Welcome to My Full-Time RV Living LifeStyle Blog!

I suppose I should mention that this is an RV blog. The picture of me standing beside a motorhome in the banner probably tipped you off to that fact already, but you know how it is with blogs, any body can put anything in the header.

Anyways, I was born, raised, and live in Maine, I have 12 cats, and some people would call me homeless. Nope, I have a home, I just don't have what people call a standard house. My house has wheels and her name is Rosebud. My backyard stretches on for thousands and thousands of miles all the way from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean.

Once upon a time I had a "regular home" but a flood came and took it away. Me and my cats spent the next 3 years living under a 8x6 tarp and survived through 3 blizzards and Maine's coldest winter on record when the temps hit -48F. After that me and the cats moved in a Volvo. As hard as it is to live in a tent with 12 cats, it's even harder to live in a Volvo with 12 cats, and a motorhome named No Hurry was the answer. No Hurry: my home, my office, my RV.

I plan to use this blog to share my thoughts, ideas, adventures, and advice on being self-employed, living and working a full-time RV LifeStyle with an army of cats, while boondocking in the wonderful (and sometimes sub-zero) state of Maine.

I hope to write a post a day featuring random thoughts as they pop into my head, and hopefully 2 or 3 posts per week will focus on something helpful to those seeking to live in an RV full time. If you've any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions on what sort of posts you'd like to see me write, please comment and let me know.

I hope you all have as much fun reading this blog as I know I'll have writing it.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

FAQs About Travel Writing: What is the best way to become a travel writer? Where do you begin if you....

FAQs About Travel Writing: What is the best way to become a travel writer? Where do you begin if you want to become a travel writer and you don't have any writing experience or industry connections? Any suggestions? Is it best to take classes in writing or is this something that can be learned on your own? How competitive is the travel writing market? What is the difference between a travel writer, a travel blogger, and a travel journalist? which are you? Are there different types of travel writers? Which type should I start out as? How does on earn an income from travel writing? How do you earn your income as a travel writer? Will I make enough money from writing to fund my travels? Do you?

Now, I admit, I don't do much travel writing, but I do enough of it from time to time, to be sent questions asking about it. Thus why I now find myself answering your list of questions. A lot of questions here. I'll break them up and answer them in turn.

What is the difference between a travel writer, a travel blogger, and a travel journalist? which are you?

A Travel Writer = One who writes about traveling. Includes bloggers, journalists, and freelancers.

A Travel Blogger = A Travel Writer who has a blog, often a freelancer, rarely a journalist.

A Freelance Travel Writer = One who travels, whenever and where ever they chose, writes about said travels, than searches for ways to publish said writing. They have more freedom, but at a lower pay. Any one can do it, no college degrees or experience is required.

A Travel Journalist = A Travel Writer who is employed by a newspaper, magazine, or TV station and gets paid per assignment to travel when and where their employer tells them to. They go where they are told to go, when they are told to go, and write ONLY the assignments assigned to them by their employer, as they are under contract and will lose their job with the company should they try to sell travel writing to the company's competitors. They have higher pay, but forfeit freedom to get it. College degrees are generally required, often Masters degrees in English/Journalism are preferred.

Which am I?I suppose I fall somewhere between Freelance Travel Writer and Travel Blogger. Definitely NOT a Travel Journalist! But as I said, I'm not a travel writer per se, or at least I'm not your standard average travel writer, seeing how I don't write pieces about places. I'm more of what you could call a Life writer, I just write about events in my life, and travel happens to be one f those events from time to time.

What is the best way to become a travel writer? 

Okay, so I guess you could say, I'm sort of a travel writer, more of a hobbiest travel writer than a professional travel writer, at the moment, which is kind of odd considering my career: I have written 30+ books, 200+ short stories, 2,000+ articles, a few plays, a couple of comic books, and I'm almost finished work on my first cookbook. See, I'm a writer by trade and a somewhat famous writer, famous enough so I get sent loads and loads of questions asking for writing advice, and my habit of answering every one of those questions on my various blogs and websites, results in even more folks asking even more questions - including to ask questions in fields of writing I am not familiar with, but that's another story.

And than there's the fact I live in a motorhome. Which means I SHOULD in theory be a travel writer.

I guess I am more of a traveling writer rather than a travel writer! LOL! I write as I travel, but I don't necessarily write about traveling.

How exactly did I get here? I just write about everything I see going on around me. How would I recommend you start? Just start writing about everything.

That said, travel writing is something I plan to expand upon, and hope to do more of in the future. At the moment I'm working on setting up a "How To" blog for RV travel and plan to expand that into a web site. (And if you are reading this article on Houseless Living, the blog or the website, than you already know this.)

How does one earn an income from travel writing? How do you earn your income as a travel writer? 

I will tell you, that you can't make a good income writing online, with just one site. I've been building websites since 1997, but I didn't figure out how to build money-making web sites until 2005! One day it occurred to me - they are making money for hosting my sites, why can't I make the money instead? I didn't start making money online until 2007, when my first pay check was for a whopping .37c.

Today I have over 75 websites, 34 blogs, 500+ Squidoo pages, 200+ Associated Content pages, and a lot of written content across all of them, and finally in 2010 I was able to say for the first time that I am making money full time 100% online via my writing. It didn't happen over night. It took a lot of years and a lot of hard work and a lot of writing.

And when I say a lot of writing, I mean A LOT. I write no less than 750 words a day and on a high yield day I often am writing 12,000 to 15,000 words a day. Most days, on average, I write about 2,000 words a day. EVERY DAY. Seven days a week. Since 1978. That's 31 years x 365 days x 2,000 words = a minimum of 22,630,000 words, but keeping in mind I often with 12,000 words a day on weekends adds another 38,688,000 words to that total. And this is only my "work" writing, it doesn't include my personal writing on MySpace, FaceBook, Twitter, forums, etc. Did I mention I write A LOT?

Mostly I write fiction (sci-fi & horror) and how-tos for self publishers and pet owners. But I also write about lots of "niche" topics too, including travel writing aimed specifically for people who travel in New England in their motorhomes. I think if I had stuck with just one or two topics or only one or two web sites, it'd be hard to earn a good income. You have to be flexible and write about EVERYTHING that interests you, be it travel or cats or cooking or whatever.

I've found over the years that I can make more money online than I can from magazines. Keep in mind I am primarily a self publisher and am not paid by any traditional publishing methods.

Will I make enough money from writing to fund my travels? Do you?

How much money do you NEED to live on? How much money do you NEED to travel? How much money do you THINK a writer makes?

*“I don’t have the money to _________.”* (travel, write, insert whatever you want in the blank!

Yep, I hear that one. A lot. People say this to me. Okay maybe their other reasons are valid, but money? Oh pleeease!

Never let lack of money stop you from living your life. You want to travel? Travel! Don't wait for *enough* money. There is NEVER *enough* money. No matter how much money you have, you will always find reasons why you can't travel until you have more money. So forget money and just start traveling. You don't need money to travel. You have feet don't you? Well use them! It doesn't cost money to start walking, and you wouldn't be the first person to walk across the globe.

Never let lack of money stop you from living your life. You want to write? Write! Don't wait for *enough* money. There is NEVER *enough* money. No matter how much money you have, you will always find reasons why you can't write until you have more money. So forget money and just start writing. You don't need money to write. You have hands don't you? Well use them! It doesn't cost money to pick up a pen and start writing, and you wouldn't be the first person to write without an income.

Money is just an excuse. If it wasn't money, you'd find a different reason not to write now, not to travel today.

Will you make enough money from writing to fund your travels? Maybe. Maybe not. It depends on a lot of factors. Where will you travel too? How will you get there? What will you eat? What will you do? What will you buy? How will you get back home?

When people ask me, "Well how much do you make?" (Thinking, it'll be a really high figure) I tell them quite simply: $2,000

"A month?" they shriek, "That's way more than I make!"

No. A year. I make $164 a month.

"Wait, a year? That's like $5 a day. You're joking. How can you survive on that?"

No, that's $5.47 a day to be exact. And look at how I live: a motorhome, a tent, a car, no electricity, no toilet, no running water (in other words no utility bills), no rent, no mortage, I get up with the sun, sleep with the stars (thus no need for lights), I cook over a fire, I do more walking than driving, I travel in a small area (rarely leaving Maine, never leaving New England), I spend a large space of my time on the beach or hiking in the forest, the only thing I ever buy is food for me, food for my cats, and gas for the car and motorhome, the motorhome is parked most of the year, most travel is down in my car, and once I get where I'm going I park the car and walk everywhere. Uhm...please explain to me why it is I NEED more than $2,000 a year to travel?

They just stand there flabergasted and speechless. (Thank goodness! I was getting sick of listening to them whining about money.)

Now granted if I was driving more and walking less, or going overseas (thus needing air fare) or eating at resturants or buying things, yes, I'd need more money to live on, but the fact is, those things are NOT a part of my life, so I don't need more money than $5 to travel.

Staying in a small local like I do, means I've seen more of the area than any tourists or locals do. I've been in every city/town in Maine, I've seen ever cove, every beach, every mountain, etc. I've visited most of the town museums, been to all the "tourist attractions", attended tons of fairs and festivals. Sure I'm not "seeing the world", but than again, that's not what I wanted to do, I wanted to see every single inch of the State of Maine.

I think when people think they want to travel, often times they are not motivated because they are not really sure where it is they want to go or what they want to see, or they think they HAVE to go every where and see everything, either way it fizzles their motivation so they look for excuses why they can't go - like money. If it's too hard to take a trip across the ocean, why not start small and take a trip across the town? Work your way up to farther away places a little at a time. No one said you had to start out big.

Likewise no one said you had to travel 4,000 miles away to get started travel writing. Somebody, somewhere, some day is going to want to travel to your home town. Why not get started travel writing BEFORE you start traveling, by writing about your home town? Write reviews of local attractions, places to eat, plays, museums, etc. Maybe it's not travel to you, after all, you live there, but who better to write a travel guide about your town, than some one who lives there? Some one like you. Don't wait for an out of town traveler to write travel spots about your town - write them yourself, right now, today.

I believe that starting out writing about "local travel" is the best way to find out if you really want to be a travel writer. Why? Simple. For most people travel is exciting. Travel is fun. Writing is boring. Writing is dull. Travel writing is dull. Travel writing is boring. Travel can be expensive. A good paying writing gig is rarely going to pay more than $20,000 a year, and that's a writer who is wealthy, and well, do the math, because that's not even minimum wage pay. Yeah. Writer's pay sucks. Most writers have a full time job to supplement their writing career. Rare is the writer of ANY field who earns more than $5,000 a year from their writing.

Think about it.

Think long and hard about it.

Ask yourself how much writing do you do? Do you write letters to friends or do you call them on the phone? Do you write 60 page emails or do you have a hard time getting more than 2 sentences out? Can you sit down and write about what you ate at McDonald's today? Can you write a review about the local school play? If you answered "No" to any of these, than give up now. Turn back before you start. Do not try your hand at travel writing.

Now you are probally saying right now: "But I'm not going to write reviews about McDonald's or school plays, I'm going to write reviews about Paris cafes and Broadway and Mt Fiji and a boat trip up the Nile River and..."

