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What’s a travel writer? What’s a blogger?

November 5, 2011
Christchurch, NZ

What’s the difference between a travel writer and a blogger? And can you be both? These are questions I’m asked, along with how do you get editors to answer you and ,can you live on the income you make as a travel writer.

The last first: I can’t live on my writing income – some, maybe many do, but I’m just not one of them. And that’s for a number of reasons. Reasons such as:

  • I only write about things I’ve done or seen. So, no interviewing my computer  for me – and that’s just one of the ‘ethical travel writer’ parts of me.
  • And, I only do or see things that interest me – the world interests me, but we can only do bits of it. I don’t do wine stores, but do write about food!
  • I pay for most of my travel to go to the places I want to see and thing I’d like to write about (of course I do accept being hosted to countries and places I like, or somewhere new.)
  • I’m not disciplined enough – and have a monkey mind, a short attention span!
  • I not particularly materially minded – so can and do, travel and live “off the smell of an oily rag’ as my dad used to say. So not really motivated for more money enough to write from morning ’til night:  refer back to the first points.

What is a blogger? Well, there are as many sorts of bloggers as there are blogs.  They could be from a daily diary about your life, the food you are eating, the diet you are on, to the travels you’re doing now.  Some are just for friends and family to read, others are by people who want to ‘be famous’.  Some are by famous people who want to get their message to you.

My blogs are about places I’ve been to or done; they can also be articles I’ve had published in airline magazines or local magazines and newspapers (that is a double bonus for the airline, travel destination or activity who hosted me) or they’r one off stories about something I found interesting.

What is a travel writer? Once again this is different for different folk. I even know of so-called travel writers who never travel! Sure they write about travel but they are not what I consider ‘travel writers.’ Others write guide books. Once again they are not really a travel writer in my sense of the term.

For me, a travel writer tells tales. They write stories that makes you want to go to a place or, conversely, perhaps never to travel to a particular place! It will be addressed to a certain audience according to where it will be published; it will be a specific length, and will be completed by a certain date. And, I will be paid for those stories – I’m not a PR person writing for magazines for free (to the magazines)

A blogger may do all those things too but it’s not an imperative. I also belong to a professional body which has standards and ethics that bloggers are not required to have. I belong to Travcom ( NZ Travel Communicators Assn.) which has ethical standards.  (see it below the picture) And talking of standards – editors rarely reply to emails – ‘too busy’ ‘too many emails’ they say. If you find one that answers, cherish him or her.

So, although I am on the bottom of the food chain  money-wise, I live a great life, do some wonderful things, see fabulous places and meet amazing people – all worth way more than money to me.

Nevertheless, should you wish to hire me to write something, contact me; if you want to invite me somewhere, contact me; and, if you want to fly me somewhere, contact me – my passport is up to date, my bag is ready and waiting and I believe the ratio of value of dollars spent on ‘comps’ to marketing dollars is 50 to 1.

This is in India - not Africa!

In Gujarat, India (where I was hosted by Gujarat Tourism) I was surprised at the Lion Safari Camp,  to find a village of African migrants living there for years, employed in Gir National Park, looking after the wild lions.

Travcom Code of Professional Conduct
Travel journalism must be accurate and free of unwarranted bias or prejudice.Members shall not write about a destination without first-hand knowledge, unless reliable sources of information are used.Payment or courtesies shall not be accepted in exchange for providing favourable material about travel destinations or operations that conflicts with the member’s own professional appraisal.When accepting complimentaries (‘comps’) members should make all reasonable attempts to acknowledge the donor in the media. Members shall exercise common sense and courtesy to the host when sharing ‘comps’ with non-professionals not involved in the assignment.Conflicts of interest should be avoided where possible or, if not possible, should be disclosed in or at the end of the article.In joining Travcom, members acknowledge they undertake travel writing/photography for commercial gain. Therefore it is unacceptable to compromise the opportunities and income of other members by working for nothing. Travcom strongly discourages members from submitting work for print or on-line, without financial reward from the publications concerned.

It is unacceptable to plagiarise or infringe the rights, including copyright, of others. Photographs or editorial material supplied by others shall by acknowledged with appropriate bylines.

Members shall not engage in conduct that embarrasses Travcom or otherwise harms its reputation or professionalism. Members shall treat colleagues and hosts/host countries with common courtesy.

Travcom may discipline members by suspension or expulsion for serious breaches of the Code of Professional Conduct

This is in India - not Africa!

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