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Speaking notes from #tbcamp12

7 November 2012

Last night I spoke at TravelBlogCamp #tbcamp12 in London on the theme of ‘Back To Basics’, examining some ideas to help us all reconnect with the reasons why we write about travel. It seems I split the room, deeply annoying some people, and deeply inspiring others. For what it’s worth, here are my speaking notes, as I bashed them out – raw and unshaped. Make of it all what you will!

How I got started

Feel like a fraud

not qualified journalist

losing excitement for constant travel

tend to feel that tourism industry – though full of great ppl – often does more harm than good in world

don’t make money from blogging

(barely make any money at all)

my living comes from print – guidebooks, old media – and PR-style editing/copywriting

here bc a region of world has become part of my life – Middle East

in 20s & early 30s spent 10yrs learning about region – writing bits & bobs but mostly just making ends meet

spent last 10yrs writing about region

visiting & revisiting & revisiting

I’m prob least well-travelled person in this room – haven’t counted, but 25 countries in total, maybe 30 – but I’ve visited some of them dozens of times – go to Jordan 2/3/4 times a year, perhaps 30,40,50 times in total. That’s my specialisation.

So that’s just to say where I’m coming from.

 If had time again, what would I do different? 2 things:

 1 – get training in (journalism), or rather independent, critical writing

2 – wouldn’t get involved with PR at all. Explain why:

What is quality writing?

V hard to define. Quality is unforced – feels natural, looks effortless, even though years of training & technique may have gone into it. Think Usain Bolt – you think he just woke up one day and could run like that? He trained for years and years.

Quality is also something you can see, even if you don’t like it – Paulo Coelho – may make you sick, but he can clearly string a thought or two together.

Often easier to define quality by what it isn’t. 

PR is antithetical to quality writing.

Marketing slightly different – is about taking product/destination – find what’s good in it & tell ppl about that

PR – there doesn’t have to be anything good there. PR is simply about taking anything – a movie, a ski resort, the Bahraini government – and getting people to like it & (most important) spend money on it.

Here’s a truth, borne from experience: writing PR will seriously damage the quality of what you write for everything else. PR is corrosive. PR undermines independent thought and judgement.

There’s a reason why writers generally make awful copywriters – take a journalist or a novelist & ask them to write advertising, and it’ll be rubbish. The stuff they use is the same (ie words), but the reasons for writing it are diametrically opposed.

Quote from Orwell – “journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is PR.”

Let’s take that & look at travel blogging now.

Are YOU publishing something that someone else doesn’t want publishing? If not – if all you’re doing is augmenting what’s already out there, you’re not a writer, you’re a copywriter.

That’s fine – there’s space for everyone, these are NOT value judgements – but you’ve got to look at WHAT YOU’RE IN THIS FOR. If all you want is free travel, to bop around the world at someone else’s expense, posting some nice pictures & a few hundred words a week on the stuff you see before you bop on to the next event or next bloggers meet-up – great, enjoy it, the world is full of opportunity and these kinds of chances didn’t exist before. But please get up now and walk out of this room, bc in terms of figuring out a future for travel writing on the web, you’re dead wood, and the rest of us have got more important things to discuss.

So WHAT ARE YOU IN THIS FOR?

Every person here can look in their hearts and know what it is they want to do.

Loving travel, my friends, isn’t good enough. Everyone loves travel – or, everyone loves going to new places, meeting people, seeing stuff, being free from daily routine. But WHAT’S THE POINT? Travel is not a career – we’re here to talk about a career, an industry.

Some ppl love the tech, building things that really work. Some ppl love the design, using a basis of technique to create something that looks beautiful and functions smoothly & elegantly. Some ppl love the images, evoking a place or an emotion through photography. And so on & so on.

And some ppl love the words. They love the feel of them, using them to create something bigger than the sum of its parts, they love weighing them and choosing each one so that it says the right thing in the right way. They are writers.

Again, this is not a value judgement. World needs designers & techie ppl & everybody just as much (probably MORE) than it needs writers.

I’ve had photos full bleed across DPS in global mags, but I KNOW I’M NOT A PHOTOGRAPHER. I couldn’t run a business if you paid me. I’m rubbish at PR. But most of all I don’t even WANT to do any of that. I’m a writer. I want to write.

What are YOU?

You might scoff at the hot metal world of print, but there’s a reason why that whole great corporate world of publishing developed in the way it did

People who were good at business created publishing businesses which made money by giving people things they wanted (or by stimulating demand). But they weren’t writers doing that – writers didn’t know how to. Publishers did. They employed people who were good at accounting to make sure their businesses weren’t losing money. They employed ppl who were good at persuasion to go out & market their products. But the publishers themselves couldn’t write for toffee.

And many of the people now blogging about travel also can’t write for toffee. They’re not writers. They’re really good at all sorts of things – marketing, or business, or tech, or something totally unrelated – but because they need content to work with, they just bang it out themselves.

That’s got two consequences.

It means the internet is full of samey, low-quality travel rubbish.

And it means writers are struggling to find work.

There’s a straightforward way to make money travel blogging – ppl in this room know how – Gary Arndt, Nomadic Matt, talk to Tom Brosnahan, Mike Gerrard

But way they’ve made money, I think, is not from the quality of their writing – again this is NOT a value judgement – it’s from everything BUT the writing – their blogs are generally either a sequence of bite-size personal experiences, informative travel tips, nice pictures, guest posts from others, and so on – but the way they’ve made money from it is through design, SEO, tech skills, advertising, SM promotion – it’s become a business, they’ve treated it like a business.

Unlike me. My blog doesn’t even register – it’s not even a blip – essentially has zero visitors, zero reach, zero everything.

And that’s where most bloggers are, too. Either struggling to bring in a bit of income each month, or essentially given up & gone back to blogging for fun.

And that’s why I’m asking WHAT ARE YOU IN THIS FOR?

If it’s to make money blogging – go ahead, that’s fine, there’s a path to follow, it may take you 2/3/5 years – but you’ll get there. Though you also have to give up the idea that writing well is going to get you there. It won’t. Other skills take priority.

A new idea of the moment – which maybe Jeremy & others will talk about – is, effectively, sponsorship. Travel companies, so the story goes, are realising the value of good writing, so they want to pay people to write for them.

What’s that about? It’s about companies that sell holidays trying to be publishers as well. And that is pretty much exactly the pickle that the mainstream travel press got itself into, when a generation or so ago it began to allow PR and advertisers to dictate travel content. Publishers have become shop-windows for holiday companies. That’s why the weekend travel sections look they way they do currently.

