Travel Bloggers: How to Find, Work with Online Writers

Thursday January 23, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 3 Comments

Article by Nancy D. Brown

Nancy Brown

Equine Travel Blogger Nancy D. Brown

Often times I’m asked to speak with hotels, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) and brands about how to work with travel bloggers and travel writers. Most recently, I’m speaking on this topic with the Dude Ranchers’ Association at their annual convention. I thought I’d put together a blog post about the topic.

What is a blogger? How do I find a travel blogger? What type of blogger do I want to work with? These are a few of the questions you might be asking yourself when it comes to working with travel bloggers to promote your destination, dude ranch, hotel, luxury resort or brand.

Introduction to blogging

A blog is an online journal that may be found on the web. Ideally, a blog will focus on a particular topic with the blogger positioning herself as an expert in that field. Within the competitive travel blog sector, it is important for travel bloggers to focus on a particular niche. Here at Nancy D. Brown, we focus on insider travel tips, things to see and do for the first time visitor, as well as luxury hotel, resort and travel gear reviews.

Writing Horseback blog

My equine blog, Writing Horseback,offers a guide to horseback riding vacations, ranch and lodging reviews. Writing Horseback is an example of a niche blog, as it specializes in horses and equestrian lodging reviews. To my knowledge, I’m one of the few writers to focus on equine travel.

What do bloggers do?

Anyone can create a blog and call themselves a blogger. In fact, you may already have a blog featured on your website. A blog may be written by you, your employees, or a freelance writer.

Speaking as both a travel blogger and a professional freelance writer for print publications, I’d say there are a few differences between a blogger and a journalist. This observation is not meant to create a rift between bloggers and journalists. Rather, I’m offering my personal opinion as someone who works both sides of the media fence.

First person perspective – most blogs are written from the bloggers’ point of view and include personal opinions.

Fact-checking and the use of quotes. While some blogs do employ fact checking editors, typically newspapers and magazines tend to fact check quotes and verify sources.


Texas longhorn, big boy

Help me, help you

How to work with travel bloggers

I wrote a post in 2010 about how to work with travel bloggers. While a lot of the information is still relevant, I have a few new suggestions to add.

Please treat us as professionals. I don’t consider a press trip or visit to review your property as a vacation. Travel writing and blogging is how I make my living. I love what I do and have benefited greatly from my journalism degree, but travel blogging and freelance writing is not the road to riches.

Don’t offer press trip invitations as a contest. You wouldn’t ask your dentist to “like” your Facebook page or expect his friends to vote for him in order to win the right to work on your teeth would you? Please don’t ask me to compete for a space on your press trip – do your research, find a select group of bloggers that match your criteria and invite them to your ranch, resort or destination.

Let’s work together. Your job is to run a successful ranch, resort or brand campaign, yet you are expected to be a marketer, social media expert and blogger.

My job is to write about travel experiences to compel readers to explore this resort, ranch or destination for themselves. I am a visual storyteller and content creator. Remember the Jerry Maguire movie quote, “help me, help you.”

What tips do you have for finding and working with bloggers? Share your insider tips and comments below.

Restaurant Review: Bull Valley Roadhouse, Port Costa

Monday January 20, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 0 Comments

ox, bull valley roadhouse

An ox dangles over the entrance to Bull Valley Roadhouse in Port Costa, California

Tucked away at the end of Canyon Lake Drive in Port Costa, California, The Bull Valley Roadhouse is a collision of pre-Prohibition meets 20th century dining. It also reminds me of a trip to Bolinas, with little in the way of signage directing guests to Port Costa and a slight paranoia that maybe the local residents (all 190 of them) don’t want me to find this place.

Once parked, look for the golden ox dangling from hook and chain over the doorway of Bull Valley Roadhouse. Note the 1897 marker embedded in the front of the old building. Inside, belly up to the wooden bar in the restaurant and ponder a craft beer, glass of wine or specialty cocktail.

My husband ordered the old pal of michter’s single barrel straight rye with dolin dry vermouth and campari, while I was drawn to the winter solstice punch, a mixture of dudognon cognac, apple brandy, cranberry shrub (made locally in Port Costa) lime and old time bitters. All cocktails were priced at $11.


fried chicken, bull valley roadhouse

Fried chicken at Bull Valley Roadhouse in Port Costa.

