7 Reasons Why You Should Record an Interview at TBEX North America

Chris Ducker of ChrisDucker.com and Shawn Smith of TheMobilePro.net, recording a Mobile Pro interview at FinCon Expo Conference.

Chris Ducker of ChrisDucker.com and Shawn Smith of TheMobilePro.net, recording a Mobile Pro interview at FinCon Expo Conference.

Have you ever wanted to be able to record a quick interview on your iPhone at a conference like TBEX? I have…for years.Can you imagine…recording 10-12 podcast interviews, all in-person, with key leaders and colleagues in your niche? How about recording and banking all of that content for a future Audio Blog or Podcast in less than 3 days. Wouldn’t that be smart!What if through these in-person interviews, you were offered:

  • Several Joint Venture opportunities
  • Five offers to become affiliates for your product
  • Four offers to be a guest on podcasts
  • Two offers to be a guest on webinars
  • A potential speaking engagement
  • An offer to write a guest blog post for a world-class conference in your niche

Wouldn’t that be incredible? Well…it was for me, and that is what happened to me in August at the second annual Podcast Movement Conference in Dallas, Texas. But here’s the crazy part: This is the 5th time in the past year opportunities like this happened at a business conference – all because I had a pro-quality, mobile recording setup with me at the event.Some of the best interviews happen spontaneously – in the hallways at the events.

Me:      “Do you have a few min’s for a quick interview?”
Guest:  “Sure, how about now?”
Me:      “Perfect! There’s an empty table over there…” 
Five minutes later, and we’re recording!

(To hear audio clips recorded on my iPhone with Lou Mongello, Chris Ducker, both speakers here at TBEX, and others, go here)

Attending conferences has helped me network, and connect with key people in my niche more than any other step in building my online platform.

Recording these in-person interviews on my iPhone at events have led to more business opportunities, and more sales, than anything else I’ve done. And they can do the same for you too.

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro at #PM14.

Lou Mongello from WDW Radio, Jared Easley from Starve the Doubts and Founder of Podcast Movement Conference, and Shawn Smith, The Mobile Pro at #PM14.

Here are my 7 reasons why YOU should record an interview on your iPhone here at TBEX this week (even if you don’t have a podcast).

  1. Record 10-15 interviews in 3 days – Yep, in 2-3 days, you can easily knock out a dozen, 20-30 minute interviews, and still attend your key sessions. That’s two to three months of high-quality, high-value, weekly content you can bank for an audio blog post or podcast episode.
  2. Secure on-the-spot interviews –  Only at an event can you snag hallway interviews with Keynote Speakers, Session Leaders, Event Organizers, and colleagues in your niche – many that you might not get by phone or Skype. And again, the audio quality will be much better.
  3. People will remember your name – Hosting an in-person interview creates a much stronger bond than a business card swap. When you meet for 20-30 min’s face-to-face, and you shamelessly promote your guest and their latest project during the interview, and then again on your Audio Blog or Podcast, they will remember you. Plus, here’s your opportunity to give back to others who have blessed you, by promoting them.
  4. You have a digital recorder in your pocket – If you have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, you already have a pro-quality recording studio! No need for lots of expensive, complicated recording equipment – and no extra batteries, cables, and chargers, like with a digital recorder. (Android users can record with their internal mic and the Auphonic App – it’s free in the Google Play store.)
  5. Cheap mobile microphoness – Just this past year, a bunch of tiny, lightweight, simple, cheap, pro-quality mics have been released and are available NOW (i.e. Use the ATR2100 ($60) for noisy locations, and the Zoom iQ5 ($99) for quiet spaces and to record interesting background sounds. I keep these two mics in my backpack all the time. They set up in 1 minute.
  6. Cheap apps – There’s a ton of simple-to-use, cheap, but pro-quality apps that you can download and start using NOW. BossJock Studio iOS App ($10) is my go-to favorite. These apps have auto-gain control, and auto-limiting built right in, so you and your guest will sound great every time.
  7. Your readers and audience love road trips – Take them with you when you’re on the road! You can feel the excitement, and buzz – both in the room, and in the voices of you and your guests during an in-person interview. Plus, with all the amazing places you travel, you can capture those vibrant background sounds not found anywhere else in the world.

If you have an iPhone or iOS device, for about $110, you can get a pro-quality app and mic that will fit in your backpack or purse, and you’re in the big-leagues. And they’re NOT that complicated to use.

Recording a podcast interview at TBEX North America can be the opportunity to finally get started with audio. Doing in-person interviews have transformed my business, and they can do the same for you.

So here’s your call to action:

BEFORE you arrive in Ft. Lauderdale (or before you arrive at your next conference), commit to recording at least ONE podcast interview at the event – even if you’ve never done one before!

Buy a small mic, download an app, or just bring your smartphone, and TAKE ACTION! If you need your first interview to prime the pump, let me know. I’d be honored to be your guest!

Finally, don’t miss my TBEX North America session:  Mobile Audio Blogs and Audio Books Made Easy:  How to Record, Edit, Level, and Publish an Audio Blog/Podcast or Audio Book on your iPhone or iPad from Anywhere in the World.

No computer or tech skills needed. Newbies and Pros alike are welcome! I’ll bring with me all the recording gear mentioned above, and a variety of microphone sets ups for your to see. I’ll be on-hand throughout the conference, and will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

PLUS, everyone who attends my session, will have the chance to win an ATR2100 Mic Setup, so you can start recording pro-quality interviews right away!

Author Bio: Shawn Smith (a.k.a. The Mobile Pro) is the author of the ground-breaking eBook and step-by-step video course, “5 Ways to Record Podcast Interviews with an iPhone”. Since 1994, Shawn has flown over 800,000 miles all over the world as a musician, keynote speaker, missionary, and mobile technology expert at TheMobilePro.net, and he is quickly becoming the foremost authority on Mobile Podcasting. Shawn is passionate about equipping, training, and inspiring entrepreneurs to create pro-quality content and manage their business from anywhere in the world. When not on the road, Shawn lives with his lovely wife in South Florida, in the United States.

5 Easy Video Marketing Strategies for Travel Industry Pros and Bloggers

How is your travel business growing online? Would you like to know a totally free and simple way increase visibility for your online brand? Whether you’re a blogger or travel industry brand, integrating a video marketing strategy into your mix is an excellent way to boost your online visibility.

lauraredprint2If you’re wondering how could you possibly fit in another ounce of content generation let alone video, check out the wonderful world of Google Hangouts On Air and use these simple strategies to produce compelling video content consistently.

