Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor
zette@cableone.net

Travel Writing:
From a Bloggin' Byline to a Payin' Byline

By Roy A. Barnes
2007, Roy A. Barnes


Sign up for an account at one of the countless blogging sites that have overrun the internet, and type out a personal globe-trotting recollection.  Presto: you can indulge in travel writing!  Yet to be someone who can honestly proclaim that they've been paid to write about their journeys is a totally different travel-writing ballgame. 

When publications pay you for your travel writing, it means that your work has stood out amongst the zillions of submissions that converge upon editors' desks.  Money isn't something publications part with automatically.  It's quite unlike the blogging community creed, where the writing may not earn you a wooden nickel for your efforts. 

Becoming a travel writer who can make enough money to pay the bills is a gradual process.  The following tips will help you get started in this rewarding quest. 

1. Travel writing is not a get rich quick scheme.  How much time are you willing to devote to the monotonous researching of paying markets or the tedious drafting and redrafting of articles and queries, while honing your craft so that it meets the specific needs of the media that will put some dead presidents in your pocket?  Your financial and family situations will certainly be a factor in determining this.

2. Thoroughly study publications' submission guidelines.  They often give you a good idea of what the media are looking for, helping you to target your completed articles or works-in-progress in the right direction.  Keep the words "cross-over market" in mind when writing an article.  Your feature on kid-friendly museums in London could be marketable to a variety of family-themed publications.  An article about volunteering abroad could also be sold to an educational-based magazine or website.  

3. Subscribe to online market, contest, and writing tips newsletters.  Many of them are free or charge a nominal subscription fee.  Check out Fundsforwriters.com, Writersweekly.com, and Writingfordollars.com for starters.  The links they provide will lead to many sources.  Many of the advertisements at writing e-publications are for other online writer newsletters that feature paying market sources, which in turn lead to even more resources to aid you in travel writing. 

4. Look for travel publications at libraries.  Order free trial issues of magazines; you can study first-hand the feel and scope of many travel publications without depleting your wallet. 

5. While traveling, get as many free brochures and booklets as you can to add to your reference library.  Keep a diary of your trekking experiences, which can be the foundation for personal experience essays to submit to contests, literary journals, and anthologies that focus on travelers' tales. 

6. If you don't already own one, purchase a camera for use in your travels. You'll want a decent digital (at least 5 megapixels) or 35mm camera.  Appropriate photos increase your odds of getting published.  When developing your film, it's best to order double prints and a CD copy of your pictures, especially if your camera isn't a digital model.  This way, you will be prepared to submit via email and/or post. 

7. Check your details. Before submitting your writing to an editor, revisit the websites of the places you've written about to recheck their times of operation, admission prices, new exhibitions, etc.  Make sure your article is as up-to-date as possible.  Keep in mind that it might take weeks or months for an accepted article to appear online or in print.  If you want to write a seasonal article, it's best to research editorial calendars and deadlines so you can make a timely submission. 

Getting that first paycheck takes more than casual dedication.  It means being persistent in the face of rejection.  It means being willing to diligently seek out the appropriate markets.  And most of all, it means being willing to write with more discipline and focus. 

Roy A. Barnes writes from Cheyenne, Wyoming.  His travel articles for pay have been published by such mediums as Transitions Abroad, Live Life Travel, The Traveler, and GoNOMAD.com.  His writing-themed articles have been featured at The Busy Freelancer, Absolute Write, Writing for DOLLARS, and The Dabbling Mum.