I wondered for many years how I could write about my world travels and get paid for it. I’ve always known that other people do it. But, being a person who runs a store, I know that you have income, and you have expenses. I know where a travel writer’s income comes from. What I couldn’t figure out was how a writer could (legally and effectively) deduct their expenses. In other words, how do you provide proof to the IRS that you are an actual writer engaged in research and travel for the purpose of selling your work? I checked the IRS website to find out if a travel writer could deduct their travel expenses (travel, hotel, food, rental car, etc.). While the instructions and guidelines were clear, I could see no clear way to come up with the proof you would need to justify the trip expenses. The rules are pretty clear and it didn’t look like you could easily claim these expenses, without being able to prove that you were really a writer and were on a legitimate trip to take pictures and gather information for an article. I read the IRS rules several times, but I couldn’t see how it could be done. So I put travel writing on the back burner for a while because I couldn’t figure out how I could make it all work.
Later, I came across a 4-hour class offered at our local community college. It was called “Creating Travel Articles and Video Tours That Sell”. I was immediately intrigued and I signed up for the course. Unfortunately, the class was canceled because the instructor had a health problem to deal with. I was disappointed, but I learned about the availability of his book, called The Travel Writer’s Guide. I ordered the book from Amazon and eagerly read it when it came a few days later. In the book, I learned how a legitimate writer can deduct expenses and not run afoul of IRS guidelines. I was overjoyed to learn that it was possible to travel, earn an income and legally deduct just about all of the expenses involved in the trip! I knew it was possible, but until I read Gordon Burgett’s book, I didn’t know how it could be done without a hassle with the IRS.
Armed with this new knowledge, I want to see if I can sell travel articles and make an extra income doing that as I travel around. It would be a great way to supplement my income and take the sting out of the high cost of airfare and hotels. My plan is to try writing about someplace close to home and selling the article(s) to a magazine or newspaper. The more articles I publish, the easier it will be to get writing assignments in the future. So this is definitely a possibility for future income and employment. I can do this from anywhere!!
I’ve learned that the secret is to get interest or even the go-ahead from a magazine editor in advance, so that when you leave for your trip, you already have a publication that wants your article. If they accept it after you write it up, you can expect to receive payment for the article and you can re-sell the article later by following the guidelines. There are many twists and turns in the writer’s market, so you have to know what you are doing. After reading Gordon’s book, I feel confident that I could at least try to sell an idea for an article and get the OK to take the trip, gather the information, take the pictures and put the article together and submit it. I feel fortunate that I came across The Travel Writer’s Guide. It has helped me to feel as though I understand what I need to do. Now I just need to apply what I’ve learned.
I’m formulating an idea for a 2012 trip to London. I think that might be an opportunity to try to sell an article. I’ll write more on that subject later. In the meantime, I want to attempt to sell an article or two to see if I can really do it. I feel confident that I know what the process is, so there is nothing preventing me from giving it a try.
Note: The continuing education course – “Creating Travel Articles and Video Tours That Sell” – is being offered at Santa Rosa Junior College in March. I’m signed up and I’ll share some of what I’ve learned after the class!
Travel writing seems to be a good option for earning extra money to live on AND help pay for those expensive Italian purses I know we’ll be looking at!!
I’m really interested in your experiences with writing and selling travel articles and stories. Have you been successful and how did you do it?