Living and working overseas

Travel Writing

So you want to travel, and want to get paid for telling other people about it? Sandy Buchannan shares some tips and suggestions for getting paid as a travel writer…

The thought of being paid to write about your travel experiences has to be one of the most satisfying career concepts that I could possibly think of. Imagine travelling the world, meeting new people, seeing new places, living new experiences every day, and all the while being paid to put your experiences into print. Well, there are people who do just that every day, and there are many, many more opportunities for more people to join them. You’ve just got to know the ‘how and where’ of it all.

Lonely Planet's Guide to Travel Writing
By Don George

This inspiring and practical guide is a must for anyone who has ever yearned to turn their travels into saleable tales. Highly recommended reading.

Click here for more information

Travel is big business. Everybody wants to do it, and if they can’t do it they want to read about it. Magazines, books, newspaper articles and websites are all loaded with travel articles of one description or another – and riding the back of these articles are advertisements for hotels, package holidays and the like. Everybody and every place wants your money, and what better way to tempt you than to regale you with stories of far-off places and exotic journeys. Riding high on these commercial waves are freelance travel writers and they come in all shapes and sizes. Long-gone are the days when writing about travel experiences was the exclusive domain of a privileged few. The burgeoning travel book/magazine industry, as well as the Internet, has meant that more and more people have the chance to see the world, put pen to paper, and make a few dollars along the way. Only a few dollars mind you. You will be hard pressed to make a substantial living out of it, but that’s not to say it can’t be done.

So, you think you can put a sentence together, and you love to travel, but then what? Well, before you start submitting your journals to editors across the globe, it’s a good idea to think about the style and genre of writing that you wish to focus on.

The market for travel writing has probably never been greater in terms of size and diversity. Along with that diversity comes the opportunity to target niche areas of interest that have so far been largely ignored. While it is true to say that the market has grown, so too have the number of travel writers supplying that market. Yet another guide to the carnival in Rio probably isn’t going to burn a hole on a potential editor’s desk. Neither will another backpacking guide to Mongolia. By far the biggest hurdle you will face to becoming a bone-fide travel writer is to identify and develop a niche that you can target and exploit in a way that compliments your writing style. Actually, you may want to start off by writing about your own backyard. While it may just be your own neighbourhood, it’s also a possible destination for someone else. What better material can you find than something in your own backyard?

Spend a great deal of time thinking about your writing style. When you’re travelling in an area or situation that you feel you’d like to write about, try to determine an angle of writing that would be different from the mainstream. In fact, have the style and the angle that you want to write in decided long before you get to your destination – you’ll be able to think in that mode from the moment you arrive or set out on your journey. Irrespective if your destination has been covered a thousand times before or not, try to bring a unique perspective to your article that you feel would be of interest to your potential readers and set you apart from other writers. Be as ‘niche’ as you can. Are you a woman? An elderly man? A young person? Drill down to the most specific things that you can bring to the article as possible. Remember that first and foremost you’ll need to sell your idea to an editor who has probably seen a thousand similar submissions. Find an angle to make yours stand out and distance yourself from the rest. If you have a specific magazine or newspaper in mind try to find out beforehand the specifics that the editor has outlined for submissions. You can normally contact the publication in mind and request the preferred layout for submissions directly from them.

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