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Recently, the most revered of individual U.S. college football awards, the Heisman Memorial trophy, was presented to Joe Burrow, the quarterback of Louisiana State University. Winners of this prestigious trophy, first awarded in 1935, epitomize great ability, diligence, perseverance, and hard work. Being a travel writer is a lot like football, or any other sport for that matter. Just showing up doesn’t mean you’re going to play in the game. Instead, you have to be a good enough player to get out on the field! This requires the “be in it to win it” mentality. It’s that process that divides the “I want to be a travel writer” from the “I am a successful travel writer.” You have to move from dreamer to doer. Having a talent for something isn’t enough to get you to the top of the heap. It takes action. Lots of it. But the benefits are worth it. Here is my winning game plan for achieving success as a travel writer.

1. Prepare to win

Every successful career begins with a solid foundation, including travel writing. You can dream about it, but unless you do something about it, nothing will happen. Many who try doing it “off the cuff” give up. Why? Because breaking into the world of travel writing and cracking the secret codes is a learning process. The good news is there are programs out there led by successful writers and editors who’ve mastered the process. And they’ll help prepare you to do the same.

2. Set the bar higher

Once writers understand the tools required to be a successful travel writer, they need to add these, and continue to aim higher. No one succeeds by treading water. New writers often get stuck in a rut or continue cruising on the same plateau by only writing similar articles for one or two publications. Adding new genres, setting clear and realistic goals and working toward them is your recipe for success. Getting out of your comfort zone will expand your game.

3. Don’t go it alone

Travel writing can seem like a solitary profession, but if you connect with positive, successful colleagues willing to share their knowledge of the journey, you don’t have to go it alone. Surround yourself with good teammates, and everybody wins. Joining a travel writing group or organization means you’ll learn from other writers who’ve “been there, done that” and the information that’s shared is mutually beneficial.

4. Seize the moment

Never pass up an opportunity to make a new connection or explore a new venue. You never know where it will lead. When Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow wasn’t being used at Ohio State, he transferred to LSU where he became the starting quarterback and a star. Writers who answer when opportunity knocks are the ones who find success. Always have business cards with you. Be willing to market yourself as a travel writer wherever you are. I have made connections at airport bars, on a beach, on a plane, at a restaurant, and especially on press trips. When opportunity does knock, open that door!

5. Write with passion and excellence

Passion captures a reader’s attention and imagination. When a writer writes about something he or she loves, it’s evident. Passion is the hook for the reader because you’re taking them along on your journey. I learned this early on in my writing career and it’s made all the difference in the world. Excellence pleases your editors and makes for a good story as well. Following writer guidelines, reading your story out loud, and checking for any spelling or grammar errors before hitting that “send” button will make your editors very happy. And they’ll come calling again. Make 2020 your year to shine. Be in it to win it. Trust me, the benefits are worth it! [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can fund your travels and make an extra income with photography, travel writing, blogging, and more in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Three Fun Ways To Get Paid To Travel: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]