Dana Freeman is a freelance journalist and digital influencer living in Vermont and the editor behind Dana Freeman Travels. Through her original photography and writing, she provides authentic destination information, reviews, and travel tips. She joins us this week to talk about her writing career and to share her insights on starting with a local niche.
What initially led you to the world of travel writing?
I was fortunate to be raised in a family where there was an emphasis on travel. Although I began traveling at a young age with my parents, my real love of travel didn’t happen until I went on my first trip with my grandmother at the age thirteen. She invited me with her on a business trip to Greece. It was the first time I realized that I wanted to see the rest of the world. I became her regular travel companion seeing much of the world together. On our last trip, they sailed out of Venice on a cruise for her 96th birthday!
Vermont travel has naturally become a niche for you. What do you see as the pros and cons (if any) of focusing on a region as a niche?
I fell into travel writing quite by accident. In 2008 started a hyperlocal business in Vermont to help families to find things to do with their kids. Coincidentally in 2008 the recession hit hard and it gave birth to the term ‘staycation’ in the travel industry. Families still wanted to travel but they could no longer afford the flights, hotels and activities in far off places. Because I owned a local family friendly business, many Vermont properties recognized I had the audience they were looking to reach. They began asking me to visit and write about how to travel to their hotel or destination as a family. The first place I ever wrote about was The Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe Vermont.
Although I began my travel writing career focusing on Vermont travel as my niche, I soon realized that I wanted to be known for more than just my home state. I do think niche writing though is important so that it differentiates you from all the other travel journalist writers bloggers and influencers that are out there these days. So I’ve chosen to focus on small ship cruising which is my number one passion, followed by vacation home rentals and why they a good alternative to hotel rooms especially in for families and large groups.
You’ve managed this career through the years when your children were growing up which can be challenging. How did you structure things to balance family time, career focus and travel?
I’ve been fortunate to work from home and for myself. Therefore I set my own working hours which makes it easier when you have children. I was able to work around their schedules often times working while they were at school or after they went to sleep. And in my early days, I was a family travel writer so that meant I got to bring my kids to work with me. Now that they are 18 and 21 that’s no longer the case and I no longer only write about family travel.
If one of your children wanted to enter into today’s travel writing landscape, what advice would you offer?
If one of my children wanted to join the travel writing community in as a blogger, influencer, photographer or journalist, I would advise them to differentiate themselves early on. To choose a travel niche that is underserved at the moment. But most importantly to pick something they’re passionate about so they always enjoy it and make sure that they stay true to themselves. Meaning their authentic voice will be heard if they are really enjoying in and believe in sharing that destination, hotel, activity or travel related products.
You’ve written countless articles over the years. Are there any that stand out for you that you are especially proud of?
I just wrote my first article for CNN travel and I am definitely proud of that as it is quite an accomplishment to write for such a prestigious outlet. I’m also proud of the articles that I’ve written for Porthole Cruise Magazine about cruises, cruise destinations, ports and the logistics that surround cruising.
You’ve been given $10,000 for a month of travel—no strings attached. Where would you go and what would you do?
10,000 for a month of travel? I would definitely charter a small sailboat or yacht and sail around the Greek Islands or and up and down the Croatian coast. I am sure that is no surprise as I’m happiest on a small ship out in the water.
Dana specializes in cruise, luxury, food & wine and adventure travel. You can follow her writing and adventures on Dana Freeman Travels and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.