Traditionally, a travel photographer was also a travel writer, hence the exciting-sounding and most-desired occupation of the Photojournalist. The most obvious example being those who are skilled/experienced enough to provide services for the likes of National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Travel Photographer Sebastiao Salgado, is such an example:
Starting from scratch, how would one go about breaking into the paid travel writing industry?
“But I’m not a good writer”
This is what I often hear when I suggest to give travel writing a go, which is fair enough. Writing is like a muscle, you need to work at it for a long long time until it becomes almost second nature. Plus you have to enjoy the experience or the end-result probably won’t be a good read.
I’ve timed myself and it has taken me 2 hours to put together this close to 1,000 word-article…two years ago it would have probably taken me twice as long.
However, even if you feel that you’re not a good writer, keep in mind that you’re already communicating in the medium of images and then captioning & keywording. Therefore, making a logical transition to travel writing should be relatively straightforward.
In any case, most readers these days have the attention span of a 4-year old, so it helps to try to keep paragraphs short and include loads of images to grab their attention, which means grammar is of less importance. In any case, you can always ask someone to help you proofread.
Get paid to write as a Freelancer
As with stock photography, it’s important to keep your expectations low.
The publishing world is experiencing a steep drop in earnings for published works, in large part due to a drop in advertisement revenues particularly in print. In addition, there appears to be abundance of free travel blogs, as well as publications that exploit such keen travel writers by having their work published in return for “exposure”.
It’s nice to aim to be published/sponsored by National Geographic, but the reality is that if you’re just starting out you’ll want to pitch to smaller publications, such as these 10 Publications That Will Pay You for Travel Writing. As you’ll see, the remuneration isn’t huge, such as $50 for a 1,200 article, but if you can include high-quality / professional images along with the article, you may be able to ask for more.
Once you’ve set yourself up with a stream of travel articles at a smaller publication, you’ll be able to use that as a springboard to pitch to larger publications that pay more per article and may even contribute towards travel costs.
My experience as a Freelance Travel Writer
I’ve been very busy during the past two years with my photos, book/blog and videos so naturally I haven’t had too much time left over to engage in travel writing, or the willingness to pitch to editors (most don’t bother to reply).
However, I’ve been writing on and off for one publication called Escapeartist that pays me a fixed amount per photo-article. You can see my 12 published articles here and perhaps if you’re interested in writing for them, you can see details here.
Latest Article – Jewish Portugal
Yesterday, EscapeArtist published my latest photo-article on the fascinating history of Jews in Portugal since the 16th-century Inquisition. This is a topic that particularly interests me and have written about the Venice Jewish Ghetto and of course my trip to Israel in 2017.
I’m far from becoming an expert on the subject, but as a bonus the research I’ve done and knowledge I’ve gathered have helped me caption and keyword my stock images to a professional level. This should translate into more visibility towards targeted buyers who search for those images and ultimately more sales.
Getting Started as a Travel Writer
If you’re already a proficient photographer and have an established portfolio of travel images that sell regularly under your belt, I believe you’re already at a huge advantage over the competition! As mentioned earlier, you would be wise to use that as leverage in any pitch you make to editors.
For instance, since I’ve visited some dozens of UNESCO World Heritage sites, I could pitch to an editor about my experiences and include such images (of course go into specifics) – just an idea.
I won’t go into more detail about targeting publications, pitching to editors and negotiating a fee, but would suggest to check out the following articles on the matter:
- 34 Travel Magazines and Websites That Pay Freelance Writers
Get Paid for Travel Writing – List of Publications that pay newbies
Best of luck if you do get involved in travel writing. Please share your experiences below and private message me if you’re looking for any particular advice on the matter and I’ll try my best to answer you!
I’m an eccentric guy on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’m determined not to waste my life away as a corporate drone and have devoted five years to making it as a travel photographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others before it’s too late.
I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography
Check out my new photo review service, where I’ll help take your images to the next level and get them sold regularly!