Hold on a second! Stop and THINK about it. If you don't like writing this than you won't like writing that. Why? Because writing is NOT fun, writing is NOT exciting, writing IS dull, writing IS boring, writing has you sitting ALONE 4 or 5 hours a day.

Think about it.

Can you sit along in a room, for 4 to 5 hours a day? Can you spend 4 or 5 hours a day, doing nothing but typing words? Put a timer on, right now, set it for 4 hours. Sit down and type. Type: "I am not going to stop typing for 4 hours" Type it over and over again, for 4 hours. NOW ask yourself, do you STILL want to be a writer? ANY kind of writer? Travel writer or otherwise? Because writer's write and travel writers spend more hours writing than they do traveling.

So let's think back to local travel writing. Go out around town and do a few activities you don't normally do. Eat at a few places you don't normally eat. Shop at places tourists shop at. Pretend you are a tourist and have never seen this town before. Than go home and write about it. Write as though you were a world traveler and this was one of your destinations. Write about the things you plan to write about in France or Japan or Africa. Forget that you are doing local writing. Forget that this is your home town. Just write, write, and write some more. Pretend you are a world famous travel writer writing a travel piece for National Geographic. DO NOT start traveling and travel writing, until you have done this test first.

After spending a month or more doing local travel pieces step back and look at how you did. Did you enjoy writing these pieces or was it a drudgery? Here's the thing: if you don't like writing about local travel, local news, local sports, local weather, local museums, local restaurants, local plays, local beaches, local parks, and local people, what makes you think you are going to like writing about distant travel, distant news, distant sports, distant, weather, distant museums, distant restaurants, distant plays, distant beaches , distant parks, and distant people?

Do you see my point?

If you don't like writing local travel, you are not going to like writing "true" travel. Why? Because writing is writing. No matter where you live, where you go, what you do, or what you see, the writing part is always going to remain the same. It doesn't matter what or where you are writing - writing is always writing and if you don't like writing at home, what makes you think you will like writing some place else?

Many travel writers fail because they dream of traveling, but they do not dream of writing. If you want to travel, fine. Travel. If you want to get paid to travel, find a job doing something you enjoy doing. If you enjoy travel, but you don't enjoy writing, you won't enjoy travel writing and you'll soon hate traveling as well.

So where does that bring us? Well, before you can become a travel writer, you must first be a writer. You must love the physical act of writing with every fiber of your soul. (You must also love to travel!) If you love to write, but you hate to travel, you'll never make it as a travel writer. Find something else to write about. If you love to travel, but you hate to write, you''ll never make it as a travel writer. Find another job you can do on the road. If you love to write and you love to travel, than yay you, you'll make a great travel writer!

Don't be a travel writer because you love to travel - that's the worst thing you could do. Be a travel writer because you love to write. Anyone can travel, but not every one loves to write.

Simple fact of the matter is this: to make money as a travel writer, you must like writing and you must write A LOT. Keep in mind I have over 2,000 articles online and my income is lower per year than the average person's is per month. This will put into clear perspective the kind of income you can expect. Keep in mind also that only a small fraction of my income comes from writing: 75% of my income comes from sales of my paintings. Puts the lens on a writer's income clearly in focus.

Did you know that Harlequin Books is one of the top book publishers in the world, selling over 5 million books each month, and that their authors have to write 5 books per year just to earn a minimum wage income of $20,000? Of all the writing careers in the world - fiction and non-fiction, Harlequin is considered the crown of a writer's career, because their writers are among the highest paid writers in any genre in the world. $20,000 is considered poverty level to most Americans, and yet to writers this is as good as it gets. Now consider the fact that travel writers are known far and wide for being among the lowest paid writers. If Harlequins tiny $20,000 is considered high, you can imagine how low the low pay writers pay can go.

The average writer CAN NOT live on his writing income alone. The average writer earns less than $5,000 per book written. That's not $5,000 per year, that's $5,000 over his entire life time, thus why many authors try to write no less than one book per month. The only exception to this rule is self help books, self-help books (esp get-rich-quick books) being the only genre that outsells Harlequin.

Now let's get back to your question...

Will I make enough money from writing to fund my travels? Do you?

How much money do you NEED to live on? How much money do you NEED to travel? How much money do you THINK a writer makes? You saw the figures I just listed. If you start writing in 2011, you can safely assume you will not see a penny of pay before 2013 if you self publish and 2015 if you go with a publisher.

If you travel for a week, than come home and spend a week writing articles, you can than plan on 6 months wait between the time you submit to a publisher until you get a rejection. Than it's time to resubmit, wait another 6 month, be rejected again, and so one. Plan on each article being rejected no less than 10 times. Some writers say to plan on 50 rejections per article, before it gets accepted. I wouldn't wait that long before I self published it myself. Once accepted, wait another 3 to 4 months to get paid, and another 6 months after that before it goes to print, IF it goes to print.

By now 3 years have passed since your week long trip and you have just FINALLY received a check for $25. (Standard fee for a travel article from an unknown writer).

Now ask yourself did the $25 pay for your week trip, the food you ate, the places you visited, the things you bought? Will $25 pay for your next trip?

Remember that for every article that gets accepted, several thousands of other articles were rejected. competition is fierce in the travel writing field.

Freelance travel writers get the least pay and have the least job satisfaction.

The most successful travel writers (money wise) are Travel Journalists:  staff writers for magazines like National Geographic. They work on assignment, with a full crew and camera team, all expenses paid and get $1,000 per article, an article they wrote in their cubicle in their 131st floor office, back home...not "in the field". They do not pick their destinations, and while they get to travel, it's business travel with no free time for seeing sights and doing things most travel writers dreamed of doing while traveling.

