Unique Travel Articles: One Writer’s Story on the Travel Fast-Track
David Morgan here.
Lori’s out sick today so she asked me if I could send you today’s e-letter and tell you a little bit more about how I fund my travels with writing and photography, and how you could do the same.
Like I was saying last week about pricing photos to sell , things really started happening for me after my big backpacking trip to Asia…
Within six weeks of walking away from my restaurant job back home, I was selling photographs from my trip as fine art. Then I got a wedding gig. And then a big-name publisher asked to buy rights to a few of my pictures for a geography textbook. Seemed like things were coming together. And quickly. But not quick enough.
Even though I was starting to make some money off my travel itch, I still needed a job to tide me over while I got my new life off the ground. But I didn’t want another job in a restaurant. And I didn’t want to temp or make collection calls, which was all I could find in my town.
I wanted a travel job. And thanks in great part to that initial experience selling my photos on a coffeehouse wall, I got one. My travel photos and first brush with the publishing world — combined with a writing sample and a great deal of persistence — landed me a job with a well-known travel publication. Not as a photographer, mind you, but as an “editorial assistant,” one step above intern.
My job was to edit and rewrite all the travel articles we received that we wanted to publish in our newsletters, books, or travel magazine. I’d edit them and then send them to our editor for final approval.
Sometimes she was happy with my choices. Other times, especially in the beginning, she’d send me back to my desk to try again.
“These articles have to be unique travel articles,” she’d always say. “Everyone knows you can have dinner at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Tell me something I didn’t know.”
I was always happy to receive unique travel articles. I rarely cared that I had to largely rewrite them because the writing was poor. And I never cared that some other writer’s name was going on a piece I rewrote. (OK, I cared a little… and in the end that’s why I left and went freelance. Why not write these kinds of articles myself, I thought?)
Today, when I’m writing unique travel articles, I still ask myself the same questions my editor asked me before I submitted a piece to her…
** Is the idea behind this article unique?
** Am I sending it to the right publication? (I always hated it when writers would send us articles for our publication on island-living that were not in any way related to life on an island. It sounds simple enough. Yet writers did – and still do — this all the time.)
** Is my idea specific? Do I have one main point or did I veer off on a tangent somewhere in the middle (this was a common problem in articles that came across my desk back in the day. It’s the number one thing I had to edit out.)
Keep these questions at the forefront of your mind, too, and you’ll do well in this business.
You’ll also make a lot of friends behind the editorial desk.
— David Morgan
P.S. As a freelancer, I have often “written” my own ticket, by writing unique travel articles. I’ve lived in France, Honduras, Guatemala, New York, and traveled from Copacabana to Kathmandu. There have been mishaps and failures along the way, sure. But all of them learning experiences that have led to even greater successes.
Today I live a rich, off-the-beaten path kind of life. It hasn’t always been comfortable or easy. But I wouldn’t have it another way.
It’s been possible because I stay open to opportunity. Especially the opportunity to learn from others who’ve been in the field, done the work, and can point me in the right direction to get me where I want to go.
You have that same opportunity right now. I’m joining Rich Wagner and Shelly Perry along with a slew of other photographers and writers at The Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop in Nashville this April 16-18 to share all that we know about taking great photos and turning them around for a profit. (The great thing about photography is, there are several ways to automate the profits. Set it up once and forget about it until the royalty checks roll in.)
Even if your main interest is travel writing, you owe it to yourself to learn the ins and outs of photography. Submitting a well-written travel article to an editor is one thing. But when you submit a good travel article with a few outstanding photos, well, take it from me as a former travel-writing editor, you’re much more likely to make the sale. Again and again.
And here’s even better news…
Everything I learned about photography in my weeks, months, and years of trial and error, Rich Wagner and Shelly Perry can teach you in a few hours at The Ultimate Money-Making Photography Workshop in Nashville. And that’s no overstatement. I’ve met them both before and learned more in a few days than I did over years in the field on my own.
They’re great teachers and mentors. You’ll have the opportunity not only to learn professional skills from industry insiders, but to practice them in an extremely supportive environment. I can’t wait to go.
I hope to meet you there. I’m leading a couple of workshops, I’ll be assisting in a few others, and I’ll be available to answer any questions you have about photography or writing.
If you, too, are looking to live an outside-the-box kind of life while earning money and having fun in the process, I can’t imagine a better opportunity. I say go for it.
[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.]