Google launched their Hangouts On Air (HOA) functionality in 2012 and it’s been growing like wildfire ever since. Personally, I use HOA every week to deliver high content webinars and interviews with experts around the world. You can do Hangouts On Air right from your phone as well by downloading the Hangouts app.

Google HOA essentially allows you to host and broadcast live and recorded discussions and performances to the world for FREE through your Google+ Home page and YouTube channel. By the way, I did say “pre-recorded” video purposefully. You can set up these HOAs so that you record privately and then broadcast them once you’re ready.

With the versatile features that Google Hangouts On Air offer, the possibilities for creating highly engaging, interesting and shareable content are endless.Here are five easy video content creation and marketing strategies

1. Video on the Road or Behind the Scenes

If you’re a blogger, why not get into the moment? Start your HOA from your phone and point the camera on the scenery or a local vendor and share your commentary and new insights of the special places you’ve visit. Then tweet about the video you just created. Embed it on your blog with either a transcription of what you said or further commentary and tweet it again.

If you’re a brand, what better way to grow loyalty than to give your audience a sneak peak inside your facilities and introduce your team. Feature a staff member weekly. Or even feature your customers (who are willing to sign a video release, of course) who love you. That will get them raving about you too. Send out an email each time you do this and let your existing clients get to know your organization better.

2. The Virtual Tour 

Do you have extraordinary photos to share? Why not create an online event to share the photos of a particular location or genre (waterfalls, rain forests, deserts, cruise ship cabins, etc). Share photos via live streaming along with tips, stories, or commentary about the images. An even easier video to create (without being a live event or having to speak), could be simply to show the photos and play music in the background.

When you embed this on your blog, your written descriptions can cover what you would have said in a video. By the way, are you concerned that people will watch and not know who the source is? You can watermark your photos and create PowerPoint slides with contact and website information. If you want to spend time annotating the YouTube video, you can include clickable buttons on your video.

3. Interviews and Demos

Do you know any celebrities or C-Level executives you can feature? Set up a HOA with them and ask them juicy questions. Get the inside scoop on the services they offer. Feature chefs demonstrating a famous recipe, and highlight specialty business owners, cruise ship officers, demonstrate your product or someone else’s that is a companion to yours. If you have a venue that can offer a special discount, use this video in an email and let people know about the offer. Promote on Instagram and Pinterest. You may even want to pay for some Facebook advertising for these special offers.

4. Record the text from your blog post that accompanies the photos

If you’re really strapped for time, but want to dive into video marketing, take your existing blog posts and re-purpose them. If they have fantastic content and images, then simply read your blog post while showing the images on your HOA. You may even find you have more to say than you did in the original blog. For your audience who is more visually oriented, they will LOVE that you are offering video.

Many people enjoy podcasts. Did you know that you can easily extract audio from a video? That means you can place an mp3 file along with the video on your new blog post. That mp3 can also be used on podcast sites. If you go the podcast route be sure to get some good sound equipment.

5. Testimonials for products, recommended destinations, tours, events, guides, etc.

Who loves you? Why not video them from the comfort of their own space. That’s right, when you start a Google Hangout On Air, you can invite others to join the HOA and participate on air with you. All they need is a smartphone, tablet or computer with a webcam. Sometimes the recording quality is not as good as you may like, but the authenticity usually is compelling enough to make it a piece of marketing content.

Use these on your reviews pages on your website. Create press releases. Or simply add them as blog posts that your share about. Remember to send the links to these reviews to the people who gave them so they may share the links with their friends, followers, and connections online.

Re-Purpose the Video on Facebook

A strategy that you may also want apply to all the above video content is to download each HOA (as an mp4) and upload the video to your Facebook business page. Video engagement on Facebook has surpassed that on YouTube. So you can upload the video and link to your blog/website in the video description.

We have just touched the tip of the HOA video marketing iceberg. If you have a great video you’ve done with Google Hangouts On Air, please share it in the comments below and inspire others with one of the EASIEST video creation tools available today that is FREE.

Author Bio:  Laura Rubinstein is an award winning digital media strategist, marketing consultant, Certified Hypnotherapist, and author of the bestselling book Social Media Myths Busted. She is the creator of the Savvy Social Media Success System, and co-founder of Social Buzz Club. During the past 20 years, Laura has optimized marketing strategies for over 1,000 businesses. Her profit-generating strategies, and popular blog at TransformToday.com make her a highly sought after speaker and consultant.

Managing Comments on Social Media

Develop a response strategy map for conversation Management

For entrepreneurs using social media for customer engagement, a response strategy map is a system of responses drawn up collectively by the entire organisation for implementation during engagement with their target audience on social media.

AndrewChowheadshotBroadly speaking, a response strategy focuses on the responses to any comments made by the public. It is an action map created so that everyone in the taskforce knows what to do, how to respond, who to activate during a crisis, and how to close the loop to manage the online conversation. It can be used for managing public relations and should be refined after every major media crisis.

Every company will have its individual response to input from users in the social media space. The template provided in this chapter can only serve as a guideline for your corporate response strategy.

Positive Comments

Positive comments may be few and far in between. People are more inclined to give negative feedback than positive ones, especially in a highly competitive country like Singapore. However, positive comments do come from authentic fans, but when it happens, it is a pity most brands do not know how to magnify the effect to the fullest.

Positive comments are usually overlooked, especially when they are just regular compliments. The comments to note are usually the referrals, good testimonials, and success stories. Whenever such positive comments appear, share them on different platforms.

If you have positive comments originating from your Facebook page, share them on Twitter or your blog. If you can trace the fan’s Twitter account, do not forget to mention him in the conversation. If you are sharing on your blog, you can acknowledge the fan with a hyperlink back to his profile or simply do a screen capture. If there is a compliment for one of your staff’s service, share it on LinkedIn and encourage the staff to get connected with the fan. A good recommendation on LinkedIn may eventually happen because of the connection.

The entire company can be more motivated when staff reads about positive comments for different departments. So share them on your company newsletter. Compile the number of positive comments and their categories into your social media KPI. Your management will appreciate the numbers at the end of the year to justify the ROI on social media. If an existing fan refers someone new to the company, follow-up quickly through your normal sales channel and reward the referrer through your own customer incentive or reward system.

Neutral Comments

If comments are rather neutral, verify if the comments came from your fan. If the commenter is not a fan, encourage him to bring the discussion further and eventually encourage him to become a fan. In reality, everyone who is new to your company or brand and posts on your platform is a potential prospect.

