About (travel) writing mentoring programs
Have you ever heard about travel writing courses? They seem to be a bit hidden around the net, but when you look further they're certainly there and they're gaining popularity. Reason why? Internet of course. Everybody can be a writer these days, it'll cost you - except for your precious time - about nothing. There are lots of places where you can start a free blog. You just have to type in your story, press the enter button and your story is published. Visible for the rest of the world.
This is a great approach for the hobby writer or for people who just want to share their knowledge with the rest of the world, but if you also like to earn a buck or two with your writing you'll need to go a step further.
The best known solution is by advertising. You place banners, pop-ups, links and all other kind of stuff on your website and companies pay you per click or per person that actually bought something through you. There are hundreds of different formulas but the purpose is always the same, you place something on your site, a visitor clicks it and you get paid a little.
The problem with this approach is that you really need a lot of visitors. For example, Adsense pays about $0.10 per click, if you have a click rate of 5% - which is quite awesome - you need 2000 visitors to earn $10.
What you also can do is creating links to sponsors that look like they're internal links. Your click rate will be much higher, but this is just fooling your visitors and trust me, soon they'll find out and don't come back anymore.
Which brings us to the next solution: You create something people are really willing to pay money for. You write a book and you sell it as an e-book or even a hard copy, you put pictures into a book and sell it, you create an online course about something or you may even create your own mentoring program.
The most important keyword for this solution: networking. Lots of networking, getting to know people, make people announce your name or your articles on their blog or social network, let famous bloggers make guest posts on your blog or you make posts on their blog. In short: become famous in the blogging world and in the world of the niche you're blogging about.
This is exactly what the mentoring programs do, they introduce you to other bloggers, famous and beginning bloggers.
It's a bit like how I remember the beginning of rap music - not that I know anything about rap music. In the beginning, there were Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The Master Rappers. Then Dr. Dre introduced Eminem, Snoop Dogg introduced Nate Dogg, someone introduced Xzibit, Eminem introduced his old band D12, 50 Cent was introduced, and so on. I don't know if this in the right order or anything, but are you getting my point?
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg had some kind of Rap Mentoring Program at the time, only that they called it a Record Label.
Let's have a look at the schedule of a two day writing course at Travel Channel - from the popular online travel magazine WorldHum - for which you pay $450.
DAY ONE (9AM-5:30PM):
* Course overview and opening remarks
* Writing the travel story, from structure to prose
* Writing exercise and critique
* How to produce an audio slideshow
* Where to find free quality photos, and legal do’s and don’ts
* Social networking for travel writers
DAY TWO (9AM-5:30PM):
* How to create and write a travel blog
* Writing exercise and critique
* Course project: Create a blog or audio slideshow
* Screen blogs and audio slideshow
* Critique and closing remarks
If I browse through the topics, there isn't actually anything I find interesting enough to pay $450 for. On the first day, about all information can easily be found on the internet. Maybe except for the for the exercise and depending on what the topic "social networking for travel writers" contains.
The second day is all about creating a blog, but don't think you will walk out of that room with a unique blog and designer skills. That takes years to practice. Probably they'll just teach you how to use Blogspot or Wordpress.
Am I saying that these mentoring programs are a waste of time and money? Certainly not! I'm quite sure that people who just start from scratch are more than one step behind those who did follow a mentoring program. Because of the networking.
But I also think that in time you can achieve the same on your own. If your writing is good and you know how to handle social networking you will gain visitors and who knows, maybe start your own mentoring program.
Before I rest my case I would like to have a quick case study: NomadicMatt
Matt followed the Writing Mentoring program of MatadorU and his success story is one they're probably quite proud of. Matt started a travel blog, gained lots of visitors, quit his job and started travelling around the world, paid by earnings from his blog. At the moment he's travelling for about three years and he claims to earn about $3000 a month. He also wrote a book on how to monetize your blog which is for sale on his website.
Would Matt have made it without following the course? Probably he would. His writing is really great, it's amusing and it makes you want to come back to read more. He also spends loads of time networking. Trust me, I follow him on Twitter and very few hours go by that he's not tweeting.
Would he already be travelling for three years if he didn't follow the course? Probably not, it would've taken much more time to get the confidence of the ProBloggers.
Was it worth the money? Probably it was, because he has earned back his investment a long time ago.
But that case was a success and I wonder how many subscriptions the programs get which end up into nothing.
If you have any good or bad experience with - especially about writing - mentoring programs drop me a line.