5 Travel Writing Tips That Will Grab Your Readers Attention
Guest Post from Rina Baraz Nehdar of L.A. Family Travel
Of course, you’re the most interesting person you know. Of course, everyone needs to know what you did and what you think and why they should too. But. Guess what? You’re not the only one that believes that. In fact, one could argue that everyone that writes or takes pictures has a bitty part of them that’s secretly driven by the idea that they have something to offer that no one else has. And you know what? It’s probably true! But still, that’s a lot of competition.
As a travel writer or photographer, it’s your job to not only write and/or take pictures but you also have to get their attention before the million other things do. Studies show that you have about eight seconds to make that happen. That sounds generous to me but here’s how to make the most out of each one.
How to Capture Your Reader’s Attention
1. First Sentence Take them! Grab them!
Show them no mercy! Put them in a headlock and jump their reading bones! That’s right. You want to shock, intrigue or somehow engage your reader immediately, otherwise they’ll keep scrolling or swipe left. You can: bring them into action by starting in the middle of a memorable part of your trip. Or, you can touch some type of nerve or sweet spot, make someone feel validated or understood or shock them into reading whatever it is you’ve written. Here’s an article I wrote about a Hawaiian Luau that won an award and it all started with finding my first sentence. Literally.
Often times, after that first great sentence reveals itself the rest of the story shows itself too.
2. A Great Title
Let’s be honest. If you can’t excite them here, then all the time you took to write the article is wasted because unless it’s your mom or your lover, they will instead click on the headline that promises them the best or the most or the decidedly ridiculous. Go through a few sites that you like and see how they do it. Why are you drawn toward some titles but not others? Sometimes, I click on a story about something I’m not even interested in just because the headline promises to make it juicy. There’s something to be said about Click Bait. But, at least you’ll have that message after they click on your title, that will help them, somehow, with their lives after they’ve read your words.
3. TK should be a prime number
I recently attended a travel writer’s conference and some of the other attendees were guests on Alexa’s Break Into Travel Writing podcast. Let’s just say, they were big deals and I was all ears when they were dropping chunks of their experience and advice. This is what they told me. When you write a listicle, if there’s a number in your title, it should be a prime number. Gary Arndt, of the famous Everything Everywhere blog, said he read a study that determined this so I’m going to believe him because he knows a lot.
4. A great feature photo
Just like the title and first sentence, you don’t get another chance to make a first impression. Sometimes, even if your title is a little on the vanilla side, a fabulous picture will tantalize the reader enough to get them to your first paragraph. But, if your pictures are usually blurry or unenticing, you could use a free stock photo site like Unsplash.com or Pexels.com so when you share your article on social media, people will immediately be captivated.
5. Make it personal but not too personal
Yes, we already determined that you’re the bomb diggity but so is the reader. How are you going to frame your life or your experience in a way that benefits her instead of bores her? You’ve worked so hard to draw her in, to play that flute with pictures or words that hypnotizes her to sway to your verbal music. Don’t lose her now by detailing how you got to the plane and then to the hotel and then checked-in. But whatever you do want to talk about, you should try to do it in the same way you’d talk to a friend.
You wouldn’t use any high falutin’ words with your buddy. Even if you’re doing a listicle, you can do it with creative charm, you know, the kind you used on your mom to get her to give you that thing she refused. Even with numbers and details, you can evoke a sense of place. And if you’re not sharing some type of foible that you learned from or something a bit private, then it’ll be like reading the required text in your high school algebra class. Sure, the information is there but you won’t remember it after the test.
Wrapping it Up: It Is About You and Me
I resisted calling myself a blogger for a long time. I received my degree in Broadcast Journalism and went on to become a reporter, producer and then, when I had kids, I started writing for our local paper. I found myself onto my blog through a trail of magazines, newspapers and finally online publications. I realized there is a lot more financial freedom in blogging than there is in freelance writing, which I still do and love but for different reasons.
In my desire to do this right, I’ve been listening to Alexa’s podcast – I went back and started with episode one because I found invaluable information disguised in topics I didn’t think applied to me. I read How To travel books by big shots like Don George. I signed up for online courses and finally joined Alexa’s Travel Academy. In blogging, there is the possibility of creating something bigger than just a few articles. You can create a movement or be the hand that holds the person who’d be too scared to travel without your guidance. But, you have to get them to read your article first.
Learn More about Travel Journalist, Rina Baraz Nehdar and La Family Travel
L.A. Family Travel Launched in December of 2017
Bio: Rina Baraz Nehdar is an award-winning travel journalist and photographer. When she isn’t wrangling her three boys in the suburbs of Los Angeles, she can be found in downward facing dog, looking for organic produce or furiously trying to get everything done before everyone gets out of school. She’s a regular contributor to Global Traveler Magazine, Wherever Family and Parents. She edits and writes at LAFamilyTravel.com and many of her bylines can be found here: lafamilytravel.com/about She is also a published science fiction writer.
Link to one of her favorite articles on her website: Kayaking in Ventura
What is your blogging niche? Real Family Adventure Travel – we aim to provide guidance for families taking trips on their school holidays who are active and like to stay in nice places and eat good food.
How long have you been a blogger/writer/photographer? I have been a writer my whole life. I have been a journalist on and off for 20 year and have focused on travel for two years.
Favorite Travel Writer: David Farley
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