Chicago-based content creator Megan Zink uses storytelling to inspire and educate other travelers and content creators.
Megan Zink is a photographer, writer & strategist passionate about storytelling & visual communication. She recently founded the site Color & Curiosity. Occasionally she speaks at marketing/travel events to put her Second City training to use.
How did you get into the travel industry?
I am very privileged – my parents have always fostered a love of travel in my younger brother and I – ever since we were young. My mom worked as a flight attendant for Delta for over 40 years (but I nearly never got to fly standby). I was always running around outside as a kid – and I loved learning new things.
We went to Europe as a family when I was 12 and I was hooked. A few years later, my dad brought home our first digital camera from Costco, and I took it out to the backyard… and basically never stopped.
My parents agreed to help me pay for my first digital camera if I documented the family trip to Greece and the rest is basically history. Since then, I’ve traveled in all capacities, to visit friends, family, to study abroad (in Florence), to honeymoon… I love it.
What kind of content do you create and why?
Because of my passion for visual storytelling and the fact that I’ve been honing my craft for over 15 years, my love language is photography. It’s primarily the reason I started my first website, it’s a passion I continue to pursue and it’s something that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop.
I primarily create a lot of visually-dominated content. I also write (lots of humor, snark, dad jokes, etc.) and finally, I love to interview people. I have a degree in journalism and thus the content on my new site, Color & Curiosity (colorandcuriosity.com) takes that form – #InspirationThroughInterviews. All of my content is educational in nature and because of my 7+ years in marketing, I really take a lot of care to try to understand my audience. Everything is educational in nature – I would rather teach through my content than tell you my personal opinions.
What tips do you have for other content creators?
Don’t wait for the perfect moment, there will never be a perfect moment to start. Just do it! You will learn far more by doing than you ever could preparing.
No one really knows what they’re doing – we’re all just trying to figure it out along the way too. There will be a lot of ups, and a lot of downs – learn to be patient through them. All good things (especially strong SEO) take time. Speaking of SEO, it’s really important. If your content isn’t answering someone’s question, then there’s a good chance no one will be looking for it (via search engines) or find it.
Social media is cool, but it isn’t everything. Create high quality content and build your email list and the rest will come.
Finally, if you feel burnt out and need to take a break, do it. Sustainability is more important than overnight success.
What is one of your favorite travel destinations, and why?
One is unfair. Greece is incredible and it was also the first place I really started documenting my travels through photography. I studied abroad for 8 weeks in Florence, Italy – it was the first time I’d truly traveled alone and I hated it. But I didn’t know that uncomfortable feeling was actually just me growing as a person.
I really did actually love it – and I love it even more in hindsight. My husband and I even went back on our honeymoon. Ireland has some of the kindest people you’ll ever meet.
Machu Picchu is one of the most incredible wonders of the world I have ever seen – it looks fake. And I cruised to Havana, Cuba, with my mom – and got to experience some of the most joyful people I’ve ever met. They have a zest for life, despite their situations, I haven’t really ever found anywhere else.
How do you use your content to create a positive change?
I have always wanted to try to sell my travel photography to support charities around the world. I have taught two photography workshops in partnership with Hosteling International Chicago to fund travel-related education for inner-city youth.
I am currently trying to raise money for an organization called Code Your Dreams, which aims to close the tech gap amongst Chicago’s youth. 100% of proceeds from one of my photo albums (www.meganzink.com/codeyourdreams/) will be donated to this cause.
Who are some content creators you enjoy following?
I love following Megan Snedden, of the Kind Effect – she’s a creator and digital nomad who started a kindness movement & video series and does random acts of kindness all over the world.
I also love following along with Angel Castellanos from Angel’s Travel Lounge – he is all about educational content and is a wonderfully kind human as well.
I also recently started following along with Pattie Gonia (www.instagram.com/pattiegonia/) – drag queen and intersectional environmentalist who posts joyful and educational content to support the environment. Also, Subpar Parks is awesome – artist Amber Share (www.instagram.com/ambershares_/) draws illustrations of supbar reviews of national parks. Such a hoot!
– Thank you, Megan, for the inspiring interview!