Published in print: Worth it?
I just finished reading through Chapter 1, and I’m curious to hear whether folks think it’s worth it for new travel writers to query magazines and newspapers.
Between the suffering publishing industry, the very different style of journalistic writing versus web writing, and the time it takes to write articles and query letters, is it worth the time for a fairly new travel writer like me to go for these jobs?
I started freelance writing this past March and have lots of published articles, all online. I’m just uncertain about spending the time on applying for magazines and such when I feel like my chances are so small, and I could be working on something for my blog/other online sites with that time.
Great question! The publishing industry is definitely moving a lot of its content online and this opens up more opportunities for writers to query and develop their careers online and not in print.
That said, the travel writing world to some extent still focuses on bylines and big glossies usually work with writers they know or writers with some impressive bylines so it’s a Catch-22 scenario.
That doesn’t mean new freelancers should write off pitching to big name publications. Having even a single big name glossy in your byline can work wonders and open up other doors.
You just have to find the right pitch ratio that works for you (for example, a 5:1 ratio would be sustainable – 5 online, 1 glossy).
Hope this helps
Thanks for your question; it’s definitely relevant to many of the students in this program.
Lola has offered some solid advice here, based on her considerable experience and her impressive portfolio. I absolutely agree with her recommendations.
I’d add that you need to think short and long term in response to this question. If you’re hoping to go on press trips, for instance (a topic we cover later in the course), then you might want to think about the value of building up some print publication credits. Many press trip sponsors are only interested in working with writers who have print credits. That being said, more and more bloggers are being invited on press trips, as marketers and tourism/travel industry folks recognize the value and reach of online platforms and media.
As an editor, I’m not going to dismiss an excellent writer who has only electronic clips; however, I’m definitely interested in writers who leverage both print and electronic media effectively. They’re much more likely to be savvy about developing an audience (or bringing one along with them), promoting their work, and recognizing the strengths and limitations of print vs. electronic media.
Publishing on both platforms, in short, provides you with valuable experiences. In the end, you just need to decide, as Lola suggested, how you want to manage your time– the ratio idea is a good one.
I agree with both Lola and Julie that print media still has the ability to “open up doors” in a way that I’m not sure web-based media (with a few exceptions) does YET. It certainly can be a lot harder to get into print than online, but one option is the newly minted (often unpaid) magazine route, just to have a nice feature article in a glossy.
I think over time, things will change and print will not be as important (especially with so many big names authors AND magazines/newspapers moving over to the web almost exclusively), but for now, we are straddling both worlds.
Print also tends to still pay better on the whole, so I think the 5/1 ratio Lola mentioned can be monetarily worth it!
I would kill to see my name in print, honestly. Something about turning pages just makes me excited.
Plus many of my elders, especially my large extended family, are not computer-saavy. I think most of my writing gears towards a younger generation anyway, but still, gotta please the masses somehow.
I haven’t had any luck with magazines yet so I am starting an internship with a certain glossy outdoor magazine in two weeks. I hope to learn a lot about writing for magazines and hopefully get some sort of in there.
Writing for magazines is definitely one of my top goals because they pay so well – I feel like I would have to write for 20 hours a day to make a living writing online since everything I have found online pays on the lower end of things or not at all. I guess there is hope for the whole blog monetization thing – but I definitely have a lot to learn there.
The magazine internship sounds like a great way to learn some good skills. Good luck!
Writing for magazines does pay better–typically–than online writing, but keep in mind that it often requires a different level of research, too, and the pacing of editorial calendars and publication may make it difficult to cobble together a steady, consistent, predictable income.
One thing I’ve learned about writing travel content for print magazines is that you don’t have to restrict yourself to “travel” magazines. There are a lot of general interest or lifestyle magazines that look for filler, front-of-the-book content. Breaking in at the front-of-the-book with travel-related content can lead to larger feature assignments and a diverse portfolio of travel clips.