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I’m heading to San Francisco this week for our Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop where we’ll learn firsthand how to turn our travels into paychecks from some of the industry’s best.

One of your fellow readers, Caren Abdela, was with us at last year’s event in Chicago and admits that, before the event, she’d only ever written in her diary.

Today, she has two magazine bylines and she’s a ghost writer for a health company.

Here’s how she got started and her advice for other people just starting out…

Lori Allen
Director, Great Escape Publishing

TURNING MY PASSION INTO DOLLARS
By Caren Abdela in Santa Barbara, CA

I had just walked away from a six-figure income with a company I helped create. I had no idea what I was to do next. This was the good and the bad news.

I had been subscribing to International Living magazine for years. That’s where I heard about the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop that AWAI was hosting in Chicago in August 2011.

I didn’t know why, but I was drawn to this workshop, so I signed up. The event was packed full of ideas and techniques and offered numerous secrets and hands-on advice on how to break into the market — all from various professional guest speakers. I was as apprehensive as the next person. Was this too good to be true?

I was determined to get published. In the end, I got what I came for and much much more.

Since traveling has always been one of my passions, I decided to approach International Living first. I made sure I knew their writer’s guidelines, something the conference drilled into us over and over.

“Don’t waste the editor’s time. You have to catch their attention right away.” We were told to make it short and sweet in the e-mail’s subject line.

I had recently visited Belize and Panama. The first story I sent them was an entrepreneur’s profile about a couple I met in Belize, who were living their dream, called A New Lease of Life in Caribbean Belize. It was picked up with minor edits from the IL editor. Not only was I paid for the story, IL highlighted it a month before it was to run and paid me for that, too. I was off and running……

Next I interviewed a couple I had met in Panama, writing another entrepreneurial article called, Spotting an Island Dream…. from 20,000 Feet Up. Once again it was bought. I was ecstatic…two for two! Not bad for someone who never wrote anything but a diary. Plus, I have to admit, there is a real thrill in receiving a magazine and opening it to find your own words and by-line in print!

Three months after the conference, I was hired as a ghost writer for a pharmaceutical company writing three newsletters a month. And most recently, I’m being paid to blog bi-monthly for a California pharmacy.

My future plan is to use the success I’ve had to get sent on assignments where someone else pays for my trip. I can’t think of too many things more fun than getting paid to travel and then seeing your experience in print afterwards.

Here are the five best tips I could offer someone first starting out on this journey:

  1. Pick topics that you are passionate about.
  2. Spend a specific amount of time each day working toward your goal, even when you don’t feel like it.
  3. Speak positively and stay in the present at all times, as if you’re already a published writer with many by-lines to your credit.
  4. Be friendly, don’t be shy, and talk to everyone, everywhere about what you are doing. You never know who they know.
  5. Become a member of Writer’s Market. It’s inexpensive and offers a wealth of information.

[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.]

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