People have been writing about travel for a long time. When I started writing travel articles way back in 1990, there were only two options available. You were either a staff writer on a magazine or newspaper and would be sent on assignment to some far flung destination or a close one to be able to research and write your article. Or you could work for yourself as a freelancer providing travel articles and photos to a variety of magazines and newspapers. These options are still available however, with the advent of the Internet travel writing has been evolving into travel blogging and content creation. The question now is, where will you place yourself in the travel writing and travel blogging scene?
Staff Writers and Freelancers
Staff writers were usually university trained journalists who got a job on a newspaper or magazine and if the publication was large enough, may have landed in the travel department. Here the travel editor would have assigned a staff travel writer to write an article or articles to appear in the upcoming edition of the publication. For doing this you would be paid a wage from the publication. And all your intellectual property, the article you wrote, would belong to the publication.
Often the publications needed more articles to fill their pages so they relied on freelance travel writers to provide these articles. Freelance travel writers weren’t always trained journalists, they were people who could string together a few words to write a great travel article. Basically freelancers would come up with an idea, pitch the travel editor and if the travel editor like the idea would give you the go ahead to write the article. Author guidelines were usually provided such as the number of words required, style and a deadline. Once the the article was published the freelancer was required to submit an invoice for payment. Once the editor received the invoice they would pass the invoice to the accounts department who would hopefully pay it without being chased up for it.
Travel Writing becomes Electronic
Freelancers, like me, once the editor had given me the go ahead to write the travel article I would type it up from my hand written notes. Originally I had a typewriter and I would send a typed copy of the article through the post. The editor would then have the article typed up at the publication ready for print. But with computers evolving also I would also send a floppy disc with my typed copy to make it easier for the editor to create my article for the publication. As the Internet and computers have evolved so to has the delivery of my articles. Gone are the days of supply a floppy disc or USB but now I can simply type the article on my laptop and with a press of a button, I can send it to the editor. How things have changed!
Although the older options of writing for magazines and newspapers still exist there are a lot fewer of them to sell your writing to. But before you get depressed about hearing this many printed publications have gone purely online. This has meant the style of travel writing has evolved. It has been adapted for the computer screen. Many online magazines are still designed similar to a printed magazine or newsletter, but one difference is you press a button on your computer now to turn the page. So travel writing of articles is still required for these types of publications. And the process to being published in them is also similar to printed publications. They may have staff writers and / or rely on freelancers to provide articles. So get your pitch letter ready and start emailing.
Content Creation for Websites and Blogs
Many people, with or without journalism qualifications but who have a love of travel and writing are creating a travel website with a blog area. And turning these websites into money making machines. While those who run these websites mostly create the content themselves, they also often rely on freelancers to contribute articles or content. These can be paid or guest posts opportunities. If paid, you need to have a payment system available, usually something like PayPal. Or if, it is a guest post payment is offered in the form a link to your website from theirs and maybe exposure on their social media channels.
Like many freelancers the way to get paid or guest post gigs is to contact the owner of the website / blog first. The owner is like the editor of a publication and will decide whether or not they like your idea and whether or not they want to pay for it. So arm yourself with a pitch letter if you are going to contact other websites. But you can also use online platforms such as Fivver to offer your writing and content creation services.
So there you have it, this is how travel writing has evolved from when I first started back in the 1990s to today. It has gone from printed publications being your only market to get your travel writing published to now having 2 options. That of printed publications and an array of online options. So if you are dreaming of becoming a travel writing, travel blogger or content creator there are options out there for you. And you don’t need to be a journalist either. If you would like to get some skills consider doing a travel writing course such as the one I offer on this website. It will give you the basics to start your travel writing and /or travel blogging and content creation career.
Sharyn McCullum has been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. She is a digital nomad who writes travel articles, blog posts, travel guides and has created a travel writing course to help others get the skills they need to write about travel also. She currently calls Melbourne home.