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10 Reasons to Make Money Writing Travel Articles
by Beth Fowler
Around the world, billions of people read
articles and books that transport them to Bali, explain Italy's public
transport, describe where to shop in NYC. Whether you're traveling for business
or pleasure your experiences could make great reading and bucks. Here are ten
reasons to open your notebook and load the camera with film.
1. You travel.
That's a boon although travel isn't a
precondition for writing and selling travel articles.
2. The need for travel writers is
According to the World Tourism Organization:
"Foreign currency receipts from international tourism reached US$443 billion in
1997, outstripping exports of petroleum products, motor vehicles,
telecommunications equipment, textiles or any other product or service." The WTO
(www.world-tourism.org) predicts that the number of international travelers
will increase from 613 million in 1997 to 1.6 billion in 2020 with earnings
rocketing to US$2 trillion. Travel writers play a vital role in the world's
largest growth industry.
3. A voracious market demands well-written
As one travel editor put it, "If the article
contains information that's unique and useful to readers, I'll buy it." Find
markets listed yearly in America's Writer's Market (www.writersdigest.com), Britain's Writers' and Artists' Yearbook (www.train4publishing.co.uk/bookhouse/bookshop/frame.htm), and Down Under's The Australian Writer's Marketplace
(www.dymocks.com.au). Numerous magazines and newspapers not listed under
"Travel" in these books buy travel articles. Australian Cyclist, not
under travel, publishes travel articles for the two-wheeled set. Tons of
publications aren't listed in market compendia, so keep your eyes open for
periodicals on newsagents' shelves and friends' coffee tables, in lobby magazine
racks and secondhand stores, at club and association venues, and in mainstream
bookstores and offbeat book nooks.
4. Travel writers can earn high returns for low
You probably already own a computer and printer;
so capital outlay is virtually nil. If you happen to be in Salzburg, say, on
business or vacation, jot notes, snap photographs, collect tourist brochures and
send a query to several magazines and newspapers. Doing exactly that, I earned
US$500 for an 800-word article. Travel writer compensation ranges from free
copies of the publication to US$6,000 for an article in Travel &
Leisure. Visit www.writerswrite.com/ for practical information. Read Travel Writing for
Fun and Profit by Phil Philcox.
5. Literary brilliance not essential.
Luckily for those who haven't attained the
celestial levels of Bill Bryson, L. Peat O' Neil and their ilk, plenty of
markets exist. (Study these and other masters-your silent mentors.) Even
renowned travel writers didn't start out super-talented. Most publications can't
afford the fees big time writers command. Countless editors are eager to buy
travel pieces that are professionally presented, interesting and appeal to the
targeted audience. Travel Writing by Louisa Peat O'Neil and The
Travel Writer's Guide by Gordon Burgett are available at www.amazon.com,
in bricks 'n' mortar bookstores and libraries. Writing books are shelved in your
library's 800 section; travel in 910.
6. Work when you want.
Assuming you're not counting on living on income
generated from travel writing (at first, anyhow) you can write when the mood
strikes. It's 2 a.m. Your body clock is four time zones out of whack. Ideas for
an article flood your mind. Wearing your bathrobe (or not), you brew a pot of
tea, boot up the computer and crank out an article explaining how to avoid
setting off airport x-ray machine alarms. If you don't feel like writing for a
spell, no 9-to-5 honcho will hassle you.
7. Boredom isn't an occupational
People who haven't "been there, done that" crave
to know What's it like to be there, to do that? Authors writing about a place
must pay attention to details, recreate scenes accurately in words for readers,
capture the atmosphere of a place, notice nuances that epitomize a location. The
writer's experience becomes a map for others. To write interesting travel
articles, the writer must be interested. It's the rare writer who becomes bored
with raw material that will be transformed into word pictures.
8. There's a niche for every writing
No doubt there's a publication buying the works
of authors who write in a style similar to yours. Whereas one publication
features concise articles liberally spiked with distances, dates, addresses,
costs and other numerical information, another publication prefers articles
brimming with impressionistic descriptions of splendid sunsets, roaring
waterfalls, noisy marketplaces. Other publications feature articles covering an
entire nation in 1500 words, and yet others assign 3000 words to a single
attraction or event such as a zoo or annual regatta. While certain publications
want authors' personalities to show through, other publications solicit articles
in which authors remain invisible. Study the market to find publications
matching your style. Sites dedicated to travel writing such as www.freelancetravelwriter.com/, www.travelwriterml.com/ and main.travelwriters.com/ feature techniques, markets, pay scales, editors,
specifications and trips for writers.
9. Travel writing covers a vast
Topics for travel writing are as varied as the
world itself. Writers have sold (and resold) pieces about hiking the Appalachian
Trail, bicycling in Malaysia, sipping green tea in Kyoto, pub crawling in
Dublin, chewing betel nut in Taiwan, and touring Pearl S. Buck's Pennsylvania
home. People preferring to stay close to home can succeed as travel writers,
too, because every place is some place else to someone else, and travel articles
aren't about places only. Advice articles about traveling with children,
handling money on the road, avoiding food poisoning, packing economically, to
name a few practical concerns, are popular.
10. Job satisfaction guaranteed.
Satisfaction comes from raising the curtain on
little-known destinations, from assisting sightseers in making the right turn,
from taking armchair travelers along for the ride. Satisfaction comes from
seeing your name after "By" in a publication and after "To:" on a check.
© Copyright 2002, Beth Fowler
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