If you’re a woman interested in starting a travel-related business, this empowering annual conference in New York City is for you.
I’ve been writing about food and travel since 2012. During that time, I’ve reached many of my goals like being published in The New York Times and Travel + Leisure. I still have so many things I am hoping to accomplish. This is part of the reason I moved to New York City in September 2018. I want to increase my social media following. I want to write a book. I want to be an editor. I want to do interviews about travel on TV and I always want to push myself to become a better and better writer.
I had the opportunity to attend Women’s Travel Fest over the weekend and it was enlightening and inspiring to hear from a host of different women about how they made travel a fulfilling and lucrative career. Here’s what I took away from the conference. Maybe it will help you too.
Persistence is Key
Professional dancer Mickela Mallozzi jolted awake one night in 2010. She knew she was destined to host a television show where she would travel around the world connecting with people through the medium of dance. She shot her pilot that year in Italy using her own money. The show didn’t air nationally on PBS until 2016! Her journey included signing a deal with a 3rd party production company that ultimately went nowhere and too many no’s to count. She never gave up or wavered in her determination to get her passion project off the ground. Today, she has won four NY-Emmy
Do the Thing that Scares You Most
In a particularly powerful moment at the conference, writer and editor Amy Gigi Alexander asked attendees to picture something that scared them. Then they were asked to turn to a neighbor and say what it was. Mine had to do with pitching a narrative travel feature that is very personal. I’m afraid to send it to my editor because I’m afraid of rejection. The truth is I have so many fears. I’m afraid I’ll spend all this time working on a book proposal that will go nowhere. I’m afraid to go all in on my job search (again, because of the rejection). I know deep down that these “scary” things are the things that could make the biggest difference.
Two other speakers embodied this idea of confronting your fears. Tenny Ostrem and Claire Wernstedt-Lynch became the first people to walk the thru-length of the United States/Mexico border in 2018. Friends warned the girls might be kidnapped and held for ransom. Ostrem and Wernstedt-Lynch said the six-month-long journey was extremely challenging and at times scary, but they found that anyone they came into contact with who was trying to cross the border was much more fearful of them.
Being an Influencer is Hard Work
Travel influencers take pretty pictures in beautiful places, but they’re hardly on vacation. Influencers have to post constantly, go after brand partnerships, drive traffic to their websites and always show Return on Investment (ROIs) to partners who have facilitated the trip. If this is a path you choose to go down, know it’s all about the hustle.
Be Social Media Savvy
The influencers featured at the conference said Instagram is the most important social media platform. While sponsored posts on Instagram are the primary way many influencers seek to make money, they spoke about many other revenue streams including affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Affiliates, developing online courses, and even starting group travel trips. Another piece of advice I really found useful: Pinterest drives far more traffic to websites than other platforms.
Find Your Niche
Why would someone want to follow and trust you? Why would someone want to write about you? What impact are you making on the industry? These are the questions successful blogger Alyssa Ramos of My Life’s a Travel Movie said you need to ask yourself when developing your brand and social media profile. Asking myself these questions made me realize family travel and France are my areas of expertise. I’m going to focus on these things more on my website and my Instagram feed.
A Place is Not a Story
I thought Travel Writing 101 was one of the most useful seminars. Even though I’ve been writing about travel for over six years, it’s always smart to listen to seasoned professionals talk about their craft. Hearing New York Times writer Jessica Colley Clarke say these six words: A Place is Not a Story was a good reminder that I don’t always push myself far enough to find an interesting angle in a destination I want to cover. I’m going to make those six words my mantra as I continue to think of new story ideas.
Women’s Travel Fest 2020 has been set for March 6-8th. Learn more here.