A Travellerspoint blog

In Search of the Muse

A Bedtime Story

Call Me, by broden

Call Me, by broden

Disclaimer: Not every person who goes out seeking an adventure decides to "blog" about it. Okay, maybe they do with the number of travel bloggers out there these days. Regardless, this blog is design to help (traveling) bloggers be better (traveling) bloggers. Can't promise it will work, but giving it a shot just the same. I've got the time. I'm not traveling.

Once Upon A Time

Recently, my husband (the illustrious beerman) and I spent two days at a conference dedicated to blogging about travel. (Make that 3 days if you include the before, during and after parties - but that's another story for another day. Did I mention it was in New York City? That was cool! but I digress) .... The main thrust was on "making money from your travel blog". Some of it even pertained to "monetarily supporting your travels from your travel blog". Grand ideas. And they do work well for quite a few, but that's not why I'm writing this piece (as stated above). Instead, and for good reason, I'll be sharing the information that falls under the "one size fits all" category. Those tidbits that can be used by everyone. Hey, my mother taught me how to share equally so no one felt left out. So you only got 1/10th of a stick of gum - nine other kids got a piece too. Everybody was happy - mostly.

Hanging on the Telephone

It's good to hear your voice, you know it's been so long.
If I don't get your call then everything goes wrong.
I want to tell you something you've known all along.
Don't leave me hanging on the telephone.

I relate blogs to telephone conversations. Doesn't matter the genre or topic or what's said in them. They are a written phone call - pure and simple. So, whether you agree or disagree with that analogy, take a minute to think about the content of your own blog or someone else's - who's still hanging on the telephone?

I now read blogs for a living. I read a lot of them and most are travel-related in some form or another. (I think I know the best places to get drunk in Colombia. Maybe it was Panama. But, that's beside the point.) Those who begin a blog usually do so to inform everyone they know about what they (the traveler) have been up to over a certain period of time. It's "I woke up, went to breakfast, caught a cab, went here or there, etc". Or, it's "I woke up, crawled out of my tent, met with all of my hiking mates and we climbed Mount Kilimanjaro". That's not a bad thing. It's the phone call back home. But...
Public phone?, by beerman

Public phone?, by beerman

Trouble Ahead, Trouble Behind

No matter what, use your blog to tell your story. One that has a true beginning, middle and end to it.

The only people who will keep reading a blog dedicated to the 'me' aspect are your parents, sisters, brothers, best friends- and even they will stop reading after a certain period of time. Sorry, but it's true. They will still love you. They just won't read your entries. They will quickly check your blog site to view the latest one if you have a real phone call pre-arranged. Why? Because they don't want to sound 'uninformed' about the bad sushi and 10 trips to the toilet.

You may think I'm kidding about the 'they'll stop reading' thing, but I'm not. I Iove my family and friends enormously, but even I tune out when I haven't gotten a...

Bedtime Story

A blog, like the call, needs to keep one interested. The phone conversation may have two authors but there is still story-telling happening. If there isn't, you ultimately hang up. (Unless you talk to my best friend. Then there are endless hours - well, seconds into minutes - of dead air space. I just set the phone down.) No matter what, use your blog to tell your story. One that has a true beginning, middle and end to it.--Keep them hanging on the telephone by:

Discovering the Muse

Taken from Greek mythology, the word "muse" refers to a guiding spirit or source of inspiration. It also means to ponder or reflect on a situation, thought, object - any number of other things. In this instance, the sources of inspiration will be you (as author), your travels (the subject matter) and the blog itself. You have become the muse. Your blog entries the instruments from which your discoveries will be conveyed to others.

So, now you think you have tapped into your own guiding spirit and are ready to starting writing. Great! However, before you just start clanking away at the keyboard or putting real pen to paper, there are a few additional inspirational items to consider. A well-written bedtime story is also well thought out before being told. Take a few minutes to ponder the suggestions I have included below:

  • You've decided to start a blog. Consider your audience first: A) Will it be just family and friends? Or, B) will you be trying to reach a larger audience - one that encompasses complete strangers too? (Trust me, it's an important decision.)

