every single page of your site/blog, so it is valuable to larger advertisers, like hotel chains and booking agencies.
SHOW AFFILIATE ADS
Feature products on your site that are romantic. Show an affiliate ad for flowers so that flowers can be delivered to a hotel or restaurant. Or perfume. Or wine. Or chocolates.
The sky is truly the limit here. Sexy lingerie is even an option if your audience seems open to it.
Should you visit an art enclave, there are no doubt some of the artists who would love to have you feature artwork on your site. See what you can arrange.
BECOME A BROKER FOR SMALL B&Bs
Set up a system so that people can book a B&B via your site. You will need a contact/information form that they can fill out. Ideally, the form should be sent to both you and to the B&B. If it can only go to one person, have it sent to you, then you can forward it to the B&B. When these people actually book the room, you will earn a commission.
Large hotels won’t be interested in this; only the small B&Bs will welcome the exposure.
Be sure to follow up with each inquiry, both to ensure that they did indeed book the room, and to find out what their experience with that B&B was.
CREATE A “ROMANTIC BOUTIQUE” ON YOUR SITE
Use affiliate services like ShareASale to find hundreds of potential items.
Or do some custom creation via Zazzle. Design romantic tees and pillows and any number of other things. Just have fun with it.
If you are truly creative, create your own romantic notions. oooooh.
All in all, this is just a fun site to create and manage, and a profitable one too. And it will grow and grow for years to come, becoming as large and as important as you want to make it.