The reason why most of the Western world has a free press is because of a very thin, but very important line – between editorial & advertorial. Editorial is writing paid for by a disinterested publisher. Advertorial is writing paid for by a commercial sponsor. And in virtually every case, advertorial is unadulterated PR.

That’s why I went on about PR earlier on. Erase that line at your peril. Do so, and the world we all work in, the media, dies – it turns into the kind of media that exists in, say, most of the Arab world, or China, or Russia. The tail wags the dog. The media exists only to publish press releases from govt and major corporations.

Some of our mainstream media are already close to that line – not just travel, but fashion, music, all sorts of fields. And on the web, this new idea of travel companies sponsoring content also plays dangerously close to erasing that line. What are the consequences? Readers end up not knowing who to trust – so they stop trusting everybody. That’s part of the reason why newspapers are dying. And it’s also why we have two things in travel – firstly, the idea that all travel writers are corrupt (which leads to this insistence on ‘full disclosure’ and ‘no freebies’), and two, the rise of TripAdvisor and user-generated content as the only content people believe anymore.

You might think that this talk about a free press is getting a bit overblown. But blogging matters. This is not a game. Bloggers like you & me get jailed, or threatened, or killed, in places like Russia, China, Bahrain – and even in holiday places like the Maldives, like Oman, like Malaysia. Some guy in the Maldives, Ismail Rasheed, gets locked up for blogging about being nice to people and you want to take a PR-all-expenses-paid freebie there so you can blog about how great the hotels are? Come on.

So here’s a suggestion. Once a month – or 1 post in 10, whatever you like – go off-piste. Research something non-travel about the place you’re in, and write about it.

You’re going to Texas? Have a great time – then write about the number of people banged up on Death Row.

Switzerland? Brilliant place – do your bungy-jump in Davos, then find out why the Swiss president was forced to apologise to the Jenisch gypsy people who live nearby.

Jordan? Wonderful – but it’s the world’s 4th driest country, so where are all these spa hotels you’re being comped at getting their water from?

Pam Mandel of nerdseyeview went to TBEX in Girona, wandered off into the old quarter, and posted an amazing thoughtful piece about the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. Find it and read it.

What am I saying? I’m saying travel isn’t about you. You’re the filter, but you’re not the story. Add to the sum of human understanding. Be challenging. Be interesting. Like Orwell said, publish things that somebody doesn’t want you to publish.

Writers don’t need commercial sponsors. Writers need publishers. People who know tech, who know design, SEO, marketing, who know online publishing inside out and back to front.

There are hundreds of people – maybe in this room – who know online publishing, but who don’t have the content.

So this is a plea for specialisation.

I’ve always rejected the idea that travel bloggers are a ‘community’ – but if they are, now is the time to show it. Communities don’t have everybody replicating what everyone else is doing. Communities allow people who are good at something to flourish, with the support of that community.

Writers in the room – stop trying to be publishers. Publishers in the room – stop trying to be writers. Designers, forget about taking photos. Photographers, stop trying to do SEO.

If this is a community, then we should be helping each other for mutual benefit. And that doesn’t mean speculative, ‘ooh I’ve got a website, will you write for free?’ It means, making a solid business plan, learn accounting, work the numbers, perhaps even get a start-up loan, pay yourself, and then pay me.

The heyday of travel publishing – back in the early/mid 90s – was when guidebooks & newspapers were producing stuff that was both informative, lifting the lid, AND well-written.

At the moment, travel blogging is all about the former – and the latter is going by the board. That, I think, is limiting its ability to survive.

 So writers you need to get better. Writers often scoff at travel-writing workshops, where you pay £100 to spend a weekend with a pro editor, learning the craft. Don’t scoff. You probably can’t bring someone in off the street and teach them how to write, but you definitely CAN teach a writer how to write about travel. Travel writing is a skill; it’s not hard to learn.

Learn it. Because then you’ll be a better writer. You’ll have higher quality. You’ll have better technique. And technique lets you fly.

You need to be going above & beyond TripAdvisor. “I stayed here & it was great” isn’t good enough. How does it compare to other places? What are its strengths – but WHAT ARE ITS WEAKNESSES? Turn yourself into an EXPLAINER. Don’t just tell me what you’re seeing – TELL ME WHAT IT MEANS. Sift through the mass of personally produced content and professionally produced PR to find – what? I hate to use a journalistic word, but STORIES. We all live or die on stories.

Before your next trip do your research. Find the places and the people who shed light on the destination. And perhaps they’re nothing to do with tourism (in which case the PRs won’t be able to help anyway). Find them. Talk to them. Dig a little.

Be MORE interesting and LESS wide-eyed about the world.

Travel writing for the web is in its infancy. There’s clearly a role for guidebook-style – dispassionate, informative. Guidebooks may be dying, but they are still a multimillion pound industry – people want that stuff. Bloggers – we’re out, on the ground, in every destination in the world. Individually, we flounder; together, we could be selling our expertise for profit. So, let’s collaborate.

But what’s bigger still, in the world of old media, books & magazines? Travel narratives. That’s hundreds of millions of pounds. People can’t get enough. They’re all over TV, radio, books, magazines. People might want information, but they REALLY want professionally produced stories, ideas, inspiration, travel tales.

If we’re a community, let’s work out a way we can give it to them.

 

 

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. 7 November 2012 4.08pm

    So, Matthew. First, thanks for mentioning my piece from Girona. It’s a honor, a real honor.

    In the back channel, I hear you pissed quite a few people off. Big time. I don’t know what that’s about because this all reads very reasonably. I’m not 100% with you on all of it, but whatever, I don’t have to be. But I want to respond to some things. Forgive me the long comment.

    The PR thing: It’s likely that without PR support, I’d not have written that piece about the Jewish Museum in Girnoa. I wouldn’t have written that piece about the meth addled island kid in Hawaii or the one about what it feels like to travel home from Zanzibar in a raging fever, or oh, I have a ton of stuff that exists because I have had support from PR.The key is to not mistake PR as the audience. It takes some spine because hey, if your business model is dependent on making PR love you and fund your adventures, it’s risky to write about how bad the resort restaurant is, right? But we can choose to make our travels dependant on PR dollars and whimsy or not. Despite my risk tolerance, I’m none the worse for wear on this and I recently received two amazing PR funded trip invites. You CAN travel on PR dollars and still produce top notch stuff but you need the stomach for it. I want PR to like me because of what they’ve made possible, but I happen to want my readers to like me more, and before that, I want to write good stuff. And here we get to agreement — if I wanted to write travel copy for PR, I’d get a job doing it. I reserve the right to do that, but it won’t be on my own blog, no way, no how.

