An often-repeated piece of advice for writers is to write what you know.
It’s repeated for good reason—and it applies especially to travel writers and bloggers.
While it’s exciting to jet around the globe and discover new places, the easiest place to start is in your own backyard. Writing or blogging about your hometown will allow you to get started immediately—no need to wait or book flights.
Choosing the right topic
What’s that one place you absolutely must take friends when they visit your area for the first time? Start there. It’s something you already enjoy and probably know like the back of your hand—which makes it easy to write about.
One of my early pieces was about the St. Augustine Alligator Farm—a spot about an hour and a half from where I live. In addition to being able to write an in-depth guide because I’d visited so many times, I was also able to dispel some common resistance I hear about visiting this zoological treasure (namely, that it’s a hokey roadside attraction).
Now when new friends visit, I’m able to email them a link to my piece on the zoo, so they can get excited about our visit even before they arrive in town.
Building local contacts
Another advantage to starting local is that you’ll begin to make contacts in your area. No one is more passionate about a place than its residents, so it’s no surprise that the staff at your local convention and visitors bureau CVB and other attractions in the area will be excited to learn they have a travel blogger in town.
Many travel writers and bloggers find they’re invited to behind-the-scenes tours and special events around town once they make those local contacts. This will allow you to have plentiful writing opportunities between trips farther afield as you continue your travel-writing journey.
Sharing your city beyond your blog
Writing local is a great way to jumpstart your travel blog, and—if you’re an aspiring travel writer—a great way to start your writing career.
Firstly, it will mean editors who are looking for someone to write about your area or city can seek you out online. Secondly, it gives you plenty of material to pitch to publications near and far.
Writing about your area doesn’t mean you can only write for your blog or for local publications. Ask your local convention and visitors bureau staff what cities they’re targeting with their marketing campaigns and then go seek out publications in that area. Also check out any cities with direct flights to your local airport and pitch the publications in those cities. As a bonus, you can also pitch the airline magazines for the airlines that fly direct to your local airport.
As you grow your blog and your writing bylines, the income and opportunities keep growing. Your town or city can provide opportunities for years to come between all those other great trips you’re planning. Don’t miss out on this great low-hanging fruit when you’re thinking about starting a travel blog. You’d be amazed just how far it can bring you.