Consider my own recent experience. As the editor of
the Worldwide Freelance Writer web site, I publish a newsletter that
goes out to thousands of freelance writers around the world. I can
recall one particular issue in the middle of 2002. I started planning
the newsletter in the heat and humidity of Hong Kong. When the first
draft came together I was in Indianapolis, in the United States. And by
the time I completed the final copy and pushed the send button I was at
a lakeside cottage in Ontario, Canada, with snow lightly falling
Maybe you are interested in a freelance travel writing
career but you worry about whether you live in a suitable location.
Well, think again. Freelance writing is a job you can do from anywhere.
It is true that if your home is near New York's editorial offices you
may be able to use your proximity to some advantage. But many, many
freelance writers are working successfully from more distant locations,
and in many cases enjoying a better lifestyle in the places where they
Take Ron Irwin, for example. An American, Ron
freelances from a small house on the beach in Cape Town, South Africa.
The majority of his work is still for North American markets. Consider
Vella Corinne, a native of Malta in the center of the Mediterranean Sea.
From this island steeped in history - the Order of St John was based
here and the temples are thought to be older than the pyramids - she
writes travel and lifestyle features.
Writers in locations such as these, far from being at
a serious disadvantage, can actually enjoy a number of benefits. For a
start, these writers are in an excellent position to write about their
own locations, the people and the culture. Also, the living costs are
often less expensive than for writers in major cities. And if that is
not enough, how about fresh, clean air?
Writers working from remote locations usually live in
a cleaner, more peaceful environment, and may live closer to outdoor and
recreational activities. Vella reveals how she enjoys the warmer days:
"Once I pack up my computer, I just head to the beach. Distances
are short and, the island being small, I'm always close to the center of
whatever's happening here. I can control my own time in a way that I
could not if I lived in a busy city."
travel writing lifestyle is truly wonderful and romantic, but the only
trouble is getting in – getting your work, and in particular, your
first article published.
Have you, like most novices, suffered large
numbers of rejections from editors who simply don’t seem interested in
carrying your work? Or have you been turned down for places on exotic
press trips, even though they fitted perfectly with
Virtually all novice writers have to go through this early,
often demoralizing, phase in their development. I did too.
the savvy few, there is an alternative . . ."
Twenty years ago writers in remote locations were
often frustrated by the slowness of communicating with editors on the
other side of the world. It would always take months to receive a reply
from an editor. Waiting for a response to a query was about as exciting
as watching grass grow!
In recent years the availability of the Internet has
made it easier than ever before for freelancers to communicate almost
instantly with anyone, anywhere in the world. In my own example above I
traveled through a few countries over a three-week period and managed to
conduct my freelance work at the same time. Many of my clients didn't
even know I was 'on the move'. Little did they know that between
receiving and replying to their messages, I was fishing in the lake and
hiking through the woods I could easily keep in touch with important
contacts, as well as write and send out my newsletter.
But do you know what was even more exciting? While I
was traveling my web site was hard at work, the entire time, 'day and
night'. Even while I was flying at thirty thousand feet, taking a nap, I
was effectively selling a bunch of writing-related books and products.
Now if that isn't a freelancer's dream becoming reality, I don't know
what is! Such accomplishments were definitely not so attainable before
the advent of email and the World Wide Web.
Kathy Crockett freelances from Gisborne, New Zealand,
on the east coast of the North Island. She commented to me on the
difference technology makes when working from such a location.
"It's a city of 35,000", she explains, "the closest to
the international dateline, and the first city in the world to see the
sun each day. Its closest city-size neighbors are three hours drive on
windy roads...the internet, mobile phones...technology lets me be
wherever I want to be... and fool others into thinking I'm where they'd
like me to be!"
Of course working remotely is not always easy and
there are a number of challenges that writers typically face. Isolation
is a common issue. Vella explained to me she has a way of dealing with
it. "At times it feels like I have a totally atomized existence. I
balance that by scheduling some 'face time' each day", she
explains. I agree with her. Sometimes you must make a conscious effort
to spend time with family, friends, or other writers.
Another challenge may be difficulties with technology.
Finding a PC repair shop may be next to impossible. Internet access may
be unavailable or unreliable. There are many, many places in the world
that don't even have telephone lines yet, not to mention email access.
You can still work as a freelance writer from these locations, but it
will not be as convenient. If you have any choice where you live, always
try to choose a town that has telephone lines with reliable Internet
And that goes for working while you are on holiday
too. Check the available technology in advance. In the example of my
trip above, I received a surprise. There was no telephone line or email
access in the cottage. My initial panic subsided when I discovered a
telephone not too far away. In freezing temperatures, I trudged up the
road. When I pushed the button to send out my newsletter my notebook
computer was plugged into a payphone.
Are writers in remote locations at a serious
disadvantage? No way! I am sold on the concept that you can work as a
freelance writer from anywhere. And while you will face some challenges,
none of them will be insurmountable.
So if you're looking for a career you can do from
anywhere, look no further. The writers I referred to and many others are
working successfully right where they are. And so can you. Open up your
notebook. Start writing. You can begin to build a rewarding career as a
freelance travel writer today.
Gary McLaren is editor of Worldwide Freelance Writer, a
leading source of information on freelance
writing markets around the world. http://www.worldwidefreelance.com