About a month or so ago, I saw an ad for writers to write "the best travel guides on the web." Now, I am a published travel writer, but I had never actually written a travel guide. It's a bit different than just doing articles. But I applied, and almost immediately got a response. I had written two sample paragraphs in my initial query, and they said that one of them was in the style they were looking for, so if I could just send them a list of cities I would be willing to work on, they would get back to me with my first assignment.
The company, by the way, is sidestep.com. If you look on their website now, you will see that the travel guides they are using are from Frommer's. They plan to replace all those with original content. It's a bit intimidating, but also extremely flattering, that they chose me to replace Frommer's content.
My first assignment was Berlin...2,500 words in one week. I had to cover 3 areas of the city in which to stay, 5 of the top tourist attractions, several restaurants, several bars and nightclubs, 2 off the beaten path tips, and 2 warnings/advisories. They thought I did well, and I've been getting steady work from them since. Currently, I am working on seven smaller German cities...6 of which I have never even been to. At first, they wanted to have me write about places that I've actually been, but now, since they have a fairly small team of writers that have to cover everything, they are assigning cities with which we are unfamiliar. That's okay though. It just takes a little longer. And with these particular cities, I only have to write about 1,250 words each.
In order to write these, I pull a lot of stuff off the web and from the guide books I have here at home. Ironically, Frommer's has contributed a lot to my research, and I use Fodor's, Virtual Tourist, and the official tourism page of whatever city I'm working on.
This doesn't pay particularly well. I'm sure if I were actually working for Lonely Planet or Fodor's or something, the pay would be much better. But it's steady work for now, and since I'm still a relative novice (I haven't made any really major publications yet...the biggest has been Stars & Stripes, and they didn't pay me), I'm just happy to have a paying job. I think this will be a very important step toward bigger and better paying jobs though.