Copulating Buffalos and Jelly Fish Stings on the Scrotum: How to Get the Germans and the Brits to Pay for Your Travel
I’m here in San Antonio with a panel of experts in travel writing, photography, and import-export… and I can’t stop laughing. Neither can the other attendees. Really laughing… I mean get out the Kleenex and wipe the eyes laughing.
It’s freelancer Steenie Harvey’s fault. Her beat is travel writing… but I’m beginning to think she missed her calling as a stand-up comedian.
Between the wry jokes, however, she’s passed along an incredible amount of insider know-how for making money as a freelance travel writer.
For instance, “The Brits and the Germans” she said today, “might not send you out on an assignment if they don’t know who you are… but certainly you could send them an article about your trip and recover your hotel expenses with what they pay you for it.”
“Not only that, but often they’ll pay you more than U.S. publications do (like the equivalent of $350 for a 500-word piece in Germany’s Spotlight Magazine). And they’ll also grant you a little more freedom in terms of expression.”
Here’s what she means. Steenie flashed up on the screen these two pieces from the Sunday edition of a well-known, family newspaper in England —
** Mating Time at the Buffalo Farm **
From our hotel window, we can see two buffalo copulating. Our room is lovely, featuring polished wood, embroidered bed linen and what must be some of the finest views of copulating buffalo in Italy. We chose Agrituristica Seliano because we wanted a “proper” horny-handed farm-stay holiday, the sort where you really get to chat to the livestock and smell the labourers. Looks like we found it.
** Water Cure for a Fire Down Below **
It took me quite a long time to understand, as my girlfriend and I canoodled in the Caribbean Sea, that a jellyfish had swum down the back of my trunks and wrapped its tentacles around my testicles. The feeling of 23 cigarettes being simultaneously stubbed out on your scrotum isn’t the easiest thing to comprehend while you’re waist-high in water.
… can you imagine seeing this kind of article in a U.S. publication?
Now don’t misunderstand, these publications run standard travel articles too. Spotlight, for instance, just bought Steenie’s Inside Fort Lauderdale article, which was nothing more than a quick review of three places to stay, three places to eat, and three things to do in Ft Lauderdale. No copulating buffalos there.
My point is three-fold: Unlike many U.S. newspapers, international newspapers regularly work with novice writers… these non-U.S. publications tend to pay a little more… and you’re more likely to sell your irreverent travel story overseas than in the U.S.
What’s more, it’s not that hard to break into those markets, particularly if you start small. Almost all overseas publications (just like their U.S. counterparts) feature short, “front-of-the-book” departments, which offer you a smart place to begin.
These sections generally run 500-600 words, which means you don’t have to write much more than a few paragraphs, and you’ll likely be paid anywhere from $50 to $350 for your trouble.
If you need help finding a publication to publish your article, consider taking Great Escape Publishing’s Ultimate Travel Writer Program, which teaches you that and a whole lot more.
Or, start with these European and U.K. papers — of course, be sure to follow the Writer’s Guidelines to a tee —
Once you get a few published pieces under your belt, you’re sure to find the next dozen and beyond not only much easier to write… but easier to sell as well.
I should add, too, that another good place to land your first by-line is International Living, which is based outside the U.S. though it caters to a largely American readership.
IL runs short articles all the time — not only in its monthly print issues, but daily online in what are called “Postcards.” They’re often simply short pieces about a great restaurant, a notable little hotel, an excellent travel deal, a new resource. You can sign up to receive them free at www.internationalliving.com. And you’ll find IL’s writer’s guidelines here: http://internationalliving.com/about-il/write-for-il/
[Editor’s Note: Learn more about opportunities to profit from your travels (and even from your own home) in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.]