Travel writing can certainly be one of the most fun jobs out there.
There’s a lot of misconceptions about some of the ways being a travel writer works.
It can also be intimidating to be “just another travel blogger” out there.
So whether you’re new to the travel blogging world or you’ve been around the block a few times (perhaps literally — you know, for content purposes), here are 10 tips to make sure you’re keeping in the back of your arsenal at all times.
1. Decide Between a Blog Post and an Article
This doesn’t always have to deal with the length of the post.
I had some information about this in my Intro to Blogging post. When it comes to travel writing, it’s another good thing to have in the back of your mind.
Articles tend to be little more research-based, and written out more like a chapter from a book. There’s a lot more prose, enriching language, and much more of a story for the readers to connect to.
Blog posts are usually just as information, but aren’t written as much like, “As the sun spun its way into the sky and burned a light through the lining of the clouds, we trudged forward through the icy mountainside with our spiked shoes acting as our only lifeline.”
Blog posts are also usually a little more like listicles and round-ups, or reviews on certain things, or just talking about an experience you had.
I’d say, for your own website, focus more on blogs. The articles are the ones you should try pitching out to other companies or magazines and such.
Which is easier said than done, but all effort is good effort.
2. Utilize the Keywords You Use to Your Travel Writing Advantage
When you’re visiting a place or planning a trip, what do you look up first?
Are you looking for the best coffee shops? Restaurants? Things to do?
Pay attention to the keywords you type in during your research. Chances are, others are looking for the same types of activities, and the closer you can get to the first page — if not the first slot — on Google for certain keywords, the more traffic you can get to your site.
For example, at the time of this recording, if you were to type in “Best Coffee Monterey,” the first article that pops up for the Monterey Bay Food Tours was penned by yours truly.
3. Share With the Businesses You Write About
Part of the reason for the success I had doing the food tours blog was in part to our relationship with the businesses we wrote about.
Even working for myself, I’ve found that people like to be written about.
I’ve also found that some people can tense up very quickly when you tell them you’re writing about them. The truth is, not all writers are actually that nice. In fact, if you’ve got the word “critic” attached to your job title, try not to be as surprised if you get some people who aren’t exactly willing to work with you.
Personally, I’m all about promotion. Even if there’s something I don’t like about somewhere, I don’t focus on that. If I have a bunch of negatives, I’d rather just write nothing at all and carry on to something more exciting.
So, share your work with the people you write about, assuming it isn’t defamatory, because if they, in turn, share it out to their followers, that will bring you more traffic and also add to the external places linking back to your site (which is never a bad thing for Google SEO purposes.)
4. When Possible, Make Contact
There’s two parts to this advice:
The first being, if you know of an event or something that you’d like to do, try to reach out to whoever’s in charge of sales. Introduce yourself, tell them what you are doing and why, and ask if they ever consider working with bloggers (or influencers, depending on the verbiage you’re looking for.)
If you’re still new to the travel writing game and growing your site, don’t fall into imposter syndrome.
This is actually something I recently learned myself. I don’t exactly have the biggest following in the world, but I’ve still managed to work with the Santa Cruz Boardwalk, the Winchester Mystery House, and recently even with the Wildlife Safari in Oregon.
The other piece of advice is to pay attention to who’s paying attention to you.
If you’ve noticed someone’s viewed your LinkedIn profile and you think you could be a good match for them, reach out.
See what happens.
Likewise, pay attention to the people who follow you. An Oregon PR firm called Broussard Communications followed me on Instagram, I sent them a message introducing myself and telling them what I was doing in Oregon, and a stay at the Element Bend was arranged through them.
So, don’t be shy.
5. Look for PR Firms
That being said, this is my first opportunity working alongside a PR Firm, and I’m very hopeful that it will not be the last.
If you can partner with one, it’ll only help you out when you’re looking for things to do.
PR Firms are all about promotion for their clients.
At that, it’s a lot easier to work with companies and brands when the request is coming from a trusted source.
Me, as a blogger on my own, reaching out to the Element Bend to do what I’m currently doing here might not have worked out as well without Broussard. Not to say that it wouldn’t have happened, because there’s no knowing that, but it sure didn’t hurt.
So look for some local PR Firms or some in the area you’re visiting, and make contact. See what happens.
And never, ever, ever, get discouraged by a no. Please. That’s the worst thing you can ever do.
6. Don’t Expect Free Things with Travel Writing
Listen, I’ll be honest:
It’s nice to not have to pay to do stuff sometimes.
But it has not, and will not, become an expectation.
If you’re only willing to write about things you don’t have to pay for, I think you’re in the wrong line of business.
And if you do get some stuff for free, try to make sure you’re putting your best foot forward in the write-up for that place.
Ultimately, try and remember that you are there for them. You are utilizing your words and your experiences to captivate your audience and show them your experience through your eyes. So, if there’s a company who’s willing to work with you to help them out, please don’t take advantage of it.
And please don’t expect them to comp everything. That’s how writers get a bad rap.
7. Dress For the Job
I’m not necessarily talking about physically. No, I certainly don’t expect you to don a suit and tie to go out hiking.
But, bring along your computer, your camera(s), and anything else that makes it look like you’re a travel writer or photographer out there living your best life.
I go on hikes with all my stuff, and I am frequently asked if I’m “researching” something or if I’m “at my office.”
I am both, and any question is an opportunity to discuss what I’m doing and direct people toward my stuff.
Part of this advice also comes back down to self-thinking.
It’s very easy to fall into the idea of Imposter’s Syndrome. Even though I literally have written more than one article that sits in the number one slot on Google — regardless if it was for me or a client — I still get lost in the idea that I’m an imposter.
So, I’m just as guilty, but we gotta stop doing that to ourselves!
You are a travel writer. So go and be one.
8. Every Opportunity is an Opportunity to Work in Travel Writing
Like dressing for the job, you have the option of turning almost every situation into a writeable experience.
Every time you go to a restaurant, take a bunch of pictures. Write up a 300-word minimum review. Share it with the restaurant.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back after you do.
Just utilize every opportunity you have to make an opportunity work for you.
That’s what happens in this travel writer’s life. These “free things” are not just handed over, and there’s a lot of work that goes into all of this. Especially if you also take and edit your own photos, or if you also have a travel vlog like myself, as well.
Goes into this.
But there is always an opportunity out there, and all I can say is just take them as they come.
9. Double Check Chargers, Batteries, and Memory Cards
Don’t roll your eyes at me.
I have been without a battery.
I have forgotten and lost chargers.
My memory cards have been full.
It’s not like that kind of stuff never happens, but because it is so menial, it is also very easy to overlook those types of things.
So I inserted in here as some practical advice and a little reminder for you. It’s better to take five minutes going back through your things to make sure you have it all than it is to miss out on an amazing experience that could’ve potentially been the best thing you’d ever written.
10. Remember: There’s ALWAYS Something Interesting for Travel Writing
And finally, and most importantly: No matter who or where you are, someone somewhere is going to be interested in what you have to say or where you are.
Even if you think there’s nothing interesting around you, that doesn’t mean the whole world agrees.
And if you live in an area — okay, fine, I’m looking at you, Midwestern states — that isn’t exactly known for being the most exciting, talk about your favorite things to do anyway.
I hear rafting down rivers while day drinking is a thing out in the Midwest.
I’ve never done that, and I think that sounds like a whole lot of fun.
Something I learned in North Dakota that always stuck with me is really the importance of perception. To one, mountains represent majesty. To others, they represent oppression. It just is what it is, but consider that when you think there’s nothing interesting going on around you.