Build your entry as an author would build their short story, essay or novel. Use humor, intrigue, mystery, whatever to build the story line

  • Whether you choose option A (family/friends) or B (larger audience), the 'Bedtime Story' is an essential component. In every good read, character development is essential. You may be the only character in a given entry but you need to make yourself interesting. If others are involved in your adventure, describe them. Here is where "the more the merrier" works well. Don't just say, "Jorge from Madrid joined us". Who the hell is Jorge? Why the hell did he join you? What's his problem, anyway? Tell us more.
  • Build a Story!- Build your entry as an author would build their short story, essay or novel. Use humor, intrigue, mystery, whatever to build the story line. Lead the reader up to the plot of your tale. Though not everyone's taste, one of my favorite examples is The Scams of David Viner, Part 1 The Encounter on Gibbering Madness. (I happen to love mysteries.) But, it's still a great example of keeping a reader involved.
  • Bring the story to a close. If your blog entry will not be a continuing saga then finish it. Let the reader know what has happened at the end but not by saying, "End of Day One". Either allude to the next entry or finish it completely. Think about how your favorite book ends and do the same with your blog entries.
  • Oh, the use of video - what a wonderful thing! Or some may think... Video is great filler but please realize that your audience is not necessarily equipped to handle a blog saturated with steaming vids. I know because I'm not. I may have the latest MacBook Pro but it's still crud if my internet connection is lousy. Video is not always the best option for portraying your activities. Nothing turns a viewer away faster than staring at a screen for 5 minutes while a single page loads.
  • Photographs: Part 1 - another wonderful thing! I love photographs! And, they work well when internet connections are shit. (See above comment.) Photos speak a thousand words. Use 'em! Again, as an editor, I'd prefer reading something loaded with photographs rather than videos. (And, again, it depends on your chosen audience.)
  • Photographs: Part 2 - USE YOUR OWN! Your worst photo will speak more about your travels than the best photo you find anywhere else. One must keep in mind that photos taken from flickr, picasa or any other storage area are not there free for the taking. (Same holds true for photos posted on Travellerspoint.) IF you choose to use someone else's work - ask for permission. Also, give credit where credit is due. (See the photo credits in this blog.)

Working a story by fnurgen

Working a story by fnurgen

Happily Ever After

I could pontificate all day, but I won't. I've covered the bare necessities of a good blog and will leave it at that. The keys to blogging come done to the same things in life. Think, look, listen and learn... Think about what you like and who your audience is first. Look at what you enjoy reading yourself. Listen to what others have to say about what they prefer. Learn from those things and you're blog will be a success.

Thank you to Blondie for the use of the lyrics to "Hanging On The Telephone"


If you have other tips and tricks for your fellow travellers, then join us in educating travellers worldwide. To get started, send our editors an email at unravelled [at] travellerspoint [dot] com. Let them know a bit about yourself, and maybe include some writing samples and ideas for entries. They will review your submission and, if you fit the bill, they will welcome you to the team.

Posted by Isadora 11:37 Tagged tips_and_tricks

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Wonderful post, thank you. I realised early-on that personal anecdotes will only get you so far, as far as readership goes. And frankly they're mostly boring unless you can make it applicable somehow to the reader, traveller or otherwise.

Anyhow, this article is a great reminder to take more care when writing a travel blog article.

Thank you!

by pgoodchild

Hi, thanks for the link. I'm surprised, I thought I only had about 20 readers!

by Gibbering Madness

Thank you for the compliment, Paul! I'm glad you enjoyed reading the piece. Happy blogging!


Alex, you have at least one reader - me! I love your stuff. And, I'm sure you have more than 20 people checking things out over on Gibbering Madness. :)

by Isadora

Awww Shucks, thanks Isadora. It's nice to feel appreciated.

by Gibbering Madness

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