When I agreed to become a regular contributor for a local regional blog, as well as the blog for my Convention and Visitors Bureau, I had no idea how much these travel blogging assignments would hone and cultivate my writing skills. Looking back, it’s probably one of the most influential assignments I’ve ever accepted as a travel writer.
Having regular columns forces me to flex creative and constructive muscles that may otherwise become flabby. From technical digital post considerations to the actual crafting of a story, I’m constantly acquiring marketable skills. And these skills come in handy each time I query an editor.
Prior to becoming a regular contributor for a niche regional publication, my knowledge of WordPress was minimal. Becoming a contributor meant my responsibilities were to include not only writing articles but also applying one of their many blog templates, uploading my articles and photos, then submitting the finished product for review before scheduling it to go live.
I also learned the importance of photo orientation and file size, how to correctly assign a featured photograph, and what exactly search engine optimization meant. Writing the story was only half of the process.
Constantly writing = efficiency
Thanks to an ever-evolving and competitive digital market, my editors are constantly in need of quality content—fast. Digital articles can go from conception to publication in a matter of days (and sometimes hours), which means proficiency, efficient time management, and productivity are invaluable skills.
On more than one occasion, I’ve received a text message from my editor on a Wednesday asking if I can be in a certain location by Friday to cover a pop-up restaurant or festival. Luckily, this routine cultivates an added bonus: creativity.
Creative story ideas
Since both the regional blog and CVB cover such a hyper-local area, the usual “Best 10 things to do in…” or “ 5 Things You Can’t Miss…” have been written ad nauseam. In order to provide fresh and entertaining content, writers and editors must work together to come up with appealing article ideas.
Not only does this lead to some unique, “outside-the-box” topics (think “How to Host a Crawfish Boil When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing”), but it also sparks more creative research ideas when scouting a new destination. “How a Southern Girl Tackles a New England Clam Bake” has a nice ring to it, no?
Finding my own voice
As a regular, my ability to provide quality stories before deadlines has allowed me a certain amount of freedom and the chance to take the reins. I rarely need to get the green light before pursuing a story idea. Not only has this given me the confidence that I have what it takes to make it in this industry, but it has also given me the confidence to pursue my personal blog, when before I doubted I had the knowledge or skill to do so.
And lastly, the opportunity to work side by side with the very people travel writers approach when requesting FAM tours and comped travel has proven invaluable. I frequently get a behind-the-scenes look at what these industry professionals want from freelancers. For me, this makes a FAM trip humbling and enjoyable… and it’s also good to have this knowledge when reaching out to request free travel perks on a new assignment.