At a recent network meeting I was asked what I did and replied, “I’m a travel … well, a blogger… I mean, I write travel posts – I’ve got a website I blog on … I’ve had some articles published in magazines …” and ran out of steam. You probably know about those business networking organisations where you have to give a 30 second ‘elevator pitch’ to sum up what you do; well, the descent from the new Burj Tower in Dubai wouldn’t have been be long enough. The main issue I had was saying I was a travel BLOGGER – it didn’t feel right.
If you Google the phrase ‘travel writer v travel blogger’ there are over 40,000 pages; read Gary Arndt’s article Travel Blogging vs Travel Writing for a thoughtful take on the subject. Gary offers a number of different criteria including writers as those who “write for someone else, either on staff or on a freelance basis, and bloggers “work for themselves and they are responsible for their own income.’ I fit both definitions depending on the situation. My reticence in using phrase ‘Travel Blogger’ seemed to be based on something else …
I realised it came from my own perception of what constituted GOOD writing. I grew up consuming all kinds of travel books for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My heroes included the usual names; Paul Theroux, Laurens Van Der Post, William Dalrymple, Laurie Lee, Dervla Murphy and my absolute favourite, Jan Morris. Novels set in foreign lands have always interested me, some have even caused me to move there – ‘My Family & Other Animals‘ by Gerald Durrell inspired a love-affair with Greece that lasts to this day. Guide books are a must on every trip and I can’t wait for next month’s copy of Lonely Planet mag. You’ll note that all of these fit the traditional, printed paper format. However, my main definition of a good ‘travel writer’ is simply that their writing must engage me and take me on a journey via the words and images they create.
Travel bloggers use technology to facilitate ease of access to the written word. Bloggers can freely ‘publish’ their words to world at the click of a mouse. Using the definition above there are some truly brilliant travel writers amongst the blogging community and there are some lousy ones. And that’s the point – anyone with basic IT skills can be a blogger. Using social media, PR, networking and other means will enure the blogger potential readers. Whether or not they are ‘good’ travel writers – well, that’s another issue entirely.
Yes, I’ve had a number of paid articles published. Yes, I’ve had The Quirky Traveller Travel Notes published and I am working on a travel book, but my writing is mainly in blog format here and for other travel blog sites. So, the next time anyone asks me what I do, I am going to say, “I’m a travel blogger” and see how it feels. It’s up to the reader to decide if I’m any good!
Zoe Dawes runs Travel Writing Workshops sharing tips on how to write, blog and share the journey.