Category Archives: Blogging Advice

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How to Keep a Great Travel Journal

In an age when much of human communication takes place in 140 characters or less, somehow the travel journal still persists. There are many wonderful reasons to catalogue a trip, from recording facts to sharing the experience with others, chronicling advice or travel tips from locals, quashing boredom in the airport or during solo meals, processing the wide array of emotions that can crop up during travel, and feeling a little less alone.

Ultimately, the best reason for keeping a journal lies with the traveler who writes it. Just keep these few tips in mind and you’ll have a travel treasure for years to come. 

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Consider the audience

Will other people read the journal, or is it for your eyes only? If the journal will be shared, will it be read by close friends and family or on a public blog? The answers may influence the style, tone, and content you choose to adopt. If the journal will be public, readers may be less interested to know what time you brushed your teeth each night. If it’s private, consider the details you’ll most want to remember when revisiting the journal decades from now.

Choose a medium

There is no wrong or right way to record a journey. Pick the medium that works best for you, whether that’s a pen and some notebook paper, a fancy leather-bound or homemade journal, or the “notes” feature on a smartphone. What matters is that you’re excited to write things down.

Include the basics

So much happens during vacation that it can be tough to know what or how much to include. A good place to start is recording the trip itinerary and/or plotting the route on a map tucked into the journal. Also chronicle names and descriptions of people you encounter along the way (be sure to jot down their contact info if you want to stay in touch!).

Personal observations and tips also make great fodder for journals. If you develop a knack for traveling with pets or camping in bad weather, record those lessons so you can share them with fellow travelers. Then focus on highlighting your favorite parts of the trip, whether that’s sunrise in London or perusing art in Athens. And always remember to date each entry.

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Make it come alive

A journal doesn’t have to consist of a step-by-step, chronological recap of each day’s events. The pressure to record everything can get overwhelming (and boring) real fast. Instead, create a vivid diary of experiences by highlighting exceptional moments (say, standing in the center of the world or surfing in La Jolla), writing down funny dialogue, describing the experience from the perspective of all the senses (tastes, sounds, smells, textures), journaling about your emotions during the trip, and incorporating multimedia like drawings, receipts, theater or train tickets, postcards, brochures, interesting leaves, or the business cards of new acquaintances. These mementos will help bring memories alive when you revisit the journal down the road.

Keep up

Try to write things down on the day that they happen (or the next day at the very latest). Otherwise, it’s easy to forget things as you’re inundated with new experiences. Even if it’s not possible to write out a narrative entry every day, consider jotting down a few notes each night in order to keep track of events.

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Tag team it

Invite travel companions to take turns keeping the journal and recording their own thoughts, reflections, and mementos. This can both infuse the journal with fresh perspectives and take some pressure off if it’s feeling daunting to write every day.

Look for themes         

Near the end of a trip, consider pouring back through the journal and noting any themes that arose. Did you learn a big lesson or change in some way? Did the trip meet or defy your expectations? These reflections can spark concluding entries as well as personal insights.  

Above all, remember to keep it low pressure. The fastest way to kill journaling motivation is treating it like homework. Instead, write when you want to, write however much (or little) you want, and don’t worry about spelling, grammar, and the like. Do it your way, and it’ll be much easier (and more fun) to chronicle your adventures.  

 

dollarbills

How to Make Money While Traveling?

dollarbillsThere are a LOT of blog posts out there on the interwebs talking about how to make money while traveling.

But I’d urge you to change your thinkings on this subject.

Too many ask themselves “How can I make money to fund my trip?”

Instead, ask “How can I help others?”

We all know everyone has to make money to make financial ends meet to live, but you’ll find success a lot easier to come by if you think about helping others and adding value to THEIR lives rather than trying to simply enrich your own. Don’t just put out crappy blog content, offer a crappy consulting service, or write a crappy ebook — for the sake of making a few dollars for yourself if you’re not adding real tangible value to someone else’s life.

The people that take that mindset, are the ones likely to succeed. Those that don’t focus on helping others are going to be left diluting the web with more crap and an unsustainable business model once your audience realizes you are simply ripping them off for your own benefit.

[photo source]

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Alittleadrift redesign

It’s Travel Blog Makeover Season

Well, well, well…it’s apparently travel blog makeover season. Over the last couple weeks, a few bloggers have re-launched their sites with brand new designs…

A week ago, Lauren at Never Ending Footsteps, launched her new site – Never Ending Footsteps 3.0.

Neverendingfootsteps redesign

Then today, Christine Amorose at c’est christine and Shannon at Alitteadrift, both put out new designs.

Christine’s released her makeover with a bigger emphasis on New York (since she’s living there and not traveling constantly).

cest christine redesign

No stranger to readers here, Shannon O’Donnell released her redesign with a lighter feel and more emphasis on photos.

Alittleadrift redesign

The overarching theme in the travel blog makeovers? Lots of white space in all three — which I love.

Congrats to all!

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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A Travel Blogging Industry Perspective by an Outsider

I’ve been blogging a long time, since August of 2006 to be exact. I’ve run a successful real estate technology blog for five years and I co-founded a microfinance blog around the same time. Throughout all of that, I’ve written over 2,500 blog posts (there are 1,500+ on my personal blog alone) spanning five main blogs (not to mention countless guest posts) over the past seven years.

