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How to become a freelance travel writer

January 10, 2011 · 9 comments

Christmas is great, innit? You eat like Kyle Sandilands at Sizzler, you drink like Mel Gibson on a… well, Tuesday, and you persuade yourself that all the work you know you should be doing can be put off until some time in the very distant future.

And so it is that I look over my past blog posts and realise that I haven’t written a thing for this here digital diary in a solid month or so.

Now, I don’t go making New Year’s resolutions, mostly because I know that however much I promise myself I’ll start eating better, drinking less, and saving up for that apartment I should be investing in, I know with absolute faith that I’m not going to do any of those things. So I don’t even bother.

Instead, I’m going to make a New Year’s “blogolution”. It’s a simple one, too: write more.

Because I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t post nearly enough on this website. I’m hitting about once a fortnight, if I’m lucky. I’ve been thinking about why that might be, and I’ve come up with the cold, hard truth: I don’t get paid for it.

I’m lucky enough to get paid for all of my other writing, so when it comes to the stuff that I do for fun… Well, it always ends up at the bottom of the list.

I’ve actually struggled with the content of the blog – I know it’s a travel blog, but if I post all of my travel stories on here, what will I have left to sell? Corny as it sounds, this stuff is my bread and butter (although it’s only really a crouton and butter at the moment).

But I’ve come up with an idea. They say “write what you know”, and while I’m not entirely sure who “they” are, I think they might be right. And what I know right now is life as a freelance travel writer, which, after about five years of trying, I’m finally beginning to crack.

Coincidentally, that’s also what the majority of people who write to me ask about: How do I become a travel writer? What’s the pay like? How did you get into it? How do you get free holidays?

So here goes: this year, I’m going to answer all those questions and more. This blog, for better or worse, is going to be dedicated to life as a freelance travel writer. It will be both a diary of my life as a writer – where I’m going, the eternal struggle to sell stories – plus a forum to answer your questions. I’ll be as honest as I can, give it to you straight. I’ll even have a few guest posters on board to answer the questions that I can’t.

This year’s going to be an exciting one: I’m going to Japan in a few weeks, I have a massive trip to Antarctica coming up in March, and it looks as though my second book project will be getting off the ground as well. If that doesn’t make for good material, I don’t know what will.

To kick the year off, I’ll throw it open to your questions about freelance travel writing: either leave them as comments at the bottom of this blog, or email them to me at bengroundwater [at]

Happy New Year everyone! Plenty more posts to come (I promise).

PS. Should probably explain that pic up there – it’s from a place called Days At Sea in South Africa, probably the best place I’ve ever stayed, and it was free. Yep, this travel writing malarky’s not bad…

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