Negative Comments

If you received something negative, always give priority to manage those that came from your fans. Negative feedback usually involves service quality, damaged product, customer service, delayed delivery, long unanswered phone calls to help desk, wrong billing, etc. Whatever the complaints may be, they usually involve at least one department. This is the reason why your page should have one representative from each department to look out for comments related to that department and relay those concerns swiftly.

Close the loop as soon as possible by activating service recovery. It could be as basic as getting on the phone with the disgruntled fan who is a loyal customer. Or it could involve getting the after-sales department to send a replacement to the fan’s house. Whatever it takes to make a loyal fan happy, do it and show it. It will be the most rewarding social media publicity you can have for your brand.

What happens if the comments came from someone who is not your fan? Verify the content of his complaint. If it is valid, resolve it quickly by clarifying and notifying the department or staff mentioned in the comments.

Be humble and do all due diligence to check on the validity of the complaint. If the complaint is not valid and you suspect the person may be out to create fear and confusion, you can choose to ignore those comments. You can even delete them after all the internal investigation is done. Censoring certain negative comments can be a house rule on your platform.

Do not engage in an open debate or discussion with anyone on your platform. Take it offline as much as possible. Remember that it is the end result you wish to show and not the process on how you arrive at the resolution.

If you are using the response strategy map as a tool to handle a crisis, there are two things to remember.

  1. Social media will not help you much if you have not built any goodwill among your customers or the public. A response strategy map yields little results if you have suffered too much bad press or bad mouthing in the marketplace.  The map is just a tool. It is not a magic wand for creating instant goodwill.
  2. Remember that any social media fire must be put out by social media water. A local company once held a dinner and dance with a specific theme. Their staff posted photographs of the event on Facebook which were seen as disparaging to a certain ethnic group. The photographs created an uproar on social media and it went viral and the local press picked up the story. The company’s PR issued a statement to state that it was done in pure fun. However, that made it even worse and it evolved into a full blown discussion in the local newspaper’s forum. Thus, if the crisis began from social media, use social media to engage and resolve it, not public relations.

Negative comments are inevitable and are ever present on social media. The art of persuasion lies in using negative comments to explain your brand more intimately to the detractors. Whenever there are comments, there will be conversations.

Always remember that what is worse than negative comments is no comments at all. Think of your relationship more than just responses. Draw up your own response strategy map (sample below) using your experience, internal standard operating procedure, and staff feedback. This may be a work-in-progress in the first year of embarking on a social media strategy.

Conclusion

Comments are conversational contribution from your online community. It is the right of everyone to share their thoughts, both positive and negative ones. All comments should be followed up appropriately to help the brand stay engaged with their customers.

Author Bio:  Andrew Chow is a Social Media & Public Relations Strategist, Certified Life Coach, Entrepreneur, Speaker and Author in Singapore. Andrew has spoken in many local and regional conferences on Social Media Strategy, Media Management and Personal Branding, and Enneagram Personality.  His authentic presentation style made him a frequently sought-after keynote speaker. Graduated from Thames Valley University, Andrew is fondly called “ideasandrew” in all his social media connections. He has also founded several social networking portals with over 10,000 profiles. He is the author of “Romancing the Media for Business”, “Social Media 247” and co-author of “88 Essential Secret for Achieving Greater Success at Work”.

Andrew will be speaking in the Industry Track at TBEX Asia on The Art of Crisis Management through PR and Social Media.

8 Key Elements For an Effective Hashtag

When it comes down to storytelling, travel brands have a clear edge over organizations in other industries: we sell experiences, memories. And whether people travel for business or leisure, they tend to share these moments on social media, in real-time, via their always-on mobile devices.

One of the big trends that has been shaping how travel stories get told is through repurposing of this content, whether it was originally shared on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest. Destinations, hotels, restaurants, transportation companies, attractions… every stakeholder in the hospitality realm can tap into the potential stemming from photos and videos shared online.

But how do you find the good stuff? How can you even know if people are talking about you on their blog or via their social accounts? One word comes in handy: hashtag!

hashtag_v3

8 Key Elements

There are obviously many elements to consider when implementing an effective online campaign, across platforms such as your own website, blogs, newsletters, social media and even offline. But having a compelling hashtag is a key component that should not be under-estimated.So here are eight important elements to consider when you are about to choose a hashtag or launch a campaign centered around one.

Easy to remember

While this may be rule #1, it is often forgotten. Or perhaps I should clarify: a hashtag should be easy to remember for users, not for the marketing person that came up with it. A good example? Discover Los Angeles launched its campaign highlighting the fact there is something to do every day of the year, it came up with #LA365.

A word of caution when using acronyms: they may be easy to remember, but they can also mean different things to different people. For example #TIFF which could stand for Toronto International Film Festival… or just a short for Tiffany…

Intuitive & Significant

To segue from the previous point, a hashtag should be intuitive… for users, first and foremost. When the village resort of Mont-Tremblant, in Canada, wanted to focus on a strong hashtag across its various social networks, it realized users were already using #Tremblant. Thus, it went ahead with this hashtag.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 7.14.42 PM

 

You will also want to make sure the hashtag is significant, meaning it resonates to its target audience. Such is the case, for example, with #DallasBIG, reinforcing the notion and campaign message that everything is big in Dallas (or Texas, for that matter!).

Multilingual

Not always an easy task to cater to different languages, but as a born and raised Montrealer in the French-speaking province of Quebec, I know how important it is for brands to appeal to as many travelers in their native language as possible. That was the thinking behind #QuebecOriginal to promote the destination, with a hashtag that works as well in French or in English (or even in Spanish).

Brand-related… or not!

Here’s another trap we marketers tend to fall into: we always want to make it about us, with reference to our brand. Me, me, me, me! Of course, having a hashtag relating to the brand name should help enhance its awareness, but must we include the whole DMO or hotel name, for example? Not necessarily.

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 7.25.45 PM

Many destinations will infer their name subtly, like #AlwaysSF (in San Francisco) or #MTLmoments (in Montreal), but Marriott Hotels launched a successful campaign around the #TravelBrilliantly hashtag, and continues to spread it across its various social accounts.

Think offline

Even if you came up with the best, most intuitive and easy to remember hashtag, not everybody thinks the same way online or offline, in particular across different cultures and languages. It is therefore important to help travelers discover and use your hashtag, rather than leaving them on their own.

mtlmoments

This can mean including your campaign hashtag on destination brochures, at the reception desk, in the elevator or on table tents, on interactive walls during festivals and events or even at photographic hot spots across town. This is what Tourisme Montréal has been doing since 2013 with its #MTLmoments initiative, placing red frames across the city in popular spots, now boasting more than 200,000 media tagged on Instagram alone!

