Expert Advice on breaking into travel journalism
Enthusiasm for traveling as well as knowing how to write won’t get you qualified to be a travel journalist. Never just offer an all-purpose ‘guide’ to some unique destination as you must have some sort of angle to grab a reader’s attention. Instead, do some of the following to make your article more interesting and viable.
Travel Journalism Qualifications:
1) English language is essential. It is good if you have English major or Communicative English subject during the college.
2) Be a story teller. Journalist need to have ability to write and take photographs.
Develop your own interesting writing style.
3) Education. You don’t necessarily need formal qualifications but it is nice if after grads, you can complete your MBA in Travel and Tourism or History.
4) Foreign languages and communicative skills – it is excellent if journalist knows foreign languages for example French, Spanish, Chinese etc. In that case journalist can communicate on better way.
5) Ready to travel and communicate. Passion for travel. Journalist need to visit the places, talk to the local people,try to describe unique experience of that land.
6) Good research skills
7) Being organized and able to meet deadlines.
8) Find beauty in ordinary things.
9) Journalist need to try to be visible on all popular social media channels, Facebook, twitter, forums, and community pages.
10) Try to answer questions and ask questions and publish that.
Here’s some tips on what’s required for launching you into the world of travel journalism:
If you have a travel blog, use it to show editors your skills. Editors need to see you’re capable of writing articles that are engaging and well-written. You must be able to find a good angle for your article and prove you’re devoted to your blog and have posted more than just one or two posts. A lot of blogs fall off on posting things after writers start making money on paid travel articles because they don’t have much time to devote to unpaid work.
However, you have to start somewhere and blogs are a great way to begin. You must focus on creating well-written, interesting and intriguing travel article with niche angles like ‘traveling with kids or ‘great places to eat in Germany.’ If your writing is good enough, you’ll easily get followers. If you instead concentrate on forcing SEO into your articles, your writing will look stilted.
You must dig to discover angles you won’t find in a travel guide. Lots of writers believe just because they love travel and are capable of putting a few paragraphs together, that it makes them eligible to write in the travel niche. However, they are wrong. You must learn how to dig for the interesting facts, confirm those facts are true, and add in a few secret aspects or insider information to sweeten the pot.
Why are you trying to use a bit of info if they can see it in the guidebook? It’s old news if that’s all you write on. And once again, I can’t stress enough, your writing has to be on par with what the editor needs, and I don’t care if you deem yourself the best thing since sliced bread, it’s up to the editor to accept your work.
Travel journalism is difficult and you don’t get paid that much. You can just forget about travelling all over the globe on your editor’s dime hanging out on holiday in a fancy hotel and getting paid big bucks for your articles. These days hardly anyone is going to pay your travel expenses. Plus, you aren’t going to be hired fulltime to some big name travel magazine either until you’ve been doing travel articles for years, and maybe never.
Instead, agree to write a free sample assignment of around 1,000 words. Then, if the editor likes your work they may hire you to write a paid 1,000 word travel article for a top venue. You need to get used to the hard work it requires to get to this point! It can take a full day to craft a pitch that win’s an editor’s approval, then another 3 to 5 days to figure out an itinerary and plan your hotel, etc. Wait, you’re hardly done at this point! It will take you a few days to write the article and make sure the writing meets high standards for the venue to accept it. Good writers stand to get paid around £400 if you’re lucky, so as you can see sometimes you may just end up breaking even!
If pitching unique destinations, ensure you come up with a great angle. It can be very tricky trying to break into writing on some unusual or less popular destination. Firstly, if you go to one of these unique destinations, you have an edge over your competition. But, it’s difficult to get a contract to write articles on them. To be honest, the majority of folks desire to get info on places they are interested in visiting, or that they have an interest in. That’s why you see so many stories on places like France, Germany or Italy, for instance. They sell because the public likes them, so editors aren’t risking sales of their publications.
