A Conversation with Elaine Masters

When Elaine Masters had the idea to combine her two passions–travel and yoga–into her writing, she had no idea that her passions would lead her to creating her niche in the health and wellness travel market. Elaine is the author of Drivetime Yoga, educating drivers and passengers on how to be more present, energized and healthy on long road trips, and she frequently blogs on travel wellness. Check out her website here!

How did you “break into” freelance writing? What have been the keys to your success?

I’ve always been a writer, but hadn’t pursued it professionally until I wrote my first travel book, Drivetime Yoga, six years ago and started blogging. My ‘breaks’ have been related to that, sending out queries, meeting editors and publishers at events and slowly gaining credibility. I currently guest blog for several sites, am a contributor to American Media Distribution, host a podcast on the WRN and just keep working. The freelance writing market has changed dynamically in the past few years and I’m not really an expert. However with the closures of many newspapers, magazines and the rise of ‘news’ sites who do not pay their contributors, competition for paid submissions is more stringent than ever.

Where do you see your career as a travel writer being three years from now? How will your income mix change and what are you doing to adapt to the changing media landscape?

At least two new print/digital/audio books will be out within three years and I imagine that I’ll still be pursuing what leads I can. I’m currently working on several online books and reports related to my Travel Wellness niche and will be writing all the marketing for those as well. What I hope to develop is more collaboration with other writers, editors and publishers. Income related to writing is building as I’ve also been contributing content for several businesses. It’s usually not travel writing but I’m actively pursuing those opportunities for ‘bread and butter’ reasons and find myself enjoying the research and education that a variety of freelance writing offers.

Knowing what you do now, if you were starting from scratch today to become established as a travel writer, what steps would you take to ensure success?

Start sooner! It’s truly who you know, your reputation and your portfolio that will establish you. I came late to pursing a career in travel or other writing from a varied background that I wouldn’t trade.

As someone concerned with wellness while traveling, I think your blog, Trip Wellness, is fantastic. In your opinion, has blogging helped you establish yourself in your writing and speaking career?

Blogging has definitely been a boon to my business and establishing expert status. It’s also a great way to write topically and publish quickly. For example there was a small earthquake in Southern California about a year ago and I published tips for drivers caught in earthquakes within hours of it happening.

Elaine, you are truly a “jill-of-all-trades!” You are not only a travel writer, but you’re also a yoga instructor, a speaker, an award-winning author, and a trip wellness specialist.! How has combining your two major passions—writing and yoga—helped you succeed in your career, and what advice do you have for other writers who are looking to define their niche?

I suffer from ‘Bright Shiny Syndrome’!! However as in many other professions, finding your unique voice is the key to being successful. It can take time. Opportunity has led me to being a professional graphic designer, a public radio producer, an actress, voice over artist, international scuba diver, publisher and mother (not necessarily in that order!). At some point I realized that the through line in my life is travel, Yoga and writing and have been focusing on that primarily in the past few years.

Because a life in the arts is one of the most challenging and inconsistent ways to make a living (while holding huge rewards that aren’t usually reflected in your bank account), I wouldn’t recommend it. However, if that’s your passion it is what will feed your spirit. You may need to surrender to the roller coaster ride until you find a groove that will support you. Sometimes that means holding down a day job (or several) until you reach a professional, sustainable level. Keep your eye on the prize and find mentors and models to help you when the going gets rough.

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Elaine J. Masters grew up taking road trips. She is a travel writer, international scuba diver, Yoga teacher and the award-winning author of Drivetime Yoga. She’s lived in many major cities (and a few smaller ones) along the west coast from Juneau, Alaska to San Diego, CA. Her weekly podcast, The Gathering Road, airs on the WRN. Her stories and travel tips have been published in the LA Yoga Journal, American Media Distribution, Passporter.com, numerous blogs and at TripWellness.com and DrivetimeYoga.com. She often gives talks about how commuters, business and recreational travelers can stay happy, pain free and productive.

Interview conducted in February, 2012 by Kristin Mock.

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