Can We Travel and Be Paid Yet Stay True To Our Hearts?
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 traveling 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 traveling, 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 of how to get followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, and to be honest it has always felt forced. A mechanism is shown to us by those that are already there, who already are making bucket-loads from travel writing.
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 realized 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!
I noticed many of my friend’s blogs. They write Mommy blogs, beauty blogs, and 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 thousands 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 realized – hardly any!
This realization 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 done write for myself. And if people comment they comment, and if they don’t. I know a lot of people who hold giveaways 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 realized most people jump through 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 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 online 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 writing 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 time, 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 were 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 fulfill 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.