Business Basics
for Travel Writers

By Roy Stevenson

By Roy Stevenson

There’s a great deal more to the business of travel writing than just travel and writing, although those are the two things we tend to focus on.

Travel brings romance and excitement to your work.  And, if you love to write, freelance travel writing a great way to tell people about your trips.

Some people approach travel writing as a hobby, and it’s fine to do that.  But if you plan to earn income from your travel writing, you need to think of it as a business.  And it helps to know a few business basics.

Beyond learning how to sell your stories and finding editors to buy them, you also need to know how to get paid for your work. 

And, since most travel writers work alone, you need to learn to be productive, maximize how much you earn with each article you write, and know where to find help when you need it.

Learning to treat your freelance writing as a business, and learning a few business basics to do that isn’t always as much fun as the travel and the writing parts.  But, don’t worry - I’ll cover the main things you need to know in this section of this website.  Then you can get back to doing the fun parts.

Business Basics:  Getting Started

The first thing you might want to know is if you have what it takes to be a travel writer.  Believe it or not, there are some common attributes that travel writers share.   Take a look and see how you measure up.

You also want to set some goals.  Will you write full-time or part-time?  Are you planning to start a blog?  Why do you want to write about travel?  Once you clarify your goals, you'll know where you're going and you're more likely to get there.  This article will help you figure it out.

You also will be interested in knowing if you can make money as a travel writer - and what it takes to be successful.  You also want to know about different ways, or how to make money travel writing.

Once you know you have what it takes to be a travel writer, it’s easy to set up shop and get your business launched.  Often people think they need a lot more than they really do need. 

Besides a computer, a good internet connection, and some exciting places to travel, there’s little else you need - at least initially.  This article tells you how to launch your business quickly and start pitching your story ideas.

Business Basics:  Getting Paid

Once you’ve set up shop, it time to get down to doing the work - and then getting paid for it.

Most of us like getting paid for the work that we do, and travel writers are no exception.  As a freelance writer, you have to take control of the the payment process.  It isn't always automatic.

Sometimes negotiating payment terms with an editor can be tricky.  This is where a lot of new writers can run into problems.  If you have a good process to follow, and some sound advice about understanding the terms of payment before you write the article, you’ve solved half the battle. 

Here’s my payment process and my best advice - from the time an editor expresses interest in your story idea until you have your payment in the bank.

Business Basics:  Getting Productive

Being a freelance writer means you’re in charge of your time and you want to make the most productive use of it.  Travel writers need time to travel.  So that means making the most of your time when you’re on the road and in the office.

It isn’t always easy to sit down and write.  Sometimes we procrastinate, and we let just about everything get in our way of doing the writing.  Here are seven habits you can incorporate into your day to help you get control of your time, become more productive, and stop procrastinating!

People are always asking me the secret of my success.  I've written a couple articles about this.  Part 1 includes success traits that power the work you do every day.

Or maybe you’re one of the lucky ones and you don’t have a problem with getting to the writing itself.  Instead, maybe it’s all the administrative tasks that drive you crazy.  If you’d rather jump in an ice cold lake than send out invoices to editors, then you want to learn how to get those mundane tasks done faster. 

Many administrative and research tasks can be done faster if you know a few tricks. 

And there are ways to maximize what you earn from articles you’ve already written, with only a little extra effort.  Here are five ways to maximize your time and earn more money by working smarter and more productively.

Finally, you need a professional website and some testimonials, or references, to help you with marketing yourself online.

Business Basics:  Handling Realities

Like with any other business, there are some things that don’t go as planned.  And, there are a number of things that are completely out of your control.  So you always want some business strategies for taking care of these situations.

Travel writing might be full of luxury travel, gourmet meals and romance, but sometimes things don't turn out as planned.  Here are some things that can - and do - go wrong.  And some advice for how to handle these sticky situations.

As freelance travel writers, we deal with a wide variety of editors and publications over the course of our careers.  During that time lots of things change - and in today’s environment things seem to be changing all the time.

Here are some coping strategies for the editorial changes in your life - from breaking in new editors to coping with changes in editorial direction.

As long as we’re on the topic of handling the less attractive realities of travel writing, there’s one topic that I hear a lot about these days.

Here’s the scenario:  you research a magazine and put together a great sales pitch.  You send your query letter off to the editor with high hopes that he'll love your story idea.  And then you hear nothing.  You don't even get a rejection!

It’s frustrating when an editor doesn’t reply to your query letter.  It’s like your query letter fell into a black hole.  As much as I wish I could fix this, I can’t.  But here’s an article about how to handle the silence.

And finally, because travel is such an important part of what we do, you need to have business policies for travel.  These policies will help you decide when it's worthwhile to take a press trip, and when it's not.

Don't want to be alone on this journey?  Consider joining a travel writers association.  Here are my top picks for reputable organizations.


Many travel writers want to start a blog or already have one.  I wrote an article on what it takes to have a successful blog.

Related articles that will interest you:

Writing Free Content for Travel Blogs : Should You Do It?

Write for Free?  Why You Might Want to Do This

100 Print Magazines that Want to Publish Your Travel Articles book

Roy Stevenson sitting in front of his computer.

Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of  Over the past ten years, he’s had more than 1000 articles published in 200 magazines, trade and specialty journals, in-flights, on-boards, blogs and websites and has traveled on assignment around the U.S. and to dozens of international destinations.



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