Blessed with travel-writing perks, you can find yourself gallivanting around the world like a millionaire… an invite to a luxury resort here… complimentary theater tickets there…
And, of course, if you’re writing about your travels, many of your expenses are likely tax-deductible — savings that can add up to a fine stack of greenbacks at the end of the year.
And making more as a travel writer doesn’t necessarily mean you have to work longer hours or even write more articles.
If your goal for 2007 is to earn more for the travel articles you write, your strategy should be two-fold —
**1.) Sell and resell your articles. Finding new markets for a single story and getting paid for it twice, three times, four times, or more… that’s a surefire way to increase your earnings, and…
**2.) Write for niche markets that, quite simply, pay more from the get-go.
That’s what I want to focus on today. I’ll profile here two worth your attention (and more in future issues) — two niche markets where you can sell travel articles for higher-than-average paychecks and where you don’t need specialized training to do it.
That is, you needn’t know how to drive a tank to write a travel article about Panama for a military audience. And you don’t have to have the stamina of a mountain man to write for an outdoorsy-conservationist audience, either.
But — as with any article for any niche (and even for a general readership) — you do need to keep a steady eye on your reader as you’re defining your story.
Be sure to read carefully through back issues of the niche publications where you’re aiming to land a by-line, and follow the Writer’s Guidelines closely.
That said, here are two niche markets where, as it happens, the pay scale for articles (travel being just one beat) outpaces that at many travel-only publications:
NICHE # 1 — FOCUS ON A MILITARY AUDIENCE
Writing for a military readership… not every single publication I found in this niche pays astronomically well. But there’s a large audience here, with a good number of publications serving it. Nurturing a specialty in this area could prove lucrative.
And, to be sure, the higher-profile publications here pay well.
Take Military Officer magazine, for instance. It’s published by the Military Officers Association of America, and recent travel articles include one on five out-of-the-way vacation ideas for grandparents and their grandkids, another about a trip on the American Orient Express, and a third that’s a straightforward destination piece on Asheville, North Carolina.
Features in this publication run to 2,500 words with pay up to $1,800. Mini-features run to 1,400 words with pay up to $1,000.
You’ll find the full writer’s guidelines here: http://www.moaa.org/main_article.aspx?id=2353
What should you remember when you consider this publication? The readers are officers — retired and active duty. They tend to be well-educated, well-off, and well-traveled.
The media kit (that is, information prepared for potential advertisers — always a smart thing to read when you’re assessing a publication’s subscribers) says that typical readers are 70 years old — and 30% are still working.
Most, we learn, like to travel, golf, swim, bicycle, fish, and enjoy fitness walking. Many have second careers, and nearly all have hobbies, ranging from reading to listening to music to home improvement.
This publication, as it happens, publishes pretty standard-issue travel. So it’s not absolutely necessary here to come up with a “military” angle. I do think, though, that such a thing might appeal to the editors. An article about a trip that incorporates sites from the Spanish-American War… or a piece about a nation where American soldiers fought (say, Panama) seem well-targeted, even if you don’t spent much time nurturing that “military-connection” within your text.
NICHE # 2 — FOCUS ON AN OUTDOORS/CONSERVATIONIST AUDIENCE
A second niche that can prove a real income-booster is writing for an outdoors-minded and conservationist readership. That’s pretty broad, I know, and I’d define it to include anything from backpackers to hunters to fishing enthusiasts as well as straightforward conservationists.
Consider Sierra Magazine, a bi-monthly publication produced by the Sierra Club for its members. While all of the articles touch on environmental and conservation issues, they fall into a diverse range of departments.
Among the topics the editors cover is travel. In fact, the guidelines highlight that area, saying: “We are always looking for adventure-travel pieces that weave events, discoveries, and environmental insights into the narrative.”
Full-length features run from 1,000 to 3,000 words with pay ranging from $800 to $3,000, plus a negotiated reimbursement for expenses. For shorter articles — 100 to 1,500 words — payment is $100 to $1,500 (with a few exceptions).
The readers of Sierra are environmentally concerned and politically diverse; most are active in the outdoors, the guidelines reveal.
Recent travel-related pieces I read include a short department piece on swimming with a whale shark in the Galapagos, another on great hikes near six big cities, and one on the Indiana sand dunes.
You would certainly need to tailor your travel piece here — these guys are looking for a distinctly conservationist or environmental angle. So could you sell a story about your all-inclusive vacation to a swank resort south of Cancun? Well, maybe… if you gave it the right spin. If the resort is, itself, eco-conscious and you learned of the ways they attend to the environment (with a desalination system and with eco-conscious building practices, say)…
And if the place offers guests lectures about the environment and perhaps trips to a local beach where turtles lay eggs and you can help guard them… then yes, I’d say you could turn your luxury stay into a piece that might make sense here.
My point is — a general-interest travel piece isn’t going to fly in this publication. But tailor your subject matter a bit, and you’ll be off in the right direction.
You’ll find the full writer’s guidelines here: http://www.sierraclub.org/sierra/guidelines/writers.asp
[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.]