    The publishing thing: In this shattered industry, additional skills matter a lot. A friend yelled at me recently about my bad indexing. “You have some of the most reliable information on the web about Hawaii, but your indexing sucks. I KNOW you recommended a Waikiki stay, I could not for the life of me FIND it. Spend ONE minute putting keywords in your damn posts, why don’t you?” She’s right. What gets my goat, however, is that we like to throw around the phrase “bloggers are publishers” and then, we focus purely on the business side. Publishers hire writers and editors TOO, not just SEO guys and ad sales guys and production guys. As bloggers, if we bunker down into “just” writing, we do miss out on some opportunites — I could probably get some ad money, which would be nice, if I’d do a better job indexing my Hawaii content. I like money. It pays for things. But we also need to give the same weight to the work we’re publishing. If you market the crap out of something and it’s crap, well… yeah. But there’s also that same dependency issue, right? I want Google to like me too, but I happen to want my readers to like me more, and before that, I want to write good stuff. If I wanted to write for Google, I’d get a job there. No, really, they’re just over THERE, this isn’t hyperbole, and they’re always hiring, it seems.

    We probably come down on the same place with most of this stuff. I think a lot of what’s frustrating for me (and maybe for you) is that there’s a lot of talk about ignoring the business/SEO stuff at your peril, but writing gets dimissed as an afterthought. I keep saying this and I mean it no less: Anyone who dismisses writing as a less than critical part of their online strategy can give me a vowel from their keyboard until they change their mind. Writing fucking matters and the fact that this statement is at all controversial makes me want to hang my head and cry.

  2. 8 November 2012 8.11pm

    Totally agree about PR killing quality journalism.

    As a publisher, travel blogs should be a source for recruiting writers since some travel bloggers are great writers and a great travel blog should be like a CV that gets me paying for a blogger to spend a few weeks in Noumea or Hamburg to research a travel guide. But when I read a piece that has been comped, the story just seems like an advertisement and it really makes me question whether that writer is capable of writing critical reviews of hundreds of hotels (and importantly, resisting attempts by hotel and hostel owners to influence our reviews by providing free or discounted accommodation).

    Sure some bloggers can write critical stories from a PR trip, although these are mostly writers with years of experience in traditional media. Perhaps travel blogging hasn’t really matured yet, and it probably won’t until bloggers realise who they are writing for and start chasing real stories rather than free travel.

  3. 9 November 2012 1.56pm

    Thanks for putting this out Matthew. I was booked to attend TBC that night as wasn’t feeling 100% after a v hectic few days. To hear you speak was the main reason for going as I always enjoy your articles and know that you value content and story so highly. Like many within the travel writing (whatever form it takes) community, I heard various comments, read tweets & saw posts about the evening. Twas ever thus and ever will be – people have views, some express them, some don’t, some agree, some don’t etc etc. The important thing to me is that those who have something to say are free to express themselves and others are free to agree or not.

    The fact that your talk triggered such a great debate says a great deal – and that can only be a good thing in moving a debate forward in this time of change and uncertainty. Keep holding on to your vision, values and passion!

  4. 10 November 2012 10.58am

    Having seen the line-up for TBCamp I was looking forward to learning about the craft of writing and I wasn’t disappointed. Both you and Jeremy threw out enough nuggets that I was able to take a lot out of the evening. I’ve also heard the backlash, both online and in person. I was once told that the mark of a good presentation is one that challenges and even changes the way the audience thinks and acts – as Zoe implies the very fact that you sparked such debate suggests that you succeeded in questioning widely held assumptions.

    Some in the room (and beyond) have seen your advice as an attack on the way they blog and for some, as we’ve recently seen, criticism is always personal – perhaps the reaction was unsurprising but then I think you were prepared for that already.

    Travel blogging is a broad church and people are in it for many different reasons, many with exceptional talents in various disciplines. Good writing matters more to some than others and that applies to consumers as well as creators (best-selling music or books rarely come from the most technically or creatively talented sources). If you’re treating your blog as a business then sharpening your commercial skills is always likely to be the priority.

    I see where you’re coming from on the topic of PR and it is the ever-closer relationship between PR and blogging that led me to take a big step back from the blogging world a long time ago. I like to plan my own trips, go see the things that interest me and write about the topics that appeal to me. I mostly travel in my own time, on my own terms and on my own dollar. So is there any room for interaction with PRs? Not for anything on my own site, but I have found many PRs to be very helpful (and more importantly knowledgeable) when it comes to supporting commissioned work. But here it is me approaching a particular PR with a specific request to assist with my agenda.

    Perhaps the issue here is not with PR itself, but with those who allow their own publications (digital, print, whatever) to be tools of the PRs in promoting their clients’ messages. That, once again, is down to individuals and how they choose to work withing the unregulated world in which we live.

    Will the best writing rise to the top? Probably not if past evidence is anything to go by. Does this matter? Only to those who take their craft seriously – the debate is largely irrelevant to the readers who will usually find the type of articles they prefer to read. What’s the answer? Do our best in following whatever we believe is the right way to work – there’s a growing demand out there for just about every kind of writing. And if something out there stinks, stepping far enough away is usually the only sensible answer.

  5. 10 November 2012 11.26am

    Pam: You work with PR; that doesn’t mean what you do is PR. Your blog is not copywriting for PR, any more than the journalistic articles I write for my magazine employer.

  6. 10 November 2012 4.47pm

    I don’t think I said it was PR. I think what I said was that PR dollars have made a lot of my work possible. Not the same thing.

  7. 11 November 2012 1.30am

    Well said, and well done for saying it in front of travel bloggers. That must have taken some balls. Big time.

  8. 11 November 2012 12.17pm

    And a good presentation is saying what someone doesn’t want you to say. Good on ya.

  9. 12 November 2012 8.47am

    Okay my comment is based on your notes here, not on the actual talk you gave (which I didn’t see), so if you fleshed this out differently than I’m assuming, my apologies. But here’s my thing, I think you (and probably other journalists) don’t really know what it is that makes a good blog.

    You talk about good writing, but that’s not actually enough. In fact, there’s this one blog, it’s fantastically well written, if you ask me, it’s called Road and Kingdoms: http://roadsandkingdoms.com/. It’s written by Time magazine and NYT writers and of course the content is very good.

    It’s not really a blog. I mean sure, it’s a blog looking site and they post regularly but what it really is, is an online magazine. Or at least some kind of multi-author site.

    Based on your assessment, they should by all accounts be the future of what we do, and I really don’t think they are. I love them and in part that’s because I’m a writer. But here is one thing that even Matt & Gary for all their lack of writing skill do better than two professional travel writers:

    They are telling a story.

