Thursday, July 9, 2020

Writing Your Way While Traveling Canada

Ottawa Parliament

Once we can travel again...
Being a freelance travel writer and seeing Canada and other parts of the world requires a lot of hard work and creativity, but it certainly can be done. Many writers have chosen to become digital nomads. They are pros at making a full-time living while traveling permanently. 

Writing about your travel experiences is obvious, and probably the most attractive way to earn an income as a location independent freelance writer.  Travel journalism has experienced rapid growth as a result of booming worldwide travel, and the growth of online travel media. However, travel writing is highly competitive and requires patience and dedication to make a living out of it.  Here are the most important tips before going location-independent:

Your Future Lifestyle
The lifestyle will not suit everyone.  If you are not willing to leave your comfort zone or the safety (and some would say benefits) of your friends, family, or full-time job, then it’s probably not for you.  But if you want to challenge yourself, experience different parts of Canada or the world, and live an extraordinary life, then why not take the leap?

Where to Find Writing Opportunities Online
Earning money online is not that easy, and a location independent freelance writer must actively find and create work opportunities.  Working as a freelancer is like owning a small business and it’s up to you to market yourself to clients. The good news is that there is plenty of writing work available on the internet – some well paying and others not so much.  Find magazines and websites that relate to those subjects (not only travel media outlets).  If the content of the site is supplied by a range of contributors, email them and suggest an article you would like to write.

Read the Recommendations of Travel Editors
For a good overview of what editors recommend how to sell travel related articles and posts, check out the list of the "Lost Girls World".

BootsnAll editor, Katie Hammel

New York Times’ deputy travel editor, Monica Drake

The Expeditioner’s founder and editor-in-chief, Matt Stabile

Galavanting‘s managing editor, Joseph Hernandez

Travel Belles’ publisher and editor, Margo Millure

Go NOMAD‘s general edit Max Hartshorne

Travel Agent senior editor Joe Pike

Recommend‘s managing editor Paloma Villaverde de Rico

Learn the Techniques to Write for Newspapers/Magazines
Write newspaper-style: the inverted pyramid.  This means writing the conclusion first, details later. gives these tips: “Write with the “punch line” first, starting with the conclusion, rather than building up.  One way to learn to write this way is to write the section first with all the details, and then go back and start it with a lead sentence or two.”

Edit, Edit, and Edit Even More! 
Use free editing tools such as EditMinion or PaperRater, besides using Grammarly for US English pieces.  Read your article the next day again, get the help of a beta-reader if possible to have another opinion on your article before you send it off to the editor.

Carefully read the last ten (or more) issues of these freelance writing travel websites and magazines before you pitch.  If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can read lots of magazines and newspapers for free.  Study their submission guidelines carefully.  Find out who is the current editor and send your pitch directly to him or her. Use their name in your salutation.  No one wants to be titled "Hey"...

Don't forget:
English language media outlets are covering not only America but half of the world: Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, etc. Make sure you also pitch to the English-speaking media outside of North America!

Freelancing Platforms
Elance, Freelancer, and oDesk:  tick some boxes for "freelance writing looking for work". Setting yourself up requires minimal investment, clients are already on the site looking for writers, and the platforms handle the financial transactions.  However, these are ultra-competitive platforms, and it’s often a race to the bottom in terms of pay as they are chock full of (mainly ESL) writers who are willing to work for peanuts.  Consider them only a plan B or C to supplement the income that you derive from other sources.  The ProBlogger Job Board is also a popular place to pick up freelance writing gigs (and also lousy paid).

Well-Paying Magazines and Newspapers
Most periodicals have a travel section.  Consider writing for these magazines with enormous readership numbers (Resource: Alliance for Audited Media), such as:

Huffington Post (43 Million/month) (7,7 Million / month)
Travel & Leisure 950,000 magazine readers/month
Delta Sky Magazine over 5 Million Readers/month
Wikipedia  provides a list of American and International magazines and their paid yearly circulation:
AARP The Magazine 21,931,184
Better Homes & Gardens 7,624,505
Reader’s Digest 5,241,484
Good Housekeeping 4,396,795
National Geographic 4,001,937
People 3,690,031
Southern Living 2,824,751
O, The Oprah Magazine 2,417,589

The National Trust Magazine, UK 2,043,876
Mathrubhoomi, India 1,600,000
India Today 1,100,000
Australian Women’s Weekly, 470,331

Best Paying: In-Flight Magazines
Airline magazines represent a real opportunity for freelance writers.  Despite the current contractions in the airline industry, in-flight magazines still attract many readers, and they are mostly written by freelancers.  The best thing about writing for in-flight magazines is that each one is different.  Some of them – such as Sky for Delta Airlines – feature restaurant reviews, fiction stories, regular columns, and technology articles - in addition to a cornucopia of other topics.  Other in-flight magazines are focused primarily on travel, with in-depth articles on interesting destinations.

