Articles - 2nd August 2019

A Lady In London: How I Made A Business Out Of Travel Writing

Words by Julie Falconer
Illustration by Jon McCormack

Travel writing is one of the most glamorous types of writing, and for good reason. Getting flown all over the world to stay in incredible hotels and have once-in-a-lifetime experiences is unique. But getting into travel writing isn’t as simple as going on holiday. 


My journey into travel writing

I’ve had a passion for both travelling and writing from a young age, but I stumbled into travel writing by accident. I moved from San Francisco to London in 2007 after leaving a career in finance. I set up a blog, A Lady in London, as a hobby right before I moved. I started out by writing about my life in London and the trips I took on weekends, never intending for it to be more than just a side project.

But a few years later blogging became something one could monetize and my blog had gotten enough of a following that I decided to make the leap into full-time travel writing in 2010. In the beginning, I did a mix of writing for my blog and pitching freelance articles for other publications. I built it up over time, and now I’ve made a living from it for over 9 years.

My blog generates income through a mix of display ads, affiliate marketing, and sponsorships. My freelance travel writing work now comes to me, which saves me time and allows me to be selective about the brands and publications I work with.


The reality of travel writing

If you’re interested in becoming a travel writer, I recommend starting by being realistic about what travel writing actually is. A lot of people mistakenly think it’s about going on fabulous trips and living on holiday, which it’s not (I wish it were!). Sure, there’s a lot of travel involved and some of it is incredible. But when you’re a travel writer, you have to be focused, take notes, and have a plan for how you’re going to get the story you want. Your trips need to revolve around the things you need to do to get that story, not just on you having fun.

If you’re on a press trip where a business or tourism board is hosting you, you’ll often be on a very short trip with an intense itinerary that allows you little or no free time in the destination. That said, you still get to travel the world, which is great if you’re as passionate about travel as I am.


How to get an online presence 

If you want to get into travel writing, I suggest starting a blog. It’s a great way to practice your writing, find your voice, and get noticed. Having a blog also gives you an automatic portfolio you can point editors and prospective employers to if you haven’t done any freelance writing before. It can help show your authority and knowledge of the subjects you write about. 

Getting involved in the blogging community can also open up opportunities for freelance writing jobs. From Facebook groups to networking events, it’s a helpful way to find work.


Where to find work

Once there’s enough content on your blog to show prospective editors or employers, you can start pitching. I recommend doing research on publications you’re interested in writing for and sending the editors emails with specific pitches for articles you want to write. You can usually find their details online on LinkedIn, or in the publications themselves (magazines often have lists of editors and their email addresses at the front of the print issues). Social media is another good place to find and engage with them, and Twitter can be useful for that purpose.

Likewise, if you want to do copywriting for a brand, take a look at their website and see what their style and tone are like. Go over any briefs they have online that give information about what they’re looking for, and put yourself forward.

Once you’ve started working with editors or brands, you can develop relationships with them.  That means they’ll be likely to commission you to do more work for them in the future. It will save you time since you won’t have to pitch, you’ll get a steady income and work coming your way.


The rewards

Travel writing is rewarding in that it can take you all over the world, but it’s also an incredible personal journey of developing your writing skills and style. It’s hard work and not always as glamorous as it appears, but in the end, it’s an amazing career.


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