How I Got Back to Writing

how a travel writer found her way back to writing
24 January 2011 Post Author:
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Everyone has a story in them.

You just have to put it down.

Now, with so many internet opportunities, everyone can become a writer or at least a blogger. Here’s my story.

I loved writing until my high school English teacher trashed a short story I wrote. I was crushed and put down my pen.

Yes, we hand wrote our stories back then. Typewriters came with college. Only IBM and perhaps a few other large companies had computers. They were huge and unwieldy, think Univac.

Some people make a decent living with their blogs, we hope to be among them one day

That pen stayed silent for many years. I kept travel journals and sometimes journaled my daily life. I even wrote a good part of my autobiography one night after coming up with the perfect first line, “My mother washed the kitchen floor the night I was born”.

Fast forward a number of years. We moved to Colorado and, somehow, I began selling ads for an alternative health magazine.

One day, the opportunity arose to write a story and I took it. I was hooked. I started writing for two other Northern Colorado magazines, writing features and food stories. I became a restaurant reviewer – a dream job for a foodie.

When we moved to Santa Fe, NM, I briefly wrote for a monthly publication, but it was not a good fit. I didn’t miss writing. I didn’t think about it, I was too busy.

In 2009, I started my own travel-related business. My daughter-in-law, a PR person, said I had to promote it on Twitter and Facebook. I immediately fell in love with Twitter. It’s short and sweet and fun. She also advised I start a blog. I signed up on blogspot.com (now Blogger) and went to work.

I wrote about Santa Fe and northern New Mexico, it was what my business was about and I was promoting it. I was a little rusty and it felt like a bit of a chore. I have poor SEO skills and no real desire to improve them. Consequently, I wasn’t getting traffic and worse, I wasn’t engaged.

One day, someone I follow on Twitter, Tweeted and asked if anyone was interested in writing for Examiner.com. I had never heard of Examiner, but I was intrigued. I decided to check it out. I applied and got accepted. My career as the Santa Fe Insider Travel Examiner began. I think I became a “Travel Writer” the day I got that title. I wrote about anything and everything in and around my adopted city. My writing began to show up in search engines and I developed a following. I also had a support group; some of my fellow Travel Examiners. I was having a ball. Wanting a change, I started writing about road-trips we took, and then any trip. I love to travel and I love to write, it’s a winning combination.

Then, Examiner changed their terms of service; I wasn’t comfortable with the new ones. I had writing momentum going and needed a place to go and fast.

Three weeks later, my business partner (also my husband) and I launched a new blog, Santa Fe Travelers. We write about Santa Fe and beyond. Because I had an audience for my writing and very supportive friends, especially on Twitter, it took off fairly quickly.

If you’re thinking of blogging, these thoughts may help you.

It’s great to be your own boss and have almost total control over layout, content and advertisers (should you have them). Pretty much everything about the blog is under your control. The tough thing about blogging; pretty much everything about the blog is under your control. You become writer, editor, administrator, public relations person and SEO expert (in my case, the last is my husband). If you have money, you can delegate some of these tasks, but in the beginning, at least, they probably fall to you. If you work well with others and know another writer or writers who want to blog, team up. You can share the work and hopefully you have different strengths.

Some people make a decent living with their blogs, we hope to be among them one day. For now, we love what we are doing and that’s more than a lot of people can say.

Resources for people who want to write online: (Check each carefully and read the Terms of Service)
Associated Content (http://www.associatedcontent.com)
Bright Hub (http://www.brighthub.com)
Constant Content (http://www.constant-content.com/)
Demand Studios (http://www.demandstudios.com/)
Elance.com (http://www.elance.com/)
Examiner.com (http://www.examiner,com)
Helium (http://www.helium.com/)
Seed (http://www.seed.com/)
Suite 101 (http://www.suite101.com/)

Blogging platforms: (the first two give you a blog space and free hosting)
Blogger (http://www.blogger.com/)
WordPress.com (http://wordpress.com/)
WordPress.org (http://wordpress.org/) (which is better in a lot of ways; caveat: you have to be somewhat web-savvy to use it and you need to pay for hosting) (Ed. Note: Both Blogger and WordPress.COM are free only for non-commercial use, which means you cannot place ads on your blogs nor can you sell products such as your ebooks.)

~ Billie

How did you get started as a travel writer? Share your experience!

9 Responses to “How I Got Back to Writing”

  1. Excellent story, Billie – thanks for sharing it!

    I’d say this is a good lesson in not letting others destroy your dream – I get so upset when teachers (even if they mean well) only criticize, without offering suggestions for improvement. But I’m glad you didn’t give up!

  2. Akila
    Twitter:
    says:

    This is a great story. I am struggling right now with trying to find my writing identity . . . do I try to do the freelancing bit or pursue my dream of being a novelist? Right now, I believe that I am doing what I love . . . writing every single day and, hopefully, some day soon, I will figure out how to turn this into a career.

  3. Hi Billy,

    Writing is really my passion. Writing for my theme notebook was my favorite assignment in my elementary years. Feature writing was my job as member of the editorial board of my high school organ. I won college campus essay writing contests and became champion in the regional level.But, I stopped writing when I landed a job in the government. My writing interest was awakened when my son, a freelance programmer and web developer, created a site for me. I wrote anything under the sun about my island life. Later a nephew, suggested for me to write keyword-based articles, which I did. Then my son told me to submit my articles to ezinearticles.com article directory, which I also did. I was elevated to platinum expert status in less than 1 week. I decided to launch my travel site just a few hours before the year 2010 ended. It is in travel writing that I found many friends who are very much supportive to neophyte travel writers. But unfortunately, I got insults from site owners who got mad when I beg for link exchange. It’s been less than a month that I started travel writing but the feeling of resurrection of my writing passion is so nice and invigorating.

  4. Ted Nelson
    Twitter:
    says:

    Interesting article about getting started writing on the web. I have been reading Billie for a couple of years, but never heard this story.

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