Why travel blogging is not just about travel writing
Everyday I get a plethora of emails from aspiring young teenagers asking me to write a post on travel blogging tips. One of the oft repeated questions is how to become a travel blogger or how to become a travel writer. But recently, my friend Neelima Vallangi asked me this question – Are you a travel blogger or a travel writer ? I was even asked by her to choose between the two. For a moment, I was surprised. I had not thought of them as two different careers. The conversation led me to write this post and I continued being both a travel writer and a travel blogger, the latter of course became a priority.
However, a discussion on a FB group today got me thinking again about the same topic. As a travel writer and a travel blogger, I often find it difficult to make the switch when am writing a travel story. The style, the language and even the approach changes as I start writing the stories. But then I realize that there are several differences between being a travel writer and a travel blogger and it is just not content alone. In my mind, they are two different careers and you sometimes need to be two different people.
Travel Writer focuses on getting published.
A travel blogger is the publisher.
This is the most fundamental difference between a travel writer and a travel blogger. As a travel writer, my priorities are all about selling a pitch to a publication. However as a travel blogger, my blog is the publication and therefore the priority. My blog is not just a random diary of my travel experiences – its a magazine by itself. There is an editorial calendar, a marketing calendar and most important, a travel calendar as well. But that is for another post on travel blogging tips.
Travel Writer prides on a byline.
Travel Blogger prides on an audience
For a travel writer, there is no greater joy in getting a byline. Breaking into a new magazine is a high. However for a travel blogger, there is no higher joy than getting new audiences for every story. The focus therefore is to understand what the audience wants and its not just a story that I fancy. We are excited about comments and feedback but also about the number of shares per story, the page views and several other vital statistics which seem to be more important today than a perfect ten.
For a travel writer, the story ends with a story
For a travel blogger, the story begins with the story.
This is not just a play of words. As a travel writer, I am done and dusted once I send an article to a publication. All I have to do is to look for new ideas to pitch while I wait for my stories to be published. A life of a travel blogger is however not so simple. For us, the work begins once we hit the publish button. Every post has a goal and most important it has to rank on google search. There is an entire science or math behind it and a lot of work happens once a story is published. But that of course is for another post on travel blogging tips.
Travel Writer sells a pitch, Travel Blogger sells a destination
Yes, we are both story tellers and we share our experiences – but there is a fundamental difference. As a travel writer, my focus is essentially on the content and the story telling alone. But as a blogger, I am also doing content marketing and hence typically, every story is an advertorial, irrespective on whether it is sponsored or a barter deal. Its therefore a thin line between understanding what my audience wants and how much promotion (unwarranted or otherwise) I am giving a potential sponsor.
If you are looking for more posts on travel blogging tips, you should read this one on how do travel bloggers make money and why barter does not pay your bills.
Travel Writer focuses on avoiding cliches
Travel Blogger focuses on keywords which are usually cliches
As an aspiring travel writer, I write down a list of words before every story and promise myself that I will not include them in my story. I agonise over the first paragraph and try to ensure that there is an interesting hook. However as a travel blogger, I spend equal hours in agony over the first paragraph, looking for the right keyword. For instance, I spent at least an hour on this story trying to fit in keywords into it, while the entire post got written in less than 20 minutes.
Travel Writer focuses on ideas. Travel Blogger focuses on trending topics
As a travel writer, life is exciting as we go through score of magazines and local newspapers and try to get an unique perspective or an angle to pitch an idea. As a travel blogger however, I spend most of my time on google, trying to look for trending topics. While every post of mine is not a mundane listicle, I need to ensure that at the end of the day, my posts still find a relevant audience. To a lot of people, a travel blog is usually a simple narrative, but it is essentially a post which is a set of FAQs, answering a lot of questions about the destination or a topic such as travel blogging tips.
Travel Writers say social media is a distraction.
For Travel Bloggers, social media is a profession.
Having a social media presence can be a double edged sword but the travel writer has the luxury of deciding whether to build a following or to be a social recluse. However that is not an option for a travel blogger. Social media is a profession by itself. There is a strategy behind it and more than fifty percent of our earnings come directly from it while the rest is earned indirectly through our following. So, even if we want a break from our narcissism, it is not a good idea from a strategic point of view.
I could possibly come up with more pointers, but I think you could get the drift. These are essentially two different jobs . Most travel bloggers are professionals and their priorities are focused on how to get paid for travel blogging. Both travel writers and travel bloggers do write about their experiences, but the similarity ends right there. I do not want to give the impression that travel writing is a piece of cake. In my opinion, travel writing is a lot of hard work but there is a huge difference between a career in travel writing and one in travel blogging. So the next time you ask me how to become a travel writer or how to become a travel blogger, make up your mind as to which one is your priority. Like my friend said , “You really cannot be both” or can you ? And please do share some travel blogging tips in the comments.