This is Part One in a series of three articles on Travel Writing and Photography by Blair Howard. Blair is a travel photographer who has written and photographed dozens of books and hundreds of travel articles.
Can you really do this? Can you quit your job and do that which you love best: write and travel and get paid for it? Absolutely. I’ve been making a good living doing it for more than 20 years, you can too.
There are two secrets to making real money writing travel articles. The first is to write articles you can sell more than once. The second is to support your articles with stunning photographs. Don’t panic. You can do this. I will show you how.
Over the last 20 years I have sold more than 650 articles to magazines and newspapers all over the United States and in England . Some of those articles have sold many times. An article I wrote some years ago for PHOTOgraphic magazine eventually sold 11 times. Another written for Tours and Resorts sold 14 times. Yet another has sold 17 times.
Rarely do I write an article unless I think I can sell it at least 10 times. Initially, each article will sell for $250 to $850, and occasionally for much more. Re-print sales on those articles will bring from $50 to $350. That means any given article can bring in as much as $2,500 or even $3,500.
Now consider this: If you can write one new article a month, and then sell and resell it, you will have an annual income in excess of $40,000. If you can write one every couple of weeks…. well, you get the idea. Come on folks, any writer worth the title can easily put together a new article every week. What I am saying is that an annual income of $60,000 or even $70,000 is not out of the question.
Now for the really good news: the type of articles I’m talking about don’t have to be complicated or even very long. I rely on a tried-and-true format for producing an endless string of resalable articles. In the next article I’ll show you how it works. In the meantime, here are a few tips to help you produce articles that will sell… and sell again.
For an article to sell multiple times, it needs to have universal appeal. In other words, it should be an article that will interest a wide cross-section of readers, which means you’ll need to put a little thought into what you are doing. You’ll also need to do some market research. For instance: a generic article about a small town in rural England might not interest too many people, but an article about London’s great museums will interest travelers to London from around the world – it will have “universal appeal.
The easiest article to sell is a short one, often containing less than 800 words. Editors, especially newspaper editors, can often find a spot for shorter articles even when they might not have planned to use such an article. Short articles are often called “back of the book” pieces and, if they include all right information, are very easy to place, over and over.
You should always include at least 5 photographs with your article. Editors are always looking for a complete package of text and photographs: photography will sell almost any type of article.
Proof-read everything you write thoroughly. Eliminate typos and check your grammar. Never expect your editor to do this for you, it’s not his job. Your job is to submit a complete piece of work ready for him to run. The easier you make it for your editor to publish your articles, the more success you will have.
In time, you’ll build a list of editors who like your work and will run almost everything you submit – I have one editor that’s published more than 25 articles of mine. Your list is the key to making a living writing travel articles. Your goal should be to build an on-going relationship with all of your editors. If you can do so, they will buy from you again and again. And if you’re easy to work with, and if they like your stuff, and if you can deliver to order and on time, you’ll have no problem selling them every new article you have to offer.
In the article we’ll talk more about the big profits you can make selling and reselling your articles, and we’ll talk about the easiest kind of article you can write, one which will sell over and over again. I’ll tell you about the little article I wrote – less than 500 words supported by only two photographs – that’s already sold more than 20 times. And we’ll also show you how to shoot the photographs you’ll need to support your articles. Then, in the following issue we’ll deal with that all-important list of clients, how to build it, expand it, and then how to turn it into a never-ending source income.
(c) Blair Howard