    I’m not talking about within a post (although some writers struggle with even that — just because you were there, doesn’t mean it’s a story). Of course story telling in travel writing is happening in most travel journalist’s work. But in a blog, it’s happening ACROSS the blog. There’s a narrative that’s larger than any one post. The blog becomes about the person writing it. People consume blogs differently than magazines. No one says, “Oh I wonder what happened in Travel & Leisure this month.” (Unless you’re a travel writer, maybe).

    It’s serialized content, it’s personality based, it’s almost closer to a novel than it is to journalism. It’s like a travel novel that you read over many months and years. There’s such a demand for this story, the same arc, over and over (narrator wants to travel, overcomes obstacles, travels, finds enlightenment and new challenges and so on) that people will go to blogs to fill the need. Even if they are less than professionally written.

    Journalists don’t seem to get this, assuming, incorrectly that Matt & Gary (and other bloggers) are just master technicians. Well, maybe at one point. In 2010, definitely, when people were working Stumble and you could get a gazillion FB likes and folks would still see your updates. I don’t think that’s the case anymore and besides, I think people talk about Gary and Matt and think they are relevant (despite everything) because they are still hooking readers. How? Their very long story telling.

    Anyway, this is why I think for story based blogs, PR is okay. They aren’t trying to be journalists, in fact, even if they are mildly helpful in their “reporting” that’s not the reason why people read them (although Matt does cross into that kind of writing more than other people, so maybe he’s a hybrid). It doesn’t really change your experience to go on a free trip because the experience isn’t about your objective view of the destination but your subjective experience.

    Right?

    But that’s only a portion of the travel blogs out there. And yes, story-based or personality-based blogs tend to be more popular than service or magazine style sites. Just like trade paperbacks are going to be more popular than more serious lit. Does that mean people writing chick lit should give it up and change what they write? I really don’t think so. I think they fill a niche, I think they do one thing very well and it’s a little snobby to say that only a certain style of writing is worthwhile.

    By the way, on the influence that PR has on your writing, I’d say that ANYTHING you write influences your writing. Blogging itself gives you all kinds of bad habits, just as guidebook writing or being a journalist will. You end up using these crutches, and I can spot a journalist’s blog — especially when they try to write about themselves — because it’s so painful. Getting a journalist to talk about their feelings is kind of hilarious. They’ll try to work around it and give you everything but. For any writer trying to seriously go in a certain direction, the best advice is probably just this: write in the style you want to write as much as possible.

  10. 12 November 2012 11.41am

    Thanks for posting this; I was fascinated to know what had actually been said after a couple of people I spoke to on the following morning mentioned the Tweets didn’t accurately reflect what had been discussed.

    It’s a shame that so many people only hear what they consider as criticism. I don’t agree with all you’ve written – no one person holds all the answers and in the end it’s all about opinions based on a variety of experiences – but I recognise sage advice when I hear it. However, there are far too many people out there who struggle to grasp the immense value of constructive criticism.

    It’s something they need to get over if they ever want to develop.

    Additionally, I applaud any voice that sings a song different from the one of the marketers who are trying to suck the magic out of travel and travel writing/blogging.

  11. 12 November 2012 12.10pm

    @Mark – there were actually very few travel bloggers in the room.

    Matthew, thank you for sharing your talking points here. I think there are two issues: the content of the presentation/your notes, and the way they were presented.

    It is always good to engage in a discussion, and contentious topics are excellent for doing so. Unfortunately while these are your notes, your presentation deviated from them and was considerably more condescending. We talked about this just after the event, but I think it bears repeating here: had you presented your statements above as advice based on your worldview instead of accusations, or had you acknowledged that you had not researched the travel blogging world prior to speaking, perhaps the reaction would have been slightly better. It is quite easy to say, “you pissed people off – you must have said something they didn’t want to hear.” The reality is that your smugness and dismissal of an entire industry corroded much of the validity that your points might have had.

    To the message itself:

    - Your calls for collaboration within the community (that you don’t believe in) were a strange given that there are already many wonderful collaborative projects. It was obvious that you had not researched or talked with any travel bloggers prior to presenting; a quick recap from any number of bloggers would have presented you with options. As I noted when I got up to respond, I’m part of one of them (as an author in The Traveler’s Handbook series) but there were specific panels dedicated to these projects at both TBEX and TBU, and also at WTM. They each involve not only working on bigger issues together, but also peer editing, writing workshops, Skype calls for status updates and more. Are these not the kind of collaborative efforts you were asking for?

    - Lumping travel bloggers into one category does not make sense. Some bloggers focus on writing, some focus on photography, others brand themselves as marketers who travel and share with their communities. Some are good writers; some are terrible writers. I’m a lawyer who decided to write about travel instead. As with any industry as broad as ours, blanket statements don’t work. Rick correctly noted in his talk that “all bloggers are x” is as misleading as saying “all musicians are x” – there are good and bad musicians, those you think have talent and those you don’t. The broad sweeps about travel blogging generally detract from your points because within the travel blogging world there are so many different strategies, topics of focus and goals.

    - With respect to those goals: the feedback from the travel blogging conferences last year was that more writing and storytelling workshops would have been better. As I said in my mini-speech/statement that night, I’ve sent pieces to my peers for comment and improvement, the same way others have come to me for my thoughts. I haven’t heard anyone scoffing at writing workshops. There’s a reason why Book Passage is popular with writers, travel bloggers, journalists and more – to those who care about writing (and we are many), there’s always room for improvement.

    - Your plea for specialization (“photographers, stop doing SEO”) does not make sense in an online world. Sure, people who want to be travel bloggers known for their writing need to work on their writing first and foremost, the same way that travel bloggers who are photographers need to constantly improve on their photography skills. I am a writer first and foremost – I’ve written my whole life and would continue to write for myself even if no one was reading. But I now do have readers, and in the process of keeping and building Legal Nomads I’ve managed to learn a lot about social media and publishing, about marketing and SEO. I don’t take any ads or sponsorship on my site; like you, my funds come from freelance writing but in my case they are built out on the platform of Legal Nomads. Thus, I’d really be a fool to ignore them – they are a huge part of what has broadened my reader base, and without readers I would not have the success I have today. (And when I say “SEO” I mean using “all-in-one SEO” as a plugin. I haven’t ever changed the content of my posts or my writing because of SEO. You use the world like it’s automatically a heinous thing – it’s not. I’d suggest you read Rand Fishkin’s “SEO for travel bloggers” – he is the head of one of the most successful SEO companies and he advocates quality cornerstone content an important ingredient for solid SEO: http://www.seomoz.org/blog/seo-101-for-travel-bloggers)