The most successful writers (happiness wise) are the Travel Bloggers. They go where they want, when they want, write about anything that pops into their heads, and tend to be free spirited globe trotters, enjoying long stays at each place they visit. They also rely almost 100% on Google ads for their pay, and depending on blog traffic this could be anywhere from a few pennies per year to $10,000 a day, though for most bloggers $100 a month is considered average..

So what you need to do, is figure out will this kind of job support the lifestyle you wish to maintain? How much money do you NEED to live on? How much money do you NEED to travel? How much money do you THINK you can realistically make as a writer? To help you figure that out, let's take a look at my expenses:

Living the way I do, it is not uncommon for people to ask me:  "Can 2 people live on $1,500 a month and still travel?"

I am debt free. I pay cash for everything, no credit cards. I live in a motorhome, no rent or mortgage. I boondock, no electricity, no running water, no sewer, no utility bills. Me and my 12 cats are surviving on $2,000 PER YEAR. (approximately $150 per month). Surviving is the key word. Surviving is not thriving. Surviving is staying alive until something better comes along. I have Autism and thus am NOT ELIGIBLE for disability OR health/medical insurance, nor am I allowed to work (business will not hire Autistic folks like me...400+ job applications/interviews in 5 years and I'm still unemployed. *frustrating*). For the moment my income comes from sales of my art on Zazzle.com, and it's enough to keep us going, but not quite enough to keep us going well.

Anyways I figured it up and for myself and the 12 cats to live comfortably, I need an income of $500 per month ($6,000 PER YEAR). If it were just me and not the cats, $200 a month ($2,400 PER YEAR) would be MORE than plenty. (Cat food is astronomically high priced. You don't notice it with 1 cat, but what you would buy for 1 cat per year, I buy for 12 cats, meaning I pay the average cat owners YEARLY cat food bill EVERY MONTH!)

These figures are taking into consideration that I own my own land and that I'm a fulltimer, because my house left in a flood, not because I had any plans to travel. I am pretty much parked for a lifetime, so not much wear and tear on the RV. So these figures also neglect to include such things as campground rent or gas in the motorhome, as a tank of gas pretty much lasts me the whole year. Please keep these things in mind when looking at the fact I am living on such a very low income - my expenses are very low, basically with me only buying my food and cat food, and paying property taxes and registering the vehicles, and pretty much nothing else.

So, when they ask can 2 people live on $1,500 a month, well, this 1 person lives on that a year, so, yeah, you can but ONLY if your expenses are low. I once talked to a guy who lives in a van and survives on $500 a year. I don't know how he does it, but he does. I think it's all about personal choices, budget management, and lifestyle. Every person is different. I look at that guy and think there is no way I could live on $500 a year, but than I know a lot of people look at me and say they could not survive on my $2,000 a year. It's all about how you live your life, what you spend money on, and how much you "NEED" to get by. With your $1,500 a month (a whopping, gigantically huge amount an almost unimaginably high figure of $18,000 a year) I could live like a king. But for most people that is a low income, so you really have to look at what you spend money on, what you will be spending money on after RVing, and what sort of lifestyle you plan to maintain. Everyone has different needs and different ideas about what they need to survive, so everyone is going to have a different answer.

My advice: write a list of everything you spend money on RIGHT NOW.

Make a second list of everything you THINK you will spend money on while in the RV.

Compare those lists. For each item, ask yourself: Do I REALLY NEED this or do I simply WANT this?

Take all the items you NEED and put them on a third list. (Food, water, gas, medications, toothpaste, deodorant, soap, and almost NOTHING else, will be on this list.)

Take all the items you WANT and put them on a fourth list. (Hair salon, makeup, movies, snacks, hobbies, recreation, etc, will be on this list)

Make a list of POSSIBLE EMERGENCY expenses: accidents, medical, auto, break downs, blow outs, etc.

Tally your totals from lists #3, 4, & 5. Add all three totals together. Do they total $1,500 or less? If so, than you'll be all set on $1,500 per month. If they total more than $1,500, head to the WANT list and start crossing off non-essentials, until your total is under $1,500. If you cross off everything on the want list, you CAN move on to the EMERGENCY list and start crossing things off, but this is not recommended.

If you have to start crossing things off the NEED list, than something is VERY wrong...there should be nothing but the barest essentials on this list: food, water, gas, medication.  If there is more than this on your need list, you need to rethink the RV lifestyle. Why? because it's a minimalist lifestyle. Even with the highest income and the biggest rig, you still are living in a very small space and can not afford to keep buying things, otherwise you'll have no room to live in your RV!

But anyways, if you plan ahead and budget your spending, yeah, I think you 2 should do fine with $1,500 per month, esp if you plan to do a lot of boondocking. Boondocking cuts costs down A LOT!

I am a full time boondocker. I live 100% without hookups, full time. No electricity. No running water. No toilet. I have yet to park in a campground (partly due to money constraints and partly due to I have 12 cats and few campgrounds allow more than 4 pets, nearly all have "quantity limits". Even ones without limits, balk at 12 cats. My parking spaces thus far have consisted of: land I own, land owned by relatives, rest stops, and WalMart. For the most part  stay on the land where my house once sat, and don't move the RV at all. My toad is a 1992 Volvo 240GL, as a general rule, when I travel I leave the RV parked and travel in the Volvo.

Having no electric hookups, (not even solar) I either eat no-cook foods (sandwiches, fresh fruit/veggies, etc), eat out (SubWay, pizza shops, cafes, etc), cook outside over a fire pit, or I drive the Volvo to a relative's house and cook dinner there. I get my internet from libraries or take my computer to a relative's house. I have no need for lights as I get up with the sunrise and go to bed with the sunset. What rare light I need a flashlight is plenty for.

