Thursday, 4 October 2012

Travel Writing and Blogging - Can We Travel and Be Paid Yet Stay True To Our Hearts?

Shared via Creative Commons taken by Colleen Lane - Flickr
"Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self." {Cyril Connolly}

Yesterday I had an epiphany regarding my writing. We all have dreams and we all would love an income of some sort from our dreams, but how do we get a balance between being paid to write when travelling and selling out to PR companies and hotel chains?

Now I am writing this from a position of neither, but I want to get my writing started on a pure footing. I have been writing my more philosophical blog Kelly Martin Speaks for a long time and have always spoken from my heart, not writing for the audience but writing for me. It was, and from time-to-time it is very cathartic and enjoyable to write that blog.

Since starting to write about travelling (and even though the opportunities to travel are not flying in - yet!), I am still writing and considering my future.

I am very passionate about seeing the world and I have browsed various sites about how to make money from travel writing. I have followed the formula - how to get followers on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and to be honest it has always felt forced. A mechanism shown to us by those that are already there, who already are making bucket-loads from travel writing (easy to say when you are there).

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taken by Ed Yourdon - Flickr
I was doing everything they said to do, but nothing increased traffic to my blog; nothing increased my re-tweets on Twitter; nothing increased my Facebook following, and I realised I was seriously selling myself short.

Who is this? Who have I become? Someone trying to take the conventional route to get to where I want to be. I have never been that person. I always have stood aside from the crowd, doing my own thing, sometimes controversial, and I was trying to fit my square peg into that round hole again - DOH!

I noticed many of my friends that blog. They write Mommy blogs, beauty blogs, fashion blogs and many of them have a lot more followers. And I understand it is a big thing to connect as women and talk about these things, but I have never been that sort of woman.

So something was curdling away inside me - what are followers? Do I want followers or genuine readers? Do I need 1000's of Facebook followers and Twitter followers? What does this mean? How many of these people actually spend time each week reading and commenting on other people's blogs?

I realised - hardly any!

This realisation took a weight off my shoulders. Instead of trying to jump through hoops to be popular, I was going to have to turn back on myself and do what I have always have done - write for me. And if people comment they comment, and if they don't they don't.

Shared via creative commons taken by
Brian Hefele - Flickr

I know a lot of people who hold give-aways on blogs and I have considered this too. Many of them make you jump through hoops to win the prize. And as someone who enjoys the hobby of entering competitions, I realised most of the people (including me) jump through the hoops but I do not transform into a genuine reader. And I bet I am not the only one.

So how do we get genuine readers?

You just write. You love what you write. And you get to the point that you no longer need that audience.

After thinking about this more, I stumbled across some mind-blowing articles written by travel writers on-line  They spoke about things I have little knowledge of at this time. Many travel writers that travel and get paid or receive trips to travel from companies can often be on press trips or are sponsored in some way.

Personally, I had looked into receiving trips to travel and write about the trip, and the articles I read made me rethink things. Does a person on a press trip really travel? If it's limited and scheduled to a certain timing, to a certain place, to a specific hotel, where is the spontaneity involved in writing from the heart? Where one sits in a cafe for hours idling away the day, people watching and relaxing, wandering down some back street in an old quarter and finding a hidden gem of a restaurant or other wonderful attraction?

Someone wrote about how travel writing used to involve authentic, brilliant writing and companies would pay to advertise alongside these brilliant writers. And then PR companies seemed to take over, and businesses ended up paying those PR companies to get them business and press trips. So, sponsored writing in many ways began. No negatives written about a place, and while many trips I have had have been amazing, there is always some slight critique to mention but this can only improve the trustworthiness of the article written.

Now, I am no expert in travel writing, I am a newbie, yet I want to place my footprints on real experiences, where my soul is in my writing, and I am not writing to fulfil the needs of a business or a company. Now maybe I need to compromise? Or maybe somewhere along my travel writing days genuine companies will be open to writers who write from real experiences and the company can then respond in a positive way by making changes if necessary.  This to me would show growth in the whole travel writing / PR industry.

When I think about press trips, I think of a nice trip funded by a company. Yes, I would be seeing somewhere new, and yes, I want that, but how to get the balance?

Is it okay to take sponsored press trips? How do you feel about this?

For more articles on this topic check out these meaty blog posts below:

Want To Be A Successful Travel Blogger? Get Out Of The Travel Blogger Bubble

Social Media Will Make Tits Out Of All Of Us

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  1. I would like to travel this year and I love your blog I can already dream :))


    1. You must, seriously best thing I ever did and I am not done, as soon as I am able I will say goodbye to the UK and my dream is to travel until I find the place I want to put my roots down in life.

  2. I found this blog very informative. Thank you..!! With the development of the travel industry, the necessity of travel
    PR firms
    has been increasing a lot. The travel public relations are providing an integrated marketing campaign within the travel and tourism sector.


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