    - Travel bloggers are not only de facto publishers in founding and maintaining a blog (be it photography, writing or video) but many of us are also moving into publishing in a more traditional way. I just self-published my recent food book and many others have done the same. My target readers are certainly not limited to my blog readers, but it provided an excellent springboard to start from. In communities that connect using online channels, being publishers is a benefit not a curse. Sticking your head in the sand because you want to focus purely on writing isn’t the answer any longer. It is not realistic to ignore the changing of an industry because you liked the way it was before. (Sounds familiar, right? The music industry struggles with the same…)

    - There’s certainly a benefit to working with bloggers, and you touched upon it by accident, since you didn’t note it was a positive: their readers trust them, and they love their story. I’m sure your readers connect to you and your writing as well, but they are not following your journey on Quite Alone, they are following you via your various freelance outlets with the occasional perusal of your site. In contrast, without my blog, I would not have gotten to where I am today – my readers, the writers who read it, the media who have contacted me to be featured, all of them came out of (and usually used the contact form on) Legal Nomads. This is the opposite of your strategy, where Quite Alone is an afterthought, housing your occasional rants, excerpts from your work and other side-shows. Nothing wrong with your way of going about it, but it isn’t fair to use that as a case study for an industry you have no desire to be a part of.

    In contrast, bloggers are often followed by their readers for their writing and stories, but also for them as people – the relatability, the conversations, the many meet ups around the world with people who read the site. It’s not just about the writing any more – it’s about a different way of interacting with a community of engaged people, one that allows you to shift focus over the years if you choose to because your readers care about you, not just about the piece you wrote about a hammam in Istanbul.

    If I recommend a product or a restaurant or a hotel, it’s because I liked it and want to tell my readers about it. It’s not because I was paid to do so. When I do a press trip (and it is rare that I do), I try to craft a story around it, taking an aspect of the trip that could broaden into a narrative about the place’s history. But in between I’m living in places around the world, talking about life there and sharing stories from my discovery. I fail to understand why one cannot be both helpful and informative while also caring about narrative structure. For some reason, you seem to think each is mutually exclusive from the other.

    *

    I could go on but I’ll end there. From the beginning, it seemed that TBC existed merely to explain to the room why bloggers are all doing it wrong. In light of the condescension, it is quite funny to suggest, as both Jeremy and you did in your talks, that more collaboration is needed. To clearly position your work as the “right” way to act in a sea of wrongness online is a shame, and it is not collaborative in the slightest. Your messages above, and some of the points Jeremy made, would have both been welcome discussion points for a spirited debate. Instead, they left the few bloggers in the room shaking our heads at yet another retreading of a very tired “get off my lawn” discussion.

  12. 12 November 2012 7.15pm

    “it seemed that TBC existed merely to explain to the room why bloggers are all doing it wrong” and “To clearly position your work as the “right” way to act in a sea of wrongness online is a sham”

    Thanks for giving some clarity Jodi on what the talk was like. That’s disappointing.

    I’m really confused… why is it called Travel Blog Camp? Very few bloggers in the room, a talk that seems to not really understand what we do as bloggers (even from Matthew’s notes) — the other speaker is Jeremy Head who writes in his bio that basically the internet took his print career away…. uh, so what part of this is for bloggers exactly?

    I hope there were at least free drinks.

  13. 12 November 2012 7.58pm

    I’m a travel blogger and I wasn’t in least offended or irked by anything that Matthew said. I think that Matthew posed some peritent questions e.g. why are you travel blogging, what do you want to get from it?

    It seems to me for many bloggers it’s to get free travel.

    I think that there is a issue with a lot of fluffy advertorial on travel blogs and in print publications. Many press trip attendees tend to write predominantly positive posts /articles. I asume this this is so as not to jeopardise their next trip. I prefer to write about the good and the bad, so that it’s of some use to readers..

  14. 12 November 2012 8.25pm

    @christine – not every event for bloggers needs to have something for “free” ;).

    So, to answer your point, it was paid-for bar.

    TravelBlogCamp has always existed to connected bloggers, PRs, journos, industry people, etc – and talk about the craft, the community and the business in which it operates.

    Rather than just being a blogger love-in similar to some of the other events on the circuit, TBC doesn’t shy away from raising issues. There’s not much value in having an event where everyone pats themselves on the back and proclaims how awesome they all are, surely?

    So, yes, this year’s event was the probably spikiest yet. As moderator and co-organiser, I am glad we raised – via our speakers and the discussions thereafter – some important issues.

    Thick skins needed, maybe, but people do come back each year because, presumably, they like enjoy either listening or contributing to the debates.

  15. Christine Gilbert permalink
    12 November 2012 8.38pm

    @Kevin, you know as well as I do, those drinks were for the journos as much as for the bloggers. ;) I’m pretty sure that’s the entire point of any event.

  16. 12 November 2012 9.35pm

    Interesting debate. Backstory: I’d probably self-identify as a journalist, if pressed, but I first had a blog in 2004, IIRC. I was a regular blogger long before I was regularly seeing my name “in print” (whatever that means now… there are vanishingly few “print” publications that could survive without their digital bits). I know more bloggers than I do journalists. Like Matthew, I never went to J-school. I write guidebooks, I co-write a newspaper column on travel tech. I was blogging about a destination for a travel third-party in 2009, and I write online and occasionally blog on my own site. So, I myself prefer “writer,” though “digital travel writer” would probably narrow it down a little more. But, really, the nomenclature bores me rigid. I don’t know many journalists who don’t have or contribute to a blog. I don’t know (m)any bloggers who wouldn’t accept a commission to write for a mag or newspaper if they were paid to do so. This is a good thing.

    So, I don’t buy “I can spot a journalist blogging” (Christine, above). I’ve been writing around the Web for a long time, and I sure as hell can’t. Orwell was pretty good at both reporting and telling a personal story. Dickens was using self-publishing as a marketing tool 150 years ago. Professional travel writing from a purely personal angle pre-dates the computer by decades. I see no reason why multi-skilling isn’t possible, as Jodi suggests. I can spot different types of blog, sure. But the obsession with labelling is old hat, AFAIC. Everyone is writing about travel. Period.

    Anyway, I probably agreed with around 75% of what Matthew said on the night. Including the bits that were aimed, critically, in my direction: you see, I’m not much of a “writer” in the sense Matthew suggested. I don’t tell stories… not especially well, anyway; on a form day I’m “quite good,” no better. I see no shame in that. I’m *very good* at what I do mostly do: I research, then research some more, then check and check again. I work out the kind of stuff that people want to know, then I’m anal about accuracy in tracking the correct information down for them. There are plenty of people who could do my job as well as I do, for sure. But I’m confident enough to claim that I haven’t met too many.

