Interview with Sean Keener, Co-Founder and CEO of BootsnAll Travel Blog
What sets an aspiring journalist apart from the rest?
That’s a great question, and one that in my opinion most writers and journalists don’t do. The Internet has commoditize everything. Anyone can be a writer. Go to wordpress.com press a button and bam!, you can write. And that perceived cost of content has come down too 15-20 years ago there were a lot more typical journalism jobs out there, as far as mainstream magazines and newspapers and as you’ve probably seen, their readership is going down. Anyone with a blog, if you pick the right topic and are the right sort of writer you could have a readership of millions. This just didn’t exist 15 years ago. So with that in mind, as a writer, or a content creator-everyone’s a content creator with these things. Snap a photo, do a video, it’s more about content creation, it’s not just writing. I see a lot of writers who come to us wanting to write these write-y, flowy pieces about this or that, but they’re not really thinking about who’s going to buy this, as a value proposition.
How do you come up with good content, and then pitch those ideas and bring them to fruition?
I think the biggest thing is to try and not be afraid to fail. Do whatever you want. We’re not limited by, I need to work for GE or the newspaper, with the Internet we aren’t limited. What are you interested? What could you become excellent at? What can you be the number one source in the world for? Stuff that you’re interested in, you’re more likely to become the expert on those issues.
Is it more marketable to have a specific niche topic, or to write about anything?
Take an internship somewhere that interests you. Money isn’t as important right now as the ability to learn. Being number one, or being known for something you’re sought after is worth more, and it’s probably more rewarding because you can dig deeper and be a subject matter expert. Tying what you’re interested in and passionate about and tying them into your resume and your skills, so you have something of value to essentially sell, whether it’s in the form of freelance, or you get hired, or you write books that people want to buy.
The time to travel is when you’re young. Save up 10, 20 grand and go. Take photos, learn more about the world, set a goal for yourself. What are some things you are interested in writing about?
That would be a fascinating blog, your lens for looking for reading, writing and taking video looking at healthcare. How are these people taking care of themselves ?What appears to be working? What doesn’t work? Why are these Russians drinking raw vodka every night and dying at 58? They eat and drink like crap. There might be a tribe somewhere that might not have modern health care, but they’re outliving everyone else.
How do you market what you’ve created? Where do you send it? How do you establish yourself?
There are a lot of lessons on the Internet that will teach you how to do that. I always say that in today’s world, the “How-to” is the easy part, it’s the what and the purpose that’s the hard part because so many people are not purpose driven, they’re doing it for the money or because they want followers, but that’s not the reason people follow someone, they do it because they mean something. Sometimes just going for it, you could build a plan, if you wanted to travel around the world, by the time you’re ready to go, you could have a plan and what you wanted to get out of it, and set up with free lance to earn some money. In terms of how you will market it. You don’t know what this is going to be. When you come back you’ll figure out what you learned, what you want it to be. Should I Market this on my own? I really want to work for someone else; I don’t really like journalism, whatever.
You probably have the answers in your head; you’re just trying to build the confidence to do this. I’m always going to say go travel when you’re done.
What makes a good pitch?
The number one thing is to understand the audience that you’re pitching to. So look at that website or magazine and look at what type of articles are they doing. Is my article I’m writing aligned with that? Is the idea aligned? That’s the number one. And that involves research and getting to know different publications.
Put an opinion out there that might not be popular. Don’t give an unpopular opinion just to give it, you have to believe it.