Saturday, 11 July 2009

#98 - How to make money writing travel guides for the internet

- Or why guide book authors should be using their knowledge online.

Boost income by writing for the web
In tip #70, I attempted to blow the myth that travel writers can't earn money writing for the web out of the water. The portal sites are excellent potential sources of income for individual articles.
But the way to make real money writing for the internet is to create your own travel guide site, and turn it into your primary business.

Guide book author to online travel guide creator
The skill sets for being a guide book author and creating a comprehensive online travel guide are very similar. And with tools such as Google Maps available, there is no reason why travel writers with a wealth of knowledge on a certain destination or subject cannot create themselves a profitable niche on the internet.

Examples and further detail
I have explained this further in a large post at my other site - Grumpytraveller.com. It's my honest belief that any travel writer can do this, and I know many are in the process of doing so. Mike Gerrard and Donna Dailey at Pacific-Coast-Highway-Travel.com are an excellent example of how it's possible to slowly grow a site.
I shall also be discussing this issue on Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/mrdavidwhitley

Saturday, 4 July 2009

#97 - Trying selling travel stories to news editors

Or why foreign news can be a better fit than the travel section.

Which section for the story?
I've always worked on a general theory that a reliable sign of a good travel story is that it will easily slot into another section of a newspaper. For example, one that has a musical angle could be equally valid in the music section; a story about a painter could just as easily be filed under 'arts'.

Cracking the Daily Telegraph
I'm quite a happy bunny today, as I've had my first story printed in The Daily Telegraph. I've pitched plenty of ideas there before, but come up against a brick wall. Along with The Sunday Times, it's probably the most prestigious place I've ever been published. But my story wasn't in the travel section.

Travel story, news angle
I can't think why I didn't think of this before, but I decided to pitch the story to the Telegraph's World News editor. It was a story I'd come across on my travels and it was arguably a travel story with a news angle, but I decided to write it as a news story.

Published quickly
The approach worked - the editor liked the idea, bought the story and it was published within three days of my initial approach. Oh if only all travel pieces went that smoothly...

Out of the way places
It did get me thinking about how many other travel stories I could have taken this approach with. It's particularly useful in out of the way places. In my example, news from Samoa doesn't tend to travel very far. The fact that the country is switching to driving on the left from driving on the right makes for a great story, but because hardly anyone pays attention to what's going on there, it's a story that has barely been written about. OK, it's had a tiny bit of coverage in Australia and New Zealand - but not the rest of the world.

Read the papers, listen to the locals
The experience confirms my beliefs that, for the travel writer, it's worth reading local newspapers, listening to local radio stations and talking to local people about what the current big issues are. There's always almost a story to be uncovered - and one that can possibly be sold to a news section.

PS - Yes, I know Samoa isn't an island; it's a collection of them. That's the joy of sub-editors for you.

PPS - If you want more of my nonsense, you can find me at GrumpyTraveller.com and on Twitter.

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Apologies for absence

OK, OK, I know it's been months since I posted. My excuses are as follows:

1. I have been on the road almost constantly.
2. I've had a big pile of paying work to get through, and that comes first. Writing this blog is fun, but in the absence of an absurdly generous benefactor or advertising, it has to come second.
3. I've been working on my new blog, Grumpy Traveller. I'm sounding off on a greater range of topics there - all travel-related - but am running a regular series on travel writer cliches. Any would-be travel writer should avoid them like the plague (see what I did there?). Please come on by and leave a comment on the issues I'm trying to raise.
4. I'm also working on my own top secret web project which probably won't see the light of day for a good while yet.

This said, I will still be dropping in the odd tip here. I won't be posting as regularly as I was in the past, but I'd sooner leave better tips less frequently than to dash out a load of rubbish just to keep up with a self-imposed schedule.

In the mean time, please come along to Grumpy Traveller or follow me on Twitter.