How Can I Start My Career as a Writer/Travel Writer?

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Samara from Benedictine University asks:

“I am an English Literature and Language major. Are there any travel writing/blogging jobs available? For example, are there positions with a travel magazine or other travel industry publication or website or teaching jobs using the French language? I am having trouble finding internships in these fields and would appreciate any advice to get my career started.”

Thanks for your question, Samara.  After researching to answer your question, I can confidently tell you there is a ton of opportunity out there for you.

Having worked with thousands of soon-to-graduate seniors and recent college graduates, most assume that jobs and internships are exclusively posted online to the traditional job boards.  Recognize that today’s job market is competitive so you’ll need to be proactive to not just apply to posted jobs, but also consider implementing an aggressive networking initiatives and other non-traditional job/internship search methods to land the right position.

Additionally, consider that in today’s job market, employers hire talent in many different ways, not just on a full-time basis.  Companies hire on a part-time, temporary, temp-to-permanent, freelance, project, and others to meet their objectives.  Be flexible to working with an employer on their terms, not just yours.

Lastly, it is a great time to be an aspiring writer as you can quickly build a portfolio of work, while building your reputation and credibility through blogging, social media, online sites, and more.

Detailed below are some suggestions on how to you can break into writing and/or travel writing to land an internship and/or job.

Start a Personal Blog

Build your own blogging website to feature your writing.  This is a great way to highlight your writing style and skills.  Additionally, you’ll be able to direct prospective employers to your site so they can see your work.  Since you are targeting writing jobs in travel or with travel magazines and/or publications, you can set the focus of your blog entries to feature travel-based posts – even if you are writing about other topics separately.  Check out WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Blogger, and others to build your blog site.  These hosting sites are incredibly easy to use and set up even for the technologically challenged.  Also, you can do this for free or at a nominal cost.  Consider any cost under the category of professional development as this site can pay dividends for years to come – and may even allow you to get paid over time.

Blogging is beneficial not just for writers, but other professionals as well.  Media Bistro found that 9 out of 10 companies examine a candidate’s online profile before offering the job.  Employers want to hire candidates that have a positive online profile and blogging is the best way to achieve this objective.

Write for Your University’s Student Newspaper & Other Student Publications

Through research, I learned that your university has five student publications including The Candor (award-winning student newspaper), A Room with a View (creative writing publication), COMM Arts Chronicle (newsletter), Eye of the Eagle (television news magazine), and DuPage Valley Review (journal of art and culture).  Any of these publications would likely allow you to grow your portfolio of writing samples so contact the professors managing each publication to learn how you can contribute.  Writers need to write so utilize any resource, especially ones on your campus, to build your portfolio, credibility, and more.

Build a Strong Social Media Presence to Promote Your Blog and Other Writing Pieces

Tap into the power of social media to promote your blog and other writing pieces.  Utilize Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and others to showcase your writing.  This will help you build your reputation, gain followers (and website traffic), increase your visibility, which could help lead you to a job and/or writing project work.

I don’t know your age, but if you are a traditionally-aged student, then it is quite likely that you are exceptionally well versed and skilled using technology and social media.  Your generation (Generation Z) grew up with technology so make this work to your advantage as social media allows you to communicate globally with over 7 billion people.

Search for Travel Writing Jobs/Use Online Resources (and Good Job Search Strategy)

There are hundreds of travel magazines and even more travel-based websites.  Some of the top travel magazines include Conde Nast Traveler, Travel & Leisure, Islands, National Geographic, Cruising World, Wanderlust, Outside, Camping Life, and many others.  Even for less experienced writers, there are many opportunities to get paid to write.  Make sure to visit each of these websites to learn of available career opportunities.  However, don’t only look for travel magazines and publications to see if they are hiring.  Consider there are many sites/publications, even regional and locally based, that are actively looking for your travel stories.  In some cases, these sites/publications are looking for stories about travel attractions and destinations in your backyard.

Also, incorporate good job search strategy into your search to land the “right” writing opportunity.  Here are a couple of tips:

Most job seekers mistakenly assume employers post all jobs/internships online.  Employers are competing for talent similar to the way you are competing for jobs with other candidates.  Current data show that many employers find employee referrals as a great way to fill job openings.  Recruitment by referrals are utilized for over 25 percent of openings according to recent research.

