As we reach the halfway point of 2014, we couldn’t help but go back through many interviews we’ve conducted so far this year to see where we’ve been and where we’re going. The travel industry is changing (there is no doubt about that!), and these writers, editors, and publishers have given us insight into how to make it in the travel industry. So, as we plan for the upcoming TBEX conferences, take our much-needed summer vacations, and do what we do best (travel and write), take a few moments to sit back, relax, and enjoy this round-up of the most interesting travel writing quotes we’ve gotten so far in 2014. And, let us know in the comments section what you think about what our experts have to say!
Happy continued writing,
–Tim & Kristin
P.S. Also, if you’re not subscribed to our newsletter (which always features a round-up of our most recent interviews!), sign up here. No spam, no selling, and no sharing–just a friendly newsletter every once in a while.
“Wearing your heart on your sleeve can bond you with your audience in ways that “Everything is awesome” can’t…..Bloggers totally play it too safe. If you want to be invited on press trip after press trip or get paid day rates by PR, it pays to be safe. You have to have a lot of nerve to bite the hand that feeds you. But it depends on what your goal is. If you want to have a career as an independent writer, you’re gotta put your incisors to work. If you want to trade work as a marketing hack for luscious vacations on someone else’s dime, carry on. But no one says, “I would like to read a travel story about someone who’s having an awesome time on a meticulously managed experience, especially if they are writing to please the host.” – Interview with Pam Mandel, Nerd’s Eye View and Passports with Purpose
“I think it’s important to be judicious in your use of social media, or it can become a big drain on your time and not necessarily garner the results you’re seeking. As of mid-2014, I still believe there are lots of good paying print markets out there. You just have to find them and then consistently deliver the goods for your editors.” – Interview with Lucas Aykroyd, freelance writer
“I think newsletters are your number one asset in reaching out to readers. Keep them short, keep them sweet and make sure they are interactive so that readers can give you feedback on what they do and don’t like. From there it is your particular style (and don’t be afraid to let that show) which will spell success or not.” – Interview with Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman
“My most popular post on the Cheapest Destinations Blog is 4,803 words, for example. There are e-books for sale that are shorter than that. But don’t take my word for it. In this awesome (long) post from AppSumo founder Noah Kagan, the analysis of more than 100,000 blog posts showed the longer the post, the more it got shared.” – Advice post from our very own Tim Leffel
“I find the key is deeply caring about what you’re writing. But more importantly is to have a clear purpose for creating a blog. Its an easy thing to overlook for newbies, but it will help determine what are the right steps – is the blog about making money, or a hobby or promoting a social cause? If a blog is primarily about making money, then it will need to be the focus front and centre. For us, we started the blog as a hobby and it has grown into a small business which are excited about building further.” – Interview with Erin Bender, Travel with Bender
“Digital media has made a huge impact in the industry and opened up a gap for new ways that travelers can get information. This was crucial for opening the door for this new wave of world travelers, who don’t necessarily travel like their parents once did.” – Interview with Cacinda Maloney, Points and Travel
“Don’t be afraid to act like a professional, even if you don’t feel like one yet. Be reliable, meet deadlines, and deliver exactly as briefed. Overcome any shyness about communicating with your editors. Good editors don’t get annoyed if you ask for guidance. It shows that you care.” – Interview with Rob Goss, freelance writer
“We’re now in the ‘golden age of free content’ which means many writers end up giving away their work for nothing, especially in the early days as they try to build a reputation. It’s very hard to move from writing for free to writing for a living but the sooner you start to make this transition the better. I would suggest starting by keeping your job and writing on the side; then transitioning to part-time work and paid writing assignments; then moving – if possible – to full-time paid writing. But it isn’t easy and there are no short cuts.” – Interview with John Lee, freelance writer
Round-up collected in July 2014 by Kristin Winet.
Sorry kids – the chance to attend for free has passed, but check out the rest for what’s in store!
TBEX North America and TBEX Europe are coming up later this year and our very own Tim Leffel will be joining 750+ attendees to talk about travel, adventures, writing, photographing, blogging, and making a living with the combination. This year, to kick things off, we’re giving away one free registration to TBEX Europe in Athens, a $247 value. All you have to do to enter is answer one question below in the Comments and you’re entered!
