I’ve always had a love of writing. In my most far-flung fantasy I’m an award-winning author, traveling the world and changing lives of all who read my novels. While I might be JK Rowling in another life, I did start out my favorite hobby by writing Harry Potter fan fiction through MuggleNet when I was a teenager (yes, really). I still have a whopping three stories on there that I’ll always be proud of and reread from time to time (but of course will NEVER share my author name!) but as I’ve grown up and discovered my passion of travel, it makes sense to bring this hobby into my career.
I’ve had my blog for about three and a half years now and started taking it seriously just about a year ago when I got more involved in the travel blogger world. Between the various Facebook groups and my love of reading travel blogs, I have found inspiration and support from all over the internet and of course my family and friends, and because of all this love I can see myself slowly transforming into an actual travel writer.
I can tell that this is going to be a pretty exciting year for me career-wise as I break into the travel journalism industry. Here are some ways that I have been trying to personally improve myself, and I can tell it’s working!
Personalizing my work space
I need a clean space to work on – no distractions, no crazy colors, and nobody to come bother me (except my cat). My boyfriend and I live in a two-bedroom apartment and I converted the spare room into my own work space. Unlike him, I can’t use my laptop on the couch in front of the TV – I need structure and a dedicated area to getting my articles done.
Because I want to be a travel writer I also decorate my space with a small map calendar, blogging tips, a word wheel, and plan to tack up other quick references so they’re right here when I need them. I also have up a couple art pieces I picked up in India, a little map of Australia, and a map of my hometown. Soon, I’ll be putting up a picture from when I met Rick Steves, because who’s more inspirational than that?
Working on my writing skills
Matador Network has a fantastic travel journalism program that I started almost two years ago, made it halfway, and then they changed the entire program. I’ve fallen off of it since then but it’s my resolution this year to start it back up from scratch. I do have a few articles on there, but I’d like to see my profile expand and to really grow my name in that community. By the end of this year I WILL finish the program, though!
Keeping a to-do list
At the beginning of this year I kept a small notebook in my purse, thinking that I could just quickly write down ideas or remember tasks quickly. For some reason this system wasn’t working and I was constantly referring back to my phone. I downloaded Evernote on all my devices and now use their checklist to note down everything that I need to do and it syncs up perfectly on all my devices. Keeping this list consistent has really helped me stay organized, and even if I forget a post idea, I know it’ll be on my Evernote to remind me later.
Organizing my calendar
I’m a visual person, so aside from a to-do list, I’ve found a lot of help in organizing my blog posts in a monthly calendar format. I use my Samantha En Route google calendar, also synced up to my iPhone and iPad, to layout my posts each month. Now I can visualize a month’s worth of posts and bring it around with me everywhere. This has really helped me figure out the best way to make posts work and not to cram them awkwardly together or space them out too far. Whatever works to make my blog the best that it can be.
Getting involved in social media
Honestly I’m not a social media person. I just don’t get it and I honestly don’t care. Every now and then I see an advertisement for a virtual assistant position, and while this is a job that I would really love, I know my lack of interest in social media would be a negative factor. Lately, though, I’ve been getting more involved with Twitter (mainly scheduled tweets from Hootsuite or automated tweets from new posts) and I’ve really taken a liking to Instragram and Trover. While this is indirect to travel writing, I’m realizing how useful these resources are and how it can bring traffic and exposure to my blog and articles.
Pinterest has also been a fantastic resource in that there are TONS of pins that are all about blogging and writing. I have a whole board dedicated just to blog tips and love going through them on the weekends when I have time.
Joining relevant Facebook and Pinterest groups
Speaking of social media, I don’t really utilize Facebook for personal stuff anymore. It’s there and I’ve got friends that I stay in touch with because of it, but right now my main reason for using Facebook is for its groups. I love Pinterest in general just because it’s such a great time-waster.
In both Facebook and Pinterest I’ve found so many great female travel and travel blogger groups, such as Girls vs. Globe, Girls Love Travel, Travel Collab Post Opportunities, and more. These are actual travel bloggers and writers who are living my dream and opening up their world. Any time I ask a question or offer a collaborative post I meet someone new and get some article advice.
I also LOVE Facebook’s option to save posts and links, so now I just scroll through the groups and save useful posts and links for later when I have time to read through them. In Pinterest, I can pin my own posts to a group board and have access to the latest from other travel writers on that board as well.
Collaborating with and learning from others
Aside from networking and making new blogger friends through Facebook groups, I also open up my own website to guests posts and have a weekly series where I specifically interview other travel bloggers. I initially started this so I could learn from others and get exposure to more blogs and it’s really been a great resource for myself and others. I can see new writing styles, get general ideas for upcoming posts, and make a personal connection with a ton of great bloggers in this fantastic community.
Gaining freelance opportunities
I’m currently working with CopyPress as a freelance travel writer, involved in their Hipmunk City Love project. It’s been a great entry into the paid travel journalism world and I’m loving it. Basically, I write articles about Hipmunk Hotels and even reblog some of their published articles on their Tailwind blog. The fun part is that I can be pretty creative on the articles I write for them and can pick whichever Tailwind articles I want, so I’m always keeping the content relevant for my own blog. I never want to seem inauthentic, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do!
My first test run with Hipmunk was reviewing Hotel Brighton in Paris. I’ve never been to the actual hotel but it’s pretty cool having my name up on the web with “Travel Writer” under it.
Like I said, I have a feeling that 2016 will be my year for travel writing. I feel like I can call myself an amateur travel writer (so neat!) and am taking an initiative to keep it up and improve.
Are you a travel writer? What advice or suggestions do you have for me or others looking to become travel journalists? Comment below or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading!