Why Every Copywriter Should Do a Little Travel Writing on the Side

Before becoming a copywriter, I tried my hand at writing for travel magazines … with zero success. I couldn’t get my foot in the door.

Now I know why.

There are secrets to writing travel articles, just as there are secrets to writing successful direct-marketing promotions. I didn’t know those secrets back then.

Now that I know them, getting published is a cinch.

Ironically, I didn’t learn travel-writing secrets to get published. I’d scored a new copywriting client in the travel industry – International Living. I thought learning those secrets would help me understand my client’s business and write better promotions for them.

But by the time I was one chapter into my reading about the travel industry, the bug to write freelance travel articles bit me again … hard. I realized I already had the skills – and the inside track – to make travel writing the perfect complement to my new copywriter’s lifestyle.

And when I tell you where I’m writing this letter from, you might want to consider adding travel writing to your bag of tricks, too.

By combining copywriting and travel writing, I’ve turned our family’s usual two-week vacation at the New Jersey shore into a six-week stint on an island off the coast of British Columbia. And costing us the same amount of money.

Plus, I’m earning an extra $1,200 – maybe more – to write a few articles about our exploits here.

The “work” – if you can call it that – is a cinch. First, I’m gonna search out “The Hidden, Affordable Vancouver,” to find its remaining affordable pockets of real estate.

Then, I’m going to ferry-hop my way around the Southern Gulf Islands … finding a secret five-star restaurant; visiting a hidden, world-class spa; and checking out an unlikely skateboard park.

Whether you’re a road warrior who can’t stay in one place for long or a homebody who lives near a popular destination, adding a dash of travel writing know-how to your copywriting skills is a sure recipe for success.

Here are 3 keys to making that happen:

  1. Apply the Same Skills to a Different Market

    Your copywriting skills are easily transferred to writing travel articles that get published. For example, “picture-promise-proof-push” is the winning combination in many travel articles. Getting the reader hooked right away in your lead makes your article more appealing to editors as well as readers.

    Understanding your audience lets you gear your pieces to a magazine’s readership. In fact, understanding these core principles of copywriting will give you an edge against travel writers who don’t know the secrets of promotional writing.

  2. Apply the Secret Architecture of a Powerful Travel Article

    Just as a good direct-mail promotion has a structure and flow that makes it work, successful travel articles follow one of eight common “templates.” Learning these eight templates was the key that unlocked the travel market for me.

    Now, when planning a trip, I overlay my itinerary with these templates to come up with a handful of ideas before I even leave the house. And while I’m exploring a new place and gathering information, I always have these templates in mind. From there, sellable ideas take shape and form – and articles practically write themselves!

  3. You Already Understand Marketing … Now Market Yourself

    Here’s another way copywriters have an edge as travel writers. We know how to write letters that sell our articles. Once I brainstorm article ideas for an upcoming trip, I fire off a few query letters to publications that fit.

    I try to sell a couple of articles before I go. I then collect writer’s guidelines from those publishers, and keep them with me while I travel. As a travel writer, I’m constantly thinking of possible article ideas. As a copywriter, I am always thinking about how to market them.

It doesn’t take long to get a toehold in this market – and set yourself up to land the freebies and perks that go hand-in-glove with this job. Travel writing is a small portion of my income – pocket money, to tell the truth – because I choose to do only enough to score the perks and write off my travel expenses. You could certainly be more prolific and earn more money.

But if copywriting appeals to you because you could “work from anywhere, any time,” it seems only natural to take advantage of the opportunity travel writing offers. After all, you wouldn’t win the lottery … and then not cash the check … would you? As a copywriter, you already have a winning ticket to enter the travel writing industry.

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

The Professional Writers’ Alliance

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Published: September 4, 2006

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