Research

Before launching a campaign and placing all your bets on what seems like a winning hashtag, please do some research to see if your stroke of genius did not occur already in the past. Perhaps many times, and by many users… and sometimes in a context that could be harmful to your brand!

How do you know if a hashtag is already being used? Simply try it in the search box in Twitter or on Instagram and see what comes up? There are more sophisticated tools that can allow you to go back in time to see mentions around a keyword, but a simple search usually will do the trick.

Short & Simple

This is a rule of thumb that remains valid across pretty much all social networks, but even more so when it comes to hashtags. Less is more, folks. Some scientific (ahem!) research published on AdWeek in 2014 said the ideal length of hashtag was 6 characters, but in my experience anywhere between 6 and 15 characters is a valid range. More than that, well, is just not user-friendly in particular on Twitter where we have that 140 characters limit, not to mention if you want to be retweeted.

Consistency

Last but not least, it can be tempting to come up with subtle variations according to seasons, or perhaps niche products or audiences, yet it usually pays to stick with a strong, consistent hashtag. Just like a brand should stick to a strong tagline or signature, travels brands ought to find the right hashtag and run with it consistently through time.

This doesn’t mean a destination won’t want to run individual campaigns with #restaurantweek or #operafestival for example, but ideally this will take place concurrently with the destination, hotel or attraction core hashtag as well.

What are some of your best (or worst) experiences with hashtags in the travel sphere?

TBEX NOTE:  Come see Frederic speak at TBEX North America 2015 in Ft. Lauderdale. His session title is:  Why Travel Brands Must Embrace Visual Storytelling.

Author bio:  Frederic Gonzalo is passionate about marketing and communications, with over 19 years of experience in the travel and tourism sphere. Early 2012, he launched Gonzo Marketing and works as a strategic marketing consultant, professional speaker and trainer in the use of new technologies (web, social media, mobile). He writes a regular column on etourism for TourismExpress and PAX News magazine, and collaborates to influential sites such as Social Media Today, Business2Community, Skift, Tnooz and ehotelier. He was ranked most influential blogger for etourism and travel in the province of Quebec (Canada) and among most influential bloggers for marketing & social media in Canada in both 2013 and 2014.

From 2008 to end of 2011, Frederic was Vice-President, Marketing at Groupe Le Massif. He spearheaded Marketing, Sales & Communications for Le Massif de Charlevoix development project, crafting the strategic planning to turn the ski hill of Le Massif into a year-round destination including on-hill accommodations, introducing a touring train between Quebec City and La Malbaie, and the opening of the hotel La Ferme in Baie-Saint-Paul (summer 2012).

Between 2005 and 2008, Frederic worked in the loyalty and relationship marketing fields, first at VIA Rail Canada where he was at the forefront of the VIA Preference Program for frequent train travelers. Then, with Fido Rewards, where he worked on the relaunch of this unique loyalty program in the Canadian telecom industry landscape.

From 1995 to 2005, Frederic worked at various levels of the hospitality and travel sector, including front line in various Club Med resorts (1995-1998), managing PR & Entertainment at the winter resort of Valle Nevado, Chile (1996-97), sales agent at inbound tour operator Receptour Canada (1999), Sales representative for international markets at Tremblant (1999-2000) and finally managing international market development for VIA Rail Canada (2000-2005).

5 Tips to Winning That Freelance Contract

_hawaii_bound_January_14__2014_at_0227PM

Money. It’s hard to travel without it, but it can be difficult to find a steady income while you’re traveling. One way for travel bloggers to earn extra income is to become a contracted freelancer.

When you freelance, you create content for other websites. It may be through articles and blog posts, images, videos, podcasts= virtually any form of new media is needed in today’s market. But how do you turn a one-time freelance gig into a regular contract? As a company that publishes a daily travel blog, we have a few tips.

Use proper language, grammar, and punctuation.

This can’t be stressed enough. When we receive a blog post, it should need minimal editing. Have someone review your posts before you submit them – a critical step especially if English is not your first language. Find out if the company follows a specific style guide and use it.

Keep the company’s tone and voice.

Unless otherwise instructed, keep to the tone and voice already used on the website. We like to work with bloggers who can provide their unique insights into travel without straying too far from the style already established on our blog. Whether you are ghost-writing or posting as yourself, it’s important for the company’s blog to seem reasonably constant from day to day.

Be consistent. 

As managers of a corporate travel blog, we like reliable bloggers: The ones who use standard writing styles, are regularly available, and – most importantly – are constantly on time. If you have a deadline, stick to it. If for some reason you can’t meet the deadline or are going to be unavailable for a while (you’re traveling and don’t have good internet access), find a way to let the company know or submit the post before you leave.

Be aware of your reputation.

If your name is associated with a blog post on our company’s blog, you’re a representative of our company – even, to some extent, on your personal travel blog. If we refer traffic to your website or your social media accounts, it becomes a reflection upon us. We want to maintain a professional image and hope that our bloggers will too.

Share!

We ask our bloggers to share their RoamRight posts on their social media channels. Our favorite bloggers will share on multiple different platforms and even link from their blog to one of their posts on our blog. Likewise, we make an effort to share our blogger’s content on our channels, when possible and when appropriate.

So how do you develop a relationship with a company?

If you already have an existing relationship with a company and would like to turn it into a contracted position, ask! They may not have considered it yet. Or, ask about extending your existing relationship. Have you only been writing for them but also have great images they could use? Or, do you create videos? Let them know your skill set and ask if there’s room for you to grow in your partnership.

If you’re trying to get that initial project with a company, take a step and develop a relationship first. Before you try to pitch them using the “contact us” form on their website, take the time to interact with them on social media, show that you understand their business and their audience, and even meet with them at events like TBEX!

TBEX sponsor RoamRight offers travel insurance plans for leisure, business, student, and group travelers traveling within the U.S. or internationally. Their insurance is underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, a market-leading specialty insurer with an A.M. Best financial strength rating of A+ (superior). Their staff and customer service representatives are travel insurance specialists who offer customers expert information about trip cancellation and travel medical insurance coverage options.

 

How to Use a Shot List to Tell the Complete Story of a Place

The very idea of capturing a quality set of images that truly represents a destination can be an overwhelming thought, especially when that place is a large city, like Havana, or a country, like Cambodia, or a region of the world, such as Tuscany or Patagonia.

By being on the lookout for a variety of images based on a well thought out “shot list,” any traveler can be sure to minimize the chances of creating an uninspiring slideshow for the folks back home.  There’s nothing that will put your viewers to sleep faster than 300 slides of nothing but monuments, or plates of food, or even the most beautiful landscapes.

The trick is to mix it up and keep your audience’s attention from start to finish by providing a sampling of each of the characteristic parts that make up the whole of the destination you’re photographing (also referred to as its “essence”).  Look at just about any travel magazine article and you’ll see that the photo editor will invariably have this in mind when choosing the images to accompany the text.

What is a Shot List?

A shot list is a list of the types of images for which you should be on the lookout.  This is a concept that’s been around since the dawn of photography, and some people simply use a piece of paper and pen, a spreadsheet or a notes app.

There’s something I like to call my “Zen of Photography,” and in it I say:

Seventy-five percent of successful photography is simply making an effort to put yourself in the right place, at the right time.

If you’ll just do that, the vast majority of the work is done, it really is this simple.

Get Yourself Organized

A shot list provides a framework that will put you head and shoulders above the unorganized photographer who’s just out to shoot whatever he or she may stumble upon.  After all, there’s an old saying: “Even a blind mouse finds a hunk of cheese once in a while.”

Spontaneous photo opportunities will certainly present themselves along the way, and you’ll definitely want to be ready to capitalize on them, but be ahead of the game by putting a plan in place, especially if your time in a destination is limited.  This pre-planning doesn’t take much effort and will surely pay dividends down the road when you’re on location.

Have a Goal in Mind

Often, shooting some categories, such as People or Street Scenes, is going to be easier to accomplish than others, for instance Establishing Shots or Night Scenes.  However, if you strive for a select number of keeper images from each of the categories on your list (5 is a good goal, but harder than you might think), you’ll have the basis for a dynamic presentation that your friends and family will be asking you to see, not the other way around.

The best way to improve your photography is to spend money on travel, not more gear.

Categories of a Shot List

The following is an abbreviated list of shots that will help you to thoroughly cover a city, region or even a whole country, and so allow you to stay focused and organized, in turn making the most efficient use of your time.  I’ve come up with over 80 categories of a shot list, and there are 52 in the app I created called My Shot Lists for Travel (free on iTunes), but surely there must be hundreds of other categories.  It’s important to note, too, that one image can represent many different categories.

Establishing Shots

In order to get an overall view of the place, seek out opportunities that will get you to the highest point in the city or place in which you’ll be traveling, whether it involves hiking, taking a cable car or employing a Sherpa or other local.  I always make an effort to venture up in the highest building or monument offering a public space from which to shoot, or I might try to talk my way into a private place with an interesting vista.

An Establishing Shot should give your viewer an overall sense of the place you’re representing with your photography and provides the perfect set up for the rest of the story you’re telling.

Establishing Shots - Dubrovnik from Above at Blue Hour - Dubrovnik, Croatia

Establishing Shots – Dubrovnik from Above at Blue Hour – Dubrovnik, Croatia

People

Few categories on your shot list will sum up a place more than its people.  My experience with photographing people around the world is that it’s a very cultural thing, where some cultures have little or no interest in being photographed, while others will actually seek me out to take their pictures.

People - Smiley Lady in Rice Paddy - Near Can Tho, Vietnam - Copyright 2014 Ralph Velasco

People – Smiley Lady in Rice Paddy – Near Can Tho, Vietnam

Natural Wonders

Most of us love to get to the wild places, such as national parks and other locations where Mother Nature’s work is on full display, so it’s easy to be on the lookout for the natural wonders of any destination.   However, instead of just taking the postcard shots, be sure to photograph the same scene in wide, medium and detail versions, as well, to really give yourself a chance at telling the complete story.

Natural Wonders - From Behind Seljalandsfoss - L - South Coast, Iceland - Copyright 2014 Ralph Velasco

Natural Wonders – From Behind Seljalandsfoss – L – South Coast, Iceland

Architecture

In many places, the architectural style of the buildings will immediately tell the viewer where you are shooting.  While attempting to capture a whole building in a unique way, at the same time be sure to hone in on the details.  The roofline, windowsills, balconies and architectural moldings are important, too, so they most certainly should be a part of it.

Architecture - Punakha Dzong and Bridge Over River - Punakha, Bhutan - Copyright 2013 Ralph Velasco

Architecture – Punakha Dzong and Bridge Over River – Punakha, Bhutan

Markets and Vendors

Because of the colors, textures and variety of shapes of both the products being sold and the people that abound at most local markets, they’re one of the first places I seek out when traveling.  It’s at these markets that you’ll capture the locals buying their daily provisions, and it’s here that the often weathered and experienced vendors become the subject, along with their wares.  If you seek them out, and your research should have provided insight as to where the best markets are located, wandering specific areas will provide a great opportunity to capture some candid shots of the merchants and their clientele.

Markets and Vendors - Man and Colorful Market Stall Display - Casablanca, Morocco - Copyright 2014 Ralph Velasco

Markets and Vendors – Man and Colorful Market Stall Display – Casablanca, Morocco

Street Scenes

Look for distinctive design elements or surroundings that will provide an interesting backdrop for your photography.  If you come across a colorful wall, an ornate mural, or some interesting graffiti that adds to the story, be prepared with your camera and wait until your subject walks into the frame (or simply sits there, as in this image) to provide what I like to call a “human touch.”  After a while you’ll blend into the scene as you capture these unique moments.  Like a spider waiting for its prey, let a variety of subjects come to you and then be ready fire away (do some focus and exposure testing beforehand).

Street Scenes - Man Sitting with Cuba Libre Sign in Havana, Cuba - Copyright 2013 Ralph Velasco

Street Scenes – Man Sitting with Cuba Libre Sign in Havana, Cuba

Storytelling Close-Ups and Detail Shots

When I show my images of well thought out close-ups and shots of the specific details of a place, it’s often then that I’ll get the most positive comments that we all as photographers seek. Get in close and let the details reveal themselves. I know from experience that the keepers you get in this category will be some of the most gratifying images you’ll capture.

Storytelling Closeups and Details - Lady's Hands Making Medicine - Silk Island, Cambodia - Copyright 2013 Ralph Velasco

Storytelling Closeups and Details – Lady’s Hands Making Medicine – Silk Island, Cambodia

Conclusion

The above sampling is not a comprehensive list of shots by any means, but only a starting point.  Feel free to add or eliminate categories as you see fit, or as the location dictates.  Again, your goal should be to capture a minimum of 5 solid “keepers” (10 is even better) in each of the relevant categories for the particular place you’re photographing.  Accomplishing this goal will almost certainly guarantee that you come back with a well-rounded portfolio of images of which you can be proud.

