So you’ve decided that you are going to become a freelance travel writer. Now how on earth do you make that dream a reality? While many people struggle and eventually give up on becoming a travel writer, this doesn’t have to be your case. The internet and social media have allowed writers (particularly travel writers) to thrive, with thousands of travel writers creating blogs and social media profiles to showcase their travels and voice through their writing.
This, in turn, makes it a very competitive market to break into, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible or shouldn’t be done. Many freelance travel writers have created very successful careers and earn a large income thanks to their persistence and hard work.
The following advice will help you get a head start in your freelance travel writing career and help you progress well into the future. Here are five useful tips to get your freelance travel writing career off on the right foot.
Choose a Niche
When you first begin travel writing, it’s good to choose one or two topics to specialize in. This doesn’t mean you can’t write about others things, it just means you can focus on an aspect of travel you enjoy. Travel is a very broad topic which can cover thousands of ideas. For example, a specific demographic, country, genre, activity, education, and the list goes on and on. Each one of these topics can then be broken down further. For instance, a country guide can be broken down into cities an activities – the possibilities are endless. But without a specific topic to begin with, you can end up with a blog filled with random posts that have no relation to each other. A niche is also good when searching for freelance jobs or opportunities as there are a large number of social media groups to join for specific opportunities. It also allows you to narrow down a list of publications to pitch to, conferences or meetups to attend, or jobs to apply for.
Pick Your Writing Style
Often times many writers get trapped in the cliche of travel writing, that can often become bland descriptions of places with no enthusiasm or style. Travel writing is best when it’s a blend of journalism and creative writing, making readers feel what it’s like to be in that place or inspiring readers to believe and be transported to the location or activity. The best articles are often written in the first person, many in the past tense and with a good mix of metaphors and observations. They bring the locals to life, have a strong introduction and slowly introduce feeling. Emma Thomson, a freelance travel writer for Nat Geo Traveller, believes “When it comes to writing my story, I need to nail the intro first before the rest of the piece flows.”
Travel writing is a fiercely competitive industry with a large number of writers, many often writing about the same topic or theme. To be successful in this industry it’s important to separate yourself from the crowd by thinking outside the box in terms of original destinations, activities, passions, personal experiences, and knowledge. Being unique and having a niche allows your expertise to flow, with in-depth knowledge, locals’ information, off the beaten path destinations or unusual experiences. All these can give a fresh idea or experience to a popular subject, with a unique and personal voice. This also helps with social media interaction and creates a following. In this regard, people are interested in where the writer is traveling to next, or the experiences they are having.
Create a Portfolio of Your Work
One of the most important pieces of advice to take into consideration is a portfolio, whether it be a media resume or website, these provide examples and samples of past work, allowing the potential employer to discover the writer’s style before embarking on a recruitment process. A presence on social media also helps flow traffic to your blog or website, which allows others to see and read your work. Having a section for places visited or experiences bring credibility to your writing. For example, when reading an account of a trip to Colombia if readers know you have visited Colombia extensively, they will value your knowledge more because they know you have experienced the country first-hand. Portfolios are also a great way to gain feedback for written pieces and make great networking tools.
When first becoming a freelance travel writer, it’s important to first get some experience. Like any job, the experience is key to gaining knowledge and learning new things through practice. You are not going to conquer the world in your first month, but by contacting and working with smaller travel brands or blogs to begin with, you can gain experience and work your way up to the larger companies. Gaining a client base with your past writing is a great way to build your portfolio and network with other bloggers or companies.
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