Having no water hook-ups, I bath in the ocean, fully clothes, without soap/etc, using the mineral rich sand to wash my skin and hair. I live on the beach, obviously. I drink bottled water now, after a misshapes (major medical crisis) caused by drinking natural brook water.

Having no sewer hook ups, I know where every public toilet is and am walking distance to a dozen or so. And use trees and "cat holes" at night when businesses are closed.

Neighbors? There is a house to either side of me, and a 400 lot RV resort behind me, a 725 lot campground on the other side of one neighbor and a 200 lot "hideaway" park on the other side of my other neighbor. So yeah, I've got a lot of neighbors, most of them speaking only French and me speaking only English (I'm just south of Quebec). On my list if things to do: learn French so I can talk to the neighbors. The local WalMart has 10, 20, 30 or more RVs out there every night. So yeah, it depends on where you are parked. You could have tons of neighbors, a few neighbors, or really be way out in the boonies with no neighbors at all!

Most of the year, I live outside in a tent. On clear warm nights, I don't even use that, sleeping instead in a sleeping bag under the stars. I'm a person very much at one with nature and being indoors doesn't sit well with me. I basically am only in the RV if it's raining or if there is snow on the ground.

Now granted I am a bit more extreme than the average person. I'm fully content to life a fully "off the grid" living off the land lifestyle, but most people are not as in touch with their feral wild child as I am, so most people are going to want more "luxuries" than I afford myself. It's all about choice. You can boondock a little or boondock a lot. You can boondock full time or part time, with no hookups at all, or with semi-hookups such as solar panels and composting toilets. It just depends on how much you want, how much you need, and how comfortable you want to be.

A thing to keep in mind: the more wild and less comforts there are in you boondocking - the harder you are going to have to work physical labor to maintain your boondocking. I haul water in 5-gallon pails from a near by brook (on my land). I have a garden and fruit trees on my land, but I till the 1/8 acre of soil with a shovel, not a garden tiller! I chop wood and haul kindling (no gas or charcoal grilling for mee!) I like the hard labor of working and living off the land. But most people would rather not have to live the way I do. The more comforts you have, the less hard manual labor you are going to have to do. How much boondocking is too much boondocking? Only you can answer that, as every person has different ideas about what they want and how they choose to boondock. There's a BIG difference between boondocking on your own land with no hook-ups at all, to boondocking at WalMart with self contained "hook ups", to boondocking at a small campground with "semi-hook-ups" to boondocking miles from nowhere in the middle of a dense forest all by yourself, just you and the bears. You just have to look at all your options and decide what is right for you.

What is the best way to become a travel writer? Where do you begin if you want to become a travel writer and you don't have any writing experience or industry connections? Any suggestions? 

Start local. Write about local travel. Write for tourists who visit your town. Go on camping trips, backpacking hikes, cultural events, etc. Write about everything you do and every place you go. Get as much practice writing about "local travel" as you can, that way you'll have your style and voice well hones out before you set off to your "real" travels.

I had no experience in the writing industry. I just knew I loved writing, so I wrote about every thing. I had written my first book, long before I was a teenager, and has started writing non-fiction advice columns in my preteens. By the time I was 16 I had already self published 4 books, several novellas, and dozens or how-to articles. By the time I was 20 I had written more books than my age, was raking up stacks of articles, hundreds of them. What did I write about? Everything. Absolutely everything. I wrote about cars I liked, jobs I hoped to have when I grew up, flowers in my garden, my cats, my dogs, family vacations, I just wrote and wrote and wrote. I was addicted to writing. Today at 36 years old I have written 30+ books, a few novellas, 200+ short stories, 2,000+ articles, a couple dozen plays, a few comic books, 75+ websites, 34 blogs, 500+ Squidoo lenses, 200+ AC pages, have won 7 of 13 writing contests, head the local writer's group, I a publishing house, and am working on my first cookbook.

What is required to get started? Only one thing: the desire to write. The will to write. The motivation to write. The love of the act of writing.

 Is it best to take classes in writing or is this something that can be learned on your own? 

I did not go to school. When people hear that they think I mean college. No. I have Autism. I DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL. *period* I went to Kindergarten - Grade 3. I was pulled out of school at age 8.

I did not go to school, high school, or college. I was 35 years old the first time I heard of GEDs. I took the test and passed and broke a national scoring record, 6 months later. They made me take several college entrance exams and on each of those I passed, breaking state and national records each time. They made me take the MENSA test, I passed that too, and am now told I have one of the highest IQs in recorded history at 217, far above and beyond Einstein's 160.  When they finally determined I had not cheated on the GED and asked how some one with Autism and with ZERO education broke the national test scores? My answer floored them. When I was taken out of school I got a library card. I proceeded to read all 12,000 books in that library, and when that library ran out of books I got another library card. Today 30 years, 5 libraries and many hundreds of thousands of books later I am working my way through the state library's 2 million book collection. Turns out that because I DID NOT go to school, I got the best education of all. They also tell me someone without Autism would not have been so driven as to read every book in 5 libraries. ReallY? What do I know of what "normal" people would do, after all, I'm just the retarded kid with Autism who was too stupid to attend school, remember? Of course Einstein and Bill Gates both had/have Autism too, schooling was not a thing in their past either.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking you need college to succeed. If you want to succeed, you need a brain that can think for itself, not a piece of paper hanging on your wall. Sure college will help, I'm not saying don't go, (I would like to go myself one day), I'm just saying...go to learn something useful, don't go just because someone else did.

I am totally self taught, never taken any classes. I am highly self motivated, though, so don't let that stop you from taking classes yourself. It can't hurt to learn everything you can.

