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How to be a Travel Writer, Part 7

Photo by Samson Katt on

by Kevin Burns

Read the article or take the class at Udemy!

Capture the moment! I recommend taking a basic photography course. You can of course do that online, or even through a beginner`s photography book. I think once you know the basics of how to frame a picture and lighting, you will be on your way!

Bailey suggests: “Get a camera. – Your cell phone might be amazing, but if you want to publish anything of quality that pays even reasonably well or has good perks, you need to be able to take photos. Read about taking photos and then practice taking them. You don’t have to be great, but you should be pretty good. This will make you more versatile and appealing. Always carry your camera.”

I take my own photos with my cell phone and use photos of friends if we are traveling together and their photos are good. Even a cell phone can take very good photos. Also, I am lucky to have many good photographers around me. My sons take great photos of Japan and I use them in my articles sometimes. One just uses his cell phone, the other has a DSLR camera and works for a film company in Tokyo. A good friend also takes great photos. She just uses her phone. The iPhone has a great camera. That said I plan on getting a very good mirrored or mirrorless camera. I think it will be worth it. I recommend that you do too if you can afford one. But cell phone cameras are very good and improving all the time, and you can always start with one.

Gillick observes: “Photos. While some magazines use their own photo library or a professional service like Getty, others may ask if you have photos to complement your writing. I always like to see my own photos being used as they capture the personality of the moment, rather than a “stock” photo image that only captures an image. Get a digital camera and start taking travel photos that capture the moment. As a travel writer you are ‘on duty’ all the time with your eyes open, so take your camera with you at all times to practice.”

Breaking into Magazine Writing & Finding Contacts

I often write a piece and send it the editor of the section I am hoping to have my article in. Once a piece is published you have an in. Melinda Joe recommends finding contacts by checking the masthead of publications that you are interested in. She says: “Don`t try pitching the editor-in-chief or managing editor; try looking for deputy or assistant editors.” She relates that many are on Twitter, and you should follow them, and try to connect somehow. Some will list their email addresses at Twitter, but some won`t.

Don George advises that to break into magazines you should try to write the short pieces that go in the front of the magazine, and get good at doing those, to build up a bit of a reputation as a reliable writer of “front-of-the-book stories.” He says that you should write a few of these to get your name published and “…establish your relationship with an editor at the publication and lay the groundwork for further, possibly larger commissions.” (9)

Eventually, you can go on to writing bigger features in the middle of the magazine or travel guide. Often newspapers publish themed sections for example: Hawaii. If you can find out their upcoming themes you can submit appropriate articles ahead of time. (10)

Joan D. Bailey reminds us of the practicalities. She advises us to get business cards and carry them always:

“Give them to everyone you talk to for a project or even when you don`t have a project. People keep them and refer back to them. You`ll get their cards in return, and they will be useful later when you want to write a story.”

Serendipity I was praised by an editor of the Vancouver Sun, Canada`s third largest newspaper, for having “wonderful timing.” I would sit down, write a piece and it was often the kind of article they were looking for right then. As mentioned no outline was written, I just trusted what was bubbling up inside me and wrote, then sent it off to Canada.

I don`t know why this happened. It happened twice! But serendipity seems to be a real phenomenon. Don`t judge it! Trust it! If you get an urge to write and feel that you should send it to a certain publication, do it. Good things may happen. Indeed, serendipity may lead you to great events that you can write a story about. So, as they say, go with the flow.

How to make the Perfect Pitch to Publishers?

Read past articles from each publication to get to know what has been published and to get a sense of their content and style. You don`t want to make a pitch for an article that has already been published in a recent issue. (11)

Most magazines and newspapers will only accept articles based on a pitch. You need to sell on the idea of an article that will appeal to readers. Try writing some sample pitches and get feedback. You will eventually develop your own pitch template for success. (12)

Some writers do not need to pitch much. After a long slog, they get offers. You will need to pitch! Most magazines and newspapers will only accept travel articles from freelancers via a pitch. Pitching is a good idea if you require payment. And who doesn`t want to be paid for what they write? Try to sell the publication on an article that will appeal to their readers. There are many resources online for how to write a pitch. You need to develop your own pitching method that will be successful. Read examples of good pitches online, then develop your own style that works consistently. Then keep at it.

Joe advises, “Once you find publications that appeal to you, read them thoroughly to understand house style and target audience, and then get to work on pitches specifically tailored to each publication. A Google search will yield lots of results for tips on pitching.”

Typed Block


Write about a trip you have taken. Write in detail on your most memorable experience during your trip. How can you bring readers to this place simply by your words? Write three drafts, then show it to a trusted friend and have them edit it and critique it. Submit it to a travel magazine or a newspaper after you clean it up.

Go to the Conclusion of How to be a Travel Writer

About kintaro63 (218 Articles)
Writer and teacher in Japan

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