Awhile ago I read Matt’s thoughts on the real business of travel blogging. I actually started this post a few days after reading it, but am just now circling back to the ideas his post sparked and share a few of my own thoughts. As you know, with blogging, you’ve got to start somewhere. Like Matt, I had no clue what I was doing early on in 2005 when I was hired at Zillow, and still no clue in 2006 when I started blogging. Truth be told, I didn’t even know what a blog was when I got hired there. Our whole team figured it out together over the following few years. Because of that, I saw the earliest days of blogging in the real estate vertical.

You see, in 2005, very few real estate agents were blogging. And by 2006, just a few agents had started blogging. Large numbers joined between 2007 and 2010. Active Rain was created, gained widespread momentum, then ultimately crumbled due to the huge circle-jerk community consisting of “nice post” comments that added zero value to anyone reading. The Carnival of Real Estate saw its time in the spotlight, and has faded away into the sunset.

As a veteran blogger in the real estate vertical, yet fairly new blogger in the travel industry, here’s what I can tell you:

Travel blogging isn’t the only industry that suffers from the issues Matt mentions. In fact, I’d say blogging in every industry has the same problems.

Travel blogging has the big time stars everyone aspires toward; bloggers such as Jodi Ettenberg, David Lee, Dave Dean, Cailin O’Neil, EarlMatt Kepnes, Caz and Craig, and Gary Arndt. I don’t follow every single travel blog to know who the up-and-comers doing all the right things are, but I know they are out there (and I’m sure Matt could pinpoint a few of them). There are countless others treading water by publishing a bunch of average photos, telling boring stories, and writing “top 5 things to do” posts. Real estate has the same top tier — people like Jay Thompson, Ines, Sue Adler, Jim Duncan, and Kris Berg. Real estate has new blood in the industry too, people (such as Greg Fischer) who are doing everything right and starting to see the fruits of their labor as a result.

And below them? It’s the masses. Multiple agents have tried to seo their way to the top and failed. Thousands have started blogs only to quit after seeing zero results in the first month or two. Most people don’t have business plans, and most who write online think they are great writers and deserve special perks as a result.

Ultimately, the vast vast majority of people in the world aren’t willing to put in the work in to get to the top. Unfortunate, but true. The issue isn’t specific to travel blogging.

Want to succeed with blogging in any vertical? Give a damn about your readers. Focus on providing real tangible value. Take the hard road. Be real and authentic and put yourself out there each and every day. Have a plan, long term goals, a clear strategy, and work (write) your ass off. If you don’t have all of those, then just quit now (if you want to build a business) and, as Matt says, get a desk job. If you want to just blog for fun and to share your personal travel experiences? Fantastic. But know that’s not enough to make it a business or a career.

I get it. Everyone wants the easy button.

It doesn’t exist.

The real key to succeeding in anything?

Doing something.

Don’t be this guy…

Now, back to your regular scheduled programming…

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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goanywhere-matt

The Importance of Social Objects in (Travel) Blogging

I can’t stress enough the importance of social objects — ie getting others to relate to you on some level beyond your professional work.

And Matt Kepnes just did that with this photo in his most recent post.

What’s the social object you might ask?

The ONE T-shirt he’s wearing.

You see, my friend Jerry Ostradicky and I started the ONE Seattle chapter back in 2007 (can’t remember the exact date) and remained involved for several years. I’ve moved on to other philanthropic interests (but glad to see the Seattle scene is still active), but ONE will always trigger memories of my time advocating for ONE.org.

Thanks to a single photo, whenever we do talk, ONE.org is a common interest that Matt and I share that will get us beyond “travel blogging” (which I’m sure he’s tired of talking about anyway).

How do you intersperse social objects into your writing?

Simple. Be personal and share yourself.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Successful Travel Blogging Takes Guts

It’s not easy to write a post like this one talking about sex tourism in Thailand. But the fact that Matt has the guts to write the post is the exact reason Matt succeeds and most fail at travel blogging. He puts a little bit of himself out there, day in and day out.

So, I urge you — go find your voice and yourself – and put it online.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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Avoid the Biggest Mistake Beginning Travel Bloggers Make Early On

What’s the biggest mistake a travel bloggers can make early on?

Branding.

Specifically, backing yourself into a corner by making your first blog entirely focused on the RTW trip you are about to embark on. That approach works great — until your trip comes to an end and you end up doing something else (95% of you won’t travel forever).

For most, your travel blog is your first true online presence. It’s the first time people will read your writing online. It’s the first time you will open yourself up to public scrutiny. Heck, you may even get a few people beyond your family to subscribe to email updates. My advice?

Think about the long term. Brand your blog around “you” and don’t pigeon hole yourself into your RTW trip. This approach gives you the flexibility to pivot the blog to other topics in the future as your life progresses and takes the inevitable wild turns that loom ahead.

Drew Meyers

Drew Meyers is the co-founder of Horizon & Oh Hey World. He worked for Zillow from September of 2005 to January of 2010 on the marketing team managing Zillow’s API program and various online partnerships. Founder of Geek Estate Blog, a multi-author blog focused on real estate technology for real estate professionals, and myKRO.org, a blog devoted to exploring the world of microfinance. As passionate as you get about travel.

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