Tuesday, 3 February 2009

#81 – Initial research into markets for travel writing

Or raiding the newsagent.

Lists of web publications
For those just starting out on the freelance travel writing journey, there is a temptation to shun common sense when it comes to finding outlets for your work. Many will trawl the web for lists of publications, or sign up for ridiculous sites that pay a feeble pittance.

Ignoring the most obvious source
This is really ignoring the most obvious source of potential outlets. I would advise anyone looking to break into travel writing to get out of the house and head to the biggest newsagent’s shop in the area. Once there, flick through any magazine and newspaper that has a travel section, and buy it.

Expensive initial outlay
Yes, this is an expensive initial outlay, but it’s worth it. You instantly have a library that you can refer to. It’s possible to see what sort of articles the publications print and how long the articles are. You can also see individual sections that may be good to initially pitch for – these are often not as well defined on the web.
Sometimes it is best to start with the obvious rather than scouring for needles in a haystack online.


jen laceda said...

Hmmm...good tips. I guess I can start searching in markets that are not-so-common; such as, airline in-flight magazines, CAA / AAA magazines, air miles magazine, trade publications?

Do these publications pay freelancers for their articles?

-Jen Laceda

Lara Dunston said...

Great advice, David. I am a huge consumer of travel magazines and buy them regularly - even when we're travelling, as I'll often find some new magazine I've never heard of in an obscure town in a strange country that might represent a good publishing opportunity.

As I'm constantly on the move, in addition to ripping out the masthead, as you're suggesting, I'll also tear out articles I like, perhaps on destinations I'm heading to for work or places I would like to go to. I like to compare the tips in the articles with those in the guidebook I might be updating or story I'm writing, and contrast them with my own discoveries.

I'll often find that the advice in the story might not always be the best (it's sad to see so many writers regurgitating content rather than basing stories on their own experiences) but it may be that at one of those restaurants the writer has recommended, we chat to a waiter who suggests an ever better place, or a boutique hotel manager who tells me about a new property in the city they've just opened.

To answer Jen's question, although I'm sure you'll get to it, I have found that in-flight magazines and hotel magazines pay some of the best fees in the business, far better than say newspaper travel supplements for instance. In-flights are highly competitive also, and like all publications at the moment, budgets are being crunched so work is harder to come by now than it was, say, 6 months ago.

David said...

Thanks Lara. You're doing my job for me :) Not sure I'd want to be carrying your cases around, though...

As Lara said, in-flight mags tend to pay pretty well and are mostly freelancer written. I've only done a few articles for in-flights (Virgin Blue in Australia, WizzAir in Europe), but I know other people that get a lot of work from them.

The others, I'm afraid, I've no experience with. Anecdotally, however, I believe they do pay.