Discover more from Talking Travel Writing
Beyond our borders: where to pitch outside the UK
This month is all about pitching overseas. And we've got a note about dogs...
New sponsor alert! Dog-Friendly Weekends: 50 Breaks in Britain For You and Your Dog is publishing in 2022 and will be a brand new guidebook by Bradt. TTW’s very own Lottie Gross is authoring this title, and is now on the road with Arty, her Manchester Terrier, seeking out more than just dog-friendly hotels. This book is all about uncovering what you can do with the dog that isn’t just another walk and pub lunch. Think museums, galleries, castles and country estates — plus a few blockbuster attractions you might not expect to let the dogs in.
Right now, because Covid has made this a financially challenging project, Lottie is selling pre-orders of the book via a Crowdfunder to raise enough capital to keep her afloat during the research and writing process. Buy it now and you’ll get exclusive content via a brand new newsletter launching in June to tide you over until spring 2022, when the book is set to drop on your doormat.
Don’t own a dog? You can support Lottie by sharing the title with friends and family members, or by simply donating to the Crowdfunder anyway.
What’s that you can smell? A spot of optimism? A whiff of jet fuel? A gaggle of travel writers lining up at the airport? Not yet, but it’s not far off…
We are teetering on the edge of international travel reopening, and our own shores welcoming overseas visitors once again. Theoretically, by 23:59 on May 17th we’ll have seen the inside of a pub and — most excitingly — hotels will be welcoming guests again. To jump on a frankly cringeworthy bandwagon, #travelishealing.
So — this is going to be a busy month. Not least because there’s another bank holiday and another school half term on the horizon, too. There are awards to enter (don’t miss the 7th May deadline for these), more awards to attend (AITO, 25th May), and TravMedia’s IMM is kicking off for its first virtual summit (refresh your networking skills with our series from last October).
With all this progress in mind, it’s time to start thinking about how to maximise profit as well as take advantage of new travel opportunities. With such a travel hiatus behind us, it’s easy to forget that this is your job and that you need to make enough money to pay the bills and instead just say yes to everything, without considering your bottom line. It’s not sexy, but money in this industry rarely is. There are some places where it’s more attractive than the rest, though, which is what we’re talking about this month…
Our paid subscribers had a version of this newsletter last week, as we spent the month talking about money, how to make more of it and why it’s important to ask for better rates. Our final instalment focused on the USA, its media and how much its travel publications pay. It turns out, they’re shelling out a fair bit more than their UK counterparts and rivals. Here’s why…
The state of rates in the USA
So, why does the US media pay its freelancers better? The obvious answer to this question is: because they have more money. And there’s more money because there is a much bigger population. The UK has around one fifth of the population of the United States, and this translates to larger readership in the media. Larger readership means more advertising dollars, and more advertising dollars means there’s more money in the pot to pay freelancers from.
It’s clear from readership statistics that the US has eyes on the page, but it’s also really evident in Google searches. Props to my friend and colleague Tal Dekel at the Indy for pulling some interesting figures for us:
carry on luggage
1,600 monthly searches on Google in the UK
49,500 monthly searches on Google in the US
200,000 monthly searches on Google in the UK
1 million monthly searches on Google in the US
So what are they paying? Well, right now, the likes of AFAR, Atlas Obscura and Outside are all paying $0.50 per word — a reasonable £0.36 p/w when you do the conversion. Even better, National Geographic has been known to pay $1 per word and the New York Times $0.83. Those really are the big bucks in travel writing.
But it’s not all about money, here. There’s a multitude of reasons you should consider pitching beyond your own borders. The ability for a writer to adjust their style and tone for a new audience is a key skill, and there’s no better way to show you can do that than writing for a foreign audience.
Pitching to publications overseas also offers an opportunity to get more commissions for the same trip, or to refresh and re-sell old stories where the rights have defaulted back to you.
There’s also the added benefit of being able to write about your home country. Those of us without a niche or special destination expertise can position ourselves as the experts in our homeland for a particular audience, be they Aussies or Americans looking to visit Britain for their next holiday.
There are certain challenges that come with writing for foreign publications, too, though. So this month we’re going to explore beyond our own borders and find out how to pitch to and write for international titles. We’ll chat to experienced journalists who do exactly that, and even editors from titles like AFAR, who will offer advice on how to get your stories published by them.
Become a paid subscriber to get the full series and our entire back catalogue.
Working with foreign publications without being left out of pocket
Rates might be higher abroad but, if you’re not careful, you can wind up getting short changed: transfer fees and poor exchange rates when you’re paid directly into a British bank account can take a sizeable chunk out of your earnings. While many of us might have started out using Paypal for foreign payments, their extremely high and complicated fee structure has long since made it an untenable option. Instead, we’ve found the following methods provide us a lot more control over our money and significantly reduce fees:
A free Wise bank account. This works pretty much like having a virtual bank account in the country you’re receiving cash from. You can accept payments in eleven different currencies (including USD, AUD, CAD, EUR and GBP) for free for ACH payments (or a fixed $7.50 USD for US dollars domestic or SWIFT wires). You can then store the money in that currency until there’s a favourable exchange rate — before sending it directly to your British account. You’ll receive the standard, mid-market rate and pay a small fee for the transfer — which is always made clear before you send the payment thanks to their transparent fee structures. You also receive a bank card, which can be used for paying for subscriptions or other business expenses in other currencies.
A currency account, such as HSBC’s international account. Various British banks offer international accounts, which allow you to receive payments in foreign currencies — although you’ll need to open an account for each currency you wish to receive money in. When the exchange rate is favourable, you can send the money on to your GBP bank account — which must be with the same bank — for a fixed fee. When you make this exchange, you’ll receive a rate that’s not as favourable as that used by Wise, but this is a good option if you’d rather keep your money with a more traditional, high-street bank.
Tweet of the week
Who to follow
We hate to say it but right now, Grant Shapps is one person we should all have our eyes on. The Transport Secretary is expected to announce the reopening of international travel in the coming days, and judging by his past record it’s possible he’ll announce it all over Twitter. Follow him here, and turn on notifications for his tweets to be the first to hear the news.
The ‘staycation’ debate has had us rolling eyes so hard it hurts sometimes, but this piece in the Spectator puts the argument eloquently and sheds light on why using the word to describe our holidays in the UK is just plain snobbery.
We also loved this piece on why the Welsh language needs more respect, and this excellent take on why the Middle East is going to be a tourism hotspot once we’re allowed to take to the skies once again.
This was the first in a series about writing for foreign publications. To receive the entire series and access to our back catalogue, become a paying subscriber today. Your support helps us run this newsletter and our mentoring scheme.