Travel pieces are a staple of in-flight magazines, but only when showing the culture and feel of the place. Airline publications also contain articles on technology, business, sports, and food, as well as lifestyle trends. Some in-flight magazines feature celebrity profiles, fiction, humor and many have regular columns.

Air Canada

British Airways

Cathay Pacific



SkyWest (SkyWest Airlines)

Hana Hou! (Hawaiian Airlines)

A comprehensive list of 101 in-flight magazines from Air Arabia to Wizz Air can be found here (many with links directly to the magazine’s website):

Write eBooks and Paperbacks
Another way to earn money from writing while being location independent is publishing e-books.  Become an authority in something and write a resource guide or ‘how-to’ book. People respect authorities and will buy books from them if it contains valuable information on a relevant topic.

The benefits of e-books are that each of them generates a small passive income for years to come.  Once a book is published it requires little input - other than being on social media and post snippets of your book and the sales link to it.  Another great option is to post short, enticing blog articles, also with a link to your ebook or paperback. 

Or you buy Google ads:  You might have heard that Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average!  There is barely a better place to invest in advertisements.  I am talking about pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.  Her is how it works:

If the keywords you have chosen match what people search for, your paid ad appears next to or above organic Google search results.  When people click on the ad, they will reach your website to learn more or they will order products or services.  You can test the keywords and phrases using WordTracker, Overture Keyword Selector, or Google AdWords Keyword.  Google AdWords allows you also to target specific geographic locations.

Use Your Blog as Portfolio
A personal blog is a popular pursuit for location-independent freelance writers. In a world where there are more freelance writers than writing assignments, an online profile adds important credibility to you as a writer.  Blogs are simple to create. and Blogger are two popular platforms. Choose a title, layout, and start writing entries.

Finding topics to write about shouldn’t be a problem for a professional writer.  A blog is a great way to showcase your stories, articles, and examples of your writing.  If you are emailing newspapers, websites, and magazines with story ideas, or contacting potential clients for writing assignments, it is important to show them examples of your work.

Don’t forget to edit your blog articles as carefully as the pieces you write for sale!
Blogs can be monetized, such as through Google’s Adsense, Amazon, BlueHost, and other affiliate links, or selling a product, although don’t expect large earnings soon.  Monetizing a blog requires lots of time and steady work.

Location Independent
If you are a location independent freelance writer then you can work from anywhere with a decent WiFi connection, but pick an inexpensive place to start. “Find your best place to live, work, and play” The Nomad List of Cities - including many Canadian cities - is a great resource as it breaks down costs and quality of life in a simple table.  This will help you budget for your first few months.

Although one of the biggest fears of becoming location independent is money, it is often cheaper than staying at home. In many nomad hot spots, you can live a great life for less than $900 per month.  By choosing an affordable place to base yourself initially, you don’t need much money to start a nomadic lifestyle – just a plane ticket, a reliable laptop, and enough savings for three months or so for living expenses.  After all, part of the journey involves making money.

Apply for Free Writer Residencies
Most writer's residencies are located in Western Canada. Think Alberta, British Columbia, and even the Yukon. Some of these free residencies are even offering fellowships or even travel grants.  Duration is between two weeks and three months and is granted every year.  So, if you missed this year's deadline, apply later for the following year.  Here are some examples of residencies you might consider for application:

House Sitting

Don't overlook "House Sitting" for free stays (including internet) at private homes. This can be one week, one month, and even longer.  Your chores might be taking in the mail, watering the house plants, or walking the dog while the owners are on vacation or away for business.

Networking and meeting people are crucial in making it as a location independent freelance writer.  If you make the effort to meet people, you’ll come across many potential friends and mentors from all walks of life who might give advice and direct you toward work.  Try working at least some of the time in co-working spaces, and attend e-business meetings (most Nomad cities have both).  You get to know the area, meet with locals, and cook your own meals.

Whether you are a writer, IT specialist, graphic designer, or an editor, it’s possible to remove yourself from fixed-location work and become location independent, without reducing your income. Many writers enjoy a better quality of life than had they chained themselves to one location.

More Resources: