If you’re looking to try and break into the often giddying world of travel journalism, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here’s a hand-picked selection; you’ll find our best tips below.
Put Your Best Face Forward
Show editors what you can do with your blog. Any editor is going to be on the lookout for carefully crafted copy which can easily engage a reader, so make sure that you put your best work into your blog posts. Longevity is key – if the editor can’t see that you’re committed enough to stick with it for a while, what reason does he or she have to hire you?
And yes, we know that your blog is going to fall by the wayside somewhat once you start getting paid commissions – it’s only natural to favour the work you get money for – but try not to neglect it too much; treat it as a portfolio.
Find a Niche
Another tip for blogging is to find a nice niche angle and stick to it. You will be more likely to get followers if you have a particular focus – such as “backpacking with a baby” or “trekking in Tuvalu” – than if you’re an all-rounder, but don’t forget that the main attraction is the writing, not the subject.
Your work will only continue to grow if your content is good, so put your all into the writing. Make sure your words sound like you, and don’t try to jam in loads of SEO – it’ll only seem stilted and will put people off.
Travel journalism isn’t what you see on the TV – it’s a job, remember, so it will be hard work, and the pay won’t be great until you become more well-known. While you’re a freelance agent, it will be unlikely that you’ll get your travel expenses paid for, so don’t expect any free holidays from it.
When it comes to money, you won’t be rolling in it. Take a thousand-word piece for a major publication: you might get around £400 for this (if you’re lucky), but you’ll have to spend a day on the pitch, another couple on your planning, and say five days on the trip itself. That’s a week’s work for £400, and you’ve not even paid for the flights and accommodation yet…
Understand Your Employers
The easiest way to get your work into a magazine is by being a reader – if you don’t know the publication you’re pitching to, your pieces might not be the right fit. Don’t conduct an interview with a travel expert and expect it to go down well with a magazine that specialises in reviewing youth hostels.
It is an all too common occurrence – publications receive pitches that have clearly come from someone who has never even read the magazine. If you’ve not bothered to flick through a copy, why would you want to work for them? Editors want passionate employees, not writers who are just after a quick paycheque.