Everyone thinks they can write. Turns out they can. Anyone who speaks the language can learn to employ it for profit, with a few handy tips. That was the premise of AWAI’s Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop, which I just attended in Chicago. I have no trouble believing it’s true. With the right nuggets of knowledge, I’m more confident than I’ve ever been before.
My attention span is typically very short. After thirty minutes (or less) you’ve lost me. But as I listened to AWAI’s speakers (or teachers, as I like to call them), I was engaged—even after hours. They illustrated the below tips and more with dozens of concrete, real-life examples. Meaty stuff that helped us all understand the theory behind each idea with ease.
Here are a few big ideas that can help anyone who’d like to do some travel writing:
1. Will anybody read this?
An important part of the three-day workshop centered on knowing your audience. It sounds like a no-brainer: the best pieces will fail to sell if they don’t address the target audience. But it’s advice even seasoned writers can forget (I do it periodically, and I’ve been writing for pay for over five years). So stay focused. Ask yourself: Who am I writing for?
2. Do I need a big vocabulary?
The answer is, surprisingly, no. Most of the travel publications out there don’t want articles filled with a lot of words no one understands. They keep most pieces at an eighth grade level. That’s the level on which most of us converse—simple, straightforward.
3. What do they want from me?
There are many publications that are happy to take on first-time writers. And what they want is so simple: Just follow their instructions. Every editor we heard from (and we heard from a lot) repeated the same. Turns out, most of them have lists of instructions that you can access online. They’ll happily tell you everything you need to know—style, content, even formatting.
4. How do I get started?
Some industries require years of study, onerous certifications and intellectual maintenance. But with travel writing no special degrees are required. Want to supplement your current income? Just start small. Focus on contributing shorter pieces, 200-800 words in length. It’s all about getting a foot in the door.
5. What’s ‘bleasure’?
The ultimate travel writer’s tip: Sound knowledgeable. Read travel publications and know the trends. If you already know that bleasure is business and pleasure travel combined…or that flashpacking is backpacking with means, you’ll sound like you know what you’re doing…and you’ll be likely to get more work.
The AWAI course answered all the questions I had about how to break into the industry as well as others I would have never thought to ask. Like, what is the lipstick effect? How do I travel write if I never travel? How do I make my descriptions stand out? What words should I avoid? And, the gem that keeps on giving, how best to start your articles.
Editor’s Note: We’ve put together a very special package designed to equip those who are really committed to becoming travel writers. Our Ultimate Get Paid to Travel Plan, which includes AWAI’s Ultimate Travel Writer’s Program plus a whole host of extras, has been valued at $332.50. Order today and it’s yours for just $29 with a few modest monthly payments to follow. But you’ll have to move fast—this offer is only good through midnight Saturday, August 27.