Welcome to another edition of the “Work and Travel Abroad“ Series! In this series, we feature stories from those who have managed to find ways to earn money while traveling by working jobs that don’t resemble a typical 9-5 routine. They share their experiences, give their advice, hopefully inspiring many of you to believe that paying your bills and saving for the future while traveling the world IS POSSIBLE!
Today, we are excited to share our Q&A with Marissa Tejada from Travel Greece, Travel Europe who shares her experience working as a freelance writer.
Q: Who is the Marissa Tejada? Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: I am a proud New Yorker! I was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island. I’ve been in the communications field my whole life working as a journalist and PR professional. Today, I am a full-time food and travel writer/journalist specializing in Europe. I am also a travel blogger and love publishing my own travel blog, Travel Greece, Travel Europe. I think the name says it all! I also take on a few clients for a boutique company called Blog Smart, which I run with a business partner. We specialize in blog content and strategy for touristic focused businesses. I also love creative writing. My first novel, Chasing Athens, was published two years ago. It is a romantic comedy/women’s fiction book about expat life. Why expat life? Well, I’m living that life. I have been living in Athens, Greece for seven years and it is my adopted home.
Q: What was your life like before you started your career as a freelance writer? Where did you live/study/work?
A: I was born and raised in the New York City area. I always wanted to be a journalist and that’s what I studied in college. I graduated with a journalism degree from Ithaca College in upstate New York. I worked in TV news as a reporter and anchor primarily in Washington state and Florida. Then, I switched gears and worked in corporate PR for IBM. I then ended up moving to Greece for personal reasons. That’s when I went back to what I love and started freelancing writing.
Q: What inspired you to start traveling? How long have you been traveling for?
A: I always loved to travel. However, moving to Athens, and slowly exploring Greece and her islands inspired me to travel more and that inspired me to actually write about my travels. Then I started to see how amazing Europe was to discover. Unlike the United States, destinations are much closer.
Q: How do you afford to keep traveling?
A: It’s something that most people can afford if it is a priority, like anything else in life. Note that I am not a full-time nomad. I have a home base. It helps I am sent on press/blogger trips and I do make a living as a travel journalist/blogger/writer.
Q: How did you get into freelance writing as a means of earning money abroad? Did you have any formal training/education?
A: It came naturally to me because of my background as a journalist and my love of creative writing and travel.
Q: How do you find new projects while on the road?
A: It’s about thinking of ideas to pitch. Visiting a destination means being open to learning new things and thinking out of the box which could be a great story idea.
Q: What are some highs and lows of being a freelance writer?
A: Some lows would be the inconsistent pay. Sometimes there’s lots of work and sometimes it is dull. Chasing projects and work is the norm.
Some highs would be the freedom of being my own boss and having the freedom to work my own hours – which end up being a lot – but to be honest, it doesn’t’ feel like work because I truly love my job.
Q: Is the pay enough to cover your living expenses? Are you able to save anything to continue traveling?
A: Yes, I have been blessed to have consistent work to live well. Yes, I always try to save money.
Q: Have you visited any countries where being a freelance writer was tough? (maybe because of bad internet connection or another reason)
A: Some Greek islands are a pain when it comes to WiFi, perhaps it is the weather or bad connections. Otherwise, I haven’t had many issues except occasional hotels where WiFi was poor. Yes, WiFi is very important for a travel journalist!
Q: Would you recommend freelance writing to someone who wants to quit their 9-5 routine and explore the world? What advice would you give them?
A: For anyone who wants to be a freelance writer, there is the reality of ensuring you have the basic salary. If you don’t have a decent amount saved on the side, I think it’s important to have at least one or two steady freelance clients first before you go off on your own. I mean clients that you can work for from anywhere whether it is freelance writing or some other digital skill you have. Maybe you are great at web design or SEO or something else. Having a few clients in your pocket will give you peace of mind to seek out other freelance work. The beautiful thing about having your own business is that if you work hard, the benefits you seek will return to you.
Q: Where would one start if they wanted to follow your path of becoming a freelance writer?
A: It is important to love grammar and to love to write. You also need to love what you are writing about, or at least like it!
Q: What’s next for you? What are you looking forward to in 2017?
A: I always look forward to new travel writing assignments for various media. As a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, I look forward to attending the next conference which will be in Madrid. I may attend a Travel Bloggers Exchange Conference (TBEX Europe) as well. My travel blog, Travel Greece, Travel Europe continues to grow so I look forward to work on it more. Also, I am the co-founder of a great network of travel bloggers in Greece called Travel Bloggers Greece, so I look forward to collaborations and blogging trips through the group which are always a wonderful experience.
ABOUT: Native New Yorker Marissa Tejada is an author, food and travel writer, and freelance journalist living in Greece.
Her work has been featured in CNN Travel, Forbes, Fodor’s Travel, Lonely Planet, Wine Enthusiast, enRoute and other top English language media. She also regularly posts about her food and travel adventures across Greece and Europe on her blog, Travel Greece, Travel Europe. Her first novel, Chasing Athens, has made several top 10 best seller lists on Amazon. She is also a member of the Society of American Travel Writers and a co-founder of Travel Bloggers Greece.
Marissa has a passion for travel in Europe and discovering the continent’s fascinating history and many cultures. Living in Greece, she has grown a soft-spot for the whitewashed buildings and clear blue seas of the Cycladic islands. She is based in Athens.
Huge thanks to Marissa for taking the time to answer our questions and share their experience with us! If you have any further questions for Marissa, leave a comment below!
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Does working as a freelance writer sound like something you might want to do to help you travel the world? If not, check out other posts in the “Work and Travel Abroad” Series for more ideas and stories from other travelers.