    I rabbit on only to emphasize, as Matthew did, that self-analysis is good. If I took anything away from his talk it was this: be honest about what you are good at, and equally honest about what you suck at. Then ask someone to help you with the stuff you suck at. The self-congratulatory echo chamber doesn’t do anyone any favours, except perhaps a marketeer. Some of this collaboration is already happening, obviously.

    It’s also fascinating that I recognise almost nothing of the *exact same speech* Jodi eviscerates above. Yes, it wasn’t a festival of back-slapping – though TBCamp never has been, as I understand (I’ve only been at 2, I think, maybe 3). There are some bits and pieces from Jodi’s interpretation that I believe are flat-out untrue; “there were very few travel bloggers in the room” for example: it isn’t the usual crowd, perhaps, but then TBCamp pre-dates TBU, TBEX etc., and has always been in London, so has a different, equally valid constituency. I didn’t hear “condescension.” I heard a demand for honesty, and I also heard a brutal appraisal of what newspaper travel sections have become (far more brutal than his assessment of the “state of blogging,” IMO). I certainly didn’t hear the dismissal of an entire “industry,” and no one I’ve spoken to yet who was in the room heard that either. [FWIW, Jodi, I very much doubt that the critical stuff Matthew was dishing out was aimed in your direction, given the quality of what you're putting out there in all kinds of media. Hats off to you.] I see no reason to assume intelligent criticism about our collective industry is targeted personally; I don’t take offence from the Leveson Inquiry because, you know what, I never hacked anyone’s phone. (Tho’, yes, Matthew, I agree with Jodi that you are wrong about SEO.)

    The big shame for me, as someone who has been involved in blogging for almost a decade, is this: blogging at its birth promised radical democratization, and in many ways it has succeeded. But it looks like some, in travel and beyond, are rushing towards low-quality shilling as a business model. I find that tragic, but even more tragic is that it appears to be taboo to suggest in public that something is wrong.

  17. mikeachim permalink
    12 November 2012 10.29pm

    Hi Matthew,

    Thanks for posting your working notes. They’ve helped me articulate why I found your talk so disagreeable.

    Firstly, I really admire your writing. You are, by all definitions I respect, a great writer. I’ve been reading some of your work over the last few days and it’s finely crafted. You clearly have a lot that you can teach people who want to learn to write more engagingly, whether they want to write to professional publication standard or not. This is part of the reason I wanted to attend TBC – because it’s a place where established travel journalists hang out. I came to learn.

    My background is one of zero formal journalistic training. I’m an amateur that has turned professional by working really hard to learn from others and to develop what skills I have until they’re of sufficient quality to sell my writing. I’ve done editorial work for online magazines (never offline ones), and I’ve been in print a handful of times. If I had my time again, I’d take formal training, perhaps an internship, and I would have been less shy about surrounding myself with people who knew so much more about writing than I did/do. I would work harder on listening to people who had things I needed to learn, and to try to pass on what little I had gleaned as I went along to anyone who might find it useful.

    Over the last decade, I’ve learned enough to make a living from my writing. At the same time, the world has changed in ways I could never have predicted. Ten years ago I was a year away from opening up my very first blog, I was publishing short stories in small press magazines, and I didn’t know if I was ever going to have the chance to write for a living. In ten years, I changed enough and the world changed enough to allow me to do a job I’ve spend 30 years dreaming about, even though the shape of it at adulthood is very different from my childhood imaginings.

    I’m making a living because I try to learn from everyone. That has unlocked my career, and it’s made me incredibly grateful to everyone who has the professionalism and goodwill to share their expertise in a cross-discipline, open-minded way.

    What infuriated me about your talk was how exclusive, polarizing and generalizing it was. You talked as if “travel bloggers” and “PRs” were discrete, homogeneous entities, rather than the dizzying spectrum of professions and hobbies that exist in the real world, all the way from making no direct money to make 100% income from their blogs. The people who are tailoring to their own needs are making it work. I believe I’m making it work as a platform for my writing, not as a direct source of income. That’s the nature of my travel blog. I’m a travel blogger.

    By lumping people together and pushing them into one camp or the other, you insulted them. I don’t think you were aware of how obnoxious this was at the time, perhaps not until people started getting to their feet. You were both lucky and unlucky in having some travel bloggers in the room (Jodi, Dan etc) that were doing unique, admirable, reputable things with their blogs – lucky because you had the opportunity to open a dialogue with them to see how they’re doing the work they’re doing and to learn from their own “back to basics” approaches – and unlucky because you blew it by implying they were on the side of sell-outs and soulless content farmers – by implying they were one thing, a thing you fully understood the nature of.

    To quote something you said in both your talk and your notes:

    “their blogs are generally either a sequence of bite-size personal experiences, informative travel tips, nice pictures, guest posts from others, and so on”

    Please, read this back to yourself. Does it sound smug and dismissive? Because it is. (“Nice” pictures? Way to annoy a photographer).

    And the overarching implication of this segment? Even the successful people in travel blogging aren’t “proper” writers.

    Here’s another thing that appalled me. You opened by explaining how you’re not a travel blogger. You don’t have a blog with a wide readership. In your notes this is understated, but you emphasized this far more strongly when you talked. You said, in essence, “I’m not a travel blogger”. Then you went on to explain what is wrong with travel blogging. There are two ways to think about this: either (a) you’re being judgmental about something you know very little about, by your own admission – or (b) you’re saying that the term “writer” is at an elevated, overarching state above the sub-category of writer, “travel blogger”.

    This is at the heart of why some people were so angry at your comment that top-ranking travel bloggers didn’t get there by writing effectively, ie. meaningfully engaging with their audiences using words.

    Travel bloggers wear a lot of hats, and they do so proudly. This is not a new concept. In Classical Greek culture, the state of ‘arete’ was the ideal for Greek heroes. Odysseus wasn’t a Hero because he was the best swordsman or runner or swimmer or diplomatic – he was heroic because he was a good swordsman AND swimmer AND diplomat, etc. Three thousand years and thousands of miles later, we live in a world where specialists are professionally exalted. To be really good at something is to be well-paid and socially & vocationally desirable. This is the case within travel blogging too – as a broad field of activity, it has specialists, whether it’s Chris Richardson and his @RWTLabs service helping keeping blogs technically ticking over, or anyone speaking at any of the umpteen travel blog conferences on what he or she knows best. At the same time, travel is all about worldliness, about ‘arete’, and travel blogging reflects that. Knowing a little SEO, knowing how to string a credible sentence, how to take a photo using the Rule Of Thirds….these are not signs of the struggling amateur but of the professional developing a wide range of skills in a world where having wide-ranging skills is rewarded and where there is always, *always* something new to be learned from strangers.

