Does Writing Matter in a Travel Blog?
Last weekend, in Keystone, Colorado some 800 people gathered at a travel bloggers conference
perched at nearly 10,000 feet in the air. On day two—downing water like a dehydrated camel—I sat in a talk entitled The 10 Steps to Writing that Better Engages (and Keeps) Your Readers
, led by San Francisco Chronicle
travel editor Spud Hilton
and blogger Stephanie Yoder
. Now, this was a break-out session, not a keynote address, so the 100 or so of us in attendance were stuffed inside a small room.
A woman took her place behind the podium to introduce Spud and Stephanie and said the most profound words of the entire conference, ones I hadn’t heard anyone say before or after the three-day event. At least, they were the most profound to me, because she was singing my personal travel writer’s song. They were the kind of words that get people to nod their heads in approval, to utter words of agreement, and to—even—bring their hands together in clapping encouragement.
Here’s the gist of what she said: The most important element to a great travel blog is a great travel story
And by that, she meant the writing, yes? Because how can you tell a great travel story without some great writing?
And yet I found myself the only person nodding, saying “Amen,” and clapping. Maybe a few others joined in after me, but the response was pretty sporadic. Maybe it was too early in the morning, or the group was feeling the effects of the altitude or the shindig from the night before.
Maybe—daresay—I was the one out of touch. So, I’ve decided to reach out to you, my readers, and ask you: What is it you expect to read here?
1. Do you want to read stories? As in the narrative of searching for false killer whales off Big Island
with biologist Robin Baird. Or banding Laysan albatross chicks
. Or receiving lomilomi massage
2. Maybe you prefer to read about the people of Hawaii? Say, soap-maker Love Chance
, ocean paddler and conservationist Donna Kahakui
, or vegan cooking chef Mark Reinfeld.
3. Do you want to read more service-oriented articles: The Top 10 Beaches in Hawaii
, How to Pack for the Tropics
, Where to Find the Best Fish Tacos
4. Are you O.K. with a periodic essay that may explore a timely topic, say the future of the Hawaiian monk seal
5. Or would you like a recounting of my travel diary—a daily recap of what I did, where I went, what I ate?
And how good does the quality of the writing need to be?
1. As compelling as that you’d read in a glossy, travel magazine—or Spud Hilton’s San Francisco Chronicle?
2. Or are you willing to forego craft, forgive grammar, because it’s “just a blog,” and the online world is more relaxed? Is O.K. writing acceptable?
I know there are a few lurkers out there, those who read this blog but don't (or rarely) comment. I need you now. Please take a few minutes to share you thoughts. That includes you, Tracey, Christa, Nicki and Mary!
And does anyone from TBEX know who the woman who introduced Spud and Stephanie
was? I’d love to give her a shout out.