Since joining the British Guild of Travel Writers, I’ve met some really great travel writers and bloggers. One of those is Stuart Forster, who is the talented writer and photographer behind Why Eye Photography and the food and travel blog Go Eat Do.
Stuart hails from the north east (like me) and with a background in photography and journalism, he’s had work published in some of the most prestigious national publications. I particularly like this piece he wrote for Nat Geo Traveller on a close encounter with a polar bear in Manitoba. Brave!
If you’re an established travel blogger or writer and you’d like to be featured in my guest blogger Q&As, do get in touch. And don’t forget to check out my past interviews with some top travel bloggers, including Jen Lowthrop, Becky Wiggins, Rebecca Hall and Melvin Boecher.
But for now, it’s over to you Stuart…
Guest Blogger Q&A | Stuart Forster, Go Eat Do
Tell us about yourself
In addition to creating content for Go Eat Do I undertake writing and photography commissions for magazines and newspapers. I trained as a photographer and have been a feature writer for more than a decade.
Why did you set up your blog?
I set up Go Eat Do because I wanted freedom to publish stories that I found interesting in a timely manner. Blogging can have an immediacy that print publications don’t. I enjoy being able to attend an exhibition or dine in a restaurant and see my review published within just a few hours.
I’d previously written for an online travel site that went bust, leaving fees unpaid. That was disappointing. I thought it would be beneficial to work for myself on my own site, so I signed up for a part-time college course on how to create a website. Doing that enabled me to establish a platform that’s given me a degree of freedom in my creative expression.
Tell me about your typical week…
Travel and food related work provides the mainstay of my income. In addition to publishing stories on Go Eat Do I write for an array of publications, both online and in print. I have written hotel reviews for The Telegraph’s Hotelegraph section and city guide features for The Independent. Occasionally, I also undertake copywriting work.
If I’m at home then I’ll be at my desk about 50 hours a week pitching, writing and editing photographs. I tend to travel, on average, one week of every month. If I am on the road then I need to maximise the use of the material I acquire, so after each trip my workload tends to peak.
What do you love most about blogging and travel writing?
I love being on the road, interacting with people, tasting local cuisines and discovering aspects of places that are new to me. Writing about those experiences is something I genuinely enjoy.
I find it rewarding when people send an email or leave a comment expressing how what I have posted inspires them.
If you look on Go Eat Do you’ll find a post about snake catching in Bangalore, India. An expat living there read that post after finding a cobra in his garden. He got in contact for the snake catcher’s details. Later he thanked me because his children had been playing in the garden and Babu, the snake catcher, removed the potentially dangerous cobra. It’s interesting to think that a travel blog can have a positive effect on lives years after the post is created!
What do you think is the key to a successful blog?
I’d like to think that a sleek design, well-written content and posting regularly help contribute to the success of a blog. I think it’s important that the blog reflects the blogger’s own interests and passion for the things that they do. It has to convey their individual take on the world.
Compared to many bloggers I’m perhaps guilty of being a tad impersonal; I guess I don’t really want to be the centre of attention. I see myself as a vehicle to telling the stories that appear on Go Eat Do rather than their focus. I realise that some successful blogs convey a lot more about the blogger.
What kind of content can readers expect from Go Eat Do?
Posts reflect my experiences while underway so are varied. They range from stories about encounters with wildlife, visits to tourist attractions to restaurant reviews. I want to provide contact that inspires people to travel. My series called ‘With a Local’ provides insider tips to destinations, based on an interview with somebody who lives in a place.
Tell us something about yourself that people may not know
I was the winner of the 2017 British Annual Canada Travel Award for best online content. That’s up there as one of the highlights of my career. So too is retaining the Journalist of the Year award at the Holland Press Awards in 2016, a feat that nobody else has achieved.
What’s been the best trip or experience that you’ve written about?
It’s tough to pick just one. Being on the tundra in Manitoba, Canada, and having a polar bear walk within 10 metres of where I was standing is definitely a contender. That was exhilarating.
Coming face-to-face with a mountain gorilla in Volcanoes National Park, Rwanda, is also up there in terms of memorable travel experiences. My heart was thumping!
What are your 3 favourite travel blogs?
What’s in store for Go Eat Do over the next few months?
I’m looking forward to new adventures on the road. I already have plans to travel to Toronto and Ontario in Canada in the springtime.
I’m keen to develop my skills. I’d love to learn how to film and edit video footage effectively. Despite having a background in photography, I have never learnt how to create videos. I’m keen to do that. If anyone has useful tips then I’d welcome them, I don’t know where to start!
Like many bloggers, I’m keen to monetise my site more effectively and I’m keen to write more sponsored posts. I recently removed the advertising that was on Go Eat Do, as it was detracting from the aesthetics of my posts, so I’m looking for replacements.
Ultimately, I want to continue posting quality content regularly and to expand the readership of Go Eat Do.
All images provided by Stuart Forster
If you’re a travel writer or established travel blogger and you’d like to feature in my guest blog Q&A series, get in touch.