“The World Doesn’t Need More Mediocre Bloggers…”

© 2012 Elizabeth Cutright

The Keys to Creative Self Employment
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

Money, money, money.  Summer’s over and the holidays feel like they’re just around the corner (for some reason, this year I’ve been feeling the passing seasons a little more keenly than in the past), and that means an overload of expenses: travel to see family and friends, holiday meals to prepare, holiday parties to host or attend and gifts, gifts, gifts.

Like clockwork, the arrival of fall has got me going over my list of autumnal resolutions, and I’ve realized that in this epoch of heavy spending, I’m going to have to find a way to turn on that “earned income” tap if I want to do and see and bestow in the manner I’ve hoped.  And there’s that possible trip to Paris in the near future.  Ahhh…Paris.  It’s been so long since I’ve wandered down your streets, ducking into cafes and lounging in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower.  Oh the wine…and the cheese and baguettes!

But I digress.

Which is just a long way of saying,  (forgive the old Hollywood catchphrase) “show me the money.”

Thoughts of Paris aside (though, really, is that even possible?!), I’ve been wondering lately what possibilities for this blog exist outside the confines of my free WordPress site.  Can I expand what I’m doing?  Is there a way to incorporate my love of travel?  Is this something other people would even be interested in?

So it was with keen interesting that I clicked on a recent entry over at Chris Guillebeau’s website (The Art of Non Conformity) entitled “Success as a Travel Blogger.”

I’ve talked about Chris’s blog before, and I am still finding a lot to love about the blogs, articles, tips and tools on his website.  In this particular article, he gives some advice geared toward the aspiring travel blogger.  Having always wanted to be a travel writer when I grow up, I was anxious to get his perspective.

Chris starts off talking about the need to refine your craft.  He advises that the aspiring blogger aim for interesting and innovative, rather than mediocre content with a splashy PR campaign.

“The world doesn’t need more mediocre bloggers or writers who are really good at Twitter,” he writes. “What the world does need is storytellers.  We need people to challenge us.  We need people to explain how travel can be a force for good.”

I love that – travel as a force for good.  I’ve always been a big proponent of venturing beyond your comfy backyard, not just because I find travel inspiring (and a whole heck of a lot of fun), but also because I fervently believe that in order to really expand and improve your writing, you need to immerse yourself in the world – be of it, not just “in it.”

As for practical travel blogging tips, Chris sets up a great series of questions to ask yourself before you begin crafting a travelogue: How were you changed? How is the world changing?  How have you seen one group help another?  What’s that like?

Chris also nixes the notion that writing about your own self-discovery is interesting – at least in terms of travel writing – to the reader without some additional context.

“A lot of blogs begin with the premise of so-and-so finding their way in the world and being inspired to travel,” he writes. “That’s not a bad start – but it’s just a start.  What comes next?  What’s the message?  The minutia of our lives is not nearly as fascinating as we might think, so be specific and put forth a real opinion.”

We’re back to specificity again, something I’ve blogged about before.  It harks back to a journalism background and the understanding that when your reporting a story or retelling an event, you need to not only include all the facts (the venerable “Who, What, When, and Why), but provide context through the details.  So while “Man Bites Dog” is certainly intriguing, a really great piece will give you all the minutia so that you can paint a picture in your head of the event, and – perhaps – even form an opinion of whether or not that poor Shih Tzu deserved that chomp on the tail.

And finally, Chris advises that “don’t forget to care.”  A piece of advise that would seem intuitive, but is actually worth considering: make sure you care about what you’re writing, and make sure that commitment comes across in everything you do.  Sometimes we can get so caught up in the dressing – your WordPress theme, your Twitter handle, your Facebook fanpage – that you forget that the whole point of your blog was to write about a topic you love and find interesting.  I’m always saying that you need to “just show up to the page,” but paying nothing more than lip service for too long will alienate your audience, and by the time you come back full force, there may be no one left on your followers feed.

“Care about your work, and care about the people who support it,” advises Chris.  “Success will not happen by accident.  Think of your blog as a real commitment, not a hobby.  Have a schedule. Define specific outcomes that you hope to achieve.  Set goals.  Write and build projects with the end in mind.  Focus on deliverables, not the time it takes to complete them.”

The good news is if you, like me, are new to this online writing scene, there’s never been a better time to dip a toe – or just cannonball right in – to the blogging pool.  Whether you’re blogging for personal reasons, to cultivate your craft, or to monetize your writing, blogging and online writing is really – sorry for the cliché here – and endless sea of possibilities.

Chris agrees. “There’s never been a better time to do this – to travel the world and share stories about those experiences, even crafting a business around it if you want to,” he writes.

“That’s where I think you’ll find your own unconventional success.”

All Content is the sole Property of Elizabeth Cutright and The Daily Creative Writer, if you are reading this blog on another site, it has been reposted without the author’s permission and is in violation of the DMCA. © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

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