How to Fund Travel as a Freelance Writer
The best secret ski towns of North America?
That’s the topic that freelance writer Aaron Teasdale recently wrote about for National Geographic Traveler.
Ironically, he wrote the article from a hammock on the beach in Nicaragua, where he’s been practicing surfing and saving turtle eggs from poachers.
We recently met his family on the beaches of Guacaste, Nicaragua where he told me about how to be a freelance writer. The Teasdales rented out their home, took the kids out of school and are taking seven months to explore Central America.
Aaron funds their life (at home and now on the road) as a freelance writer and photographer. (I think we’re going to need to interview him for our How to Fund Travel series.)
Sounds like a great lifestyle, right?
So is this something that’s only possible for an elite few, those gifted geniuses with a flair for wrangling words together?
Not according to Chris Guillebeau’s most recent book release (written by Amber Adrian, which I’ve just read and highly recommend). If you have a desire to ‘write for a living’, then it’s possible to create a career out of freelance writing… a career that will give you more lifestyle options.
How is it done? How do you start your profession as a freelance writer, earning a comfortable income that offers the freedom to work from anywhere in the world? (The BEST part, if you ask me.)
The formula for making it happen is simple… and it starts with getting your first paid gig.
Maybe you’ll get paid your first time out, maybe you won’t. But the more you write and the more you engage, the more ideas you’ll have. The more you share, the more you’ll draw people, as well as jobs and opportunities, to you.
Nail down your idea of great success. Know exactly what it looks like. Work steadily and creatively to get there and you might start the next world-changing online publication or write your way into cliff diving in Monte Verde or hiking Mount Everest.
Getting your first gig starts by doing these things:
1. Just start writing
You don’t have to know how to write a best-seller, or even a viral blog post (my most recent guest post had 44k Facebook shares!) All you have to do is start with where you are. I wrote for a long time, and no one read it (except for maybe my mom. 😉 )
There’s really no secret. Just make things and share them. Don’t give up, even when things don’t happen the way you want them to.”
Decide to write. Commit to it everyday. Just write. That’s how it starts.
2. Create a web presence
This is a must in today’s online world. Without a web presence, you don’t exist. Without a professional web presence, your abilities are doubted. (If you need help with a website, you know who to contact. 😉 )
Your website is your resume. It tells the world who you are and what you’ve done (and what you plan to do). If you don’t have any writing samples to share, then volunteer to write for someone who needs it. Now you’re beginning your portfolio.
Create a website telling the world you’re a writer, and people will believe you.
3. Decide on your niche
If you’re going to make a living as a writer, it might as well be done by writing stuff you’re interested (or even better, passionate) about. Is that education? Travel? Food?
Picking a niche will help you to define your daily writing (remember, you committed to doing that in step #1?) It will also help you with the next step which is to:
4. Make a pitch
You can never get paid to write unless you pitch companies who pay for writers. Don’t be afraid. Yes, writing is different than pitching. Pitching requires understanding the art of selling. Yes, you may very well get rejected. That’s okay. The important thing is that you’re trying, and gaining experience.
Set a deadline to send your first pitch by, and put it on your calendar. .”
5. Find Your Peeps
Ultimately, earning income comes from connecting with people, often the right people… people who want what you have to offer. Where are your people? Offline? Online? Facebook? Twitter? Your job is to find people whom you can help and who in turn can help you.
Don’t be intimidated by the competition. No matter where you are in your life and writing career, there is a client that would love to have you help them. Not everyone out there can afford a seasoned pro. Your life experience makes you unique and nobody will write it quite the way you will. The size of the freelance writing market is huge, and there’s room for you…if you market yourself and are serious about learning, improving, and making this happen.” – Carol Tice
These are the very first steps to becoming a paid freelance writer. Of course making a career out of it will require more effort, information and know-how.
(These steps were adapted from the Get Paid for Writing book, which goes into far greater detail on:
- the writing process
- making pitches
- getting paid and knowing how much to charge
- facing fears and rejections
- being your own boss
- building a freelance business and more
The important thing to remember? YOU can do this. And it begins by beginning. In a year from now you can be closer to your dream lifestyle… or you can still be where you are. It’s your choice.
We’d all love a clearly marked yellow brick road to the Emerald City. But you don’t need a wizard with a curtain and a god complex. You just need to pay attention. Pay attention to what your next step is. Pay attention to what you enjoy, and that will point the way to excellence.” – Amber Adrian