AWAI Member Has Cracked the Code to Finding Freelance Writing Jobs Around the Globe
Explore the World on Somebody Else’s Dime
It’s the dream of many: get paid to travel. For Mark Andrews, who specializes in writing articles for publications like in-flight magazines, it has become a reality. And while supporting himself from travel writing (not to mention having his trips paid for) he’s had plenty of adventures along the way.
Typically, these freelance writing jobs involve jetting around to exotic Asian destinations, discovering unique cultural traditions.
“I’ve written about everything from Japanese houses to Kampot Pepper from Cambodia. Right now I’m in Changzhou, China, researching an article for Inner Circle, Shangri-la Hotels’ online magazine. I’m also trying to sell articles based on some previous trips,” recounts Mark.
“One subject I wrote about last year definitely could be considered unusual. For Silkroad — the Dragonair inflight magazine — I wrote about people living in caves in the rural area around the city of Xi’an. Over generations, people created these caves out of the loose soil, and the caves varied from pretty basic to quite luxurious. It seems to be a way of life that is probably on its last generation, and the number of families living in such structures has already fallen considerably.
“I was able to meet some great characters, like 83-year-old Mr. Zhou who had been living in the same cave since he was 12.”
Of course, his success didn’t come overnight. And it took him awhile to find his way into the travel writing industry. The travel bug hit him at 18 after traveling around Australia and Asia for seven months. He wanted to keep traveling and fund his trips. But he wasn’t quite sure how to go about it. Then came the breakthrough.
“Most people recommend you start locally. In 2000, I was living in Tokyo, so I started by contacting a local English-language magazine about doing travel articles for them. This resulted in my first two articles, along with published photographs,” recalls Mark.
“For the first few years, progress was slow, with the odd article printed here and there. Then when I was living in China in 2005, things began to take off.”
Mark’s been in the game for many years. But he says there are still plenty of opportunities for writers interested in travel. And he has this advice for newcomers to the industry:
“As a travel writer, I feel people sometimes expect you to know everything — from the species of bird singing its heart out atop a huge tree to that slight hint of a spice in the local specialty you are tasting, while having the language skills of a polyglot. Of course, that’s not realistic. You have to narrow down what you write to the things you either know about or that interest you,” says Mark, who adds that he had some key resources to help him develop his career along the way.
“My path was made easier by some of Great Escape Publishing’s material. I first did the Ultimate Travel Writer’s program, which helped me break into newspapers. Later, I used the Breaking into Airline In-Flight Magazines to enter that market. This now makes up much of my travel writing.”
If you’re interested in traveling as a freelance writer – or creating your own version of the writer’s life, a great way to get started is through Great Escape’s Ultimate Travel Writer Program by visting their website here.