A Conversation with Nancy D. Brown

nancydbrownAs a young girl, Nancy grew up around horses. Because of her deep love for all things equestrian, her personal traveling motto has become “What better way to see the world than from the back of a horse?” Nancy obtained a degree in journalism in order to combine her passion for horses with writing and now runs two travel blogs as well as freelances for various travel publications (such as the group travel blog Hotel Scoop). In our interview today, Nancy tells us about running multiple blogs, getting into print publications, and where she expects to be in five years. Enjoy!

Nancy, you publish Writinghorseback.com, a blog about where to go for horseback riding vacations, as well as your personal blog, Nancydbrown.com, which offers insider tips on things to see and do while traveling. What made you create two blogs and how has blogging helped your writing career?

As a freelance writer, I write a travel column, “What a Trip” for the Contra Costa Times newspaper. I only have so many words allotted to this column. I wanted to have a place where I could continue the conversation with my readers so I started my blog “What a Trip.” This blog serves many purposes; I am able to write hotel reviews and travel gear reviews here, and it also serves as a showroom for my freelance writing. As a result of my “Things to See and Do” specialties, I’ve had newspaper and magazine editors seek me out for articles on destinations that they see I am familiar with.

Tell us more about the equestrian blog and how that relates to the travel writing industry. How did a blog about horseback riding vacations get started?

As a travel blogger, rising above the clutter is difficult to do. I combined my passion for horseback riding with my writing background to create a niche blog that involves travel and horses. A lot of travel today is about experiences. Equestrians and adventure seekers love seeing a destination from the back of a horse. It provides a unique travel perspective. With my freelance writing career, I was already traveling to places worldwide. Why not infuse horseback riding into the mix?

I see that you’ve written an Active Adventure Guide for Shape Magazine and you recently had the cover of Alaska Airlines writing about Loreto, Mexico. How did you get into these print publications and what advice do you have for others?nancydbrownheader

With my journalism degree in public relations, I started on the agency side. Handling clients such as Auction Napa Valley, I worked with a lot of food, wine and travel writers. The grass is always greener on the other side and I jumped the fence to travel writing. I attended a Travel Writing conference in the San Francisco Bay Area and they suggested I pitch my local newspaper a travel column. My freelance career has blossomed from there.

How did you cross over to travel blogging?

Living in the Bay Area, home to Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter, it’s easy to become an “early adopter” embracing new technology. I attended a BlogHer conference in San Francisco. While I learned a lot about the business of blogging, I was shocked that there wasn’t a travel track. After the conference I proposed the topic of travel and blogging and my panel idea was selected and I presented the next year in Chicago. This also happened to be the inaugural meeting for TBEX. What started as a room full of bloggers has now morphed into the world’s largest gathering of travel bloggers, writers and new media.

Where do you see your income stream going in the next five to ten years in terms of travel blogging and writing?

Sometimes I compare my income stream to the Colorado River–a vital source of water, controlled by a systems of dams, reservoirs and aqueducts. When writing assignments come rolling in, I try and build up my cash reserves so that I can withstand the dry spells that come with life as a freelance writer. Like the mighty Colorado, my writing consists of multiple revenue streams; print and online writing, social media consulting, public relations projects and media partnerships.

What advice would you give to someone who was just starting out as a writer and asked you how to “break in” to the travel writing industry? What are some of the “must-do’s” you’ve learned along the way?
My advice to someone starting out as a travel writer would be “don’t quit your day job!” While travel writing is a very rewarding industry for life experiences, it is a very difficult way to make a living. With that said, I recommend starting a blog in a very unique niche. My equine blog “Writing Horseback” focuses on where to go horseback riding on vacation. I’m one of the few writers that I am aware of who specialize in equestrian travel.
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. Additionally, embrace social media and keep up with technology as much as possible. Freelance writers wear many hats. And like hat styles that change from season to season and year to year, don’t get bent out of shape!


Nancy D. Brown is a freelance travel writer, blogger and public relations consultant. She’s the woman behind http://www.nancydbrown.com , a travel blog offering insider tips on things to see and do, as well as http://www.writinghorseback.com. She’s a third generation California native, living in the San Francisco bay area. Follow Nancy on Twitter at https://twitter.com/Nancydbrown.

Interview conducted in December, 2013 by Kristin Mock.

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