2023 IFWTWA Conference Workshop & Speakers


Positioning Yourself For The Work You Want

In this keynote, Meena Thiruvengadam will help writers think strategically about their personal brands. She’ll explain why every writer should maintain an online portfolio, what should be included in that portfolio, which social platforms offer the best ROI and how to generate assignments from social media—even without a huge following. Attendees will leave with a stronger elevator pitch, a blueprint for marketing themselves for the projects they want and a list of tools and resources.

Meena Thiruvengadam of Travels with Meena

Meena Thiruvengadam is a lifelong traveler with nearly two decades of experience in journalism. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of TravelwithMeena.com and a contributor to publications including Travel+Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, Fodor’s Travel, Business Traveller and the Washington Post. Meena has worked on staff as an editor and newsroom leader for companies including Bloomberg, Business Insider and Yahoo. She has worked in local news, financial news, audience development and travel media, repositioning herself and her digital presence for each pivot. Along the way, she has visited more than 60 countries, 47 U.S. states, and six continents.

Workshop A

Building a Social Media Strategy beyond Instagram - What Platforms Benefit Travel Writers the Most and Why.

There are so many social media platforms that it’s hard to keep up. The good news is that you don’t need to be on them all. We will review the big ones: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and TikTok. You’ll learn the pros and cons of each platform and why you don’t need to be on every single one. You’ll also learn tips on how to combat social media overwhelm and fatigue, including advice on how to batch your work and how to quickly resize assets to share across multiple platforms in no time at all. After this session, you will leave with the framework and knowledge needed to create your own Social Media Strategy.

Kat Anderson

Kathryn is a travel and wellness expert who runs an award-winning travel blog as well as contributes to a variety of publications as a freelance writer. This former Marketing Manager loves sharing her knowledge of how to utilize social media to promote travel and tourism. Her services range from blog and social media audits for writers, to Wellness Travel Planning calls for clients who are looking for guidance on how to travel in a healthier way. Follow her adventures on Instagram and her travel blog Coffee and Mascara.

Workshop B

Photography for Travel Writers – How To Get More Than Just A Shot In The Dark!

Travel writers also need images to make their writing standout. Key takeaways from How to Get More Than Just a Shot in the Dark:

Key Takeaways

  • Don’t miss a shot with the “handy” checklist
  • Creating Storytelling images
  • Set it and Forget it
  • The Importance of the Digital Workflow
  • Shooting and processing RAW images
  • Optical vs Digital Zoom
  • Perspective and Horizon Line
  • Post-processing Techniques on Smartphones and Computers
  • The Importance of Backup
Julie Diebolt Price

Julie Diebolt Price is a professional photographer, educator, author, and travel writer. She helps solo entrepreneurs establish companies with imagery and business training. She educates and mentors aspiring photographers. As a journalist who loves to travel, she creates memorable experiences and shares them with words and pictures. Learn more at PhotoTravelWrite.com.

Workshop C

Collaboration is the New Competition: Thriving Together in the 21st Century.

What could you possibly learn from a gal who wears cheese on her head? Maybe how she partnered with different people repeatedly to the point that she now makes 7 figures a year. If you want to know how you and your brand can work with others to elevate all involved to success that also has financial rewards, this session is for you.

Dannelle Gay is a Wisconsin native who has been writing about travel for over a decade under the moniker The Traveling Cheesehead. As a professional chef who had her own restaurant, she loves discovering different locations through their unique food. Now a best-selling published author, TV host, and owner of a gourmet coffee company, she continues to bring people along on her journey to the benefit of all involved. She may not take herself seriously, but she runs a serious business.

Dannelle Gay

Workshop D

Specific Skills Travel Writers Need for Videos That Will Delight Destinations

We all know how videos can enhance our stories and give readers a richer, more vivid picture of a destination. Scott will share videos and demonstrate specific examples of essential skills in making high quality videos that destinations will love!

Key Takeaways

  • Organizing and editing photos and clips to upload to video software
  • Movement of focus on stationary photos (zoom in and out)
  • Trimming and splitting video clips
  • Adjusting speed faster or slower
  • Adjusting volume
  • Titles and Transitions
  • Adding music and audio voice with voiceovers or AI automated voices
  • Posting to YouTube (or your choice of platform)
Scott Kendall
Scott Kendall is Editor of PlayStayEat.com as well as a freelance travel writer, photographer, and videographer based in The Woodlands, Texas. He has traveled extensively throughout the US and Europe, including several trips to Italy, Germany, Slovenia, Croatia, England, and France. In addition to writing for PlayStayEat, Scott has written for EuropeUpClose, Epicurean Traveler, Food Wine Travel Magazine, International Living, Miles Geek, Touring Bird, Travel and Talk, and other publications. His published work and videos can be seen at PlayStayEat.com and PlayStayEat YouTube channel, and he can be reached at scottkendalltravels@gmail.com. Scott is a member of SATW, IFWTWA, and TravMedia.

Workshop E

SEO: Simple is Sexy

People think SEO is a big, difficult thing to learn and undertake. Wrong! The basics are very simple, and anyone can do them. It doesn’t take a lot of time, and it also makes your articles and posts easier for your readers. Just a few tweaks and your articles will be better for your readers and for Google and other search engines.

Robin O’Neal Smith has been writing in one form or another for years. She began freelance travel writing in 2020 when the pandemic began. In the three and a half years she has been freelance travel writing, she has over 325 articles published, and at least 70 of them are on the first page of google. Many are in the #1 spot and have been selected by Google as the featured snippet.

Prior to travel writing, Robin was the Chief Information Officer for a school district and did ghost-writing on a part-time basis.

Robin O'Neal Smith

Workshop F

Crafting the Nonfiction Book Proposal for Travel Writers

In this practical discussion, Lori A. May will share industry standards for preparing a nonfiction book proposal for traditional publishers, along with tips on how to stand out to editors and maximize publisher appeal. Attendees will learn how to define their book’s ideal audience and come away with a practical work plan for pursuing book publication. This session offers a jumpstart how-to guide for those dreaming of writing a personal travel narrative or destination guide.
Writer Lori A May

Lori A. May is a year-round traveler and full-time writer with more than two decades of journalism and book publishing experience. She has authored six books with traditional publishers, and works as a freelance editorial consultant for publishers in Canada and the US. Lori has contributed to consumer publications ranging from Afar, The Atlantic, Business Insider, Cruise Critic, Hearst Newspapers, Time Out, Writers’ Digest, among others, and teaches in a nonfiction creative writing MFA program at The University of King’s College-Halifax.