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  • Katrina Julia

World Wide Travel with Karen Warren of WorldWideWriter: Creator Series

Updated: Jun 15, 2020

Welcome to our series Creator’s & Traveler's Creations!

We are sharing highlights from transformation stories and how we are creating FIT Life Creation and the community. In this Creator series feature, we are featuring World Wide Travel with Karen Warren of WorldWideWriter.

Highlights of Story and Creations:

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to travel the world and to be a writer. Yet for many years my life was a cycle of commuting, working long hours and squeezing life into the weekends.

When I eventually remembered my early dreams I started to be more adventurous with my annual holidays, and I began scribbling stories during the morning train ride. But it wasn't enough…

Photo Credit Karen Warren

A different kind of achievement – at the end of The Ridgeway, an 87 mile walk

WorldWideWriter is Born

I'd already started a travel blog as a way to record my experiences. And I was writing my first novel, although it was progressing very slowly. This was at a time when there was a major restructuring at work, and my job was going to disappear. Something had to change, and rather than take an alternative role that I wasn't going to enjoy, I decided to push for an "exit package".

Three months later I had embarked on my new life as a full-time writer and frequent traveler. My travel website – WorldWideWriter – is now well established, and I am halfway through my second novel.

This life has taken me in unexpected directions. For instance, I have become known as a book reviewer (both fiction and non-fiction). I have become active in the Historical Novel Society and am helping to organize this year's UK conference. And I am always looking to sharpen my skills in all areas from photography to web development.

Karen Warren at Lincoln Castle, England

Your Brand

My travel brand is WorldWideWriter: this covers my website and all travel-related social media. I chose the name because my coverage is worldwide, but I also wanted to show that I am first and foremost a writer. I create all kinds of content – including video and photography – but the writing is at the center of everything I do.

As with all brands, WorldWideWriter has evolved over the years. At first, it was a personal account of my travels, but the focus has now shifted from myself to my readers. Although every post is based on my own experience (or the experience of guest posters) and contains a personal perspective, the emphasis is now on providing high-quality information for travelers.

My strapline is "information and inspiration for independent travellers". WorldWideWriter is known for giving people the information they need to create their own experiences, encouraging them to look beyond the guidebooks and the obvious tourist destinations. You won't find anything about beaches or extreme sports on my site: my readers are more interested in learning about a place, whether through history, food or local quirks.

I have a second – related – brand as a novelist and book reviewer. My author blog and social media were originally designed as a marketing vehicle for my novel (and future novels) and as a place to share my reviews of contemporary fiction. I am now known as a specialist in literary and historical fiction.

Biggest Success Factors

I used to think that writers were "other people", people who had been born with some special talent.

Karen Warren and her novel Shadow of the Dome

So my first success factor was the realization that a writer is a person who writes. I discovered that writing is a skill that can be learned and improved upon, that practice and determination are as important as innate ability.

When I first created my travel website I was excited to find that strangers were reading it and finding it useful. Even now, some years later, I am thrilled when a reader tells me I have helped with their travel planning or provided them with information they couldn't find elsewhere.

And then I finished my novel. Five years of research, planning and writing, and it was ready to launch upon the world. It took a while to find a publisher, but that was a part of the journey, a success in itself.

It isn't all about the money. I'm happy to see the income gradually rising, but that isn't the main impetus. Success is more likely if it is aligned with your personal goals and values.

Bahrain Fort – an example of how I like to write about less obvious destinations.

Your Challenges & How You Turned Pain into Purpose

My first challenge was to get WorldWideWriter onto a professional basis, to turn what was originally a hobby into a business. To do this I had to find ways of growing my readership, monetizing the site, and expanding my freelance writing.

All of this means focusing on the reader, delivering the information that they want. The challenge is to do this without compromising my integrity. The information I provide has to be honest and authentic, but it also has to be true to my brand. It has been a struggle, a challenge that I am still working on, but the end result is a synergy between my needs and intent and those of my audience.

My second challenge was the discovery that the publication of my novel was not the end of the journey, but the start of a new one. I now needed to make sure that people knew about the book, and I had to learn about marketing – fast!

This was where my transferrable skills came in handy: I used the knowledge I had built up from my travel writing to create a new author blog and social media accounts. Of course one challenge always leads to another and I had to decide what to include on the new website.

I had already been doing book reviews for the Historical Novel Society so it seemed logical to extend this activity and to include reviews in my new site, giving me the freedom to cover a wider range of books than before. So the challenge of marketing my novel took me to some new places…

My final challenge is one that will be familiar to everyone – the need to adapt to changing circumstances. As a travel writer I have had to watch the challenges to the travel industry – such as overtourism and the need for sustainability – and to ensure that my site deals with these in a responsible way.

At the time of writing the circumstance that is affecting all of us is the coronavirus lockdown, which is causing major problems for those whose business depends upon tourism. The challenge here is to find ways to help one another, to look for new ways of doing things, and to plan for the future.

Greenland - Photo Credit: Karen Warren

Greenland and the midnight sun – even after a lifetime of travel I can still be amazed!

Actionable Tips Along the Way

These are some of the things I have learned:

Identify what you want and plan to make it happen. Then make your plans real by talking about them.

Work on your plan all the time. For instance, if you want to be a writer, write every day (it doesn't matter what you write – you are still committing to your plan). Even if you can only spend 15 minutes a day, you are sharpening your skills and keeping the