10 Qualities of a Professional Travel Writer
After seeing countless Instagram, Facebook, and general news stories about travel bloggers glamming it up in exotic locations all around the world, you no doubt have wondered if you too could get in on the action. The job of a travel writer sounds perfect after all. Getting to travel the world and not having to commute to an office every day sounds blissful. You then add in the possibility of getting invited on paid press trips and staying in 5-star hotels free of charge and the career almost seems a no-brainier.
While the life of a travel writer sounds incredible, it’s definitely a journey that proves challenging for many just starting out. Some travel writers will set off to create their own travel blogs while others may begin with freelance writing for travel-related websites or work towards becoming a travel journalist for a big-name magazine. While there have never been more opportunities to get your writings published and to make money from travel writing, the competition has also never been tougher.
By far the easiest way to start sharing your travel stories is by creating your own travel blog, as this guarantees you will get to publish your work. The difficult task is then working hard to gain a large and loyal audience which will entice advertisers and travel companies to reach out to you.
Recent studies have shown that the average age of a travel blogger ranges between 18 and 30. This seems to imply that having loads of young energy and youthful looks will give you an advantage when it comes to breaking into the travel blogging industry. However, young people in this age group are often plagued with debt and it can prove difficult trying to start a travel blog while also trying to hold down a much needed main job outside of travel writing until your blog takes off.
You then of course have a lot of students in this age group who are still working through the difficult demands and time constraints of college. This has led students to look to online professional writing services such as those provided by CustomWritings, which handles student online requests like “I need someone to write my essay”. This has allowed students to free-up some of their precious time to focus on other goals they may have such as becoming a travel writer or starting a blog.
Other than finding the time and money to start your journey as a travel writer, here are some of the other top 10 qualities and skills that every successful travel writer should possess.
The Willingness to Read
Becoming a great travel writer begins with reading the other works of great travel writers. Reading the articles and books of notable travel writers will allow you to gain insight into what will be expected of you. Read books, magazines, online articles from travel websites, and blog articles to find out which type of travel writing might be best suited to your own personal skills.
Take note of the different writing styles and decide on a style of your own. The goal isn’t to imitate a specific writer but instead to combine the creative skills from a variety of different writers and become unique. Only through reading will you learn what good writing is.
Great Writing Skills
Of course reading is just the first step. You need to learn great writing skills of your own to succeed with travel writing. Writing for your own travel blog allows you some room for error when it comes to things like grammar, punctuation, and spelling. You don’t need to worry about your articles being rejected or marked up by an editor before it can be published when publishing on your own blog, but be warned that you will not succeed in gaining or keeping readers if your writing is consistently poor.
When working for magazines or freelance writing for travel companies, strict writing guidelines are almost always in place. You’re competition will be fierce and your articles must be proofread several times to make sure they are perfect. You must also make sure all the information in your article is factually correct and that information is as up-to-date as possible. Companies often have their own personal style guides you must follow, so you may have to learn how to write in several different styles in order to cater to their demands.
In order to stand out from all the other travel writers and travel bloggers out there, you need to have a creative edge. The goal is finding your own specific niche, one that has the potential to gain a lot of readers but also lacks a lot of competition.
Simply copying other travel bloggers’ writing styles and strategies may work in the short term, but in order to hold the interest of your readers you will need to have your own unique angle that sets your writing apart. You can showcase your creativity not only with your travel writing style but also by choosing unusual destinations to write about and taking unusual and creative images to accompany your articles.
Being flexible is especially important when you are just starting out in the travel writing industry, and we don’t mean striking impressive yoga poses in a Balinese retreat for your Instagram feed. You need to be flexible in terms of what work you are willing to take on. You may have to write about aspects of travel you aren’t passionate about in the beginning such as travel insurance in order to make money. While you may be excited about your recent trip to Paris and want to share your stories, the demand for articles about Paris may not be there and it could be difficult finding a market for selling such articles.
