TraveLinkSites talks to super fun and sassy blogger Jen of Scarlett Wonderland, a travel blog with a unique style and voice that Kiri and I love! Jen is going to talk us all through how to develop your travel writing voice, one of the most fundamental yet most overlooked aspects of travel blogging.
Over to Jen!
1. Hi Jen! Could you briefly introduce yourself, your site and your why you wanted to write a travel blog?
I’m Jen, a Freelance Writer, Interior Design PR girl and unfortunate star of the ridiculous stories over at Scarlett Wonderland… and I’m going to make a confession; when I first started blogging I didn’t even know what a “travel blog” was!
For me, starting a blog simply meant I finally had an outlet for all of the obscure situations I seemed to find myself in on a daily basis.
Within the first couple of weeks it was officially a “Bucket List” blog… before morphing into a Travel Blog a few months later. Now, almost a year on, it’s become more of a mutated hybrid of travel, lifestyle and posts that serve no other purpose but to remind me that my life is ridiculous.
2. Who were/are your major influences when you decided to create your own blog?
A friend of mine called me up one Thursday night and said “I’m having a shitty week… tell me something about your stupid life to make me feel better”. I suppose that was the push I needed to start writing things down…
Of course, that was before I was aware of the whole blogging scene. Nowadays I love to read other people’s travel blogs – everyone has just a different take on things, and I find myself constantly inspired to do more, see more and write more!
3. How would you describe your voice? How does your style differ?
I’ve been told I’m a little edgier than some blogs by a few people… I’m not sure whether that’s because I’m happy to talk about the more, how do you put it, “feisty” topics… or just simply because I don’t hold back on the odd F-word.
4. What do you think constitutes a great travel writing voice?
I think it really depends on what you’re looking for – there are lots of brilliant writers out there who do great reviews, photo-posts and top-tens… but for me it’s all about seeing the blogger’s personality! I’m not interested in someone putting up 14 photos of the Eiffel tower from various angles with nothing more than a caption reminding me that “this is a great place for a picnic”… I know it is! I’m more interested in the tit-bits of information that you can’t get from the lonely planet guides and the person behind the words. When you feel like you know the voice you can feel inspired by their journeys, learn from their mistakes and put yourself in the writer’s shoes and enjoy the adventure with them.
5. What time of day do you find best to write? Do you have any particular styles of getting your ideas down? Do you have a notepad or is everything digital?
I must have about 15 different notepads, each jam-packed full of scribbled ideas that I can barely read… I’m not exactly the most organised of bloggers, so I find that I have to find the time to write whenever inspiration pops into my head – be it at a reasonable hour in the day, or at 4am!
6. What things do you focus on in your blog posts? What makes great reading?
I think my particular blogging style is based around humour; just generally seeing the funny side of travelling – which also tend to be the posts I like to read on other people’s blogs. After all, you have to be able to laugh at yourself!
7. What are your thoughts on travel literature? What books have inspired you/what other works of art?
Would it be totally weird to say that my favourite film, “Forrest Gump” has been one of the biggest inspirations? Fictional or not, you can’t deny that everyone wants a life as varied and excited as Forrest!
8. How do you build your audience?
I use Twitter, Facebook and Triberr to help to promote new posts, but I think one of the best ways to build an audience is to read and comment on other people’s blogs. Not only will they help to inspire you and allow you to introduce yourself to others, but you will find yourself building friendships along the way!
9. Tell us about your most popular post.
I’m not sure if it was necessarily the most “popular” – but this certainly generated a lot of attention on Twitter… but I wouldn’t expect anything less from a post entitled “…And Then He Got His Cock Out”. I’ll let you judge for yourself!
10.And lastly, what would be your top 3 tips to a new blogger trying to find their voice?
1) Don’t limit yourself to a particular niche! – Just because you’re a travel blogger doesn’t mean you have to discard a great story just because it didn’t happen whilst backpacking overseas.
2) Don’t give up! – for the first couple of months the only followers I had on Twitter were “XXX Red Hot Babes” offering me “fun fun fun” or gas companies… and comments? You’ve got to be kidding! So I know how disillusioning it is to feel like you’re writing for an empty room – but keep writing and promoting yourself via social media – If the content is there, the followers will come!
3) BE YOURSELF! – If you absolutely hated something on your travels, say so! Don’t reel off generic quotes because you think that’s how you should feel. The great thing about travel blogs is the vast and varied spectrum of different journeys… no two blogs are ever the same. Find your own style and run with it, some people might hate it, but I guarantee a whole load will love it!
A huge thanks to Jen for another great interview.