As has been requested (endlessly) EK's Star Log is returning to the internet. You can still read the original archive here... https://eelkat.wordpress.com
The reason you couldn't find it is because I set it to private un-index mode, meaning it no longer shows up in Google search results and can only be accessed by a direct link.
Meaning, if you didn't have the url for it, no amount of searching for it would tell you how to find it. Anyone who had the url could still access it though.
I had set it to private September 23, 2013, intending to move each page here to EelKat.com... however, November 14, 2013, after only moving about 30 pages, I was beaten up and left paralyzed for 5 months, then spent 18 months relearning to walk. I am still crippled and have limited mobility.
Below is one of the blog posts that originally appeared on EK's Star Log. The original articles are still online but no longer indexed in Google. Links to the original article, are included with this post, as is the original posting date. Clicking the links will take you to the original site, where you can see the old Space Dock 13 website still online. Space Dock 13 as it looked when hosted on WordPress from 2003 to 2013.
The answer is both and neither.
Both, because you could make it either a full time job or a part time job if you set out to doing enough travel, enough writing, and than find enough sources to publish said writing.
Neither because a full time job pays a minimum of $7.50 per hour for 40 hours of week per week, for a total of no less than $300 of income per week (or $1,300 per month or $15,600 per year).
Part time is the same $7.50 per hour, but at a rate of 14 – 32 hours per week, for an income no less than $105 and not more than $240 per week (or $455 – $1,040 per month or $5,460 – $12,480 per year).
Overtime is anything over 42 hours a week and typically starts at $12 per hour.
I say neither, because the average HIGH PAID writer makes $2,000 to $5,000 per year, even after putting in 50 to 60 hours of writing per week, which means they are getting paid at a rate of $3 per hour for working overtime.
The average writer, works a regular 9-5 full time job to pay the bills and uses the pay they get from writing as a way to buy Christmas gifts at the end of the year.
But than you are asking specifically about Travel Writing, which is one of the lowest paid sectors of the writing industry.
Many travel writers are lucky if they can get 1 or 2 articles published per year and even luckier if they can get paid more than $10 for the article.
Ads By Amazon
Travel Writing is a job you do because you like doing it, it’s not a job you do for the money. Sorry, but if you only wanted to become a travel writer so that you could get rich quick, you chose the wrong field.
You’ll be putting in a lot of work for not much pay, if any pay at all – many magazines asking for travel articles only pay you with free subscriptions to the magazine!
Travel writers who make the most money fall into three seperate groups:
#1: Writers of Travel Guides (books) for publishers such as “Lonely Planet”. (Places like this have on staff writers and publish 1 or 2 new books every 3 or 4 years)
#2: Writers of tear jerker eco/ envio/ civil rights articles for National Geographic magazine.
Posted in Ask a Travel Writer, Ask a Writer, Ask EelKat, EelKat, FAQs About Travel Writing, Travel Writer, Traveling Worker, Wendy C. Allen, work at home, Work Camping, Working From Your RV, Working on the Road
FAQs About Travel Writing: What is the best way to become a travel writer? Where do you begin if you….
Posted on Sunday, September 4, 2011 | 1 comment
FAQs About Travel Writing: What is the best way to become a travel writer? Where do you begin if you want to become a travel writer and you don’t have any writing experience or industry connections? Any suggestions? Is it best to take classes in writing or is this something that can be learned on your own? How competitive is the travel writing market? What is the difference between a travel writer, a travel blogger, and a travel journalist? which are you? Are there different types of travel writers? Which type should I start out as? How does on earn an income from travel writing? How do you earn your income as a travel writer? Will I make enough money from writing to fund my travels? Do you?
Now, I admit, I don’t do much travel writing, but I do enough of it from time to time, to be sent questions asking about it. Thus why I now find myself answering your list of questions.
A lot of questions here.
I’ll break them up and answer them in turn.
What is the difference between a travel writer, a travel blogger, and a travel journalist? which are you?
- A Travel Writer = One who writes about traveling. Includes bloggers, journalists, and freelancers.
- A Travel Blogger = A Travel Writer who has a blog, often a freelancer, rarely a journalist.