Remember, photography is an art and there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to being creative, and besides, as they say, rules are made to be broken.  If you push the creative envelope by stretching your photographic skills each and every time you travel, great results are sure to happen and your photography can’t help but improve.

Remember, you can’t get worse at photography…now get out and shoot!

Photo credits:  ©Ralph Velasco. Used with permission.

Author Bio:  Ralph Velasco is a U.S.-based photography instructor and international guide. His current eBook is titled Essence of a Place: A Travel Photographer’s Guide to Using a Shot List for Capturing Any Destination, and in it he discusses more in depth the concept of working from a shot list in order to create a well-rounded portfolio of images that tells a complete story.  In his first book, Ralph Velasco On Travel Photography: 101 Tips for Developing Your Photographic Eye & More, he outlines a variety of photography and travel tips and tricks he’s learned from the road, as well as provides over 100 sample images and interesting quotes.

As creator of the recently updated My Shot Lists for Travel app for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch® (free on iTunes), Ralph has taken the age-old concept of maintaining a shot list and brought it into the 21st century.  Designed to help all travelers to bring back a more well-rounded set of images from any destination, the app is a powerful organizational tool, no matter the user’s photography skills or type of camera used.

Ralph has taught travel photography classes at the University of California at Irvine Extension Program, Saddleback College, Santa Ana College, Julia Dean Photography Workshops and the REI Outdoor School, among others.  He’s a regular speaker at the Travel & Adventure Shows and the Orange County Fair.

Connect with Ralph on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram, and subscribe to his blog at RalphVelasco.com.

How to Rock TBEX and Walk Away with New Friends & Business Partners

Speed Dating floor at TBEX in Toronto

Speed Networking floor at TBEX in Toronto

Whenever I’m on the road and meeting a travel blogger who is just starting out or wondering how to take their blog to the next level, I always recommend they come to TBEX – and not just for the sessions.

For TBEX, like many other successful conferences out there, one of the things that keeps people coming back year after year after year is the opportunity to mingle with people in the same profession, trade ideas, and form relationships (a.k.a networking).

At a conference for solopreneurs I attended earlier this year (past TBEX keynoter Chris Guillebeau’s Pioneer Nation), one of the most highly tweeted and repeated main stage talks focused on how the hottest new online business training website came from a relationship struck up at a conference over a mutual love of the esoteric Italian amaro Fernet Branca.

While the speaker, Chase Reeves, happened to be in the right random place at the right random time, the truth is that you can make your TBEX experience jam packed with these business-changing, core relationship-building moments with some advance preparation.

Every successful business, whether a blogging couple team or a multi-national corporation, has someone in charge of “business development,” which, at its core, is building relationships your business needs to grow and thrive through networking. But the difference between the multi-nationals and most bloggers is the amount of advance thought and research that goes into those relationship-building moments.

So whether you’re still at home packing or you’re already building relationships with fellow bloggers with sunset drinks on Santorini or bumpy car rides in Crete, here are 5 ways to walk away from TBEX not just with some new friends and contacts, but the ones you want and need to grow your blog or business.

BloggerBridge Part 1: Let Your Profile Reflect You

Have you set up your BloggerBridge profile already? If not, now is the time. If you have, it’s time to take another look.

Your profile is a static image of both you and your work, but that doesn’t mean it should just be a third person description! It’s the first opportunity people have to understand your personality, and, in the case of bloggers looking for work, your writing style.

Above all, one of the most important things it should do is tell others why you are at TBEX and what you’re looking for. This tweak alone can bring in tons of business opportunities.

After you explain what you’re all about, include:

  • whether you are looking for new destinations to travel to or information on travels you have coming up. BloggerBridge has a way for you to include these as well.
  • if you are available for contract social media, photography, or blogging work, and if so, what type you are looking for.
  • if you are a company, what you are looking to get out of TBEX and speed dating in particular, so bloggers know if they should approach you and about what.

BloggerBridge Part 2: Find the People You Need to Meet

While many have long used BloggerBridge just to set up speed networking appointments, it’s capable of so much more. I won’t recap the excellent recent sessions on how to go about performing searches, but it’s something that you should set aside 10 minutes or an hour (or honestly as much time as you can spare!) to do before TBEX so you know who is going to be there that you want to get to know.

For experienced bloggers:

  • Search by country to find company representatives from or bloggers who specialize in places you plan to visit soon and send them a message. Ask bloggers who have visited both what they recommend and if there is anyone on the ground you should definitely be in touch with.

For new bloggers:

  • Search for other bloggers with a similar focus as you (whether a country or a type of travel like ecotravel or family travel) and use the number of years blogging feature to find someone just a couple years ahead of you. Check out their site, and if they seem like a good match, ask if you can interview them about their experience for your website or just grab a coffee or drink and chat about how they got to where they are today.

For companies:

  • Don’t wait for good bloggers to come to you. Many bloggers who would make great guests or regularly contributors to your site are extremely busy and not able to take the time to seek you out. Search for bloggers who specialize in your area and reach out and ask if they are available for a trip or some blogging work.

You can also look up people you see tweeting on the #TBEX hashtags through BloggerBridge and send them a direct email.

Research Your Speed Networking Partners

After years of speed networking at both TBEX and ITB Berlin, where TBEX also organized a blogger speed networking event, the biggest factor that I’ve seen affecting how useful the event is for both companies and bloggers is how much homework they do beforehand. Here are my recommendations: 

  1. Look up each of the people you’re going to meet on BloggerBridge, and from their profile, decide what you want to discuss with them and what your goal for the meeting is.
  2. Take the time to make a small one-page sheet or PDF you can show on your phone about what you can offer as a blogger (including relevant stats) or company to the people you’re going to meet. Give it to the other party to look at when they first sit down.
  3. When you arrive, first ask the other party what they are looking for, so you can fit that into your goal for the meeting and make the most of your short minutes.
  4. Leave the meeting with a specific agreement, whether it’s to send more information about something or work out appropriate dates for a trip.

Maximize Your One-on-One Time During

It’s always a pleasure to use TBEX as one-stop shopping to catch up with travel friends that you don’t often see, but there are several parts of TBEX that are particularly great for cultivating new connections:

  • short pre-BEX tours
  • lunches at TBEX
  • evening events and parties
  • long post-BEX trips

Looking at the TBEX schedule is dizzying, and if you’re not spending time in Greece before or after the event, it can be hard to figure out times to meet all these people you’ve identified on BloggerBridge to connect with. Use seated times like tour bus rides and meals for one-on-one chats during.

