When I started my travel writing career, I was excited to cover travel, food, and wine. Little did I know that some of the most popular articles I would write would be about my previous careers and current hobbies.
My first indication that published works outside of the usual travel stories could be in my future was a story I wrote for Mother Earth News. This popular environmental magazine has a blog I was invited to write for, and my very first blog post received loads of Facebook comments and shares—what they call “engagement,” something the marketers of every publication love.
Even though that first story (“Friendship with a Garden Spider”) didn’t pay, it was fun to write and eventually led to many more bylines. Within a year of writing gardening, farming, and ecology stories for free, I started getting paid gigs from Mother Earth News magazine. I find these stories easy to write because they are about subjects I’m passionate about.
If you’re considering writing about your hobbies, take a look around the internet for publications that might welcome stories from freelancers. Chances are there will be several magazines, websites, and blogs for your talents. There are even some charitable organizations that will take your work and pay well. I’m currently working on a story about bird-friendly cattle ranches that the American Bird Conservancy might buy. What charities are you fond of that might want to pay for your articles?
Try finding publications that would want to assign stories you are familiar with by way of your hobbies and past careers. Years ago, I worked as an aircraft mechanic and also took flying lessons to obtain a private pilot license. Flying and aviation are near and dear topics to me.
I recently had a pitch accepted with the aviation-based website, Captain Jetson. The editors want to publish ideas I’ve had about aviation that didn’t quite fit the travel writing sector. The prospect of writing regularly for Captain Jetson is exciting, and they pay! Many of you have had fulfilling careers and are transitioning into travel writing. Why not look for ways to share your knowledge and get paid to do so beyond travel content?
Four years ago, I attended a one-day class at Rutgers University’s Food Lab to learn how to take my special hot sauce recipe and turn it into a profitable business. Although I didn’t follow through with the idea, the class opened my eyes to thousands of home products finding their way to the market. Last year I read a story in a business magazine that said there was never a better time to get a home-products business funded by angel investors. I thought of my one-day class at Rutgers and smelled a story.
The Rutger’s experience prompted me to pitch the story “It’s a Great Time to Start Your Home Food Products Business” to Mother Earth News. They loved the idea and agreed to pay me $500 for a feature article to run in the fall 2020 issue. This type of material would not be of interest to any of my regular travel writing publishers but is a good fit for Mother Earth News.
Most of you have been through GEP travel writer training and have an excellent start. (If you haven’t, there is no better place to get started than right here.) By opening your eyes to other types of writing, I believe you will get more paid bylines and have fun sharing your knowledge.
By all means, enjoy the travel writer’s life, but dig deep and consider additional venues for publishing your other stories. You might find as I have that you’ll get published more often by finding ways to write about your hobbies and past careers.