While I was at university, I didn’t think that there was anything better than getting paid to write and travel, but I thought that becoming a freelance travel writer was a pipe dream. Flash forward five years, and somehow your girl’s doing it. Oh, and I don’t have 100K followers on Instagram, either.
If you’re dreaming about becoming a freelance travel writer, I’m here to tell you that it’s not only possible, but you can actually start building your career right now.
Here are six tips for how to make it as a freelance travel writer – according to someone who's done it:
Write. A lot.
Having a love for writing is one thing, but writing for work is something completely different.
Unlike what Carrie Bradshaw would have us believe, a single weekly column doesn’t cut it for most freelance travel writers. Most of us will be whipping up 2-3 articles Every. Single. Day.
The best way to figure out whether this is the career for you is to see if you can handle the workload. Aim to write three 500-word blog posts every day for a whole week. Experiment with your writing style and tone of voice, work on your speed and see if you fall love the process.
At the end of the week, you’ll know whether you’ve got the chops to do this full-time, as well as have the start of a solid portfolio of work.
Develop your own point of view
While freelance travel writing is an amazing job, there are a lot of people in this game. That’s why it’s so important to find your own voice.
Think about how you’re going to differentiate yourself in a cluttered market. While everyone can tell you 10 things to do in Santorini, how is your take on it going to be fresh and engaging for your audience?
Whether it be focusing on the donkey that hurled you up the death stairs of this Greek Island or telling the love story of the yiayia and pappous that own the local tavern, find interesting new angles that breathe new life into popular travel destinations.
Get some experience under your belt
The best way to get a gig as a freelance travel writer is… well, to have had other writing jobs before.
As a newbie to the travel writing game, getting as much practical experience as you can is key to working your way up in the industry.
Doing an internship during university is a great way to build up your experience and your portfolio. Whether you’re working in an editorial team at a well-known media publisher, or doing some copywriting for a small business, each experience will teach you some invaluable lessons.
I got my big break writing for a digital publisher that covered arts and cultural events around Sydney. In between lectures, assignments and part-time work, I’d be doing movie reviews and interviews with local up-and-coming bands. I didn’t get paid for it, but I did build up a portfolio of work, which helped me land my first full-time job as a branded content writer in the lifestyle space.
Pitch yourself to your favourite brands
Being associated with well-known travel brands is an awesome way to build your reputation as a freelance travel writer. Media outlets and travel companies always need content, so reach out and pitch your ideas to your favourite brands.
If you’re not game enough to reach out to editors just yet, a great way to get your foot in the door is to be a community contributor. Many travel brands will have sections on their website that allow the public to post their own travel stories. Some of them will even pay you for your contribution, like team running Contiki’s awesome six-two community.
As a freelance travel writer, you’ll quickly find that this job requires more than just being a good writer. You’ll learn how to do your own sales, bookkeeping and account management.
But one of the most important skills you’ll learn is how to market yourself.
From making your own website to creating a professional profile on LinkedIn, there are so many ways to market yourself. Start by sharing your work on your social media platforms. To this day, this is something I still do as regularly as I can. I’ve found that this helps people keep up with the kind of work I’m doing, which keeps me top of mind for whenever they need a freelance travel writer.
Also, be as proactive as possible. Don’t be afraid to get in touch with industry contacts and ask if they’ve got any work that for you. The worst they can say is no. Remember that you have to make your own opportunities, not just wait for them to fall into your lap.
Hang in there!
Just like any other creative job, the start of your career might be a little tough. It might take some time to land the kind of gigs that you want, or to get paid enough to write full-time, but persistence is key.
Believe in yourself, keep working on your craft and you’ll be surprised at where this career can take you. And remember, the journey is the best part, so soak up every minute of it!