Survival Shoptalk for Freelancers

I'm struggling with converting from a career communications job with freelance writing for print and pay to self-employment with writing online for almost nothing. I will only blog for free if the publication "pays' me in visibility and increased traffic to my site (like Huffington Post, LinkedIn or an occasional local newspaper column). But I don't want to do this all the time. I realize that writing essays, op-eds and feature articles is no longer a viable means to make money. But since I write them anyway, I'd like others to share their experiences in placing them. Also, I'd like to get more well- paying gigs as an editor, writer, researcher and marketing consultant for travel companies. I'm interested in companies looking for people to advise them on visual communications, media strategies, positioning, targeting and branding. I'm also looking for opportunities to do research to help companies create unique tours (astronomy, music, literature, writing, UNESCO sites, etc.) and helping hotels and institutions work together to create unique packages that would appeal to specialized target audiences (art lovers, cyclists, history buffs, etc.). Customization seems like the train to solvency and a way for me to combine my writing, editing, marketing and communications skills without taking a desk job with only 2 weeks vacation. I'm trying to avoid content marketing gigs (unless I am writing for an educational organization like a museum).