How competitive is the travel writing market?

Very, if you are talking about magazines and newspapers. It's very hard to break into either. Nearly as hard to get a book proposal accepted. Your best bet is to start out with a travel blog and a travel web site and build a "name brand" reputation for yourself.

Any suggestions?

Find your muse. If writing is your muse, than run with it. If travel is your muse, fly with it. If you want to write about travel, write about travel. Don't let any one or any thing stop you. Do it because you want to do it. Write about the things you enjoy. If travel is the thing you enjoy, than write about it.

Have you ever read the book "The 4-Hour Workweek"? If not, check it out at the library and read it. Very inspiring book. It's not a travel writing book or a book on travel or a book on writing. Basically what the story is - this guy, decided he wanted to travel and see the world but he was stuck in the same old same old life, but he had an idea for a product, ran with his idea, got his product on an infomercial and was a millionaire a month later, and now works 4 hours a week getting paid $20,000 a month, and now travels all over the world, while living off what he terms an "automated income". The book goes into a lot of detail (step by step stuff) about how he did what he did, how he downsized clutter and needless activities and replaced them with stuff that brought income while he was away from home. There's a lot of great info to give you ideas to get started. Now granted not everyone who follows his advice is going to become and over night millionaire, he had a product that got gobbled up by infomercial buyings and that did make everything else a lot easier for him, but still you can take the advice he gives and the "exercises" he outlines and apply them to any type of home or online business and still see results from it. I know this, because I tried it. I figured, well if he could do this, than I can do it too. I didn't use a lot of the steps he wrote about, in fact, I didn't use much of his advice at all! LOL! But I was so inspired by the story of his success that I took his "muse theory" and ran with my own muse.

He says everyone has a muse and everyone can become successful if they find their muse and find a way to make money at it. This is the point that really inspired me. Most "Money Making" books I've read, they tell you "I did it THIS way and so you have to do it EXACTLY the same way I did. Do the same steps, sell the same products, invest in the same stocks, whatever." This guy though, he wasn't saying "Create a product and sell it on TV, because that's what I did". No, he was saying, "Look inside yourself, find your muse, find your passion, find the thing you are going to do in your life wither it makes money or not, and than find a way to make that passion bring in an income". Well this just plain made sense to me, so I tried it.

Now I've wanted to be self employed in the past, you can figure that, or otherwise why would I have been reading this book right? Well, here's the thing: Just getting minimum wage job is hard for me, and every time I mentioned starting a business people would laugh at me. See, I did not go to school. When people hear that they think I mean college. No. I have Autism. I DID NOT GO TO SCHOOL. *period* I went to Kindergarten - Grade 3. I was pulled out of school at age 8. I have Autism = people don't WANT to hire me. Jobs get passed on to some one who is "not retarded". I never went to school = people don't hire me thinking "she's too stupid for school, than she's too stupid for work."

I did not go to school, high school, or college. I was 35 years old the first time I heard of GEDs. I took the test and passed and broke a national scoring record, 6 months later. They made me take several college entrance exams and on each of those I passed, breaking state and national records each time. They made me take the MENSA test, I passed that too, and am now told I have one of the highest IQs in recorded history at 217, far above and beyond Einstein's 160.  When they finally determined I had not cheated on the GED and asked how some one with Autism and with ZERO education broke the national test scores? My answer floored them. When I was taken out of school I got a library card. I proceeded to read all 12,000 books in that library, and when that library ran out of books I got another library card. Today 30 years, 5 libraries and many hundreds of thousands of books later I am working my way through the state library's 2 million book collection. Turns out that because I DID NOT go to school, I got the best education of all. They also tell me someone without Autism would not have been so driven as to read every book in 5 libraries. Really? What do I know of what "normal" people would do, after all, I'm just the retarded kid with Autism who was too stupid to attend school, remember? Of course Einstein and Bill Gates both had/have Autism too, schooling was not a thing in their past either.

But anyways, that's how I found this 4HWW book. I just sat down and read it. Took about 4 hours cover to cover. I didn't get it out to read for the sake of implementing it. I had just reached that point of the Dewy Decimal System at the McAurther Library. This was a year after the flood. I had lost my home, my job, everything I owned. I read all of the "home business" books before and after 4HWW in the DDS and this one stood out to me as different. It was one of the few written by someone who was ACTUALLY LIVING what he was preaching. I decided to read it a few more times, really take in what it said. It struck a cord with me and I just kept rereading it, and started doing what it said to do.

I didn't do the activities and such, in the 4HWW , because it was focusing on making money and making money has never been something I strive for. I find the topic of money and the pursuit of money quiet boring actually. Probably because I never learned math. Money requires math and counting and I can count enough to get by, I can do a little bit of addition and some subtraction, but the rest is lost on me. I find numbers incredibly confusing and pointless and money just plain annoying. It's only paper. It means nothing to me. (I did not pass the math part of the GED, or the college tests, or the MENSA tests, they made me take, btw. Everything else I had a perfect score on.) So for me looking at the 4HWW is vastly different than, well, I guess every one else on this forum, because every one else seems to be driven to use the 4HWW to get more money and me I was driven to use it as a way to change my lifestyle, from one of confining work hours to the freedom to not have to work at all.

One of the points he made in the book, was getting rid of "stuff" and how the less stuff you have the more productive you become. I used to have a lot of stuff. A LOT. Autism and OCD = collector of everything, massive hoarder. The flood cured that for me, it just took everything house and all. Today I live in a motorhome - less than 150 square feet of living space - no room for "stuff" = liberation & elimination at it's fullest. I will say that "stuff" and "clutter" was hampering my productivity. I can look back and see that now. I'm am far more productive today and I own next to nothing, than I was before the flood, when I owned some of everything. I don't record my productivity, I don't need to, it's painfully obvious, the difference between my sluggish unproductive past self and my very efficient productive self of today. Just get rid of everything. Don't even think about it. Toss it all. You'll see a vast improvement in every area of your life - including income.

