In this new world of internet magazines, guest posting and online columns, the line between journalist and blogger is becoming blurred. These days, if you enjoy writing, you can find paid work writing for websites and it’s a great way to support your travels.
You may think that this money making method is only for bloggers, but that is untrue. Sure, if you have a blog, you automatically have an online portfolio that perspective employers can browse through, but you don’t need one to be a freelance writer.
Where To Look
If you’re going to start looking for paid writing gigs online, you’ll need to know where to look. First, you’ll have to figure our what you’re passionate about. Do you enjoy gardening? Being a parent? Cooking? Whatever your passion may be, you’ll have much more success finding work if you write about something you enjoy, rather than simply searching for the highest profits.
Since you’re reading this site, I’ll assume your passion is travel! Well there are a ton of online magazines, websites, blogs and journals that are willing to pay travel writers for their work. A great resource for finding freelance work is FreelanceWriting.com, where you’ll find a huge list of websites that are willing to pay writers for blog posts.
Each website will have its own budget for paying writers, for example: Goats On The Road’s budget is $0. But most larger publications will pay anywhere from $25 – $250 for an article, though the average rate is between $50 – $150. Expect to be paid at the lower end of this scale at first, and then as you build up a reputation on the site, the webmaster may start to pay you a bit more.
The Pitch (And The Strikes)
Most, if not all of your article pitches will be sent via email, which means that you’ll be up against hundreds of other people trying to publish articles. The key is to be different and sound personal in the first couple of lines of your email. Don’t sound too professional or too automated, because the moderator may just “junk” your email before reading it through. Webmasters are swamped with spam and many of us don’t have time to search through all the fake emails to find a great one.
Make sure to mention the site you’re pitching to in the first few lines. Explain why you like the site and maybe even mention your favourite article that went up recently. Then, start a bit of name dropping. Tell them about your blog (if you have one). Tell them about any schooling you’ve had in writing. Brag about other places you’ve had your work published and explain why your style of writing is perfect for TheirSite.com!
It should also be noted that when you’re pitching articles, you’re bound to strike out sometimes. Actually, you’ll probably have far more strikes than home runs, so be patient and don’t take it personal. I recently pitched 4 separate articles to GoNomad.com and ended up landing the piece on tee-ball. Three strikes doesn’t always mean you’re out and while you shouldn’t harass the editors, you may want to try a few different approaches before giving up entirely.
Here’s an idea of what your pitch email may look like:
I’ve been reading ExampleSite.com for quite some time and I find myself living vicariously through many of the travel stories. I especially like the recent article “My Trip To Somethingstan”.
My name is ______ and I run the popular travel blog ExampleBlog.com, where I share my story with a large audience of like-minded travellers.
I have been featured in _____, ______ and more. I have a great article idea and I think it would be perfect for ExampleSite.com.
The article is called “The Best Example Of A Pitch Article” and it … (briefly explain article here).
I really hope that this is the type of article you’re looking for sometime in the near future. I would love to have my first piece published in ________ Magazine!
If you have any questions about the article or about my writing history, please feel free to contact me at any time. If the idea above isn’t what you’re looking for, please let me know. I have plenty more ideas!
Thank-you for your time and consideration.
Another option is to send the entire draft copy of the article, but if you go this route, you should have complete trust in the person you are sending it to because they could easily publish it without crediting you at all. Also, if you decide to send entire articles, make sure you’re not sending the article to multiple site owners because if two people accept it, you’ll have to turn one of them down.
Know Thy Audience
Whenever you pitch an article to a website, you should first know the site’s audience. A lot of sites that are willing to pay for articles will be looking for pieces with a journalistic approach (ie: less “I’s” more “you’s”). These types of articles tend to be more difficult to write and the editors for such sites are often more choosy about who they hire for the posts.
Not all sites are looking for journalists however, especially in the travel field. You may find quite a few paying sites that are looking for first hand accounts of cool travel stories. This is where the everyday traveller can really make some money from their writing. Try writing the pieces in a way that will appeal to a broad audience and you should be able to find someone who will pay you for it!
No matter how you write, make sure you match your writing style to the site you are pitching. Read some of their most popular posts and try to get a feel for what kind of posts the site is looking for. Are there a lot of lists (ie: 10 Ways To Make Money Freelancing)? Are there news stories, travel tales, interviews? If you try to pitch an article with the same tone as others already published, you’ll have a much better chance of getting the job.
