Full Disclosure: Travel Writer’s Income

So, yeah, you wanna be a travel writer and jet about the planet staying in swank hotels and swanning about the beaches and taking in the exotic markets of, oh, wherever. Whatever. Who doesn’t? And this: me too, duh.

I thought you should know something:Oahu: Pineapple Princess, Dole Plantation I sold a handful of stories in ’07 and worked on two guidebooks – one an update, one a new title. And yeah, I did my fair share of swanning and it was great, oh, who am I kidding, it was AWESOME. The writing (and even some of the photography) was surprisingly tedious work, but the traveling? That time in Hawaii? Ahhh. And the less rigorous stories I got to write? Oh so fun. I also made some money on my regular blogging gig.

Also, I’ve been doing my taxes and this year, so far (I’m not quite done entering my expenses yet) I appear to have cleared 554 dollars in profits. That’s right, enthusiastic jetsetting handy with language boys and girls, 554 dollars. That’s not even enough to pay for my next trip!

You know how “they” always tell you not to quit your day job? Well, I’m now “them.” Just starting out? Don’t quit your day job, okay?

(Since I’m being honest, I totally think you should quit your day job. It’s just that I also think you should have another line of income in addition to travel writing.)

[tags]travel writing[/tags]

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11 thoughts on “Full Disclosure: Travel Writer’s Income

  1. Oh, the harsh realities… lessons to be learned; travel is wondrous, insure second income. Hope the 554 dollars does mean that you did insure the second income before setting out and don’t have to take out a second mortgage.

  2. I have been a freelance writer (travel, snowsports, food) since Noah got off the Ark. My ex and I split up when our son was 10 months old, and I managed to raise him as a single mother on a freelance income (no child support) until I remarried nine years later, and my husband’s company covered our health insurance. I couldn’t do that today. Why? Because too many people, enchanted by the opportunity to travel free or cheap, sell their work for entirely too little money and also sign away their rights in the process. I resented this for a long time, because my contemporaries and I had decent incomes until we were undercut by a generation of new writers who were willing to write for cheap. I am now philosophical for myself, but I also am sorry for those who don’t value their own work and words and undercut themselves and their future. If I had the knowledge and aptitude for tech writing, I would do it in a minute as a day job and quit competing in the glamorous but frustratinf arena of travel writing. End of rant.

  3. As someone who writes a blog (which generates advertising revenue) and has just jumped into freelance travel writing, I’m shocked how little media companies pay their bloggers.

    I was asked last month if I would like to blog on a fairly popular travel blog 5 times a week for $120 A MONTH I may sound bigheaded, I’m not, but I’d not get out of bed for that.

    I have a strict price on my head, and this will lead me to getting very few jobs, but I’d like to think I’m worth it.

    They forget that it’s not the writing but the research that takes up a lot of your time.

    End of another Rant.

  4. I’d like to add that not only is the pay low, but there’s no expense budget. So a person who agrees to write a guide book about anywhere than their home town ends up paying a lot of their own money for hotels, flights,meals, etc… People say to me, oh, you can expense that, right? But expense deductions are still out of pocket expenses and they are useless if you don’t actually earn any money. Sure, I had some comped rooms, but free travel? Hardly.

    Darren,I turned down a similar gig for the same reasons.

  5. Travel writing sure doesn’t sound quite as wonderful and exotic when you put it that way. Buy hey, at least you have all these experiences that most people only dream of having! 🙂

  6. Yes, I agree competition from inexperienced or novice travel writers earning their first dollar could eventually ruin a good thing. However, negotiating a fair and equitable fee per assignment, article or photograph would always be in dispute. What’s the true value of your article versus mine? Who sets the price point? The difficulty in establishing an agreed upon fee per subject matter expert is basically getting everyone to agreed to it. No, I am not talking about a union, but with as many blogs, forums, posts, and travel communities issues like this could be addressed. With the influx of hundreds of new travel writers possibly entering the industry by 2009 educating these newbies through posts and forum might be an answer. How about “Greed is Good: Lessons from the Media Companies” or “We’re Not Going to Take it Anymore”

  7. LOL, I love your brutal and contradicting honesty. I promise I will not quit my day job and find a passive income stream.

  8. I have to concur. I quit my day job. After I made some money investing in my first stock which happened to be Apple Computer right before the ipod craze hit. It didn’t make me rich, but it enabled me to quit said day job and follow my bliss which is to travel. As the money ran down, I got the bright idea that I could just “day trade” when I needed more money from my laptop while on the road. Genius! And it would have worked too(I’m SURE) if it wasn’t for that pesky economic crash that nearly caused the second Great Depression. Oops!

    So for the last two years I’ve been working as a freelance waiter at catering gigs here in NYC along side the usual bunch of out of work actors, musicians and the odd investment banker.

    My stocks are going back up slowly, and I’ve managed to save SOME cash….so maybe I can hit the road again soon. Going to have to rethink the whole “Gordon Gecko Trading on My Laptop from the Amazon” plan tho. Didn’t work out so well for me the last time I ran low on cash.

    Anyway, good advice. Don’t quit your day job, unless you have enough money saved up to finance your trip. Either that, or a really good stock tip. 🙂

  9. I really like your candour. A writers life and a travel writers life in many cases is a ‘get by’ life. The consolation is that you are living as you choose to – doing your own thing and experiencing the world.

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