The Best Travel Writing Advice We Got This Year

As we ring in a new year of writing, blogging, and traveling, we couldn’t help but go back through the nearly 50 interviews we conducted in 2013 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 in the new year. So sit back, relax, and enjoy this round-up of best travel writing advice we got in 2013–and get ready for another awesome year of inspiring interviews here at Travel Writing 2.0.

And happy writing in 2014!

–Tim & Kristin

Advice to New Bloggers

The best thing you can do is to network, network, network. Meet people. Talk to other bloggers. Attend conferences.  Branch out beyond travel. Make partnerships. Blogs don’t exist in a bubble and if you don’t network, you won’t succeed. –Matt Kepnes, Nomadicmatt

Blog prolifically — a minimum of four times per week for the first nine months or so, and don’t ever drop below three times per week.  Get active on social media.  Connect with senior travel bloggers and travel bloggers within your own generation.  Don’t blog about travel blogging.  Work hard, and work nonstop.  This is your future. –Kate McCulley, Adventurouskate

My advice to new travel bloggers? Find your voice. Speak in that voice through your blog. Blog like there’s nobody watching. ;) –Heather Greenwood Davis, Globetrottingmama

9273311792_9722e1ba24_zAlthough it’s important to write for the ‘bots’ as search is key for traffic, don’t sell out the personality of your content. --Amie O’Shaughnessy, Ciaobambino

My advice to new travel bloggers would be to not forget that even those who can’t travel often need and want to be inspired to travel some. Not everyone can go around the world or vacation in Tibet, so also find a way to get regular folks, like me and my friends, to just travel somewhere by inspiring through the attainable and real. –Carol Cain, Girlgonetravel

The Role of Digital Media

Our work is more technical. You need to understand some basic code, SEO, website structure, keywords, search, the use of images etc. Good writing is still the number one most important thing, though….It’s therefore dangerous to see social media as “throw away”, here today, gone tomorrow – ephemeral. Write a blog post as if it were to be published in the New York Times. –Michael Collins, owner of Travelmedia.ie

And when decoding the experience, it doesn’t really matter what tools are available, from a journal to a camera to a tablet, or whatever distribution channels bubble up, from print to radio to television to Vine, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, or a million others….at the end of the day, it’s about living a good story, and then telling it. –Richard Bangs, PBS Show Adventures with Purpose

There’s no doubt print journalism is shrinking, both in terms of jobs and content. But there’s nothing like seeing a lovely spread – glossy or in print – of your work. And the same goes for holding an article in your hand rather than always staring at a screen. I hope print and digital continue to complement one another… –Gabriel O’Rourke, freelance writer

Becoming a Multimedia Expert–Tips for Photography, Audio, & Video

One – always shoot in RAW. Even if right now you don’t know what that is, or why you should be doing it – you need to be shooting in RAW….The other tip is to learn how to do some basic post processing. It’s not as hard as you think, and the barrier to entry is low. There are heaps of free programs out there, with Picasa being a good example to start with. Even Adobe’s Lightroom – the industry standard, isn’t particularly expensive. –Laurence Norah, owner of Findingtheuniverse

My work is strongly personal, visual and social — there are lots of high-quality photos, often with me and friends in them, complemented by social network interaction. Both my video narration and writings are short and to the point. I let images tell the story. It goes without saying: making successful web content is very different from writing for the travel section of a print newspaper. –La Carmina, travel & fashion blogger

7162379169_c2d3a65714_zFor proof that writing and photography silos continue to be dismantled at a rapid clip, consider the  Chicago Sun-Times, which recently  eliminated its entire photo staff in favor of providing reporters with iPhones. As a backpack journalist, I’ve been taking my own photos and smartphone videos on the road for years – and am convinced that successful travel communicators will need to develop and hone multiple skills, including social media. –Laura Bly, Blyonthefly

From your main interests, find the key players, markets and influences are and start networking. Social media is very important in today’s market so you have to be an active participant in many social media channels along with a beautiful website, blog, stock site or any photo hosting site that will showcase your work to a buying market. –Noel Morata, freelance photographer

Personally, I find podcasting easier than writing. I still spend a lot of time on structure and messages, and think a lot about how to ensure you keep people engaged in a logical and interesting way. Podcasts that are made without the discipline and structure you put into good writing do not work, attract and retain listeners. –Gary Bembridge, Tipsfortravellers