    (I think Socrates would have loved the Internet).

    I’m not comparing travel bloggers en masse with Greek heroes, but to challenge this:

    >>”Writers in the room – stop trying to be publishers. Publishers in the room – stop trying to be writers. Designers, forget about taking photos. Photographers, stop trying to do SEO.”

    What I hope you meant was “Writers in the room – focus on your writing. Publishers in the room – focus on publishing.” etc. ie. If you have a first love and a speciality you wish to build on, then the bulk of your time should be spend on honing it. This is absolutely correct, and essential for forging a sustainable career. However, your phrasing can very easily be read like this: “Publishers in the room – GET OFF OUR TURF, amateurs”. And this is 100% the wrong message to be spreading in a world where knowing a little of everything (while remaining a specialist), of being a “Renaissance Man/Women”, is to work more effectively. I agree that we should all work on what we do best. I very much do NOT agree that dabbling outside your speciality is something to be stamped out. We all need to dabble. In your case, I think you need to dabble in travel blogging rather more than you have….

    …and here’s another source of my ire: the fact that you seem to be saying that travel bloggers, as a whole, need to be told that there are problems within travel blogging. You’d clearly be surprised to learn that all the issues you raised are indeed being thrashed out within travel blogging – and that process would be aided by established travel journalists when it comes to the writing side of things if they engaged with travel bloggers the right way. Even though travel blogging is a massive, multi-faceted swathe of activities that is growing all the time, there are things at the heart of it that pose challenges to its development. The role of the much-maligned press trip. The bias that comes with working directly for a sponsor that wants promotional boxes ticked. The gaming of traffic on social media.

    These are known issues, and they are in a state of being negotiated from within. The rules aren’t just in flux – they’re being thrashed out, full stop. Travel blogging is not just an offshoot of magazine journalism, however much it can learn from it (with a critical eye). The audience is different as well as the medium. Making a generalism of my own – freelance print journalists write directly for editors, less directly for readers, and less directly again for sponsors and professional associates. Travel bloggers write directly for their audience, and sometimes indirectly for sponsors and professional associates. When travel bloggers are writing for their sponsors first and their audience second, there is a recognised problem. When journalists do the same (read: print advertorial, disgracefully biased tabloid hackery, etc), there is also a problem.

    Such problems go away in only one way: by everyone meeting in the middle and working out a way to go forward together. If everyone doesn’t agree on that solution, its effectiveness is diminished or it’s just wholly worthless. See: League Of Nations.

    I’m trying to understand your intended audience when you wrote your speech. Was it travel bloggers and PRs? If so, your tone ruined your message, being condescending and uselessly polarizing. You complained later in the evening that your intended message was one of conciliation and collaboration – if that’s the case, you did yourself a grave disservice by wording your advice in a form that travel bloggers and PRs had problems stomaching. It talked down to it. It patronized. And this approach is a shocking waste of everyone’s time. If you want travel bloggers and print-based travel writers and other travel industry professionals to invest in discussion of all the many issues they have shared vested interests in, you have to treat all sides with dignity, otherwise they will walk away. Surely?

    Equating “PR” with “crappy writing” and words like “corrosive” is exactly how to ensure nobody working in PR will want to work with you in any writing-based capacity. Does that sound collaborative? Does it sound respectful of the people working in the field of PR who care about making money *without* compromising quality online content? If someone in the field of PR had stood up in front of you and said “writers will seriously damage your ability to work with people in the travel industry. Writing is corrosive. Writing undermines all forms of business,” – how would you feel? I would be really angry, because I know my profession didn’t deserve to have judged so sweepingly and narrow-mindedly.

    >>”If this is a community, then we should be helping each other for mutual benefit.”

    I absolutely agree.

    So please, make the effort to learn what travel bloggers are doing successfully that you can learn from, and make the effort to learn where they would benefit from your advice, which you should present in a format that isn’t belittling them or ridiculously generalizing about them, and please, do your research. It is absolutely true that everyone in that room had something to learn from you. I was one of those people. I make my money from the quality of my writing, and I am also a travel blogger. I believe in both world – in travel blogs as a developing platform for quality travel writing – not always, certainly not always, but increasingly so. There are many problems in travel blogging, as there are in travel journalism, in print publications, etc. And because I care about what I do for a living – as I believe you do – I want to see those problems addressed. Because it helps me do my job, because it helps other people do theirs, and because it’s the right thing to do. Because it’s the *professional* thing to do.

    You cannot address the problems in question if your tone alienates the people you are speaking to.

    The lack of constructive criticism within travel blogging is, I agree, worth talking about – but again, this is already raised within travel blogging and people *are* talking about it. Constructive criticism is healthy – if it’s delivered in the right way. There seems to be some confusion here about the role of controversy in debate. Contention is useful when it comes with respect and when the points raised are critical in a positive, hey-I-have-an-idea sort of fashion. When it’s founded on sweeping statements and inflammatory judgments, controversy turns into a tactic designed to drive traffic and push sales. It does not fix things – it places them in a holding pattern because the controversy itself is more useful in a business sense. In short: tabloid tactics.

    OK, in short (if such a thing can be said after an essay-length comment):

    If you want to raise issues in a way where people meet round a table and get things done, criticism needs to be constructive, and it needs to be fair. By suggesting “travel blogging” and “PR” were lumped-together things in the world that needed fixing right across the board, by suggesting that you knew what travel blogging was all about even though you hardly do it or engage meaningfully with the people who are doing it effectively, by making sweeping statements and by patronizing the targets of your criticism, you pushed some people into corners where they got angry. It’s generating lots of discussion online, as these things do, but is any of it about quality writing? Is it about effectively telling travel stories? Is it about the topic you claim to be championing here? And is everyone meeting in the middle to offer their thoughts, as opposed to slinging mud from behind increasingly high walls? I don’t see it.

    As I said, Matthew, I really admire your writing and you clearly have much to teach people who haven’t mastered such skills, including myself. But there are far better ways to approach these issues – more respectful, open-minded and *far* more useful to everyone in the long run.

    Please, for everyone’s sake – learn them.

  18. Renner permalink
    13 November 2012 12.39am

    A long time ago I used to read travel blogs. Both for the “story” and for useful tips I picked up along the way. I don’t do that anymore. Well, I count two blogs I do read just out of interest as I’ve been following them a long time. They haven’t been mentioned here, but should be.

    For an “industry” there seems to be a lot of in fighting. I don’t see pro photography sites bickering with camera bloggers. I don’t see film review critics bicker with film bloggers. I do see travel journalists and travel bloggers constantly bicker, squeak, haggle and flame each other into the embarrassment that flows with travel content these days.

