Intrepid Times Doubles Payments to Travel Writers

by Nathan James Thomas

10 years ago, fueled by a mixture of naivety and fury, I founded Intrepid Times. Naivety, because I had no idea of the complexities involved in running a literary travel publication. Fury, because I had seen what the internet was already starting to do to my beloved genre of travel writing. Articles were churned out by content farms, beholden to the whims of search engines. I wanted to put a finger in the dam, to invite other travel writers who share my love of story, connection, and the delightful weirdness of being an outsider, to write for people, not machines.

A decade later, things have changed. Intrepid Times has had some big wins, including shout-outs at the Travel Media Awards, Inspire Global Media Awards, and the British Press Awards. We’ve attracted submissions from top journalists and authors and continue to provide a space for emerging writers to have their first piece published. Many go on to achieve great things with and beyond our platform, and we celebrate those achievements, such as early Intrepid Times contributor Thomas Heaton recently being honored as a Pulitzer Finalist for his team’s work at Civil Beat. 

But travel writing has changed, too. Where, 10 years ago, I saw the corrosive influence of writing being written for the search engine robots, now it is increasingly being written by robots. Once venerable publications such as Lonely Planet brag about their AI strategy, while travel writers at all career stages wonder: Is this a viable way to make a living?

We’ve seen challenges before, of course. When Covid-19 trapped us all in our homes, you kept writing, you kept reading, and Intrepid Times kept publishing. We didn’t miss a single week during the pandemic, and certainly won’t be deterred by Large Language Models (LLMs) that imititate writing by guessing the most probable next word in a sentence. The urge to travel and share stories of the human experience is something unique, something special, something not easily snuffed out.

Writing for Intrepid Times has never been a particularly bountiful career move. Writers have come to us because of our values, because they like the stories we publish and wish to see their own work alongside other pieces and authors they admire. Today, we are announcing a significant increase in payments for the majority of pieces that we publish. Still, there will be those who will say it is not enough, that writers need to be paid more. I agree. And when we can, this number will increase again. Hopefully, it will not take another decade.

All Writers With Pieces Accepted After July 1, 2024, Will Be Offered $100 USD Per Article

Recently, we have had two payment tiers. Travelogs, our standard pieces, have paid $50 per article. Features are our prestige publications and have paid $250. But because of our budget, we’ve had to be extremely selective when it comes to features, hesitating before committing to spend a significant chunk of our operating budget on a single article. We’ve been too trigger-shy on these, leaving many great articles languishing. 

We’ve decided to merge the two categories together. No more Travelogs. No more Features. Simply, Intrepid Times stories, with $100 on offer for all new stories. We hope this will allow us to continue to refine the quality of our standard publications while providing a more tangible reward and incentive for writers who are inspired to make the extra effort with longer, more in-depth storytelling.

We will insist on just a little more from our authors for this. In the past, we’ve been fairly tolerant of pieces submitted without original photography. This will change, with high-quality, publishable, original photographs becoming a requirement for publication in Intrepid Times. We will also favor pieces that are slightly longer, around 1500-2500 words, as opposed to our previous travelog range of 1200-1500 words.

We will continue to read all submissions and give just as much time and consideration to novice and emerging writers as we give to those who are more established. We will continue to, with some rare exceptions for writers we have worked with in the past, accept pieces “on-spec” only. We do not have the budget to send writers on trips and therefore seldom demand or commission specific stories except in rare cases where we have an ongoing relationship with the writer.

Intrepid Times stories are those that emerge from the trips you would have taken anyway. It could be a journey you undertook last week or 50 years ago. All that we care about is that you write with skill, have something meaningful to say, and leave a record of how, somewhere, on some day, people went about their lives.

Submissions are open right now. We’re waiting to hear from you.

Submit your travel writing.

Our summer Travel Writing Workshops are coming up! Join us live online and learn how to uncover your best travel stories. Highly recommended for new and emerging travel writers.

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editor@intrepidtimes.com