Family style dining

Step into the dining room where communal tables welcome large groups for informal restaurant dining or hope the intimate table for two is available by the window facing the street. Hot towels are brought upon arrival and the family style menu is explained, noting the large portions designed to be shared.

We began my birthday celebration with crispy blue lake beans sprinkled with chile salt ($10) and a salad for two of mixed greens, pear, Gorgonzola, toasted walnuts and topped with a sherry vinaigrette ($10.)

brussel sprouts, Bull Valley Roadhouse

Fried Brussel sprouts from Bull Valley Roadhouse, Port Costa

Supporting local farmers and ranchers

The crispy fried buttermilk chicken ($28), served alongside a cup of pork with black eyed peas and ramekin of spicy pepper jam was served piping hot and worth the wait. I would have loved to have tried Co-owner Earl Flewellen’s honey drizzled over the house made biscuit, but his small batch production was already sold out.

We also ordered the grilled ribeye with roasted shitake, bunshimeji and king trumpet mushrooms slathered in herbed butter ($36.) The steak from Prather Ranch Meat Company was flavorful, well marbled and cooked perfectly. I also appreciate that the Northern California company raises their cattle without antibiotics or hormones.

Hat hit to Executive Chef David Williams and owners Earl Flewellen and Samuel Spurrier of Bull Valley Roadhouse for opting to support local farmers, fishermen and foragers from the San Francisco bay area. If I could prepare Brussels sprouts like those from the Roadhouse, my kids would eat vegetables, same goes for the fried blue lake beans.

Bull Valley Roadhouse, cocktail

Cocktails at Bull Valley Roadhouse include Winter Solstice Punch

Insider Tip

Earl Flewellen started out as an art director and then added beekeeper to his resume before he became a restaurateur and next door Burlington Hotel owner. His passion is with his hives and the resulting honey. Save room for the pound cake bread pudding with honey & whipped cream or the wildflower honey ice cream. Sweet!

For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter.

If You Go:

Bull Valley Roadhouse (510) 787-1135

14 Canyon Lake Drive, Port Costa, California 94569

Article and photos by Nancy D. Brown. I was a guest of Bull Valley Roadhouse, but all opinions are my own.

Movie Review: Maidentrip

Friday January 17, 2014 at 6:06 AM | 3 Comments

laura dekker, movieMaidentrip is a true story of 14 year-old Laura Dekker setting out to be the youngest person to sail around the world solo. While Laura accomplishes her objective, the experience is not so much about setting a speed record as it is about enjoying the journey, while testing herself and her sailing abilities along the way.

As a parent of two young adults, I remember the turmoil her decision sparked in the media and with the Dutch authorities. While I didn’t doubt her sailing skills, I questioned if it was safe for a female teenager to sail solo on the open sea.

Solo travel

As I watched the movie, seeing Laura land alone in the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Australia and Africa, I felt protective of the fiercely independent young woman and hoped no one took advantage of her during her solo travel. Fortunately for Laura her travel experiences, both on land and at sea, proved uneventful.

On that note, the feature documentary movie, Maidentrip, directed by independent filmmaker Jillian Schlesinger, might be too low-key for some movie-goers used to being spoon-fed constant thrill-a-minute, on the edge of your seat action and adventure.

Laura wears a sail harness at all times during her maiden sailing voyage. The only thing that goes overboard during her travels is a pancake she sacrifices to Neptune god of the sea, when she crosses the equator in a long-standing line crossing ceremony tradition.



Laura Dekker, south africaGet up and go travel

The one hour and 22 minute unrated movie is an award winner, capturing the audience award at 2013 SXSW Film Festival. I watched this movie with my husband. As an introvert who never gets enough alone time in the woods, he could relate to Laura’s joy spending 47 days alone at sea. As a journalist, I could relate to the writer on board, peppering Laura with questions about her travels while her boat, Guppy, was docked at port.

“Freedom is when you are not attached to anything,” says sailor and world traveler Laura Dekker.

The movie Maidentrip features beautiful photography and will inspire the adventurer to get up from your seat and go travel.

Where to See: Maidentrip

Movie review by Nancy D. Brown. First Run Features supplied me with this DVD for review purposes, as well as photos. All opinions are my own.

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