Many travel writers and would-be writers rightly wonder if they can make a living from their writing profession. Sure, it can be fun to write about the places you’ve been, learn about fascinating cultures, and sample the different flavors of a diverse and tasty food scene. Yet, ultimately, the passion or interest must be monetized. Writing about exciting things to do in Egypt or why Portofino is worth visiting – should be able to pay the bills. And the question is whether the returns are worth it. Here is our answer.
Does Travel Writing Pay Well?
Of course, whether a certain level of compensation is adequate depends on an individual’s perception and circumstances. However, Glassdoor statistics, the anonymous online forum for employment-related issues, reveals that the average annual salary for travel writers is $59,601. On the other hand, the average annual salary of freelance travel writers is $54,285. That’s $5,316 less. From these figures, the answer seems obvious. It is possible to make a living as a travel writer. But there is a cold fact: these are averages. Therefore, each individual’s earnings will in many cases deviate from the industry average. Several factors come into play. The main factor is the years of experience. But the amount of earnings will also depend on the company a person works for, the diversification of sources of income, the quality of his work and, of course, luck – although we rarely admit it.
While travel writing can pay off well, it’s not always an easy road. What most people imagine when thinking about travel writing is traveling the world in business class, hopping from one exotic island to another, and eating food cooked by some of the best chefs in the world – without pay a penny for this glamorous life. Well, not quite.
The difficult side of travel writing that no one tells you about
Although travel writing can be hugely profitable, in many cases it takes a lot of time, courage, and patience to make it a comfortable earning range. The truth is, while you can get a good client who regularly gives writing assignments — and pays quickly — it’s not easy to get regular, high-paying gigs. One reason is that travel writing, unlike other specialized niches like technical or financial writing, doesn’t require any additional technical expertise other than the ability to write well. Anyone who can string together an elegant sentence in a paragraph or two, and make the sentences coherent, descriptive and flowing, will be able to pull it off. Fortunately or unfortunately, there are many people who can do this. And they are spread to the most remote corners of the globe. Therefore, and in the age of the Internet, it will be a lot of people in developing countries who will accept rates of pay — which an American will find ridiculous. It’s something like $20 for 2,000 words.
Still, that’s not reason enough to give up on a passion. Many people have achieved spectacular success with travel writing. There are many ways to circumvent the challenges and succeed as a travel writer, earning hundreds of thousands of US dollars like Bill Bryson or Roy Stevenson.
- What is the best travel writing course in the USA? Although opinions vary, we will go with the Masterclass in online travel writing and marketing. Travel Writers Exchange also lists it as their best travel writing program.
How to succeed as a travel writer?
One way to succeed as a travel writer is to branch out. Here is the truth. Although writing from home or traveling the world may seem like the perfect way to make money – so much so that one is tempted to hand in a letter of resignation – it is advisable to branch out from on board. Roy Stevenson, the legendary travel writer whose work has appeared in 200 different regional, national and international magazines, has this for travel writers just starting out:Do not give up your daily work.” He even goes so far as to say that staying at work should be mandatory. Instead, travel writers should work part-time, while gradually diversifying and expanding their sources of income. This brings us to the next question: how exactly can a travel writer branch out?
To start, you can create a travel blog. Of course, the content must be stable and platinum quality. This can serve as a writer’s portfolio. After that, pitching story ideas to travel magazines should be a little less frustrating. Without a sample, few magazine editors will give a writer’s pitch a second look. Then there are also job boards like Upwork, ProBlogger, and In effect. At this point, the focus should be on getting gigs and delivering items that customers will love. Sure, salary should be a factor, but it shouldn’t be the primary focus.
Once a person has settled into the travel writing rhythm, assuming they have started getting jobs here and there, they can start making money from their blog through advertisements or affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where the main travel blog promotes another product or service on their site in exchange for an agreed commission. Other ways to branch out include writing travel guides or books, vlogging, and training. If one is lucky, she may sign a lucrative promotional deal with a company or two. It’s time to fly around the world while sipping champagne and eating to your heart’s content – without paying a penny.
A final word: It’s good advice to specialize same in travel writing.