Publications paying travel expenses, plus $1 to $2 per word, are very rare these days. The only way to make a freelance travel writing career work is if I can turn that one trip into a dozen different articles.
It’s not as hard as it sounds. All it takes is looking at your experiences to find different angles that fit an array of publications.
Last fall, I took a trip to Louisville, Kentucky. I combined covering a food and drink festival (Bourbon & Beyond) with tourism stories on the city. I was lucky enough to have the tourist board cover my attraction tickets and hotel bill, but that still left gas and food expenses. Plus, of course, the time I would spend there not doing my regular writing and, thus, not earning my regular freelancing income.
During any downtime at the festival, I jotted down ideas for stories. I did the same after I left the attractions I visited. I also took lots of photos from my phone to remind me of highlights (sometimes it’s easier to snap a picture than take notes). When I returned home, it was easy to get to work quickly on specific ideas.
This is what I produced from that four-day trip:
Feature: “Music, Food and Spirits Align at the First Annual Bourbon & Beyond Festival”
This piece for The Daily Meal focused on all the aspects of the festival. It was adjusted a little, and later picked up by the LA Times, and then by the Baltimore Sun, for a total of 3 stories.
While at the festival, I interviewed performers Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Dave Cavalier. I did separate articles for Beat for two more stories.
I do a monthly TV travel segment on the local CBS affiliate. I did one on a family trip to Louisville, Kentucky, with an accompanying story online.
I did a recap of each day of my trip on my blog, Wine And Spirits Travel, for another four stories from the trip.
I have 10 pieces published and I am certainly not done writing from this trip. I’m working on “10 Reasons to Visit Louisville” for another outlet. I also have some upcoming roundups on the “Best Places for Family Vacations” and “Top Cities to Visit.”
In addition, I have the option of writing directly about some of the unique attractions I visited, such as the Muhammad Ali Center, the Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, and Mega Cavern, which has underground ziplines and bike paths.
Most publications are fine with doing stories on trips you’ve taken within the past two years but I’m able to stretch that further by contacting the places I visited previously to make sure there haven’t been any major changes.
The trick is to take good notes, and lots of photos, to turn one trip into an endless supply of articles. I even turned my trip into a paid success story here for WritersWeekly!
Marcia has freelanced for many on and offline for such publications, including The Daily Meal, About.com (now Trip Savy), Pennyhoarder, Beat, Matador, Cocktails and Joints, Urban Expressions, Girls Getaway, Yahoo!, Cruise Voyant, Worn Luggage, Get in Media, Travel Hoppers and Niche Media (Michigan Avenue,Ocean Drive, Hamptons, Gotham, Los Angeles Confidential, Capitol File, Philadelphia Style and Aspen Peak Magazines).
You can also see Marcia Frost on CI Living, the afternoon lifestyle show on the CBS affiliate in Central Illinois, where she does monthly travel segments.
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