How to be A Travel Writer — In One Easy Step

Driving through Sweetwater, Texas a few years ago, I noticed a sign hanging over the door of a business. “Al’s Autorepair, Income Tax Preparation and Pool Hall”. Al wasn’t missing a trick. He was into all three things and would let people in that dusty west Texas town know it. I didn’t stick around to see how successful he was.

If you’re in business, want to be in business or have thought about being in business, you need to join LinkedIn. If you’ve never heard of LI, think of it as a Facebook for grownups. Professional, business-oriented grownups. You won’t find any cutsey kitty pics on LI but you will find hints, tips and ideas to take your business to the next level. If you pay attention to details.

As a freelance photojournalist, I tend to hangout on the — wait for it — freelance, photojournalist groups. I might toss in a group or two about photography and even occasionally visit a group abour travel and writers. The tips I’ve gotten have been good.

Now it’s my turn to throw one into the mix that I bet a lot of people haven’t even thought about. Heck, from looking at some of the posts, I think most people haven’t thought about it.

My tip? Carefully plan how you will briefly state your job description. One of the groups I’m a member of has had a thread running now for a few days about how tough it is to find someone to buy travel articles. Some of the commenters shared some good insight, but I was kind of shocked to my skivvies when I noticed something.

Very few of them even mentioned writing as a vocation, or even a primary vocation. Here’s the names and titles as listed on the group I’m talking about. I haven’t given anyones last name to save them some embarrassment.

Freelancer — Freelancer of what? Making cookies? Jet engine mechanic?

Independent Meeting Planner/Professional Conference Manager/Freelance Meetings/Travel Writer — Lists three things and then, “Oh yah, I’m a travel writer too.”

Sr. Account Executive/Clinical Specialist — What the heck is this and what does it have to do with travel writing?

MPhill Communication & PR Management Specialist — So you’re great at public relations and communication, what does this say about travel writing?’

Writer, Photographer, Designer/Illustrator — Did real good, but then had to throw in the part about designer.

C’mon people. Focus. Focus. If you’re like Al and market everything that you do, how will anyone take you for a “pro” in what you really do?

Me? I list mine as a ‘freelance photojournalist’. I’ve got four trips coming up in January, so it must work.

I wonder how Al is doing back in west Texas?
Jerry Nelson, Photojournalist

Featured ExpatBased in Argentina, Jerry writes about social justice issues throughout the world and his work has been picked up by major media outlets globally.

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Jerry Nelson is an American freelance photojournalist.  When not traveling, he can be found on the streets of Buenos Aires as Lead Photographer for BuenosTours, the largest private tour company in South America.  Connect with Jerry on MosaicHub, Facebook or LinkedIn today.  Have a story that needs to reach national media?  Email him today.


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4 thoughts on “How to be A Travel Writer — In One Easy Step

  1. Well Jerry, I have to say I have followed your work over the past few years and been very impressed, but this little dittie sort of brings you down a notch in my opinion. It is clearly your intention to cause embarrassment to the people you have named. With a job title, a first name, and Google, I can find anyone. I have received a number of email from friends about this blog. I guess my friends know how to use Google too. Unfortunately, I feel you have done nothing but embarrass yourself.

    As with any type of endeavor, some of those with the most talent in that area choose to do something else as their primary vocation. All the people you have attempted to belittle in your post are quite successful at something else and still choose to put some of their time into travel writing. Your apparent assumption that only those with full time travel writing gigs know what they are talking about is not uncommon, but a sad commentary on the current state of the industry and the people that work within it.

    Nathan LAKE, RN, BSN, MSHA
    Sr. Account Executive/Clinical Specialist

  2. Thanks for the response Nathan, but unfortunately that’s the way it is. LinkedIn is NOT Facebook, it’s a professional social media tool for professionals and as such, people should remember they need to present themselves professionally.

    If you were to apply for a job in a healthcare job somewhere, would you also list on your resume that you repaired lawnmowers on the side?

    Nope, of course not and it’s a stupid question. But that’s exactly what people do when they list secondary interests/skills on their LinkedIn profile.

    Don’t take my word for it. There was a great week in Forbes a few months ago about that very subject. I’ll see if I can find it.

    In the meantime, have a great day!

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