5 Steps to Getting Paid as a Travel Writer
If you love travel and have an affinity for the written word, travel writing can be an excellent way to do what you love and get paid for it.
Earning paychecks as a travel writer is a more accessible career path than most people realize. There are virtually countless print and online travel publications out there, and they’re constantly in need of fresh content, even now during the coronavirus pandemic. This means that they’re always on the lookout for new writers to provide this content.
In fact, while it may sound counterintuitive, this is actually an excellent time to explore your opportunities in travel writing. Since all travel is local at present, print publications and travel websites are more willing to entrust assignments to local writers, who can more easily visit the attractions in their area.
So if you’re interested in exploring these opportunities for yourself but don’t know where or how to begin, follow these five steps to get started in travel writing.
1. Start Reading
It’s no secret that the best way to become a good writer is to first become an avid reader, and this applies to travel writing as much as it does to any other genre. If you’re not already an enthusiastic reader, get started. While it’s a good idea to read the works of celebrated travel writers, any kind of reading you do will make you a stronger writer by enriching your vocabulary and your understanding of style and voice.
2. Choose a Niche
Travel writing covers a lot of ground, and can encompass everything from restaurant and hotel reviews to industry reporting. If you’re not sure where to start, think about what you know and what you love. If you love fine-dining and fancy hotels, you may want to focus more on luxury travel. If you like to travel with your grown children and your grandkids, multi-generational travel might be a good fit. Having a general idea of what you want to write about is helpful when it comes time to pitch.
3. Create a Portfolio
This may sound like a chicken-and-egg situation. If you’ve never published anything, how can you have a portfolio? The easiest way: blog it. Write a few stories about what you know and love and put them up on a blog. If you aren’t tech-savvy, fear not. There are plenty of free blogging platforms to choose from. Alternatively, you can also write to bloggers you admire and ask to guest post. This will help you develop content to show editors if you’re asked for samples of your work.
4. Familiarize Yourself with Potential Markets
Your next step is to start looking for potential outlets to publish your work. Start by visiting your nearest bookstore or newsagents and stock up on national and regional travel magazines. Also look for special-interest magazines that might publish travel stories (for example, a birding magazine might have a section devoted to birdwatching-related travel).
In the same vein, get on the internet and start searching for websites that publish engaging travel content. Next, jot down notes on what kind of stories each potential outlet publishes and what kind of approaches their stories take. Are they more news-focused? Are most of the stories in a given publication first-person narratives or do they tend to be more practical, information-driven pieces? How long are the stories overall? All of this info will help you when it comes time to start pitching.
5. Get Pitching
Now that you’ve done your homework, it’s time to start pitching. Do a search to see if the publications you’re interested in have writer’s guidelines online. If you can’t find anything, use the masthead (for print publications) or the “about” section (for websites) to find the contact details of editors. Then ready your pitch.
A good pitch will give your editor the gist of your story in a few short sentences, answering the questions “why me?” (why you are the best person to write about the topic) and “why now” (why the topic is relevant at this moment). Just remember that print publications often plan their calendars months in advance; for online this is less of an issue. Finally, keep in mind that even the most seasoned writers usually get more rejections than positive responses, so keep pitching and refining and before long you’ll get your first “yes” and your first paycheck.
By Margot Bigg