Travel Writing – The Importance of Getting ‘Out There’
I was invited to write this guest post on Travel Writers Exchange about how important it is to ‘get out there’ in regards to your travel writing. I am going to write about my experience so far of how important it is to take action on this matter.
The bottom line for me is: if your travel writing isn’t out there for people to look at, then it will never be noticed. And one of the best ways to have your travel writing noticed is to get it out there on the internet, where there is a potential global audience.
The traditional ways of travel writing are being challenged by what’s happening today online. Before the ‘digital age’, you had to submit your work to publishers, magazines etc, and always had to go through a ‘gatekeeper’. Depending on your timing, and who would review your work, you may or may not have your work published, even if it was good stuff.
Things are now different. There are about 70 million blogs in cyberspace, of which many are travel related. The thing with the internet is that there are no gatekeepers to stop you from getting your travel writing out there. Sure, this scenario has its good and bad points, but the internet is the world’s biggest, and most effective self-regulating democracy.
If something is good, people will stick with it. If it’s not, they’ll go away and find something else.
As for me, I fell into travel writing/blogging quite by accident. I had no intentions of starting one up until late 2008. I had been doing my own travel writing via the traditional means, but it wasn’t going far. I received some good feedback, but my writing didn’t fit lists, or they had someone of a similar style or content, etcetera, etcetera.
But I’m so glad I’ve taken the step of creating my domain name, having my site hosted, powering it with Word Press and sending out regular posts into the internet world. I only started the site in January 2009, and I have started to gain a loyal following for the blog.
During this time, I have asked for feedback from others, as I feel this improves the process for me. It’s good to engage with your commenters as much as possible, and take their feedback on board.
Some of the comments I have received include the following:
‘I love the site because namely everything you post about is relevant and interesting to my own travel goals. You also manage to blend a very personal take on everything with a serious amount of content that is informative. I find this lacking on a lot of travel blogs, but with yours I get a personal account but also information I will need and might seek out in the future for my own travels. Entertaining and informative, it’s a great combo. You also post about a wide range of topics, activities and places. I never know what to expect and I look forward to your new posts. Even though you are seemingly random in your topics I can still access specific places and topics with your categories sidebar which is great.’
‘After all this time, tonight is my first time flickering through your blog. I must say, I did a few rolling on the floor laughing reading your off-beat travel tips. My favourite post is the Gin and Tonic Bar in Rundu. ;)’
‘Great site Anthony…you have the gift of the travel gab and an extraordinary eye for what is interestingly left of field more more more please’
‘You have a brilliant site there, made me chuckle with your funny expressions.’
I found these comments extremely valuable, because if other people like your writing – it must be good!
With regards to my writing, I love irony. I love the funny, offbeat and humourous things in life, and this extends to travel and my travel writing. Since I love this kind of writing, it’s easy for me to produce offbeat content that other people seem to enjoy.
So based on my blogging experience to this point in time, I feel that these things are pretty important when it comes to getting your travel writing out there:
- Write about something you are passionate about. It’s very hard to fake passion. Chances are there are many others in the world who share your passion and will follow what you write.
- Be different (that is, just be yourself) because everyone else is taken. Make sure you ‘find your voice’. I find that writing with a humourous bent works well for me. Think about it – the reason that people are infected with the travel bug is that when they go to a foreign country, it’s different to their own. You don’t like the place despite of the differences – you like the place because of them. The same applies to travel writing.
- Don’t expect overnight success. You need to build a gradual profile over time, and things will happen. Overnight internet successes are just that.
- Do offer to guest blog on other websites. You will be surprised how other travel bloggers are receptive to this – and that means their readers will have a look at your writing as well!
Here is a real life example that happened to me about the importance of getting out there – I like backing these statements up with such examples to illustrate the point.
- In August 2008, I received an email from the Queensland Writers Centre (in Australia) about a travel agent wanting someone to produce articles for his website.
- I contact him (Nick Bowditch, view his website here and follow him on Twitter here) and submit my first piece called ‘The Top 5 Places To Indulge Yourself’
- About a couple of weeks later, I receive an email from a friend who came across the Pestablogger 2008 conference to be held in Indonesia that November. They were inviting 5 foreign bloggers/travel writers to undergo an all expenses paid blogging tour of Indonesia for a week. I decide to take a punt and submit my work that I had done for Nick.
- The Pestablogger 2008 Committee like what I write, and invite me to come over for the week. I had a fantastic time, meeting great people, eating some tasty food, and experiencing great things. The other four bloggers there were so passionate about what they were doing, and this gave me the idea – surely, I could do this as well. Some of them were full time bloggers who make their living from blogging.
This simple act of getting out there – writing travel articles for someone else – helped me go on a blogging trip, and gave me the inspiration to start my own blog!
So the most important point about getting your travel writing out there is to DO IT.
Don’t worry about ‘excessive perfection’. You will learn things along the way that will improve the writing process, but the most important thing is to take action as soon as possible.
Obviously you need to be a good writer – however, you don’t have to be Shakespeare or Dickens. But the one quality you need more than talent is persistence. There will be setbacks, and things may become stale or stagnant for a while. There will be many roadblocks. But they are there to stop the people who don’t really want to succeed.
I repeat, persistence is the main quality you need to succeed at travel writing.
So get out there and start writing. Develop relationships on line via Twitter and Facebook and other social networking sites. You never know what may happen! Eventually, I hope to make a full time career out of this, simply because I love doing it.
And feel free to get hold of me – my contact details are located at my blog. If you’ve got something offbeat relating to travel, I’m happy to place it on my site!
Anthony, aka The Travel Tart