Many travel writers and would-be writers rightfully ask themselves whether they can make a living through their writing craft. Of course, it can be enjoyable writing about places one has been to, learning about fascinating cultures, and sampling the different flavors of a tastefully diverse food scene. Yet, at the end of the day, 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 would be worth it. Here’s our answer.
Does Travel Writing Pay Well?
Of course, whether a certain pay level is adequate depends on an individual’s perception and circumstances. However, statistics from Glassdoor, the online anonymous forum on employment-related issues, reveal that the average annual salary for travel writers is $59,601. On the flip side, the average annual salary for freelance travel writers is $54, 285. That’s $5,316 less. From these figures, the answer looks obvious. It’s possible to make a living as a travel writer. But there’s one cold fact: These are averages. Therefore, every individual’s earnings will in many cases vary 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 income streams, the quality of one’s work, and of course, luck — even if we rarely admit it.
Even though travel writing can pay well, it’s not always a smooth road. What most people imagine when thinking about travel writing is globe-trotting on business class, hopping from one exotic island to the other, and eating food cooked by some of the world’s best chefs — without paying a dime for this glamorous life. Well, not quite.
The Difficult Side of Travel Writing No One Tells You About
While travel writing can pay extremely well, in many cases, it takes a lot of time, grit, and patience to make it into a comfortable pay range. The truth is, while one can get a good client who gives writing assignments regularly — and pays promptly — it’s not easy to get regular well-paying gigs. One reason is that travel writing, unlike other specialized niches like technical or finance writing, doesn’t require any additional technical expertise other than the ability to write well. Any person who can string an elegant sentence into a paragraph or two, and make the sentences coherent, descriptive, and flowing — will be able to get by. Fortunately or unfortunately, there are many people who can do this. And they are spread out around the far-flung corners of the globe. Consequently, and in this era of the internet, they’ll be many people from developing countries who will accept pay rates — that an American will find ridiculous. That’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 several ways one can circumvent the challenges and succeed as a travel writer, earning hundreds of thousands in US dollars like Bill Bryson or Roy Stevenson.
- What Is The Best Travel Writing Course In The United States? While opinions vary, we’ll go with the Online Travel Writing & Marketing Master Class. Travel Writers Exchange also list it as their best travel writing program.
How To Succeed As A Travel Writer?
One way to succeed as a travel writer is to diversify. Here’s the truth. While writing from the house or traveling the world may look like the perfect way to earn money — so much so that one is tempted to hand in a resignation letter — it’s advisable to first diversify. Roy Stevenson, the legendary travel writer whose work has appeared in 200 different regional, national, and international magazines, has this for travel writers who are starting out: “Don't give up your day job.” He even goes ahead to affirm that staying on the job should be mandatory. Instead, travel writers should work part-time, while diversifying and progressively expanding their income streams. This brings us to the next question: How exactly can a travel writer diversify?
For starters, one can start a travel blog. Of course, the content should be steady and of platinum quality. This can act as a writer’s portfolio. After this, pitching article ideas to travel magazines should be a little less frustrating. Without a sample, few magazine editors will give a writer’s pitch a second glance. Then there are also job boards like Upwork, ProBlogger, and Indeed. At this stage, the focus should be on getting gigs and delivering articles that clients will like. Of course, pay should be a factor, but it shouldn’t be the overriding goal.
Once a person settles into the rhythm of travel writing, assuming he has started getting jobs here and there — he can start earning from his blog through adverts or through affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is where the main travel blog promotes another product or service on its site in exchange for an agreed-upon commission. Other ways to diversify include writing travel guides or books, vlogging, and conducting training. If one is lucky, she’ll be able to ink a lucrative promotional deal with a company or two. This is the time to fly the world while sipping champagne, and eating to the heart’s content — without paying a dime.
One last word: It's good advice to specialize even in travel writing.