As I reach five years of working part to almost full time as a freelance writer, I’m constantly asked how to get started in the industry. In all honesty, I’m never really sure what to answer, as it’s equal parts hard work and knowing the right people. So I’ve asked a few of my travel writing colleagues for their one biggest piece of advice for aspiring travel writers.
Natalie Taylor, Freelance Writer
Published By: Air Canada En Route Magazine, Conde Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, AFAR.com
My biggest advice would be to read. It would give you so much more context to the destination you’re covering. If you also have a niche (like food, adventure, etc.) it will help you hone in on what you’re looking for and meet people.
Bret Love, Green Travel Media
Published By: Yahoo Travel, Southbound Magazine, Jezebel Magazine, AirTran Go Magazine
My #1 piece of advice is to do you research: Learn about the history of a place, interview locals about it, find out what makes it tick. No matter how interesting your personal take may be, these sorts of little details can make all the difference between a good story and a GREAT one.
Jessie Festa, Jessie on a Journey and Epicure & Culture
Published By: Details, Thrillist, Viator, Westjet’s Up! Magazine
Oddly enough, one of the best ways to become a great travel writer is setting aside some time to NOT write, but read. Read stories by travel writers you admire for inspiration, peruse blogs to see what you like and don’t like about the branding and design, and spend time getting to know different styles of content creation so you can experiment and work to find your unique voice. This can be one of the hardest parts of travel writing, figuring out just how to tell your stories in an engaging and moving way.
Lisa Lubin, LL World Tour
Published By: American Airlines American Way Magazine, Westjet’s Up! Magazine, Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post
The biggest advice I have, besides just having a unique, timely pitch with some sort of “hook,” would be persistence! Don’t be afraid to follow up on a pitch in 1-2 weeks. I often hear back from a follow-up email and if I hadn’t “checked” in with the editor, I wouldn’t have landed the article.
Caroline Eubanks, Caroline in the City and This Is My South
Published By: AFAR.com, National Geographic Traveler, US Airways Magazine, Shermans Travel
So what’s my biggest piece of advice? Let your work speak for itself. Most of my work has been found from referrals. If you create great content and can stick to deadlines, the industry will take notice. But at the same time, don’t be afraid to talk yourself up. You must promote yourself to others in order to gain jobs.
Becoming a writer is not an easy path and is full of frustrations like chasing down checks, following up on pitches and receiving rejections, but if you’re cut out for it, you’re in for a rewarding career. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.