How to become a freelance outdoor writer

Freelance outdoor writing offers plenty of reward for those who love the outdoor lifestyle. Paid opportunities to travel, explore and spend time outside are wonderful when they come along but, compared to other areas of freelance writing, this is a competitive industry.

Campaigns such as Sport England’s This Girl Can and Ordnance Survey’s Get Outside are starting to work and the numbers of people spending time in the natural environment are increasing. This has led to an growth in requirements for outdoor writing but breaking into the industry still takes time and persistence. We have five top tips on how to become a freelance outdoor writer.

1. Get outside yourself

This sounds obvious but you might be surprised by the number of outdoor articles that are written by people who have spent relatively little time outside. After a great pitch, the first thing outdoor editors look for is authenticity. You don’t have to be a winter wild camper or a mountain marathon runner to demonstrate your outdoor enthusiasm but it will help if your social media channels and portfolio can show a consistent passion for the outdoor environment.

2. Write an outdoor blog

Not only does an outdoor blog show your enthusiasm for life outside, it is also an opportunity to showcase your writing. Use your blog to experiment with different styles of writing and your blog metrics to hone your skills. We wouldn’t advise using social media as a blog substitute, for one simple reason, the future of your blog is under your control, the future of your Instagram account is not. When it comes to blog writing, our best advice is to write regularly and write well.

3.  Support your writing with social media

Whilst we wouldn’t advocate social media as writing tools, they do offer great opportunities for leading readers (and potential editors) to your writing portfolio. Catch people’s attention with clever images, creative videos and key words, and you will have the perfect opportunity to direct them to where you really want them to be. Not only that, social media is also a great way to put your name in front of targeted publications.

4. Decide for whom you would like to write

Nobody likes homework but the research you put in at the start of your outdoor writing career will not be wasted. Read as many websites, guide books, outdoor magazines etc as you can and decide which are a good match for your outdoor and writing styles. It is far easier to write for a publication you admire than one you don’t, and you will save a lot of time pitching articles if you understand exactly what the publication is after.

5. Pitch articles carefully

As a budding outdoor writer, one of the first things you need to accept is the concept of writing an article that might never be published. Pitch articles or synopses are written and sent to editors in order to demonstrate your writing skills. The best way to view pitch articles is as writing exercises. Before you start, read the publication’s pitch guidelines, familiarise yourself with their style and pick a topic to fit in with but not repeat their existing content.

Freelance outdoor writing sucess

When it comes to developing a successful career as a freelance writer, there are three keywords that should become your mantra. You will need all of them to see you through.

  • Authenticity
  • Persistence
  • Patience

The great news about freelance outdoor writing is that it can work well alongside other work commitments. Get yourself outside, find a hook for your next pitch or blog post, get writing… and don’t stop. Trust us, this career is worth the hard work!

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