    Lonely Planet writers have vanished into rehashed freelance content writers filled with decade old quips that have long ceased to be amusing.

    Travel blogs are seething groups of self promoting media hogs. Each belonging to their own circle of self promoting quasi-unions and denying the existence of any of it by luxury of presumed ignorant innocence – including the majority who’ve commented here.

    Travel sites are a smorgasbord of sponsored posts, content rehashing and wikitravel copying. Where can I find something about a good place to stay in London this weekend without a mass of cheap nasty content useless to anyone but a stats whiteboard somewhere.

    Travel magazines – online or off – I can’t tell what’s a magazine online anymore. It’s all promotional fluff. While offline it’s all advertisements at the price of a baggage upgrade.

    Shame on this industry and the people in it. As a semi-insider by profession the majority of people commenting here make me slightly ill. The few that speak openly I see as fighting a dirty war they won’t win. Rather like the Borg, they will be assimilated. Something the general public won’t see.

    The result of all this is the public are losing faith in travel content. Where they turn I don’t know. I presume television, “Google”, a travel agent and possibly a package tour.

  19. Lowfields permalink
    13 November 2012 7.44am

    Well, at least I’ve learned one thing from ploughing through this exchange: travel bloggers aren’t familiar with economy of language.

  20. Christine Gilbert permalink
    13 November 2012 9.22am

    “Well, I count two blogs I do read just out of interest as I’ve been following them a long time.”

    And that’s the difference between a blog with 100 random travel articles and someone telling a long form story. (From my earlier comment when I trying to explain that travel bloggers are not just mini-journalists but actually are writing in a different style with different but equally valid objectives).

    By the way, even some travel bloggers (ehrm) are sick of the in-fighting, and I didn’t realize when I stepped into this thread that Matthew had basically done the equivalent of launching the “Don’t write for free” diatribe as if he was the first one to think of it. (Oh Travelwriters.com circa 2007, how I do not miss you.)

    Photographers fight like hell. CONSTANTLY. Are you a pro? Does selling one photo make you a pro? Is HDR a hack? Do you HAVE to use Nikon or Canon? Are amateurs ruining your business? Should you watermark? Should you use creative commons? Is the internet the future or is it the death?

    Don’t be too sad for us, this is how we work out our biz. And there are benefits to talking these things out.

    Then, most of us, or the ones that are trying to do something more with our work, put our heads down and get back to it.

  21. matt milton permalink
    21 November 2012 12.25pm

    “But what’s bigger still, in the world of old media, books & magazines? Travel narratives. That’s hundreds of millions of pounds. People can’t get enough. They’re all over TV, radio, books, magazines. People might want information, but they REALLY want professionally produced stories, ideas, inspiration, travel tales.”

    Nail on the head. (Though, sadly, I think you can remove the “professionally produced”.)

    I suspect there’s a great thesis to be written about the dominance (tyranny?) of The Story in culture today. I’m not sure whether this is to be lamented as self-infantilisation or celebrated as a renaissance of a bardic campfire tradition as old as humankind.

    But whether it’s X Factor or X Men, Boris Johnson or Bon Iver, the narrative that used to be tertiary to the substance/content/art-form has trumped the substance/content/art-form itself. Money is more likely to be had in telling the story of how you became a travel blogger than it is in researching and providing useful travel information. (Though it goes without saying that that money won’t amount to a hill of beans either way…)

  22. 21 November 2012 4.18pm

    The “dominance of the story in culture today?” If you could give me a map to that place, I would go there, pronto.

    Because I don’t think what you’re critiquing — “the story of how you became a travel blogger” — is indicative of the dominance of story. Shrinking travel sections, a focus on top ten and service, the diminishing market for true travel narrative, these tell me that the shallow sound bite is dominant, not narrative. What’s that’s indicative of to me is a focus in this particular niche is the dominance of lifestyle “coaching” over narrative. “You can live my life here’s how aren’t I inspirational!” is not narrative. It’s network marketing, daytime TV advertisements, at best, it’s how to… on rare occasions you’ll see a truly honest story, but even then it hardly indicates a dominance of narrative on this stage.

  23. Hal Peat permalink
    21 November 2012 4.36pm

    Mikeachim said: “Making a generalism of my own – freelance print journalists write directly for editors, less directly for readers, and less directly again for sponsors and professional associates. ”

    Yes – complaining bitterly about “polarizing” and generalizations by people like Matthew Teller, who don’t jump to your tune or that of Christine Gilbert or Pam Mandel or the usual suspects, must be really galling. In point of fact, it’s only your own so-called “community” which has been persistently categorizing in a way that’s intended to create hostility and polarization. It’s your lifeblood.

    Matthew must have been doing something very right by telling self-evident but repeatedly denied truths back at so-called leaders of travel blogging if he provokes this type of reaction.

  24. mikeachim permalink
    22 November 2012 1.48am

    Everyone – re. Hal Peat’s comment, above:

    Please go here: http://everything-everywhere.com/2010/04/13/living-under-a-state-of-emergency/ …and read the 6th comment down.

    Cheers.

  25. 22 November 2012 9.24am

    Hi all. I’m aware I’ve been committing blog suicide, by sparking and hosting the kind of debate which has unfolded here but not once showing my face in the comments list. Apologies all round – I won’t insult everyone’s intelligence with the “I’ve been busy” excuse :-)

    But I’ve been watching with interest, reading every word, and also having discussions on Twitter and elsewhere with some of the folk who’ve been kind enough and big-hearted enough to contribute calmly, rationally and intelligently. Thank you, everyone. It’s been enlightening. And even a little bit inspiring.

    I’m not going to go into specific answers and point-picking. Water has flowed under the bridge, and I think everyone has stated their opinions clearly enough. As to my tone in the original speech, which seems to have upset some people more than what I was actually saying, I was waiting to be able to link to the video of the event to relive the glory – but that’s still not been posted. Perhaps future historians and archaeologists of blogging could try this link:

    http://www.travelblogcamp.co.uk/highlights/

    to see if it ever materialised before our bones crumbled into dust.

    Hal Peat, you’re a bit of a weasel, aren’t you? Tweeting nasty things, threatening people, commenting under multiple pseudonyms. I wonder why? I seem to remember, at some point in the dim and distant past, you threatened me with something or other as well. I shut you out for a while. Then I let you back in. My bad. What’s with all the aggression? I guess we’ll never know. Bye, Hal.

  26. 18 October 2013 6.03am

    Enjoyable thoughts.

Trackbacks

  1. 4 ways to find and connect with travel bloggers | Sheila's Guide To The Good Stuff
  2. Thoughts on World Travel Market and Travel Blog Camp | The Northernist
  3. What Now? - November 2012

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