What I Got Paid for My Writing

By Max Anderson

I got paid $1200 and $500.

There. I told you. Who paid it? Not telling. But I will say the $1200 payment was for a story published in a highly regarded overseas magazine.

And that sounds a lot, right? Well yes and no.

For one thing the payment was for 2400 words, which, as any maths genius will tell you equates to 50 cents a word. It took me over a week to craft those words, plus ten days to gather material. Those ten days comprised seven days of travel, two days of flying and one day of assuaging my grumpy wife who had to look after the kids while I was away.

‘Free travel?! ‘ I hear you chorus.

Indeed so. Flights, hotels, meals, transit, entrance fees, you name it. Not a cracker came out of my pocket. But it was ten days when I couldn’t actually do anything else except what was minutely timetabled in my itinerary.

Of course, I write while I’m travelling, in fact I penned over 6000 words on that trip alone – ideas, thoughts, observations and strategies for assuaging my grumpy wife when I got home. But compiling that travel story I’d been commissioned to write – like any story I’m asked to write — required me to sit in my office and apply myself very carefully indeed.

So! Fifteen days total, or three working weeks. That’s $400 a week. Working at Coles will earn you considerably more.

Which brings me to the $500 payment, which doesn’t sound much at all. Yet I’d take it every day of the week and twice on Sundays.

Why? Because it was for 500 words which required no travel at all. All I had to invest was an idea and some canny word play on what it means to be someplace else. The thing is, travel writing is probably the gig more sought after that any other. But it really is just writing – which is as rewarding, as lonely, as infuriating, as elusive, as subjective and as downright wonderful as any other form of writing.

And let me tell that you after a year of travel writing, I need a holiday just as much as the next person.

If you want to know how to earn $1200 or $500 for a travel piece get along to Max’s Road Map to Successful Travel Writing workshop.


Max Anderson is an award winning travel writer who has worked out of London, Sydney and Adelaide. He works as a freelance travel writer for The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, National Geographic Traveller (UK), Gourmet Traveller and Luxury Travel among others. He was Deputy Travel Editor of the Sunday Times newspaper (UK) for three years before taking a year’s sabbatical to write Digger, his book on adventures in the WA Goldfields.


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