Promote yourself. Don’t be shy. No one will notice your work if you don’t promote it.
Colby Lee Burke is a professional travel writer who journeys around the world in search of the best stories to share with his readers. His work has been published in many national and regional periodicals. His favorite destinations are Hilton Head, South Carolina, Edinburgh, Scotland, and Florence, Italy. While he tries to return to his favorite places at least a few times a year, he is always in search of new cities to explore.
Burke began his freelance writing career after college. He wrote for his college newspaper and literary magazine. After graduation, he supported himself in a day job as a copy editor and wrote travel pieces on his own time. A college mentor encouraged him to pitch his travel writing to various local and national publications. As he gained more success in his freelance career, he was able to quit his day job and focus on travel writing full time.
When Colby Lee Burke travels, he explores the art, architecture, and culture of each new city. He plans his itinerary in advance but leaves plenty of time to explore and find new things. Recently, his travels have taken him to Switzerland, London, and New York City. When he is not writing about travel topics, Burke is working on his first novel to be published next year. His drive to succeed makes him a successful writer, and he is a sought-after writer in the travel world.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I decided I wanted to be a travel writer while I was still in college. I wrote some travel pieces for my college newspaper, centered around my semester abroad in Florence. I had taken a few art history courses in preparation for my trip, and my art history professor loved my work. She suggested that I might want to become a travel writer full-time.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
When I’m traveling, my typical day starts early. I walk or drive around and take notes on my phone when I stop for a rest. I like to sit in a plaza or at a cafe table and write my impressions of the morning. In the afternoon, I explore the city and try to find new and hidden places to write about.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I try to put myself in the shoes of a novice traveler exploring the city or country for the first time. I write about what they would like to see and how they would experience it. I also like to write about the cultural sites and historical background of the places I visit.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am excited by the trend toward adventure travel. I plan to do more of it in the future.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I never stop looking for work. When you’re a freelancer, you need to pitch pieces constantly to get enough work to support yourself. You can’t sit back on your laurels.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Travel is great, but you also have to maintain a connection with the place where you live.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I would tell myself that I could succeed as a freelance travel writer if I worked hard enough. I was afraid to quit my day job, but it’s been a great decision.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Promote yourself. Don’t be shy. No one will notice your work if you don’t promote it. Just because you have a great reputation doesn’t mean you will get a lot of assignments.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I constantly try to get my work in different magazines. I have recently begun pitching articles to magazines that are not based in the United States.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I had to cancel a trip recently because I didn’t have enough assignments to support it. That was a disappointing experience. I learned from my mistakes, and I will always be more careful with my schedule in the future.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d like to see a service that provides a virtual travel concierge. Through an app or a website, people could pay for tailored itineraries and arrange for restaurant reservations and other services.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I bought a new pair of walking shoes. I put a lot of miles on my shoes, and they don’t last very long. It’s crucial to have good walking shoes when you’re a travel writer.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack keeps me in touch with my editors. It’s nice to be able to communicate with them as if I were in the office.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I would recommend Lonely Planet’s Ultimate Travel. It’s a great primer on the top places to see around the world. It can guide you while you create the perfect itinerary.
What is your favorite quote?
“Blessed are the curious for they shall have adventures.” – Lovelle Drachman
• You can’t succeed as a freelancer without promoting yourself.
• Travel is a great experience, but you need to stay connected to your hometown.
• Hard work is the number one key to success.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.