As one of the first assignments of its travel writing program (more on that here), Matador has long had students scour the web to find places that pay for travel writing and then share them online.

For each website or magazine, students list the editor’s name, how to get in touch, and the submission guidelines for the publication.

When I first started freelancing, I thought this was the best. Seriously! Blog post after blog post of pre-researched outlets and all of the information I needed to pitch them! What could be wrong with that?

I quickly noticed a bit of a pattern. And by pattern, I mean less a series of things that act in a repetitive way than the exact same things repeated over and over and over again by every person completing this assignment.

If these were great magazines and websites that would provide the types of clips that could further someone’s career, that would be fabulous. However, they were actually many of the lowest-paying publications out there. Most with names that mean absolutely nothing to anyone who is not a wide-eyed new travel writer looking for their first clip.

Pitch This, Not That

The sad thing for new freelance writers is that this information is everywhere. The same five, 10, or 20 outlets that are not going to have any major effect on a new writer’s career are shouted from the internet ramparts so much that people trying to break into travel writing think those are the only places they can get into without any other clips to their names.

To combat this, I’ve been putting together truly comprehensive guides to help travel writers land assignments that include:

  • which sections are open to (and highly accessible for) freelancers
  • what not to pitch
  • editor names and direct email addresses
  • pay per word or per section
  • what percentage of the publication is written by staff vs. freelancers
  • what has been written about before in each section
  • word counts for each section
  • and everything else you need to pitch the magazines successfully

You can find hundreds of travel magazines broken down at our Travel Magazine Database. In the meantime though, I want to offer some better-paying (and often print!) replacements for the usual low-hanging suspects:

  • Matador
  • In the Know Traveler
  • Bootsnall
  • Viator

If you can get into one, you can certainly also get into the other. So rather than waste your time slaving over an article that pays a couple of cents per word, get a good-looking clip that will help you launch your career!

Instead of GoNOMAD, Pitch International Living

Pay per piece: $25 vs. $400

GoNOMAD, a very frequently recommended website for writers looking for their first clips wants very long, well-written, narrative travel essays and photos for $25. This is insane.

International Living, a magazine with lots of sections open to freelancers that is happy to work with new writers, pays $400 for 1500-word pieces of the exact same variety.

Instead of Matador, Pitch AFAR’s Wayfarer Blog

Pay per piece: $40 vs. $250 and up

On Matador’s website, they publish everything from listicle-style travel tips to full-length travel essays.

AFAR, a culture-focused print travel magazine, has recently started commissioning the same variety of content for its blog, but with much more oomph for your clips page—they’re one of the most respected clips around.

Instead of In the Know Traveler, Pitch The Dallas Morning News

Pay per piece: $3-10 vs. $250 and up

(Or another major newspaper)

Newspapers are often looking for the same type of unique, “undiscovered” destination pieces that In the Know Travel is after, but with far more cred and money.

Newspapers have a lot of space to fill every week and always need something to put in those slots, so each week they’re on the look out for pitches and they’ll often buy something and pay you for it right away, more akin to the timeline of websites than the slow pace of magazines.

Instead of BootsnAll, Pitch BBC Travel

Pay per piece: $20-$50 vs. $350-$450

While BootsnAll is known among new freelance travel writers as a place looking for dozens of long articles a week—a.k.a. a potential source of recurring work—at its low rates, it’s not worth your time to build that relationship.

BBC Travel, on the other hand, similarly publishes frequent, long, destination pieces, often from new writers, but at practically 10 times the rate, and you’ll get an incredibly legit brand name to add to your portfolio.

Instead of Viator, Pitch

Pay per piece: $50-$75 vs. $50-several hundred, the website of a tour aggregator that has a huge content marketing operation attached, provides almost infinite opportunities for writers to submit tour reviews, destination guides, and locally focused blog posts, but has some pretty strict caps on its pay rates that make your per-word rate dive far below five cents a word., the online home of the esteemed food-related travel magazine Saveur, has begun featuring very easy to write destination guides much in line with what Viator includes—but with pay rates easily triple, especially for large projects.

What are you waiting for? Get pitching!

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Have you seen the Travel Magazine Database? We've got detailed breakdowns of hundreds of magazines looking for freelance travel articles, including direct email addresses.

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