Welcome to a new feature here at Dream of Travel Writing–the Monday Mailbag! We often get questions from readers, folks in our accountability group, or coaching program members that we think would apply to a lot of you.

Now, with permission, agony-aunt-style, we’ll be sharing a new one with you each Monday. If you have a question you’d like to see included, please send it to us at questions [at] dreamoftravelwriting.com and make sure to include a line saying we have permission to reprint your question.

On to the tricky travel writing questions!

The Background

This is actually a multi-part exchange!

It began:

“I have a degree in journalism and had a brief stint as and editorial intern at [NAME REMOVED FOR PRIVACY] magazine. I am a travel blogger for [NAME REMOVED FOR PRIVACY] and have had a handful of clips in newspapers, online and some smaller magazines, but nothing consistent and I have hit a lot of dead ends. In October, I also began my own travel blog.”

And I was intrigued why with these other outlets the writer was moved to start her own blog so recently, and then the deeper question arose (bolded in response below; bolding mine):

“I started the travel blog partly because I think I felt that I needed a platform in order to get more freelance jobs. I was feeling stuck with my travel writing and having a hard time finding direction (trying online mags, trying newspapers, etc. and each time getting a few leads but then not really getting much further.)

I was also a little frustrated because I realized my sporadic pitching and then re-scheming of new options took up all my ‘writing time’, therefore I wasn’t actually getting to get any of my story ideas out into the world. But the blog was also born out of a certain idea that I hope to potentially grow through future adventures. As I was afraid of, for the last two months it has kind of sat on the back burner, but I still hope to turn it into something.

Do you find most freelancers who consistently write for other publications do not have a blog?

My Advice

I’ve seen this situation come up a lot with folks that I meet at blogging conferences.

They have come to the blogging conference because, sometime in the past, they dreamed of a life as a full-time, freelance, perhaps nomadic travel writer.

Somewhere they head that if they want to be a travel writer, they should start a blog…for…practice? So editors will notice them? I’ve never quite seen a consensus on the reasons people give for this.

So they started their blogs, found that running a blog–from the technical as well as management perspective–is a whole other can of worms and involves a lot of challenges that have nothing to do with getting their writing published in other editorial outlets.

After some time, they find themselves burnt out on doing work for free that doesn’t seem to be getting them closer to their goal and wondering if they really need a blog at all.

So I told this writer:

“Absolutely. I never had one when I was just freelancing and most people who have a lot of clients (magazine, copywriting, or content marketing) just don’t see the value in doing unpaid work when they have paid work they could be doing instead 🙂

That’s why I was wondering if you had a business idea of some kind behind yours.

There are good reasons to have a travel blog:

  • You have stories you’re dying to tell and don’t care about the money or spending time pitching and want to get them out to your own audience that you have committed to cultivating yourself.
  • You want a space to share your travels with friends and family who follow you in real time. (Though social media has largely replaced this.)

You want to make a business, something that–in the future–runs without you having to work on it to produce revenue, as is the case with writing deliverables for clients and editors.

But you have to ask yourself, if you don’t fiercely identify with one of those reasons (or maybe think you could talk yourself into one, but it’s not true at the core): are you using your blog to procrastinate on actually pitching your stories?


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