How I Landed a $2,000 Travel Writing Gig Without Previous Experience

By Sue King

Taking your first tentative steps into the world of freelance writing can be intimidating. When I started out, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. The first year or so of my travel writing career was a steep learning curve for me. I was however, lucky enough to get a break which helped me get a foot on the freelance ladder.

Whatever level you are at in your journey as a writer, it is important maintain a positive attitude and to never give up. Whether you are a beginner or an old hand, you never know when you are going to hit the freelance jackpot. The following account demonstrates how, even when you are an absolute beginner, you may just get lucky.

When I first approached an editor, I knew it was a long shot. I loved to write, but had no previous experience, therefore no portfolio or even links to previously published work. Would anyone give me a chance? Firstly, I made a list of travel websites which accepted freelance submissions and then I shot off some emails. Here is a reconstruction of one of the first enquiries I made:


Hi Stephen,

I am a freelance travel writer and wondered if you would be interested in an article about my visit to Cappadocia in Turkey for your website?

Although I am new to writing, I am an experienced traveler and have been exploring the world full-time for three years. I have been to over thirty countries and am passionate about travel and adventure. Cappadocia particularly captured my imagination, which consequently inspired me to write about my experience there.

I have attached a copy of the article. If you are interested but would like me to make any amendments or additions, don’t hesitate to let me know and I would be pleased to make any changes you feel are necessary.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,

Sue King


Beforehand, I did some research to ascertain what the editor’s name was. This is usually appreciated and makes for a friendlier tone than ‘Dear Editor’.

I offered a little information on my background and travel experience. I always do this, but in the absence of any published work to refer to, I felt it was even more important. Telling the editor about your passions or area of expertise can often work in your favor.  The fact that you know what you are talking about naturally has an added appeal to someone who is considering publishing your work.

I also checked the submission guidelines and sent the full article as suggested (This is not always the case. Usually, only a pitch is required. Reading the guidelines is essential as many editors won’t give the time of day to writers who don’t appear to follow instructions from the off).

Here is the response I received:

Dear Sue,

Thanks for getting in touch. I’m afraid I am not accepting pitches for the website at the moment. However, I have been working for another company who are looking for travel writers. Please check out the attachment and if you are interested in writing some destination guides for them, do let me know and I will send you some more information on how to get started. They offer $50.00 per guide plus $2.00 each (up to a maximum of $10.00) for any photographs to accompany the guides.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Best Wishes,


Although I wasn’t being accepted for the original website I had submitted to, I couldn’t believe that I had received such a positive response. I must admit to being skeptical at first, but when I studied it, everything looked compos mentis. I replied immediately. I chose the destinations I wanted to write about and signed a contract for an initial three guides. $60.00 per guide with photographs wasn’t a bad way to kick off my freelance career!

The real kicker was that although I didn’t know it at the time, this was only the beginning of an ongoing arrangement. I was given six weeks to submit my first three guides. On completion, I expressed interest in writing more guides and said how much I had enjoyed working on the first batch. The editor got back to me and asked me where I would like to write about next.

To date, I have written thirty-six guides for the website, resulting in a total payment of $2,160 over a two-year period. After I had completed a few guides, I was able to set up a portfolio displaying my work. From then on, I had a link to my portfolio to send along with my pitches, a vital tool for freelance writers.

I built up a good working relationship with the editor, and eventually also wrote some articles for his own website. By meeting deadlines, providing consistently good quality content and communicating clearly and competently, I was able to prove that I was reliable and able to come up with the goods.

I never dreamed that a single pitch would result in such a bounty of work, especially as I had never had any work published before. Freelance writing can be a rollercoaster of ups and downs, but nothing beats getting repeat work from a reliable source.

My experience demonstrates that you never know what might come up. If you word your pitches effectively, it is possible to secure a gig even if you haven’t got links to previous work or a portfolio. I will be forever grateful to the editor who gave me the opportunity to show what I was capable of and get a good grounding in my chosen profession.


Sue is a freelance travel writer and has been exploring the world since 2012. She has had over 100 articles published in twenty different publications including the Huffington Post.





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