- A Freelance Travel Writer = One who travels, whenever and where ever they chose, writes about said travels, than searches for ways to publish said writing. They have more freedom, but at a lower pay. Any one can do it, no college degrees or experience is required.
- A Travel Journalist = A Travel Writer who is employed by a newspaper, magazine, or TV station and gets paid per assignment to travel when and where their employer tells them to. They go where they are told to go, when they are told to go, and write ONLY the assignments assigned to them by their employer, as they are under contract and will lose their job with the company should they try to sell travel writing to the company’s competitors. They have higher pay, but forfeit freedom to get it. College degrees are generally required, often Masters degrees in English/Journalism are preferred.
Which am I?
I suppose I fall somewhere between Freelance Travel Writer and Travel Blogger. Definitely NOT a Travel Journalist! But as I said, I’m not a travel writer per se, or at least I’m not your standard average travel writer, seeing how I don’t write pieces about places.
I’m more of what you could call a Life writer, I just write about events in my life, and travel happens to be one f those events from time to time.
What is the best way to become a travel writer?
Okay, so I guess you could say, I’m sort of a travel writer, more of a hobbiest travel writer than a professional travel writer, at the moment, which is kind of odd considering my career: I have written 30+ books, 200+ short stories, 2,000+ articles, a few plays, a couple of comic books, and I’m almost finished work on my first cookbook.
See, I’m a writer by trade and a somewhat famous writer, famous enough so I get sent loads and loads of questions asking for writing advice, and my habit of answering every one of those questions on my various blogs and websites, results in even more folks asking even more questions – including to ask questions in fields of writing I am not familiar with, but that’s another story.
And than there’s the fact I live in a motorhome. Which means I SHOULD in theory be a travel writer.
I guess I am more of a traveling writer rather than a travel writer! LOL! I write as I travel, but I don’t necessarily write about traveling.
How exactly did I get here? I just write about everything I see going on around me. How would I recommend you start? Just start writing about everything.
That said, travel writing is something I plan to expand upon, and hope to do more of in the future. At the moment I’m working on setting up a “How To” blog for RV travel and plan to expand that into a web site. (And if you are reading this article on Houseless Living, the blog or the website, than you already know this.)
How does on earn an income from travel writing? How do you earn your income as a travel writer?
I will tell you, that you can’t make a good income writing online, with just one site. I’ve been building websites since 1997, but I didn’t figure out how to build money-making web sites until 2005! One day it occurred to me – they are making money for hosting my sites, why can’t I make the money instead? I didn’t start making money online until 2007, when my first pay check was for a whopping .37c.
Today I have over 75 websites, 34 blogs, 500+ Squidoo pages, 200+ Associated Content pages, and a lot of written content across all of them, and finally in 2010 I was able to say for the first time that I am making money full time 100% online via my writing. It didn’t happen over night. It took a lot of years and a lot of hard work and a lot of writing.
And when I say a lot of writing, I mean A LOT. I write no less than 750 words a day and on a high yield day I often am writing 12,000 to 15,000 words a day. Most days, on average, I write about 2,000 words a day. EVERY DAY. Seven days a week.
That’s 31 years x 365 days x 2,000 words = a minimum of 22,630,000 words, but keeping in mind I often with 12,000 words a day on weekends adds another 38,688,000 words to that total. And this is only my “work” writing, it doesn’t include my personal writing on MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, forums, etc. Did I mention I write A LOT?
Mostly I write fiction (sci-fi & horror) and how-tos for self publishers and pet owners. But I also write about lots of “niche” topics too, including travel writing aimed specifically for people who travel in New England in their motorhomes. I think if I had stuck with just one or two topics or only one or two web sites, it’d be hard to earn a good income. You have to be flexible and write about EVERYTHING that interests you, be it travel or cats or cooking or whatever.
I’ve found over the years that I can make more money online than I can from magazines. Keep in mind I am primarily a self publisher and am not paid by any traditional publishing methods.
Will I make enough money from writing to fund my travels? Do you?
