As a freelance writer, your time is your currency.
Anytime you can get multiple stories from one place or attraction, you save yourself a lot of time. You research the destination only once. You make one trip and then get your articles published multiple times. And receive multiple paychecks.
Here’s how I sold six articles about a museum in Hood River, Columbia River Gorge, Oregon.
The minute I walked into the cavernous Western Antique Aeroplane and Automobile Museum I got a warm and fuzzy feeling. I came to an abrupt standstill, and gazed in awe at the huge collection of beautifully restored antique aircraft and the rows of gleaming classic automobiles.
I immediately knew I would sell multiple stories about this world-class museum!
I have a “sales meter” built into my brain, which gives me a percentage figure of my chances of selling a story about the place. Seriously, a figure pops into my head, like “60%” or “80%”.
Inside the WAAM Museum, the figure “100%” was burning in bright and clear red numerals, and I was hearing loud alarm bells clanging! I suspect this is my own personal brand of savant syndrome.
I told the museum’s owner, who was giving me a personal tour, that I could sell multiple stories about the museum. I remember him giving me a somewhat skeptical look. A year later, I had an open invitation to return to the museum anytime as a VIP guest.
- Within twelve months, I had a piece about the museum’s restored 1917 Curtiss-Jenny airplane published in Aviation History magazine.
- Then I had a story about the museum’s vintage collection of World War II reconnaissance aircraft published in Warbird Digest magazine.
- I also sold a lengthy feature about the museum’s automobiles to a classic car magazine.
- Then I sold a general review of the museum to Gorge Guide magazine as part of a museum roundup story.
- A UK magazine, Military Machines International, bought my story about the museum’s collection of military jeeps.
- Then I re-sold that same jeep piece to an Australian magazine called Jeep Action.
That’s six stories, in different genres, and a nice bundle of ca$h from one museum (more than $3,000). Not a bad haul for a 4-hour museum visit!
You’ll note that these assignments were all pitched retroactively. But, with good advance planning and plenty of pitching, it’s also possible to stack up multiple writing assignments before you leave home.
It’s good to know you’ll be earning a reasonable income while you travel, especially for an international trip. And if you’re organized, you can arrange to have most of your travel expenses covered using your assignments as collateral. Using your assignment as leverage to request complimentary airfare, guides, accommodations, meals, tours, and ground transport will save you a lot of travel money.
On one of my annual European tours, for example, I spent 42 days touring England, Germany, Wales, and France. Before I departed on this trip I secured 35 assignments for ten different publications. After parlaying these assignments into complimentary accommodations, I had 35 of those 42 nights comped by various tourist agencies in these countries.
Better still, I walked away with a profit of $4,131 after my stories had been published.
Many travel writers are content to have one single assignment lined up before they leave for their destination or to just pitch one story idea when they return from their destination. But, this “one-and-done” approach is hardly the way to make money travel writing.
Think big! Research and pitch multiple story ideas before and after you travel.