Have you ever found yourself wishing you could get paid to travel? It might seem impossible, especially because there seems to be a never-ending pool of talented writers who somehow seem to be able to fling themselves to exotic locations at a moment’s notice.
While you might not find someone willing to pay you to travel, it’s pretty likely you can find someone to pay you to talk about your travel experiences. Read on for tips to figure out if travel writing might be an option for you, and where to start looking for opportunities.
Find Your Space
First, consider where you want to write about. It doesn’t have to be somewhere exotic or unheard of, just somewhere you know a lot about. Remember, you can even choose to write about your hometown. After all, it isn’t everyone’s hometown. It’s best to pick a place you understand well, because you’ll obviously have the most insider knowledge and therefore the most information to offer when writing about the place.
If you do want to write about a place you don’t know that well, then finding your angle will be pretty important to really sell it. We’ll talk about that in a minute.
Find Your Expertise
A lot of travel writing has to do with knowledge. What do you know the most about? It could be anything from hidden restaurants to the best bike paths to use when touring a city. If you hone in on what you enjoy when you are traveling, you’ll probably find some interesting subject matter to write about.
Chances are if you find something interesting, so will other people. If you’re an expert in something, then check if there are any exciting travel writing opportunities in that field. There are lots of ways to form stories around specific knowledge you might have. This way, you get to combine travel writing with something you know a fair amount about, and you’ll end up writing a story that has a strong core and sense of purpose.
Find Your Angle
Sometimes this can be tough. Social media and smartphones are making the world a lot smaller than is once was. Think about it, you can type almost any destination into a search engine or social media platform and up will pop photos, websites, historical facts, and pretty much everything else you might need to know about a place.
I’m not saying everything you write has to be brand new and undiscovered, but you should try and develop a fresh perspective or an original voice. Find the aspect of the location or the story that really makes it stand apart. Sometimes, you’re selling people less on the location itself, and instead on your version of a place. Sometimes you’re given a specific lens to view a place through. Whichever method you are using to tell your story, make it unique and it will help you to stand apart.
Some Potentially Lucrative Outlets
Write for the City (or Country) – Are you an expert on a specific city? Check in to the local publications and websites. Many places have local magazines willing to pay experts to contribute articles. These magazines often range from gardening to bridal to foods to entrepreneurial topics and more. If you’re really interested in a specific aspect of a place, then do some research and see if a publication exists the covers that topic.
A lot of local interest magazines will have pretty specific guidelines for submissions. Still, they are a great way to get you travel writing published. You don’t have to live in a place to write for a local publication either. So start doing a little digging and see what’s already out there.
Start a Blog and Get Sponsors – OK, admittedly this one is the toughest of the bunch. Travel blogs are a dime a dozen, and finding sponsors willing to pay for content other people give away for free is just hard. Still, if you’ve nailed your space, expertise, and angle then it’s worth a shot.
Getting the attention of sponsors can happen in a variety of ways. Some bloggers choose to reach out to companies directly and ask if for them to check out their content. Some bloggers make money by featuring sponsored content or advertising products, restaurants, or locations (although they typically need to share that they’re being paid to do that). If you want to get paid to write your own blog, then the best thing to do before you start asking for sponsorship is to show them how you are worth the money. Get a decent following and write killer content. Just like with any blog, travel writing takes time and you have to be passionate about it. Otherwise, your dedication will fizzle and so will people’s interest.
Find a Freelance Gig – This is one of the easiest ways to find travel writing opportunities. Looking on freelance platforms (might I suggest xplace?) can give you access to a wealth of travel writing jobs. These are sometimes one-off articles where you write a specific article to be featured on a blog, website, or magazine.
Other travel writing freelance gigs are longer-term, asking you to cover multiple aspects of a specific place or region. Bonus points if you are an expat, as there are always lots of travel writing opportunities for foreigners living in a new country. Go to your freelance platform of choice and search “travel writing.” You’ll be surprised at the different types of jobs available.
Find a Magazine – There are lots of travel publications (both digital and print) that need new content constantly. If you’re a local or well versed in an area, you might be able to get a series of articles published about a place or topic the publication covers.
The best way to get one of these jobs is to start reading! Go to your local bookstore and peruse the travel section. Is there a specific publication that you really enjoy? It’s best to pitch your ideas to a magazine that you feel you can make a positive and impactful contribution to, otherwise your ideas might be ignored. If you come across a magazine that has a tone and perspective you enjoy, then look into their contributor guidelines and send them your ideas.
Travel writing is about a lot more than just writing an article describing a place. There are a lot of different aspects to the genre that can lead to job possibilities. Sometimes local heritage sites or museums need people who understand the area to talk about how it’s changed or grown. Sometimes local tourist boards need testimonials about their city to publish on their website. If you aren’t sure whether or not your type of writing or your idea works for a specific publication, then just ask. It never hurts to check (and I’ve personally gotten at least two travel writing gigs this way).
No matter what type of travel writing you decide to do, chances are you’ll be hooked. It’s a fun an interesting way to share your experiences and give other people perspective on parts of the world (or even their own city) they might not otherwise know about.
Are you a travel writer? How did you get started in the field? Share your tips and tricks for getting paid to write about traveling in the comments below!