A Clash of Titans: Digital Versus Print Travel Media

Updated: Aug 19th, 2018

As a travel writer for print media, I’m often asked by other freelancers how digital media has affected the print travel magazine business.

That’s a fair question.

Print travel media consists primarily of travel magazines, travel memoir books, & travel guidebooks.

Digital travel media includes travel websites, travel blogs, travel service websites like TripAdvisor.com, plus Google.com, YouTube.com, online forums, Facebook, and other social media—and many other digital outlets.

Here’s How Digital Travel Media Has Affected Print Travel Media

Digital travel media has clearly taken a huge bite out of print travel media.

Many travel magazines are slimmer than they used to be. Many travel magazines have experienced drops in their subscriptions & newsstand circulation figures.

A few travel magazines have even closed their doors. Between 2011 and 2013, for example, seven U.K. travel magazines closed their doors. But, these side effects from the Internet are to be expected from a new and innovative platform that dispenses competing, easily accessible, and free travel information.

Some print travel magazines will continue to start up and some will vanish. But this has always been the normal ebb and flow of the print media industry. And, the magazines that fold are still a minute portion of the total travel magazine market.

The damage from the Internet is not nearly as bad as digital travel media supporters claim. It’s not even close! One self-proclaimed travel blogging expert recently stated (at a travel blogger’s conference, naturally!) that print media will cease to exist by 2020. This reveals a gross ignorance of the massive size of the print media industry.

Print media is an enormous industry! There are 16,078 magazines and consumer publications in North America, the U.K, and Australia. Print media generates $22 billion per year in advertising revenue and subscriptions and newsstand sales.

If that’s not impressive enough, how about this? A total of 373 million magazine units were sold in 2016.

Most of these periodicals are fed by freelance writers.

I estimate that magazine editors commission 48,234 articles each month. Obviously, these are not all travel magazine articles, but more than two thousand of these magazines are directly, or indirectly, related to travel and lifestyle and other related sub-genres. This translates to about 12,000 commissioned travel and lifestyle related articles each month.

Are you getting your share of these?

More Good News About Print Travel Media

In the past several years there’s been a sizeable number of exciting new travel magazines entering the global travel magazine market.

Here are a few that have crossed my desk in the past year: Longstay, Corporate Traveller, Travel Magazine, World Travel, Conde Nast Traveller, Travel America, GlobeRovers, Expat Society, Expat Living, Cape + Kantary, TravelLive, Marco, Gourmet & Cuisine, Foodstylist, Asia Spa, Action Asia, Get Lost, Bon Voyage, to name a few. There are hundreds more like these, all of which represent more opportunities for freelance writers.

The Bad News: Travel Guidebooks

The one print medium that has taken a serious hit is travel guidebooks.

Global guidebook sales have dropped 50% in the past decade. (Facts from www.PRDaily.com ) This decline is directly attributable to many travelers mining the Internet for their destination information, plus a significant number of travel writing entrepreneurs publishing their own guidebooks. Nevertheless, traditional guidebooks are still being published and sold on the book shelves.

Certainly, print media’s future is not as rosy as when it was the only show in town, and before travel websites and blogs gained traction. Traditional print publishers will continue to be challenged by the Internet. They’ll need to adapt their business models to survive and run leaner magazines.

Although strongly challenged by the Internet, paying print travel media will thrive for the near future, bringing with it a demand for well written travel articles.

What About the Future of Digital Travel Media?

The past few years have not been a smooth ride for digital travel media either.

Digital travel media has become fiercely competitive as everyone has joined the travel blogging party. There are, literally, thousands of travel blogs and websites out “there”. Despite the fierce competition, digital travel outlets continue to grow at a rapid rate.

Monetizing digital travel outlets continues to be difficult, due to the massive influx of new writers that have joined the throngs of existing travel bloggers. Perhaps only 2 out of every hundred travel websites and blogs make a few hundred dollars annually, and I’m sure the ratio of bloggers making a livable income are significantly lower than this.

The vast number of travel bloggers and websites has diluted the potential traffic to each site. Thousands of disillusioned, dewy-eyed travel bloggers have walked away from their blogs after they comprehend the uphill battle they’re facing to eke out a profit. And how much hard work needs to go into a travel blog to build the traffic enough to monetize it.

There’s a big overlap between the digital world and the print world. There appears to be a mutual attitude of co-existence between print travel writers and Internet travel writers, amongst the more enlightened journalists.

Most travelers still use a combination of print and digital media to get their travel information. Savvy travel writers these days will place their feet in both camps, and forage for income from both types of media. Savvy travel writers will explore the unbounded opportunities that the Internet presents, if they use the right approach.


About the Author:

Roy Stevenson produces a free weekly newsletter for aspiring travel writers. It’s considered one of the most informative e-zines in the travel writing business.
Subscribe here: http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/pitchtravelwrite-ezine.html

Roy has published seven eBooks on selling and marketing freelance travel articles. (See right sidebar)

He operates a personalized coaching business for novice travel writers, and every one of his 60+ novice writers has been published in print or online media. Many have scored cool press trips using their assignments as collateral. (http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/coaching-for-travel-writers.html)

Roy offers Travel Writing & Marketing Master Classes, which will next be held in Seattle, Washington State, U.S.A April 27-29, 2018.

About Roy Stevenson 59 Articles
Freelance travel writer Roy Stevenson has had more than 1,000 articles published in 200+ regional, national, and international magazines, newspapers, trade journals, custom publications, specialty magazines, in-flights, on-boards, and online travel magazines. He's considered one of the most prolific travel writers in the U.S.A. His free weekly newsletter for aspiring travel writers is considered one of the most informative e-zines in the travel writing business. (Subscribe here: http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/pitchtravelwrite-ezine.html) Roy has published seven eBooks on selling and marketing freelance travel articles. (http://www.pitchtravelwrite.com/digital-downloads.html) You can read Roy's full bio and see some samples of his work at his writer's website, www.Roy-Stevenson.com

1 Comment

  1. Hello
    Thanks for your great blog, Its full of useful information,I like the topic which you selected as not only travel writing face these debate between hard or soft copy but writing in general in other word to buy a magazine or to use internet search for magazine but in my point of view each has advantages and disadvantage for example hard or print copy include cost but its pleasure for the traditional reader but soft copy is easy to find, free in cost but not include the reading pleasure you find in hard one.
    please keep on writing, You are really talenterd

Sorry, Commenting is automatically closed on all Posts older than two years.

Some links on this page do earn us a small amount of money if you click on them and make a purchase. Not much, maybe enough for a cup of coffee or a beer, but we would never recommend any item if we didn't believe in it's value to you. Plus, every little bit helps keep this site going and helps us continue to provide you with great information.  We appreciate your support!