Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Leverage and Who Holds It In Travel Journalism

May 21, 2010 2 comments

Just shy of three years into my freelance journalism career I’ve learned a handful of things I wish I’d understood before I quit my PR job. Most are the basics — get an accountant, paying quarterly taxes is expensive, the check is always in the mail — but then there are the big ones. The type of lessons that make or break a career if you can’t adapt quickly.

This past week while at the Society of American Travel Writers Editors Council I got a chance to work on one of the biggest of these lessons: Understanding leverage, who holds it, and how to use the little leverage you have to increase your overall value.

While it’s not appropriate to go into details about the conversations I had with editors from USA Today, Denver Post, Travel and Leisure to name a few, it is fair to say that leverage in the travel industry is increasingly becoming one-sided. What I reconfirmed was what I already knew: as a freelance writer my leverage is based on how little I can charge and how quickly I can turn it around. The fact that I can produce HD video, print-level photography, or a variety of other multimedia elements isn’t enough to catapult me past if I can work on spec or for .10 cents a word.

This brings up a major roadblock: Do I play in this space and accept the skewed reality? Or do I look where everyone else is going and walk the other way? It is no secret that travel writing is a career filled with dreams of free extended trips on the Riviera and gourmet dinners with no checks, and while some of that does happen, the harsh reality of the travel writer lifestyle is usually broken relationships, catastrophic health insurance and a lifetime of renting.

If I look the other way, however, I’m looking into a world dominated by rich content complete with a high production value, strong narrative and a budget beyond $300 for a five-minute video. The reality of this lifestyle leads me to bankruptcy in six months.

Over the weekend at the beginning of my presentation on video I told the group of editors my job is to look where everyone is going and walk the other way, while still continuing to build my career in the traditional sense. There were some raised eyebrows and a few chuckles. Of course it could have been because they aren’t used to hearing a 27-year-old presenter say something like that, but I have to think it’s because they wish their job gave them the leverage to do the same thing.

Which is where we find the answer to who holds the leverage in travel journalism. Right now it’s not the editors, not the writers, not the PR pros who can’t offer free trips to a large segment of their target base, but instead it’s upper-level management who are looking at balance sheets and ROI models. And until these individuals are able to break away from projections and quarterly profits, the leverage of pushing boundaries and moving forward with larger brands will continue to be sluggish and frustrating for many parties. Which is why I’m still playing the game by pitching traditional outlets, but also why I’m looking as far away from their business model as possible and trying to figure out how I fit into the great unknown. I just hope bankruptcy never comes.


Why I Will Still Write For Newspapers Even Though Most Times I Lose Money

May 18, 2010 1 comment

This blog is pretty much dead, but every once in a while I find something I can’t ignore and need to put down. This past weekend while at the Society of American Travel Writers Editors Council in Portland, Oregon I got the chance to answer one of my most pressing personal development questions: Should I still continue to write for newspapers even though most times I lose money?

The answer is yes.

As a younger writer with the desire to move forward I’m still honing my voice. My transitions, flow, grammar and style are yet to be perfected. And while many writers even at the height of their career will say the same thing, the changing landscape of media means fewer and fewer editors out there to tighten work, rearrange, and pull out the narrative hidden among endless metaphors and descriptions.

So far I’ve been lucky enough to be edited by experienced line editors from Backpacker Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, The Denver Post and San Francisco Chronicle just to name a few. They haven’t been always fun experiences — the endless edits, tweaks and major changes sometimes leave my stomach in knots — but they have made me a stronger writer and improved my writing in a way that wouldn’t have happened if I had only written online.

Over the past three years I’ve seen a division between my friends in traditional media and online media in regards to their writing ability and how fast they progress. Many of my online friends are excellent writers, but could become great writers if only a  little help were offered to them.

This is why I won’t stop pitching print outlets even though I can’t take a press trip or write the article quick enough to make a solid hourly wage. I want to become a stronger writer. I want to learn how to craft a story in a limited amount of space for a targeted readership. I want to be told I can do things better and then shown how. Even if it means I don’t go to the coffee shop every morning.

This is why I won’t give up. Even if it means a thousand rejection letters before an assignment.

Categories: Journalism, Travel, Writing

A Night Out in Cody, Wyoming

February 23, 2010 1 comment

Spent the weekend in Cody, Wyoming, and enjoyed a typical night out on the town. Enjoy.

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Categories: Photography, Travel

Dinner at 8K – Viceroy Snowmass

February 11, 2010 1 comment

Pictures from my dinner at 8K at the Viceroy Snowmass

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Categories: CO, Colorado, Photography, Travel

Best Damn Weekend: Beaver Creek Park Hyatt

January 26, 2010 2 comments

Spent this past weekend at the Beaver Creek Park Hyatt and all the ‘you-can’t-even-afford-beer’ jokes aside, it was a wonderful weekend I hope to do again sometime. The skiing was good, and the warm chocolate chip cookies at the end of the day were heavenly. Took a few pics while I was there and wanted to share. The food is from 8100, a spectacular slopeside dinning experience complete with low ambient lighting and a beautiful center fireplace.

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Categories: CO, Colorado, Photography, Travel


January 22, 2010 Leave a comment

Sometimes all life needs is an infinity pool, the ocean and a bar.

Shot’s from Infinity Bay in Roatan, Honduras.

Categories: Photography, Travel

Is Your Brand Ready For The Apple iSlate?

January 19, 2010 Leave a comment

The Apple iSlate, otherwise known as the-only-possible-thing-on-the-planet-that-can-save-media, is supposed to be released next week by Apple and the media is scrambling to be ready. But what are you doing to get your own brand in place to take on this new technology?

Not sure? Consider the following:

  • If Apple does in fact release the iSlate, magazines and media companies will be turning to advertisers in droves to fill their new digital properties. This means ads will need to be placed next to interactive content and possibly be interactive themselves. Is your brand ready to be interactive and have multiple campaigns?
  • If you’re brands video is placed next to a Sports Illustrated video recap of last night’s NBA game, how will your video quality compare to the high definition video SI is using? Flip camera’s worked great last year, but now as mobile displays are able to distribute video in full hd will your ad take advantage of that?
  • Advertising, or rather good advertising today, is all about storytelling and providing viewers with a story. With interactive ads, brands can now highlight personalities, product demonstrations, real-world situations and story lines that support their message and engage the viewer. Outdoor brands and travel brands have a strong advantage here. Who wouldn’t want to see yesterday’s snow conditions, check out interactive trail maps, and view 360-degree photos of hotel rooms when deciding if they were going to book a trip that weekend to their favorite resort?
  • Are you still thinking one-way? Or are you using your ads to encourage conversation and participation? Advertising is no longer about putting out a message and expecting it to stick. We all know this, but for some reason advertisers are still approaching ads as if they were ads and not their own branded content. Most magazines have little to no online budget, so ads can take advantage of this and use various mediums to create their own content targeted specifically at iSlate users. For instance, if your brand was a rafting company, approaching your advertisement as a narrative travel story following a select number of guests, engages the viewer more than just a bunch of b-roll video with crappy copyright-free music. If you are thinking like a journalist, your brands advertisements will stick out. Big time.

There are many more ways brands can set themselves up for the iSlate and mobile advertising, but by far the largest step needs to be action. Like podcasting and iPhone Apps, the early adopters were able to grab market share quickly and stay ahead of the game by innovating along the way. So instead of wringing your hands, start small and build from there. Brands that do will succeed and I believe will stand out sometimes even more than the editorial content they are next to.