Free Ride: Charting a Course to a Career in Travel Writing
Becoming a freelance travel writer is the dream of many a writer; who wouldn’t want to get paid to go on vacation? The path to success can be long, but there are several things you can start doing right now to embark on your journey.
Turn Content Into Clips
Most plum travel writing assignments are earned by pitching an editor with a great idea for a story. But high-quality publications with the budgets to pay writers well are discriminating, which means you must send several polished clips to have a shot at consideration. If you’ve started to write travel related blog posts and articles for content sites, you may consider compiling a few samples into a single document to use as way to get your foot in the door at a smaller publication. The goal is to write something high-quality that includes your byline, so that when you pitch the big dogs you’ve got a solid paper trail of travel writing with your name on it. Once you place a few pieces with small print or online mags, then you have can turn your attention to the main prize.
Magazines published by airlines are a great place to start pitching once you have clips and a few ideas. Not only do they have a constant need for timely, travel-oriented content, but they also have a budget to pay writers decently for their work. Read through a few different issues and start small; obviously everyone wants to write the cover story, but you’ll often find many regular features that are short and doable for the beginning travel writer. Once you can list a publication in a well-known in-flight magazine in your pitch letter to an editor, you’ve got a better chance of being considered for the assignment of your dreams.
Write Well, Write Often
It may seem obvious, but there are tons of wannabe travel writers, so it’s important to work to publish your very best work. Read travel blogs for tips and get a sense for the voices that you admire. Practice writing up your short weekend trips and consider starting a blog to share your writing and build a network. Your blog can be a showcase of your work, and can eventually be a place to link your published clips. It can take a while to get the attention of an editor, especially with so much competition, but don’t wait until you get the big “yes” to start putting together sentences about white sand beaches, or even your Sunday drive to the next town.
Caitlin C is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.