How To Make Sure No One Ever Reads Your Travel Blog
“If you’ve nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” That’s what mum always taught me. I think bloggers and travel writers could learn a bit from this. More appropriately: “If you don’t have anything good or worthwhile to say, don’t say anything at all.”
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… in line with the ever-increasing travel coverage in blogs and media, there is also a growing amount of crap spouted.
From MSNBC, entitled “Tourist Written All Over You”:
“Clothes make the tourist. White tennis shoes almost always announce an American tourist, just as black socks with shorts identify a British tourist. Sweatshirts with university names…blah blah blah”
The white tennis shoes (as opposed to the white face)? Really? Brits wear black socks and shorts? Really?. Sweatshirts with University names? You don’t say. A name of an American college on your chest suggests you’re an American? No sh*t Sherlock.
Sorry, I guess we are all guilty of it. Becoming link-fueled and RSS driven. Posting for the sake of posting. Filling space, chasing ad revenue, links etc etc. But I’m tired of this no-brainer approach.
I plead guilty. And as I posted in the comments section of OMIG’s post: like any writer, self-respecting bloggers should try to focus on quality over quantity. Don’t post simply because you need to fulfill a self-imposed one-a-day quota. If you’ve nothing relevant or inspiring to say for the moment, skip a day. Or two. Or however many you need to overcome your creative block.
Churning out prose at an inhuman, Stephen King-like pace will only lead to a mountain of diluted, uninspiring blog posts guaranteed to bore your readers. Two of my favorite travel blogs – Killing Batteries and How Conor Is Spending All His Money – write only two posts per month on average. Their writings are much longer than your average three-paragraph blog post, but they’re always funny, clever, and well-written. The key is: they take their time.
One of my many RSS subscriptions includes Guardian Unlimited’s Travel section. There’s nearly a dozen fluffy, easily digested articles posted there daily. Their recent Top 10 tips for travel photography typifies much of their mind-numbingly simplistic prose:
9. Check the horizon.
When photographing landscapes keep horizons straight.
That made the top 10? Ansel Adams, eat your heart out. I’d hate to see the “tips” that didn’t make the cut:
11. Ensure your camera is on.
It’s much easier to snap your photos this way.
12. Take your camera out of your pocket.
It’s harder to focus your camera through pants cloth. Your pictures will come out clearer and more life-like if you first remove the camera from your pocket.
Brilliant! This may explain why all 406 snaps from my Ireland holiday were of lint balls and loose Euro change. If only they’d released this list sooner.
Don’t let your blog be the USA Today or in-flight magazine of the blog world. Be unique. Be inspired. Just say something different!
But How Can I Write More Gooder?
There are a number of websites dedicated to helping bloggers and Kerouac-hopefuls write well:
Copyblogger.com: Truly a top-notch resource. An A-list blog to which I subscribe. I highly recommend every one of Brian’s posts.
Problogger.net: Darren Rowse blogs for a living and turns a damn good coin at it to boot (think six figures), so it’s safe to say he knows what he’s talking about.
Performancing.com: With the tagline, “Helping Bloggers Succeed”, they do just that. The blog content is targeted mostly at bloggers looking to successfully monetize their blogs, but even if you’re not, the same tips still apply. What generates steady revenue for your blog will keep your readers coming back and vice versa.
One last thing: read your favorite blogs (not necessarily travel) with an eye towards what you like about them. Don’t analyze their content, but rather their character. Forget what they’re saying and focus more on how they’re saying it. What do you like? What don’t you like?
Do they use descriptive imagery and verbose text that leaves nothing to the imagination? Or short, authoritative sentences that cut right to the point?
Do they open up enough about their experience in a way that really connects you to their writing? Or do you feel as if they’re holding back?
Is their enough humor in their writing? Does it detract form the overall experience or is just enough?
Take whatever aspects you like best and put them to work on your own blog. Mixed with a dash of brutal honesty, you’ll find your own unique blogging voice in no time.
Comments are open and I’m eager to hear what everyone else thinks. What blogs do you read for inspiration? What has helped you become a better writer – travel or otherwise?