Earlier this week Rebecca did a great job of reviewing ExcellentGuide.com. She made a point about the fact that they were trying to be too many things, instead of just focusing on one and actually being excellent at it, which they weren’t.
I felt it was a perfect example of a mistake that a lot of travel blogs – and thus travel writers – are making these days, and that is that they lack specialization, or more simply, a travel niche.
I see the same mistake frequently when I look at some Travel Blogs. I’m often asked by travel writers to look at their site and make suggestions, and most often the first thing I notice is that they don’t have a travel niche – no specialty that would set them apart from every other travel blog out there.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some travel writers who do an exceptionally good job with their travel blogs – they travel frequently and regularly add new (and great) travel content to their blog. Their sites are well organized and easy to navigate, and I enjoy reading their travel articles. But let’s be honest here – there are thousands of travel writers out there, many of whom are also doing just as good of a job.
So how do you stand out from the crowd?
The answer is simple – choose a travel niche. Find a specific topic that you are passionate about (and no, “travel” is not specific enough), and focus on writing about that topic. A perfect travel niche for you should be:
- Something you love, and
- Something you know alot about, and
- Something you have firsthand experience with
When you write on a specialized travel niche topic, it’s far more likely that people who are searching for information on that topic will find you. You have the opportunity to become an expert in your travel niche. And being an Expert is a good thing. People love to quote experts, especially in print. People love to ask experts for help and advice.
Experts get offered opportunities – and paying opportunities – that others don’t get.
I’d like to point out a couple of travel blogs that I think do a very good job of excelling in their travel niche (and hope they don’t mind being made an example of! ) :)
The first is ThePlanetD. Dave and Deb, aka “Canada’s Adventure Couple” have done a great job of setting themselves apart from 99% of other travel writers – their niche is Adventure Travel. They specialize in the kind of travel that make the rest of us embarassed to admit that we like sitting on a beach with a trashy novel ordering cocktails from that cute young beach waiter in those sexy boy-short trunks. They’re off having exciting, adventurous trips, and they have a loyal following of readers and travelers who are interesting in just that same kind of trip.
Another good example that I’ve just come across this week, is Travel, She Wrote, a travel blog by CeliaSue Hecht, about traveling with her dog CiCi. It’s a great site full of lots of interesting articles about her adventures with CiCi as well as reviews of pet-friendly venues and events. Now that’s a great travel niche! So if someone is looking for to plan a road-trip with their dog, and needs to know a few pet-friendly places to stay along the way, they wouldn’t waste time perusing a typical travel blog, they’d check with CeliaSue – she’s an expert on that. The only advice I would give to CeliaSue would be to use her Tagline as her Blog name (“Have Dog Blog, Will Travel”) and to put a picture of CiCi right in her header image, so that it’s clear, from the moment someone lands on the site, what it’s about.
Your travel niche might be a specific destination — even if that’s your own home town, like Jon Rochetti’s travel blog, TheDCTraveler. Jon is an expert on Washington DC and all that happens there.
When Publishers want content on a specific locale, they look first for writers who already know that particular destination well. When an Editor or Journalist needs a quote on a specific subject, they look for an expert on that subject. Experts get asked to sit on Panel and Advisory Boards, judge competitions, give speeches or lectures, contribute to new projects, and much more. The fastest way to become an expert is to pick a niche that you know well (or possibly even better than anyone else) and write about it. Teach others. Share your knowledge.
The bottom line is that if you choose to write about all things travel and all destinations, you might be able to succeed and make a living from it, but it will certainly be challenging because you have a lot of competition in that market — some really good competition, too. But if you pick a niche, and work to become the go-to person in that niche, success will be easier and opportunities will come sooner.
Do you have a travel writing niche? Share your thoughts!