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Five years ago, I never thought I’d see the words “Travel Writer” on my business card. I knew I wanted to travel more. I just never thought I’d get paid to do it. 

Since taking that first step, it has been a kick seeing my articles published in dozens of magazines and websites.

If I can do it, you can, too. Here are five steps I used to get started as a travel writer.

1. What to do when traveling isn’t in the budget – You have to start somewhere. What better place than writing about a place you know about…. like your hometown. What’s the hottest restaurant in town?  Is there a festival coming up? What business is making headlines locally? Is there a hotel offering the latest in high-tech amenities? I found developing writing credits at home was a great stepping stone for securing more exotic assignments on the road.

2. What should I write about?  Not so long ago, writer’s block was common, especially when I first dipped my toe into the travel writing pool. I found a great way to get untracked is by entering certain words into a search engine. Words like “2016 top travel trends,” or “what’s hot for summer travel, winter travel, or holiday travel. Pick a time of year, and then think about the topics that travelers stew over. Chances are the magazine or website you pitch will look to satisfy readers’ needs on this topic.

3. How do I write a query to an editor?  I can remember that my initial queries were like going on a first date. Like a nerd who discovered the key to dating success, I found that starting my query with a compelling statistic was one way to get an editor to dance with me.  Whatever topic I wanted to write on, I could usually find a riveting statistic that revealed if my topic was red hot or ice cold.

4. I want to write, but am I any good? As a rookie travel writer, I wasn’t sure how to play the travel writer game. Some magazines and websites offered Writer Guidelines, others didn’t. I found that writing along the same outline or format of an existing article was a good way to show an editor that I reviewed his or her publication in detail.

5. I’ve written my article, but I have concerns about grammar. Reading an article out loud is a practice I continue to this day. During the oral review process, I’ll hear a clinker in a sentence that I didn’t notice at first. I also have a second set of eyes review my piece for grammar before submitting to an editor.

The next time you’re feeling stuck, remember these tips. I look forward to seeing your byline in a travel magazine before the next holiday. Now, please excuse me, I need to finish a query so I can ask an editor to dance.   

P.S. Speaking of editors, don’t miss the next in this series of articles — Senior Editor at Yankee Magazine, Ian Aldrich, tells you how to spin a fresh story on an old place

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