In 2006 I lost everything to a flood, including to lose my job. I became instantly and unexpectedly homeless and jobless. I lived for a while in a tent, than a car, than a motorhome. My lifestyle was changed dramatically from an average well off normal house dwelling girl, to a "homeless bum" barely able to find enough food to stay alive.

I found the 4HWW in 2007. I do not say it is the reason I got out of homelessness and got my own business started, but it certainly helped to give me ideas on how to get started. It was one of only many books I had read at that time, on building your own income, but it did stand out from the rest and it was the one I have referenced back to many times in the past 5 years.

Now in 2011, I am back "on my feet", no longer homeless, and while I'm not rich and my income is still much lower than it was before the flood, I am making enough to take care of myself and my family and i am working for myself "full time", with my own online business. And, I have seen a steady increase of income each month for the past 3 years. granted it's only a small increase, but still, it's a steady increase and has no signs of going down.

The biggest bonus of all: I'm only working 8 hours a week and have plenty of free time for family, hobbies, and activities; and if I need more income, it's a simple matter of increasing my work hours for a few weeks. Plus I did this all myself without any help from anyone, no loans, no start up costs, nothing. I just used what I already had; pen, paper, canvas, paint, brushes, and the deep rooted love of writing sci-fi and painting pictures of my cats.

Before the flood painting and sewing and cooking and writing sci-fi were things I did "for fun", things I did in my spare time, things I did after school/work, things I did because I was just driven to do them and got great pleasure out of doing them.

Today? I write articles for a living. I write short stories for a living. I write books for a living. I sew dolls for a living. I paint for a living. Soon, I'll be finished writing my first cook book, and in the summer of 2012 I'll be starting the filming of my "YouTube Cooking Show". I live in an RV and travel where ever I want, whenever I want. Why? Because I finally realized what my muse was: writing, painting, cooking, and sewing; and I took my muse and turned it into an income. It was a long hard road. It didn't happen over night. It took 3 years before I saw a steady income. It took 5 years before I could say I can live off my online writing/painting/sewing/cooking income. I'm not wealthy YET, but my income has increased at a steady rate for 3 years now and being wealthy is certainly the direction this path is taking so long as I stick with it.

I worked retail before the flood: cashier, sales assistant, sales representative, fitting room attendant, etc. It was okay work. I liked what I did. It made okay money. But it stifled my freedom, it kept me tied down to one place all the time, and it took away 38 hours a week that I would rather have spent writing and painting.

For me the 4HWW is more about gaining FREEDOM to do things you enjoy, rather than gaining lots of money. Most folks see it as a way to makes lots and lots of money, but I see it as a way to make lots and lots of free time to do things I'd rather do. So when I started putting the 4HWW into action, I did not focus on money and wealth, I focused on freedom and more hours a week doing things I enjoyed. My approach and goal and outlook was different and I think that's why I succeeded when so many others have failed at the 4HWW system.

My income is 100% online. My top payer is Zazzle.com, and my #2 payer is Squidoo.com. Other places I get a (very) small income from include Lulu.com, Spoonflower.com, Etsy, Amazon.com, Associated Content, Keen.com, Commision Junction, and RedGage.

If you don't know those websites, than I'll explain what it is I do...

I am a writer (non-fiction), author (fiction), painter (acrylic & pastel), photographer (nature & flowers), dollmaker, quilter, and online psychic.

I write articles for places such as Squidoo and AC and they pay me for that. Since 2007 I have written over 2,000 articles some I got paid for up front, but most all of them are now an "automated income" as I get paid by how many times people read/click on those articles. Once I have written the article and submitted it, there is no more work to do and one article can generate a steady income for the rest of my life...granted each article only generates pennies a day, but pennies a day, for lots of articles does add up, and if you keep writing a few articles a week, it can add up to a lot over time. Right now my 2,000+ articles is bringing in $30 to $200 per month, depending on traffic and clicks.

I self publish books via Lulu and Amazon and get paid for that. (I planning to expand to include ebooks for Kindel this fall). So far I have written (and illustrated) 30+ books/novels, 200+ short stories, about 2 dozen plays, a couple of cookbooks, and a few comic books. Again this is an automated income, because as long as the books are in print I get paid for sales, and being self published, I get to decide how long they stay in print. This brings in the lowest income for me (the reason being I write sci-fi erotica, which has only a small readership; if I wrote a more popular genre I would have more sales), but I make on average .99c per ebook up to $7.50 per hardcover book sold.

I sell prints, postage stamps, notecards, and t-shirts of my art & photography for a 48% commision on Zazzle and a 10% commision on CafePress. I do acrylic/watercolor/pastel paintings of birds and cats and photography of flowers and nature. This is my largest source of income bringing in $75 to $600 per month.

I sell quilting fabric I designed for the fabric manufacturer Spoonflower. I make a commission on sale of fabric I designed for them, but it is only a few hundred dollars a year, so this is a very low income generator at the moment, but I've only done it less than 2 years and their company is new. I know the guy who owns the company, thus how I got started with them as a beta tester.

I sell dolls and quilts and other items I sew on Etsy. (I plan to expand to include canvas paintings this fall.) This is my third highest income generator, but it is the one which requires the most work and the longest hours. It can take several days to hand sew a doll or a quilt and the costs of materials is often higher than the cost people are willing to pay for the end product. This is something I do because I like sewing and is not something I recommend as a way to bring in a "good income".

