Shannon Kaiser is the best-selling author of Finding Your Happy and about to release her second book Mental Makeover. Her website, PlayWithTheWorld.com is fuelled in many ways by her lifestyle as a travel writer. In this interview, Shannon shares her advice on becoming a travel writer.
1. Just Start
You probably think that you need to be an established writer with a platform and experience in order to become a travel writer.
Shannon was working in advertising and had no experience as a writer when she had her first article featured in a Health & Wellness magazine. She simply went to a local spa, wrote about her experience, then submitted it to the magazine.
So think through what kind of travel experiences you would like to write about—spas, retreats, hostels, hotels, backpacker adventures etc. Go and enjoy the experience, but have the mindset of a journalist. Remember names of everyone you meet, the kind of service you are receiving, and any unique details that stand out.
2. Reaching Out
Once you have written your travel article, think of publications you'd like to be featured in. There are many sites that will take on writers without formal training—as long as you can write well, you'll have a great chance of being featured.
Here are some good sites to reach out to:
A list of 50+ travel magazines.
In-Flight Magazines are great places to pitch to also. Definitely reach out to the airlines that fly in and out of the city that you are writing from.
You may also want to enter Travel-Writing Contests to get yourself some great exposure. Here is a great list to get you started.
3. An Initial Investment
An important note is that you'll have to fund initial trips yourself until you're able to be featured and taken on as a travel writer for a magazine. Once you have your foot in the door, you're editor will be able to connect you with assignments and all the perks.
Keep in mind that any business venture is going to incur some start-up expenses. Consider these initial "self-assignments" as investments in your new career.
4. Master the Pitch
Identify who the editor of the publication is and submit your article to them using their name. Some sites will already have a section for submissions.
Do your research on the publication you'd like to be featured on. Read through some of the articles to get a feel of the style of writing that they like. Keep in mind the word-length they are looking for. Most publications will have clear guidelines—make sure you comply with everything that is asked.
Create a catchy title about the location and the experience. Think of the ideal experience that you want the reader to come away with. You want to bring the reader into the experience as much as possible, so write as though the reader is also living the experience: ...as you reach the mountain-top, you're confronted with the breath-taking panoramic dilemma—the waterfall crashing on one end and the canyon on the other...
5. Find a Mentor
Check out the author bio at the end of the travel article. Don't be afraid to shoot them an email and tell them that you're wanting to become a travel writer. They'll certainly be able to point you in the right direction and give you some inside advice.