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How To Fund Your Travels Before You Leave Home

While traveling around the world is a great benefit to both travel writers and travel photographers, the best place to earn your wings in your new profession is often in your own hometown. It’s also the most lucrative place to start.  There are no travel expenses involved.  And you already know where to go… You know the best breakfast in town is hidden inside the old B&B three blocks from your house… the best view of the city is from the top floor of the Marriott on 5th Street… and you know the high school football team practices on the field every Sunday before a big game in uniform because your son is on the team. These are all great leads for photographs and articles.  And the truth is, if you’re not selling your pictures locally or writing about your town as a destination for others, you’re missing out on a big opportunity. Here’s how to begin…

Fund Your Travels: Where to Sell Your Local Stories and Photos

** In-Flight Magazines:  Airline in-flight magazines for carriers that fly into your local airport are a great place to sell your articles and photographs.  The trick is finding the writer’s guidelines for these publications, knowing who to contact and understanding what they’re looking for. Admittedly, in-flight magazines are a tough egg to crack when you don’t know where to look, but they pay better than most travel magazines and they offer you a very reputable clip for your portfolio. ** Tourism Magazines:  Make a trip to your local tourist office and see if there are any magazines or newspapers made just for tourism in your area. It’s likely they’ve already covered the major attractions around town, but you can still look for unique things to photograph and write about.  Think about the people who run the smaller shops and businesses in your town.  What are their stories?  What’s the history behind the popular mom-n-pop restaurant or the local theater? ** Tourism Sites Online:  Most states (and some cities) have their own tourism sites.  These sites are often looking for stories on current events, festivals and local activities. Type the name of your state or town into Google and see what comes up.  You might land on a treasure trove of opportunities for your stories and photos. ** Small Newspapers and Magazines:  Next time you’re waiting in line at your favorite local coffee shop, look for free local newspapers or magazines.  Many times, these publications come out once a week and feature local news, events, businesses and more. ** Cafes, Galleries, Markets and Fairs:  Check around in your town to see which coffee shops showcase artwork and ask them if they would show yours.  Some places will let you showcase your photos for free, whereas others will only let you show your work if they can take a cut in the sale. You can also bring your photos to your local craft market to see how much it costs to get a booth, and whether it’s worth your time and money to set up there. Every photo you showcase should be matted and sealed in a clear bag for protection.  More about this below. Fund Your Travels: What to Photograph or Write About When you’re trolling for story and photo ideas near home, it pays to look past the obvious. Sure, you can sell photos and articles about the best restaurants to eat in or the best hotels to stay in. But you’ll be going head-to-head with similar pieces submitted by other writers. Editors are always in the market for articles that focus on subjects a little less obvious. For instance, you could get paid to write about local specialty food shops, artisans, local coffee culture, unusual museums or collections, nature trails, urban hiking routes, gardens, little-known parks, funny or strange festivals and traditions, and more. What do people near you craft?  Wander through the farmers markets near you and find out what sort of food production is under way in your area.  Anything else quirky near you? A harvest festival, pagan ritual, literary occasion, musical celebration… ? And while you’re out discovering the quirky corners of your town, bring your camera along. Professional photographer Rich Wagner shares his partial list of local things he keeps in his portfolio to sell to people from his town: ** Town Hall ** All the churches ** Main street ** Local restaurants ** The annual community fair ** The ice cream shop ** Many shots of two local farms during growing and harvest seasons ** Scenic compositions of bridges, mountains, historic buildings, parks ** River scenes ** The high school, including the football field ** The cemetery Everything in your town and the surrounding community is fair game for your lens, and you can write stories about these places, too. Fund Your Travels: A Few Tips Before You Get Started 1.  When you’re selling local photos, they need to look like fine art. Pay attention to lighting, shadows, attractive skies, etc. It may take you a year or more to get right. But once you’ve done it, people recognize (and pay for) the beauty. 2.  If you’re selling your hometown photos at local markets and fairs, Rich suggests that before you display or sell your work, you must give it a professional presentation. Everything should have a mat. The smallest photograph he suggests selling is 8″ x 12″. Add a 3″ mat all around, and you have a 14″ x 18″ overall size. 3.  If you’re writing about your town, introduce yourself to the P.R. folks at your local tourist board, chamber of commerce, zoo, museum and so on. And be sure your name is on their press-release lists. Establish yourself as a writer in town, and these folks will keep you in mind when they’re getting ready to promote something new. You may even get invited to the opening. [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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