For Bloggers: Travel writing at ground level


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Ban the fluff in travel blogging, and stand apart from thousands of travel bloggers by writing at ground level. Visually show us your experiences with words, and don't just tell us about it. This presentation shows you how.

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  • Why? Because “windy” and “cold” are relative. I live in Sweden, and what you consider cold may not necessarily be cold to me.
  • Doesn’t help any PR firm or tourism board who is committed to improving and providing quality services.
  • For Bloggers: Travel writing at ground level

    1. 1. Travel Writing At Ground Level - For Bloggers<br />Lola (Akinmade) Åkerström<br />
    2. 2. BANTHEFLUFF<br />
    3. 3. Step UpYour Writing Skills<br />
    4. 4. Quick Background<br />Freelance writer and photographer<br /> Editor with Matador Network<br /> Faculty at MatadorU<br /> Photoblogger and writer for<br />
    5. 5. Reasons Why We Blog<br />Free travel via press trips<br />Advertising & SEO revenue<br />The glamorized “cool” factor<br />Personal musings<br />All of the above<br />None of the above<br />
    6. 6. Unofficial Blogging Stats<br />Thousands of travel bloggers<br />
    7. 7. Unofficial Blogging Stats<br />A few hundred of which run within the same circles<br />Same bloggers on the same press trips writing about the same things<br />
    8. 8. Why Do You Blog?<br />So, what makes your blog or blogging style truly different?<br />
    9. 9. Travel Blogging<br />Think about your favorite blogs.<br />
    10. 10. Travel Blogging<br />Why do you like those blogs?<br />
    11. 11. Travel Blogging<br /><ul><li>Not for their SEO prowess (though you respect and maybe secretly crave it)
    12. 12. Not the fact that they regularly enjoy free luxury travel (though you’re secretly jealous)</li></li></ul><li>Travel Blogging<br /><ul><li>Not because they are technically-perfect MFA*-wielding, fancy writers.</li></ul>* - Masters of Fine Art (MFA) degree<br />
    13. 13. Travel Blogging<br />But because of <br />how they write<br />There’s a certain “openness” to their writing<br />
    14. 14. Travel Writing<br />Re-introducing <br />the concept of <br />“Ground Level” writing<br />
    15. 15. The Concept of Ground Level<br />Ground Level = Transparency<br />Ground Level = Show, Not Tell<br />Ground Level = Personal, Not Perfect<br />
    16. 16. The Concept of Ground Level<br />So a writer/blogger, you’re placing the reader squarely by your side…at ground level.<br />
    17. 17. The “Great” Irony <br />Showing “tells” a reader <br />so much more than telling does.<br />
    18. 18. Quick Example - 1<br />Non-transparent - Telling<br />“It was a windy and cold day”<br />Transparent – Showing<br />“Smoke from the food vendors’ carts blew horizontally southward. We all had on heavy coats.”…David Miller<br />
    19. 19. Quick Example - 2<br />Non-transparent - Telling<br />“[New York/Paris/Lisbon/Rome] is a fascinating city with historical gems”<br />“Fascinating”, “Historical”, and especially “Gems” tell the reader absolutely nothing.<br />
    20. 20. What Kills Transparency?<br /> Five (5) Transparency Killers<br />Fear<br />Conformity<br />Clichés<br /> Too Many/Flat Adjectives<br />Doubting Your Own Voice<br />
    21. 21. What Kills Transparency?<br />Fear<br />Fear of losing out on press trips and opportunities<br />Little to no honest property reviews. <br />Everything was, and is, and shall be “awesome” forever<br />
    22. 22. What Kills Transparency?<br />Conformity<br />Trying to be everything to everyone<br />Following a specific formula:<br />Start blog -> Promo like crazy -> Make money<br />Conformity sucks up individuality and voice<br />
    23. 23. What Kills Transparency?<br />Clichés <br />“Stockholm/St. Petersburg – The Venice of the North”<br />“Bangkok/Udaipur/Alleppey- Venice of the East”<br />“Georgetown/Christchurch/Melbourne – The Venice of the South”<br />é<br />
    24. 24. What Kills Transparency?<br />Adjectives – Flat and/or Too Many<br />Sun-kissed/Sun-dappled<br />Best-kept secret, Best, Great<br />Perched, Nestled<br />Exotic, Gem, Can’t miss/Must-see<br />Bad -> Sun-kissed sand….<br />A Little Better -> The sand, tainted yellow by the sun, ….<br />é<br />
    25. 25. What Kills Transparency?<br />Doubting Your Own Voice<br />Will people still like me if they find out what I really think?<br />Am I really boring? <br />Do I need to be funny?<br />“Boring” & “Funny” is relative<br />é<br />
    26. 26. The Concept of Ground Level<br />The lack of ground level writing is one of many reasons why many traditional journalists aren’t warming up to bloggers.<br />
    27. 27. The Concept of Ground Level<br />Another problem is that many publications writers want to write for still use and edit-in lazy definite words to describe places and experiences.<br />
    28. 28. Examples<br />Ground Level<br />“  Spring remains my favorite season each year; that slow steady transition from cold dark winters to bright freshness that signifies rebirth to me on so many levels.”<br />
    29. 29. Examples<br />Edited and published version<br />“Chase away dreary, monochrome winter thoughts with an explosion of color signifying the season’s rebirth.”<br />
    30. 30. Types of Travel Writing<br />Non-Narrative<br />Narrative<br />
