Matthew Long is a writer for the digital age: while he has written over 500 pieces for the travel blog he created, Landlopers.com, he has also written extensively for other blogs and online media. In this interview, I asked Matthew to share some of what he’s learned about transitioning to an increasingly media-friendly market.
How did you get started with travel blogging? What’s your background?
I started my blog in 2010 because I was dissatisfied with my job at the time. I had no creative outlet and I needed one desperately. I’ve always had a true passion for travel and writing, so I decided to combine the two.
Let’s talk a little bit about your personal blog, Landlopers.com. What did it take to build your site and how do you keep it going?
My primary outlet is my blog. I do some freelance writing on the side but my web site is my primary business. Starting a blog is easy, keeping it going is hard. It takes a lot of dedication without expectation of reward and few people can maintain that for more than a few months. In order to be a successful blogger dedication and a true passion for the subject is absolutely essential.
What’s the future of travel writing look like, in your opinion? Say 5 or 10 years down the road?
Well absolutely everything, travel or otherwise, is being driven towards mobile and online content. It’s how we as a society now digest information and those who can master this will be the most successful. Magazines and
books aren’t going anywhere anytime soon, but companies are beginning to realize the need for original and well-written digital content as well. In five years I predict that online writers won’t be discriminated against and instead will be in high demand.
As someone who does freelance writing assignments as well as blogging, do you see a difference between travel writing and travel blogging? If so, what do you perceive those differences to be?
If asked I will always say that I’m a travel blogger and I do perceive some fundamental differences, although many may not agree with me. Travel bloggers are usually (but not always) writers, but we are so much more. We are editors, photographers, videographers, techies, marketers and salespeople. We are entrepreneurs in the true sense of the term and we alone are responsible for our own success and failure. We also have the leisure of complete honesty, which a writer on assignment may not always have. There’s something liberating in being completely honest with readers when offering travel advice and observations.
At the TBEX (the Travel Blog Exchange) Conference a few weeks ago, you spoke about creating a social media strategy for travel bloggers. For those of us who missed the session, would you mind summing up the most important takeaway from your talk for us?
Sure thing. My key point was that as bloggers, we are not just writers or photographers, we are a brand and it’s up to us to develop that brand across multiple platforms. What may work for Twitter won’t work for Facebook or Instagram; messages and branding must be adapted to the specific platform. We’re also community builders and not just loud megaphones announcing our latest works. Blogs are about personality and engagement, and anyone who ignores that does so at their own peril. People can find travel advice in any one of many books or web sites, that’s not necessarily why they visit travel blogs. They read our work because they can relate to us as individuals, to our personalities and it is that authenticity in relating our travel experiences which keeps readers engaged and interested.
Matthew Long, travel blogger, writer and photographer isn’t your average travel blogger. As Editor-in-Chief and creator of LandLopers.com, Matt shows people that it’s possible to have a job and family and still see the best the world has to offer. Matt shares his travel tips and expertise so that you can get out and explore the world – one adventure at a time. Matt is a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger as well as a contributor to many other travel sites and publications. Matt’s site is listed as a top travel blog by many companies including Viator Travel, easyJet and Washington Flyer. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
Interview conducted in June, 2012 by Kristin Mock.