by Kevin Burns
You can take the class at Udemy!
By the end of this introductory course on how to become a travel writer, you will know the basics. This will allow you to get started on the road to your dream job. You will learn to be a better writer, how to get work, avoid mistakes, what to write, how to edit, how to submit pitches, take good photos, which writers to learn from, and the truth about what being a travel writer really means. We will look at paid work and getting paid by travel perks. We will not look specifically at writing for a hobby, but you can apply your learning to your hobby if that is what travel writing is for you. My name is Kevin Burns, and I will be your teacher.
I have been a travel writer for many years now. Most of my articles are about Japan, where I have lived now for over 30 years. My articles have appeared in The Vancouver Sun, the Mainichi Weekly, Japan Today, News on Japan and my own travel and teaching websites: I am Hakone.com and How to teach English in Japan.
How to get Started?
What are the Steps to Becoming a Travel Writer?
– What are your goals?
– What are your markets?
– Start local and start small
– Build up your clips, contacts, and confidence
– Improve your writing and your knowledge
– Stay open to opportunities
– Do not forget your goals (1)
– Enter contests! That`s how Rory MacLean got started, and it lead to great things.
Rory MacLean explains:
“The best way to establish yourself when you`re starting out is to win a prize. I`m not being flippant. There are dozens of travel writing competitions run by newspapers and magazines. Researching and writing a travel article forces you to focus. Winning a competition opens the door to agents and publishers. I won the Independent
newspapers`s first travel writing competition. That enabled me to app
with an idea for a book on Eastern Europe. Then Gorbachev was kind enough to knock down the Berlin Wall, making the subject matter of my book highly topical.” (2)
Steve Gillick, a travel writer from Toronto, feels that 20 different travel writers will reply in 20 different ways about how to be a travel writer. Gillick is self-taught and started by writing for a tour operator newsletter. He went on to create other newsletters for different associations. Then he wrote about travel scams for many years. After that he was invited to write for one trade newsletter, then others. So his travel writing career kept progressing as he kept at it. Now, he is a Senior Travel Writer for Canadian World Traveller Magazine and he has a monthly column in Travel Market Report. He speaks at travel industry events on various topics from customer service to special interest travel. Presently, he specializes in articles relating to Japan.
Read some of Steve Gillicks writing at Gillicks World: http://www.gillicksworld.ca/stevewrites1.html
Could you follow in Gillicks footsteps? Are there some local newsletters that you could write for and gain some experience? Could you create a newsletter for an association that does not have one? This is about building up clips, gaining experience and confidence and filling out your resume.
How to Become a Travel Writier
You Need to Read & Write!
If you want to become a better writer, READ! And WRITE! Read good writers! And write as much and as often as you can. You can write about a local park, museum, or other attraction in your area. Start a blog and write as often as you can. Some people start
Vlogs and you will see that writer Patrick Johnson feels these are the way to go if you want to make a living as a travel writer- to write and film your own travel Vlog.
Create your own Blog or Website
Blogs are great, and some people actually make a living just from their blog. As for SEO (Sight Engine Optimization), a website gets read more, so in spite of the cost, I recommend having a website as opposed to a blog. If you use WordPress, and I recommend WordPress, you can start out with a free blog and you can change it to a website with a domain name like .com or .org later. I have many blogs and a couple of websites on WordPress.
Site Build it, is also good for making a website, but it is much more expensive. Yet it gives you a lot of tools for getting your articles read, as it helps you to master SEO by teaching you the tricks. However, you may just want to hire someone to help you with SEO at some point. Or you can learn it yourself without spending a lot of money. The advantage of SBI is that it is an all in one package. The community there is very good too, and people are always willing to help you at the forums. (Full Disclosure: I have no affiliation nor profit from any of the books or apps that I recommend or mention.)
When you write, be sure to have someone proofread your articles. Or if that is not always possible, at least go back and proofread them yourself a few days afterwards., to catch your mistakes. I am always amazed at the basic mistakes that I have made when I write. Have a dictionary and thesaurus on hand. You can find them on the internet if you don`t have physical copies. Every word must be correct. Your grammar too, must be correct. Note that Spellcheck does not check every word. Programs like Grammarly might be a plus for some of you, especially if you are not a native English speaker and wish to write some of your articles in English. But do not rely on it solely.
Certainly, a Journalism degree or diploma is a big help! So take courses! Creative writing courses would help too. Study as much as you can. Read about how to write, but also, simply read good writers, and start writing yourself, in a journal or start your own blog. Don`t quit your current job! You can study online or take night school classes.
What and Who to Read?
Rory MacLean, Bill Bryson, William Gray, Pico Iyer, Jan Morris, David Sedaris, Melinda Joe, Dave Barry, Steve Gillick, Robert Hass, Patrick Johnson, Stanley Stewart, Simon Calder, Joan D. Bailey, Kira Salak, Jane Dunford, Jonathan Gold and Tim Cahill are all great writers. Read some of them and try to learn what you can from how they write. How do they manage to evoke the feeling and atmosphere of a place? Travel anthologies are worth reading too!
Who are your favorite travel writers? What do you like about them? What makes them unique and interesting writers? Can you apply that to your own writing?
Read Travel Literature:
One of my favourite writers is Paul Theroux. Theroux is a master of dialogue. His book about train travel, “The Great Railway Bazaar,” is fantastic. Theroux writes interesting travel literature. Peter Jenkins~s “A Walk across America,” is a great read. “Under the Tuscan Sun,” by Frances Mayes throws in a little romance with a windo into Italy and it has since been made into a movie. Peter Mayle`s “A Year in Provence,” will make you want to take the next plane there and study French to boot! James A. Michener was amazing. Check out his book “Hawaii” from your local library, to get an idea of how much detail and how descriptive you can be.
Joan Bailey is a freelance writer whose work focuses on food, farming and farmers markets as well as travel. You can read more about her and read her writing at: https://www.JoanDBailey.com
“Read everything.—Read travel articles and essays, of course, but also read poetry, novels, news articles, and more. All of it will inform your writing and make you better. Poetry may seem a bit out there, but it`s had a profound impact on my ability to produce vivid writing in a few words. If you don`t like reading, you should not be a writer.” –Joan D. Bailey
How to be a Travel Writer, the course, will be at Udemy soon!