Recently, I was chatting on a message board with a fellow travel blogger, who had come across my site and saw all the badges on the the side of my blog. “I’d love to write for some of those,” she said. “But I don’t know where to start!” I was surprised, because she’s a successful blogger who’s got slick concept and a great-looking site. But, like most bloggers, she’d love more exposure for her writing and the perks that brings–traffic, more paid assignments. Hmmm, that gave me an idea for a new post!
I’ve been a professional freelance writer for almost a decade, long before I started this blog (although I had other blogs, a long time ago in another life!) I know there are a lot of bloggers who’ve yet to do any freelancing, but would love to gain a bigger audience by publishing their work beyond their blog, but may not know where to start. I’m here to help!
Weirdly, I found one of my biggest travel writing clients, Matador Network, by accident, when they syndicated my post on XOJane, which was an article that arose out of my book, Princess of Pirates: How I Ran Away to Sea. But if they aren’t coming to you yet, go to them!
How To Get Started Writing for Travel Sites in 5 Short Steps
- Decide where to pitch. Don’t know where to start? Start at the easiest place–with the blogs you already read and love. Chances are you might have an idea for a post on a subject they haven’t covered and are looking to cover. Don’t be afraid to think big–even if a blog has a lot of traffic, that doesn’t mean they aren’t looking for a subject matter you might be an expert in–like working a yacht, for example, or train travel, or luxury hotels in Singapore, or…
- Do your research. Log onto the site, browse it thoroughly to make sure you get their tone down and get a sense of what they seem to publish most often. You don’t want to waste your time pitching “10 tips for solo travel in India” when they just published “What I learned from traveling alone in India” two days ago. (At least you know there’s an audience for it, so save that piece for somewhere else!) Be sure your concept is fresh, but still falls within the scope of what they publish. For instance, Matador had published pieces on yachties, but nothing on tall ships. Cha-ching! Found my niche. The subject doesn’t have to be brand-new, either. You can also adapt one of your previous posts (generally they don’t want a complete duplicate, so you will have to change it a little).
- Craft the pitch. Offer to write about something that they haven’t covered, and convince them why you should be the one to do it. What are your qualifications? give them a link to your blog and/or portfolio. Remember don’t bore them with a bland, predictable pitch: “This is what I’m going to write about…” You’re writing, so write the pitch the way you would write the post. Make it sing!
- Send your pitch. Make sure to check out their submission guidelines to see whether they accept pitches or want you to submit the entire piece, or have any policies you should know about. Sometimes they’ll give you a generic email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org.) If you can try to find the name and email address of an actual PERSON. If you can greet them by name, it helps shape personal connection that makes them less likely to ignore you.
- Follow up. Editors are busy–don’t be afraid to nudge! If you don’t hear back right away, don’t throw up your hands and give up. I can’t tell you how often editors have gotten back to me and said “Oops, I never saw this. It fell through the cracks, but we’d love to publish it!”
- Don’t give up. Rejection SUCKS. Believe me, I hate it more than I hate just about anything in the world–which as a writer, is quite unfortunate for me! (The only thing I hate more than being rejected is being ignored altogether, which also happens). But I grit my teeth and keep going, because this is my business; this is my life. Rejection is NOT a referendum on you as a human being, and it doesn’t mean your story is worthless. It just means “not here.” Maybe you’ll get accepted right away. Maybe you won’t. Find another market who does want it (see below). Remember, as long you think it’s going to take to get accepted, it will most likely take 100 times that, or longer. But if you keep pitching, brainstorming, and sending great ideas, it will happen. Take it from me, the Rejection Queen.
Here are some great resources I’ve found for finding new places to submit your work, tips on submissions, and all around support:
- Facebook Groups for Travel Blogging. Once you request to join, these are incredibly useful in networking with other bloggers, sharing ideas and (sob) stories, getting advice, and spreading word of mouth about sites who are looking for writers/pitches! Plus, helping other writers makes you feel fuzzy inside! The ones I belong to:
- Next Level Travel Blogging
- Female Travel Bloggers
- Girls vs. Globe
- Drifters Unite
- Pitch Travel Write. Veteran travel writer Roy Stevenson has written literally thousands of articles for travel sites, and has dozens of valuable tips for how to pitch, what to pitch, and the business of travel writing.
- Make a Living Writing. This site isn’t specifically about travel writing, but it is covered in several posts, as well as hugely use list of sites paying $50 and up, including a long list of travel-related sites. Carol Tice is a rock star when it comes to offering tips to chase big sites and clients, and more importantly make $$$!
- Matador Network. The site actually offers a class on travel writing called Travel U. I haven’t tried it, but it’s got great testimonials and it’s something to think about if you’re serious about getting more work. But they also have a great free how-to series on travel writing by editor David Miller that are just as valuable (e.g., “Why lists are killing travel writing!”)
What about you? Any techniques that have worked particularly well for you in getting your writing published? Any that haven’t? Share below!