Wednesday, September 10, 2008

So You Want to Be a Freelance Travel Writer? Being you own boss means managing your marketing, sales, technology and networking strategies - in addition to world travel!

Motivated by questions I received from travel tour operators and fellow media at the recent Adventure Travel Trade Association here in Brazil as well as my conversation with Brazil-based freelance writer Marilyn Diggs (see earlier blog entry) I offer the following for those who want to be a freelance travel writer.

Tools of the Trade - Websites, associations and tips I have found useful during my 12 years as a freelance journalist specializing in adventure travel.

You need a website 100% dedicated to promoting yourself as a professional writer
1. Your website is your portfolio and a primary sales tool; don't combine it with another industry you are involved in. Your website should showcase samples of your best writing rather than ALL of your writing.
2. Include a photo gallery if you plan to sell your photos.
3. Hire a professional website designer. The results are often more polished than using your own template. However, templates have improved tremendously and design your own if you are so inclined - and offer good web templates.
4. Promote your website. Hand out business cards with your site on them, include a live link to your site on your email signature, include it in your published stories and feature it on your online profile at various online networking sites. Also, highlight it in your newsletter.

Consider adding to your writer's website:
1. A blog (short for web log, an online journal); I use
2. Newsletter - I use Constant Contact.
3. Photo Gallery - I use

Create free profiles on online networking and Social Media
1. Linked In
2. Plaxo
3. Hi5
4. Redroom (for authors)

Combined Social/Professional Online networking:
1. Facebook
2. MySpace
3. Twitter

Read industry news and writers' updates online:

Use Press Release Sources

Join professional organizations and associations. I belong to these professional and recreational groups - some of which have strict requirements for media credentials.
1. ASJA member
2. ATTA member
3. BATW member
4. OIWC member
5. ACA member
6. USA Cycling member

Online Travel Networks
5. Trav Buddy
6. AdventureUS
7. Chicable

Good luck!

Here's food for thought
from the Writer's Newsletter The Written Road:
Excerpt from Rolf Pott's interview of Matt Gross, who writes the Frugal Traveler column for the New York Times travel section.

Q: What advice and/or warnings would you give to someone who is considering going into travel writing?

A: Go into travel before you go into travel writing. You should know how to cross a land border, book plane tickets in a language you don't speak and befriend the old lady who squints evilly from the second-story window at everyone who passes by. In other words, if you're just after paid vacations, then you're going to have a tough time. But if you're willing to put aside your ego, embrace the unknown and endure crushing poverty, then you might have a shot.

Q: What is the biggest reward of life as a travel writer?

A: Duh: getting to travel!

Read the full story on Rolf Potts' Vagabonding website: