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A new year tends to make us look back over the past year. I usually think about what changes to make and what I’d like to accomplish going forward. Then there’s the joy and goldmine of article ideas I find from looking back through travel photos.  

Being a visual person, looking back over my travel pictures is how I pay the bills. To give you an idea, one image has earned me over $800 in writing gigs. Let me explain.  

Vibrant colorful photos transport me back to destinations, festivals, and bustling markets, where it’s easy to recall the wonder of exploring and discovering a new place. It’s a sneaky digital re-visit because I know that returning is not an option right now.  

Looking back, travel photos motivate me, inspire me, and spark a creative flow. It puts me in my writer’s groove. Seeing the steam rise off an amazing local dish, the aroma almost reaches my nostrils; my nose can practically feel the stream rising off the picture. These images and the feelings they invoke are gold. 

That is the beauty of looking back through your travel photos. They evoke emotion for you and for an editor.  

bel woodhouse
Bel Woodhouse

See, when you feel warm and fuzzy looking at a favorite image it’s motivating. That in turn is translated to your writing and definitely noticed by editors. That’s how one image can earn you big dollars.  

Evoking an emotion is a goldmine.

Feeling activates all five senses, one of the most important things in travel writing. It helps your words flow to touch other’s hearts as it touched yours and makes them want to go there.  

That is what editors want, that is what gets you bylines, and that is how you find a ton of article ideas when we can’t travel right now. 

The best thing is that it can be an image of anything, from golden shores to golden honey. If it makes you smile, then there’s a story there.  

To show you what I mean, this is the image that has earned me over $800 in bylines.   

Yes, bees. 

Every time I see this image, I’m transported back to the moment the beekeeper removed the lid off the hive so I could reach in and video and photograph the tiny stingless bees. It was a wonderful afternoon spent in a jungle sanctuary learning about the special place Melipona bees have within the Maya culture.  

Because it makes me smile, that newfound love of tiny bees is passed on in my writing.  

The Mayan Bee Sanctuary has been covered as a destination, for beekeeping magazines, from a conservation angle, a spiritual angle (relationship between Maya and bee), and in listicles and roundups. I’ve had this subject placed in six different magazines so far, and that’s the tip of the iceberg.  

This image continues to inspire me—every time I look at it another article idea hits.  

Now you can see why I wanted to share this with you—every writer has a virtual goldmine sitting on their laptop. We’ve all taken travel snaps and they could easily help you pay the bills. There are literally thousands of dollars’ worth of article ideas just waiting for you. 

This is why as writers we shouldn’t be worried and feeling bleak as to how to find stories when you can’t travel. You already have everything you need at your fingertips. Spending some time taking a stroll down memory lane is a wealth of inspiration and motivation.  

It’s easy. Just make a cup of tea and spend some time looking back. Even 10 minutes will yield some ideas.  

When mentioned to other writer friends, they all said, “Oh I forgot about that”. It’s a pretty fun way to get that writer’s creativity flowing again.  

I’m still getting bylines and making rent just by writing about past experiences, places, and how my time there felt. You can too. Now, go have some fun and invest some time in yourself and your writing by reliving your past adventures. I can’t wait to read those articles.   

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