How much money do you NEED to live on? How much money do you NEED to travel? How much money do you THINK a writer makes?
*“I don’t have the money to _________.”* (travel, write, insert whatever you want in the blank!
Yep, I hear that one. A lot. People say this to me. Okay maybe their other reasons are valid, but money? Oh pleeease!
Never let lack of money stop you from living your life. You want to travel? Travel! Don’t wait for *enough* money.
There is NEVER *enough* money.
No matter how much money you have, you will always find reasons why you can’t travel until you have more money.
So forget money and just start traveling.
You don’t need money to travel. You have feet don’t you? Well use them! It doesn’t cost money to start walking, and you wouldn’t be the first person to walk across the globe.
Never let lack of money stop you from living your life.
You want to write?
Don’t wait for *enough* money.
There is NEVER *enough* money.
No matter how much money you have, you will always find reasons why you can’t write until you have more money.
So forget money and just start writing.
You don’t need money to write.
You have hands don’t you?
Well use them!
It doesn’t cost money to pick up a pen and start writing, and you wouldn’t be the first person to write without an income.
Money is just an excuse. If it wasn’t money, you’d find a different reason not to write now, not to travel today.
Will you make enough money from writing to fund your travels? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on a lot of factors. Where will you travel too? How will you get there? What will you eat? What will you do? What will you buy? How will you get back home?
When people ask me, “Well how much do you make?” (Thinking, it’ll be a really high figure)
I tell them quite simply: $2,000
“A month?” they shriek, “That’s way more than I make!”
I make $164 a month.
“Wait, a year? That’s like $5 a day. You’re joking. How can you survive on that?”
No, that’s $5.47 a day to be exact.
And look at how I live: a tent, a car, no electricity, no toilet, no running water (in other words no utility bills), no rent, no mortgage, I get up with the sun, sleep with the stars (thus no need for lights), I cook over a fire, I do more walking than driving, I travel in a small area (rarely leaving Maine, never leaving New England), I spend a large space of my time on the beach or hiking in the forest, the only thing I ever buy is food for me, food for my cats, and gas for the car and motorhome, the motorhome is parked most of the year, most travel is down in my car, and once I get where I’m going I park the car and walk everywhere.
Uhm…please explain to me why it is I NEED more than $2,000 a year to travel?
They just stand there flabbergasted and speechless. (Thank goodness! I was getting sick of listening to them whining about money.)
Now granted if I was driving more and walking less, or going overseas (thus needing air fare) or eating at restaurants or buying things, yes, I’d need more money to live on, but the fact is, those things are NOT a part of my life, so I don’t need more money than $5 to travel.
Staying in a small local like I do, means I’ve seen more of the area than any tourists or locals do. I’ve been in every city/town in Maine, I’ve seen every cove, every beach, every mountain, etc. I’ve visited most of the town museums, been to all the “tourist attractions”, attended tons of fairs and festivals.
Sure I’m not “seeing the world”, but than again, that’s not what I wanted to do, I wanted to see every single inch of the State of Maine. And I did.
And now what do I write about?
Old Orchard Beach, Maine.
My home town.
Doesn't require traveling to write about the town you were born and raised in.
And before you say: "That's not travel writing!" Let me ask you this:
Did you know that more then 90% of all "travel articles" were written not by tourists, but rather by the natives of the town?
Look for articles about tourist distention all over the globe. Find the author of each article. Look at where the author lives. In nearly every case they are natives of the destination they are writing about and have never traveled at all, but instead write about their home town.
Its very rare for any book, magazine, publisher, editor, blog, or website to accept an article written by a tourists who ONLY visited their town for a few days and knows nothing about it.
Because publishers want to ATTRACT tourists to the town, and therefore want local historians, local tour guides, people who actual KNOW the town, to be writing about it.
If you want to travel - travel, but don't expect to find places to sell your articles. Your best bet will be to start a travel blog of your own and pray that your sporadic articles about random places all over the planet, can get even a hair fraction of the traffic one locale sites written by natives of the local get.
Travel sites that succeed are about ONE town only, and written not by tourists, but rather by local natives.
