A few weeks back, I told you a story about one of your fellow readers, Bonnie Keough, who has had great luck importing from Ecuador hand-woven scarves, leather purses, finely-woven sweaters, and more — all bought at bargain prices down south and sold at a profit here at home.

With each trip, she’s earned more than enough to cover the cost of her travels.

Bonnie joined us last weekend in Fort Lauderdale for our Lucrative Traveler’s Conference to talk about how she does it. I sat in the back of the room listening, and my mind started to race…

Because we spent the weekend so focused on what we call our “triple-barrel approach” to travel — that is, combining import-export with travel writing and photography — I found myself thinking about easy, quick ways Bonnie could turn her single income stream into multiple ones and transform her Ecuador shopping trips into much more lucrative journeys.

Now, I do want to say: If Bonnie wants simply to make a sideline job of import-export and use it as an excuse to travel to places like Ecuador and cover the cost of her expenses — there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. And, in fact, she’s really doing that already.

But, with almost no additional effort, Bonnie could really capitalize on her travels and up her income significantly.

For example, I noticed that the pictures she put on display beside her wares were really just run-of-the-mill snapshots.

Yet with a few easy tricks of the trade, she could turn those shots into $5,000 photographs (something Rich teaches at these workshops). She’s already traveling with her camera. It’s simply a matter of looking through the lens with certain secrets in mind.

Bonnie could easily take pictures that would sell to magazines and newspapers and even stock agencies. And, with better photos, she could also illustrate a website to sell her wares and reach more buyers.

Plus she could add to her income again by writing about her travels — and do it with almost no additional research. Bonnie recounted for us in Fort Lauderdale wonderful stories about how she got started, what she’s learned, people she’s met, and so on.

Right off the top of my head, I can think of three stories she could write and sell —

** An article on one of the families that made the beautiful scarves she imports (could sell it to a newspaper).

** A step-by-step guide for importing goods from Ecuador (could sell this to International Living).

** A where-to-stay article about the places she spent the night (could sell this to any number of publications).

Now, don’t get me wrong, Bonnie is on her way nicely. And I commend her on a job well done. In fact, when I left her in Florida she was packing her bags for yet another trip to Ecuador.

This time, armed with all the secrets our experts divulged this past weekend, I hope she’ll incorporate both writing and photography into her shopping trip and transform it into a truly lucrative one. Remember: Three times the income, but not three times the work. I think she’ll do it… we’ll keep you posted…

Don’t forget to keep me up-to-speed on your travel-writing or photography success. If you have a story to share, send me a quick note at lori@thetravelwriterslife.com.

— Lori
Lori Appling
Director, Great Escape Publishing

[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.]


Adding photography to your tool belt can not only be lucrative, but it can also help you write faster.

The next time you’re out hunting for story ideas, take a lot of pictures. When you get home (or back to the hotel), spread them out on the table (or look at them on your computer) and see if you can connect certain ones with a common thread.

For instance, if you find you have a lot of pictures of people eating at street-side tables and outdoor cafes, this could inspire you to write an article about the best place to grab a bite, outside.

Or maybe you notice that your pictures include an overwhelming number of business travelers. Some are working in coffee shops and Internet cafes while others are simply passing by. You could write an article about where to find free wireless Internet or a round-up of hotels that cater to the business crowd.

Begin by writing a few sentences about each photo, and before you know it, you’ll have the bulk of an article written.

Send it to the Travel Post Monthly… and before long you could have a by-line. You’ll find the Writer’s and Photographer’s Guidelines for that publication here: www.travelpostmonthly.com

READER QUESTION: Do you own the right to your own picture?

Q: “If someone else uses my camera to take a picture of me — can I use it just as though I took the shot?

A: “If someone wrote a story about me and used my pencil, can I claim it as mine? No. If you want to be in your own pictures, get a tripod and set your camera’s timer. He who takes the photograph, owns the copyright.” – Rich Wagner, professional photographer and senior advisor to AWAI’s photography program

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