Many times questions appear in my inbox in bulk as though everyone thinks of them at the same time, whether it is what is my secret or how to stay motivated. Lately, everyone wants to know one thing: “how do they become a travel writer like me?”
In a way it is sort of flattering realizing that people use your life as an example for theirs. I may not have the reach of big names like Bill Gates, Jeffery Sachs, or Oprah, but knowing that even one other person looks up to you is greatly rewarding. I’m just me and when I get emails from people telling me they love my site and that I’m an inspiration makes all this work worthwhile.
But then in another way, I’m confused by it. My life is nothing special. I simply decided that traveling was more fun than working and I didn’t want to give up the backpacker, vagabonding lifestyle I love so much. There was only one thing to do: find a job I could do from anywhere. Since I’m not an artist, can’t take good photos, and I’m not an expert programmer, the easiest thing was to become a travel writer.
And that leads me back to the question everyone seems to be asking lately about becoming a writer like me. Well, the answer is simple: you just take the leap. That’s it. That’s all I did.
People email asking how they can become a travel writer. Where do they begin? Is there a school? What should they do? How can they be like Nomadic Matt? Well, the secret is there is no secret. I just woke up and did it. I built the website. I refined my writing, got some help, and kept at it. I quickly realized I actually had no desire to write guidebooks and instead wanted to run this website. I learned web design, I marketed the site, I kept at it. The only trick to what I do is persistence. This is no field for the lazy.
It also helps I am not the world’s worst writer. But to be a travel writer, you don’t really need to go to school. There’s no travel writing degree out there. If you want to work for a newspaper or write books, it helps to have some formal training. Unless you are as gifted as Bill Bryson, you’ll want to take classes to improve your writing. But the real secret to becoming a travel writer is you just decide to do it.
Will you succeed? I don’t know. You may. You may not. Maybe you’ll be bigger than Bill Bryson or maybe everyone will reject your work. Everyone in the world wants to become a travel writer. I won’t lie to you and say that it’s not a crowded field. Moreover, to become a big travel website, it’s a lot harder these days than it was when I started. But I can tell you that there is also no formal process for this. I didn’t go to school for it, I didn’t get a degree at it, I didn’t join any special club. You will never know unless you try and that’s the real takeaway here. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
If you’re in bed at night going “wow I wish I lived a nomadic life like Matt” here is my parting advice for you: Turn on your computer, start a travel blog, and write, and network with others. Take a writing class. Send out articles. Keep at it. Then one day you can be on the Gili Islands in Indonesia telling people that ask “What do you do back home?” that you’re a travel writer and everywhere is home.