Make Money Writing Travel Articles From Home
I know, I know, staying at home does not equal travel. Thank you for stating the obvious. Now, if you are ready to learn how you can do exactly that, stay at home and write travel articles, then please read on.
I wrote an article a few months back in which I burst some traditionally-embraced bubbles. In that article I pointed out that because of the internet and the availability of information about sites all around the world, it really wasn’t necessary for a writer to actually visit a distant site in order to write about it. All one really needs is good research skills and an authoritative writing style. Seriously, folks, I have never been to Europe and I’m willing to bet I can write an article about the French countryside, and I’ll have you not only believing that I have been there but booking your tickets for your next vacation.
But today we won’t be talking about any subterfuge but rather about travel writing featuring sites where you live.
I can already hear the grumbling from those of you in the back row, and remember I was once a teacher so I know who you are. You are saying that staying at home and writing about your city is all well and good if you live somewhere interesting like New York or Chicago, but what about you poor saps who live in the middle of nowhere?
And I say to you that there is something interesting to write about no matter where you live. Fascinating stories surround us each and every day. As writers we need to be observant and always be on the lookout for the next great story.
Before I give you some things to look at in your area, let’s first discuss your own personal preparation for this undertaking.
Willing and Able
Writers need to have open eyes and open minds….toss in a little imagination and you just might be amazed at what leaps out in front of you.
You must always be on the lookout for the story behind the site, and look for unique qualities about the site that will appeal to other people. If you find it interesting then chances are someone else will want to read about it and eventually visit it themselves.
As you travel around your village, town, city or countryside, always have a camera with you. Other than your writing ability, a camera may be the most important tool a writer has. Not only do you capture quality pictures that might be requested by a magazine after acceptance of your article, but pictures also serve as a constant resource after you have left the site and prepare to write about it.
Always carry a notebook with you in the car so you can jot down random ideas as they come to you.
Now, if you are ready, let me give you some ideas for finding the next great travel article.
Thoughts to consider
Great resource for submitting articles
START LOCAL AND EXPAND
And I do mean local. One of the first articles I sold was a piece about a neighborhood street fair held in our neighborhood. It was in its second year of existence and nobody had written about it by the time I stumbled over it. I sold the piece to an alternative newspaper in our area, and a year later sold it again to the major newspaper in our city.
What is happening in your neighborhood? City? Any festivals happening? How about history of your town? Can you find any interesting stories about former residents? Is there an old-timer you can interview who can give you insights into lifelong ago where you currently live? What was it like where you live 200 years ago? Is there anyone famous who is from your area?
One of my favorite places to visit is the cemetery. Please, don’t look at me like that. I’m serious! There are some great stories on those old gravestones for a writer who is curious and has some research skills.
And simply because you are writing about your local area does not mean it won’t be interesting to a state magazine editor, or a regional magazine editor. Interesting stories have universal appeal. Remember that fact and you will see unlimited possibilities.
LOOK FOR INTERESTING BUILDINGS AND THEIR HISTORIES
The oldest building in Olympia, where I live, was built in 1878, so anyone living east of Olympia surely can find an older building to write about.
But age isn’t everything. Is there an interesting story behind a particular building? I would imagine quite a few buildings in Chicago and New York have great mafia stories behind them. All you have to do is discover them, write about them and sell them.
Is there a local restaurant that sells an unusual dish? Is there a local school that once had a famous student?
In the city where I was raised, Tacoma, Washington, I can show you the Bing Crosby home and the home where Ted Bundy grew up. Do you think there are any stories in those two homes?
Interesting perspective on travel writing
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LOOK FOR INTERESTING PEOPLE
Okay, not every city has the homes of Ted Bundy and Bing Crosby in them, but every town in America, England, France or wherever has its share of interesting people, even if they are just local and always have been local.
Ask around and see if you can’t get some recommendations of people to interview. Read back issues of the local newspaper for inspiration, and track down people who were newsworthy decades ago but may be forgotten today.
Maybe the local Little League coach has been coaching kids for fifty years. You don’t think that is an interesting story if written correctly?
LOOK FOR ANNIVERSARIES
In four years it will be the fortieth anniversary of Bing Crosby’s death. Do you see where I’m going with this?
September 18th is National Cheeseburger Day. Do you think an article about the oldest Olympia drive-in, Big Toms, might be a good idea pitched with National Cheeseburger Day?
Next year is the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain’s death. I can drive you by his former home in Olympia; do you think there is an article there?
It took me ten minutes to think of those three article ideas. What can you do if you think about it for an hour?
LOOK FOR THE UNUSUAL
One thing we can always count on is the unusual. With seven billion people there is no shortage of the weird, but since you are going to stay at home to write, you will need to find the weird or unusual in your area.
Let me give you an example. Every year in Olympia we have the Lakefair Celebration, a week long excuse to party and have fun. A carnival comes to town for this event, and I thought it might be interesting to interview some carnival workers and ask them about their lives on the road. It turns out it was interesting….interesting enough to sell the story to a local newspaper.
I have no idea what is happening in your area, but I’m willing to bet something strange, interesting or unusual is happening or will be happening soon. It’s your job as a writer to find out what it is and then sell it.
Do you think you can use these ideas to write a travel article?
Stay at Home and Be the Eyes of the World
It took me one hour and ten minutes to write this article. That’s how long it took me to think of a plethora of article ideas. Imagine how many you can think of if you let your imagination roam.
I firmly believe that the only restrictions on a writer are ones set by the writer himself. A good writer can make dog doo doo interesting. A poor writer could be sitting at the right hand of John Lennon and not come up with a writing idea.
This article is over. What I want you to do now is step away from your computer, open the door, step outside and say hello to an endless array of travel ideas just waiting for you in your hometown.
2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”