I do psychic card readings for people off my "Psychic Hotline" account with Keen. I'm only doing this a few hours per month, however I know a few people who do his several hours a day, several days a week and are making $200 - $700 a week doing nothing else, so I could easily triple my monthly income if I increased the hours I was available to answer calls. If you have a talent for reading tarot cards this actually is a very good way to make a lot of money fast - but there is stiff competition in this field and you got to be really, really, really good at it otherwise you'll get crushed by the other psychics. This is a hard business to get going in if you are not very well versed in card reading.

CJ, Google Ads, and RedGage are affilate linkshareing pay-per-click companies that pay me a commision for placing their adds/links on my blog. So far this brings in under $200 per year, but I'm not doing any marketing or promotion of my blog. I just write posts a few times a week and leave it at that. Granted my blog was started in 2003 and has over 5,500 posts on it today, and does have hundreds of subscribers, has had over 183,000 unique hits since 2007, gets over 1,000 hits a day, and is often reviews by other blogs who often attribute me as their "inspiration". (If you Google me you'll find out that I am a little bit, somewhat, very famous and have thousands of fans. One of the books I wrote did get rather popular a few years back. So do take this into consideration before you look to blogging as a source of income.). I could probably turn my blog into a huge income source if I took the time to market and promote it.

How much I earn each month depends on varying factors (such as if and how many new articles I submit, how many hours my "Psychic Hotline" is "online", etc.)  I can easily increase my income by writing more articles, staying online longer hours, or listing more items on Etsy, but at the moment, I don't really have the need to, as my income - though low - is plenty for my current expenses.

I have a plan to start selling my craft items and paintings from a booth at fairs, I plan to start that in 2013.

I also plan to start a mini "Dungeon Master's booth" to set up at RV Parks, as part of being an activities host (which I also plan to start doing in 2013), seeing how I'm a Dungeon Master and have a massive collection of Rpg and board games and casino games, which I could easily convert into a traveling gaming booth for campers. (And added note here, my expenses are low because I live in an RV fulltime, I do not live in a house). Though I'm not sure that I'd be doing this for money...no idea how to turn such a thing into a money making venture. LOL!

But there you have it. I took my muse and ran with it and have been successful. I'm not wealthy or anything, but I am working very barest minimum hours (rarely more than 8 hours a week) and earning enough income to be considered sort of well off. (I know people see my income as low - but I have what I need.) If I made more effort and worked more hours, I could easily increase my income, but for the moment I have no real need to do so, my needs and expenses are met and that was, after all my goal.

I am living in an RV fulltime, I set my own hours, I work for myself, I do the things I love doing, I found ways to get paid to do things I would be doing anyways (I'm going to write, paint, and sew wither I get paid to do it or not, so I just found a way to get paid for doing what I love to do.), I get to travel when I want to where ever I want. Me? I'm a beach bum. I love the beach. I grew up on a beach. I still live on a beach. With an RV and can drive from beach to beach to beach and live on any beach I want to whenever I want to. I can chase hurricanes and blizzards all over the place. Plant me on a cold North Atlantic beach, tell me there's a hurricane or blizzard heading straight for me, and I'm happy. I love extreme weather camping. I love digging my tent out from under 9 feet of snow. I love standing in the surf with 100MPH winds lashing all around me. I love writing sci-fi. I love painting pictures of birds and cats. I love living in an RV. I love sewing dolls. I love sewing quilts. I love having 12 cats. I love collecting tarot cards and reading them for people. I love writing about events in my life, things I do, and places I go. I love that I can do these things and get paid to do them. I love my life. Do I need to be wealthy? No. Why? Because I've reached contentment and found a lifestyle that I love living. I may not have reached wealth, but I did reach personal fullfillment and success and to me, that's worth more than all the money in the world. My life may seem wild and hectic and not appeal to other folks, and that's fine, my lifestyle is not for everyone, but for me, it is perfect.

So, my advice to you, is find is YOUR muse. Take it. Grab it. Go with it. Explore it. Feast on it. Run with it. Don't ask questions. Don't second guess yourself. Think about what you like doing and find a way to get paid to do it. Where there is a will there is a way. Learn all you can about your muse, than find a way to make money with it. You can do it. You will succeed, because it is the thing you WANT to do.

Basically what it all boils down to is YOU. Do what YOU want to do, when YOU want to do it, how YOU want it done. I know my advice is unconventional and probably not what you was looking for, but I am a big believer in self sufficiency and ingenuity and looking inside of yourself and finding your own unique way of getting things done. I'm not a follow the leader type person. I don't follow instructions well, nor to give instructions to others well. What do, do well, is write the rules of my life and follow them in my own way.


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This post was written by Wendy C Allen aka EelKat, is copyrighted by The Twighlight Manor Press and was posted on Houseless Living @ http://houselessliving.blogspot.com and reposted at EK's Star Log @ http://eelkat.wordpress.com and parts of it may also be seen on http://www.squidoo.com/EelKat and http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com  If you are reading this from a different location than those listed above, please contact me Wendy C. Allen aka EelKat @ http://laughinggnomehollow.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=viewprofile and let me know where it is you found this post. Plagiarism is illegal and I DO actively pursue offenders. Unless copying a Blog Meme, you do not have permission to copy anything appearing on this blog, including words, art, or photos. This will be your only warning. Thank you and have a glorious day! ~ EelKat


1 comment:

  1. Write from experience, and it can automatically become your biggest asset in the field of blogging. The richness of your story comes from two things: your knack for writing (or the love of it, as they call it) and the daily routine of your life (colorful or menial as it may be). A travel diary keeps readers hooked if they can relate or connect with the writer, and from that, you can expound wholesome conversations!

    Tia Oshields