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Kim Wilson
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Travel Writing: From a Bloggin' Byline to a Payin' Blyline

by Roy A. Barnes


Access one of the countless travel blogging sites that have overrun the Internet and type out a personal globe-trotting recollection. Presto: you can tell the world that you are a travel writer! Yet it's a different ballgame to honestly proclaim: "I've been paid to write about my journeys."

When publications pay for your writing, it means your work has stood out amongst the zillions of submissions that converge upon editors' desks. Money isn't something publications part with automatically. It's quite unlike the blogging community creed, where the license to call yourself a writer also means the license not to see a wooden nickel for your efforts.

Becoming a travel writer who can make enough money to pay the bills is a gradual process. These tips will help you along in this rewarding quest:

1. Travel writing is not a get rich quick scheme. How much time are you willing to devote to the monotonous researching of paying markets, the tedious drafting and redrafting of articles and queries, while honing your craft so that it meets the specific needs of mediums that will put some dead presidents in your pocket? Your financial and family situation will certainly be a factor in determining this.

2. Study the writers' guidelines of travel publications. They often give you a good idea of what the mediums are looking for, helping you to target your completed article or work in progress in the right direction. Keep the words "cross-over market" in mind when writing an article. Your feature on club hopping in London could be marketable to young adult and music publications. An article about volunteering abroad could also be sold to an educational-based magazine or Web site.

3. Subscribe to free market, contest, and writing tips newsletters like Writersweekly.com and Fundsforwriters.com. Many of the advertisements from these e-publications are for other online writers' newsletters filled with paying sources.

4. Study the markets without depleting your wallet. Read travel publications at libraries and order free trial issues. You need to study first hand the feel and scope of many travel publications.

5. Travel. While on your journeys, get as many free brochures and booklets as you can about the places you visit. Add this literature to your reference library. Keep a diary of your trekking experiences, which can be the foundation for personal experience essays to submit to contests, literary journals and anthologies that focus on travelers' tales.

6. Take pictures. Get a decent 35mm camera for use in your travels. Generally, photos increase your odds of getting published. When developing your film, it's best to order double prints and a CD copy of your pictures. This way, you will be prepared to submit via e-mail or postal mail.

7. Fact check. Before submitting your work to an editor, revisit the online sites of the specific places you've written about to recheck facts: times of operation, admission prices, new exhibitions, etc. Make sure your article is as up to date as possible. Keep in mind that it might take months for an accepted article to appear online or in print. If you want to write a seasonal article, research editorial calendars and lead times so you can make timely submissions.

Getting that first pay check as a travel writer takes more than casual dedication. It means being persistent in the face of rejection. It means being willing to diligently seek out the appropriate markets. And most of all, it means being willing to write with more discipline and focus.

This article first appeared on Fabulist Flash

Roy A. Barnes, a freelance writer living in Cheyenne, Wyoming, has worked for both the airline and travel agent industries and has trekked the European, Asian and African continents. His article, "Free Room and Board for Speaking English," was featured in the March/April 2005 issue of Transitions Abroad.









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