The internet has really opened up the field for freelance travel writers. But has the digital nomad revolution gone too far??

I’ve spent the past couple of months preparing to become a freelance writer and then taking the plunge. A lot of what I’m doing is travel writing, simply because there’s a lot of scope to publish it and because I’m pretty well travelled. Oh, and because a friend and I have set up an online travel magazine.

But working on the social media side of it brings me to the realization that, wow, there’s a lot of travel writers.

My secondary realization is that in general, the standard is not very high.

By this I mean there is a lot of lazy travel writing which recycles the same old stuff. Sure, people like listicles but  yeah, there’s a lot of them.

  • You Won’t BELIEVE These 12 Things Some People Do In The Shower.
  • The 7 Most Perverted Things To Do In Japan.
  • These 484 Things Will Make Your Day Out At The Zoo AMAZING.

Hmmm. Yes. It seems people aren’t over them yet because they make for easy reading, but there sure are a lot of them. We can blame Buzzfeed for starting it, but it is perpetuated by a lot of travel writers.

The other thing with travel writing is there is very much a format to making it pay so everyone follows that. Not a problem, it’s good to have all the advice. But seriously, do a search of the top things to do in Ljubljana (it’s in Slovenia, one of this years travel hot spots).

The top one is Tripadvisor (it normally is cos they’re massive). Then as you go down the page you’ll see that there are several travel blogs with lists of the top things to do in Ljubljana.

Cool. But this is the tip of the iceberg. The twitter feed for Gone Travelling (our online travel magazine) has so many articles about Ljubljana that I’m starting to think the bulk of the population is bloggers.

Why So Many Travel Writers?

First of all everyone likes to travel and no one (or very few of us) likes an office job. So why not combine the two?

You can now make writing pay in pretty much any industry. Work from home? Promote a service? Get paid? Hells yeah… Why do you think I’ve gone freelance?

But travel is a glamour industry and if you have the chance to sit in a cafe in Plymouth (my very glamorous home town) or Chiang Mai, which one are you gonna pick?

Plymouth yeah? Good good. It is getting better actually…

But how is it these guys are all getting paid?

The boom in travel writers has come around as affiliate marketing has really taken off. I’ll do the explanation for affiliate marketing in the form of a listicle because people like that so…

The 5 Things Everyone Needs To Know About Affiliate Marketing

Make a blog

First things first you buy a domain and set up a blog, ideally using WordPress (that link goes to 123Reg who provide free WordPress site builders) cos it’s super user friendly. You then create useful content that is on a subject you can write about in a knowledgeable and engaging way. And then…

Sign up for affiliate programs

Sign up for affiliate programs such as Commision Junction or AWIN. These are where many companies offer the links for you to promote their service for a percentage (typically between 5-10% of any sale made through your referral).

Find brands that match your identity

Find a company that matches what you are talking about. For example in this article the link to AWIN takes you to their home page and if you sign up there I’ll get £30. Be my guest…

Whack them links in there

Paste any link into your article, like I have done with the AWIN links. You’ll need a cursory knowledge of SEO (search engine optimisation) to ensure your article is visible in searches etc. This article is barely SEO optimized by the way, although I do keep mentioning travel writers so perhaps it’ll chart for that.

Share, promote etc

Promote the crap out of your article on social media and through email list building and stuff. Presto, you have 48 billion unique visitors a month with 5% of them clicking your links and a sell thru rate of about 9000 a day. Or something.

And that in a nutshell is affiliate marketing. And that probably explains why there are so many travel writers….

But Is It A Saturated Market?

I’ll be honest, yes it is a saturated market but thing is, if you do it right you can still succeed. What do I mean by do it right?

If you’re gonna do another site about travelling as a couple or as a solo traveller, well, you’re gonna have to fight hard to get noticed.

But if you can pick a niche and focus on that, well, you might just do a bit better.

Off the top of my head, a travel blog about someone who is obsessed with finding the best home made chutney around the world. I’d call it PickledPink and I’d have pictures of me getting sunburned and eating Branston pickle* in random locations. (*That isn’t an affiliate link by the way.)

Actually, I’d probably contact Branston Pickle and ask them to sponsor me or something.

Other random travel niches could be a particular sport, the hunt for something in particular (wife? husband? ultimate conquest?) or a the definitive guide to a region that isn’t well covered at present. Much of Africa and the ‘Stans (Uzbeki… Tajiki… etc) are relatively under represented on the social media channels.

Our site aims to be a magazine, not a blog. So we are intending to eventually feature news, guests, interviews, even notice boards to enable better travel.

I have another project which I’m working on which is aimed at luxury travellers (itself a slightly saturated niche) but which will come good in time.

So if you want to join the ranks of the many travel writers out there, just do it. But make sure you plan well first and read up about what it takes to make your travel writing blog a success.

Interesting? Rubbish? Not enough info?? Let me know in the comments below. If you have enjoyed then please share…


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