To get published online is something that comes with big benefits for freelance travel writers. These benefits may not be obvious, especially since it's well-known that pay is not among them.
But the benefits are there for all travel writers, no matter what stage you are in the game.
Travel writers come in all shapes and sizes. There are writers who only want to be published in print, and there are writers who are only published online.
There are full-time freelance writers and there are dabblers, and everything in between. There are photographers who write, and travel bloggers who are photographers. The possibilities are endless.
Regardless of where you are on this spectrum, it's important to have some travel articles published online. Getting a few of your articles posted on someone else’s quality, respected travel website can benefit you in several ways.
Here's how it can help you:
This benefit is important to novice writers with few or no bylines. Getting published on travel websites will build your bylines quickly.
It’s hard to feel like a travel writer until you’ve had some articles published. And if you don’t feel genuine, it’s hard to convince an editor that you have something important to contribute to their publication.
Writing for online travel magazines is the easiest way to get your first few bylines while building confidence. Here's why - it’s far easier to get published online than in print.
Print magazines are very selective about what they accept. Online editors are not always as critical. Even if your writing is still developing you can find a place for it online.
If you have a reasonable topic, and are a halfway decent writer, there’s no reason why you can’t get your story into an online travel magazine. And, unlike print publications with long lead times, getting published online usually happens quickly, often within a day or two.
That doesn’t mean you should write a substandard article. Remember that your name is attached, so you should always submit your best work when you get published online. Make sure your article is proofed and edited before you submit it.
Articles posted on travel websites stay there a long time. Note, I'm talking about other people's travel websites, not your blog. Once again, submit your best work.
Editors search the internet for information about you.
If an editor doesn’t know you, and is considering hiring you for an assignment, it’s convenient for them to find your work online. A professional writer’s website will satisfy this need to some extent, but
supplementing it with a few well-placed articles on other people’s websites further enhances your online presence.
Whether you’re a travel blogger, or a veteran travel writer who specializes in print journalism, I heartily recommend you splash some travel stories out on the Internet.
Even with substantial print bylines, a strong online presence provides
further, incontestable proof that you're a well published writer. Having some good stories online is an instant testimonial that further boosts your credibility.
Some travel editors believe that seeing your work online is just as important as checking out your writer’s website. This doesn’t mean you don’t need a professional website – you do.
You need a professional writer’s website to introduce yourself to prospective editors and showcase a few of your published articles. It should also provide links for easy access to online travel articles, and testimonials from editors and CVBs that have worked with you.
And, it’s not only editors who look for you online. When you ask a tourist agency to host you on a press trip, they will check your credentials online.
CVBs host writers on press trips with the understanding that you will produce good articles about their region. They want to see what you have produced for other regions, to convince themselves it’s worthwhile to host you. If you have produced good work for other regions, it convinces them you'll do it for them, too.
When an editor, tourist agency or PR media rep does an internet search of your name followed by “travel writer”, you want them to find your professional website and ample evidence of travel articles.
If you've been on a press trip without assignment, and return home unable to find a home for your travel story in a print publication, travel websites make an excellent alternative.
In other words, if you’ve pitched your travel stories to print magazines and had no joy, your next course of action should be to place them online.
You can get published online to help you fulfill your obligations with tourist agencies. Of course, it depends upon what you promised the tourist agency when you accepted their press trip, but in my experience online articles are usually well-accepted.
A few times when my print assignments fell through due to things like changes in editorial direction, the magazine going out of business, and other things outside of my control, finding an online home for an article helped me fulfill the obligation.
Whether to get published online or in print doesn’t have to be an either/or decision. My suggestion is to do both!
Offering both print and online assignments increases your chances of getting invitations to press trips.
My standard procedure is to pitch my travel stories to print magazines first, and if there are no takers, I’ll consider placing the story online if it will help me score a press trip or Fam tour.
When I approach destination and resort media reps I like to offer them both print and online assignments. This combination usually proves too tempting to resist.
They’re getting the best of both worlds, and helps tilt the results in your favor when they’re considering whether to sponsor you for a Fam tour.
I hope this has convinced you of the need to get your travel articles published online and build your “online presence” by writing for other people’s websites.
I've given you the four big advantages to get published online, but it wouldn’t be fair to neglect the disadvantages.
There are two distinct disadvantages to writing for travel websites:
1. Travel websites and blogs seldom pay for your stories, although there are exceptions.
If you want to earn a paycheck from every article you write, focusing on print publications will bring in those paychecks, not websites.
Because of travel website's lack of pay, or low pay, I do not recommend putting all your articles online. A few well-placed articles will do the trick. You want to get published online so you show up nicely in search results.
Once editors and CVB’s can find samples of your work online, you can re-focus on more profitable print endeavors.
2. Writing for travel websites is not as respected as writing for print media.
The traditional methods of getting published in print haven’t changed in years, so the perception is that print publications are generally of higher quality than online stories.
To get your story into print it must first go through a screening process. You have to convince an editor, through a well-crafted query letter, that your story will be interesting enough for their magazine to publish.
Then, the editor must ensure the article is well-written (and possibly re-written) before signing off on your article and sending it to the printer. Because of this rigorous process, print is far tougher to break into.
Editors, CVB reps and PR agents recognize this distinction. Print assignments generally carry more weight than travel website assignments.
Although I’ve read some excellent travel articles online, the truth is, writing standards vary tremendously and sometimes don’t exist.
Some travel website editors have stringent standards for their websites. I’m always relieved when I see well-written articles on these sites. Sadly, other web owners never even look at the content published on their website!
As long as such disparity exists between websites, I don't think online travel articles will be considered equal to print standards for a long time.
What you can do? Seek out well-curated websites with editors that care about the quality of their content. Query those online editors when you’re looking to place your articles.
Always get your articles posted on sites that will make you feel proud and will look good in your portfolio.
If you don’t know where to find quality websites to help build your online portfolio, or you're looking for a fast list of websites to pitch your stories, I wrote an eBook, 125 Websites That Want to Publish Your Travel Stories.
The 125 websites listed in this eBook are all sites where I would be proud to see my articles published (and many where my articles are published!). More than 50 of these websites pay their writers!
Roy Stevenson is a professional travel writer and the author of www.PitchTravelWrite.com. 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.