In my corporate life I was a Communications Manager earning a six-figure salary—along with the headaches and pressures that came with the job.
When the organization restructured in July 2009, I had six months’ leave accrued. Having turned 55, I could also take early retirement, but I opted instead to use three months’ holiday and keep my lucrative job as a safeguard.
After renting out my apartment, I headed to my new home on the French Cote d’Azur, with no clue as to what I’d do each day. I didn’t care; I was fresh and free, living in France.
Friends and my daily experiences inspired me to write a book—it wasn’t a best-seller, but it ignited a desire within me to travel more and share my experiences with others.
The months flew by, and I had to make a decision. During a Skype meeting with my boss to request a further three months, he offered a retirement package. I was now officially unemployed. It felt strange. Now I needed to find a way to supplement my income—and afford the travel adventures I’d grown accustomed to.
Discovering Great Escape travel and photography workshops changed my life yet again. Attending several events in exotic locations—including Africa—not only provided skills and encouragement, but also introduced me to some fantastic and inspirational lecturers and participants.
Even today, they continue to help with advice, proofing, or as travel companions from time to time.
It’s surprisingly easy to write about your travel experiences, and the perfect starting point is where you live. No one has a more intimate knowledge than you: what you smell, feel, see, eat, drink and where you go.
You might think it’s mundane—but your words add color and emotion to other people’s dreams. I began by writing about France—the Cote d’Azur and Provence—and created slideshows to music with my photos, posting them on my website and blog.
Creating a blog or website will give you a presence and a platform to host your articles. By sharing it, your audience will grow. But don’t forget to keep some information—or a different angle to your stories—to pitch to a magazine or newspaper. Most prefer original stories—not one you’ve already posted on your own website (but you can share the link to your published story later on your blog).
Over time my reputation grew, and people began approaching me for stories. It also meant I could ask for better remuneration.
Just remember not all articles pay the same… you need to be flexible. In the beginning, you may choose to write some stories for free—but don’t continue doing this long-term or you won’t be able to retire to the life you want to enjoy. (Go here for some tips on moving from free to paid writing.)
Also remember you don’t have to have a story accepted before you travel. And, even if you do, you’ll often discover more stories during your trip. By selling just one story, your trip costs become a tax deduction.
Today, I’m the senior writer for a best-selling, bi-annual 330-page lifestyle magazine back in Australia.
I write the main feature each issue, another one on my recent travels, and a variety of other editorials for homes, restaurants, and new product reviews. For six to eight weeks, twice a year, I live in Australia where I’ll interview people and visit the venues. The rest of the year, I travel the world discovering new places, people, cultures, foods, and lifestyles. I then write a variety of stories during my travels for other people and press.
Since discovering Great Escape Publishing travel and photography workshops, I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the best of both my worlds at my fingertips—writing and traveling. I’m now earning my previous full-time employment salary and more… and I’m here to tell you, you can have it, too.