    31. 31. Narrative vs. Non-Narrative<br />Narrative<br /> - Creative non-fiction<br /> - Fewer publication outlets<br /> - More awards<br />Non-Narrative<br /> - Service and destination pieces<br /> - The bulk of travel writing<br /> - Easiest to “template”<br />
    32. 32. The Concept of Ground Level<br />“Okay. <br />But I don’t write narrative styletravel writing. <br />Why should I care??”<br />
    33. 33. The Concept of Ground Level<br />“What makes you different from a generic content farm?”<br />
    34. 34. Examples<br />Non-Transparent<br />The barrio is filled with stray dogs and happy-go-lucky kids.<br />Ground Level<br />“My neighbor’s grandkids – the Colques- are laughing and yelling as they push-start an old truck. The dogs are barking and chasing the truck out of the barrio.”….David Miller<br />
    35. 35. Examples<br />Non-Transparent<br /> “Hilo Farmer’s market is a place where you can bask in the colors, the exotic tastes, and smells of tropical summer.”<br />
    36. 36. Examples<br />Ground Level<br /> I walk past mounds of red cayenne pepper, yellow saffron, and green pistachio powder. There’s a strong smell of ripening pineapple in the air. This is Hilo Farmer’s market.<br />
    37. 37. Examples<br />Non-Transparent<br /> “Art lovers know there’s nothing that tops a free exhibit on a warm summer day.”<br />
    38. 38. Examples<br />Ground Level Alternative<br />[None]<br />Skip the “Art Lovers…” intro and just get to the point.<br />
    39. 39. Examples<br />Non-Transparent<br />“Jon loves the outdoors.”<br />
    40. 40. Examples<br />Ground Level<br /> “Jon’s car is a blue Jeep Grand Cherokee with 139,200 miles on the odometer. The PERFORM SERVICE light on the instrument panel is blinking, but it always blinks. The back of the car is crammed full of tents and stoves and packs, hammocks and fly-rods, stray pieces of tippet, a scuffed Chouinard Equipment ski pole from the 1970s, boxes of microbrew, bear-spray, Gazetteers for Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, a cowboy hat…”<br />
    41. 41. Examples<br />Non-Transparent<br />“There is an art to riding the Trans-Siberian railway”<br /> (For who? Travelers? Locals?)<br />
    42. 42. Examples<br />Ground Level<br /> “On my own Trans-Siberian journey, I found that there’s an art to riding the line.”<br />
    43. 43. Examples<br />Non-Transparent<br /> “The pants are great and work well in all active situations.”<br />
    44. 44. Examples<br />Ground Level<br /> “I won’t pretend to know what the genius who designed these pants had in mind for their intended use, but the pockets reflect a deep respect for freedom of movement that suggests break dancing and karate jump kicking.”<br />….Joshywashington, prAna review<br />
    45. 45. Examples<br />More Ground Level<br /> “The fabric is some kind of indestructible substance. I could read the label, but I would rather assume they are made from a blend of NASA space suit material and the finest Imperial silk.”<br />…Joshywashington, prAna review<br />
    46. 46. Travel Writing<br />The point isn’t “witty banter”<br />The point is being comfortable enough to write in your own true voice<br />
    47. 47. Finding Your Voice<br />Developing Your Own Voice<br />1. Write what you see, hear, and smell without adjectives<br />2. Weave “yourself” into “your” experience<br />3. Write like you’re writing to a friend<br />
    48. 48. Finding Your Voice<br />“Well, how do I go about finding my own writing voice?”<br />
    49. 49. Matador Network <br />Matador Network rages against the status quo.<br />MatadorU - Award-winning new Media School which advocates “Transparent Ground Level Reporting”<br />Advancing the careers of travel writers, travel photographers, and filmmakers.<br />
    50. 50. Matador Network<br />Just how hot is our rage against the status quo?<br />Just one example:<br />MatadorU has partnered with the Belize Tourism Board.<br />
    51. 51. MatadorU Travel Writing<br />Narrative Structure<br />Transitions<br />Interaction between characters<br />Developing Dialogue<br />Details<br />Anecdotes<br />Lots more...<br />
    52. 52. MatadorU<br />Numerous success stories at MatadorU<br /><br />
    53. 53. You at Ground Level<br />How Do You Stand Out?<br />Writing as honestly and as transparently as you can.<br />Been proactive about changing lazy travel writing<br />
    54. 54. You at Ground Level<br />Being Proactive<br />Reach out to local tourism boards, not for press trips but for more meaningful partnerships.<br />
    55. 55. Summary<br />At Ground Level, nothing is ‘foreign’ or ‘exotic’ or ‘virtuous’ or ‘pure’. People are just people. Place is just place. <br />When we ‘make more’ of it (or less), when we appropriate others’ struggles or culture as our own, when we reduce people and places into symbols or abstractions or commodities, when we pretend to speak for others, we disrespect those whose lands and homes and cultures we’re fortunate enough to pass through. <br />Writing at Ground Level is a way of showing respect<br />…David Miller<br />
    56. 56. Resources<br />86 (and counting) <br />Free Travel Writing Articles and Travel Photography Resources<br /><br />
    57. 57. Contact Information<br />@LolaAkinmade<br />@MatadorU<br />@MatadorNetwork<br /><br />
    58. 58. Writing At Ground Level<br />Questions?<br />