An Interview with Dominique King

DominiqueOn Assignment1Dominique King is a metro Detroit writer who writes and publishes Midwest Guest, a regional travel blog focusing on the Midwestern United States.   Dominique is also a member of the regular blogging team at the Ohio Tourism Division’s Discovering Ohio blog and authored a series of encyclopedia entries for the Michigan Companion. She joins us today to talk about how she got started in travel writing and why focusing on a specific region has helped her grow her brand. 

How did you get started as a travel writer and what do you think are the keys to your success at making a living as a writer/editor?

Did you ever dream of writing for your local newspaper when you were quite young?  I did!  I started to live that dream after seeing an ad seeking freelancers in a local start-up newspaper and applying for the job.

The newspaper editor needed a business writer, and at the time I worked with our family business.  I spent the next ten years writing business columns and features for what eventually became a group of five local weekly newspapers, while still working full-time at our Detroit-area automotive-related business.

I loved writing for the newspapers and learned much about writing for publication, writing on a deadline and coming up with story pitches. I also wrote for other local business clients and publications and occasionally wrote travel stories for the newspapers. Writing the travel articles, I began to develop a new dream. I started concentrating on writing the regional travel stories that I really loved.

Eventually, I shifted to developing my own blog, Midwest Guest, as a way to develop my brand as a regional travel writer and transition into what I envisioned as an encore career in travel writing.

Flexibility and willingness to learn new things served me well as I eventually sold the family business in 2012 and continued the transition from writing business-related articles for local print markets to writing and publishing regional travel content for markets on the web.

For www.midwestguest.com you specialize in the Midwest region.  What are the benefits of specializing in a specific region? 

Specializing in the Midwest allowed me to move into the field of travel writing over the decade that I still worked inDominiquePoint Betsie another industry. It also allowed me to build a better network of travel industry contacts and work more closely with fellow travel writers in the Midwest.

There weren’t many people writing about the Midwest when I began Midwest Guest, but our region now has a vibrant, active and diverse group of bloggers who work together to help promote each other’s work and assist each other by answering questions, finding resources and nurturing our regional network to help make potential travelers aware of the unique beauty, history and culture of the region.

How has establishing Midwest Guest helped you boost your profile and get more business?

Establishing Midwest Guest allows me to showcase my work through the blog and social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram.

Being active on social media directly resulted in my becoming part of the regular team for the Ohio Tourism Division’s Discovering Ohio blog. My work for Ohio Tourism included a series of blog articles about local attractions for a metro Detroit group of apartment complexes and authoring nearly three dozen articles for a Michigan encyclopedia published by Omnigraphics that appears on the shelves of reference sections in many Michigan public libraries.

You do a fair amount of work for tourism organizations, too.  What do you think are the benefits of that type of work and how would someone approach a tourism organization about work?

DominiqueJackalopeI work with the Ohio Tourism Division and that happened because of my active use of social media. I began chatting with the then E-Information Coordinator for the Ohio Tourism Division on Twitter when he noticed me posting links to a lot of articles I’d written about Ohio (and it didn’t hurt that we were both huge ice hockey fans!). He told me that the Tourism Division was looking for writers at that time and recommended me for the job.

Twitter always seemed like a particularly great way to find and connect with travel industry professionals online. Twitter chats specific to travel, my region and areas of specific areas of interest increasingly became great ways establish meaningful connections with individuals in the industry.

I also use Facebook and (especially) LinkedIn a lot to find connections with travel professionals and sources for articles I’m working on.

When you do travel outside the Midwest region, where do you go and where would you most like to travel and why?

I love the four seasons, and I especially enjoy out-of-season travel when I can find those hidden attractions and treasures that most high-season travelers miss. I love a place with a real sense of history and love digging in to find out more about the places I travel to and the real culture of destinations I visit.

My trips out of the Midwest have included traveling to: France, Spain, Newfoundland and most of the eastern Canadian provinces, plus most of the fifty states. Still on the bucket list? Iceland, Scandinavia, Ireland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and places in the United States like New Orleans, the Pacific Northwest, Austin (Texas), Columbus (Indiana), Milwaukee, Spring Green (Illinois) and too many others to name!

Dominique King is a metro Detroit writer who writes and publishes Midwest Guest, a regional travel blog focusing on the Midwestern United States. She began her writing career as a freelance writer for local papers, magazines and business clients before establishing Midwest Guest in 2008. She also is a member of the regular blogging team at the Ohio Tourism Division’s Discovering Ohio blog and authored a series of encyclopedia entries for the Michigan Companion, a reference book that appears on the shelves of many public libraries in the state. Midwest Guest is the result of her enthusiasm for the art, culture, history and natural beauty of the region, and she especially enjoys writing about topics like regional history, art, music, architecture, lighthouses and quirky, under-the-radar finds. You can read Dominique’s blog at www.midwestguest.com

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