Making Cash With Freelance Journey Journalism: Not What It Used To Be

Freelance journey journalism is commonly a coveted profession. Sauntering world wide with publications choosing up the invoice is whole fiction however undeniably interesting. In actuality, writers usually linger on the precipice of poverty; charges have stagnated because the mid-90s regardless of a cumulative dwelling price enhance of 97.40%. The business additionally comes with few to no tangible advantages – no medical insurance, pension plan, unpaid sick days, or absences for sudden life occasions. Dwindling charges have made it close to unimaginable for a lot of to think about a full-time profession within the discipline. 

Journey Journalism Then and Now

Journey author Kristen Luna places the year-on-year comparability into sharp perspective. “In 2006, charges had been a normal $2 per phrase. Even when many magazines launched web sites again then, they paid a minimal of $1 per phrase. In 2008, my whole earnings was based mostly on journey writing, greater than $50,000 a yr, from journey assignments from anchor purchasers like Forbes, who paid $1 to $2 per phrase.”

Luna states she at present limits journey assignments. Here is why. 

“I rarely take journey assignments as the trouble, the pitching, the sourcing of photos, the entire hullabaloo isn’t definitely worth the paltry $250 many publications supply.” The sizeable funding of time and private funds anticipated in journey writing analysis negates the monetary rewards, with charges quartering within the area of fewer than 20 years.”

One former newspaper and journal editor reported paying $0.37-0.50 per phrase in 2001, a price which has not elevated in 22 years regardless of the steep hike within the worth of being alive.

Writers Have not Been Quiet About Their Frustrations

Different journey writers have tweeted their frustrations lately – they’re being paid the identical day price as in 1995 and paid $100 much less in 2023 than in 2015 for a similar publications. In a subscriber survey by the business publication Speaking Journey Writing, 177 journalists aired their grievances with the business. 

Sixty-four p.c stated discovering well-paid commissions was one among their largest struggles, together with securing common earnings (52%) and negotiating truthful charges (31%.)

Trade charges’ regular wane is intensified by the point funding required by journey writers. In response to former Conde Nast Traveler options editor Fiona Kerr, a function story within the main publication features a minimal of 4 days of on-site analysis, plus arrange and writing time, earlier than edits. No different tales may very well be offered off the again of journeys carried out for Conde Nast Traveler, that means that journalists may count on a most return of $1000 on this important time funding.

Main Publications Have not Raised Charges in 20+ Years, and Some Publications Have Decreased Pay

Regardless of being one of many best-paying publications within the UK, the journal’s price per phrase has remained unchanged because the publication launched in 1997. In a tweet, journey author James Stewart famous that he had been supplied day charges of $150-200 from mid-size journal publishers.

 Equally, Francisca Kellert famous on Twitter that some publications she works with had halved their charges over the previous 20 years. Responses to her thread paint a bleak image: writers with bylines on the most prestigious publications within the enterprise lamenting that they “nonetheless stay like a pupil to afford it” and “make it work by dwelling nowhere and touring continuously.”

Does Journey’s Shrinking Charges Point out Decrease Charges for All Journalists?

Journey’s shrinking charges point out a dip in charges throughout journalism. In response to a research carried out by Georgetown College, greater than one-third of all journalism jobs shall be misplaced between 2002 and 2031. The 2022 research additionally discovered journalists with bachelor’s levels earn a median of $39,700 internet three years after commencement, with grasp’s holders growing that price to $49,300. 

These low-income roles are among the many most coveted – the variety of safe workers writing and enhancing roles has plummeted, too, with newspapers retaining 63% fewer workers than they did 30 years in the past. Employees roles are vanishing, publications are shuttering, and the freelance market is turning into saturated. In journey this phenomenon was exacerbated by the halt in journey in 2020. 

Different way of life verticals suffered barely lower than journey. One author reported receiving a price of $0.62 per phrase for way of life content material in nationwide publications whereas providing as little as $0.21 per phrase for journey articles in equitable publications.

Is Journey Journalism Its Personal Reward?

Should you’re on the skin trying in, you may even see journey journalism to be a reward in and of itself. The chance to take press journeys funded by public relations representatives has led to journey reporting being perceived as a luxurious job. 

Fiona Kerr famous, “Way of life mags do not pay for his or her journey content material as a result of ‘A free vacation is a deal with,’ and it is actually turning into a race for the underside.” 

This reliance on these press journeys to maintain the business output additionally causes concern for some. Author Susanne Masters believes this mannequin “is a disservice to readers and has this to say: “It is usually unfair on small unbiased suppliers of journey providers who can’t afford at hand out freebies.” 

Realistically, few journalists can justify the expense of present process analysis with out assist, a well-recognized phenomenon in shopper journalism. It contributes to, as Kerr places it, “The picture of journey writing not being a critical’ department of journalism and being all a few freebie.” 

The style’s popularity in historical past because the pastime of wealthy older white males, roving the world and noting their observations isn’t alleviated by this persistent devaluation of story-led narrative journalism or low charges. Marginalized writers, unsupported by private funds or beneficiant companions, are more and more shut out. 

Most Journey Journalists Diversify

To make sure ends are met, most journey journalists diversify their earnings streams. After many years of accumulating information and expertise, the charges nonetheless do not rise, and life’s financial burdens construct. Sixty p.c of 176 journey journalists who responded to Speaking Journey Writing’s survey stated editorial work accounted for lower than 40% of their earnings. 

Many journey writers department into communications roles, in public relations or advertising and marketing. Francisca Kellert is one such author; she based Mundi & Co after realizing that “the writing was on the wall for journey journalism.”

Taking another tact Steph Dyson, co-founder of Speaking Journey Writing has equally divested from full-time journey journalism. “Journey running a blog is considerably extra financially profitable than journalism, because of the incomes potential of promoting, associates, and sponsorships.” Rating competitively for the Web optimization-friendly round-up and listicles which might be more and more standard in journey retailers, Steph is ready to focus her journey journalism output on narrative and long-form options concerning the individuals and locations she cares about. 

The Draw back of Diversifying

A various portfolio of earnings streams comes with some skilled ramifications. Kristin Luna took on work creating written and visible content material for Conference and Guests Bureaus and listed it on her LinkedIn profile. She reviews that her editor on the New York Instances revoked a narrative fee upon seeing Luna’s advertising and marketing sideline on-line. She was not supplied a price for her time and was informed her story was deemed unusable because of her industrial connections. 

That is just like different important restrictions on journey writers in main US publications. The New York Instances is only one publication that doesn’t work with writers who’ve reported based mostly on press journeys. This implies many journalists are excluded from alternatives, press journeys being their solely economically viable technique of reporting tales, with nationwide publications charges averaging as little as $200 per 1000 phrases. 

Fewer Area of interest Journey Writers in 2023

Lately, only a few journey writers are solely journey writers. Many publications nonetheless produce inspiring work, writers crafting compelling tales, and readers benefitting from business experience and professional storytelling. 

Nonetheless, neither writers nor publishers will be anticipated to stay unbiased, insusceptible to the mounting strain of revenue strains. Readers will proceed in search of journey tales, nevertheless it appears inevitable {that a} slimmer and wealthier subsect of writers will produce them.  

About The Writer

SJ Armstrong is a journey author and editor from London. She has written about her expertise touring in 90+ international locations for publications together with Nationwide Geographic Traveler, Telegraph Journey, and extra. 

This text was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks Journey.


Leave a Comment