After spending years and years in the corporate communications sector as a photographer, this year was my first year of going solo in the travel industry - writing and shooting about travel destinations and technology. Virtually everything I've written or shot has been for online publication, but I plan to start marketing to print publications in 2011. My question is, are there specific writers' groups/organizations that would make sense to join?  My main motive for joining would be to help market my work to new publications, so I'm wondering if association membership carries any weight with various travel pubs?

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Doug, have you looked into SATW, a quite prestigious and world-wide recognized travel writer/photographer organization? Check out our website at I would be glad to chat with you about membership if you're interested. The membership is in the four figures and represents North American active members—journalists, writers, editors, publishers, photographers as well as associate members—representatives of properties, airlines, cruise lines and municipalities. Your motives seem to marry well with what SATW does well. Lynn Rosen, SATW active member.

Hi Lynn,


I looked into joining SATW but don't have that insider friend in there that can "sponsor" me. I understand the need to vet people but don't understand why you need that method -- people whom you compete against finding it in their heart to let you into the travel writer's club.

Scott, your qualms about finding competitors to sponsor you would seem to make sense, but as chair of SATW's Northeast Chapter, let me suggest two theories about how people manage to get sponsors in spite of that:

1. Just as people don't necessarily vote their wallet (e.g. in 2008 Obama bagged the majority of votes of people earning more than 200K a year), people in SATW are good to their competitors.

2. Their competitors are not necessarily competitors. Some of us are photographers, others are writers, still others are broadcasters, etc. Moreover, I like to specialize in northeast Pennsylvania; my friend E.P. covers skiing; E. K. covers road trips and green travel  -- so we're all freelancers (at least part of the time), but we aren't really competitors.

In short, I'd welcome you to look into SATW, Scott. Visit the site (, check out the "how to join" section, and feel free to contact Lynn or me if you have questions.  

We are currently seeting up 2 journalistic tours for next year to experience and write about our products in magazines, TV and other publications. Please send a formal request to if you wish to be considered for this opportunity everything will be paid for except the flight ticket. our aim is to have articles etc in European/Internation medias. our tours will be self drive jeep tours in Georgia and Montenegro as this then covers the 4x4 rugged tours we offer and also the Cultural 4x4 tours

Hi its our international web address.
Congratulations on taking the leap from corporate. I'm relatively new to SATW and would be glad to discuss with you as well. Since you're shooting and also covering technology, you might check out broader umbrellas too, such as ASJA. Mediabistro offers an Avantguild membership which provides access to a helpful 'how to pich' database for print as well as online publications.
I highly recommend Society of American Travel Writers (SATW) as did Lynn. Very proactive, dynamic group. Yes, SATW carries weight with travel pubs. I joined last year. Also, if you haven't already, set up an account at something like Photoshelter to show editors your work and sell online. for an example see Lee Foster has also taken his photo experience and made apps like a Photographer's Guide to San Francisco and a guide to Wash DC. The trick in going solo is creating many "riverlets" of revenue.
Lucy, active member SATW
I concur with everything said about SATW and IFWTWA. When I began travel writing I joined the latter because its requirements for membership were easier. As my production increased I finally qualified for SATW and have been a member ever since. Not only do you earn an instant cache as a successful "producer" (you can't get in or stay in unless you are), you will make lifelong friends and travel companions among the most congenial group of professionals I've ever encountered. Whenever I have a question about a destination, a publication, technology or equipment I can pick up the phone or open e-mail and contact another member (or through the SATW website's bulletin and discussion boards, a bunch of them) and receive informed answers.
Doug, I second Lynn's endorsement of SATW. My husband, a photographer, and I are both members. My productivity and outlets skyrocketed when I became a member.
Although you say your primary motive for joining would be to help market your work, I can speak very highly of our professional development opportunities and networking. And like any organization, the more you gain from it is based on how much you give. Get involved.
And Doug, seeing that you are based in Ohio, you might want to check into membership with the Midwest Travel Writers Association. It's a smaller, more intimate group, but because it's membership requirements are not as stringent as SATW, it is often a good place to get your foot in the door.
I must admit I am surprised to see all the endorsements of SATW. I would be interested to hear how the organization has improved over the last three years. I am a graduate of the SATW Institute and remember when I could not get anyone in the office to even acknowledge my e-mails, let alone answer my simple questions.
When I became eligible for membership, I asked colleagues whether they thought their membership was worth the dues. Surprisingly, most said no, and confirmed my own experience: what counts is the media outlets you bring to the table, rather than any organizational affiliation.
Many cited what they considered SATW's failure, as the leading travel writer advocacy organization, to promote the interests of travel writers as a group: taking a stand against the vilification of sponsored press trips, for example, or working with airlines and others to get more respect for us professionals.
While many -- myself included -- acknowledge that SATW can enhance individual credibility, if you cannot get assignments from credible publications, you will not get work, regardless of your membership.
Hi Buzzy -
I am the first to admit that membership in SATW will NOT guarantee you assignments from credible publications. That is not the goal of the organization nor has it ever stated that it gets you good work assignments. Membership in any organization cannot guarantee that. You first have to be a good writer with a great story...blah, blah.
What SATW does is provide excellent networking opportunities, excellent professional development opportunities and opportunities for you to grow and improve your professional skills.
I can't speak to why no one in the office acknowledged your e-mails three years ago, but I can tell you that the organization has gone through some tremendous growth and re-structuring so to speak in the last few years. We have a new re-qualification process for our current members, a new points system for applicants, a new management company, so on and so on.
Please take another look and I'm glad to answer any questions you or Doug or anyone else may have. My $130 annual dues to SATW pays for itself over and over again each year.
Okay, I'll burst the bubble at this love in. SATW didn't work for me.

But I wonder if geography didn't play a part. The A part of SATW is American, which is not a big part of my writing. Unfortunately, my inbox was loaded up with useless press releases from destinations and partners that didn't work for any my readerships. I was also too far removed to attend any meetings. I live a time zone and 1,000 miles from the closest SATW branch. I went to luncheon once and it cost me $800 (airfare, hotel, etc.).

I think one of the things national organizations like SATW - and this isn't exclusive to them - have to do is revisit their membership fees. It seems to me that writers who live in cities where there is a branch of SATW get more from their fees than the rural-based or ex-urban members do. So why should all members pay the same amount since all members don't have the same access to events and benefits? The rural or less centrally-situated writer is subsidizing the city-based writer. (I am now ducking from the fall out that line will generate.)

Everyone talks about how great it is to hang out with other writers. I like to hang out with other writers occasionally, but I get that on press trips or with my friends at home. I'm more interested in hanging out with editors who can assign stories. During my time at SATW the editor list shrank substantially. My reasons for joining a professional organization are commercial, not social.

Supposedly you can attend SATW conferences at greatly reduced prices, but I still get all-expenses-paid press trips, so I didn't find the idea of these conferences that appealing. And when 50 or 100 or 300 writers swoop in on a destination at once, I don't know how you get a chance to work on a good story. At least not the way I research.

Before you join any organization you need to ask yourself the hard question about what you want/need from it? You might be better off looking at your city's or state's writer's organization first. It would be local, you could attend events and it would be a lot less money. (SATW also charges a hefty initiation fee, which I feel is unnecessary.)


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