Get Paid for Writing About Your Hometown
Some years ago, I decided to quit my full-time teaching job and start a career as a travel writer. When my colleagues heard this, they were supportive but curious about how I would make it happen. I fielded numerous questions about how I would be able to afford all the travel to exotic overseas destinations, like Bali and Thailand. Many of them had the misconception that to be a travel writer, you have to board a plane and fly off to some far-flung land. The reality is quite different.
Travel writers do, of course, journey overseas to write stories. That’s part of the appeal of this lifestyle. But even in the pre-coronavirus days, international travel was not always possible due to budget or time constraints. So what do travel writers typically write about?
While I have ventured outside of the U.S. and published articles about the ruin bars in Budapest and the Christmas markets in Austria and Germany, I also get paid for writing about restaurants and fun things to see and do right in my own backyard. In fact, I was blown away by how impressive the area where I live was when I started looking at it through a travel writing lens.
I moved to Pennsylvania from New Jersey about a year after I finished a Great Escape Publishing travel writing seminar in Washington, D.C. I had a few trips planned that first year, and I also got a few letters of assignment to write articles about Miami and the New York area. I focused on getting those pieces published, but as I settled into my new home, I realized that the place where I live is also a destination.
At present, I reside in Washington Crossing, PA, which is the site of incredible Revolutionary War history. In 1776, George Washington crossed the Delaware River from Pennsylvania to New Jersey. On Christmas Night, the Continental Army executed a surprise attack on Hessian troops stationed in Trenton. The Patriots turned the tide of the war and it happened five minutes from where I live.
So I began to pitch ideas to editors about my hometown, with some astounding results. I was offered a writing spot at a blog, PLAY STAY EAT. When they asked me to write an anchor article (about 2,500 words) for an area in the U.S., I immediately pitched the Delaware River Towns. Subsequent pieces about where to play, stay, and eat would be linked to the anchor article.
The towns along the Delaware River offer some of the most diverse and delicious dining experiences. The art scene is incredible, as is the shopping. Nearby there are wineries and distilleries, while the Delaware River Canal Towpath is a favorite trail for biking, walking, and cross-country skiing.
So if you want to try out the travel writer’s lifestyle, I would advise asking yourself this: What is great about your hometown? I guarantee it’s filled with interesting attractions…attractions that websites, blogs, and magazines will pay you to write about.
To find out what those might be, write to the local chamber of commerce. Ask for information about what to see and do. Act like you are a visitor. Think about the places where you would take friends or family visiting from out of town. Is there a national park or hiking destination nearby? Is there anything quirky about where you live that would be an attraction? People are likely going to be traveling domestically for the next while, so there is going to be strong demand for local stories.
You don’t have to make airline reservations to have a successful writing career; you can be a tourist in your town. I have relevant stories to tell and to sell because I have insider information about experiences right outside my door. And, as an added bonus, I get to discover and enjoy those places with a fresh eye or learn something new about where I live.
By Jeanine Consoli