What It Takes to Go Pro as a Travel Writer

professional travel writing

Like most fun gigs, travel writing is a dream job if you don’t need to care about the money. If you’re trying to make a living at it, all the perks and glamour will only take you so far.

I was once on a press trip with a travel writer who used to pull in a great salary at a PR firm. She had spent the last six months jetting around the world writing travel articles for whoever would publish them—at any price—and for her own fledgling blog. She had been in a dozen countries on four continents in that time but…”I’ve got to figure out a plan because my savings are almost gone.” It turns out she was living the jetset life on Instagram and Facebook, but her back account balance had been dropping like a rock that whole time. The income didn’t have much “in.”

Starting from scratch and making real money as a freelance travel writer the first year is pretty tough, as this person quickly discovered. Trying to accomplish that as a blogger is even tougher. It takes time to build up a track record or a following.

I’ve got a new edition of Travel Writing 2.0 in the production process right now and you’ll see a Kindle version hitting before the month is up. There are a lot of great quotes in there from writers who are making it work, but I got so many I couldn’t fit them all in. Here are a few that didn’t make the book that are great words of wisdom for those who have made this fun job their real job.

Understand first that it requires real work

“I’ve been willing to work a ridiculous amount of hours—still after more than a decade of Travelfish I still work ten hour days, six days a week. I’m still (mostly) loving it.”
Stuart McDonald

“I have a background in marketing/advertising so I approach my site as if I’m a publisher not a writer. It means I treat my site as a business and make decisions with a business in mind rather than personal preferences.”
Ayngelina Brogan

“Travel writing is one part glamour and glory, one part persistence, and one part hard work. Okay, it’s actually three parts hard work. I believe I’ve been successful (relatively speaking) because I sit down and work daily, with regular hours. I don’t treat travel writing like a part time job or a hobby.”
Amy Whitley

“”Put in the long hours, be prepared to wear lots of hats and learn new skills, and approach what you do with an entrepreneurial spirit.”
Jessie Voights

travel writer working

You might actually have to market yourself or your site.
“I sought out writing and marketing opportunities with brands I already knew and trusted—and looked for those personal connections to make it a reality.”
Adam Groffman

“My initial successes came from hobnobbing, meeting people, getting involved in writer/publisher organizations, and going to conferences.”
Karen Misuraca

And it’s going to take a lot of grinding away before a big payoff.
“It took me two years of almost full-time work to develop a writing career that paid the bills. That was back in biblical times when internet monetization didn’t really exist, so it can be done more quickly now. But still, give it time and be patient.”
Nora Dunn

“I started early, I didn’t put ads or sponsored content on my site, I didn’t quit, I didn’t listen to everyone and their mother who told me my articles were too long ;)
Jodi Ettenberg

Travel Writing is a whole different game than it was two decades when I started out. It requires a wider variety of skills, more balls to juggle, and some content marketing skills you never had to employ in the print-only days. The good news is, there’s a lot more upside for those who get the mix right.

If you want to speed up the timeline and get clear steps to success, keep an eye on Travel Writing Overdrive site.

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