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 to write about travel. You were either a staff writer on a magazine or newspaper. Or you could work for yourself as a freelancer providing travel articles and photos to a variety of printed magazines and newspapers. These options are still available however, are limited. 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? Here is my take on how travel writing has evolved from when I started in the 1990s to now.
Staff Writers and Freelancers
Staff writers were usually university trained journalists who got a job on a newspaper or magazine when they finished their studies. If the publication was large enough journalists would be placed in different sections of the paper or magazine. Not many were put straight into the travel department. They had to work their way up to it because of the opportunity to be sent on paid travel assignments. If you did work in the travel department the travel editor would have assigned a destination to a staff travel writer to write an article or articles to appear in the upcoming edition of the publication. For doing this they would be paid a wage. And all their intellectual property – the article written – would belong to the publication.
Often the publication needed more articles to fill their pages. This is when and where freelance travel writers would provide travel 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 the go ahead to the freelancer to write the article. Author guidelines were usually provided. These included the number of words required, style and a deadline. Once the the article was published the freelancer would 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. They were usually paid by cheque – remember those?
Travel Writing Becomes Electronic
Freelancers, like me, once the editor had given me the go ahead to write the travel article would type it up on a typewriter from my hand written notes. Then 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, I would soon also send a floppy disc with my typed copy to the editor. This would help make it easier for the editor to create my article for the publication. I was told to make the editor’s life easier because I would get more writing work that way! That was in 1990.
As the Internet and computers evolved so too has the delivery of my articles. Gone are the days of supplying a typed copy on paper, a floppy disc or USB. 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! And how the equipment needed to be a travel writer / blogger has changed also. No matter where I go, I can take my laptop which is much lighter than the old style heavy typewriters. And payment is often faster and paid directly into my account.
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 with shorter paragraphs and lots more photos. 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 website owners. But you can also use online platforms such as Fiverr to offer your writing and content creation services.
Start Your Own Website / Blog / Online Publication
Many travel writers start their own website, blog or online publication to showcase their own writing. This can be a great income source and many people are starting blogs for this reason. My website / blog was a natural progression for me and is now my full-time career providing me with a good income. My income mostly comes from monetising my site providing me with passive income.
Finally, How Travel Writing has Evolved
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 more options. That of printed publications and an array of online options. So if you are dreaming of becoming a travel writer, 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. It will give you the basics to start your travel writing and / or travel blogging and content creation career.