Why travel blogging is not just about travel writing
Every day 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, a friend 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.
Read – Seven frequently answered questions on travel blogging
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.
Read – Planning to quit your job and travel – here are some tips.
Ah, this is such a tough one. You are right. Both things are so different, yet people confuse it. But personally, I think with the advent of social media, travel writing is becoming more difficult. I wrote about something similar here. Would love to know your thoughts, Lakshmi
I remember reading this a while ago..let me share my two bit 🙂
And you switch so easily between the two! Maybe they felt the same to you because you can do both. To me they feel so different because I can only do blogging!
Thanks Mridula, it seems easy but its not..given a choice, I would focus on just one
First thing in the morning while fiddling with the phone scrolled into this article. Must say a fantastic post that made my day. I’ve been thinking about this same topic for a couple of days now and it can’t be described better than this.
I’ve read your blog extensively and the most important reason I visit your blog everytime is because of your unique and lively writing style, full of exuberance and personality. You’re a standing example of an excellent travel writer who is also a successful travel blogger. And I believe, to be a successful travel blogger you would have to wear the writer’s hat at some point (The reason I’m gorging on Don Gorge right now 🙂 ).
Writing cliches won’t help to build a genuine readers base, especially with thousands of travel blogs floating around flooded with cliches. I would appreciate your comments on the same.
Thats sweet..thank you so much. I do agree that donning the hat of a writer is important to understand the nuances of travel writing
Hi Lakshmi, would love to read more thoughts of yours on this and also to share some more tips. I like the fact that you have agreed that most of the times the travel blogging becomes another form of advertorial and also the points to remember when it comes to keywords and Social media management. Keep inspiring
Its a profession by itself and one needs to build an audience and monetise as well.. thanks so much
A very well written and clearly thought out post … And IMHO you are one of the best authorities to write on this subject … So I’m glad you took time to write this…..
As a travel blogger (and one who does not want to make it her full time profession as of now), I completely recognize the pride and fulfillment that I get sharing my stories and people reading them.. Ofcourse the other aspects of selling a destination, trying to fit in keywords etc also are true at different levels, depending on how much we are focussed on our blog ranking etc.
I completely recognize myself as a travel blogger and maybe some day I will want to be a travel writer too…
Thank you spelling this out so lucidly, Lakshmi.
While not a travel writer (not yet, at least), I also shy away from being called a travel blogger because in my head it’s different from blogging about travels (which is what I do). Now, may be, that merits a post in itself 😉
I think managing to understand according to the what the customer wants to read is a requirement for travel blogging because people generally search on search engines for what they want to read. Probably I am right?
Hmmm… your post has set me thinking and has also given some direction… The same question used to leave me in a dilemma. It is all resolved now. Thanks for the guidance!
So rightly said Lakshmi. Loved reading every bit of the fact that we need to choose ourselves whether we are bloggers or writer.. keep inspiring and keep blogging !
This is an extremely interesting reflexion. Yes, once you discuss them they are clear to me, but like for you, I have never thought of them as two different concepts. And it has also made me realize why I am not successful in the travel blogging industry hahaha. Anyway, I loved this post! Thanks
Thank you for writing this blog . I as am a beginner in writing travel blog this blog helps me a lot . I got to know about traveling blog and how to write travel blog.Now I am sure that I can write good content in my travel blog which will attract more visitor to my blog.
Thank you very much, you have covered almost all my questions related to the travel blogging in this article.
Thank you for sharing “WHY TRAVEL BLOGGING IS NOT JUST ABOUT TRAVEL WRITING”.
Your blog changed my thoughts on blogs and writing.