Life as a travel writer

by Beth Graham

Yeah, I know my life sounds glamorous and many of you are sick of seeing my posts from exotic locales. Even I get envious of my fellow travel writers’ posts. They always seem to get invites to places on my dream destinations list.

For those of you who don’t know how this business works, let me dispel some myths and open some eyes.

First, there is real work involved. Hard work. Once I get an invite to a destination, generally from a PR firm or visitors bureau, often I have to compete with other writers for that slot. We have to present story angles, submit previous articles we’ve written, and in many cases, get an official assignment from a publication that says they’ll publish our story. And this is really hard work. You generally have less than 100 words to sell a magazine editor on your story and why they should buy it. And they can get dozens of these pitches a day. Most go unanswered.

So that’s just step one. Then comes the trip. I’ve been on trips that last for five days (11 in the case of Jordan) where we are up at 7am and don’t get back to our hotel until 11pm. And sometimes we’re changing hotel rooms every single night. At night, we still have to make time to record our notes and do social media posts. So the days are long. A daily agenda is set for us as our “host” generally wants us to see and do as much as we can squeeze in.

I mentioned those social media posts. This is generally a requirement on most trips. We have legal requirements to meet on these posts as well, especially in tagging our hosts and specifying that it’s a hosted trip. I have friends who spend an exorbitant amount of time creating videos and stories to add value (note to self: get better at this).

We’re always building our social media networks as this is one of the qualifications we’re judged on. We manage our follower counts and engagements (tip: those likes and comments make us VERY happy).

Once we get home, the real work begins. No time for writer’s block as we have deadlines to meet. We’ve got to write the story which takes hours and days, edit photos, fact check, edit and then submit the article, which can come back with rewrites requested.

I’m certainly not complaining because I do love it.  I only do it part time but many of my colleagues do it full time and rely on the compensation to make a living. So it’s a real job.

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