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How to Make Money Doing What You Love: Traveling

Renowned travel writer Tim Leffel puts the glitz and glamour of travel journalism aside in his new book, Travel Writing 2.0: Earning Money From Your Travels in The New Media Landscape, to tell the facts when it comes to turning this love interest into a career. Leffel gives the reader the "how-to" within every travel media outlet now available in our technological age.

Leffel describes his intentions of his work. "In putting together the Travel Writing 2.0 book, my aim was to give aspiring travel writers the real story: from me, from 52 other working writers, and from a batch of editors and publishers. Not what used to work, not what has worked for one lucky person out of 1,000, but rather what knowledge and attributes a writer needs to actually make real money doing this.

This is a guide to the here and now, with solid and practical advice on succeeding in a changing media landscape."

So if you desire to be a travel writer for a magazine, a newspaper, web magazine, or write your own guidebook, Leffel tells you how to make your dreams come true and bring home some extra bacon for the family.

Below is an excerpt from Tim Leffel's Writing 2.0: Earning Money From Your Travels in The New Media Landscape, in which Leffel discusses blogging and its money making potential:

Blogging for Yourself:

"Start a blog and write what you want."

That advice has turned many a head and pulled in many subscribers for "how to make money on the internet" types.

And why not? It's as enticing as fat-free frozen yogurt or the promise of speed-reading. No query letters, no editors to please, no editorial calendar to fit into, and no style restraints that will hold you back. What freedom!


Remember that the root word of freedom is "free" though. That's what you'll be working for day after day, week after week, for six months to a year until your shiny new blog gets some traction -- if it ever does. Instead of putting together articles for a set fee, you are putting together articles that will hopefully "be monetized" someday through advertising or other means. Your pain, your gain -- if it works. Unless you have good traffic and a following, however, those ad earnings will be next to nothing.

For many, that's okay. They are blogging to promote themselves or their expertise, not as a money maker. It's their mouthpiece to sell consulting, sell books, or get noticed by the media. If you're doing this as an income generator though, be prepared for a long slog.

Like many bloggers in the early days, I started Cheapest Destinations blog without even thinking about whether it could ever make money. I just set it up to promote my book and to give journalists a taste of what I had to say. It was purely a promotional vehicle and place for me to float out ideas for articles. Then Google Adsense and easy affiliate ad programs came along and I stuck some ad code on my blog.

Leffel takes a bike ride while on working on location.
tim-leffel-bikeLeffel takes a bike ride while on working on location.

Just like that, from then on when I sat in a Wi-Fi bar and wrote a blog entry, I could rationalize that the blog was paying my bar tab. Sweet!

Eventually it started making enough to pay my mortgage and I was shocked. Who knew? But this "instant success" was years in the making: the blog already had a big following by the time I started monetizing it.

Blogging can be a rewarding a path, but take the time to think through these following key questions before you launch. Once you can answer all of them clearly and with vision, you're definitely onto something.

1. What can I cover better or more thoroughly than anyone else?

2. What niche am I passionate enough about that I can write hundreds of different short articles about it for years on end?

3. What can I write about for 6-12 months that won't require going into the hole financially?

4. Do I want to be known as the expert on this subject or destination? Can I credibly become a media resource?

5. Am I willing to stick with this subject or slant for years on end in order to enjoy the payoff? Or am I willing to hire and pay other writers once it gets going?

6. Can I explain what my blog is about in an "elevator pitch" of a few sentences?

7. Could this subject area lead to other revenue sources in terms of articles, books, speaking engagements, or tours?

8. Is it something that would eventually generate advertising interest and text ad click-through from readers?

Visit Tim Leffel's Cheapest Destinations Blog and webzine, Perceptive Travel to read more of his travel writing!

Read the blog


Beth Simmons
is an editorial assistant with GoNOMAD and attends the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, Massachusetts. She writes the Travel Reader Blog.


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