Travel writers who are the most successful, almost never travel and rarely have ever left their home town, with their home town being the site they write about.
I think when people think they want to travel, often times they are not motivated because they are not really sure where it is they want to go or what they want to see, or they think they HAVE to go every where and see everything, either way it fizzles their motivation so they look for excuses why they can’t go – like money. If it’s too hard to take a trip across the ocean, why not start small and take a trip across the town? Work your way up to farther away places a little at a time. No one said you had to start out big.
Likewise no one said you had to travel 4,000 miles away to get started travel writing. Somebody, somewhere, some day is going to want to travel to your home town. Why not get started travel writing BEFORE you start traveling, by writing about your home town? Write reviews of local attractions, places to eat, plays, museums, etc. Maybe it’s not travel to you, after all, you live there, but who better to write a travel guide about your town, than some one who lives there? Some one like you. Don’t wait for an out of town traveler to write travel spots about your town – write them yourself, right now, today.
I believe that starting out writing about “local travel” is the best way to find out if you really want to be a travel writer. Why? Simple.
For most people travel is exciting, travel is fun, and writing is boring.
Not many people who like the excitement of travel, can tolerate the dullness of writing.
Likewise few people who enjoy the quiet peacefulness of writing, can tolerate the fast paced hecticness of travel.
Most people who look to get into travel writing because they want to travel, have never even written a post card let alone tried to write daily articles.
Writing is dull. Travel writing is dull. Travel writing is boring. Travel can be expensive. A good paying writing gig is rarely going to pay more than $20,000 a year, and that’s a writer who is wealthy, and well, do the math, because that’s not even minimum wage pay. Yeah. Writer’s pay sucks. Most writers have a full time job to supplement their writing career. Rare is the writer of ANY field who earns more than $5,000 a year from their writing.
Think about it.
What is is you REALLY want to do:
Do you want to sit in an office writing for or 5 hours every single day.
Or do you want to roam the world in never ending fast life?
It's gonna be really difficult to do both.
A 2,000 word article can take multiple days of 4 or 5 hours each to write, then re-write, polish, revise, edit, revise again... every hour spent writing, is an hour you CAN NOT get any sight seeing done. You know that right?
Think long and hard about it.
Ask yourself how much writing do you do? Do you write letters to friends or do you call them on the phone? Do you write 60 page emails or do you have a hard time getting more than 2 sentences out? Can you sit down and write about what you ate at McDonald’s today? Can you write a review about the local school play? If you answered “No” to any of these, than give up now. Turn back before you start. Do not try your hand at travel writing.
Now you are probably saying right now: “But I’m not going to write reviews about McDonald’s or school plays, I’m going to write reviews about Paris cafes and Broadway and Mt Fiji and a boat trip up the Nile River and…”
Hold on a second!
Stop and THINK about it.
If you don’t like writing this than you won’t like writing that.
Why? Because writing is NOT fun, writing is NOT exciting, writing IS dull, writing IS boring, writing has you sitting ALONE 4 or 5 hours a day.
Now, some people LIKE that. I'm one of them. I have Autism. Too much noisy, excitement, movement, etc, makes me nervous and triggers panic attacks. Being out in public, with people rushing about, screaming and yelling, bright lights flashing, cars zipping by... those things are major meltdown triggers for me.
Travel is not something I can tolerate. I can barely get to the end of my driveway without be scared back into the woods by the sound of a car driving by. It's nearly impossible for me to get to a store, because there are so many people being loud and noisy.
For me, the dull, quiet, boring nature of writing is absolute pure heaven. No one to bother me. No loud noises. Nothing to make me nervous or trigger panic attacks.
It takes a certain personality to enjoy sitting for hours on end in solitude, writing.
It takes a completely different personality to enjoy loud blaring noisy of people on trains, buses, planes, taxis, etc.
Not many people with the personality it takes to write, also have the personality it takes to travel.
Think about it.
Can you sit alone in a room, for 4 to 5 hours a day? Can you spend 4 or 5 hours a day, doing nothing but typing words? Put a timer on, right now, set it for 4 hours. Sit down and type.
Type: “I am not going to stop typing for 4 hours”
Type it over and over again, for 4 hours.
NOW ask yourself, do you STILL want to be a writer?
ANY kind of writer?
Travel writer or otherwise?
Because writer’s write and travel writers spend more hours writing than they do traveling.
So let’s think back to local travel writing. Go out around town and do a few activities you don’t normally do. Eat at a few places you don’t normally eat. Shop at places tourists shop at. Pretend you are a tourist and have never seen this town before. Than go home and write about it. Write as though you were a world traveler and this was one of your destinations. Write about the things you plan to write about in France or Japan or Africa. Forget that you are doing local writing. Forget that this is your home town. Just write, write, and write some more. Pretend you are a world famous travel writer writing a travel piece for National Geographic.
DO NOT start traveling and travel writing, until you have done this test first.
After spending a month or more doing local travel pieces step back and look at how you did. Did you enjoy writing these pieces or was it a drudgery?
Here’s the thing: if you don’t like writing about local travel, local news, local sports, local weather, local museums, local restaurants, local plays, local beaches, local parks, and local people...
...what makes you think you are going to like writing about distant travel, distant news, distant sports, distant, weather, distant museums, distant restaurants, distant plays, distant beaches , distant parks, and distant people?
Do you see my point?
If you don’t like writing local travel, you are not going to like writing “true” travel. Why? Because writing is writing. No matter where you live, where you go, what you do, or what you see, the writing part is always going to remain the same. It doesn’t matter what or where you are writing – writing is always writing and if you don’t like writing at home, what makes you think you will like writing some place else?
Many travel writers fail because they dream of traveling, but they do not dream of writing. If you want to travel, fine. Travel. If you want to get paid to travel, find a job doing something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy travel, but you don’t enjoy writing, you won’t enjoy travel writing and you’ll soon hate traveling as well.
So where does that bring us? Well, before you can become a travel writer, you must first be a writer. You must love the physical act of writing with every fiber of your soul. (You must also love to travel!) If you love to write, but you hate to travel, you’ll never make it as a travel writer. Find something else to write about. If you love to travel, but you hate to write, you”ll never make it as a travel writer. Find another job you can do on the road. If you love to write and you love to travel, than yay you, you’ll make a great travel writer!
Don’t be a travel writer because you love to travel – that’s the worst thing you could do.
Be a travel writer because you love to write.
Anyone can travel, but not every one loves to write.
Simple fact of the matter is this: to make money as a travel writer, you must like writing and you must write A LOT.
Keep in mind I have over 2,000 articles online and my income is lower per year than the average person’s is per month. This will put into clear perspective the kind of income you can expect. Keep in mind also that only a small fraction of my income comes from writing: 75% of my income comes from sales of my paintings. Puts the lens on a writer’s income clearly in focus.
Did you know that Harlequin Books is one of the top book publishers in the world, selling over 5 million books each month, and that their authors have to write 5 books per year just to earn a minimum wage income of $20,000?
Of all the writing careers in the world – fiction and non-fiction, Harlequin is considered the crown of a writer’s career, because their writers are among the highest paid writers in any genre in the world.
$20,000 is considered poverty level to most Americans, and yet to writers this is as good as it gets.
Now consider the fact that travel writers are known far and wide for being among the lowest paid writers. If Harlequins tiny $20,000 is considered high, you can imagine how low the low pay writers pay can go.
The average writer CAN NOT live on his writing income alone. The average writer earns less than $5,000 per book written.
That’s not $5,000 per year, that’s $5,000 over his entire life time, thus why many authors try to write no less than one book per month. The only exception to this rule is self help books, self-help books (esp get-rich-quick books) being the only genre that outsells Harlequin.
Now let’s get back to your question…
Will I make enough money from writing to fund my travels? Do you?
How much money do you NEED to live on? How much money do you NEED to travel? How much money do you THINK a writer makes? You saw the figures I just listed.
If you start writing now in 2011, you can safely assume you will not see a penny of pay before 2013 if you self publish and 2015 if you go with a publisher.
If you travel for a week, than come home and spend a week writing articles, you can than plan on 6 months wait between the time you submit to a publisher until you get a rejection. Than it’s time to resubmit, wait another 6 month, be rejected again, and so one.
Plan on each article being rejected no less than 10 times.
Some writers say to plan on 50 rejections per article, before it gets accepted. I wouldn’t wait that long before I self published it myself.
Once accepted, wait another 3 to 4 months to get paid, and another 6 months after that before it goes to print, IF it goes to print, keeping in mind that MOST articles accepted never reach going to print.
By now 3 years have passed since your week long trip and you have just FINALLY received a check for $25. (Standard fee for a travel article from an unknown writer).
Now ask yourself did the $25 pay for your week trip, the food you ate, the places you visited, the things you bought? Will $25 pay for your next trip?
Remember that for every article that gets accepted, several thousands of other articles were rejected. competition is fierce in the travel writing field.
Freelance travel writers get the least pay and have the least job satisfaction.
The most successful travel writers (money wise) are Travel Journalists: staff writers for magazines like National Geographic.
They work on assignment, with a full crew and camera team, all expenses paid and get $1,000 per article, an article they wrote in their cubicle in their 131st floor office, back home…not “in the field”.
They do not pick their destinations, and while they get to travel, it’s business travel with no free time for seeing sights and doing things most travel writers dreamed of doing while traveling.
The most successful writers (happiness wise) are the Travel Bloggers. They go where they want, when they want, write about anything that pops into their heads, and tend to be free spirited globe trotters, enjoying long stays at each place they visit. They also rely almost 100% on Google ads for their pay, and depending on blog traffic this could be anywhere from a few pennies per year to $10,000 a day, though for most bloggers $100 a month is considered average..
So what you need to do, is figure out will this kind of job support the lifestyle you wish to maintain? How much money do you NEED to live on? How much money do you NEED to travel? How much money do you THINK you can realistically make as a writer? To help you figure that out, let’s take a look at my expenses:
Living the way I do, it is not uncommon for people to ask me: “Can 2 people live on $1,500 a month and still travel?”
I am debt free. I pay cash for everything, no credit cards. I live in a tent, no rent or mortgage. I boondock, no electricity, no running water, no sewer, no utility bills. Me and my 12 cats are surviving on $2,000 PER YEAR. (approximately $150 per month).
Surviving is the key word.
Surviving is not thriving.
Surviving is staying alive until something better comes along.
I have Autism and thus am NOT ELIGIBLE for disability OR health/medical insurance, nor am I allowed to work (business will not hire Autistic folks like me…400+ job applications/ interviews in 5 years and I’m still unemployed. *frustrating*). For the moment my income comes from sales of my art on Zazzle.com, and it’s enough to keep us going, but not quite enough to keep us going well.
Anyways I figured it up and for myself and the 12 cats to live comfortably, I need an income of $500 per month ($6,000 PER YEAR).
If it were just me and not the cats, $200 a month ($2,400 PER YEAR) would be MORE than plenty. (Cat food is astronomically high priced. You don’t notice it with 1 cat, but what you would buy for 1 cat per year, I buy for 12 cats, meaning I pay the average cat owners YEARLY cat food bill EVERY MONTH!)
These figures are taking into consideration that I own my own land and that I’m a fulltimer, because my house left in a flood/fire/bomb not because I had any plans to travel.
I am pretty much parked for a lifetime. And my tent is actually an 8x6 tarp, not a tent.
So these figures also neglect to include such things as campground rent or gas in the motorhome, as a tank of gas pretty much lasts me the whole year.
Please keep these things in mind when looking at the fact I am living on such a very low income – my expenses are very low, basically with me only buying my food and cat food, and paying property taxes and registering the vehicles, and pretty much nothing else.
So, when they ask can 2 people live on $1,500 a month, well, this 1 person lives on that a year, so, yeah, you can but ONLY if your expenses are low. I once talked to a guy who lives in a van and survives on $500 a year. I don’t know how he does it, but he does. I think it’s all about personal choices, budget management, and lifestyle.
Every person is different. I look at that guy and think there is no way I could live on $500 a year, but than I know