When you’re looking for people to connect with on BloggerBridge, ask if you can chat over lunch, or chat up people who attended the same pre-lunch session as you who asked interesting questions or who are on your “to meet” list after the Q&A so you naturally walk to lunch together. This works just as well for the walks to a bus on a pre- or post-BEX trip.

If you’re in town after TBEX and not on a post-BEX event, organize a dinner out or at your apartment if you have one with some great people you met. Tell them to bring friends. You can have more face time with them and other people you didn’t get a chance to meet during the event.

The Devil is in the Follow Up

There are several great posts here on the TBEX blog about follow up, but the most important thing is this: do it quickly.

In the short days of TBEX, we all meet so many people that no matter how great the conversation, it’s easy to fall off someone’s radar. To keep that from happening:

  1. In the time between speed dating and the evening event, write quick emails to all of your speed dating partners for the day, thanking them again for their time, reiterating what you discussed and rearticulating the next steps.
  2. When you get home, tweet at people you spent time with during the day, or email if you had a really great connection.
  3. In the week after TBEX (since the post-BEX trips make it hard for many to do it right away), go through all your business cards and add people on Twitter and LinkedIn, with a note with your LI invitation on how nice it was to meet them and any follow up about a future meeting or work opportunity.

Author Bio: Gabi Logan is a travel journalist and blogger who specializes in blogging/ghostblogging, content management and social media management for travel companies and destinations. She also coaches travel writers and freelancers of all stripes.

 

The #1 Thing Every Travel Blogger Should Be Doing on Twitter

 

There are a number of things bloggers should be doing to showcase themselves and their blogs on Twitter. Here are three of the most important:

  1. Have a Clear Profile Picture: People want to see what you look like, especially if you’re providing travel advice or if a DMO or brand is potentially interested in working with you. It’s also much easier to relate to a photo than it is to an icon, or the dreaded egg symbol which displays when someone doesn’t upload a profile picture.
  2. Stunning Header and Background Photos: This is an excellent opportunity to highlight your photography skills and these are areas that someone sees every time they click on your profile.
  3. Bio That Reflects Your Writing Style: Whether it be humorous, factual or poetic, your bio makes it easy for people to see whether they want to connect with you and for DMOs and brands to quickly analyze whether you might be a potential fit.

But there’s also another thing that very few people are doing on Twitter. Not only is it a missed opportunity, it can be done in a matter of seconds.

A Pinned Tweet

 

pinned tweet example

A pinned tweet is a tweet that stays at the top of your Twitter feed. It will be the first tweet that everyone who clicks on your tweets will see. It’s a great opportunity to expand upon your bio and brand yourself.

You can take an existing tweet and pin it as shown below:

 

pinned tweet how to

Or even better, you can craft a new tweet that reflects why someone would want to follow you and what type of tweets they can expect from you. It’s worth including a photo as well since tweets with photos receive five times (source) more engagement than text only tweets.

A pinned tweet allows you to show what type of impression you want to make, without leaving it up to chance, where your most recent tweet is shown, which may not even be to your content, but a retweet of someone else’s content.

Unlike pinned posts on Facebook, pinned posts on Twitter stay until you change them, and it’s worth changing them regularly to keep your Twitter feed looking fresh.

This one simple, easy step is one you can’t afford not to take!

Join Laurel at TBEX Athens for more tips when she speaks on Twitter Tips for Advanced Users on Saturday, October 25th at 10:45.

Author bio: Laurel is an award-winning travel blogger at MonkeysandMountains.com, named after two of the things she loves most. She’s also Chief Conversation Starter at Monkeys and Mountains Media, which provides the travel industry with solutions to getting the most from Twitter in the minimal amount of time.

10 Reasons Instagram Should be a Major Part of your Social Media Strategy

 

colmhanratty-tbex-guestpost-main-imageWith so many social networks out there these days (who’s already got an Ello profile?), it’s hard being active on all of them. Twitter and Facebook are the two obvious ones, but then there are many more to choose from between Vine, Pinterest, YouTube and others. But the one other channel that you should make sure you’re active on if you’re online and in the travel space is Instagram. Here are 10 reasons why:

1. It’s quick

I love Instagram for many reasons. One of them is that it’s quick. Once you’ve something to take a photo of, or if you have a bank of images you can upload, you can have a presence on the world’s number one mobile-specific social network by using just ten minutes a day of your time.

2. It’s engaging

Because Instagram is all about images, it’s rich, engaging content. This means users can really get a taste of your coffee, food, office, daily routine, current destination, past destination via a #latergram or more.

3. Your followers don’t need to devote too much time to engage with your photos

Do you know why the most talked about and increasingly popular social networks over the last two years have been Pinterest and Instagram? It’s because people don’t have the time to commit to reading a blog post, listening to a podcast or watching a video. But present a photo to them and they can spare those five seconds to engage with it or not. Instagram isn’t just quick for you – it’s quick for your audience too.

4. It makes your photos look cool

I’ve been a budding photographer for years, but I’ve never sat down at my computer and touched up my images using Lightroom or Photobox. Now, because of Instagram, I don’t have to. Adding a tilt shift effect here and a Lo-Fi filter there means it’s touched up within seconds, resulting in my photos looking that little bit sharper. Here’s an example:

colmhanratty-instagram-example

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5. Growing your following organically is easier than on other social networks

A phrase that has been doing the rounds in social media circles for a while now is ‘the free ride is over’. Anybody who has been using social networks such as Facebook and Twitter knows that growing your following and having wider reach organically is harder than ever before. Since Instagram hasn’t introduced an advertising model yet, this isn’t the case. Upload quality photos regularly, laden them with hashtags and you’ll see that follower count growing slowly but surely.

6. Instagram can generate content for other social networks

How many times have you come across posts like ‘Dublin, as seen by Instagram’ on travel blogs? Or Pinterest boards titled ‘My Instagram photos from around the world’? Without Instagram, this content wouldn’t exist. Regularly share photos on Instagram and you’ll regularly generate content for other social channels.

7. Instagram’s Hyperlapse app

This app caused a bit of controversy among videographers when it was first released because videos created on Hyperlapse might not really be hyperlapses – they’re simply timelapses. My answer to that is ‘so what?’ If there’s an app that makes my walk down a street of a city look cool, by way of a timelapse video or otherwise, I’m all for it. Here’s one I shot of my hometown recently:

8. It’s fun

Taking a photo of a landmark, colleague, new product or cup of coffee, adding a filter to it and coming up with a catchy narrative to go with it is a lot more fun that writing a thousand word post on anything. Instagram shouldn’t be seen as marketing your brand or your blog – it should be seen as a fun thing to do that happens to also be marketing your brand or blog.

