I know that I make freelance travel writing look easy.
I’ve 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.
But, I’m the first person to tell you that breaking into paying print media is way harder than it looks. The truth is I work really hard at it, as does any successful travel writer.
To get your work published in print, you need to pay attention to every one of the steps in the freelance writing process, from dreaming up a saleable story idea to creating an enticing query letter and then writing a publishable article.
Your writing must be up-to-snuff and meet the magazine editor’s publication standards. You need to know the subtleties of working with magazine editors and how to wrangle repeat assignments from them.
Even today, I’m still picking up tips to further refine my journalism and marketing skills. There’s always something new for us to learn.
Novice travel writers also need to understand that it takes time to break into print media, and that your success in getting your stories published is directly related to the number of pitches you send out.
Another crucial principle that aspiring professional travel writers need to learn fast is the importance of treating your travel writing as a business, rather than as a hobby. It’s still ok to be a travel writing hobbyist, so long as you understand that your progress will be much slower.
Beginner travel writers also need a healthy dose of resilience. I’m always surprised when I hear from other travel writers how downhearted they feel when their queries are rejected.
Strangely enough, I’ve never though it a big deal when I receive rejection letters from magazine editor. I know it’s not personal. I simply accept rejection as part of the freelance process, and doggedly send out more queries. I guess I must have a thick hide!
Closely allied to these other attributes is self-discipline. Without this trait, you’re not going to meet much success in freelance travel writing. It’s all about discipline!
Finally, you need to be flexible with your approach to this whole freelance writing gig. You’re writing to serve the magazine readers, not yourself. I come across references to how freelance writers should always “be true to themselves and write about what they want to write about”. I don’t buy that for one second!
If you can’t dream up stories that other people want to read, you’re going to find it difficult selling your stories. It’s not all about you!
I hear from my editor friends how some writers get upset when the editor rewrites or changes their stories. Some of these writers have even been unwise enough to chastise the editor for this. Not a smart move if you want repeat work with that editor! Even the finest authors of best-selling novels have professional editors that rewrite their work.