You’ll see plenty of the writers, bloggers, and editors we’ve interviewed here on the Travel Writing 2.0 blog at both TBEX conferences this year, including Max Hartshorne, Sheila Scarborough, and a host of other names in the business. Click below to see some of the interviews we’ve done with this year’s speakers:
TBEX Cancun (September 11-13, 2014):
TBEX Athens (October 23-25, 2014):
To enter our giveaway, simply respond to this question in the Comments section: What has your blogging journey been like and what do you want to learn at TBEX? Be as creative and insightful as you can!
Rules: one entry per person; no writers who work for Tim or any of the above websites are eligible.
Update – Congrats to Jessica Dawdy, who will be joining me in Greece!
This prize is non-refundable or transferable and must be used at TBEX Europe in Athens. It is for registration only and does not include travel expenses or lodging.
If you read a lot of conventional wisdom articles about how to write successful blog posts, you’ll read a lot of advice that’s just plain wrong. Some people giving out this advice give it because it worked for them five years ago so they assume it’s still working now. Others are just parroting what they’re heard before, with no research or testing to back it up. If you follow all the “rules,” you’ll be average at best.
Here are the worst piles of crap:
Ask anyone who has written some epic long post that’s gone viral and they’ll tell you this is bunk. My most popular post on the Cheapest Destinations Blog is 4,803 words, for example. There are e-books for sale that are shorter than that. But don’t take my word for it. In this awesome (long) post from AppSumo founder Noah Kagan, the analysis of more than 100,000 blog posts showed the longer the post, the more it got shared.
Yeah I know, people have short attention spans on the web and they don’t like to read long blocks of text. That’s what everyone will tell you anyway.
But what kind of readers are you trying to attract? The kind that surfs the web like a squirrel on crack? Or the kind that have landed on your site because they’re actually interested in the topic?
If it’s the latter, forget the former. Go for quality visitors, not just eyeballs. Stick in a photo or subhead where it’s natural, but those who want to skim and just pick out one fact aren’t the ones who are going to sign up for your e-mail list, get your RSS feed, or value your advice. Ten seconds from now they’ll be on to something else and won’t ever remember the name of your blog. So don’t dumb down your writing to please them. Let them go.
This is actually half right. It’s good advice for search: you want the subject of the article to be the subject in your title. And not too long.
But it turns out this is terrible advice when it comes to social sharing. Just look at the success of sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy. They’ve built up massive traffic and Facebook followings by posting clever titles that promise something funny, strange, or amazing if you will just click that link already. (Recent examples: “The Nipple Bikini Lets You Go Topless Without Taking It All Off,” “A Man Walked Into A McDonald’s With A Knife Sticking Out Of His Back,” “If You’re Too Grossed Out To Share This Video, Then You’re Exactly Why It Exists.”
This is bad advice for a whole host of reasons, the main one being that the time you publish a post might be the lowest readership time for your audience on social media. If most of your followers are in bed by 10 pm and your post goes live at midnight, then put the megaphone away until the morning.
Besides, based on personal experience with six different blogs and websites, at least 90% of an article’s traffic comes after it has been out at least a month. What’s the rush? The other point is, it’s better if others spread the word for you than if you do it yourself. This is especially true for Stumbleupon.
One caveat though: posting on Google+ does seem to get your post indexed faster by Google. Whether this matters or not in the long run is up for debate.
Yes, you probably will get more clicks and shares if your post has a number in it. Like it or not, top-10 lists are still popular and probably always will be. The lemmings love lists and even if they haven’t read it, they’ll retweet it.
But what good is a retweet if nobody clicks on the link? What’s the good of bringing more traffic to your site if it’s the first and last time they’ll visit–for 15 seconds?
The occasional list post is a nice break that will probably get you higher short-term traffic. You could say it’s the entire reason some blogs (like The Luxury Travel Blog) get so much traffic. They’ve done lists non-stop from the start and it has worked for them. Hey, your next list post may even go viral.
But here’s the key question: do you want to be known as a writer with expertise, or a person who’s good at making lists?
Your turn: what other advice do you read all the time that hasn’t been right for you or your audience?