You need to follow what the travel writing market is currently after, and that often means travelling to places you normally wouldn’t travel to or taking on writing jobs that are far from what you are ultimately wishing for. Like any career, you often have to start at the bottom doing jobs you may dislike and then work your way up to become the kind of travel writer you dreamed about.
Showcasing Your Personality
While some travel magazines and websites are after writers that write in the third person, most travel bloggers will be writing in first person. Readers who follow travel bloggers are often doing so because they are attracted to a travel blogger’s personality. You have to learn how to effectively showcase your own personality and know what your target audience is.
You don’t want to come off as smug or give the impression you think you are above your readers. You want your readers to believe that they too can travel in your footsteps. Readers want to see your flaws and humility. You want your readers to both cry and laugh with you as you take them through your journeys. The goal is to get them invested in who you are and interested in what you’re doing and where you’re going.
Possessing Good Time Management Skills
Effective time management is important for success in all fields including travel writing. Travel writing isn’t filled with 24/7 travel. You have to find time to write and pitch articles in-between your travels around the world. You need to make sure to not create itineraries which won’t allow you to stay on top of your writing and responding to emails. Travel writers don’t get paid to travel; they get paid to write about their travels and this requires a lot of work if you wish to make a sustainable income. Finding out how quickly you can write articles will allow you to know how much travel you can effectively carry out.
Persistence and Commitment
You need to really prepare yourself for rejection, especially when just starting out. Do you recall the saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”? Becoming a travel writer for a large company or starting your own successful blog both take a great deal of time and effort. It’s not going to happen overnight.
If your writing seems to be gaining no traction, don’t be afraid to try a different angle. Pitch as many companies as you can and if writing for your own blog then you should be writing as many stories as possible, making sure to study keyword research to get your articles to rank on search engines. The more stories you write, the more chances that some of those writings will get noticed. That will in turn draw readers to your other works.
Possessing Networking Skills
Becoming a successful travel blogger also requires networking with other travel bloggers, travel companies, and tourism centers. You may have created an amazing blog filled with quality stories and great images, but you need to know how to promote your work. Without promoting your articles, no one will be able to find them, read them, and engage with them.
Networking with other bloggers allows you to share each other’s audiences and exponentially grow your following. You may need to start by guest posting on other established travel blogs in order to can gain traction on your own blog. Networking with tourism centers and other travel-related networks, as well as attending travel events where industry professional will be present, will allow you to get your name out there and have it spread throughout the industry. The more contacts you can make, the more chances you’ll be able to score travel writing work or paid press trips.
Possessing Good Business Skills
Making decent money through travel writing will never happen if you don’t also have a good business strategy and financial skills. In addition to writing good travel articles, you need to be able to send effective emails whether that means pitching stories, looking for partnerships, or chasing payments.
As a travel blogger working for your own blog, you need to develop accounting skills, business management skills, and possibly even managing other employees. You may not have to adhere to a strict 9 to 5 schedule, but you still need to know how to set and stick to a set schedule to stay on top of your work load. You need to budget your finances and learn the various ways to monetize your blog or writing skills most effectively.
You need to conduct yourself in a professional manner when dealing with other bloggers and potential clients in order to gain their trust and continue your working relationship. You will struggle to find business if you don’t know how to effectively communicate with clients or companies.
Readers can often see through deception and dishonest travel articles. While it’s fine to sometimes write about topics you may not fully be passionate about, you need to be sure to not stray too far away from what attracts readers or clients to your blog or writings.
Feel free to embellish details to make your stories more interesting, but don’t resort to coming up with complete lies in order to tell a story you think your readers want to hear. Creating false stories can not only lose you a lot of credibility and readers over time, but it could potentially also land you in legal troubles.
Stay true to the brand you want to create for yourself and your blog. If you truly don’t believe in a sponsored product or know a brand isn’t reputable, you have to ask yourself whether the money is worth deceiving your readers.
Becoming a professional travel writer can be a fun and adventurous career, but it definitely isn’t easy. If, however, you are committed and willing to work hard, you have the potential to land a rewarding and profitable line of work. We hope these 10 tips will assist you on your road to travel writing success.