What is Travel Writing?

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    Profile photo of Nathan Lake
    Nathan Lake
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    Let me keep this short and sweet. The future of travel writing is not writing. In days of old, 5 years ago, it was still possible to be a “travel writer”. You wrote stories, pitched them to editors or publishers, and if you were good enough and prolific enough, you might make a living. No more. Today, nobody wants just words. A travel blog of just words goes nowhere.

    The three foundational skills of travel journalism are: writing, photography, and videography. Travel journalism has become a multimedia, storytelling experience, and if you can’t offer the full experience you will soon be left behind. If you lack the necessary skills, either team up with someone that has your missing skills, or start building them yourself.  Consider MatadorU. They offer excellent courses in all three skills.

    Once you have those skills, understand this…for every person wanting to make money from travel journalism, there are 10,000 people willing to give away the same type of stuff for free. Every guy and gal with a phone can snap a few photos, put a few hundred words on a “page”, and quickly deliver it to publishers and editors all over the world. That is the reality of the technology of today.You might be better than most of them, but in order to sell your work, you have to be better than ALL of them. Free makes their stuff very appealing to publishers. For you to be successful, you must do two things. One, be better at telling your story. Improve your skills through practice, and education, and reading other people’s work. Two, market yourself. The guy down the street that is giving away his stuff is probably not spending the time creating a brand, or getting his name recognized in the industry. You must do that. Name recognition eventually pays off.

    Extra tip: Prepare your stories to take full advantage of everything technology can deliver. It is much easier to take a story created for a electronic display and modify it for print than it is to take a print story and present it electronically. When was the last time you saw video in the printed version of NatGeo magazine. I promise you there is video in almost every edition of the electronic magazine.

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