Friday, 8 December 2017

One Trip, Multiple Stories: A Travel Writer's Rail Journey in West Coast USA

For the journey detailed below, I paid for my airfares and received on-the-ground assistance from local tourism authorities and hotels. Full disclosures are included with each linked article and blog post.

This is, remarkably, my 500th post at Aerohaveno. I started the blog way back in 2008, during the golden age of blogs, when social media outlets such as Facebook were new and yet to be adopted by the masses.

In that era, a blog was the prime means for an individual to put their views online, whether on a topic of expertise or simply as personal reflection.

Now we have the noise and colour of social media, and perhaps wonder if things are better.

In any case, for post number 500 I'd like to repeat what I did for post 400 - draw back the curtain on how travel writing works, at least for a freelancer like me.

In post 400 I looked at a trip I undertook around the world. This time I'll focus on the west coast of the USA.

In October 2015 I flew into Los Angeles, then caught Amtrak trains up the west coast with visits to San Francisco, Portland and Seattle along the way.

I've chosen this 2015 trip because the period elapsed since then has been long enough for almost everything I wrote about it to be published.

Below I'll outline how each activity led to a specific piece of writing - with a link to the published article or blog post.

Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

Monday 12 October 2015

Activity: Fly Qantas from Melbourne to Los Angeles.
  1. Resulting story: A review of Qantas' Premium Economy class for Fairfax Media's Traveller website in Australia.
  2. Blog Post: Catching public transport from LAX to Downtown LA.
Activity: Check out the renovated and reopened Clifton's Cafeteria in LA's Downtown.
  1. Resulting story: A short item about Clifton's in a round-up of 2015 travel finds for Fairfax Media's Traveller website and print section in Australia. 
  2. Second resulting story: An article about Downtown LA highlights for roundtheworldflights.com [story not currently online].
Tuesday 13 October to Wednesday 14 October 2015


Activity: Take the guided studio tours at Warner Brothers, Universal Studios and Paramount Pictures.
Resulting story: An article about LA movie studio tours for Lonely Planet's website.

Wednesday 14 October 2015


Activity: Visit new Australian-owned café, Paramount Coffee Project.
Resulting story: An article about Aussie-owned food and coffee outlets in LA, for Fairfax Media's Good Food website in Australia.

Thursday 15 October 2015


Activity: Explore new contemporary art gallery, The Broad, in LA's Bunker Hill.
  1. Resulting story: A short item about The Broad in a round-up of 2015 travel finds for Fairfax Media's Traveller website and print section in Australia.
  2. Blog Post: My visit to The Broad.
Activity: Visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City.
  1. Resulting story: An article listing six quirky attractions of LA, including the Museum of Jurassic Technology, for Lonely Planet's website.
  2. Second resulting story: Commissioned for an Australian media outlet, but yet to be published.
Friday 16 October 2015


Activity: Catch the Coast Starlight sleeper train north from LA to Oakland (for San Francisco); then later onward to Portland and Seattle.
  1. Resulting story: An article about the entire rail trip for the magazine Get Up & Go in Australia.
  2. Second resulting story: An article about the sleeper train experience for Fairfax Media's Traveller website and print section in Australia.
Saturday 17 October 2015


Activity: Join the eccentric Emperor Norton's Fantastic San Francisco Time Machine tour.
Resulting story: An article about the tour's highlights for Fairfax Media's Traveller website in Australia.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Blog Post: Review of the long-running musical revue Beach Blanket Babylon.

Monday 19 October 2015


Activity: Attend the North Beach Underground tour of San Francisco, focusing on the Beat Generation.
  1. Resulting story: A 'Postcard from San Francisco' article for the Spectrum (culture) section of The Age newspaper in Melbourne.
  2. Blog Post: Profile of six memorable tours of San Francisco.
Blog Post: San Francisco's retro public transport.

Thursday 22 October to Sunday 25 October 2015

 
Activity: Visit Voodoo Doughnuts, Stark's Vacuum Cleaner Museum, Powell's City of Books and other offbeat attractions in Portland, Oregon.
Resulting story: A list of 'Ten attractions keeping Portland weird' for Fairfax Media's Traveller website in Australia.

Blog Post: Memorable street art of Portland.

Saturday 24 October 2015

 
Activity: Join a food walking tour of North Mississippi Avenue, Portland.
Resulting story: An article about highlights of the tour, for Fairfax Media's Good Food website in Australia.

Blog Post: A visit to Stark's Vacuum Cleaner Museum, Portland.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Blog Post: A tour of Portland's coffee culture.

Monday 26 October 2015

 
Activity: Take a coffee walking tour of Seattle, Washington.
Resulting story: An article about the city's coffee highlights for Fairfax Media's Traveller website in Australia.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Blog Post: Visiting Seattle's Living Computer Museum.

Thursday 29 October 2015

 
Activity: Travel to Snoqualmie and North Bend, to visit locations from the TV series Twin Peaks.
  1. Resulting story: A 'Postcard from Twin Peaks' article for the Spectrum (culture) section of The Age newspaper in Melbourne.
  2. Second resulting story: An article about Twin Peaks locations for Lonely Planet's website.
  3. Blog Post: My visit to Twin Peaks locations.
Sunday 1 November 2015

Blog Post: Taking a tour of Underground Seattle.

Monday 2 November 2015

Activity: Fly from Seattle to Los Angeles via Alaska Airlines.
Resulting story: A review of Alaska Airlines' domestic Economy class for Fairfax Media's Traveller website in Australia.

Activity: Fly Qantas from Los Angeles to Melbourne.
  1. Resulting story: A review of facilities at LAX for roundtheworldflights.com [story not currently online]. 
  2. Blog Post: Review of the new Qantas International Business Lounge.
And that's that! I arrived back home on Wednesday 4 November, courtesy of the International Dateline.

Writing output, financial income

By my count, the trip produced a total of 18 paid articles for outside publications (with a 19th yet to be published and paid for), and 12 posts on this blog.

I calculate the paid articles earned a total of $8850.72 (all figures here are in Australian dollars) for both words and photos, before adding any applicable sales tax.

About another $500 should come in from the final article. And there was additional research undertaken on the trip which I may yet write about, as well as revisiting its attractions in new ways.

The blog posts don't earn any direct income, but drive traffic to Aerohaveno and thus contribute to the occasional small payments I receive from the Google Ads running on my blog.

Expenses

I had significant expenses on this journey, especially since I was paying my own airfares on this occasion.

Including airfares, I estimate my total expenses on this trip at $3028.26, which leaves a profit of $5822.46 (plus $500 from the unpublished article, and possible income from future stories derived from the same research material).

Some trips have a greater return on outlay, others less so. Quite aside from the profit, however, this west coast USA trek turned out to be one of my favourite journeys ever, and I was very glad I'd taken it.

It's not easy to make a living from travel writing; but if you can derive a published story per day from a particular trip, you're off to a decent start.

After this epic post, it's time for a break! Aerohaveno will be taking a break over the holiday season, and will be back with you in early January. Have a great New Year!