If you’re a traveller, you’ll probably have a ton of stories and ideas about travel, but we all hit a brick wall sometimes and just can’t think about what to write. Here are some great ways to think of new posts when you’re having a bad case of blogger’s block.
• Travel Stories – These will probably be your “go-to” posts. Write about a recent travel experience and pitch it to your favourite site. (i.e: “Horse Trekking High In The Mountains Of Kyrgyzstan” & “One Steppe Ahead: Trekking Into The Unknown Mongolia“).
• Lists – Probably the most popular style of article in travel writing today, lists are great attention grabbers. (i.e. “5 Countries You Never Thought You’d Visit… Until Now!” & “10 Must-Try Meals From Around The Globe“)
• Reviews – In the travel field, reviews are a very popular type of post and they can get a lot of search engine traffic. Review your backpack, your laptop or a hotel! (i.e. “Dariece’s Backpack – Osprey Kestrel 32 Review” & “Accommodation Spotlight – Victoria House Belize“)
• Instructional – How To’s, Guides and Tutorials. Instructional posts should be helpful, interesting and comprehensive. (i.e: “Guide To Backpacking Thailand” & “How To Find The Perfect House Sitting Job“)
• Informational – How do you think Wikipedia became so popular? Almost all web traffic starts from the user searching for information.
• Interviews – Interviews are a great way to connect with your favourite bloggers, and use their audience to boost the social presence of your writing.
• Rant – Travelling usually comes with a lot of passion. You might hate or love certain aspects of the lifestyle. Rant about it. Get controversial and you’ll probably get a lot of attention. BEWARE! These types of posts often attract a lot of negative comments, so make sure you have thick skin!
• Inspirational – If you’re writing about how much you hate something in a rant, then you can also write about how much you love something. Inspirational posts are great for travel writing and they help give people new ideas.
For more great article ideas, check out Pro Blogger’s “20 Types Of Blog Posts: Battling Writer’s Block“.
Titles, Titles, Titles!
When you’re pitching your article to perspective publishers, make sure that you have a catchy title. It is said that 80% of all web users click on an article based on the title alone. That means that once you’ve written a catchy title, you’ve already made 80 cents on every dollar the post is worth!
Here are a few types of titles you can use:
Questions: Why is freelance writing the best way to make money online?
Guides: The ULTIMATE Guide To Freelance Writing
Lists: 10 Ways Freelance Writing Can Change Your Life
Discussions: Would you ever quit your job to become a freelance writer?
Comparisons: Freelancing vs Travel Blogging: Which Is Better For Making Money Online?
Controversy: Freelance writing is better than Travel Blogging
Blog or No Blog
Bloggers will definitely have a bit of an advantage when it comes to freelancing. Not only do they have an online portfolio, but there’s a higher chance that they have written for known names in the industry. Freelancing is also great for bloggers because if you have a blog, you can link back to your site from articles you’ve written elsewhere on the web. Links are valuable these days, so if you’re getting paid to write AND you’re getting links back to your site from reputable domains, it’s really a win-win.
But what if you don’t have a blog?
You can still freelance! Don’t worry, if your writing is good enough and your stories are compelling, people will want to feature them on their site. Just take your favourite travel story, experience or knowledge and pitch it to your favourite blog.
Making It A Career
Now you have a basic idea of how freelance writing works, where you can find jobs and how much you can make, but don’t expect to quit your day job and start freelancing full-time just yet! It will take a lot of time to hone your skills and to increase your success rate when pitching articles. Once you have a few publishers who you have already worked with, finding paid gigs will get easier and easier. You can return to familiar sites and brag about your experience to new ones and the more you get your name out there, the more sites are likely to contact you!
If you can manage to get 15 articles / month consistently at $100 each, you may consider yourself a full-time freelance writer!
Most travellers these days keep some kind of record of their trip. Whether it’s a blog, a journal, emails home to family or just notes in a notepad, we all like to jot down our travel memories. Why not monetize those memories and pitch them to the editors of your favourite travel websites?! If you can make just $100 / article, and you’re travelling for $25 / day, then you only have to do one article every 4 days to support your travels! Even if you get rejected the first few times, just keep trying. The web is full of different sites in different niches and they’re always looking for fun, interesting and unique content… just like yours!