Careful planning for the future has never been one of my biggest virtues, but I did come to Cambodia with a plan. In fact, I even had a back-up plan. In 2004, I took a $3000+ course in teaching English as a Second Language (TESL). Fortunately, I managed to find work in Australia for the better part of the year before I hit the road, so the course was not a complete waste of money.
When Plan A, to build and sell houses, fell flat, I confidently set out to find a job teaching English. I found none. I also found out that if I was “lucky” enough to find a job, the pay would be pathetic. It was time for Plan C, but I hadn’t yet formulated a Plan C.
Fate stepped in and in a roundabout way introduced me to the world of freelance writing. Rather than repeat myself, you can read all about it on my other blog in the post titled Starting from Scratch – My Freelance Writing Career. The title says it all: I started at rock bottom and worked my way up to the point where now I’m doing okay.
Freelance travel writing is an enticing career prospect for backpackers and expats. I know this because I used to do travel blog reviews and just about every backpacker’s travel blog started out stating an intention to make money travel writing as they made their way around the world. Later on, they wrote about getting gigs as teachers and living on a bowl of rice a day while they saved up for their next adventure or getting free accommodations in exchange for waitressing or bartending, but rarely about their fantastic success as freelance writers.
The problem is, millions of people travel, but few have the requisite skills or determination to make a living as freelance travel writers or freelancers of any other description, for that matter. How do you find a potential buyer for your work? How do you go about pitching yourself? Is your subject matter original enough to compel a publisher to overlook all your grammatical errors and accept your submission? For that matter, how do you find publishers to submit to? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask yourself before you decide you’re going to make freelance travel writing your career or even part-time career.
Both here and on my other blog, Writing Resources, I am often asked, “How did you do it?” Well, although I’m a college dropout, I did major in English and developed my writing skills there. I did some freelance writing for print publications over the years, so was relatively confident in my abilities when I started writing full-time. However, I didn’t know where or how to find assignments online, so I started my new career from rock bottom. It was a painful process.
Just as my $3000 TESL course ultimately got me a job as a teacher of English as a second language in Australia, I seriously believe the MatadorU Travel Writing Course can help you launch your writing career – but only if you’re serious. It’s not one of those idiotic “How to make a 6 figure income as a freelance writer” ebooks, but a comprehensive course of study that can get you started in the right direction. It also costs a lot less than my TESL course did and you won’t have to attend classes in person. Check it out.
In the battle between freelance writing versus teaching English, writing was the hands down winner for me. It may or may not be for you, but if something about it really grabs you, go for it.