Still, folks enjoy finding out about the less popular locations. So even though editors may not be able to give you a contract to write on them, if you can come up with a great angle they will likely at least keep your story suggestion at hand. You never know if they will have a hole to fill up and you’ll get the go ahead! However, you still need to find a unique angle about it like the beach scene at Baku or how to go skiing in the Middle East.
Showing off your familiarity and understanding of the venue you want to write for will get editors to like you. One of the easiest and top methods to get your articles in print, as well as get paid for writing them, is to truly read the magazine, newspaper or website you are going to pitch your stuff to. I am continually astonished at the number of writers who send a pitch to an editor and they have never touched a single page of the publication they are sending it to. But, if you start your pitch off by showing the editor you know all about how the publication works, then they will be more likely to listen to your pitch.
Another no-no is pitching some sort of article where you paraphrase info from a press release. The editor is likely just to toss it into the trash! Why the heck would they be interested in something containing info they’ve seen previously? And especially why would they pay you to write about it?
Don’t forget to sign your pitches with your name, your specialties, your address, and a little bit about your background and experience. And when starting your correspondence or email, be sure to tell the editor who you are right at the start. That too can help them determine if they are interested in accepting your articles or not or if they might be able to use you to write a particular story they need.
Guide to writing a pitch
– Make it simple and to the point – Travel editors don’t want to spend more than a few minutes reading your pitch, so don’t write a 10 page book on the topic.
– Be knowledgeable on the venue – Editors will ignore you if you show your ignorance by misnaming the travel section or don’t know what kind of articles they accept.
– Make sure to know what’s already been written about in that publication. If the thing you want to write about was highlighted last month, they won’t want your pitch on the same topic.
– If you give a travel editor your blog URL, ensure the link works and is the most current one.
– Have an unique angle; don’t pick some old and tired topic that’s been covered dozens of times.
You can gain knowledge on both the travel industry as well as get pitch ideas on Twitter. Become a follower on Twitter of journalists, writers, and editors, as well as popular publications, however, you also should become a follower for major airlines, top hotels, museums, other travel blogs, tour directors, tourist boards, and major tourist attractions. Learn everything you can about the travel industry and the way it operates. Think about future pitches you can use like articles on new air routes, upcoming attractions, or top destinations for that year. Plus, once you get established on Twitter, you will become more known, and can additionally boost traffic to your own blog.
You need a different approach for every topic. Most publications have the next 6 months to a year all commissioned in advance, so many of them don’t want writers to pitch precise angles. Instead, try sending them an email explaining the places you’ve traveled to and provide links to published articles you have. Doing the latter is vital as the majority of editors keep a list of writers they like and it’s not easy to get on that list.
You can’t just state you got published in some magazine or newspaper and expect an editor to hire you based solely on that fact. Instead, if the editor has a few specific links to articles you’ve had published, then it gives you a leg up on your competition since you’re showing the editor you indeed can write a worthwhile article places will publish. That might just get you on a list to contact in the future if the editor needs something they think fits your skills.
Postgraduate classes can prepare you for everything needed. Any degree you have isn’t really that vital for breaking into the travel writing business. It matters more if you’ve got some sort of postgraduate qualification. While it doesn’t have to be an MA, you should aim for one of the shorter postgraduate outlines which can provide all you need, such as a PMA.
A specific specialty could give you an edge over the competition. It’s a good idea to get friendly with a publication’s editor prior to pitching a story to them. This way they will know a head of time how well you can write, and if your writing matches their publication’s requirements. Plus, if you have some unique specialty that is an advantage in case the editor requires an article in that area. For instance, do you live in some unique fascinating place? Are you capable of writing an article from your background on a precise topic like sports, art, history, or motoring regarding a location? If so, that editor will remember you if they need something on those things.
All in all, it is not easy to break into any kind of journalism, let alone the travel niche. But if you take the above info seriously, you’ll have a jump on people who don’t.