Written By Gail Clifford

How I Became Established as a Travel Writer

While I’ve been successful in my first career, I’ve always enjoyed writing, traveling, and telling stories about the trips. I’d been thinking about a variety of ways to monetize my writing. Copywriting. Screenwriting. Publishing books. But it wasn’t until travel writing seemed possible that I began to have big dreams and that bright, far off look in my eyes about all the places I’d go. With someone else footing the bill. 

I had to get out of my own way at first, of course. Bad work injuries left me bed-bound and nearly bankrupt the year my daughter went off to college. Ironically, with no financial aid because I “made too much” the year prior. After returning to work, I swore I’d never be dependent on just one source of revenue again. No amount of insurance saved me. Only I could.

I first purchased at home travel writing videos in 2015. As a reverse procrastinator, it surprised most people that I never got to them. But I’d finally returned to work and couldn’t manage it around two jobs that averaged an 84-hour work week and physical therapy. Until I committed to attend the live conference in Austin. 

Get Started Sooner Rather Than Later

I made myself query 5 magazines before the conference. Determined to have an assignment before I went, I did. Writers in Austin were willing to help me improve my article on the spot. That was September 2018. The article, The Crown Jewel of Arizona’s Christmas City:


With that success, and a fortuitous license plate in front of me at a stop sign I snapped with my cell phone, I pitched the company I’d paid to teach me.

Great Escape Publishing (GEP) is good for that. They don’t accept articles on travel. They accept articles on how to succeed at monetizing income based on travel or lifestyle.

This is what my query letter looked like:

Dear —-,

It was so nice to meet you in Austin.

I’ve had my first article accepted to Prescott Woman.

With all we learned at the conference, and a fortuitous license plate in front of me on the drive home, I was inspired to write the attached article, “You’re not there…yet” which some of my fellow attendees have told me they’ve found helpful.

I hope you’ll consider it for “The Right Way to Travel.”

I look forward to working with you!

Best wishes,


Now, that’s more informal than most since I’d met the woman I was pitching. She accepted the article that day.

With a few other unpaid bylines and the acceptance of a photography article by an international magazine, it felt legitimate to offer more advice to other writers.

I published four articles with GEP, getting paid $100 to $150 each. This led to submitting articles to their affiliated International Living magazine and postcards, where my pitches were accepted, and articles published.

Accept the Opportunities Offered

GEP hosted a contest for the most queries pitched over a particular time frame. Three chances to win. Most pitches accepted. Most money made. Most entertaining article. I’d become so accustomed to pitching (thank you, screenwriting), and resilient to “no, thank you,” that I won the first. And completed my assignments, so won the second.

It was a confidence booster that made it easier for me to pursue additional contacts for anchor clients.

I reached out to a professional organization and asked if they’d be interested in paying me to write articles for them. They became my first true anchor client, $350/post, usually 2 posts per month. I’ve also pitched, and had accepted, a 6-part series of articles for a bi-monthly magazine. It’s good to be in every edition, and have the checks consistently arrive.

It’s all connected. And I’ve got the 100 articles submitted “mile marker” in my rear-view mirror, headed for more.

Rinse and Repeat

I’ve had two $1000+ days so far. The first when checks for two photo awards and several articles arrived the same day. The second when I sold a series of articles. I’m working towards more.

The dream becomes clearer. I’m getting out and really seeing things in every new town I visit. Writing about them makes me look a little more intently. Definitely more intentionally.

What a wonderful thing to finally combine my love of travel and story telling. And make an additional income by submitting the stories to publications. And sharing what I learned so others can have as much fun or suffer less than I.

My travel is richer despite becoming less expensive. Everything Jacob says is possible at Freedom with Writing is true. You can embrace this writer’s life and even make a living at it. Keep going. I’m cheering for you.


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