Today you’ll get a chance to meet Beth Blair. We both have several things in common besides our love of travel and writing. Beth was a flight attendant. I was a stewardess—that shows how long ago it was. We also have both explored the Salsa Trail in Arizona.
Maralyn: Beth, would you please introduce yourself: provide some background, how did you start writing, is there anything specifically interesting about you? If you had another career first, how/why did you switch to writing?
Beth: I grew up in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and went to high school in Dallas, Texas. Shortly after graduating my family moved to Steamboat Springs, Colorado and I followed. I knew I wanted to work for the airlines and eventually began my career as a flight attendant. Since then, I’ve lived all over the United States. I spent most of my twenties in the sky and absolutely loved the job, but after getting married and becoming a mother I knew it was time to switch careers. I had been dabbling in writing for sometime and decided to pursue freelance writing.
Maralyn: What type of writing do you focus on, food, wine or travel or all three?
Beth: I concentrate on travel, safety and lifestyle but I love to cover food and wine. As a matter of fact, I’ve found a fun way to combine travel and culinary writing: regional culinary trails. I’ve explored Arizona’s Salsa Trail in Arizona, Kentucky’s Bourbon Trail in and the Seafood Sensation Trail in Lake Charles, Louisiana. I find culinary trails are a wonderful way to get personal with the locals, learn about the region’s culture and history and enjoy delicious food.
Maralyn: What an you share with others as to important tips or suggestions for other writers on writing and finding outlets for articles?
Beth: I recommend writers tap into their experiences and passion. Being able to prove you have a deep understanding or experience in a subject can be to your benefit. For example, if someone wants to break into travel writing, but they haven’t traveled much they can look at their background and get creative. Perhaps they have experience working on classic cars. If this is the case, they can query an editor about classic car shows across the country or a quilter could write about Quilt Barns. Topics are endless once you engage your life experiences.
Maralyn: How did you get started writing and blogging?
Beth: I’m the perfect example of someone who used my expertise and interests to develop my writing career. Writing about travel came natural, as do travel safety topics since that is what I’ve been trained in. After having children, my writing naturally progressed to family travel. The blogging came after I had been writing for some time. I joined forces with other mother-travel writers.
Maralyn: How often do you blog?
On my personal blog, BethBlair.com I update once or twice a week. The content is mostly photos and topics that are dear to me. It’s definitely my personal outlet.
As for travel blogging, I share TheVacationGals.com and TheSpaGals.com with two other travel writers whom I have known for years. We try and update as frequently as we can. I usually end up posting once or twice a week. A group blog is a terrific way to share the workload and keep a blog lively without the stress of feeling the need to post daily.
Maralyn: What has been the most effective means of gaining traffic/followers?
Beth: We enjoy using social media, especially Twitter and Facebook to generate traffic, but building our content has really made an impact on our numbers. If you write for your audience you won’t be disappointed.
Maralyn: If you also write articles, do you query for assignments before you write or after the article is done?
Beth: When I was first getting started I wrote the article or story first. That process worked out great because it gave me the opportunity to collect clips and paychecks. Today I don’t have the time to write an article without guaranteed placement. If I’m trying to break into a new market I do query, but luckily I’ve advanced to the point that editors approach me with assignments.
Maralyn: Do you go to food, wine or travel writers or blog conferences?
Beth: I have attended Travel Media Showcase a couple of times and find that conference to be a wonderful opportunity to learn about new destinations and meet likeminded people. I also enjoy writing and blogging conferences. Most recently I attended the first Minnesota Blogger Conference in St. Paul and in November I’m speaking at I_Blog Conference in Iowa. My subject is: Pitch From Your Passion: Get Paid to Write About What You Love.
Maralyn: What is your approach to research?
Beth: I love research and being able to prove my findings. However, I also base quite a bit of my writings off of personal experience.
Maralyn: Do you use social networking to promote your blog? If so, which ones work best for you?
Beth: Twitter is my first choice for social networking. It’s such a quick and easy way to communicate. Linkedin has also proved beneficial for me. I have acquired assignments because an editor searched for personal my background and I popped up. Reporters have also found me because they were looking for quotes from someone with my expertise.
Maralyn: Have you considered writing a book? If so, could you tell us about the subject and any titles you may have already?
Beth: I’ve contributed to more than a dozen books and anthologies including the Chicken Soup series. I would love to write a book of my own. When I do, it will certainly have a travel theme.
Maralyn: Where can readers learn more about you?
Thank you for sharing Beth. It is always interesting to learn about other writers and gain insight into their tips and suggestions.
If any of the writers reading this would like to be interviewed, please contact me at MDHill@NoraLyn.com.
International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association
Books By Hills Success With Writing Where & What in the World
Member: Society of Professional Journalists
Finalist in the Writing and Publishing category of the 2009 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, “$uccess, Your Path to a Successful Book,”