Nothing in the world sounds better than parading around it, writing about your expeditions, and having others feel... well, envious. Such is the life of a travel writer. Now, how to get there? (And we don’t mean plane, train, car, bus, or boat…)
In his book How to Be a Travel Writer, Don George says you must first determine what you’re looking to gain. If your principal goal is to share your experiences with others, he writes, that’s easier now than ever before. However, if you want to receive compensation for your work and turn your passion for exploring into a full-time job, you need to target websites, newspapers, and magazines that pay. Find out which of your favorites have travel sections and email the editor or try to hunt down any sort of connections to your titles of choice via LinkedIn and have someone e-introduce you.
But don’t just say, “Hey, how’s it going?” You’ll need to send a formal pitch email if you want to be taken seriously. Set the subject line to something like “PITCH: What It’s Like to Live Amongst Buddhist Monks in Japan” and flesh out the idea in the body of the email. And if you’re going to set your sights on The New York Times or National Geographic, beware that the best pitch in the world is only going to hold their interest until they know that you can write. Build a portfolio and reputation with smaller publications and sites willing to take a chance on a fledgling writer. But as you hone your craft, don’t let anybody take advantage of you; you’re performing a service, and deserve to be compensated, even at the starter level. If they don’t pay, keep moving -- you’re worth it.
Of course, you can keep all the spoils and glory for yourself as a blogger if you gain a big enough following on your own website or social media platform. But with it comes the additional work of attracting advertisers and sponsors. Or support your career by becoming a social influencer (AKA someone who can influence a market of potential buyers simply by associating with that product). Instagram is the easiest platform to build a readership, since you can post eye-grabbing photos and videos, then link out to your blog for more. Web design skills aren’t necessary, since WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, and more are easy plug & play sites that come with beautiful, free themes.
Start simply, posting quality snaps of your travels and hashtagging accordingly. And remember, even if it doesn’t take off right away (and it won’t), you’re at an advantage -- you just saw Machu Picchu and other breathtaking sights. Enjoy your journey, and study accounts that have succeeded in building an audience; not so you can imitate them, but so you can incorporate effective practices that accomplish what you’re trying to do, your own way.
Matt Kepnes, author of How to Travel the World on $50 a Day and creator of the blogging school Superstar Blogging writes that above all, you need to be determined. “Nobody steps out into the world knowing it all. They pick it up along the way. Don’t doubt yourself. You get by in your regular life just fine. The same will be true when you travel.”
Follow travel bloggers you like. Read their writing and see how they make things work. Since they’re aiming to inspire... let them.