It’s been a while since I’ve indulged myself with a good rant.
But this one has been building steam.
It seems like lately I’ve been seeing certain mistakes being made by travel writers and bloggers that are clearly negatively impacting them, but they don’t realize it.
Some make me want to reach through my monitor and grab them by the shoulders, shake them and say “don’t you see what you’re doing??“.
Unfortunately, were it even possible, I doubt that it would go over well. After all, no one wants to be told “you’re getting in your own way“!
But I get numerous emails from writers asking my advice – ranging from “why do I keep getting rejection letters” to “why can’t I get more traffic to my website” and everything in between. When I take a look at their websites, the answer is obvious to me, but not to them.
Sometimes people don’t realize that they just may be their own biggest obstacle to success.
We all develop blinders when it comes to our own behavior, and sometimes we need someone else – who is objective (and that means NOT your mom) – to tell us what we’re doing wrong.
SO here goes…….in no particular order, here at the three biggest obstacles I’ve recently seen a fair number of writers tripping over:
1. General writing obstacles
If you’re just writing or blogging for yourself as a personal project, no one really cares how good or bad your writing is. But if you’re hoping to earn a living as a writer or blogger, you must pay attention to this:
- Problem: Your writing skills need improvement.
I don’t know anyone – myself included – who has such perfect writing skills that they never make even a single spelling error. It happens to all writers, and even editors miss a few things now and then. The occasional blunder can be overlooked. But when your writing is FULL of typos, grammatical errors, and incorrect use of formatting, it’s a real turn-off for readers, and dramatically limits your paying writing opportunities.
- Suggestion: Whether your writing skills need a minor tune-up or a major overhaul, consider taking a writing class – not creative writing, but one that teaches the basics – at a local community college or an online learning course. Once you’ve mastered the basics, move on to a travel-writing specific class, like one from our Top 10 Travel Writing Courses page, to learn the finer points of storytelling.
2. Obstacles to getting your articles accepted
Are you getting a lot of rejections? Or worse, are your queries or submissions being ignored? If the problem is clearly not your general writing skills (see problem #1), then consider this:
- Problem: Your article may not be what the publication is looking for.
By way of example, every week I get several submissions of destination articles. Nowhere on our site do we feature destination content, and on our submission page I even specify, in bold letters, that we don’t accept them. And yet, writers still send them to me, hoping for publication.
- Suggestion: Be absolutely certain that you’ve read – and fully understand – a publication’s submission guidelines and be sure to READ the publication to get a feel for what types of stories they publish – both conceptually as well as voice and style. Don’t waste your time – or an editor’s time – pitching a story that isn’t a good fit.
3. Social networking obstacles
Are your social networking efforts not reaping the benefits you’d hoped for? Do you seem to attract followers or friends that don’t seem relevant and don’t turn into visitors to your blog?
- Problem: Trying to combine business and personal use of social media accounts.
Here’s another example – I often get “friend” requests on Facebook, but when I go to look at their Facebook page, it says “so and so only shares some of [his/her] profile information with everyone”. Okay, but if I can’t learn anything about you, why exactly should I accept your friend request? If you’re promoting yourself as a writer on Facebook, why would you block anyone from seeing that? The other big problem is that I follow writers to either help promote them or learn from them, and all they post on social media is personal stuff…..don’t confuse business acquaintances such as editors and publishers with actual friends who care about what’s going on with your kids.
- Suggestion: Have two separate accounts – one for your personal communications with family and friends, which you can – and should – keep private, and another for business colleagues and acquaintances. Use it to promote your website and writing, and let anyone look at it.
If you don’t recognize yourself in this post, pat yourself on the back and give yourself a hug from me. If you do, keep an open mind and realize that this is for your own good.
Do you spot mistakes that others make? Share your advice!