Advice to Freelance Writers

Pitch; think; think more; think better; be incisive: pitch again. Repeat. –Kim Mance, founder of TBEX

Perhaps you hold a geology degree and your passion is researching mineral resources. Find a way to combine those gifts in a way that involve travel and writing and appeals to that particular audience.  Research your competition. Start producing solid, well written content. Once you have a slew of top quality published blog posts, seek out guest post blogging opportunities. Ideally, position yourself as an expert in your field and market yourself as a resource. –Nancy D. Brown, freelance writer & equestrian expert

I’m a big believer in relationships. If there’s a magazine I love I try to connect with the editor in person….I think new travel writers should take advantage of gatherings like TBEX or New Media Expo or Blogher to allow for opportunities for those real-life connections. Also, don’t forget the value in your fellow writers. There will come a time when they’ll be asked to recommend someone for something they can’t do. It could be you. –Heather Greenwood Davis, Globetrottingmama

I instruct them to write out a mock three month editorial calendar based on what their plans are for the next few weeks so they can see what kind of content they would be able to create through their experiences. I then suggest they write five blog posts in a word document just so they can see how much time is involved in the writing process. I would say that only 50% of the people that take this advice discover they love the planning and writing process. –Andrew Dobson, Dobbernationloves

How to Make Money Doing What You Love

I don’t think I could have built up a loyal readership had I monetized immediately. (My book was the first thing I ever asked for support on, and it was almost 4.5 years out of keeping the site.) So, if they do want to monetize, at a minimum I would say to hold off doing so until they establish a community. –Jodi Ettenberg, Legalnomads3098610791_45a07bc23b

Since April this year, my income doubled every month. This month it was enough to cover my monthly expenses which is a great achievement! (Note: I live in Turkey at the moment, it’s cheap here!) The earnings from my blog are a mix of Adsense and Affiliates. If you want to make money, you need traffic first. I wouldn’t start monetizing before you have at least 500 visitors a day. Choose Affiliate products you love and write reviews about them, they will sell much better than a simple banner in your sidebar. –Sabrina Iovino, Justonewayticket

It seems that the new economic model is to decentralize income and instead build a network of smaller streams, leaving a person less vulnerable than relying on one big paycheck for a complete livelihood. –Jennifer Miller, Edventuretravel

You have to do it because you simply love to write and love to travel, not because you just want free trips places. If you go in with that attitude – that free is what you are after and you are owed free things because you write – you will not get far. Always be kind. Network. Get your name out there with guest posts on other blogs, try your hand at freelancing for publications. The more you get into the mix, the better chances you will have at growing your own blog. –Diana Edelman, Dtravelsround

Become a travel PR rep.  Seriously.  Coincidentally, my daughter did just that, though for other reasons, and she makes more money than I do, which is what I would have predicted.  Also, she gets to travel to great places leading press trips—Argentina, Switzerland, and more. –Carole Terwilliger Meyers, author of 18 travel books

Going the Self-Publishing Route

I’ve used Amazon’s CreateSpace print-on-demand service, which also lists the book on Amazon as soon as you’re done. This works great as long as your book is in black-and-white. The price for printing color, however, can be prohibitively expensive. There’s an average of one photo per page, and there’s plenty of color icons as well….Enter Lightning Source – a printing company that will print on demand and plays nicely with Amazon. They have some strict guidelines to follow regarding formatting, but once it’s done, it’s done. I’ll recommend them if and only if your book needs to be in color. –Chris Backe, author of Weird and Wonderful Korea

Traditional publishers may no longer have a monopoly on information delivery; we writers just have to find new ways to provide our readers with – and earn income from – this content. –Carolyn B. Heller, author of Moon Ontario

How to Approach an Editor

The most common mistake guest bloggers make is not following our guest blogging guidelines and trying to insert spammy, anchor-rich text links in their posts. Too much focus on getting a link and not on producing good quality content and I am just not interested in that. –Paul Johnson, Editor of Aluxurytravelblog

The biggest piece of advice: pitch like you have nothing to lose. The writers that get published are the writers that try to get published, plain and simple. Editors aren’t scary, they just need what they need – figure out what that is and give it to them. –Andy Murdock, U.S. Digital Editor of Lonely Planet

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