Jobs/internships won’t always be posted online.  So, reverse this thinking by proactively targeting employers.  Don’t wait for employers to post available jobs.  Develop a list of 25-50 prospective employers (or more) in your area that may have opportunity in line with your skills, experience, education, and interests.  Do some additional research and determine a decision maker to whom you’ll address your letter and resume.  This is a great way to get your value proposition into the hands of the person with the power to start a dialogue and ultimately hire you.  Companies are always hiring.  The downside is that they may not always be hiring on your timeline.  Get to the employer before everyone else. Utilizing this strategy allows you to be proactive, rather than passively waiting for jobs/internships to be posted.  It can make all the difference in the world to landing an interview.  Remember, you only need one job/internship.

Consider Non-Traditional Ways to Work an Employer

Most graduating college students are primarily looking for full-time, permanent employment opportunity.  However, the world of work is changing in terms of how employers prefer to hire along with how candidates enjoy doing the work.  Open your thinking up to considering freelance, project, temporary, part-time, volunteer, and other opportunities that would allow you to get your start in travel writing and/or blogging.  While securing a full-time, permanent job may be your ultimate goal, these non-traditional job types would allow you to get your start, while allowing you to earn income, gain skill, build a stronger portfolio/blog, and more.  Additionally, these jobs would allow you to get inside a company on their terms in some cases.  Once you are “inside” a company, you will be better positioned to land the preferred job type (full-time, permanent) as they will get to know you and experience your work quality.  There are numerous websites where you can learn of freelance or project writing opportunities including Journalism Jobs, Blogging Pro Job Board, Media Bistro, Freelance Writing, Freelance, UpWork, and others (Behance, People Per Hour, Flex Jobs, Fiverr, and more).

Join Professional Writing Associations

Another way to build your network, reputation, and circle of influence is to join a professional writers/writing association.  There is a fee to join in most cases, but this is a great way to connect with leaders in your industry and learn of employment opportunity.  Most professional organizations post their available positions through the association’s website or possibly through word of mouth at meetings.  Don’t just become a member and do nothing either.  Get involved and volunteer for a board or steering committee.  This will provide you with the opportunity to showcase your skills and ability to produce results.

Contact Your Career Center for Guidance

Most colleges and universities offer career preparation services to current students at no additional cost.  Simply put, students should leverage their career center as it is a valuable student resource.  College career centers are staffed with knowledgeable, skilled, and credentialed professionals who can provide assistance in a variety of areas including resume review, interview skills training, job search strategy, and more.  Your university’s career center can likely provide some further insight into your job search goal to help you include additional strategies within your personal marketing campaign (job search).  Furthermore, your career center will likely have a job site exclusively for current students featuring jobs and internships posted with the institution. Set up an appointment soon.

Putting It All Together

Continue to build your portfolio of writing samples until an employer is willing to pay you to write (and even beyond).  Start by creating your personal blog site to post your blog entries, while contributing to publications on your campus.  Make sure to also utilize the many other suggestions including joining professional writing associations, while considering non-traditional ways to get your writing career started.

If you fuel your plan to land the “right” position with a burning desire to accomplish the goal, then you’ll reach the destination (pun intended).  Work hard, be creative, network like crazy and you’ll get there.  You’ve got this, Samara!

Good luck and best wishes!

Here’s to your success,

Bob Nealon


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About the Author

Robert Nealon

For almost 10 years, Bob Nealon has been a South Florida-based career coach, focused on training and coaching college students and professional-level clients to achieve success in their employment search campaign and careers. He has trained over 5,000 clients with strategies on how to best compete in today’s ultra-competitive market to land the job and advance their career. Currently, he is a career coach at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Florida. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Sports Management from Indiana University, a master’s degree in Sports Administration from Indiana State University and is a multi-credentialed career coach holding industry certifications as a Certified Professional Career Coach, Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Employment Interview Professional, Certified Empowerment and Motivational Coach, Global Career Development Facilitator, and Florida Certified Workforce Professional. He is an active member of Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches, Center for Credentialing and Education, Florida Association of Colleges and Employers, National Association of Colleges and Employers, and National Career Development Association. Connect with Bob via LinkedIn and Twitter.

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