9. It’s all about mobile

Once you have a smartphone with a half-decent camera and a sense of what type of imagery you want to share, and once your followers have a phone that has Instagram installed, you’ve got yourself presence on this platform. It’s that simple.

10. You can produce videos as well as photos

Almost exactly six months after Twitter released Vine, Instagram introduced video. Different to Hyperlapse, Instagram’s videos are free-flowing video footage that can last up to 15 seconds. Similar to Vine videos, they can be an amalgamation of a series of shots while still giving you functionality such as filters and auto enhance. One app; two types of content (three including Hyperlapse).

Author bio: Colm Hanratty has been in the online travel space for over 13 years. He first got involved when he made a personal website about backpacking around Australia in 2001 before working in Hostelworld.com for almost 11 years. Today he runs digital marketing consultancy sixtwo digital, continuing to work with travel brands that collaborate with travel bloggers. He’ll be speaking on Friday at 12 noon in the Commerce track on outlining a 12 month plan to building better blogger relationships.

Travel Video: Equipment Recommendations for Travel Bloggers

The vast world of travel video is a rapidly growing industry. It used to be that if you wanted to record video you’d need a heavy VHS camcorder and a great deal of upper body strength. Today, you have more recording options than countries to explore and each branch has become specific to varying skill sets and needs. Here’s a quick rundown on what to consider if you want to get into travel video and are wondering where to start.

Captain and ClarkOne of the biggest things we’ve learned about travel video is that good audio is key. The average viewer will gladly suffer through ten minutes of blurry nonsense if it has solid audio, whereas they will click away in under a couple of seconds if they can’t hear what’s going on. The first big purchase for our travel video kit was the Rode II shotgun mic. This super versatile mic sits right on top of our camera and is powered by a single 9 volt battery. It cuts down the rumble of wind, picks up subjects from over 30 yards away, and gives a strong clear sound to our videos. Many video bloggers swear by wireless lavalier “lav” (lapel microphone) mics as well. The trade off is that occasionally the lav signal can interfere with any other sound equipment (only important if you’re filming something like a set of a big shows like in Vegas) and they require you to attach the microphone to your subject. The shotgun mic is simply point and shoot.

When it comes to cameras, the first thing to consider is what your travel style is like. Are you active with emphasis on extreme sports or water activities? Are you always on the move and need a quick way to capture the organic moments? Perhaps you like to plan ahead and have a set itinerary. Maybe you want more control over your videos? In our experience, the most common families of video device can be separated into four categories: sport, DSLR, camcorder, and phone.

For the Active Traveler:

Our recommendation – GoPro HERO Black or Nikon COOLPIX AW110

The most common and obvious choice for sport recording is the GoPro. A GoPro kit will retail between $400 to $600, depending on setup and add ons. This versatile camera has more gizmos and customization options than any other comparable camera in its class. We know some video bloggers who only use a GoPro to fuel their YouTube channels. These devices are compact, waterproof, rugged, and can attach to aerial drones. The trade off is quality and versatility in image. No matter how HD a camera claims to be, image quality will always boil down to sensor size and controls. A GoPro can take you really far in life for a modest sum. However, it’s true proving ground is in sunny, outdoor, and fast paced moments.

For the Renaissance Traveler:

Our recommendation – Canon EOS Rebel T4i or Canon 5D Mark III

If you want a camera that allows you control of every aspect, a DSLR might be for you. The beauty of the DSLR is in its large sensor size and myriad of controls. From manual focus to adjustable FPS (frames per second) and aperture, the sky is the limit with a DSLR.

DSLRs have the added charm of being more low profile. It’s significantly harder to tell if someone if filming with a DSLR than when they pull out a large camcorder. This has the nice touch of putting subjects as ease for interviews or even drawing attention away from zealous border guards and sensitive security areas.

A DSLR doubles as a great camera and can allow for a lot of customization. For any blogger whose travel style is constantly changing, this is a great option. The trade off is that is a big investment. A solid DSLR camera runs upwards of $2000 for a good body and lens. The great news is that you can later play with different lenses, adding great breadth to your video quality. The learning curve is also pretty steep. Unless you’re already familiar with ISO and FPS settings it can take some time to really get to know your DSLR and how to film with it. The pay off is well worth it though.

For the Solo Traveler:

Our recommendation – Canon Vixia HF G20 or Canon Vixia HF R50

One of the best parts of a point-and-shoot camcorder is that it is so simple to use. Our first camera was a Canon Vixia HV30. It retailed for $400 and all we had to do was turn it on. For any solo travelers, a camcorder is a sweet option as it offers to bear the brunt of the work load. DSLRs are amazing, but they require someone to man the helm in order to keep focusing and changing the lighting. If you prefer to film yourself with arm outstretched or by setting the camera on a ledge and jumping in the frame, it can be hard to argue with such an easy camera. The trade off comes in control. If you really want to add that artistic edge in your storytelling or to master the illusive bokeh effect (subject in focus with the background all blurry) then you’re fairly limited. Most high-end camcorders run between $500 to $1500 depending on what you want and offer a range of high quality footage.

For the Quick Draw Traveler:

Our recommendation – The iPhone 5s

If you are wanting to dip your toe into travel video and aren’t ready to drop the cash on a huge equipment run, you’re in luck. The cameras on most smart phones now record at a better quality than most of the cameras I first started using eight years ago. The ease and versatility of an iPhone is really incredible. While you won’t get the crisp image of a camera with a larger sensor, it doesn’t really matter for most videos. The majority of travel videos are watched on a cropped YouTube screen anyhow so quality doesn’t start to betray you until your videos get blown up to full screen. You can get away with a lot by using some cool visual tricks too. The iPhone now records at 120 frames per second, lending itself to some super smooth slow motion video. Not to mention the slick autofocus and slim size allow you to get some amazing panning shots and impromptu videos.

Over all, the most important parts of video are really in finding your own personal style of storytelling. Are your videos going to focus more on capturing large sensor, high HD images? Or will you highlight your personal narrative and storytelling? Once you can identify what works for you it is much easier to determine the right equipment for your style.

Author Bio:  Chris Staudinger and Tawny Clark, better known in the travel blogging community as Captain and Clark. Tawny Clark and Chris Staudinger met on the summit of Kilimanjaro, courted in South Korea, got engaged at the Taj Mahal, and most recently were married at a Bavarian theme town in their home state of Washington. Their passions are travel, adventure, and storytelling. It’s their goal to inspire, excited, and encourage others to get out and explore this beautiful world. Video will be one of the things they talk about in the TBEX Athens Saturday morning keynote with Paula Froelich.