In Part 1, we discussed how to work hard and establish yourself in the travel writing profession, and the “multiple stream” nature of freelance income. However, you might still be wondering what sort of ways travel writers actually make a living, and where you can get started. Read on to the second part of our “How to Become a Travel Writer” guide to learn more.
How Travel Writers Make Money
If you are very passionate about travel and a brilliantly talented writer, you are only halfway there. You need to be able to market your services and get writing jobs. Freelance writers need to act like business people, diversifying their skills and the outlets they write for. If you think that your writing is good enough to sell, it’s start to get your business pants on and start pitching!
Your success will depend on how well you can market your own work, so here are several different modes of making money as a freelance travel writer. As mentioned in Part 1, it is best to have several on the go at once to build up a steady stream of income.
Wanderlust, Conde Nast Traveler, Outpost Magazine, National Geographic… every aspiring travel writer dreams of the day that they will have their work published in one of these popular mags. These types of articles are usually very creative and original narratives which are thrilling and engaging to read as well as providing practical information.
It’s tough to get published in a prestigious magazine, as anyone who read these publications will know that the quality of the writing is at a very high level. The truth is, you are unlikely to get your work published in one of these magazines straight away. Work on other means of income while you build up your knowledge and writing skills first. When you are ready, you can submit a very well researched and thought out query letter to the editor to propose a piece that you would like to write.
Writing for a newspaper is similar to writing for a magazine, and the process of pitching an article is pretty much the same. In a newspaper, you might also have the opportunity to get hired for a weekly travel column. Write some super stellar freelance pieces for them, and then propose the idea to the editor.
Want to become a writer for a guide book series such as Lonely Planet? Of course, you will need to have had a lot of travel experience in the particular country you are writing about. Your job will be to travel around to countless hotels, tourist attractions, and restaurants, updating their information and describing them for the guide book. It can be a lot of hard work. Here is an interview about it from Simon Sellars, a writer for Lonely Planet.
(However, some might argue that guidebooks are becoming irrelevant now because of the immediate availability of all this information online.)
Resorts, Tour companies, Tourist information centers, and tourist attractions all have websites that they need content written for. You can write content for all sorts of travel related websites, for example writing descriptions of various tours offered by an outdoor adventure company or writing a destination guide for the surrounding area for the website of a villa rental.
Starting your own travel blog is something you should do if you are a freelance travel writer. Not only does writing for your own blog give you practice and experience, it can also earn you credibility in your subject area. If you are pitching an article about your quest to find the perfect pizza in Italy to a travel magazine, and you already have a well established Italy Travel blog on line, you will be seen as an expert in that destination.
Also, there are ways to make money from your blog once you gather a large stream of traffic. You can sell ads, write sponsored posts where a company pays you to write about their product, and linking to affiliate programs. To find out more about this, read this great post about making money on a blog from ProBlogger.
You can write copy for the brochures and promotional material of tour companies, hotels, etc. Remember that this style of writing isn’t for expressing your personal opinion, it is more like sales copy, as you will need to highlight the positive aspects of the destination or attraction and make people want to go there. However, if you can write wonderful and engaging sales copy that will make people want to travel to the place you are writing about, you might do very well writing brochures and other promotional materials.
While you are making your money through other freelance gigs, you can have a book always on the go in the background. It is a lot of work to write an entire book and get it published, but writing a book about your travel experiences is a great way to earn a passive income from royalties, and it also really boosts your credibility if you can add “Author of _______” after your name.
Another form of releasing a book of your own is to self publish it as an ebook and sell it on your travel blog website. Ebooks usually sell for much cheaper than traditional books, but you can publish them and promote them to a wider audience cheap and easily.
Whew! That is a lot of ways to make money as a travel writer! Go ahead and dive in there and start on several of them at once! However, don’t quit your day job yet, as in Part 3 we will discuss how you can improve your writing skills so that your work is of a higher caliber and performs better! Stay tuned!